Thursday Karate class – 6/19/08 – Time for some Bassai Dai.

Today started a new session and there we some new faces in class. A few more black belts and a couple of brown belts. Another one of our friends from our other classes signed up after we told her how much we get out of taking Sensei Cieplik’s class.

A little extra warm up.

It was a little cold in the dojo even though it was warm outside. Because of this, Sensei had us do extra kicking drills for our warm up. We started with front snap kicks, then moved to front snap kick followed with back kick.

Next was front snap kick, side thrust kick, back kick, roundhouse kick, side thrust kick to the front and another front snap kick. Sensei Cieplik likes to use this particular group of kicks because is forces the hips to be used in many different positions. I am usually panting like dog and dripping with sweat after just a few of these and tonight was no different.

We finished our warm up with a drill that I am never sure if I explained correctly. We start in a front stance with our reverse hand out in front, we then throw a rear leg front snap kick, set our leg back behind us, in the position it started in and then throw a reverse punch. If I understand it correctly, we do this drill to see if we can get connected with our back leg, for the reverse punch, after throwing the front snap kick. When I do this movement the correct way, it feels so strong, it is hard to describe without doing and feeling it yourself.

The hard workout begins…

Sensei had us spent some extra time on our moving forward front snap kick with front punch movement. Sensei had us do a few moves the normal way and then he added a twist. Sensei had us add a cat stance to the movement right after the front snap kick. Instead of just falling into a front stance and punching, we had to focus on putting our foot down in front, in the cat stance, and then pushing our leg forward before we threw the punch. He has often told us to scare our opponent with our knee and adding the cat stance to this movement certainly does just that. Because we a not just dropping into the front stance, it makes for a better grounded connection with the back leg and back foot. The punch almost becomes automatic since most of the focus in on the knee strike.

Back stance, no hands!

We also spent some time working on our back stances. Sensei said “back stance assume” and with the exception of very few people, my son being one of them, everyone moved into a back stance with knife hand block. He let us do about three or four moves before he told 98% of the class that we were doing the movement the wrong way.

The reason for doing the back stance without the hands is to make the movement smoother and lighter. When we move with our hands, our shoulders and arms help us through the movement but doing it without any upper body assistance, it makes the movement much harder. I really need to work on this movement outside of class because it didn’t feel good at all. I felt like my feet were glued to the because I could not use my hands to help me move.

Rising block, more like rising strike.

Sensei had us spent some time working on our rising block. One of the habits when doing a rising block is that some people raise their arms parallel to the floor. This is good for blocking a punch and pushing it above the head but if you raise your arm in a vertical position and turn it less than parallel at the top, the movement becomes a powerful strike. Another key part of this movement is to twist your wrist at the end. When I say twist the wrist, picture how to twist your fist right at the end of a punch but instead you do it when you block. This makes the movement feel extremely powerful and I am sure that it can be used to break bones in an opponents arm if executed properly. He also made the point of using two hands with our blocks, which I think I have been doing from almost the start and crossing the arms into an “X” when doing the rising block. He also says to twist the body to get the upper back muscles into the movement instead of using just the shoulder muscles like many students often do.

Time for kata…

We started off with some Heian Shodan. I never get tired of this kata even after doing it for almost four years now.

Next we did Tekki Shodan three times. We have a student testing this weekend and Sensei wanted to watch him closely and give him advice if needed.

We then did Jion. My Jion felt a little better than before. Now that my exam is over, I feel that I am more relaxed and I felt that my Jion flowed better than in the past. It was strong but it felt much more fluid and not tensed like before.

We finished up with Bassai Dai. This was one of the first times that I did the entire. Thanks to Ira, one of our high ranking black belts who helped me get through all the moves, I was able to finish the kata. I am not sure what to think of it yet. I am able to do the hip movements easier that I thought I would be able to do them but there is just so much to remember. It really seems like a long kata so I am going to have to spend a lot of time working on remember all the moves.

Sensei gave us some good advice as we were leaving class. He suggested that we hit pads outside of class. Hitting the pads with help allow us to focus the point of impact instead of just pushing when we strike. Punching in the air never allows for feedback on if a punch or kick was focused or not and the pad work should help us develop the focus that I feel I am lacking.

Sensei also suggested drill where we use a stick to make sure the hips are working correctly. Hopefully I can explain this in text here. Get into a left leg forward front stance, put the stick on the right hip in front and throw a reverse punch. The stick should move forward and not out to the side if the move is done correctly.

Excellent advice and class as always.

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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