Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fancy book learnin'

If you learned everything you know about Karate from books and the Internet, then this post is for you. If you are a student of Karate, taking instruction from a Sensei in a karate school, then this post is not necessarily meant for you, but please continue reading.

At this weeks class in Hampton, the senior students were going over Tehodoki-no-waza, and when we got to number five, there was some interesting discussion. When we were initially taught the technique, it results in a choke-hold. When I was acting as a bunkai dummy during my brown belt test, my partner performed technique number five as a take-down. Basically, I learned it as herp, and he learned it as derp. Now, both techniques are valid, and they are both very effective. The question that arose last night was "Which technique is correct?". My Sensei says herp is correct. The book, on the other hand, clearly shows the technique as derp.

Once the discussion was finished, we determined that, for the time being, we were to perform the technique as herp rather than derp, which was fine by everyone there, as that was how we learned it. Last night in Apohaqui, I discussed this with Renshi, and he says that derp is correct, no matter if you want to perform the technique as a take-down or a choke-hold, but the herp technique is very effective. We took a few minutes, and he was able to assist me in fine-tuning both techniques even further.

We have a technical manual so that we understand what we are required to learn and work on to achieve the next level, not so that we can learn the techniques out of them. Discussion about the techniques with others in the class, or better yet, with your Sensei, is essential. If you are learning everything about Martial Arts from a book, you only have a small portion of the story, and are lacking very important information and training that can only be received in a class with a knowledgeable teacher. You're not getting the whole story.

I'm not saying that Martial Arts books are a bad thing. On the contrary. I own several books, and refer to them on a regular basis.  Books should not be your primary source of Martial Arts instruction. They should be a secondary resource to broaden your understanding of topics and re-enforce what you learn in the dojo.

Find a local school. Attend a class. Give it a try. You'll see that it is well worth the investment. If you end up in a McDojo, then that's a whole other ball of wax.

"Karate is a traditional martial art that is meant to be conveyed directly from a properly qualified teacher to a willing student. It cannot be learned from a textbook, however well put together."
Dr. David R. Smith - President, Canadian Chito Ryu Karate-do Association

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

12 months down ...

So my 1st Kyu test was a success (Yay me!).  I now have a nice list of items, courtesy of my Sensei,  of things that I will need to improve upon before the end of classes this June. On top of that, I'll be learning all of the new Kata, kihon and bunkai required for Shodan. That doesn't really amount to a huge amount (Chinto, Kihon-Kata-San, which I already know, Nage-no-kata, and a few jumping kicks), but everything must be performed perfectly. My technique must be flawless, and I know I have a ways to go before everything is flawless.

So, Sensei says that I should be looking at May / June 2012 for my Shodan test. Thats about sixteen months to prepare, and I am really looking forward to the journey. I've come quite a ways in the past twelve months, and I'm amazed at what I was able to accomplish.

  • Eight Kilos dropped
  • 2+ Inches gone from my waist
  • More muscle mass added
  • (Much) More flexibility
  • Re-learned (and fine tuned) five Kata
  • Re-learned eleven Kihon
  • Learned 2 new Kihon that didn't exist the first time (There's a Kihon-dosa-yon??)
  • Learned the finer points of Bassai
  • Learned Tehodoki-no-waza
  • Learned Ju-ni-ko
  • Removed flaws from my punching technique
  • Identified issues with my ukemi (aka, still working on that active foot)
  • Removed inconsistencies in my stances
  • Grasped the concept of Shime, Shibori and Hari (I do not remember this being mentioned the first time at all)
  • Learned, and now regularly apply, several terms and concepts (Ichi Gan people!)
  • Began diving into the history of Chito-ryu and Okinawan Martial Arts
  • Began learning Kata from other styles
  • Started instructing junior students.

All of that in exactly one year. On February 1st, 2010, I walked into the Hampton Dojo of KV Karate in a white T-Shirt and track pants, wondering if I was going to survive the first work-out. On February 1st, 2011, I walked out of the Apohaqui Dojo of KV Karate with a Brown Belt. Twelve months down, out of countless more as I continue my journey.

"Karate-Do is a lifetime study."
Mabuni Kenwa Sensei - Founder of Shito-ryu