Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bassai Dai?!

Muto-sensei, Kon-sensei


The same old stuff.  We do the same old stuff most of the time.  I guess Muto-sensei feels it is the best use of our limited time.  And he is probably right in thinking so.

A and H and I were all tired from the day before.  The day before was a holiday and we spent the whole day outside on an adventure and hadn't yet recovered. A was grumpy from the start. H was doing OK, but could get started on Kumite drills and didn't hardly do anything but stand around during basic drills.  She was just asking me earlier that day when HER belt was going to change. I told her, that once she learned Heian Shodan and could do 3-bon kumite, then she could get a new belt.

A, again, didn't do the kata practice.  He did Heian Shodan and then got confused with Heian Nidan and quit kata practice all together.  He doesn't want to practice, but he doesn't want to look bad by not being able to do it, either.  A bundle of contradictions.

Bassai Dai.

For some reason, Muto-sensei started to teach us Bassai Dai.  He started.  But he didn't finish.  He seemed confused.  I worry about him. He turns Eighty this year, and while most of the time he is lucid, strong and healthy looking, and has a fine memory, sometimes he gets confused.  We haven't quite internalised Kanku Dai yet.  I can do it if I am allowed to count on my own, but I get confused when I have to follow his count.  I need to practice it more so that I can do it without counting.  On this day, I got mixed up doing Heian Godan.  So embarrassing.  I just so wish I had space and time to practice.  I think with winter coming on, I won't have to worry about mozzies anymore and I might just go outside and practice in the yard, in the dark, in the snow.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kata practice, practice, practice

We have had three practices since my last post.  Muto-sensei introduced Tekki Shodan to us lower level belts for the first time.  He is eager to have me get my black belt and I feel that is part of the reason he is introducing it to us.  It is a short Kata and it looks like it should be easy to memorize all the steps/moves.  I tried twice to go over it the last three days but have been interrupted and have not had enough time to go over it on my own yet.  It looks like there are two kicks in there that I couldn't see Muto-sensei doing from behind.

We keep learning new kata, which is interesting, but I have yet had time to polish any one of them.  We always go over the Heian kata, which is good because I don't feel confident doing any of them.  I have all the steps memorized, I just don't feel that I am doing them well.  I am really eager to get a tri-pod and a new video camera so I can start video taping myself and Aspen so we can analyze our performances.

Since the Gasshuku, I have once again tried to get started doing push-ups everyday and I really need to get back into doing my rehab stretches and strength training too.  They just take so much time and our apartment is so small there is no place for me to do them.  I should stop complaining and just start doing them! I will never be able to do well at Karate if I don't drastically improve my flexibility and loose weight.  I know I don't have a lot of weight to loose, but if I could loose around 5 kg, I'm sure it would make a big difference.  I need to get running more often.  That will surely help me to loose some weight.   I have also been thinking about jumping rope.  That should help me loose weight as well as help strengthen my calves/etc for the constant bouncing done when sparring.

I am bribing the kids.  I sometimes give them candy or buy them snacks after practice as a reward.   At this point, considering how young they are, I just want them to look forward to and to associate good feelings with going to karate.

Muto-sensei said the other day that after the next exam, I should be a brown belt but that after becoming a brown belt, it might take a while before I can get my black belt, which is fine with me.  But then he said, that for adults, he usually doesn't make them wait so long.  ???  It looks like the next exam is in December.  I think we will skip that one and wait until the next one in March.  A needs the motivation the exams provide, but I don't and I really want to be worthy of a brown belt before I get it.  I can learn the stuff, well enough quickly enough, but things like speed, timing and flexibility take time and experience to develop. I don't want to be a brown belt who gets his ass kicked by some lower belt.    *Sigh*  I still have yet to practice with, let along spar against adult karateka, and to tell you the truth, the thought of it scares me a bit.  I don't want to get hurt.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My First Gasshuku

Just some notes.

First Gasshuku for me and A.

Muto-sensei, Iida-sensei, Kon-sensei, Yanai-sensei, and others. Actually, I'm not sure if the adult black belts are instructors, or just adult black belts.  I think they are most likely just parents.  Regardless, they are black belts and they are adults, which is great for me.

