Tips for Learning Karate Online

With the restrictions in place during the COVID-19 crisis we have to change the way that we deliver and receive our learning.  Students are moving into a homeschooling  model with support from their school and their parents. This will continue for the foreseeable future, it could only be weeks but will more than likely be for months.

 

Shihan Bo 1 2019

How will this affect your karate training?

Learning anything online is hard, but not impossible. Online studies requires both discipline and commitment on your part. In saying that, just because something is hard that does not mean that it cannot become an important part of your karate journey.  Adaptability is the key to successful online learning.

 

To get the most out of online classes:

  • Be prepared –

    • Ensure that your device is charged, plugged in, has video and sound drink bottlecapabilities and is connected to the internet.
    • Make sure your surroundings are clear of hazards (that there is nothing that you can trip on or come into contact with when you are performing techniques)
    • Allow yourself some time before class for warm up and afterwards for cool down.
    • Have a drink bottle close by.
    • Be ready to start class on time.

 

  • Speak up –

    • Live classes will give you the opportunity to ask questions just as you would in the dojo. Sometimes you may be muted and have to ‘raise your hand’ or else send a text message using the program hosting the meetings such as Zoom to a live IT assistant who can relay your messages to the instructor.
    • Use feedback opportunities offered by your instructor. Our principal instructor invites you to send in short videos via Facebook messenger of your kata or combinations and will provide you with corrections as required and tips to help you move forward in your training.
    • Use your clubs Facebook page to keep in contact with your training buddies.  At a time when we are self-isolating we will miss the feeling of spending time with our training buddies, the banter and general chat that goes on before and after class will be sorely missed so engage with each other when possible on Facebook and other chat media.
  • Keep a training journal:

    • Keep a note book close by to use straight after class and record anything that you are learning while it is still fresh in your mind following a live class.
    • Use a journal for Kata mapping a kata or combination that you are learning on video use the stop start features on your device.  Try writing out the kata in long hand to help commit the moves to your memory.
  • Get the dojo feel at home-

    • I mentioned above about clearing a space suitable for you to train in, this KK Dojocould be a corner of the family room, your bedroom, carport, garage or in the garden.  Do what you can to make the space suitable for your training.
    • If you can create your own space, bring out your grading certificates, old belts, photos of you and your dojo friends at tournaments, camps or gradings, photos of the past masters of your style,  the logo of your style, bonsai tree, inspirational quotes, your dojo kun and so on.. basically anything that makes you get your karate on.
    • Put your gi and belt on before class, this helps to set your mindset for the class to come.

These are interesting times that we are moving into and there is a lot of speculation on how we will look on the other side.  Let’s uphold our traditions and practices with as much diligence and grace as we can muster.  It won’t be long before we are seeing each other in the dojo again, but until then, do whatever you must to keep your karate spirit alive.

Online Subscription Registration

STAY ACTIVE & STAY HEALTHY AT HOME

Keeping normality in our  lives in this uncertain time is important for both our mental and physical health. With so many sports cancelled our children are left with little in the way of physical activity.  Our aim is to keep our students healthy and active at home.

Commencing Term Two – until further notice:

  • All classes will be conducted online.
  • All online learning will be subscription based.
  • Gradings will be by appointment only.

We want to help you stay active and continue your Karate journey without interruptions.

So we will continue to offer all students the following:

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1) Access to online curriculum modules via a dedicated Facebook group.
2) Access to LIVE classes via ZOOM. Each class will be offered on Mondays, Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday and Saturdays and will be conducted by Sensei Don. Classes will be begin as per your normal class time.
3) FREE dedicated feedback, simply send in your questions or a short video (up to 5 minutes) for advice on your training.
Once your registration is processed we will send you access to our Facebook page and Upcoming Zoom classes.
Your Principal instructors full-time employment is teaching. He is going to spend his time hard at work putting these classes together and assisting his students.  We appreciate your support in keeping our club alive and well, for its students now and in the future.
The Karate for Life Kofukan Team believe that these measures are important to keep both your training and our club alive.

