Posts tagged Karate
Shotokan: Why I still love it

First things first, I am a complete convert to Shorin-Ryu.

After spending time in Okinawa training at the Shimbukan under Sensei Akamine I could see why Shorin-Ryu was not only a natural progression for me in terms of style, but that the method also allowed a greater expression of power and technique.

However, I have not, nor will I ever abandon my knowledge of Shotokan. Why?

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Karate Ain't Your Crutch

Angry - Do more Karate. Frustrated - punch a Makiwara. Sad - another 5 Kata ought to do it. Family relationships breaking down - at least I have Karate.

Sounds familiar?

For some Karate is the default to life’s curve balls.

Stepping into the Dojo is like passing through a portal where one’s troubles vanish and for those 2 hours there is nothing else in the world except to train.

Well, is anything actually getting done about the issues that require disconnection from?

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Self-Actualisation: Karate's Obvious Secret

For many, stepping into the Dojo and donning the white and black is the continuation of that elusive search for ‘perfection of character’, better technique, attainable skill and the mental calm that proceeds the enduring trial for the session.

From the first Kata to the many learnt thereafter Karate contains no secrets, only things not yet understood, left open to the imagination of the practitioner.

On the surface of the Karate training, to those not ready to receive the fullness of what Karate teaches, the physical and mental improvement is the goal. Beyond that, however, lies the greatest lesson for all who would strive on.

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War on Okinawa

On a not to unusual windy and cloudy day in Okinawa I was ready to get picked up, I had my Gimbal, my pen and notepad and my Drone.

Just after 11 am Evan Muxen and his new boss William McEvoy were at the door and soon we were heading off.

Boy was I excited.

Evan had been in touch with me before I arrived in Okinawa with an offer I wouldn't ever refuse - a tour of some of the most famous military history sites in Okinawa.

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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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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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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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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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Who put the 'Bu' in Karate-Dō? Part 2 of 2

In last week’s article I explored some of the history of the development of Karate and of Budo culture in Japan.

In part 2 I hope to get to the point in why I began writing such a body of text by exploring the matter of what we understand as "traditional" karate practice, where it fits into the changes made in Okinawa, and what we perceive as being Japanese.

But firstly, a little clearing up to do.

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Who put the 'Bu' in Karate-Dō? Part 1 of 2

The Bu in question is the term for Warrior, as in Budō - Way of the Warrior. If you have trained in a Japanese style of Karate, even some Okinawan styles you will have heard this term at some point.

It is often associated with a sense of learning “traditional” Karate. I use these quotation marks for reasons that I will go into.

But first, let us take a step back in time….

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