Kanku Dai in parts

Today’s class focused on Kanku Dai.  This is one of those katas that I feel I have done forever but it never feels as good as the others.  Even though it is has a lot of basic moves, it is one of the katas that I don’t have that same feeling about as I do for others.

Get warm first

Sensei Noia had us warm up by running around the dojo then do a kata and repeat until we did all the Heian katas and Tekki Shodan.  We have done this warm up many times over the years and it seems that only since the last two years, I have been able to run fast and do all the katas without much trouble.  In the past, I used to have to walk or even skip the run around the dojo when I got to Heian Yondon but it just goes to show that consistent training, no matter what your age will allow you to improve.

Kanku Dai in sections

We spent a good amount of the class working on parts of Kanku Dai.  From the opening moves all the way to the end.  One drill in particular was the first move with the high open hand blocks in the back stance.  Sensei had us stand with the padded walls behind us, then we dropped down into a back stance and executed the high block against the pad.  This drill ensures that there is connection between the upper body and lower body before doing the arm movements.  If you are not settled in the back stance, hitting the wall behind will make your upper body go forward and your arm bounces off.  Hitting an object, when doing certain movements, lets you understand how the movements should be executed when doing them on the air.

We also went through many parts of the kata in sections, paying attention to our form with Sensei watching and correcting us.  One part of the kata, that I often stress when teaching is the reach with the left hand before the punch block and punch block.  Many students put their arm out in front of them without any purpose and the movement looks like someone in the dark searching for light switch.  If the movement is done with purpose, it looks and feels different.  It’s not a fast move or slow move and it’s not tense or loose, it’s somewhere in between all of those.

Kanku Dai is a long kata and it is easy to break it up into sections to work on so give it try and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

About doug
Doug is a Shotokan Karate student that enjoys sharing his Karate training experiences with everyone. He is a Computer Consultant, an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, blogger and a freelance writer..

Back in Karate class again!

It’s been a long time since I have taken a formal Karate class and after saving up my pennies I am able to take class again.  I trained at home almost every day and helped teach whenever work would allow but nothing compares to taking a formal Karate class.  When I train at home, I have a fairly structured workout that is planned out before I start but the dynamics of a formal Karate class are what makes the difference.  Class is based upon whatever Sensei Noia has us do and that dynamic really makes the training so much more effective.

Cold dojo equals long warm up

The dojo was exceptionally cold today but Sensei made sure we had a good warm up.

We started running back and forth five times across the dojo.  Then shuffle back and forth followed with front stance, back stance and horse stance back and forth.  Next came squat kicks for 10 with each leg and push ups came after those.  We did a single Heian kata of our choice then standing single, double and triple punches.  Needless to say, I was warm after that.

Cross leg stance work

Sensei had us work on cross leg stances.  We started with the sequence from Jion near the middle of the kata going from standing with arms at our sides to the cross leg stance with the x-block.  We then did a cross leg stance with any arm technique from the kata of our choice.  Then we did some specific cross leg stance moves from two other katas of our choice.  I did cross leg stance with overhead strike from Heian Yondan and then the cross leg stance with block from the start of Bassai Sho.

Next we did standing punch with block, again punch with block and move into back back stance with knife hand block from Bassai Dai.

Focus on your mitt

We spent the rest of the class working on some focus mitt drills along with some partner drills.

We started with one partner holding the focus mitt and the other doing punches, double punches and triple punches.  We also did back fist, knife hand and forearm strikes to the focus mitt.

We finished up with a simple partner drill where one partner punches and the other blocks with their reach hand and then knife hand strikes their neck.  It is a simple movement but effective and one that we don’t practice enough.  I feel, because of the focus on free sparring, we are often taught to block with the knife hand but after a while, those moves that we call blocks are often strikes and they can be very effective.

About doug
Doug is a Shotokan Karate student that enjoys sharing his Karate training experiences with everyone. He is a Computer Consultant, an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, blogger and a freelance writer..

Hard training equals good Karate training

I haven’t written much here since I have not been taking classes because of real life issues but I am still assisting each week and I thought it would be useful to outline the classes.

Step, technique and lunge

Sensei Plocharczyk started class with a tough warm up.  He had the students do each of the Heian katas but after each step, he had them do a lunge in place.  For example, Downward block to your left, lunge, step and punch, lunge and so on with each move of all five katas.  It did get interesting when the back stance and horse stances came up and the students had to pivot in order to get there legs in proper alignment to the do the lunges.  I’ll admit, I miss taking class but I am not sure if I would have made it though the warm up today.

Various kicking kihon

This is where Sensei really starts to push not only the body but the mind too.  He often comes up with combinations that make you think as hard as you strike.  One such drill began in a front stance, then front snap kick, putting the kicking leg back behind and then doing a front snap kick before stepping forward.  The point behind this drill was to get the students to use their hip action where you extend and retract the hip.  Most would think that this is nothing new but you would be surprised how many students, even younger ones, only use their legs for kicking instead of their hips.  This action of the hips is something that students either forget or they never did when first learning.

The next drill, along similar lines, was from a front stance, with a knee strike, striking leg down and behind and then front snap kick.  After that came, the knee strike again but with a roundhouse kick.  There were some other drills, where the students goal was to keep their shoulders loose by keeping their arms down and hands loose while kicking for both front snap kicks and roundhouse kicks.  One student in particular, when keeping here arms loose and behind her hips improved her roundhouse kick like night and day.  Not using her arms to throw the kick made the techniques look much better then when here hands were clenched and in front of her.

Throughout the class, there were some push ups and other conditioning exercises to keep everyone working but the various kihon drills I am sure were enough.

One step for many and kata for one

Since there was an uneven number of students in the class, Sensei had everyone get a partner, except for the one student without a partner.  He had the partner groups do various forms of one step sparring while the single person did a kata with yours truly watching.  After the group finished one step, another student would do a kata for me and I would give then one or two pointers to help them clean up their katas.

Finish up with some knee strikes

Class ended with everyone partnered up and doing knee strikes on a focus mitt.  The idea was to use the hips to drive the knee into the focus mitt which sounds simple but as I noticed earlier, everyone doesn’t use their hips when striking with their knees.

After seeing all the kicks and hip work, I am starting to think that helping out with class is sometimes a little better than actually taking class.

About doug
Doug is a Shotokan Karate student that enjoys sharing his Karate training experiences with everyone. He is a Computer Consultant, an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, blogger and a freelance writer..