STAY ACTIVE & STAY HEALTHY

Subscription Fees:
        • 1 x Family Member            $100 (per school term)
        • 2 x Family Members          $175 (Per School Term)
        • 3 x Family Members          $200 (Per School Term)

What you receive:

  1. Unlimited access to our syllabus videos on a dedicated Facebook Page.
  2. Unlimited attendance to our LIVE online classes.
  3. Individual critique from Sensei Don on your training techniques and performance.

 

Please complete the form below to secure your registration for TERM TWO.

New Members Welcome

The Meaning of the Kofukan Logo

 

 

The Kofukan logo combines three swords and a circle.

Swords have special meaning in Japanese society.  During the samurai era, samurai were the ruling class.  A samurai sword was said to the ‘soul of a samurai’ it represented a code of honour.kofukan-international-logo

The samurai sword represents ‘spiritual purity’.  Its mirror like surface reflects one’s weak mind and improper thoughts. Its razor sharp blade will cut them away.  Many Shinto shrines have swords as their treasure.

The three swords in the logo represent the ‘shin’ (Mind) ‘Gi’ (technique) and ‘tai’ (body).  These are the three main purposes of martial arts training.  Through practice, a martial artist should develop a ‘strong body’, ‘correct techniques’ and ‘correct attitude’ and hopefully attain a high level of spiritual achievement.

The circle represents ‘harmony’ and ‘perfection’.  These three aspects should develop in kofukan-international-logoharmony and into perfection. In the design, the circle of harmony joins the three principles together.

So the Kofukan logo represents the purpose of martial arts training in general and of karate study within our association in particular.

The three Japanese letters within the circle mean ‘Kofukan’ the two larger letters at either side of the circle read ‘shito’ (our style). Also the area inside the circle represents the lower abdomen (tanden) as the linking point of the three aspects that is mind, body and technique.

We chose the colours black and yellow gold for our association badges as they are the colours of the tiger and in order to make a link with the name of Kofukan, which literally means ‘tiger, wind, establishment.

The Meaning of KOFUKAN

  • Ko – is the tiger
  • Fu – is the wind
  • Kan- establishment, group or organization

According to Chinese legend the king of the sky is the dragon and the king of the land is the tiger and when the tiger appears the wind blows and when the dragon appears so do the clouds.

 

Documentary on Karate-do (1956)

 

 

An interesting documentary produced by the Nippon Karate Association in 1956 detailing the history and development of Okinawan Karate.  The show highlights how wide reaching and beneficial Karate training is for children and adults of all ages.

“Karate is an art, one of the most authentic practices and it is also a sport, one of the most rewarding ever devised.”

Documentary Transcription.

About 300 years ago, during the History of China, the victims of attack by bandits in Highland every founded in a rather non-priest like fashion by creating a system of self-defense which is to this day an equal for deadly effectiveness that was born the biggest art of Karate, a form of self-defense in which no weapons of any sort are used. In fact, in Japanese, Karate means empty handed. Through practice and training however, the hands become weapons in themselves and that effective one that no form of offensive attack can overpower them.

The act of Karate as we know it now was developed by the natives of the Okinawa  little or nothing that none of the 50 in development there and it remained a mysterious art well talked about and practiced in other parts of Asia. Until 1922 when the Japanese Ministry of Education invited Ginchin Funakoshi an outstanding exponent of Karate to give an exhibition in Japan, the Japanese showed a keen interest in the development of this unusual art and through the years this interest grew even stronger. At present, its popularity is increasing tremendously to the extent that it is now finding its way into the western world.

documentary 1956 2

Karate uses every striking service of the body both for defense and for attack especially important are the hands and feet which are systematically trained until they become a formidable form of weapon. Since Karate is essentially a defensive art, they become defensive weapon to be used when attacked in which case they are also used for counterattack.

The various have kind of punches used in Karate are the rising forward punch, the side sitting punch, the hook punch, the inverted forward punch, the uke punch and the double forward punch. The basic movement is the ordinary forward punch. Unlike the boxing punch however in Karate, the body does not follow through the movement rather the entire body with emphasis on the hips is different at the moment of impact in each of the relaxed so that balance is never lost.

