Monday, February 15, 2016

I live my Karate….

Back in 1979

I should describe myself today. I have developed various disabilities. That is a strange word, disabilities. To my way of thinking things just keep changing. I am not what I was, I am what I am.


To take stock.


1.    I have lost much ability to speak. And when I do so it takes me real effort to make myself understood. I can be a real energy drain to do so.

I get few phone calls, I am difficult to understand on the phone.


2.    I have almost no balance. Because of this I stopped driving to not endanger anyone else. I can walk unassisted, but as I fell last year and got a subdural hematoma requiring brain surgery. When I go for my regular 1-3 mile walks outside, I use a walker for safety.


Of course this makes karate and tai chi difficult. But I can continue to study. Perhaps my kata is a 5% of where it used to be. And it took me a year to figure out how to practice tai chi, with different stepping for one change. But I never let the changing ability stop me.


3.    I am much weaker. Little strength, which means I can do little. Outside of small things, I can do little around the house, It is disturbing not to be able to shovel, cut the grass, rake up leaves, etc.


The easy thing would be to stop my karate studies. But after 40 years of work, that is not an option. I lost one of my students to a rare genetic disease, where he eventually lost much control of his body. He too did not quit. I would regularly train with him, and when he could no longer stand, the training continued seated, then lying in bed. That made me work to modify his training to what he could do.  Of course losing a student was a painful time, but it was also a learning experience which in turn gave much dignity to his efforts to continue to train.

I did not realize that I would be in the similar circumstances.

When I began my training I did not have an end point in mind. Then the more I learned, I discovered there was always more to learn.

 When I train these days I continue to realize more details about my art.

 Perhaps the most important thing I have discovered is that there are a whole string of force enhancers we develop over the years. Each of which combines with our other practices to enhance our abilities. So as age increases, skill can continue to increase, where speed, strength and the like decrease.

 In the perfect world you would do all of them for the peak karate performance, but the world is not perfect, and even with some of them missing in your practice, there are still benefits to be grained with these trainings included in your practice.

The thing is they are subtle, and may need decades of work to provide advantage. If you ignore them, they will not add something to your practice.

 Permit me to suggest a few of them, in no particular order:

1.    First and perhaps foremost is the use of the Makiwara. Developing a tighter fist for striking. And working toward the ideal compression of the fist on impact, and then the relaxation of the fise after impact.

2.    The use of the knuckle fist during pushups.. Not a substitute for the makiwara, but it assists in wrist development over the years.

3.    The inclusion of stepping in application of the movement intended.

4.    Use of stepping as stepping on the foot or stepping into the instep. This can stabilize the opponent creating more percussive effect of the movement. Like wise it can provide pain to distract the opponents mind.

5.    Every step can also be a kick.

6.    Maintain correct body alignment increases the power behind technique.

7.    Moving the center during execution and keeping it centered for the technique.

8.    Correct knee release for movement.

9.    Gripping the stance with the toes and the heel increase the power of movement.

10.                       The study of kobudo contributes to the overall strength behind each karate movement.

11.                       Don’t neglect the spirit behind karate. You have to believe in a movement to make it work.

12.                       Blocks can be blocking deflections, way to bring the opponent closer, way to drop an opponent. The block can strike as hard as any blow into an opponent.

13.                       Understand how one movement can move into another movement. This is how multiple striking works.

14.                         Utilize short range striking where circular movement connects blocks and strikes.

15.                       Kicking and striking occur on the movements return as on the outgoing movement.

16.                       Teaching is an ever changing experience allowing you to understand how people learn, and continue to get better at it.
17,           Utilize the potential of multiple striking and layered striking.

 Am more come to mind I will expand on this later.

 The slowdown that my disability has brought around has allowed many experiences to reflect on these lessons.

Where I am much slower and unsteady I still can make a great many of my movements work against students.

I have no intention of stopping.

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