Tag Archives: Sensei Ota

OVERTEACH AND OVERREACH

OVERTEACH and OVERREACH
I am an unabashed believer in recognizing the difference between an ‘Instructor’ and a ‘Teacher’.

It is my belief that an Instructor leads a class and demonstrates his/her interpretation of ‘what is’, and how to do the technique or application applied and usually with relying on a counting rhythm. We need Instructors and we do value their contribution!

A Teacher I believe, adds so much more, not only within technique lessons but also the intangibles required to lead students. This idea will be expanded upon in a future blog post.
Within the framework of my preamble above, I note that more than a few ‘Instructors’ tend to keep their students interested by trying to teach more ‘advanced’ techniques without first laying a proper fundamental foundation by emphasizing the basics (kihon).

This practice coined by Kyoshi Dan O’Brien as ‘OVERTEACHING’ is quite apt.

Overteaching is just plainly giving more than a student can handle without them having the proper foundation and understanding required to affect a proper technique. Often, if we lack our own proper understanding and imagination, or even a well thought out teaching curriculum, we resort to an advanced idea/technique to impress those we teach. Could it be that we lack confidence in our own selves so much that we overteach and gloss over our own martial arts insecurities by giving more than we should?
A beloved Teacher I trained with years ago (Peter Phillips -Renshi) stated, “Advanced karate is just better basics.” – agreed!

Let’s overteach our basics so that the advanced technique is just a step away and so much easier to digest.
Karate students — your turn. Are we as students, guilty of ‘OVERREACHING’???

By ‘overreaching’, I refer to a student’s propensity to always try and do more than what they are ready for, by seeking out other ideas and trying to mimic these ideas while neglecting their own studies. We’ve all done it and we’ve all seen it.

I personally knew of an intermediate student recently, who was always online looking at more advanced ideas that he may try and then he’d approach with his interpretation of what he saw and thought he’d understood. It was obvious that he was in over his head!

Well, then it became apparent that his own dojo efforts and concepts were suffering and his in class corrections were mounting, he soon came to the realization that he was being torn in two different directions – something had to give. I received a note from this student a short time later indicating that he’d become lost within his own karate enthusiasm and was re-dedicating himself to his karate studies with no distractions.

The grass may be greener on the other side, but if we are invested in our own style and that is where our love is, that is where we should invest our efforts and be patient, we will be rewarded in due time! The Universe will unfold as it should!
A personal investment in making ourselves better through diligent studies of well understood technique and our own bio-mechanics through better basics, will inevitably reward us with effective and confidence building skills capable of dealing with any adversity.

No batteries… but, Patience is required.
Yours in the arts, Gary Christensen – Renshi

“…I expect my students to fail.” – Pennell Sensei

Failure.  It’s a part of life.  Athletes fail in spectacular fashion.  And quite often their failure is shared with hundreds, if not thousands of spectators.  Sure – it hurts.  The humiliation of it all; exposing one’s self to the bitter reality of failure.  It can affect your career.  It can affect your personal relationships and indeed, it can have an effect on your perception of the world – sometimes, in a negative way.

No one wants to be hurt – obviously.  However, I think (and perhaps many of you have had the same thought) that failure really does build character.  Sure – perhaps we’ve all heard our grandparents talk about this mystical quality of failure.  “When you fall down, brush yourself off and get back up again!”  Now, Call your grandparents old fashioned, but I think they have grown to appreciate the lessons learned from failure.  Maybe they have seen the long-term effects of failure and have grown to appreciate how it can mold an individual.

Not to jump all over the ‘helicopter parent’ or anything – but I’ve seen first hand how fear of failure – or more specifically, fear of our children’s failure, has caused many parents to turn into overbearing watchdogs who are quick to fight their kid’s fight on their behalf.  I get it, you love your kid.  I appreciate and respect the love you have for your children.  But perhaps – in the right circumstances, a taste of tough love is appropriate.

Perhaps you’re asking yourself, “what the heck does this have to do with Karate?”  Well, a lot actually.  I feel like in the last 20-25 years what could once be considered a healthy supply of traditional karate dojos have turned into these hyper-safe playpens that cater to the constant worry and interference of all!

The ‘helicopter parent’, I see it all the time: Parents who try to tell Karate teachers when their kid is ready to grade.  Teachers who only test a student, “when they are ready”, parents who berate instructors who discipline their child – the list goes on.  Now, am I saying that the institution of Karate should be immune to discipline when teachers get out of line?  No – that would be silly.  If a Karate instructor crosses the line, he/she must answer for it.  But, for a moment, try to be bi-partisan and listen to what I’m trying to say.  Karate teaches us valuable lessons.  It’s meant to build character, teach focus, etc., etc., etc.  However in today’s world where many live under the “fear of liability”, where at any moment a wayward parent is “always right” when they stomp their feet and throw their own temper tantrum – it can be very difficult to teach the life skills that Karate can offer.

“In my Dojo, students are not immune to failure.  I expect my students to fail.”

More importantly however, I expect them to learn and grow from the experience.  I expect them to learn from it the same way I do.  Failure builds character.  Period.  Only when we subject ourselves to the possibly of failure, can we hope to learn from it.

Life is not always going to be a cake walk.  It seems silly to say it – you’re probably thinking, “ahh – duh! Of course it’s not.”  Well our kids need to learn to experience failure without being molded into believing that mom and dad are always going to be there to save them.  Because whether parents are ready to believe it or not – their child is going to face difficult decisions in their life and you’re not always going to be around to tell them what to do – so the sooner they can forge a strong character, the sooner they will be able to deal with all the curve balls that life will throw at them.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it’s the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill.

Happy Training

Pennell Sensei.

O’Brian Sensei: Twitching & Dropping Center

This weekend during training, our group was discussing the idea of dropping your centre.  In the video above, O’Brian Sensei talks a bit about the sensation of dropping your centre and how it relates to quick, movements.

Sometimes, it can be hard to articulate ideas about how a sensation feels – it’s a personal thing really; sometimes it’s hard to describe.

I was wondering the other day about the best way to describe ‘twitching’ and dropping.  The two are linked, with dropping being a result of twitching.

So what is twitching anyways – as it relates to Karate?  One explanation that I came up with is:  Have you ever fallen asleep on the couch during the day?  You know – maybe it’s a nice summer day and the sun is shining in your living room while you’re sitting on the couch.  You suddenly feel a bit sleepy and decide to take a nap.  I’ve noticed that sometimes this sort of sleep can be deep, but a bit restless – like you’re asleep but half awake at the same time.  Have you ever had a dream whilst napping this way?  The dreams can sometimes be so vivid.  I remember in one dream that for whatever reason I felt as though I needed to flail my arm.  Only thing was I actually flailed my arm – so hard I jolted myself out of my nap!  The sensation that I felt was like I was instantly awake – and my arm had some sort of knee-jerk reaction.  That’s the twitch sensation.  Not sure if anyone can relate, but if you can then great.  That sort of instant-on, muscle twitch movement is a little like what we’re trying to achieve when we do our techniques.  Notice in the video of O’Brian sensei how he kind of ‘twitches’ when he turns in his stance.  The movement is not stiff and ridged.  It’s more of a quick twitch-like reaction.  It starts in your core (abdomen) and the block is just an end result of an action that was started by your core muscles twitching.

This method can be applied to pretty much every technique we do.  Granted, it can be harder to do when kicking – but it is possible and just like anything else, it needs practice.

We should be working towards this kid of technique.  It’s faster while being more relaxed and you can twerk your movement, adding KIME at any time.

Have fun!

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.