Just as important in Karate as the punch is the kick. There are various kinds among them the forward kick, the side hitting kick, the side snap kick and the side thrust kick. When properly mastered, these are even more powerful than the punches and maybe used most effectively as a surprise counterattack. Needless to say to be used successfully, this technique required considerable practice.

The basic principle of Karate is that a strong defense is the best possible offense. In deflecting an assault, the block is executed in such a way that the most effective counterattack may be instantly used thus in Karate, the defender paradoxically is almost assured of victory over the attacker. If the block is forcible enough however, there is often no need for any further counterattack. In other cases, the opponent’s attack is both anticipated and prevented by a suitable counterattack.

documentary 1956 1Learning the form of exercise is one of the most important facets of Karate training, for in this art the body must be made into a veritable weapon. These so-called kata or sets of exercises include all the various kinds of punching, kicking and blocking so that all kinds of imaginary attacks are successfully blocked and followed by effective counterattacks. There are more than 50 sets of such exercises most of which were long ago developed by Karate masters so that the students practice by themselves. Some kata empathize elaborate movement while others specialize in speed.

Sparring with another student comes only after one is thoroughly familiar with the basic movement of Karate in these mock fights the attack is pre-arranged and the defender is required to apply the block proper to the mode of attack following with the counter-attack.

Karate is also most effective in any kind of weapons attack for example in defending oneself against an attacker with a knife.

Boxing and Karate share some common elements but are actually quite different. In this earlier filmed comparison between the two, it will be noted that while agility and speed are most important in boxing in Karate, it is the combination of various kinds of punches and kicks plus speed and agility which make the Karate expert by far the more formidable opponent.

More recently, the art has been gaining popularity among women since brute strength is not required and since Karate is more an art than a sport, one may become adept at learning a fundamental by constant practice and master of the control and body coordination that even the most slightly built women may learn a very sure means of self-defense.

It is training however which is the most important single part of becoming a Karate expert. For it is by training alone that the body can develop the skill and strength needed in practice of this art. That’s one of the tests of proficiency consists of breaking three one inch boards with fists or feet or cracking 10 pieces of slate.

Another way of increasing one’s strength is by using weight on hands and feet, a practice which is now used in various kind of body building as well.

After mastering the fundamentals, the student is ready for freestyle practice. Unlike the sparring practice, here the attack is not pre-arranged. By this time, the Karate student is able to stop his kicks and pull his punches just short of contact this he must do or very shortly, he would have no one to practice with. This freestyle practice can be quite dangerous if the contestants are careless or overaggressive but it does add an element of competition and gives excellent training and accuracy and confidence.

As more and more people realize that Karate may not be deadly but may rather be a controlled and exercise sport giving the students absolute body control, it is expected that the freestyle matches will transform Karate into an accepted sport.

Karate as a most effective scientific technique of self-defense is gaining popularity not only with specialized institutes teaching it but also in offices, in homes, in the country and in schools. It is also becoming a part of the regular training of the American air police station in Japan. There’s every prospect that Karate will soon seize being a purely Japanese art and will gradually spread throughout all the countries in the world becoming both a sport and a superb means of self-defense.

Credit for Karate’s stage pf  high development is due to Mr Ginchin Funakoshi, the man who gave Karate its first Japanese exhibition and who has devoted his life to teaching and perfecting of this art.  Formally regarded as somewhat esoteric, it fundamentally protects secret that are passed on from master to selected students. Now, it is on its way to becoming a worldwide art.

In emphasis on successful defense, Karate is based on the highest principle of sportsmanship and fair play. Its practice is excellent all round exercise and aids in muscular development. It also teaches courage and self-confidence. Because of its deep devotion to the principle of the self-defense, Karate is obviously not a sport which will appeal to those who want to use it as an instrument of attack or who are merely interested in the amount of damage then may inflict if used. Since it does not teach how to harm other but rather, how to protect oneself it will therefore attract only those who wish to combine clean sport with a tangible accomplishment. In this way, Karate is an art, one of the most authentic practice and it is also a sport, one of the most rewarding ever devised.

