Posts Tagged ‘Sparring’

Fighting Rules

ktadmin Posted in Karate, Training notes,Tags: , , ,
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They really are this simple…

Hit-him-no-hit-you
However, some times easier said than done!

Afraid of what?

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Awareness, Quotes, State of Mind,Tags: , , , , , ,
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You can do anything if you’re not afraid.  – from the movie “Daredevil” (2003)

Well almost anything.  Let us remember this is a quote from a movie.  And not a very good movie either starring Ben Affleck.  Regardless the quote bares further contemplation.

Everyone is afraid of something, unless they are insane.  Some are afraid of the dark, some water, some spiders or snakes.  Even the most fearless warrior is afraid of something, even if he never shows it.  There is a difference between being afraid and appearing afraid.  Each has its place.  Fear is a normal response to things that are new, unexpected or we have been conditioned to fear.  I’ll admit it, I am afraid of spiders.  My fear stems from being forced, by my parents, into a spiderweb filled storage crawl space under my childhood home 2-3 times a year.  I had to crawl into the 3 foot high, dirt floor space a good 4 feet to reach the chain on the light.  There were spiders everywhere.  Even though I know where my fear comes from and I can mostly control it, and I understand spiders aren’t usually the bad guys, the fear is still there.  You won’t know it if you throw one in my lap, but my pulse will elevate!

Controlling fear is the key to success.  When we spar we begin with a fear of being hit, this leads us to flinch and thereby typically lose the match.  As we train and gain more self-control we learn to control our fear and thereby our flinch, so we might begin to win a few matches.  The fear however is constant as hopefully no one likes to get hit.  The fear will lessen but that is because we are masters of the fear instead of the fear mastering us.  The path to self-control and controlling your fear starts with an act of sheer will, the decision that you are not going to flinch or run screaming like a girl!  (Sorry girls)

There you have it, boil it all down and fear is a decision.  Following the Sept 11th attack on the World Trade Centers, many of the people trapped in the buildings chose not to be afraid of what they knew was about to happen.  Instead a few of them called loved ones to share a final moment, one such caller was described as calm.  I am sure others were consumed by fear, for themselves or their loved ones.  None of us can say with honesty or certainty how we would react in a similar situation.  We react to fear based on the situation, on our state of mind, on so many factors, but if we train to control our fears beginning in the sparring ring we will be better equip to face and handle our fears when they catch us unaware.

If you are a person of faith I would add fear, like worry, is a lack of faith.

All’s Fair…

ktadmin Posted in Fun Stuff, Styles, Technique,Tags: , , , ,
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There are no rules in a fight, we ask who won, not who fought the best…After all; all is fair in love and war.

As most of my students know I rarely look at them when we are sparring.  I look past them, to their sides, up or down, I have my reasons but initially the students see this as a weakness, they quickly learn it is actually my advantage.  Since I didn’t have time for a long post today I thought I’d use the following graphic to demonstrate what I mean.

ping-pong

Plus I find this insanely funny, just makes me giggle every time!  Perhaps I should get some more sleep…

 

Round House Kicks

ktadmin Posted in Technique, Training notes,Tags: , , , , ,
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The Round House Kick is perhaps the most difficult kick to master.  There are several reasons for this, the most obvious is the need to trust yourself and commit to the movement of the kick.  Whether it is a standing, jumping, front or reverse round house kick the commitment is the same.  In any round house kick there is great power but also significant exposure.  IF the kick is not executed with excellent technique and extreme speed your opponent will have ample time to slide in close where the round house kick is useless.  That truly is the only defense against a round-house kick other than getting out of the way.  Since the round house kick delivers a force that leverages almost all of the attackers weight plus the momentum behind that weight trying to block a round house kick is often foolhardy.  The best defense is to not be where your attacker thinks you are going to be!  Move!!  The second defense I already mentioned which is to get in close, slow dance close to your attacker.  If you succeed their round house kick will be ineffective, you will make them lose their balance, surprise them and typically be behind them or to their side with ample of targets to exploit while they recover from the surprise.  If you fail, then the fight might just be over…for you…

Master Cat executing a flying round house kick to the head of this young Sumo wrestler!While the round house kick is a beautiful kick, I always caution my students to only use it after they perfect it.  When practicing the round house you should work with a heavy bag.  You need to learn to commit to the kick and follow through without hesitation.  This is best accomplished with a heavy bag so you learn proper control.  Once you are skilled with the kick you can work with a partner using a arm/target bag, this way you can add the dynamics of trying to execute a round house kick on a moving target.  The more you practice the better you will get.  Have your partner move in and out, try to evade, etc.  This will help you judge if your speed is sufficient to make the round house kick and effective sparring/fighting tool.  If you your the round house in a fight, remember to help your opponent find medical attention after the fight!

Train hard, Train often.  OSU!

I couldn’t resist posting this picture of a cat executing a flying round house kick to the head of this young Sumo wrestler!