Practice was about 4 hours on the first day and about 3 hours on the second day.

Front Kicks
Iida-sensei was the main instructor.  He gave us pointers on how to work on improving our front kicks (mae geri)
He outlined 5 points.
1, 100-ups, practice with one foot raised slightly off the floor,m bring your knee up sharply and return to starting position without touching the floor. Do ten reps then switch feet.
2, from front stance, when you raise your back foot/knee, raise it so your foot comes flat off of the floor (raise from the toe?) and not by raising your heel first.
I can't remember the other three at the moment.  I'll have to find my notebook.  Even then, I could only remember 4.

I mentioned to one of the black belts that I never see anyone do front kicks in a kumite match.  He said maybe the is because the front kicks are too slow.  But I'm thinking that the front kick, while certainly not as powerful as a round house kick, might be faster and definitely an option to explore for me, especially since I am so handicapped by my poor flexibility.  I can imagine that a good front kick to the gut might slow someone down but that probably, I'd only have one chance to do it.

Kumite drills

Gyaku, Gyaku - start with a revers punch (gyaku zuki), then step forward with the back leg and do another reverse punch with the other arm
One, two - jab (kizami zuki) to a reverse punch
Step matching - try to step in for a counter (gyaku zuki) at the same moment your opponent starts to step in for a jab.  Ideally, your foot hits the floor as you step in at the same time as your opponent's (near impossible if your speed and reaction times are similar)
Advice, duck down? at the same time for a body blow. Can block with the left hand and strike with the right etc.
Grab and jab - grab your opponents front wrist and pull as you step in for a strike. A boy named Ryo did this to me several times during our kumite matches.  Good move.
Advice, practice keeping your guard up.  If you are going into a kumite match with other adults, the WILL try and knock you out with a roundhouse to the head.

At the last belt test the guest instructor from Asahikawa told us to try and reach as far as we could when practicing our strikes.  He said that every little bit of distance you can get out of your strike counts.  I was really able to see this play out during the kumite bouts.  Watching the really good kids and even sparring with one of them, and even during the kumite drills, I could see how they really reached out as far as they could to try and get a point.  Your opponent is trying to get out of the way, trying not to get hit and so you have to get as much distance out of your strikes as possible.  The Grab and Jab is a good example, too.  I watched, indeed experienced first hand, as Ryo reached out and grabbed my front most wrist and pulled on it to try and close the distance between his fist and my body.

Be dramatic! - I suppose this would go for Kata too, but it was a point made.  When you get a strike in, you have to dramatically pull your arm back (hikite) and dramatically do your Kiai in a loud voice, if you want to get the points.  It would seem that Shotokan Karate tournaments are part show where the expression of your skill is as important as their effectiveness.

Get em' while their down!  We practiced dramatically punching an opponent while they are down on the ground.  Iida-sensei said to grab the collar of their sleeve, draw your striking elbow way back, do the punch (without actually hitting the person), and then draw our fist way back again and at the same time kiai and stand completely up while still holding your opponent's sleeve. He didn't specifically say it, but his intention was to impart the importance of dramatics in getting points from judges.


+Heian Yondan, what's the meaning of the hand movements before the Uraken strike. your Left Hand is blocking or pushing a opponent's hand down out of the way before a strike.
+Around step 13, after empi, your left hand is doing a downward (lower level) block (uke).

Remember, the blocks should be done in HANMI.

Heian Godan, step 10, after downward x block, and the upper x block (uke), the the next move, where you twist your hands and bring them down together, has two meanings.  One is to grab a hand and bring it down, the next meaning is the left hand is blocking so you don't need to bring it to your hip, just bring it straight down.

How to enter the kata competition area

We got instruction on how to enter the area for a Kata competition.

