Sunday, August 31, 2014

Remember the numbers of moves in Kata

I'm not sure what to call 挙動 (kyodou) in English, but it is the official (?) counts for the moves in a kata.  Each Kata has x number of moves in it.  I've found that remembering how many total moves there are in a kata makes it easier to recall the kata during practice.

For example, I've been trying to remember all the moves in Jion and there are 47 moves in it, according to the references I am using.  Move number 22 is a downward block.  Move number 30, has you standing in heisoku-dachi with your fists down to your sides in a V away from your body.  Move 37 is an outside block done right before you turn around 270 degrees to perform an inside block with your left hand.  I don't remember what every move is for every move number, but remembering the number for specific moves at points throughout the kata is helping me recall the others.

I have remembered all the moves for the Heian Kata and several other kata but I still need work on rhythm and timing and a host of other things.

I am beginning to realize that a lot of time spent training for Shotokan karate, as I guess is the same with other sports, is done in the mind.  Reading, studying, image training, recalling, wondering, ....  thinking.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

2014/08/27 Class



Kihon - I am still keeping in mind what I learned recently and the advice I was given.

  • Get you knees up high when you kick.  
  • Practice taking your steps quickly. 
  • Take big steps (it IS a LUNGE punch after all). 
  • Try to reach as far as you can when you punch   

Our space is a bit small and when we line up two rows deep, I almost always have to line up off-set from the other members so I don't run into them during kihon.

Not so many members were present at this practice.  The number worked out so that you had to work with the same person twice for each round during kumite practice.


We did all the Heian kata.  Muto-sensei said that I need to master all of these, especially Heian Yondan because that will mostly likely be the next one I have to do for the next belt test I take.  As we were doing it I DID feel that I needed to work on it some more.

We did Wankan and then Kanku Dai.

It was the first time, I think, that I had seen and tried Kanku Dai.  It is long but it looks like it should be easy enough to learn and remember since it has most of the elements of the Heian Kata.  Some things that are not in the Heian Kata that I remember are upper and lower knife hand blocks.  A two handed forward thrusting uppercut of some sort that ends with you "falling" to the floor.  I will have to look at my Kata book and work through it a few times.  Then I might start working on the Jiin Kata since I almost have Jion memorized.  Which reminds me, I am still not 100% sure of what to do with my hands during Jitte.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


August 23, 2014 (Saturday)
Muto-sensei, Kon-sensei

Kon-sensei didn't come till the very end.

We did the usual kihon, kumite and kata.


I tried to recall what I learned at the last belt test and practice and tried to put that into effect.
*Take bigger, faster, stronger steps, especially when doing lunge punches/kicks.
*Raise your knee high before you kick.  I was surprised at how much this made a difference. It really helps get my kicks higher.  HOWEVER, my muscles are still too short and I still can't fully extend my leg if I have it raised up higher than 90 degrees from the floor.  I need to work more consistently at stretching every day.
*Side kicking (yoko keage / yoko kekomi) Trying to implement what I learned but still feeling clumsy about it.  However, with my bad hips, I was really hurting before and I can see how the new advice I got will make a difference as it will work better with my body (and anyone's I'm sure).
For Yoko keage-Point your knee in the direction you will kick then turn your hips and finish the kick.Yoko kekomi-Raise for knee up with it pointing in the direction your body is facing, not the direction you are kicking, and then rotate your hips and finish the kick.Kon-sensei said he had just learned to do it this way that day.
To tell you the truth, regardless of where you point your knee, it seems to me like you are doing the same movement in the end.  That is, rotating your hips and finishing the kick.  I'll have to get more instruction on this, because the purpose of the two kicks is not the same, right? Keage, is to knock something up and out of the way, and kekomi is to actually hit the opponent with the kick.


Jion - heel palm strikes?  These strikes should be aimed for the solar plexus.  I guess mine were a bit too high.

A few of the members were gone so we got more time with each member during free sparring.  I tried to actually make contact more with my round house kicks.  With the helmets, they seem to be pretty harmless.  I'm not trying to hit the kids hard, but if they don't get hit at all, they won't be ready for it when they do in a tournament.  A, especially, doesn't try to block at all when working with me.  I'll have to talk to the other members in secret and get them to start hitting him lightly so he can learn to have a healthy wariness about getting hit.

