Thursday, 4 February 2010

Thank you snow - the perfect karate lesson!

The snow poured down yesterday afternoon and evening leaving about 2 inches of snow covering the roads and pavements. With the gritting trucks not yet out and the roads already slippery, this led to the dilemma of do we go to karate or not?

Summoning up a bit of martial arts dedication and determination we decided the best way to get there was to walk. It takes about half an hour so it’s not too bad. The first few minutes of the walk are through woodland. The woods were lit up by a combination of white snow, a full moon and the street lighting from the valley below and so were easy to navigate – they looked beautiful and magical with the trees glistening white and the snow was crisp and crunchy under foot. We soon entered the valley, crossed the main road and made our way up the side street on the opposite side, towards the school where the class is held. We passed two cars that had gently slid into each other on the ice, crushing headlights and denting wings. We were glad we hadn’t tried to come in the car!

We arrived in plenty of time to find that there were only five of us plus two instructors! I like classes like this – you know the instructor is going to have plenty of time to give us each lots of attention and we usually do some really interesting stuff.

We weren’t disappointed. After going through some punching and kicking combinations to get us limbered up, we partnered up and we did some kumite style punches and kicks focusing on speed and accuracy at hitting the target (i.e. making touch contact). I find the punches and front kick reasonably easy to make touch contact with speed, but the spinning back kick very difficult to do – I can do contact but I can’t do speed! With the roundhouse kick and hook kick we were expected to target the chin or side of face. Well it’s probably that ‘girly’ fear of hurting someone, but I couldn’t bring myself to make contact with my partners head and kept pulling my kicks far too early. If she put her hand up to protect her face I was fine but as soon as she took it away I couldn’t do it! However, it was a brilliant exercise, done at speed, alternating the technique with your partner.

We then spent about half an hour on kata. The advantage of the small class is that we had a lot of opportunity to ask questions about the kata techniques and have tricky bits demonstrated to us – several times if necessary. The atmosphere is always a bit less formal when the class is small and there is a greater sense of camaraderie which makes it enjoyable.

Finally Sensei took us onto the mats to show us something new – balance points. I found this quite amazing. We mainly concentrated just on the elbow as a balance point i.e. pulling on your partner’s elbow to make them lose balance. By tugging the elbow in the direction it is pointing in it is easy to pull them off balance. A relatively small pull seems to produce a dramatic loss of balance! We also did unbalancing using a rotational pull on the hip and opposite shoulder. Your partner throws a leading hand punch, you slip it and grab their hip on the same side and their shoulder on the other side (from behind) and pull the shoulder round towards you whilst pushing their hip away – down they go! I love the simplicity of these techniques and would like to do more of this.

We were saved from the long walk home when one of the instructors gave us a lift back down into the valley. We just had to walk back up through the woods, which were still beautiful and lit up (no torch needed). The end of a perfect karate session.

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Mathieu said...

glad you had a great class :)
keep it up and keep the good spirits up!


Sue C said...

Thanks Mat!

Prof. Guilherme Fauque said...

Very inspiring! Where do you live?

I'm from Brazil. Here we don't have this kind of snow... sometimes in south of Brazil, we have a little snowflakes, like small grains of rice - lol.

Now, for exemple, we are at 40º celcius... very hot! Equally difficult to train.

Sue C said...

Hi Guilherme, thanks for visiting my blog. I'm in the UK and it's the middle of one of the coldest winters we've had for years! The snow has gone (for now) and it is just foggy and damp! I don't think I would cope with 40 degrees!


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