  1. Be ready at the edge of the area on the color/side you are assigned to (red or blue). 
  2. Your name will be called, answer with "Osu!" and walk out in line with your color line, red or blue, 
  3. turn and face the front, bow to the front, 
  4. turn and face your opponent, bow to your opponent,
  5.  turn again and face the front, 
  6. walk out to your line, stopping with your toes just in front of the line, don't step on the line. 
  7. The conducting official will call out Aka, Kata! At which point the red opponent would call out the kata they were going to perform.  Then Ao, kata! And then the blue opponent will do the same. 
  8. ??? Does the official say hajime?
  9. You do your kata and return to your line.
  10. ???When both opponents are finished????/ do you return to the back line on your own timing to wait for to see who won?  
  11. The official announces who won.
  12. You bow to each other
  13. You bow to the front,
  14. You turn and leave the area.
  15. ???Do you stop and bow at the edge of the area?? 

Hmm, there are still some points I am not sure about.  I'll have to look for videos on YouTube and review the video I took during Gasshuku.  I only took a few videos of the Kata.

A final note

I am still writing and thinking about this.  Mostly I learned a lot about kumite.  I also got very sore.  It is Wednesday and I am still sore here and there from the 6+ hours of practice done over last Saturday and Sunday.  My shins and calves are sore, my glutes are sore (???), my shoulders and upper back are sore and my forearm is sore.  I noticed my wrist not being able to keep straight and being forced over when hitting the other members, for example, when we both moved forward at the same time and I punched them with a body blow.  This tells me I need to do something to strengthen my wrists.  Hitting something like a punching bag would be ideal but I don't have access to one.  In the mean time I'll start doing my push-ups up on my firsts instead of on my palms.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Slipping up

Muto-sensei, Kon-sensei

Kihon drills

Punches in neutral stance
Punches from the horse stance
Lunge punches
Rising blocks
Outside blocks
Inside blocks
Front kicks mid level
Front kicks high level
Front snap kicks mid level
Front snap kicks high level
Round house kicks mid level
Round house kicks high level
Side kicks (yoko geri) mid / high/ snap / mid / high
4 way kicks? Shihappo geri?
Nidan geri
Empi (jump spin backwards)

I have a hard time doing the round house kicks and the 4 way kicks.  I should practice those at home.  The round house kicks, we are supposed to kick as if we would hit with the ball of the foot? The meaty part of the foot at the base of the toes, while not breaking your toes.  I also feel that I need to work at doing each of the drills faster. Kick faster, punch faster, step faster.

Today I fell.  Muto-sensei was telling us to kick more and I tried to kick Crown and he is a bit taller than the others, but not as tall as me, and when I tried to kick him in the head with a round house with my left leg, my right leg came off of the ground and I ended up face down on the floor.  I was so embarrassed! I'm not sure how I can keep that from happening again but I hope it never does. Did this happen because m right foot was up on the ball of the foot? And this is why I need to keep my feet flat on the floor when kicking????  Did this happen because I'm just not flexible enough to kick that high?  I think so.  Crown tried to give me some advice but I'n not sure what he was trying to tell me.  Bend my knees? Get lower?

Flower didn't do all of the kumite but surprisingly, she did all of the Kata practice.  A on  the other hand didn't do any Kata practice at all. What's wrong with him?  What is he thinking?  Was he tired? Is just that he doesn't like Kata practice? Was he unhappy that I hadn't brought us something to drink?  I don't know.

Heian Shodan through Heian Godan

I got confused doing Wankan and was a bit embarrassed by that.  I almost have KankuDai memorized.  I need to work on that a little more.  Next I need to start studying the timing of all the kata I have learned the moves for so far.  Where do you pause for a second, where do you pause for two? Where do you go quickly, where do you go slowly?

I ran in a half marathon race on Sunday and my hamstrings are still stiff and sore.  I was careful not to kick to hard in the beginning and the seem to have held up.  I'll try going for a run tomorrow and see how they feel.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Practicing Kankudai

I have been trying just to remember all the moves in the proper sequence for Kankudai.

At first I remembered the first 15 steps.  Then, the next time I worked on it I remembered up to step 20. And this morning I worked on it and made it all the way to step 51.  I'm sure I will forget what I learned by tonight.

I might go to practice early this Wednesday and see if I can get A and me some advice on our Kata.

