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Sunday, January 02, 2022

2022

Starting out the new year with remote training, again.  I thought we were done with this, but since the Covid rates are so high in Leon County, it seems prudent to meet virtually again, until the rates decline, once more.

2021 was pretty good for the dojo. We started in-person training in March, and stayed at it throughout the year. On the average, we had 3-4 people per session. We had our 15 year celebration special training, and we had a student promote to Shodan.

Toward the end of the year, we focused on Shirotaru no Kun.  It was challenge, but I think everyone has it now.

 The new year always brings new possibilities. I hope, for Tallahassee Karate Club members, it will bring good health and good training!

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Naihanchi Points

I started writing this post a few years ago and left it in unfinished, draft form.  I opened it back up recently and re-read what I had written, and promptly deleted all of it.

Why would I do such a thing?

Because my perception of Naihanchi points has changed, like my perception of a lot of the principles we practice in Kishaba Juku.

I had written about how there are places in the Kata where you are coiled up, like a spring, and ready to go, much like the beginning of Naihanchi, or the places where you step across.

What I want to say about it now is a little different.

Naihanchi points are the places in the movement of the Kata where your feet come together, then move apart.  When you are at these places, you are ready to move in any direction.  You can change your mind.  The big difference now, is that when I think about Naihanchi Points, I think about maintaining relaxed koshi, instead of coiled, springlike (tense) koshi. I also think about maintaining my centerline over my center of gravity, keeping my elbows connected to my koshi, and then extending the technique as I move into the next position.

Naihanchi points are in all Kata, but it is hard to find them if you practice wide stances.  Our stances are quite narrow. In fact the heels, are basically, almost on the same line.  This is true whether we are doing natural stance, front stance, cat stance, or cross leg stance. If you were to draw an imaginary line on the floor, then stand over it in your stance, the left heel and the right heel would be touching opposite sides of the line.

The use of narrow stances enables the Naihanchi Point principle.  If the stances are any wider, you can't bring the feel together into the naihanchi point, and still maintain the same centerline throughout the movement.

The next thing is the position of the hips throughout the movement. Our hips maintain a somewhat open position, maybe 45 degrees. They never transition to a closed (hips completely forward) position at the beginning or end of the movement. This allows a connection on one side of the body, by aligning all the bones, and not creating any place where the connection is lost.

Moving the whole body as one unit, and maintaining the centerline throughout, are also key to finding the Naihanchi Point.

It is very difficult for me to actually write about this in a way that makes sense, so I may have to create a video to explain it further.  In the meantime, try it out. Experiment and see what it feels like.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.




Friday, December 17, 2021

My Kata Improvement Cycle

Do - Watch - Correct - Repeat

Over the years of training and teaching, I have evolved a 4 step process for improving my Kata.

Step 1: Do.
Do the Kata. Or do a part of the Kata.  Record the Kata on video so you can proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Watch.  
Take out that video you just recorded and watch it. Notice all the things you are doing wrong. Watch someone else do the Kata. Notice what they are doing right that you might be doing wrong. Watch videos of someone else doing the Kata. Notice their cadence. Is it different than your cadence.  Does it make more sense? Look for principles you may have wrong that are throwing everything else off.  

Step 3: Correct.
Pick something you just watched and work on fixing it. Over and over. This usually doesn't involve doing the whole Kata.  It could be a single technique or maybe an overall principle. Whatever it is, work on it. Try to fix it. Work to make it better.

Step 4: Repeat.
Go back to the beginning and repeat Steps 1-3.  Do this as any times as you need to to try and perfect whatever it is that needs perfecting.  Hint: it will never be perfect, but you might get pretty good at it!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Training during Covid-19

Tallahassee Karate Club has chosen to take precautions during the Covid-19 threat.  We have moved our twice weekly, at the dojo format, to a virtual training session.

It looks like many dojo are doing the same thing.

We have had 3 virtual classes, so far. I did the first one from my back porch, using Facebook messenger.  There were some challenges.  The internet connection wasn’t great. I don’t have a ton of bandwidth at my house and I was a ways away from my WiFi router.  Mosquitoes were present. Still, we made it work as best we could.  Space was limited so we did standing and moving basics, Naihanchi and Passai.

I moved to the garage for Training #2.  This was a challenge, as I needed to clean up enough to clear a spot big enough to do kata. We also switched to Zoom for the 2nd training.  I also set up my iPad so I could see everyone while they trained, and used my phone as the camera. This was much more successful than the first training, I think.  Zoom did present me with a message that said my session would be limited to 40 minutes, but it seemed to let us continue for an hour.  Once again, we focused on basics, Naihanchi and Passai.  I tested out the space before class and it appears I can do most of the other kata if I modify the stepping, a little.

Training #3 presented challenges with Zoom, so we ended up back on FaceBook messenger.  Still, it wasn't a bad training .

One of the best things about this virtual training is the ability for some of our former students, who have moved away, to join in and participate in training.  This allows them to reconnect with the class, and the Kata.

As we continue with this format, I hope it will get easier, and better, and the flow will feel as much like the regular dojo experience, as possible.

I really hope the pandemic runs its course quickly, but in the meantime, Tallahassee Karate Club will continue with Virtual Training.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

2019

I look back at 2018 and find I didn’t really blog at all in 2018.  Why?
Was it because I was lazy? Uninspired? I had nothing to talk about?  No.  It was a transition year.  I think I say that a lot.  My karate is always changing, transitioning.

Since 2014, I have been working to incorporate Shinzato Sensei’s latest principles into my karate.  It has felt like a 180 and there have definitely been times of frustration.  Here I am in 2019 and I don’t really feel I’ve made much progress.  Thinking back to my years in Kishaba Juku, it has always been thus.  I work to try to figure out a concept, then boom! New concept arrives and I have to try and figure that out.  This is the crux of Kishaba and Shinzato Sensei’s methods. You can’t rest on your laurels or think that you have it figured out, because as soon as you do, they change it up!

You might say, this goes against Traditional Karate methods of passing kata down from teacher to student without ever changing it...keeping the lineage pure.  This is not the way of Kishaba Juku. Instead, we look to constantly improve and refine.

For me the hardest part right now is to work on a simple relax and extend concept.  Relax, relax, relax, then extend. I never thought relaxing could be so hard!

As for the Dojo, we have a very small group at this time.  Everyone has their lives that keep them busy, including me.  We already only train two nights per week, but lately it seems we have more gaps in between than actual training time.

I hope to blog more this year. I hope to train a lot more this year. I hope to gain a working knowledge of Sensei’s new ideas.  Most of all I hope everyone has a great 2019!