Tuesday, 26 April 2016


A very detailed technical session focusing on keeping the knee still during gyaku-tsuki, perfecting maegeri technique, and so forth... until about half way through when I think Sensei got bored and started teaching us some of the moves from the kushanku kata. As is often the case the randomness sort of worked; he doesn't so much make things up as he goes along as he just follows his intuition, and I suppose he has just been doing it long enough that he knows to trust where his intuition is leading him. That really has to be the aim of anybody hoping to perfect a practice - but this blog isn't really the place to talk about Michael Oakeshott.


This was very much a kumite-centric class. We started off practising gyaku-tsuki and various uke techniques, then put them into practice in very careful and strictly controlled kumite before finally working on them in freestyle sparring. Fun, but very exhausting. I was paired up with C initially and was able to beat him pretty effectively - but he is in his 50s and hasn't had a great deal of sparring experience, despite being a kyu up from me. Then I was with J, who is 19 years old and as fast as a whip. This was much tougher and I was aware there were quite a few occasions when he could have socked me good and proper but didn't do so because we were only focusing on a certain technique. I have to work more on lateral movement.


We spent the first half of the class doing fairly rigorous repetitions of techniques, before working again through elements of bassai dai and other kata, interspersed with lots of push ups. Writing this entry a week after the event I find it difficult to recall much about what was an ordinary (which means enjoyable and tough in equal measure) lesson.

Friday, 15 April 2016


Sensei seemed to be in a good mood today - which often means he gets mischievous and (let's face it) a bit cruel. Within 5 minutes he decided to prove to everybody in the class that they could do more than 60 push ups ("when you're tired, your brain refuses to carry on, but your body can do another 60%"), and gave us a target of 150. I was too busy doing the actual push-ups to notice, but I bet he had a massive smirk on his face watching us all toil. 

After that we carried on with the kekomi routines from last lesson, although that had to be stopped eventually because J's foot was bleeding. We then did some really interesting pair work. He began by giving us a lecture on how important it is to get in close to your opponent, because that is where you can do the most damage and use lethal techniques. We then put that into practice with a variety of different strikes at very close range. He also showed us a technique I'd never seen before, from goju-ryu, which was a strike with the inside of the wrist, taught to him by Higaonna. It's very useful at close range because you can hit hard without having to withdraw your fist to deliver a punch. If your wrist happens to be by your opponent's face, you can just drive it into his nose and smash it. This led to Sensei elaborating on one of his familiar themes, which is that being a good karateka is about being able to deliver damage with any part of your body at any distance - the last thing that you should be doing is moving your fist back to trying to give yourself power. Just punch from where your hand is. 

A very interesting session - at the end Sensei also took a few minutes to explain his philosophy of teaching, which all about getting the hands right first. Learning control of the hands is the most important and most difficult thing to get right - and also probably the most useful in a fight. Once the hands are sorted out, then he moves on to teaching all the kicking techniques in depth. 


B was in charge again this session, so as normal it was pretty unrelenting. We had a good warm-up for once, though.

It got me thinking about teaching styles. B is young, and clearly feels a bit insecure, and this manifests in her trying to impose herself on the group through being unnecessarily harsh and strict. She also trots out a lot of Sensei's sayings ("In a real fight you'll be this tired after 30 seconds!" etc.) which don't have a great deal of credibility coming from her. Being a good teacher is in large part about being yourself - I think she would get a lot more enthusiasm out of us if she dropped the headmistress act.

The most useful part of the class was practicing kekomi. I seriously need to get more flexible.

Friday, 1 April 2016


I took the warm-up today and think it went well. Then Sensei examined D for his purple belt (he missed the last exam) while M took us through our paces with various different techniques. She is teacher's pet, so he always gets her to take over if he is otherwise occupied. While I like her personally, I think it has to be said that she's not a great teacher. Her instructions are all over the place and the stuff she does is pretty boring. Thankfully that was only 10 minutes and we got on with things after that - more empi and uraken practice, and then, for fun, doing a few slow and detailed runs-through of bassai dai. Great stuff.


A rigorous technical session focusing on new empi and uraken techniques, and then putting them into practice in flow drills. I really enjoy that sort of lesson, although they are especially tiring due to the combination of physical and mental focus required. I took a heck of a lot of blows to the torso, back and shoulder - they are bruising up nicely...