This morning I also did 200 punches and 100 knee raises.  My hamstrings are too sore to run or kick from running a half marathon on Sunday, so my kicks are done only to help me remember where to kick.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

2014/09/03 Getting a leg up, first competition coming soon!

Muto-sensei, Kon-sensei

I signed A and I up for our very first competition happening a month from now.  I signed us both up for kata and kumite.  A says he will do Heian Sandan.  I think I will do Heian Godan or Jitte.  Which reminds me that I need to research Jitte a little more so I can see what the hell is going on with the hands when handling the bo (stick).

Training Menu

  • Kihon - basic kicking and punching drils
  • Kumite - sparring drills & sparring
  • Kata - dancing? ;-)


We did the usual stuff.

  1. Stand in a neutral stance and do straight punches at solar plexus level.  We did about 70.  
  2. Stand in horse stance and do the above again.
  3. Swing your arms, work your knees and ankles, and do a bit of a hamstring ping????
  4. Gedan barai to Oizuki 10 times
  5. Age uke (rising block) 5 times
  6. Age uke to gyakuzuki while stepping backward 5 times
  7. outside block 5 times
  8. (Sometimes we will do outside block to gyakuzuki, or outside block to nukite (spear hand strike, but not today.)
  9. Front kick, mid-level 10 times (kekomi)
  10. Fronk kick, focus on snapping the foot back after the kick (kebanashi)
  11. Front kick kebanashi to upper level
  12. Yokogeri from horse stance (kiba dachi)
  13. Yokogeri kebanashi
  14. Yokogeri to upper level
  15. Yokogeri done like it is done in the Heian Katas.  To the side, then 45 degrees)
Then stop to get your gear on for sparring. A decided he didn't want to wear his shin and instep guards.  


The JHS kids were home studying so we were a few members short.  How we lined up meant that you faced the same person twice for each round and missed working with about half the members.  We should have shuffled the members by one to the right or left so that we could have worked with all the members.  I especially wanted to be able to work with A-kun as he is fairly aggressive and throws his punches and kicks a bit faster than the others.  

My own boy, A, will not spar with me very well.  He doesn't back up during yakusoku kumite which means I can't move forward.  He doesn't try to block at all, which is the whole reason for doing the first few drills  of kumite we do. He tries to hit me instead of just going at his own pace like is is supposed to when attacking.  One good things is that he follows through with his whole body when punching and kicking, like we were taught at the special practice we had after the last belt test. This results in him being too close for me to launch an effective counter.  But then again the same thing happens when he doesn't back up when he is supposed to.


We did all the Heian Kata while the brown and black belts worked on Gojushiho? We also did KankuDai again. I think A did all the Heian kata this practice but I'm not sure.  He stopped and went and layed down when we were doing Kanku-dai.


  1. Heian Sandan - at around move 11, where you stand up in Heisoku Dachi and bring your elbows up with your fists at your hips, make sure to keep your elbows out to the sides and not pointing back behind you.  Both A and I were making this mistake as I think most of the others were too.
  2. Also, for Heian Sandan, when you do the uraken strike after the fure-empi (??), you need to make sure your fist comes up close to your own arm so that it gets clear of your attacker's arm/fist that you just received with your elbow block.  
  3. Heian Sandan. When stepping and stomping preceding the fure-empi, Muto-sensei said to swing your body around bringing your foot around and to bring your foot in a bit once you get around before stomping it down hard.

KankuDai  - We went over this one again, for the second time.  We went through it twice with Muto-sensei and once on our own.  I couldn't remember it at all.  I can think of a better way to practice this.  I will just have to do that on my own.

Tekki - One of the black belts told me that, rather than Kankudai I should be learning Tekki, as these katas will be required when I try and get my first black belt.  Really, I don't feel I am ready for a black belt or even a brown belt and I am sure I have enough time before I get there to learn it.  I prefer to work on the kata Muto-sensei is introducing to us at the moment.  In that way I can study them on my own and then test it and confirm it during practice. But, once I have learned (not mastered) all the kata he has shown us, then I will tackle the Tekki katas, unless he shows them to us before then.

Getting a leg up!

I was surprised to find that I am able to get my leg up much higher than before.  I guess the stretching and 100-ups is paying off.