Sunday, May 25, 2014

2014/05/24 Class

Just A and Flower practiced while Nico and I "watched".

Both A and Flower did really  well this practice.  Flower did ALL of the sparring practice except for the final "free sparring" where they actually try and hit each other.  Aspen is doing very well with the free sparring.  He can see the punches and kicks coming and can block them better and he really tries to get his punches and kicks in whereas before, he was just kicking without connecting.

Actually, Nico cheered them on through most of the practice.   She wasn't as annoyingly loud this time as she was the last time, but after two practices of bringing the soon-to-be three-year-old, I think the other parents are probably hoping that I don't bring her anymore.  Because I had to watch her so closely I wasn't always able to watch Hannah and Aspen.  Some of the parents decided to intervene when they were acting their age too much.  Which, to tell you the truth, is a good thing for the kids.  They  don't listen to me well because they are tired of hearing me yell at them for this or that.  So it is good for them to get spoken to by another adult.  (Also, I need to be a better father who yells at them less and makes them laugh more.  Then they will start to listen to me more.)

I'm also  thinking that I need to concentrate more on helping A and Flower get more out of their practices.  Actually, A is doing really well without my interference. It is probably the same for Flower too.  When I go around with her she doesn't do as well.  I need to give her a bit of instruction to remind her how to do some of the Kumite practice and some of the Kihon.  This time I showed her how to do the side kick from horse stance.  A usually won't listen to me AT ALL.  I've been too negative in the past and he won't listen to me anymore.

The reason I have been watching for the last two practices (and we missed one because my wife decided the kids were too tired to go and needed to rest) is that I had a skin tumor?? taken off the bottom of my big toe and it is not yet healed well enough.  We shall see how it feels by the next practice.  If its not ready then it will surely be ready next week.

Final notes.
We have two new members.  Two brothers.  One is in the 5th grade, I think, and the other is maybe in the 4th grade.  The older brother seems to be really flexible and he can kick really high.  Also, I was told that someone from my office came to visit on the day we didn't go and that his wife and child were interested.  They weren't there the last two days though, so they might not come back.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

2014/05/10 Class Work your Core



Warm-up - we play tag and goof around as a means to warm-up before practice starts.
Push-up tag - We played tag and if you got tagged you had to do 10 push-ups.
Ladder runs - They have a training ladder for footwork they lay out on the floor.  The highest ranking black belt would run from one end to the other doing various footwork exercises and then everyone would follow after.  I ran them with Flower.
Twisting sit-ups - just because I need to work on my core.


Since Muto-sensei was at the All Hokkaido Tournament, we had practice with Kon-sensei as the main instructor.  Before I get started on how this was different than usual, I want to take a moment to try and recall what and how the student speaker of the day speaks.

To start, the instructor calls us to line up.  We all line up according to our rank.  After everyone is ready, the speaker calls out:

Mokuto 黙とう!- I think this means to take a moment of silence and reflection. Usually only for about 5 seconds.
Shomen ni rei - 正面に礼bow to the front (assuming this is to pay respect to the flag)
Naotte - 治って (or sometimes やめて、or 治れ)
Sensei ni rei - 先生に礼 bow to the instructor
Naotte - 治って
Otagai ni rei - お互いに礼 bow to each other. (we just all bow once more to the front of the room)
Naotte - 治って

After all this is said and done we begin basic drills.

We didn't drill too hard today.  Kon-sensei spent a lot of time reviewing and instructing the two visitors on how and why to do each of the drills.  (straight punch from neutral and horse stance, straight lunch punches from downward block (gedan barai), rising block, rising block to reverse (counter) punch, outside

A new drill - Knee-ups

  • knee ups - alternating legs
  • knee ups to front kick
  • knee ups to roundhouse kick

A new drill we did was something we had done before but different. We did knee-ups like we do straight punches, with each person counting to ten and doing them one leg after the other.  Next we did knee-ups to front kick and then knee-ups to roundhouse kicks and finally a four-kick combination done without stopping which consisted of front kick, side kick, back kick, front kick.  Kon-sensei said that doing drills like this will help improve our kicks and will be difficult if we don't have a solid core.  I certainly could not do the combination kicks without loosing my balance.  He encouraged us to do knee-up drills on our own.  I actually had already started doing knee-ups on my own before this practice.  I know strengthening these muscles will help my kicks and it will help my running form when I get back into running.  Kon-sensei said that these types of drills are done in Kyokushin Karate but not often in Shotokan.  Here is a good article from 24FightingChickens about isolation exercise for the front kick: How to Front Kick.

I mentioned at the end of practice to one of the other parents that it would be nice to have one more day a week of practice.  She said that they had already been talking about possibly getting together on Mondays too without the Sensei.