Ageing Well With Karate…

“Population ageing is a triumph of humanity, but also a challenge to society”   

Ageing Well with Karate 3

It is generally accepted that we suffer a decline in physical and cognitive abilities as we age. The study that inspired this article undertook to prove that Karate training can assist in improving our declining cognitive abilities, strength, balance and flexibility.

 

The Benefits of Movement

Improved physicality will lower the risk of falls and so lessen the occurrence, if not cease the risk of associated injuries. Additionally I believe that the act of participating in a group activity brings many psychological and emotional benefits such as decreasing loneliness, isolation and depression.

About the Study

The study itself comprised of 89 men and women with an average age of 70 years old.  The participants were generally in good health when they started.

The controlled group where tested at 5-month  and 10-month intervals.  Results showed an improvement at the five-month stage, and further increased improvements were noted at the 10-month mark. Researchers suggest that continued practice would continue to show benefits in minimizing the general aging decline found in non-practicing  people.

 

“Active ageing is the process of optimizing opportunities for health participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age. Active ageing depends on a variety of influences or determinants that surround individuals, families and communities” 

Why Karate?

Karate training by its nature is wide and varied and so the benefits are far reaching.  Young people are often brought to karate classes for reasons revolving around discipline, attention building, anti-bullying strategy formation, self-defense, and finally fitness.  Fitness, strength building or flexibility are usually not the reasons that young people start karate training. Physical strength and flexibility are often a given for the young.  As we age the table turns, mentally we become stronger, less afraid of confrontation and more suited to stand up for ourselves, but we see a physical decline as we age, regardless of our exercise prowess.

My Karate

After over 20 years of training Karate ( I started at the age of thirty) I am glad to say that even while I am not an outstanding talent, I am if nothing else diligent in my practice. I attend regular training at our dojo and participate as much as possible in the warm up, drills, kata. The result of this training means that I can do many things that other woman my age can find difficult.  I am strong, in both body and mind, most of the time. Sometimes inflammatory arthritis takes over and robs me of the best of myself.  But even in these times I find a more refined practice to be beneficial in lessening my recovery time and generally keeping down times to a minimum. I believe that continuing to practice Karate will help me to stay active into a ripe old age.

Funakoshi

What does Karate Training involve?

A typical class will involves a short meditation, a warm up, stretching, drills, partner work, kata, more stretching, a final short meditation.

Six improvements to be by Karate training for all participants.

  1. Balance – strength and improvement of cognitive ability.
  2. Flexibility – repetition of movements to extension through warmup and cool down
  3. Strength – gained from stances, and joint repetition of movements
  4. Learning a new skill –  builds memory and learning muscles.
  5. Co-ordination – kata and drills
  6. Cognitive improvement – kata and drills.

Age is not a barrier to participation, Karate training by its nature can be tailored to suit any age group, health condition, size of body, and general physical and mental abilities.  Karate is not a team sport, it is self-paced and your journey is not dependent on someone else’s progression just as theirs is not dependent on yours.

A tailored made training program can easily be made to suit an older student without diminishing the heart of Karate.  Karate itself is about the art of self-defense, the first line of self-defense is against your own body’s dis-ease and decline.  Karate by design is suited to assist with many issues brought about by aging and this will probably be easier for a new student over fifty years old to accept than a student that trained in a dynamic style when they were younger.  If you are coming to karate as a new student in an older body you soon learn to let go of any ego that demands you perform beyond your capabilities.

How old is too old to start?

You are never too old to start learning Karate.  Karate will meet you where you are.

Contact us here to find out about our classes at the dojo, private classes or if you would like us to tailor a program for your group.

Michelangelo

Material References and Quote Sources.

