Thursday Karate class – 5/1/08 – Arms and hands are two ropes with rocks tied on the ends.

 As we were starting class and sitting in seiza, Sensei Cieplik gave told us of an exercise where, while in seize, you raise straight up from the knees.  This is good for strengthening the knees, especially if they are are sore from hard training.

Sensei Cieplik often comments on how many of us are too tight and we need to relax when we do our Karate training.  I couldn’t agree more and often feel that if I could just let go, my Karate and other things outside of Karate would improve.  I always try to relax during class and only focus on the task at hand but even doing my movements can stress me out.  Tonight was a little different because I was able to let things go a little better for at least a few of the movements that we did.

Sensei brought up an interesting story about how a young female kata competitor asked how to be better at kata.  Sensei told her that she needs to imagine that coming from her shoulders, her arms are ropes and her hands are rocks attached to the end of the ropes. She needs to swing her shoulders and not have any tension in her arms.  Once she gets the feeling, she needs to do the same thing when doing her kata and let her hands whip out like someone snapping a towel at a friend in a locker room.  She walked away, walked away thinking, ya right, that’s the key.  After some time, the world champion Italian Karate team was in and met with some of our instructors and members of our club and she asked them, how do I get better at kata? and they answered, swing your arms as if they are ropes with rocks attached to the end.  Sensei was able to explain it in fewer words then I could type but the idea is the same.  If you release the tension on your arms and let the power come from the ground up, through our feet, legs and hips, your arms will do what they need to do.  Use the hips to swing the arms, not the arm muscles.

Sensei made a point to talk about when we move forward and backward, we need to cover our groin.  This is one of the key things that he often stresses in our classes.  He had us do many of our combinations paying all attention to covering our groin and not to worry about the upper body.  For me, I felt that focusing on that part of the movement gives me more hip rotation.  I am not sure that is the case but it feels that way to me.

We did some of our normal movements but there was a new one that really worked the brain.  We did a front leg, front kick come down with a reverse punch.  This was hard to get a handle on since we are used to front kicks with front punches.

Another exercise that Sensei demonstrated was kneeling down on a pad with one knee and pulling that knee with the other leg.  This exercise it to help punch with the body and make the hips work correctly.

Sensei had us finish class with a lot of kata.  I really like doing kata with him and watching him do the moves is very impressive.  You can just see the power emanating from his body when he does the movements.  We worked on Heian Shodan, Heian Nidan, Heian Sandan, Tekki Shodan, Jion and Bassai Dai.  I tried my best to focus more on using my legs and hips and less on my arms and upper body.  When I do things like this, I realize how much more I have to learn and how little I know.  I know that I will get there and I am satisfied that every class I take brings me a step closer.

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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