My son was not into practice.  The instructors and the other members are all trying to get him to get in line and get serious about practice but this just turns him off.  We wants to practice when he wants to practice.  He doesn't want to get serious.  He just wants to have fun.   I don't want him to quit.  We need some fun injected somewhere in the middle of practice but they are so short.  We need to find a happy medium.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

05/07/2014 Look where you kick

Muto-sensei, Kon-sensei


When practicing kihon or kata, do you ever find yourself doing the moves without looking where you are striking?  I don't know how much practicing kihon or kata will prepare one for sparring but, I do think that the image training aspect of these exercises would help a little.  Doing these exercises with the the best form you can muster, with the most speed, accuracy and power that you can put into them is surely going to benefit you in a physical way by strengthening your muscles and getting your heart rate up.  But more than that, I have been thinking that imagining your target will help you practice being more aware of your opponent.

Muto-sensei reminded me, laughingly, that I need to be looking where I am kicking!

We have had two visitors the last two classes.  They seemed kind of shy.  Hopefully they will join.  I don't know if we were very impressive to them.  Muto-sensei probably should have had us do some free sparring so they could watch the better members in action.  That would have been more inspiring than just kihon, yakusoku kumite, and kata.

Flower went even farther through the series of kumite today than last time.  Although she didn't really do kihon and didn't do any kata.

I am in the process of learning all the English terms. As I learn them I will start using those terms instead.  It will make it easier to type.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

05/03/2014 - Sparring with the big guy

Muto-sensei, Kon-sensei

The kids had a long day and were already tired by the time we made it to practice today.  Even so, Flower did Kumite all the way through the third round.  Our Kumite goes like this:

  1. sanbon kumite - one person does three strikes (straight lunge punch to the chin, straight lunch punch to the chest) and the other person does three blocks (age-uke, soto-uke) You know what's coming and how to block it. 
  2. ippon kumite - one person does one strike (punch to the chin, punch to the chest, front kick) the other person blocks but practices moving out of the way and blocking at the same time.
  3. ???? kumite - not sure what this one is called. You both bow and put up your dukes. The announces the strike and then takes three steps forward and strikes. The blocker acknowledges the announcement and  takes three steps back, blocking the strike and throwing a counter punch on the third step.
  4. Kaeshiwaza - Almost free sparring.  One person announces upper or middle attack and then throws three quick strikes while moving forward, the other person blocks. 
  5. jiyu kumite - free sparring.  You bow and go.  
Flower made it all the way through number 3 today.  It was the first time.  Admittedly I sort of had to drag her through it but she did it.  It depends on who she is working with but she doesn't feel comfortable working with everyone yet.  She works better with some folks.  She works well with me, when we are alone and I am on my knees.

I never realized how intimidating a bigger person can be until today.  Now I think I understand a little why the kids don't attack me harder than they do.  Today I had the chance to spar with Kon-sensei, who is as big, if not bigger/taller than I.  It was only for about 30 seconds but it was intimidating and exhilarating at the same time.  He punched me in the head I think. I'm not sure, but I do remember getting pushed back at the start. After that he tried several kicks. It was the first time I had ever stood in front of an adult close to my age and size. For the next class I will try to be less intimidating for the kids so they can have more confidence to attack. I'm not sure how I'll be able to accomplish that, but I'll try.

As a side note, I am thinking that with a taller opponent it may be possible to use an uppercut like the one practiced in Heian godan.    Also, the bigger a person is, the stronger they have to be to move quickly because it takes more strength to move heavier limbs (lets loose those extra pounds). So I am thinking that a tall opponent who is lean and strong with little extra weight would have an advantage as they would have a long reach and be able to punch and kick quickly.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The 10,000 hour myth

Have you heard about the 10,000 hour "rule"?  The myth that it takes roughly 10,000 hours to gain mastery in any field of practice?  Recently I read an interesting article on why this is indeed just a myth.

The article introduced how science has shown that it is not massed practice but spaced, interleaved and varied practice that helps one to improve with better and lasting results.   The basic gist was that if you "cram" or just do the same thing over and over again, you'll forget it easier and learn it less thoroughly.  If you work on something a little now, and then do something else and then come back to the first thing later, you'll remember it better.  It feels like you are not learning it as well in the beginning but by forcing your brain to work harder to remember and recall with less practice, you remember it better.  Ah, forget my summary, go read the article yourself. (Ditch the 10,000 hour rule!)

So the idea for here is to train smarter, not more.  It made me think about our practice.  We have two practices a week.  To me that just does not seem like enough. Not only does it not seem like it is frequent enough, but 90 minutes on one day and two hours the next leaves me full of questions and doubts that need attention.  Sensei comes, class starts, class finishes, sensei leaves.  There is no free time within the practice where we could ask each other or the sensei questions.  To a certain degree this is just bad luck for us, I think.  The sensei has to drive two hours to get here.  Class finishes at 8 pm and he has to drive 2 hours back. There are no adults practicing but me.  There are actually two other adults but they never come to practice and they are no better than I.  The other members (children) are too busy playing tag and while I can grab one of them for some questions and instruction, I can't hold their attention long.  They just want to have fun.

Each practice does have the same elements.  Perhaps too much the same.  But at the same time, our sensei often introduce things that we don't practice often. Like a combination block to counter that we rarely do.  Or a new kata that we rarely do. This variation and spacing out of the practice may be a good thing.

I still feel like it's not enough, however.  I need a lot of help with the basics. But I have very little time to practice.  I must get my lazy butt out of bed in the morning or I'll never get more practice in.