Tag Archives: kata

Stretching. A New Perspective.

Hi folks.  There has been a lot of debate as of late about stretching.  Which techniques are good, and which ones are bad.  What bad stretching habits have been developed over the years and why we need to get rid of them.  A good Karate practitioner will spend a great deal of time stretching, so, it’s very important that he/she understands which methods are useful, and which ones may be harmful.  I found a great article called 5 Stretching Myths That Have Got To Go on www.health.com that explores some of the myths around stretching.  Let me know what you think!

…Someone needs to write an article about the stretch we do in Karate to warm up our necks.  You know, the one where you roll your head around in circle?  I’m pretty sure that’s horrible for your upper spine.

Happy training,

Sensei Pennell.

O’Brian Sensei: Letting Go of Form

At first, it can seem somewhat counterproductive.  Since white-belt your Sensei has consistently reminding you of form.  Reaction arm back!  Bend that front knee! Back straight!  Sure, form is an important part of Karate.  At least it is in the beginning – but at some point, form becomes 2nd nature.  It’s something we do without even thinking.  It’s at this point in your training that you might want to consider the possibility of letting go of your form.  In this quick video, Sensei O’Brian talks about letting go of form and the impact it can have on technique.

Happy Training!

Sensei Pennell.

Eihachi Ota – Core Strength

Eihachi Ota demonstrates a powerful Bo Kata.

Sensei Ota’s use of core strength to generate velocity is perhaps his greatest trait.  You can see how his stances (which are generally low and wide), help him to control his balance, etc., while he delivers effective strikes – and it’s safe to say that he leverages “winding up”.  Here is another video of a ‘Shiru Taro No Kon’ Bo Kata that he performed for a small audience at Phillip’s Karate Dojo in Whitby Ontario Canada several years ago.  Capturing the entire Kata in one frame – from a greater distance helps to better visualize Ota’s use of core strength to deliver effective strikes.  Make no mistake about it – Ota’s delivery of powerful technique is unique among many of his Okinawan colleagues.

Top 5 Okinawan Weapons Part II: Tonfa. Umm – butter…

Okinawa's deadliest weapons, Part II.

Tonfa: sticks of death. But can they also churn butter? Yup, that's what I said. You see, a lot of people believe that the Tonfa were originally used on top of butter or cream churning bowls to… well, to churn butter. Is it true? No one really knows for sure. Okay, lets just assume for a second that they were indeed used to churn. What genius of a Japanese man discovered that they were just as useful for busting skulls? That my friend, is the million dollar question. I of course don't know for sure, but I'll take a stab at the answer.

It's somewhere around the 17th century in Okinawa, Japan. My man Yoshi works down at the local butter churnering shop. He's a good employee. Doesn't cause any trouble. Lets even assume that he was awarded employee of the month in the previous month, because he was able to churn that butter out like nobody's business. So what's so special about Yoshi anyways? Well it's a little know fact that he's a Shorin-Ryu Karate master! Of course he's a humble guy – so he keeps to himself the fact that he can pretty much kick serious ass. And besides, who needs to draw that kind of attention to themselves anyways? When you've got crazies like Miyamoto Musashi running around, challenging anybody and everybody to a “duel”. Oh, and by “duel”, what they really mean is bludgeoning a man to death with a modified boat oar. Don't believe me? Read about it here: How to kill a man with a paddle.

I digress – Yoshi just finished a long day at work. He's sweeping the floor and getting ready to leave, when suddenly two men enter the shop. Apparently they're a little 'put out' by the fact that last weeks shipment of butter arrived a couple days late and heaven forbid the shogun's weekly dinner party be inconvenienced by the negligence of a butter making peasant, right? Some people are so un-reasonable. I mean, the butter would probably have arrived on time — if it was ever paid for. It's tough to maintain a proper delivery schedule when Yoshi's boss has to work part time as a bar-back at the local geisha establishment because the shogun regularly skips out on his bill . Oddly enough, Yoshi often bumps into his holiness, while he's working dish slinging for minimum wage. He's usually dropping mad cash on saki.. .money that would probably be better spent paying past-due butter invoices. I'm just sayin.

Anywhoo, after a heated exchange of dialog, consisting of many statements like, “…gonna kick your ass” and “…you like being able to walk, don't ya?”, Yoshi decides he's had enough of these two “businessmen”. Yoshi apologetically excuses himself while he goes to “get the money” and searches frantically for something to use to beat these two dudes into bloody submission. After scouring the back room, he discovers that he's fresh out of anything obviously useful so in an act of desperation, he manages to crudely detach a couple of butter turning handles – read tonfa. Just in the nick of time too, because the two visitors decided to take it upon themselves to make sure Yoshi didn't hit the highroad and give them the slip. Upon busting into the back room, Yoshi suddenly discovered that he two very deadly pieces of wood in his hands. At first he thought that they should have been called boom sticks, but apparently someone in China had already taken that name after inventing something called gunpowder… apparently it's able to fire small lead balls through the air.. sounds like witchcraft to me… probably just a rumour. No other name made itself readily available, so Yoshi settled on Tonfa.

Today, the Tonfa is used worldwide in remembrance of those who kicked ass in the name of skillfully crafted food spreads. Personally, it's one of my favourite weapons. If it were socially acceptable, I'd dress myself fully in velvet and carry two Tonfa with me at all times.