    1. (WHO 2002 Active Aging: A policy Framework. Geneva)
    1. WHO 2002 Active Ageing
    1.  WHO Global Report on Falls Prevention in Older Age; By World Health Organization
    1. WHO 2002 Active Aging.
    1. Journal of Sport and Health Science, Volume 5, issue 4, Dec 2016, p484-490 KerstinWitteaSiegfriedKropfbSabineDariuscPeterEmmermacheraIrinaBöckelmann
    1. S.M. Gregory, B. Parker, P.D. ThompsonPhysical activity, cognitive function, and brain health: what is the role of exercise training in the prevention of dementia?Brain Sci, 2 (2012), pp. 684-708
    1. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254615000939

 

Reishiki

“Bowing is an expression of gratitude and respect”

Gichin Funakoshi

JosiahReishiki comes from two Japanese words, the first is ‘Rei’ which can be interpreted as a bow, courtesy, thanks and appreciation.  The second word “Shiki” can be interpreted as a ceremony.  The word Reishiki can therefore be interpreted as ceremonial manners or etiquette.

The Reishiki procedure that is observed at the beginning and the end of the class is as follows:

  • Ritsu rei – standing bow to Sensei.
  • Seiza – Sensei sits (formal sitting position), the class sits in seiza facing shomen and prepares for class.
    • The head student (Sempai) calls out:
    • Mokuso – which means close your eyes and clear your mind  (Silence for approximately 1 minute or more)
    • Kaimokubowing 1meaning open your eyes or “Mokuso Yame” meaning finish meditation.
    • Zarei – next the class performs three zarei or sitting bows when the head student calls out –
    • Shomen ni rei – meaning bow to the front of the dojo.  After this the Sensei will turn around and face the class.
    • Sensei ni rei – meaning bow to the teacher. As the class bows to the teacher the teacher will return the bow.  As a student bows they recite “Onegaishimasu” which can be interpreted to mean please teach me.
    • Otagai ni rei – meaning bow to each other. Both the teacher and the students will bow to each other at the same time.  This is to acknowledge that we are all students of the art of Karate do.
  • At this point the Sensei will indicate that the class should stand up and training will begin.

After the training session is finished, the above procedure is followed again except in the Sensei ni rei section, the students bow and recite “Sensei arigato gozaimasu” which means thank you.

Dave Hatte – Sensei arigato gozaimasu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Don’t Tolerate Bullies!

We define bullying  as repeated aggressive action against another person.

A popular ideology is to work with both the bully and the victim to create a mutual respect, a bonding that will often dismiss the affect of the bullying on the victim and focuses on the state of mind of the bully.

Parents are reminded that bullies are often victims themselves and need to be understood and often this is true, however ‘healing’ the bully should not be at the expense of the victims safety, peace of mind and assurance children need to learn that it is okay to stand up for themselves.

Below are a few examples of bullying that have happened in schools to give you an idea of the type of bullying we are talking about.  It is often not an extreme attack,  bullies tend to pick away at the fibre of their victims over a period of time with repeated often unnoticed acts of aggression.

 

Thomas is overweight, asthmatic and short sighted.  During the summer months his allergies flair up and he is the sole reason for the nut ban at his school.  Thomas loves to read, and reads at a level well above his eight years but he doesn’t run well.  The other kids groan when he is put on their teams.  He spends his lunch times between the library and the empty friendship bench.

Jack and Aidan don’t like books so much.  Jack is good at making up names and rhymes  to torment Thomas.  Aidan echoes Jacks voice, one on either side of  Thomas as they cross the quadrangle to class in the morning.  Then they may unecessarily squeeze past Thoma’s desk during class and accidentally knock his books to the ground.

Last Tuesday they followed Thomas into the boys room and threw wads of wet paper over the stall door, while taunting and shouting names.  It was towards the end of lunchtime and some other boys joined in.  A few climbed up onto the toilet in the stall next door to peer over the wall to witness Thomas crying with clumps of toilet paper stuck to his hair and clothes.  It  continues for ten minutes, it isn’t stopped until the bell rings.  Thomas waits until the bathroom is silent before cautiously leaving the stall. He pulls the paper from his clothes and hair and  puts them in the bin.

toilet 1

When he returns to class the other boys snigger,  his teacher scolds him for being late, and asks Thomas to stay after class.  Later when Mr Reilly asks why Thomas was late from lunch Thomas says nothing and stares at his feet.

