Friday, 15 January 2010

A drive on karate basics

Since returning back to karate classes in the new year we have had a real drive on returning to basics, and I mean basics. I think that Sensei, refreshed from his month long holiday in New Zealand and with a new found tan (do I sound envious?) whilst we have shivered in sub zero temperatures and 6inches of snow, has decided to rid us all of bad habits that have crept in over the months.

He has checked that we all know how to make a proper fist and that we do actually make a strong fist with every technique requiring one (or a rigid and strong open hand for open hand techniques). It is surprising how many people have become a little slack with this most fundamental of techniques.

We have been through the mechanics of  how to punch properly - twisting the fist right at the end, pulling the other arm back, relaxing the arm and shoulders and putting tension on right at the end etc. Again it is surprising how many people twist the wrist too soon or are too tense during the technique. The same with blocks. With each block we have covered the direction of movement with the block, the positioning of the block and the twisting of the hips and fist. I didn't realise that I twist my fist too early with an age uke block. Other people discovered different errors with their blocking or striking techniques.

Then we have moved onto stance training - not just the correct positioning for various stances but more practising the transitions between stances. This is quite hard to do, particularly avoiding bobbing up and down when moving between stances.

Using mainly pinan nidan, we have practised some of the principles of good kata performance - look, prep, turn. I have found that preparing my foot and hand positions properly before making the turn is enabling me to turn more sharply whilst maintaining my balance better - my wobble is disappearing!

This focus on some very fundamental principles of karate has been extremely valuable. We have become aware of our 'bad or lazy' habits and know what to do to correct them. We are learning to move more flowingly between stances and inject more power into our blocks and strikes by twisting the hips and fist correctly.

We are the senior class - mainly purple belts to 2nd dans. One is never too senior to return to basics, we all discover something new about ourselves and improve when we do.

Keep practising your basics!

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Michele said...

Same here in our dojo...

We have a group of 1st kyu students preparing for black belt testing. Tonight they videotaped their kata and weapons. They are bringing in the DVD next week and we are going to look at their basics.

Sue C said...

Hi Michele - that's a great idea, it's not often you get to see what you look like when performing karate! Probably a bit of a shock for some people, lol.

Indomitable Spirit said...

Hi Sue

I think it's great that you're focusing on basics again. These basics are so fundamental to everything that we do in the martial arts that we can't afford to neglect them.

One of the things I really like about my krav maga class is that they make everybody drill the basic combatives over and over again until it's second nature. It's also great for our fitness and discipline.

And yet I've trained with other instructors who I think are bored with the basics and rush their students into more complex moves before they're ready.

In fact, my MMA class is like that. All a lot of the guys seem to want to do is to roll and scrap with their mates rather than drill the fundamentals that could save their bacon if they ever compete in the ring or the cage. I try to explain that under pressure they will default to those responses they have drilled time and time again - I know I do.

Any thoughts on why students aren't so keen on the basics any more? Is it the 'instant gratification' society?



Sue C said...

Hi Avril,

I expect it's all part of the 'buy now, pay later'; 'sound bite'; 'dumming down';'instant gratification'; 'short-termism' culture that now pervades us! I think it takes a strong minded, disciplined instructor to ensure students understand the need to 'toe the line' when it comes to practising basics. Luckily I have an instructor like that :-)


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