I landed a front kick in one of the kids' sides and he was wincing for a while.  He seemed fine today.  I didn't hit him very hard but he moved into the kick.  I also hit one of the black belts pretty hard right on the chin of his helmet.  He came back with much more intensity after that and kicked me  in the ribs twice, both times he was too fast for me to block and exposed some of my weeks spots.  Basically, I haven't been hit enough to know where I need to pay attention to, and neither have the other newbies.  I have been given a belt that exceeds my experience and skill.  I open myself up to getting hit.  I'd really like to video tape the sessions for review.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jion and Jiin


Today was the first practice A, H and I attended after our last belt test. Everyone had their new belts or their new kyu and Muto-sensei handed out certificates to everyone who moved up a level.  He scolded one of the members as he doesn't think she works hard in practice and said that if it had been up to him, he wouldn't have let her move up a level but the other judges decided she should.  To tell you the truth, she doesn't work hard in practice but I think that is because she just doesn't have the stamina to go all out.  When tournament time comes though, she goes all out.  A was proud to get his certificate and, although he got scolded once or twice in practice, he worked hard and kept serious more than usual.  Usually he can't concentrate that long and gets bored and starts goofing off.
I am/was worried about what the other members (all children) would think of that fact that I was promoted 4 levels past some of them who have been doing this for a few years longer than I (I've only been doing it for one year).  It is hard for me to read their emotions but I guess I'll just have to work hard to make myself worthy of the level given me.

We did Jion and Jiin today for the first time.  The black belts worked on it during the last belt test and special practice.
I need to look these up and practice them on my own.
Muto-sensei told me again that I need to hit the kids or neither them nor I will get better. He says to pull my punches but to actually hit them. They need to know what it's like and they need to experience that shock of getting hit.  He said to strike and pull back my fist/leg quickly, showing them my speed.

I need to work on
Taking big fast steps
Footwork and building speed and agility
Combinations, especially age uke to gyakuzuki. Soto uke to gyakuzuki etc
Bringing my knee up high when kicking

 We missed a few practices as we had taken a week off to go camping.
A and H both did really well and worked all the way through the entire practice.  Today was the first day of school after summer break and between that and karate practice she was plum tuckered out.  She fell asleep in the car on the way home.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Belt Test and Practice

This post is unfinished.

A and I had our second belt test today.  A moved up one level from 11 to 10.  I moved up 4 levels?? from 8 to 4.

I   was surprised and a bit confused because the contents of the test where not what I had expected.  I was given a sheet with the contents of the tests for all levels up to black belt, however, it was not the same as the actual test.  I was asked to do skills which we almost never practice.

For one, and I may have heard the guy wrong, because I was having a hard time hearing this guy again, just like the last time, but it sounded like he told us to do jodan tsuki.  We never do jodan tsuki.  Did I hear that right?  Next we were told to do jodan maegeri kekomi.  We don't often do this either and doing any kick to the upper level is very difficult for me with my short muscles.  Next we were told to get into horse stance and do jodan yokogeri kekomi.  We have rarely, if ever, practiced this.  However, kekomi is easier for me to do than keage.  I may be forgetting some of what we were asked to do.  We might have also done knife hand block in back stance but I can't remember.

Kihon - In list form

  1. gedan barai -> jodan tsuki
  2. mawatte, gedan barai -> ??? age uke??
  3. mawatte, gedan barai -> jodan maegeri kekomi
  4. mawatte, gedan barai -> kiba-dachi -> jodan yoko kekomi

(all done 3 times each)

NOTE: If you are not sure of what you have been asked to do, ask! Repeat to the tester what you thought you heard.  If you still can't understand his muffled Japanese, ask him to show it to you!


Kumite was the same as the last time I took a belt test.  3-bon kumite.  However, this time I had to do it with a 5-year-old!  She's a good 5-year-old, but I wasn't sure if I was supposed to ignore her heigth and just do it as if she were my height, which would make it impossible for her to do her blocks right, or if I should try to lower my strikes so that she could actually do a soto-uke for my chudan tsuki. Muto-sensei is always telling us just to do it for your own height and let the person receiving adjust so I guess that is probably how I should have done it.

Kata - As expected we did Heian Nidan.

We had a guest instructor come from another city to help with the test and he also led us through the practice after the test.  We did a number of drills that we never do at our own practices. For one thing, we did at least 20 of everything.  Often times we did 40 or 80 of one skill/drill.

