Martial Arts Blogs A Journey to Shodan: November 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Proper punctuation, ; ! .

Like any writer, sometimes I get hung up on punctuation. First I write, then I fuss over the details. Did I use a semicolon where a comma was more appropriate? Did I really complete that thought, or should I remove the period and add a few more words? It can be tedious, but in the end, I'm usually happy with what I have written.

It's interesting how something like punctuation can be present in kata. I'd never thought of it that way until the idea was presented to me in class this past Friday night. It's important in kata to pause (comma) in just the right places, know where to insert a Kiai (exclamation point), and certainly to end strong (full stop/period). When I break it down like that, I know there are sections of my kata where punctuation doesn't really exist, simply because I'm busy trying to get through it without making mistakes (reference the many entries I've written about self-confidence). Now that it has been explained to me in a way I can relate, I look forward to seeing my skills improve in that area.

Kata shouldn't be one long run-on sentence; proper punctuation will take it to the next level full stop

Friday, November 19, 2010


My arms are sore and a rainbow of unflattering colours blot my forearms – here we go again, it’s bunkai time.

For the second time this year, I find myself on a bunkai team gearing up for a Shodan grading. On one hand I am learning a lot, it is certainly preparing me for the day I must assemble and train with my own bunkai team, on the other hand, I find it quite stressful with so many things to remember. Thankfully I’m only in four different katas, but still, timing, distance, and accuracy all play a part in bringing them together, so lots of hard work and many hours of commitment are involved.

The most difficult part for me is focusing on the kata itself. At times, I find myself thinking ahead to my own next sequence and I lose track of the kata – then I scramble to keep up when it’s suddenly my turn. More than anything, this is the part I need to practice – being in the moment, not ten steps ahead. If I can get that under control everything will flow a little easier for me.

Now, if only we’d stop changing the moves – agh. For now though, it’s a good thing I’ve got my notebook to remind me what the heck to do, otherwise I’d be on the losing end of a few exchanges, guaranteed.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Crazy man's kata.

Last class we were taught a new kata, one that doesn’t exist in any Shotokan syllabus. I’ve never done Heian Shodan with agi uke stepping backwards, or shuffle stances when turning, by the time class ended I still hadn’t mastered the movements. I left confused and tried to mentally erase what I’d ‘kind of’ learned.

I suppose I’m relatively close minded when it comes to this sort of thing – while I enjoy a challenge, I enjoy one that will improve my skills and technique. I have an inherent resistance to learning something I don’t absolutely need to know, and my walls immediately go up. I am currently focused on practicing the nine kata required for my 1st kyu grading next month and I just can’t stuff anything new and obscure into my memory at this point in time. The grading list involves specific items, and this particular kata isn’t one of them. Walls officially up.

This has really been bugging me; in fact it is so annoying that I can’t stop thinking about it. I find myself randomly visualizing the sequence of movements – as I try to fall asleep, on the bus, during the day at work…if I’m alone I try to piece together one or two of the turns. Away from the distractions of class, I’ve had time to slow down and think about what I am doing.

Perhaps the point was to get me thinking.

I think it worked.

Darn it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Go punch yourself.

Of the thousands of punches I've thrown in my years of training, none have ever felt perfect. I often wonder if I was ever in a situation where I really had to haul off and punch someone in self defense, would it actually do damage? Surprisingly, the answer is yes.

This past week has been a great lesson for me regarding just that. Last Friday I was shown a secret: an effective punch is more than just hip rotation and muscle. Now each time I throw a punch, whether it be in kata or basics, I feel a marked difference.

In another class, we were told to go practice punching ourselves in front of the mirror. Watching myself revealed a lot, mainly the difference between how I thought it would look and the reality of how it really looks. This gave me the opportunity to study myself, and of course from there, learn where I can improve. For me, the improvement comes when I punch in the same space - simple yet effective. This, combined with the secret from the previous week (I'm still not telling exactly what that is), has taught me something very valuable and I am excited that my technique is improving.

So, no more going through the motions, I've been given this new tool, and I intend to use it.
Another secret? It works for blocks too - such a nifty and versatile little technique.