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the corona chronicles – day 1

Yesterday the government advised to avoid “all unnecessary travel” and consequently i suspended all training. i promised everybody that i would be posting ideas for training at home,  so i thought i’d start straight away. “no time like the present” thing.

i filmed a short sequence and checked the result. i wasn’t happy at all. i can be quite critical, but frankly, i haven’t been training enough myself. so that was short-lived, at least for now, but not entirely useless. just filming myself for a few minutes and watching the result gave me a few things i want to improve. after all, the japanese word for training is “keiko” (稽古) which means something like “reflect on the wisdom of previous generations”, so reflection and examination should be integral to karate training.

and there we have it – your first training tip: film yourself and then examine the result. you will be able to see what i see when you train in the dojo. you will notice some of the things we work on (e.g. are you striking to the correct target? is your hikite tight? etc.). then it’s just a matter of: film, examine, improve, repeat.

As a possible exercise i can suggest the following:

standing in shizentai (natural stance) perform choku zuki (straight punch): 10 times slow, 10 times fast and 10 times double punch (do 5 starting on the right and 5 on the left). that’s 30 punches in total. film from the front and from the side. makes 60.

now examine the video and find just one or two things you’d like to improve. repeat as necessary (perhaps also in kiba dachi).

you can also make your own exercises. if you practice kata i recommend breaking it down to short sequences. fix on thing then move on to the next. remember to film front and side as each one will reveal different details.

enjoy and send your comment!

oss.

This Christmas – a political message

I should probably know better than to mix karate with politics, but something has happened, which is so big and significant in our lives, that I feel it trumps such sensibilities.

Brexit has been a divisive issue in our society, but last night it became an inevitable reality. Both Neil and I have been deeply saddened and angered by the decision of the British people, but most of all I think it’s left us heartbroken.

If the UK had not been a member of the EU I would have never come here. Neil and I would not have met and Kanshin would have never been created. Shotorama and all the other special and wonderful things we dreamt and created would have never come to be. Likewise, many of our members, past and present, would not have come to these Isles, lived and trained amongst us and touched our lives. For Neil and I that is the true meaning of Brexit. We are faced with the loss of something very dear and fundamental in our lives that it is almost like losing a loved one. Simply put, we are in mourning.

All the while we are also acutely aware that our country is in the midst of a social crisis. A crisis of homelessness, of poverty and of children going hungry. This Christmas there will be children going to bed on an empty stomach and young people sleeping out in the freezing cold. This is not happening in some third world failed state, but here, in the world’s fifth richest country.

So here we are, the nightmare of Brexit will now become our reality. It will make things worse not better, especially for those vulnerable communities that voted for it. The forces that conspired to bring it about are too great for us to tackle, but perhaps this Christmas we can make a difference in the lives of just a few people. Perhaps in this very dark hour we can shine a little light of hope even if for a moment.

Neil and I have each given £50 to The Number Five Project, a charity that provides night shelter for homeless people. We have also decided to dedicate all proceeds from Neil’s upcoming session on 28 December to that charity, so participation will be free. If you intend to come and train or just feel sympathetic to our cause please consider giving as well. We hope that with your help we can double our contribution and reach our target of £200. You can donate here.

In any event, we are still all karateka and we hope to see you at the event, which will be free, regardless of your thoughts in the matter.

Guest instructor – sensei Rosie Lau

I am very excited to announce that sensei Rosie Lau, 4th dan, has agreed to join the club as a guest instructor.

Rosie is an excellent instructor who some of you met at the bojutso special session. Rosie normally lives in Manchester, where she trains under sensei Harford, but is currently in the south on project work. Rosie will be teaching the Monday lesson regularly until the end of October when she is due to return to Manchester.

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special guest – sensei Cristina Finta

we are very pleased to be hosting sensei Cristina Finta, 4th dan, this sunday, 3 march. Sensei Finta is a fantastic instructor as well as a member of the KUGB England kata team and has already won many awards in competitions.

Schedule:
14:30 – 15:30 all grades
15:30 – 16:30 black and brown belts

Price: £7 per person or just £5 for SHOTORAMA unlimited (bring your wristband!)

special guest instructor: sensei Cristina Finta 4th dan

upcoming events

i am very excited to announce a number of exciting events planned over the next few weeks:

saturday, 30 june: special seminar
14:00-15:00 – introduction to bojutsu
15:00-16:00 – karate forms: meaning, purpose & application

sunday, 8 july: special training and kyu grading with sensei garry harford, 8th dan
11:00-12:00 – all grades training
12:00-13:30 – kyu grading
13:30-15:30 – black & brown belt training
venue: the rising sun karate academy, winston churchill sports centre, gu21 8tl woking

thursday, 12 july: lesson with sensei neil jerome, 5th dan
20:00-21:30 – neil will be teaching our regular thursday class

sunday, 15 july: special session with sensei neil jerome, 5th dan
14:00-15:30 – all grades
15:30-16:30 – black & brown belts

 

upcoming special sessions in july

we have two planned sessions with sensei neil jerome at the end of the month:
thursday 27 july neil will be teaching the regular lesson 8-9:30pm. the final half hour of the lesson will be a “kata clinic” for black belts. neil will be looking at your kata individually to give you some feedback.
sunday 30 july neil will be teaching an instructors’ class 12-1pm followed by an all grades lesson 1-2:30pm. this time we decided to have the instructors’ class, which will be on construction of combinations, before the general lesson, so you could see how neil uses the principles discussed in an actual lesson. as per usual the first session is intended to anybody who’s teaching or is interested in teaching. the second part of the lesson is for all grades.
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special session, sunday 28 may

i’m very excited to be hosting sensei neil jerome again at the end of may. neil will be making a brief visit to the uk and has very generously offered to teach. we’ll have a general session open to all grades 14:00-15:30 followed by an instructors’ class 15:30 to 16:30. the instructors’ class is aim at instructors, assistants instructors and senior grades involved in teaching or those aspiring to become instructors. fees are £7 per person for the first lesson or £10 for both.

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the “safety at work” kata

i came across an article about “shisa kanko” or “pointing and calling”, which is a method used by the railway in japan and other organisation to improve accuracy and avoid mistakes and accidents. watch the video which i’m sure will be fascinating. over and above the beauty of the method and the oh-so-japanese feel it has i was also captivated by elegance and commitment with which it is executed. when the train operator points at a sign in the distance he does not do it casually. first he brings his hand to the side of his head and then points very directly and very deliberately at the object in the distance and finally the elegant gesture ends with a kind of “kime”, a certain focus. i could not avoid drawing parallels between it and shuto uchi (e.g. in heian yondan).

what can this teach us about karate? i’m not really sure. draw your own conclusions, but i hope you find the video as fascinating as i did.