We did some combinations that I had never done before. For example we did chudan gyakuzuki, Jodan zuki, chudan zuki.

I got lots of advice that I am still trying to recall.  One was to put my hikite a little higher, to just above my belt. 

We worked on yokogeri with Kon-sensei.
For Yoko keage-
Point your knee in the direction you will kick then turn your hips and finish the kick.
Yoko kekomi-
Raise for knee up with it pointing in the direction you r body is facing, not the direction you are kicking, and then rotate your hips and finish the kick.
Kon-sensei said he had just learned to do it this way that day.

Keep your knee over your toe in front stance
Raise your knee up high when front kicking (kakae komi!)
Try hard to reach as far as you can when punching. 
Follow through with your whole body when launching an offensive as it leaves little room for your opponent to counter.
Step quickly, as quickly as you can
Take big steps
Get deep in your stances
Don't let your body bob up and down as you step etc. Keep your head at the same level as you take steps the steps.

-take wider steps when moving
-master Heian Sandan
-3本組手をしっかりする (Not sure how to translate this.  Basically, he needs to improve his 3-bon kumite).
He got marked down for

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

2014/08/06 Practice

Just 4 days until the next belt test and practice.

Advice: I was told (again) to make sure my back leg, when stepping, is straight and my heel is on the floor.
A was told not to drag his feet when stepping.
Heian Nidan - Nukite, make sure your left hand is under your elbow or perhaps slightly before it (forearm direction).
Heian Sandan - for some reason I keep ending up facing slightly to the right instead of straight forward.
Heain Yondan and Godan - I was unable to return exactly to the starting point.
Heain Yondan - Need to study the timing.
A was scolded again for playing with his belt (about the 10th time) and for having a bad attitude (yawing, not sitting up, picking at his toes while the instructor was talking).  He gets tired and then he starts to fidget and it looks like he is not listening, and he probably isn't listening.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

2014/08/02 Heian Nidan

I got confused on the time and we showed up almost 30 minutes late, but this turned out to be a good thing.  Since we missed the basic punching and kicking drills, we weren't tired for the sparring and kata.  Both A and H finished all of the sparring drills and H went through free sparring for the first time, which is really just play for her.  A also did most if not all of the kata, I can't remember.  The kids have always had a hard time completing a whole practice and I guess the reason was that they have just been too physically tired to do so.

Perhaps we need to do something more during the week to help build up their endurance.  A does soccer once a week, so he is doing three things each week.  I have been to many of his soccer practices.  They are not very physically demanding.   The kids have started doing early morning radio exercises, as is the custom for elementary school kids to do during summer vacation here in Japan. The exercises themselves are only good enough to serve as a light warm-up, but then in our neighborhood, after the exercises, they all run around the block once before they are finished.  They collect stamps on a stamp card and at the end of summer vacation they usually get a little paper bag of goodies for their efforts.  I wish I could keep the kids going after summer break is over. I know big N would never do it.  A might, but it is so hard to get them to do anything.  Once you get them started with any activity, they are fine, but it is so hard to get them to break their inertia (sitting on the couch reading a book etc).

I think that I may have been doing Heian Nidan wrong. I think I was doing oizuki when I should have been doing gyakuzuki.  Kon-sensei was leading us this day and he spends more time explaining the details than Muto-sensei and I think this change of pace got me goofed up. I hope that is all it was and that I haven't been practising it wrong.  We have a belt test in 6 days and I'm pretty sure Heian Nidan is the kata I will have to perform.

I asked a young instructor once for advice.  I told him I would get off balance when doing the 270 degree turns in the kata.  He suggested I do half steps and to bring my feet together first and then to step out into the stance. That is the way I have been practicing it for months now.  At the last practice, however, Kon-sensei showed us how we need to just practice stepping into the stance directly, and that we have to practice it until we get a feel for where to put our feet.  So I started reviewing videos again and sure enough, none of those guys are taking half steps.

Here's a question.  Is the uraken done with the fist vertical or horizontal? And is that a stupid question?  It looks like it is done vertical, with the thumb knuckle pointing up.  Also, I think that I might be doing the mid-level knife hand block with my hand up too high.  I must remember the mid-level means, and correct me if I'm wrong, in line with the solar plexus.