Are the other boys giving you a hard time?’ Thomas nods his head and talks into his chest ‘they call me names sometimes’

‘Anything else?’

Thomas shakes his head. ‘Not really’

‘Well names aren’t nice, maybe you should tell them how you feel, that it hurts your feelings. Sometimes it is helpful to not respond, you know pretend you didn’t hear them, that it doesn’t matter?’

Liane is playing a game of mixed soccer on the oval at lunch time. She scores another goal and two boys on the other team chase her down.  One trips her over, the other grabs her Bully 4so she falls into him and he punches her across the face.  She falls to the ground as the other boy takes an opportunity to kick her hard in the stomach. The teacher on duty didn’t see 9 year old Lianne a being taken to the staff room by two of her teammates.  Her parents are called, the boys are ‘spoken’ to and sent home with a bad behavior note.

 

Eleven year old Alistair walks ten minutes home from school everyday.  For the last two weeks  Paul, Alan and Ted wait at the school gate and take it in turn to punch him hard in the arm  and sometimes a flick across the back of the head.  Teachers and parents are always close by.  Alistair has bruises on his arms.  He prayers everyday for rain so that he doesn’t have to walk home, constantly nagging his mum to pick him up he complains that he is too tired to walk home after school.

 

So What happens at school?

School policies across the country vary, but the majority  promote a no tolerance to bullying,  however it is often reported that little is done or can be done within the limited framework and resources across our schools to affect a serious change.  It is true that often the bully is hurting and needs to be healed but this should never be to the detriment of protecting and caring for the bullies prey.  Situations where the victim is made to shake hands with his bully and not acceptable.  It is not okay to tolerate being treat abusively by another human, not matter the age or theatre.  Often times bullies are created at home, so there is little a school can change without the support and cooperation of the bullies parents.

Schools  do not always have the capacity to deal with every personality defect that is presented to them.  Bullies need help to see the error of their ways this is true, and I support the schools in their programs that try to do this but in the meantime, Alistair is still getting punched in the arms every day when he exits the school gate, Liane doesn’t play sports on the oval anymore, Thomas has been getting a lot of tummy aches lately.  All while the bully, the cause of their miseries carries on with their life as normal.

How Karate for Life can Help?

It is true that there is no first strike in Karate.  Karate students are taught this from the beginning.  The first move of all our Kata is a block, a defense against an attack.  Karate is not about kicking and punching it is about becoming who you are and feeling confident enough to say NO! Children do not have to tolerate being hit or abused by anyone not even another child.  The few examples giving above are stories we hear again and again in the dojo.

When asked about what action was taken at school all too often a parent will roll their eyes, shrug their shoulders in repeated disbelief and reply ‘nothing’.

You have seen the ads; karate builds confidence, self-respect, self-esteem, self-reliance and self-awareness.  There are a lot of ‘self’ in there because of the individual nature of karate training,  each student  develops at their own pace.

So they come to us, either through a referral,  or parents  desperately winging it looking for a solution  happen to stumble across our dojo.  Sensei Don our principal instructor lets his students breathe, to be who they are and to stand up and be counted.  No one is left in the background, every single person in that dojo is shown the respect and friendship they deserve.  This I believe is the true cure for bullying.  When people believe that they are worthwhile,  they don’t  act like arseholes to get the attention, respect and approval they crave.  On the other side students learn that you don’t have to tolerate the above mentioned arseholes who believe they have to push others down in order to elevate themselves.

As well as the above mentioned, Karate  builds compassion, resilience, kindness, humbleness, community and spirit.  This is the true defense against a bully, against all bullies in our society.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Kata?

What is Kata?

  • Kata is a series of pre-determined fighting moves designed by the original founders of karate to pass a dialogue on defense strategies from teacher to student.
  • Kata is made up of both basic and complex karate moves that are sequenced in a specific order to defend against one or many imagined attackers. A practitioner practices these set moves first for memory,  then for proficiency.

Once a kata has been learned, it must be practiced repeatedly until it can be applied in an emergency.  For knowledge of just the sequence of a form in karate is useless. – Ginchin Funakoshi

What are the benefits of Kata?

