Karate; areas I need to improve and Winter Camp

I learnt alot of things in the last week, from both helping out with kids karate and going to Winter School (or camp never know which it is). I feel a bit down as well, not completely sure why, but I want to jot down all the important things I learned. They all have to do with basics, like rugby, boxing etc going back to basics is never a bad thing, the stronger the foundation, the stronger the structure, the better the stances and the guard are, the better a karateka will be.


Lets start with kids karate. Caz (the instructor) was showing the kids how to strike from basic guard, keeping the other hand guarding the chin and using the same shoulder as the punch to defend the other side of the jaw. Pretty basic, boxing like stuff. What was useful for me was that she was talking about why guarding the chin (knockout blow) is the most important. I have a habit of dropping my guard the moment a kumite begins, but now I now that to have my guard in the right position, I need to just see my fists guarding my chin level.


The second thing was when she was teaching the kids basic wrist locks, and how to get out of it. Basic stuff, but the way she explained it and how you can simplify it and use your kake/hiki blocks as a tool towards it for some reason blew my mind. It was anything I particularly hadn’t done before, I suppose it was making lock drills simple for kids, in a way that it completely takes strength out of the question. Something I know, but it seemed really fresh which I suppose comes from her being a small woman who had to fight and be highly focused on technique to get where she is.


Winter camp/school was a new experience for me, and I wish I wasn’t so shy or on a bit of a downer that I have been for the last few weeks, I didn’t even realise I was until people from different aspects of my life keep asking me. I could of contributed more and I will have to make up for being distant. Anyways more of that sucky stuff later. Some of the really cools thing I learnt at winter camp/school were that in the close quarters stuff (my prefered fighting range unless my opponent is massive!) I tend to forget my stance in the heat of the moment, and Simon (from London he went for his 2nd Dan kumite in June, awesome fighter) was telling me about how its still important and my main though must be on my stances, stuff I know but I need to be reminded of and to reinforce in myself. We working working on the guard (actually it seemed to develop from what Caz was saying at kids karate)  how to strike into someones guard, different levels of intensity/intent and I was happy that i could just about keep up with Simon, I have no doubts he would destroy me. But he was really happy to give me little tips here and there. So much easier and faster to strike someone when you’re really relaxed!


Then we went to long range fighting, using reverse punch to get in and out. I have a habit of going in and trying to get out still end up in close quarters range. (not good if the guy is massive) Simon was telling me (akin to what my sensei was teaching in the summer) of how as soon as I strike I use the rebound to come back. That I need to torque my body coming back so that I’m almost sideons. I suppose limiting their range of attack, and getting you out of the danger zone. This is definitely a challenge for me, something i was trying to work on in the summer, but now I know how to develop this weakness more, hopefully so I become a more rounded karateka.


Another key lesson I learnt was during bo staff session (I only had a Jo not the girl the stick) that unlike close quarters fighting where you need the torque and twist you don’t need to use full range (unless your long distant fighter, escrima sticks, drunken brawl which is not recommended etc). But with a weapon like a bo you need to use the full torque and twist to get the benefits of it as a weapon, no need to close the range, stay long (what is this american football?!). The london sensei came up to me and told me that I use my stance but as the effect rather than the cause. (philosophical term of the universe being founded on the theory of cause and effect). I need to use my stance during it, thats what gives us the power, the range, the speed etc. I need to think of my stance before the strike, it goes straight back to the kumite session without my stance I will have no foundation and I’ll be easy to topple over. (Great now i sound like a tree, not a beach tree maybe a nice palm tree or punga!)


These are all areas I have been working on since summer school, but this has shed a new light on where to focus on these areas. After my enforced rest (yet again, might as well take a bet to see how long I will last until the next one!) I started doing a little karate everyday (and yoga, only 10 mins but stretching has made a massive difference in my recovery) not trying to do a big session, just a little bit here, a little bit there to keep me sane. There is still so much I need to work on as a shodan ho. I will finish this post with a conversation during winter camp/school.

Matt a shodan was talking to me about the moment he became a shodan he realised he knew nothing. I said being a shodan-ho is even harder, you know your not at a Dans level, but feel the pressure of the the kyus expecting you to match the Dan’s ability. Caz said “its simple you buckle down and train hard and keep training”



One Response to Karate; areas I need to improve and Winter Camp

  1. I’ve said for a long time, that reaching your black belt is like finishing the apprenticeship.
    Now you’ve got to go out and learn the job!

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