Board Breaking

Sensei Posted in Fun Stuff, State of Mind, Technique, Training notes, Video,Tags: , , , ,
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Let’s start with a laugh, I like to say I’ve never met a board I didn’t like…
[zdvideo]http://karatetraining.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/terry-gantner-family-workout.flv[/zdvideo]

Well anyone who has attempted to break a board has experienced this at least once!  Lose your mental focus, feel fear or uncertainty, lose your physical focus and that will probably be you jumping around screaming!

Focus, this is the real trick in the Martial Arts or any fighting art, to much focus (see above) can be a bad thing.  While you may gain power you lose your situational awareness.  Instead of focus you need to train to stay relaxed, aware of your situation and fluid, this will give you the ability to react without the time delay of planned movements.  When I spar I rarely look at my opponent, in other words I do not focus on the person I am fighting.  Instead I relax my focus and heighten my awareness of the entire sparring situation, taking in their whole body or multiple attackers.  This is almost the opposite of what most students are taught when breaking boards.  Yet relaxing your focus can accomplish the same thing with the benefit of not getting tunnel vision.  You are simply putting your fist or knife hand strike to a defined spot, past the object, regardless of the object.

However I’d like to end by saying I have never met a board I didn’t like…

Perhaps I need to rethink that!

How Tough are You?

ktadmin Posted in Fun Stuff,Tags: , , ,
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Well there are a lot of ways to find out. You could visit your local biker bar and kick over a few Harley’s. Or, you could go patrol the ghetto streets of Detroit, DC or Baltimore. Or, you could find a group of hostile 5 year olds and see how many you could take…that’s what I did…
Well sort of…while I hope to never have to find out for sure (I can only imagine how the press would run with this!) but after taking a short survey I found out…


28

Not bad but I have nothing to compare it to, perhaps you’ll take the survey (for fun of course;) and post your resulting in the comments? I’m looking forward to it…

The 3 K’s of Kyokushin

ktadmin Posted in Styles, Technique, Training notes,Tags: , , , , , ,
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I train in and teach Kyokushin Karate. One of the things that I love about my style is the simplicity of it all. Yes you read correctly. At its core Kyokushin training consists of three main elements: (1) technique, (2) forms, and (3) sparring. These are sometimes referred to as the three “K’s” after the Japanese words for them: kihon (technique), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring).

Kihon (technique):

Technique is everything in Karate.  Some may disagree with that but without technique you can not gain perfection.  Masutatsu Oyama, once said that after 1,000 repetitions one could say that one could perform a given technique. Only after 10,000 repetitions could one say that one had mastered it. Some students may think that they master certain move more quickly however the premise is correct.  To many student rush their training, like a race to the black belt, of course they could not rush their training if they did not have a willing Sensei.  Part of the mastery of technique in the martial arts is a mastery of self, which leads to perfection of form.  If someone tells you they attained their black belt in 2 years (730 days) or 3 years (1095 days) ask how often they trained.

Kata (forms):

Kata is the synergy or technique and skill.  Performed correctly the student will visualize his/her opponents for each move and execute each step with the appropriate power, speed and focus.  Masutatsu Oyama was slightly more generous with forms; saying that after 1,000 repetitions one could say that one had mastered a given form. Since Kata is technique in motion and if we focus on technique first this statement makes sense.  I equate Kata to dance or moving meditation, like either the movements must be fluid and natural, which can only be accomplished with a quiet mind.  When we first begin to learn a Kata we must think to learn the succession of movements but with continued practice the moves should become instinctive, second nature.  Only then can the Kata begin to flow as an expression perfect technique in motion.  Many discount Kata because they don’t see the immediate benefit of performing Kata, yet those with patience learn from Kata, clarity of mind, new applications of old techniques, and gain muscle memory for most situations.  Kata is the core of training the Martial Arts mind and sense.

Kumite (sparring):

Kumite or Sparring is the goal for some students and the bane of others.  Regardless of your motivation for practicing the Martial Arts sparring is critical to maturing your skills.  Some students and instructors believe in full-contact sparring from the beginning, if you are in the Military or live in DC then I would agree, but for most students this can lead to very bad habits and flinching.  Like training in Kihon and Kata training that progresses is better.  I prefer to start students sparring with defined rules, including light contact, defend only, hands only, or feet only.  In this way students are provided a safe environment where familiarity and trust is built with themselves and their fellow students.  Trust is important.  Most students have day jobs or classes and are ill served with facial bruises or broken bones.  Control of one self means having the ability to inflict equally a light strike or rib crushing blow.  While students need to understand what it feels like to get hit and how to take a hit, they need to be ready for it both physically and mentally.  Sparring should be frequent and fun.

These are my thoughts and experience with the 3 Ks, be flexible and adaptable in your training for tunnel vision is something you want in your opponent not yourself.