  • There is no age limitation on learning kata, you can start at any time, even if you haven’t practised karate before, it is never too late.
  • Unlike some activities such as football, running and other heavy impact type games, you can continue to practise kata your entire life, it will not wear your the joints,  it will strengthen their formations.
  • When taught correctly and with meaning kata has been proven to be a an effective means to learn the art of self-defense.
  • Kata practise facilitates proficiency of technique, builds muscle memory, flexibility, strength, mindfulness, stamina and breath control.
  • When learning a kata from a traditional karate style students have the opportunity to learn from the great masters who developed kata as a vehicle to pass on their own self-defence techniques in these neatly packaged gifts we call kata.

Is it difficult to learn Kata?

  • No, but it does take time.  Kata is practiced over and over again.  Until the movements are known intrinsically and become second nature to the practitioner, then they are practiced some more.  Lots more.
  • Kata movements are finely tuned again and again with mindful repetition, where the practitioner pays attention to every required act of it’s  ultimate simplicity.

“In the past, it was expected that about three years were required to learn a single kata, and usually even an expert of considerable skill would only know three, or at most five, Kata.” – Ginchin Funakoshi

“Karate-do is a lifetime study.”  – Kenwa Mabuni

Kata should form the largest part of your karate training.

  • This is a contentious issue amongst many new karate practitioners that believe kumite  to be the crux of training.   Kumite is a game of tag with a live opponent, designed to put you under stress, it is about how many times you can get hit, fall down and get back up again.  If that is how you choose to test your mettle then please go ahead.  I believe that kumite should be reserved as either an event at a sports karate tournament or practised because it is a requisite to achieve your next rank, it should not be the main focus of your training.  A  more experienced karate practitioner will tell you that kata should be ninety percent of your training so that the movements developed through kata will  become so intrinsic within your physical makeup that kata itself will form the foundations of your kumite bouts.

 

Kata is the Art of Karate, it is where the stories are told and true battles are won.  The repetitive nature of kata practise, quietens your mind and teaches your body how to respond to stress, attachment and fear.  True kata practise requires commitment, focus and mindfulness.  You need to listen to your body and recognise when your muscles are shifting incorrectly and adjust them accordingly.

When practising kata you need to develop timing, fluidity, tension and softness.  It is not enough to tell this karate story in a bland monotone series of techniques, you need to learn how to bring the story alive.

“Don’t practice until you get it right.  Practice until you can’t get it wrong.”  –   Roger Gracie

How to Choose a Karate Club for your child.

There are so many variables to consider when selecting a Karate Club for yourself or your children.  Do not be persuaded by a flashy cover, an exuberant instructor or well practised sales tactics.  Look at little deeper, and make sure that you are getting value for your money.

  • Location &  Timing – is an important consideration.  How far from home are you prepared to travel for classes twice a week?  Do the days and the times of the classes on offer suit your schedule?  Don’t forget to consider: school, work hours and other family members sport commitments.
  • Does the club offer appropriate classes and activities for a range of ages and skill levels?
  • Who is the principal instructor?  Is he/she approachable? What is their rank, training and experience.  Some clubs will encourage students as low as 7th Kyu (Yellow Belt) to become instructors. This is before they themselves have learned the style and correct execution of techniques.  Beware of these clubs.  There will often be a high turn over of instructors and students as little structure is offered within their karate system.  Some will claim that unlike other styles, they have been taught to teach and perhaps that is true, to the extent that they receive a manual of lesson plans, attend an occasional workshop and are awarded a certificate that says they can teach which often times is not worth the paper that it is written on. 
  • Look for a club whose principal instructor has not only spent years learning and perfecting their Karate style but is affiliated with governing bodies such as the Australian Karate Federation that ensure instructors maintain a standard of professionalism, education and on going development.
  • Where does their Karate originate from?  Karate is a Japanese Martial Art and as such a true Karate style will be able to trace back their lineage to the founding fathers of Karate.  Physical training techniques have advanced in many ways and a good instructor will incorporate these changes into their training.  However, the true spirit of Budo and the essence of a Kata driven style is strong, beautiful, and worth finding because its application is still relevant for today’s students.
  • Clubs will often try to get you in with special offers, one going around at the moment is $49 for a Karate uniform and five free lessons! Another club is offering free training until you reach your first belt (which is often within two weeks of joining).  Make sure that you know what the costs of training will be when this special offer runs out.  Ask what the cost of classes are:  if you miss a class do they offer a make up class?  How much are gradings?  Is there an ongoing registration fee?  What about seminars with visiting heads of styles, are these included in your membership?  Do your fees cover you for insurance and affiliation memberships?
  • How often does the club hold gradings?  What is the criteria for a student to grade? Check that the club does not hold mass grading where everyone can attend for a fee as long as they have a suitable attendance record.  Students should only be asked to grade once their Sensei has seen them consistently perform the required techniques at the skill level appropriate to the rank that they are attempting during class times.
  • When visiting the dojo look at how the students are being treated?  People are not numbers, does the instructor regularly use a persons name?  Does the instructor treat everyone with  respect sharing his/her time equally among all ranks from beginners to the most experienced?  What is the general feeling you get from the other students, are they friendly, helpful and approachable?  How do the students treat each other? What is the atmosphere within the dojo?

