Saturday, March 15, 2008

Flexibility: Part 1 - Body Flexibility

Getting and staying flexible is probably one of the most important things you can do to have and maintain good karate. It's good to arrive at the dojo a few minutes early and stretch. After class is over, you should take a few moments to stretch again.

When you're at home, watching TV, sit on the floor and stretch.

Stretch all parts of your body as often as you can.

Don't over stretch, though.

Here's a good article I found with some accompanying videos on stretching...

Taking Notes

Taking notes about karate training is very important.

My Sensei suggested to me a very long time ago that I should always keep a notebook with me when I go to the dojo or karate training events so I can write down the important thoughts. I have tried to follow this advice ever since. I usually have one with me at all times and I try to capture as much as I can about what I learn.

I find years later that these notes are invaluable. They provide me insight into the stage of development I was experiencing at the time. They also help me remember details about a technique or principle I may have forgotten or since then. Sometimes, they even help me to make a leap in understanding or a small revelation.

I usually don't write long detailed entries about a subject, but rather organize my thoughts by bullet items or short statements where I try to get to the heart of the matter. Then, I try to supplement these with sketches and stick figures.

I always write in the first person and try to note other things that were happening at the time in the world. This helps me remember the time-period better than a date, although I still date each entry.

Sometimes I don't finish an entry because I got busy with something else in my life. Then, a few years later as I'm reading my entries, I will try to complete the entry as best I can from memory. I read my entries often and write notes about how my understanding of the subject has changed. I think this is very helpful.

I have pages in my karate journal that I have left intentionally blank to put pictures relevant to the event. I have the pictures, but I just haven't put them in yet.

Don't get me wrong, I may sound like I'm very disciplined at journaling, but I'm not. I have far too many journals, notebooks and sketchbooks that I have started to write in but then lost only to be found again years later in a box or on a shelf. As I said, I don't always finish an entry or a thought.

The important thing is that I always have one with me when I'm training in case I need to write down a thought.