Sunday, March 22, 2015

Half a Gasshuku and Belt Test

On Saturday, A and I went to Spring Gasshuku.

The plan was for near 8 hours of practice on Saturday and another 4 on Sunday morning.  I thought that would be too much for A so I decided to leave after the first 6 hours, before dinner, on Saturday.  

I am going to try and recall any advice or things that I learned during that time.  I have been too busy to write anything up until now.

Niida-sensei was the main instructor and there were two other adults who were assisting.  


  • Gedan barai
  • れいてんご を大事に (He said to keep the "halfway point" in mind when practicing the basic moves.  Where are your hands and feet halfway through a downward block? Start out doing the movement slowly, keeping your form in mind and gradually work up to full speed.
  • Keep in mind the width apart of your feet when in stances (front stance etc)
  • Same as above when stepping back into front stance for yakusoku kumite.
  • He said we need to work on improving our leg strength so we can jump higher.  He had us practice jumping over a partner for this. This reminds me of a part in Karate Baka Ichidai, where the main character plants fast growing grass and jumps over it every day(?) to improve his jumping ability.


I could have received instruction on new kata or even on how to improve kata that I've not yet remembered well, but no, instead I had to spend an hour practicing one kata, Heian Yondan, over and over again, with no instruction or advice.  I can't say that it was worthless practice, because it wasn't without benefit, but the time could have been used better.

So what advice did I get for Heian Yondan?  Ah yes, I remember now.
Around step 6, after the first morote uke, you do a side snap kick and punch.  The advice I was given was to do the side snap kick and punch, bring the foot down, and THEN, after your foot lands, twist your hips and perform the empi elbow strike.  Mental note: make sure you are in proper front stance with your feet shoulder width apart.  
Advice 2: snap kick.  Make sure to do the side snap kick with a snap!  And bring your kicking leg back quickly and then moving into front stance (zenkutsu dachi).
Advice 3: bring your hands up smoothly, as if following along a pillar on the first two moves.
Advice 4: It's an open handed downward block. So don't just put your hand out, sweep it out and down like a downward block! (move 9 ish)
Advice 5: When reaching out to grab the invisible head for the knee smash, have your hands perpendicular, with your thumbs pointing up.  (I guess I got more advice than I thought.  But I was doing it with my thumbs pointing in, as if I had the opponents shoulders, after watching Paul Walker's instructional video on Heian Yondan. He makes a point of saying "hands at a 45 degree angle," which I hadn't heard before, and which makes sense enough.).
Advice 6: Shutouke.  Bring your arm down from your elbow.  Lead from your elbow. 


Niida-sensei had us break up into two main groups.  Those that wanted to work on Kata, and those that wanted to work on kumite.  So I didn't get any kumite practice at all with the exception of the two minutes sparring where an all Japan junior high school champion beat me soundly.  I got nothing from that but a beating.   


I have to say it wasn't a very fruitful day.  Niida-sensei seemed to have not done much thinking in what he wanted us to do.  I was a unhappy with his lack of planning.  Encouraging the kids to do extra things to improve their fitness, such as running, stretching and strength training is great.  But spending time during gasshuku to do that is a waste of my time and the money I paid.  We can do this sort of training on our own.  It is not that type of thing we need to do at gasshuku.  One day's worth of physical training will not make a difference in our conditioning.  Consistent physical training done over a long period will make a difference.  It seemed to me that he was just using the physical training as way of killing time because he had not come with a plan for what he wanted us to work on.

Belt Test

A and I had our belt tests at the end of the day before dinner.  Just the two of us.  Muto-sensei did the test himself.  He grabbed two kids from practice to help.  He said Aspen did well and would be given a blue belt.  He said I would be given a brown belt. I assume that means I'll be at 3-kyu.  A made a few mistakes.  Both from lack of practice and experience.  I didn't make a fist when doing hikite for shuto-uke to gyaku nukite. I also failed to keep my feet should-width apart when stepping back into gedan berai.  I am looking forward to receiving the grading sheet but don't feel I am ready for brown belt.

Kihon for the test, if I remember correctly
San-bon-zuki, (jodan, chudan, chudan, moving forward)
age uke
age uke to gyakuzuki
shuto uke to gyakuzuki in back stance
from front stance, gedan barai, mae geri kekomi
Mawashi geri
from kiba dachi, yoko geri kekomi

ippon yakusoku kumite,   (jodan, chudan, maegeri )

Heian Yondan, plus one more from Heian of your choice.  I choose Heian Nidan.  I think I could probably do any Heian kata better than I can do Heian Yondan.  Maybe I should have done Heain Godan?  It doesn't matter.  I feel the most comfortable with Heian Nidan.

Things to work on.
Physically, I need to continue to concentrate on improving my flexibility and hip strength.  I need to especially work on building strength for side snap kicks and roundhouse kicks (yoko geri, mawashi geri). 

After almost 6 hours of hard physical exercise I was totally exhausted.  The next day, I still got up early to do my marathon pace steady long run (20k) and after getting home, taking a shower and making breakfast for A and I and doing the laundry, I laid down and slept until noon.  Then I got up and finished the doing the laundry and picking up the house and we went for McD's.   I'm still tired today (Monday) and sore all over.  Shoulders, legs, feet, hands.... all over.