Training Questions #1 – Sparring

ktadmin Posted in Questions, Training notes,Tags: ,
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This is going to be a new series to stimulate some discussion and get different perspectives.

Where should you look when facing an opponent?

This is an important question that most students don’t seem to get right away. Many instructors I have worked with also don’t seem to have ever learned this, I believe mostly from a lack of experience.

SO what is your answer? I’ll follow up in the comments with my 2 cents once the discussion gets started.

Sparring Notes

ktadmin Posted in Awareness, State of Mind, Styles, Training notes, Video,Tags: , ,
8

I have been working with my students to improve their sparring skills this month, it’s a great hot weather activity! Sparring can be a tough skill to perfect since everyone wants to jump in the ring and mix things up. Sparring is a very dynamic activity but it can be broken down to individual skills which can be perfected. A short list of these skills include: technique, stamina, focus, and self-awareness. As with any skill technique is paramount to success. Put on some boxing gloves and get in the ring doesn’t make you a boxer, the same is true for Martial Arts sparring. To often I’ve witnessed students at competitions degrade their technique to wildly slapping and kicking.

Sparring matches are won by staying in control. Control comes from confidence and technique. Confidence is something people have to find within themselves. Technique is somethings an instructor can help you perfect. I won’t delve into technique specifics as they vary from style to style, but form is critical to minimizing your vulnerabilities and maximizing your opportunities. Stamina comes with the practice and perfection of your form and technique. As we get older we need to add additional cardio-conditioning! 😉 With good technique and strong stamina you are well equip to win most matches simply by outlasting your opponent.

Focus is perhaps the more difficult thing to learn, as focus is probably the wrong word to use, since you need a lack of focus when sparring. Say what?!? If we focus on our opponent we forget about our surroundings, this may be OK in a sparring ring, but in a real fight that can be fatal. More importantly though focusing on your opponent can lead to signaling your movements. When I spar I typically spar primarily with my peripheral vision, this allows me to “focus” on movements as they occur not a specific movement. Let me give an example: if someone fakes a move with their left, then follows through with the real attack with their right… If I am focused on the person, then my focus will shift to the left fake, when the right comes in, I will have to realize it, shift my focus and then react. If I am focused on the situation, using my peripheral vision then I can more rapidly react to movements in my “sphere” of focus. Basically it reduces the thought process drag that comes from thinking to much. Relax your mind and your awareness becomes more basic, instinctual and reactionary. Hopefully that makes sense, I’ll be happy to clarify any of that.

Self-awareness is probably the most ignored part of sparring, though it is the direct result of good technique training and peripheral or sphere focus. When we spar it is important to be self-aware of your vulnerabilities. It is the only way you can truly improve your art. When you begin sparring your instructor will tell you what you are doing wrong. You should take this instruction as an opportunity to train yourself to find these corrections before you are told of them. The next step of course is correcting the problem, not always that easy. For example, two of my students where sparring and one would lean her head froward after a particular move. Her opponent realized this and he exploited it, with a downward strike to the head. A very bad way to get hit, a fight-ender. After the first hit, I pulled her aside and told her what she was doing. When she did it again I saw her realize it after it was to late. The third time her realization came a little sooner but still to late. Frustration was her enemy on the last point. She has the first part of self-awareness down and is now struggling with correcting the problem. It is a process, no different then learning your first martial arts technique.

I am including these videos for two reasons, first they are awesome! Secondly, they each demonstrate important aspects of sparring. See if you can figure out the importance of each video and post your conclusions in the comments section… Enjoy and pay attention!
[zdvideo width=”400″ height=”226″]http://karatetraining.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Gorgeous-JackieChanAwesomeFight.flv[/zdvideo]

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQa7tlZZ_lM

Looking forward to the discussion…

Meditation Point #130 – Less Self, Selfless

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes,Tags: ,
0

He who stands on his tiptoes does not stand firm;
He who stretches his legs does not walk easily.
So, he who displays himself does not shine;
He who asserts his own views is not distinguished;
He who exalts himself does not find merits acknowledged;
He who is self-conceited has no superiority allowed to him.
Such conditions, viewed from the standpoint of the Tao,
are like remnants of food or a tumor on the body, which all dislike.
Hence those who pursue the course of the Tao do not adopt and allow them.

— Tao-Te-Ching

This passage seemed rather pertinent as I am currently teaching my students the finer points of free sparring.  What?!  I know many will wonder how this passage could relate to sparring.  The first two lines seem obvious enough, Stance!  The 4th through 6th lines are slightly more obscure.  This is a deeper level, it deals with ego and honesty.  When sparring we need to spend as much energy watching our own vulnerabilities and we do looking for them in our opponent.  We must be honest in assessing our performance.  Ego has no place in sparring, honesty must come first if we are to improve our skills.  Additionally, no one likes a braggart.  Hopefully that make sense and you will gain some new insights of your training.

There are many levels to this passage so I urge you to read this multiple times.