Do not let these questions overwhelm you.  When you are making inquiries do not be put off and have your questions brushed aside.  Consider that in the long term  you will invest a considerable amount of money into Karate training so make sure that you choose wisely.

DO NOT JOIN ANY CLUB WITHOUT ATTENDING A FREE TRIAL AND GETTING YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED!

Why do Kids Need Karate?

 

In the age of instant gratification, everyday rewards and entitlements Karate teaches us that persistence, respect and humility are the ways forward.  As parents we want the best for our kids and we want our kids to be able to achieve their best.  We want them to be the best version of themselves.

The following list is compiled of the six attributes Karate training in the right dojo will promote in your child.  They only have to turn up, walk through the door and listen.

  1.  Confidence:  Walking through the door on that first day takes courage, curiosity and maybe a little push dappled with parental assurance.  New experiences get easier to approach in time and while the fear never goes away completely, the more times you put yourself in a new situation the more coping mechanisms you build.  Kids learn instinctively that they need to make eye contact, start a conversation, simply smile. Making friends greatly improves all new situations and this is just in the beginning, wait until you see what learning new techniques,  mastering complicated routines and achieving the next phase in their syllabus will do.
  2. Focus: Classes usually run for an hour at a time and are often made up of drills, partner work, group work and solo training.  What a student gets from his class depends on the time actually spent being mindful in the dojo and their ability to do this will increase with practise.  It is a skill they can develop and that will automatically be transferred into all other areas of their lives.
  3. Self-Discipline:  This starts with  getting ready, looking after your gi and equipment, walking through the door and turning up to class, even when it is too hot, or too cold and your favourite show is on the television.
  4. Self-Defense: A common reason to start training but it is not the be all and end all of a students achievement in the dojo.  Rarely do karate students need to defend themselves, they learn to avoid dangerous situations, to take care to themselves and importantly they learn how to behave in situations so that they do not escalate.
  5. Leadership: As a student progresses through the ranks they become a role model for new and younger students.  A good club will encourage students (under guidance) to share their knowledge with others to improve the development of everyone within the dojo.
  6. Respect:  “Karate starts with etiquette and finishes with etiquette”   K Tomiyama,  Fundamentals of Karate-do (1990) p15.  Shihan Tomiyama goes on to write more about rei – a bow or more broadly etiquette [that]”.. signifies the utmost importance of proper etiquette in karate.  Not only karate but all Japanese martial arts stress the importance of proper etiquette as a means of self-defence ……….. A person of good etiquette possesses an aura of dignity and quite naturally gains respect from those he is in contact with.  Thus there is much less chance of his being involved in arguments and being forced to defend himself physically.  This teaching does not stop there,  the real aim of practising the martial arts is to develop a complete person, fit physically and mentally, which is consequently beneficial to society...” p15

For more information visit  Karate for Life