Friday, 26 July 2013

Some eclectic karate musings....

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while, it’s just been a busy time with holidays (had a week in Malta – very nice, and a weekend visiting a vineyard – yes we can make wine here); decorating (new bathroom and decorating my son’s bedroom); gardening to catch up on now that summer has finally arrived (and is about to disappear again); weekend visitors and various other things.

In karate terms: my husband passed his 2nd dan for which I partnered him; I’ve just finished teaching my after-school karate classes for the summer and I’ve been covering some club classes while my instructor has been on holiday.

So, this post is an eclectic mix of thoughts that I have mulled over in my mind over the last couple of months…..

1.       I’ve had a hard time shaking off the disappointment I felt at not dan grading with my husband in June. It’s silly, I know, but I’ve experienced a whole roller coaster of emotions about it over the last few weeks from disappointment to anger to resignation back to anger. It’s ridiculous I should have felt like this. My head told me to wait until November but my heart wanted to do it in June. Attending the grading with my husband was a really hard day emotionally, particularly at the beginning when everyone started warming up and again at the end when certificates were presented. A lesson in humility I suppose. During the actual grading I was okay and I just got on with supporting my husband who did a really good grading. I’m on a more even keel again now and looking towards my own 2nd dan grading in November.

2.       Why do students find it so hard to learn stances? I’ve been doing a lot of teaching recently and I’m always constantly amazed at how sloppy many students are with stances. You can tell them until you are blue in the face to ‘bend the front knee (in zenkutsu dachi)’, or ‘bend the back leg’ (in neko ashi dachi) and they still don’t do it – even at brown belt! When you watch them do kata above the waist they are looking pretty good but watch their legs and there is hardly any attempt to use the proper stances at all. I’ve tried getting them to do a basic kata such as pinan nidan with their arms behind their backs so that they just have to concentrate on their legs but they still just walk through the pattern with hardly any discernible stances! Do you have any effective ways to teach stances?

3.       I think I have found the source of my leaning problem in karate. This problem raised its ugly head again during my pre-dan (it has plagued me for years!). However, my husband seems to have pinpointed the subtle thing that I am doing wrong and I am practising hard now to correct it. It appears that when I am transitioning between stances during kihon combinations or kata I am slightly hyper-extending my back and pushing my hips forward. You would think that this would make me lean backwards but it actually results in me leaning forward slightly when I change stance. I also think it makes my stance transitions slower because my weight is not correctly balanced between my feet and there is a slight pause before I can move. My husband said that I need to tuck my pelvis under more to straighten my spine (like you do in sanchin dachi). When I try doing this in zenkutsu dachi I can get my hip back more and step forward more quickly because my weight is more evenly balanced. I also don’t lean as I step forward. I am now practising to make this feel a more natural movement and hopefully some of my other problems may disappear at the same time i.e. leading slightly with the hand rather than the foot and occasionally losing balance.

As you can see my karate seems like a series of highs and lows at the moment, but that’s par for the course isn’t it.?We’re on a long journey, not in a race. It’s normal to have training plateaus, move forward, slide back again, have Eureka moments or discover small flaws in technique that are holding you back. Keeping going is the most important thing and not letting disappointments blow you of course.

So I am keeping going – I have started training daily, i.e. a little and often strategy. I find training about 7.15 in the morning the best time for me. If I’m not in the gym by 8.00am then in my heart of hearts I know it will not happen! The day will take over and I won’t get around to it, so I’m trying to be very disciplined with myself. I’m determined to crack the problems that plague my karate and stopped me from grading last month.

The biggest battle we all face really is the one inside ourselves isn’t it?

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