Thursday Karate class – 2/7/08 – Many things to think about.

I am not sure where to start.  Sensei Cieplik told us so many different things tonight that I had to write them down as soon as I came home.  I am sure I missed a few but I think I remembered most of it.

We started with the normal warm up.  I missed class the last two weeks because of I was sick one week and my wife was sick the other.   It  felt good to do the kicking warm up again and I really need to start doing that as part of my home workout.

We then did moving forward knee strike.  Then the same but with the front snap kick.  We then did double front snap kick with the back leg.  The double front snap kick with the same leg was something that I don’t recall doing in the past.  It sounds simple but trying to execute the second kick with any power was a bit of a challenge to me.   We then did the same movements followed with triple punch.   After that came back leg double roundhouse kick followed by triple punch.  Doing the roundhouse kicks and trying to following them up with the triple punch was really hard for me.  I kept ending up with the wrong hand in front.  We then did front leg front snap kick, followed with rear leg front snap kick and triple punch.

We then worked on some stance and punching movements.  We started with the normal combinations such as rising block with reverse punch and we did most of the blocks that we always do.  After that, we did front hand jab, step forward with reverse punch.  If I understand correctly, the idea is to have to jab and the reverse punch finish at near the same time.  When I do the movement, as my feet come together, I throw the jab and follow immediately with the reverse punch.  It’ feels like a very flowing but powerful movement.

We then moved into back stance work.  Moving forward with knife hand block.  Then the same but front snap kick and nukite.  Sensei explained that it is alright to have the heel centers about three fingers width apart.  We were taught to have the heel centers in line but he said that he has no problem with having the space and that it would make moving in a back stance easier.  It’s also more comfortable to hold that stance when the heels are in that position.

Throughout the entire class, Sensei made many comments that really stuck out to me.  I am listing them below in no particular order except as I remembered them.  These aren’t Sensei’s exact words.

Prepare, display and retreat.  We prepare by practicing our Karate.  I am not too sure on this but I think we display it by using it or performing it both in real life and competitions.  And we retreat if it doesnt work the way we expect it to work.
The following comment really hit home.  Sensei said, you know Karate up to your last belt rank since you have been promoted to it but you are now learning your new belt rank.  In essence, he is saying to not worry about what you have already been promoted to, instead, work on learning the rank you are currently at.  This doesn’t mean that you should forget all that you have learned up to that point, it means don’t stress yourself out more than you need.

As we were sitting in seiza at the start of class, for a long time a long time by the way, Sensei made a comment about when people are listing, really listening to someone, their posture will be upright and good.

For the men in the group, keep shoulders down when doing our movement.  Sensei suggested that we practice our punching with the palm of draw hand facing upward.  When the palm is facing down, it causes the shoulders to engage and rise upward.
When you teaching others, for example Heian Shodan, make sure that you do so with your head up. If you look down when teaching the kata, those learning it will look down too.  If you have no spirit or lack enthusiasm when doing it yourself, it will show in those you taught and the will do it the same way.

We then did some kata.  We did Heian Shodan three times.  Sensei had us pay extra attention to the draw hand elbow.  I really like when he has us focus on a particular detail when doing Heian Shodan.  It makes the kata feel new and more exciting even though I have done it more times that I can remember.  It just shows that there is always something that can be fixed or improved upon no matter how far you advance up in the ranks.  Another point was to enjoy yourself when doing a lower belt kata.  You already know it so now just enjoy it.  The second and third time I did the kata, I had a smile on my face.  It did make it feel different, different good.

Senei was explaining moves three and four in Heian Shodan.  Move three blocks a kick, the bottom of move four strips another kick away and the top of move four breaks the clavicle with the hammer fist.

A few more points that I found enlightening was the following:

Punch to the elbow.  To many people are trained to stop their punches for competition and they often never train actually hitting things.  Many people who don’t punch things can’t punch well.  It sounds like common sense but if you never really hit anything, you are not going to learn how to hit things.  If you think about punching through something all the way to your elbow, your punches will do damage.

Some people have fast hands but do not hit hard.  Other hit hard but do not have fast hands.  Try to end up somewhere in the middle.

Sensei also mentioned that people have three radar zones in the body.  The back of the neck, the lower back and the back of knees.  Sensei  brought this up when explaining about having a gaze when doing kata instead of direct focus.  His point was to look not only in front but also to the sides.  He explained that each side is “a” and “b” and behind is “c”.  You can’t see “c” but you can feel it.

We then finished up the class doing Heian Nidan, Tekki Shodan and Bassai Dai.

I learned so many things in class tonight, now I just need to figure out how to remember and apply all of them.

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..

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