My Favourite Karate Gi: Shureido (Part 3 of 3)

Last in the series of posts about what I consider my favourite Karategi is none other than Shureido.

The Seishin is light, airy, and has great snap; ideal for the hot Okinawan conditions.

The Kamikaze is heavy, hard wearing, and I know to be long lasting so it will be with me for a long time, giving me the best cost per wear.

The Shureido is something special however; from the birthplace of Karate the K10 is a heavyweight 100% cotton keikogi that comes unwrapped in a signature blue hue.

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The Most Important Part of a Sensei

They are your taskmaster, drill sergeant, fitness coach, guru, technician and teacher.

They teach you etiquette, prepare you for your grading, coach you through competitions, test you regularly in the Dojo and teach you the skills to train by yourself and to pass on your knowledge to others.

Most importantly, however, they have been trying to do their best before you even thought about taking up a martial art.

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My Favourite Karate Gi: Seishin (Part 2 of 3)

The Seishin brand is arguably the fastest growing karate sensation. It is a venture into the modern era utilising crowdfunding, social media and public endorsements to spread it’s awareness.

Created in part by Jesse Enkamp, internets famous Karate Nerd™, the Seishin Gi seeks to push the positives and reduce the negatives of a top quality Gi.

Unlike other companies, which perhaps only change the fabric or cut, the Seishin Gi sought to also innovate be adding extra parts that perhaps you wouldn’t consider.

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Life's a Beach(ball)

Whilst I worked in Hospitality in my previous life I was at times in attendance to various customer service training days.

Aside from the free food and coffee involved there was generally a lot of training around delivering the best service, learning about drinks, food, ingredients and best practices for serving.

One training which I remember well and which I know to be an important aspect in the martial arts world is what’s known as the beach ball principle.

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It's All In The Mix

Ask a number of Okinawan Sensei what defines their art and you might hear the phrase Chanpuru, followed by a glint in their eye and a smile.

Anyone who has travelled to Okinawa will have at some point tasted the local delights, Goya, Taco Rice, Awamori, various raw meats, Goat soup and the all time favourite, Chanpuru.

Chanpuru is a rice dish with various elements including Spam, Tofu, Goya, fried meat or just vegetables.

It's just a mix, which is what the word means.

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Get your Oats

On Instagram I recently did a post about Porridge. It's famously the traditional Scottish staple for breakfast food.

It comes in many varieties; pinhead, rolled, steel cut, finely ground, as well as flavored and ready made varieties which only require hot water or a microwave.

I was once told that roving Scots would carry a bag of oats with them to aid in the digestion of the old meat that they also consumed whilst on the trails.

Here’s why I always eat some too.

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My Favourite Karate Gi: Kamikaze (Part 1 of 3)

When I began to get serious about my training attire in Karate I moved on from my easy wash elasticated waisted Blitz and was introduced to Kamikaze brand via my Sensei.

My decision on which of their Gi was based on getting the heaviest that I could afford, with it also being 100% cotton. It was then that I bought the Kamikaze America Gi.

It lasted so well for so long that recently I decided to upgrade to a top of the range Monarch Gi. Here is why.

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Aiming for the Next Grade

In Karate we are seeing a renaissance so to speak of the disregard or downplay of achieving grades.

Some schools are reverting back to keeping simply a three belt system, White, Brown and finally Black.

This is the same belt grading system as was devised by Jigoro Kano and subsequently adopted by Gichin Funakoshi.

However, since the introduction of coloured belts in 1935 by Judoka Kawaishi Mikinosuke onwards there grew a desire to increase testing and therefore increase belt colours.

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Danse Macabre

That age old question, does life imitate art more than art imitates life?

Oscar Wilde seemed to believe so, in opposition to Aristotelian mimesis, which Wilde states "results not merely from Life's imitative instinct, but from the fact that the self-conscious aim of Life is to find expression, and that Art offers it certain beautiful forms through which it may realise that energy." - Oscar Wilde. The Decay of Lying.

I am reminded of this in the everyday, from food, architecture, gardening, transport, in allegories and of course in Karate.

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Jo-Ha-Kyuu

Bowing, showing respect, treating customers like kings, showing kindness and generosity. These attributes are synonymous with the Japanese culture.

So is being fearful, obeying the rules, dying from working overtime, sleeping on public transport and locking yourself in a room for the rest of your life.

In the martial arts there is another trend which i’ve noticed the Japanese have a penchant for.

Philosophy summed up in such few words.

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Fortune Favours the Brave

I have a confession to make. I am both inspired and ashamed of my Scottish heritage.

Proud to be born in a country that offers free healthcare, free education, a social political outlook, a nation of firsts in legal, social, economic, scientific and medical spheres.

Ashamed due to the post-colonial history that marks Scotland as being part of the British Empire that plunged asian nations into poverty.

Prepare yourself as I delve into the brief history of two Scotsmen who led the way for Scotland, and the East India Company, in changing the course of history in East Asia.

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Karate Communication

We as humans have perhaps the most diverse range of methods to communicate compared to any other animal species on earth. We can use physical gestures, sounds, facial expressions, bodily reactions and even smells!! (Queue fart jokes...)

It is only natural that we would utilise some of these methods to transmit knowledge in Karate.

First, we introduce the technique - auditory, then we show the technique - visual, then we correct the technique – kinesthetic.

Simple, right! Then why do we not see everyone doing techniques exactly the same?

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The Ugly side of Beauty

In many aspects of life there exists that which is pleasing to the eye, and that which is not.

Often that which is deemed the most "beautiful" is held to a higher regard than that which is considered "ugly".

Beauty is of course something which is dictated by the society in which we live in and no culture can claim to have more beauty than any other.

Now, I want to turn my attention to the dangers of practicing Karate only for pure aesthetics.

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You Must Balance the Yin and the Yang

If, like me, you practice Karate you will have at many points in your training heard the term to “relax”. Sometimes unresponsively so, sometimes frustratingly reminded.

I was to only fully realise this whilst in Okinawa that being as relaxed as possible was critical to maximising your power in your technique.

Physical softness and flexibility with inner strength is the key.

Yoga, however, is the opposite of this - here me out.

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