Friday, 26 February 2016


Half of the class was devoted primarily to tough exercise, the other half to kumite. It's interesting seeing how much us 'old hands' have improved. I can remember the first time we practiced kumite techniques; the change in power, speed and accuracy since then is rather impressive. Sensei used me for several techniques and I was reminded once again of how accurate and effective his punches are - two years ago he cracked a rib when punching me and today, demonstrating exactly the same technique he was back then, he hit me in precisely the same spot. That isn't an accident. (No cracked ribs this time. It's true what they say - the fitter you are the less frequently you get injured.)

I did, however, manage to do something to my second toe (index tow?) on my left foot when sparring with P. I only noticed after the class that I had lost all feeling in it, and it was sort of skewed to the left. It still looks wrong. If it was dislocated or broken presumably it would be a lot more painful, so I'm ignoring it for the time being, but I can feel that there is definitely something odd about it as I walk around.

Getting a good punch in on the counter is a great feeling. There is something immensely satisfying about putting your fist into an opponent's midriff as he comes hurtling towards you. This is one of many reasons for preferring bare-fisted sparring.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016


I was expecting a tough class today as it was after the exam, but in actuality it was just moderately so. We did plenty of Sensei's patented leg-torture strengthening exercises, but I am growing to have a strange enjoyment of those, and  the hard work only lasted half an hour. Then it was mostly ground work - practicing arm locks with the legs. Some of those moves are very effective, although they need a lot of practice and repetition (like everything, I suppose).


Largely focusing on running through kata. I got a rare word of praise from Sensei ("that was a good kata") - he almost never says anything complimentary to male students in particular. So I must be doing something right.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016


We've got an exam coming up on Sunday so today we mostly worked through different techniques and kata. Sensei also explained something of how to regulate your breathing correctly when doing kihon kata - breathing in on the blocks and out on the punches. I noticed it did have an effect on my performance (though who knows if that isn't just psychological?).

Afterwards as we were sitting around talking he got talking about how good karate is inseparable from a good group. That's easy to say, but I get what he means. The club has a good atmosphere and good people, and that feels like it's conducive for good karate. And that's a lot of 'goods'.

Thursday, 11 February 2016


We had another new student visit the club today. She is a black belt, but none of us knew that until after the lesson - all the way through she trained without a belt. Mental note: this is considered courteous when visiting other clubs.

After half an hour hard exercise we spent a lot of the rest of the time doing ground work. After practicing kata, I think ground work is my favourite aspect of karate training. There's just something fun about wrestling around on the floor. I like the combination of physical and mental exertion: it's like the world's toughest game of chess. You constantly have to think.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016


We had a new student today - a young American kid who is a master in a Korean martial art called Tang Soo Do. It was interesting to watch somebody of Dan grade in a different art struggling to keep up with our fitness. It's easy to get a big head, but the kid could barely do 20 press-ups and simply couldn't sustain  doing repeated techniques in the fashion we normally do it. We're pretty tough. We finished off doing 40 burpees and even our orange belts were able to keep going longer than him. It will be interesting to see if his ego can take coming back.

That said, he clearly had good technique and was very fast. I had a bit of sparring and practice with the lad, and I was obviously nowhere near his technical level. It's just hard to escape the conclusion, as Sensei says from time to time, that martial arts in other clubs are going soft.

Thursday, 4 February 2016


A more technical and 'traditionally' focused lesson with multiple repetitions of uchi-uke with gyakutsuki forward and back. J and I were discussing how sometimes when everybody is practicing a technique and advancing in a horizontal line forwards across the floor, on certain techniques you'll find yourself way out in front of everyone else and in some you'll be lagging behind. With me, if I'm doing a blocking technique I tend to find myself advancing yards ahead of the rest of the pack. But if it's maegeri I'll be a similar distance behind everyone. No idea why that is.

One area to improve on: getting a punch in immediately after I block. I have a tendency to block a punch or whatever and then feel self-satisfied and pause briefly, allowing my opponent to step back from my counter. I need to get my retaliation in early.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016


Broke the 60 press-up barrier today. I feel more energized - but also, perversely, I'm turning into a bit of a fat bastard. I haven't got a paunch yet but there's a definite spare tire developing. While I'm a great believer that a man shouldn't feel bad about having a bit of a belly because it shows "joie de vivre", I do need to get a bit more exercise. I've been going to karate exclusively twice a week for about a year now, without going to the gym. I've built up some serious muscle and I am much stronger, fitter and quicker than I was when I was going to the gym five times a week. But the lack of lengthy cardio does seem to have resulted in weight gain. Or maybe I'm just eating and drinking more. Either way, maybe it's time to do a bit of jogging.