After the break, back to Karate basics

Today was my first day back after two weeks off. The bad part about breaks between Karate sessions is, I don’t have the structured training that I get when going to class but the good part is, any aches and pains pretty much heal up. Even though I trained at home, almost every day, class is still  much harder than training alone. Having a Sensei tell you what to do an at what pace is extremely valuable and even though training at home is good, it just doesn’t have the same impact.

Back to basics

This session is an exam session and Sensei Noia normally has us focus on exam basics but he always gives us a different way to do them instead of moving up and down the floor.

We started out standing and doing alternating punches, double punches and triple punches. Anyone can do these but moves but without grabbing the floor and tensing the correct muscles, you are only moving your arms. For the advanced students, you can tell when you have that connection from feet all the way up to end of your punch. It is a feeling that you cannot teach but most students know when it happens and it feels good.

The next drill was standing double punch, move to one side in a horse stance, punch again, move back to standing and double punch. Again, this a drill, that you either feel or you don’t. If you do not settle into a good horse stance, the punch will not be connected and if you don’t squeeze your legs when moving to standing, the connection will be lost and your punches will be less than optimal.

We followed those up with, starting in a horse stance, pivot on the heels to the corner and punch head level, pivot to the other corner and punch solar plexus level and pivot back to the first corner punching low, below the belt.

The next drills were more stationary in nature but still moving. The first of this group started in a front stance with an outward block, jab and reverse punch combination. The goal was to get the hip action to change from open to closed from block to the reverse punch. On a side note, I have always noticed a difference between blocking power and punching power both in my training and while teaching but over time, I began executing all of my blocks as if they are strikes and it has helped. There are certainly times, out on the street, where you have to block but I like the idea of hurting the attacker enough to make then not want to throw a second attack.

The next drill started in a back stance with a knife hand block, then we moved into a front stance with a spear hand. The key is always pivot on the heel of the back leg when moving from back to front stance and making sure that the hips follow accordingly. After that, we worked the same drill but added a front leg front snap kick. The hardest part of this drill is not rocking back before executing the front snap kick. As long as you keep most of your weight on your back leg and tighten our stomach, it works well.

The last drill was front stance with inward block, horse stance elbow strike and back fist and then front stance reverse punch. Sensei Noia broke each move down separately because most students have a tendency to mash all the stances together especially the front stance with the inward which most of the time looks like a front horse stance. when moving forward or backward. Doing these first two stance changes quickly is normally when they start to break down.

Extra tired legs

The next drills made our tired legs more tired. We found a partner and got a pad where both partners were in a cross leg stance where one held the pad and the other punched it. Fighting to hold a cross leg stance while someone punches you is never easy. If you don’t lock your legs and keep your hips and core connected, you fall out of the stance. It’s a simple drill but never easy.

Next came some leg and hip work. Your partner is in a horse stance, holding the pad horizontal while you put out a side thrust kick and rest your foot on the pad, each time Sensei counts you raise your foot higher, for what seems like an eternity, and then rest it back on the pad. After doing it 10 times, your partner drops the pad and does a Heian kata and once they return, you can put your leg down. This drill not only works the leg doing the kick but it also works the leg you are standing on. The good part is, we only did 10 of these and the bad part is, we have two legs.

We finished up the class with kata. In the class today, they were only second Kyu’s and up so we did Bassai Dai for the brown belts and the black belts could do Bassai Sho. Sensei had us pick a Heian kata that we liked the least. Oddly, most of the class picked Heian Yondan including me. It’s not that I like it the least but it is a kata that I never felt was good enough.

After that, everyone did Jion together and we finished up with a kata of our choice. I choose Nijushiho today and even though my legs were tired, it felt good overall.

I am not familiar with other Karate clubs but in our club, stances and kicks seem to be a big part of the focus at the exams. The person will low stances will normally do better than those will high stances. If course, there is other criteria to passing an exam but someone those stances are really important.

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..

No matter how long you train Karate, you can always learn

What an awesome class today! Classes with Sensei Noia are always awesome but today was extra awesome. The dojo was hot and humid and it felt good. As I get older, the warm air really makes move so much better than the freezing cold dojo in the winter. We started out, with a partner, shifting in and out with reverse punch, then shuffle in and out with reverse punch and then stationary front snap kick, side thrust kick and roundhouse kicks back and forth. We then did some dynamic stretching with leg raises to the front, back and each side.

Drop and move sound simple but it for me, it wasn’t

Next, we moved into horse stance with single punches and then double punches. While still in the horse stance, we moved into a front stance, then into a back stance and back into a horse stance. Building on what we worked on last week, the key was to stay low between movements and not move up and down between each transition by dropping down before moving. This particular move is something that we have worked on for years but I really didn’t understand it until Sensei Noia started having us do these drills.

The next drill continued to build upon this foundation. We started in the standard front stance with a downward block, dropping first, moving forward and focusing on the draw hand. From there, we moved forward doing downward blocks dropping before each stance and really focusing on the draw hand. After that, we moved forward in a front stance with downward block but then, moved into a ready stance with two punches. This was little different because we reversed the hip action moving from the front stance to the ready stance with punches.

We worked on Taikyoku Shodan, doing each move with the drop and go from the drills above. We did it three times and at that point, my legs were roasted. After that, all the black belts did Gojushiho Sho and he brown belts did Jion again, with the same hip action and drop and go stances. We did that twice and then split up and did it again with our respective groups with one more kata at the end with everyone on the floor.

You can always learn something new

Maybe I missed something over the past 12 years of training but today was one of those days where my eyes were opened to something new. The stance and techniques were nothing different than the ones I did for last 12 years but it goes to show, you can always learn something new and improve while training Karate.

I am behind on the posts before this one and will be adding those soon but this class was so good, I needed to post it now.

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..

Exam time drills always make Karate class interesting

We started class with a partner doing alternating kicks (front snap kick, roundhouse kick and side thrust kick) with shuffle up front leg and then rear leg to get warmed up.

A quick anchorman sparring session for the people who are testing for Shodan. I went off to the side with another student to work on some kata since both of us forgot our sparring gear. We worked on Gojushiho Sho and ended up doing four or five katas.

Back to the same partner to do one-step sparring for the others who are testing for Kyu ranks. Doing one-step, since I have been a Shodan, is always fun since I am not limited to the exam rules for one-step which is fairly simple when it comes to block and counterattack. Doing counter attacks with elbows or other attacks is always something that keeps each partner on their toes.

We spent a good amount of time working on the exam basics which includes a lot of kicks, more than I remember, standard block and counter moves going forward and back along with a lot of shifting movements. I don’t know how many we did but it seemed as if the shifting was never going to end.

After that, it was time for kata. For this, all the people who are examining has to do the kata for the rank they hope to achieve and everyone was able to pick the kata of their choice which gave me some more time to work on a new kata.

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..