July 2009


Hello Karateka! Welcome to the fourth issue of Zanshin! As most of you know, we are having a demonstration July 14th, from 1:30 - 4:30 pm at UNR for the Global Kids Summer Camp.The kids are broken into three different groups (1st & 2nd; 3rd & 4th; 5th & 6th grades) and they rotate through activities for about 50min-1 hr each.  I am also hoping that you will be ok to be outside.  The camp is at UNR and there are spaces inside and outside reserved for camp use, either one is available for our use we just have to inform the camp director which location we would prefer. The outdoor location will be on the Quad (a large grassy area with plenty of trees for shade). The indoor area would be in one of the classrooms in the buildings near the Quad. Just let me know where you want to do it and I will set it up for you guys.

An FYI for everyone who knows the Irate Iranian, his birthday is coming up!! Don's planning on going down to California and kidnapping him for the day. He got permission from his wife to do ANYTHING to him, as long as his head does not get shaved. So, anything you can think of is fair game! Get in touch with Don for more details if you're interested in going.

Finally, a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Preston Mulock! He's turning 8 on July 16th.

Article Of The Month:

Karate Breathing

(Part 1)

Breathing for Strength & Flexibility

By Aaron Hoopes

Breathing in karate training is seldom given systematic attention. It is hard to tell whether this is due to a belief that it really isn’t that important or an unspoken agreement that karate-ka need to work it out on their own. Whatever the case the fact remains that breathing training is not practiced in most modern karate schools. This is rather unfortunate because breathing is actually fundamental to effective karate training.

The purpose of this article is to explore the two main methods of breathing that are used in karate training. Part 1 of this article is concerned with Abdominal Breathing which is the breathing method used when working on flexibility, building muscle strength, and replenishing energy reserves. Abdominal Breathing is grounding and peaceful. Part 2 of this article is concerned with Reverse Abdominal Breathing which is the breathing method used for the generation of power and focus.

Abdominal Breathing

Breathing practice has been a major part of all martial arts for thousands of years. It is only in modern times, especially in hard-style martial arts such as karate, with the emphasis on sports and tournament competition, that breathing exercises have been neglected. Proper breathing oxygenates the blood which is critical in enabling muscles to become more supple and strong. Breathing also has the effect of helping the mind to calm down. When we are looking inward, focusing on our breathing, other disruptive thoughts that run continuously through the mind settle of their own accord. The mind relaxes. This, in turn allows the muscles to relax, stretch and lengthen to their full potential.

Abdominal Breathing or belly breathing is the practice of learning to use your lungs to their full capacity. The focus is on the abdomen, or hara, the spot just below your navel. As you breathe in, push this belly area out and down filling the lungs completely from the bottom up. This is a muscular action as well as a respiratory action, which involves becoming aware of your abdominal muscles expanding. By pushing the abdomen out, you create a vacuum allowing your lungs to open and be filled to their maximum capacity. You should not feel as if you are expanding your chest; instead, imagine you are drawing the air deep into the lower part of your body. Next, as you breathe out, contract your abdominal muscles, pulling them in and up allowing them to squeeze the air from your lungs. It is especially important to relax and focus on releasing tension during the exhalation process

Abdominal Breathing is most effective when warming up or stretching and is the best method for building strength and flexibility in the musculature. As a general rule muscles need time to unwind and release the tension that builds up within them during everyday life. By practicing Abdominal breathing, you give the muscles time to relax. This, in turn, allows them to lengthen gradually and naturally.

Of course, most karate classes spend the first ten to fifteen minutes stretching. The stretching is primarily focused on specific muscles or muscle groups that are to be used during the class. It usually entails pulling muscles in opposite directions, often with a soft bouncing motion in order to loosen them up. The stretches concentrate on short extensions in preparation for the rigorous physical exercise that is to come. Other muscles, which may only play a supporting role, are often insufficiently stretched. This is fine to warm up muscles that are already loose; however, it is woefully inadequate as a primary stretching warm up, especially without proper breathing habits. The best suggestion is to take time outside of class to practice Abdominal Breathing while stretching. This will allow you to slow down the pace of your stretching and actually feel what is happening inside your body.

Within a short time you should begin to notice a difference in the way your muscles feel and the quicker response you get from them. Part of training is becoming aware of living in your body: feeling the muscles move and experiencing the deeper effects the techniques have. Abdominal Breathing gives you the chance to focus on and access this feeling.

Keeping your attention focused on the particular muscles that are being stretched brings your mind and body together toward the same end. Slowing down your stretches enables you to feel each stretch completely and to experience it in depth. Whatever stretches you do are fine, especially ones that are done in your regular karate warm-up. Just do them longer and slower…and remember to breathe. Practicing Abdominal Breathing while stretching, helps coordinate your muscles and gets them all working together by lengthening and toning your complete musculature along an extended range of motion. In karate the body is trained to move as a complete unit. Each muscle works in harmony to produce an effective technique. Proper breathing and stretching brings your whole body together so that it will respond when called upon to perform.

 Abdominal Breathing builds strength within the muscles and allows them to become more flexible. It also replenishes energy reserves. Once the body is strong, flexible and full of energy, we can begin to practice a breathing method which allows us to circulate and focus that energy in the creation of real Ki power. In Part 2, I will discuss Reverse Abdominal Breathing.


Aaron Hoopes began his karate training in New Orleans in 1982 under Sensei Takayuki Mikami. In addition to karate he also began studying Tai Chi with sifu Chien “King” Lam of the Tamashii school. In 1986 he moved to Japan to continue his training at the headquarters of the Japan Karate Association. While there he had the opportunity to train with Sensei Nakayama at his private dojo (Hoitsugan). In 1996 he completed the intensive Shanti Yoga instructor training program at the Australian Meditation Institute. In 2002 he founded Zen Yoga, a blend of Tai Chi movement, Shanti Yoga stretching and Qigong breathing. He is the author of Perfecting Ourselves: Coordinating Body, Mind and Spirit and Breathe Smart, as well as the creator of  a series of training DVDs and relaxation CDs. His new book The Art of Zen Yoga is due out from Kodansha in 2007. Website:


NKA Who We Are:

- Name: Marissa Mulock

- Birthday: 12/01/1999

- Rank: White Belt (beginner)

- Years of training: Under 1 year

- School: Peavine Elementary

-What is your favorite part about classes at the dojo?

The kata, the kihon and the kumite.

-Do you have a favorite Sensei and/or Senpai? Why do you like them?

Gary, he's my dad. And Don, because he's really nice.

- Which do you like more? Kata, Kihon or Kumite? Why?

All of them because they're fun

- What made you start studying karate?

My first day was really fun

- Briefly describe one thing that you think makes you unique.

My singing voice

- Name one thing you wish your Sensei/Senpais to know about your training experience at the dojo. Is it something you like or dislike? And why?

I fall if I go too far down in my stance, I don't like it when I fall because people stare at me.

- Name: Preston Mulock

- Birthday: July 16

- Rank: White Belt (beginner)

- Years of training: Under 1 year

- School: Peavine Elementary

-What is your favorite part about classes at the dojo?


-Do you have a favorite Sensei and/or Senpai? Why do you like them?

Sensei Evans because he's nice

- Which do you like more? Kata, Kihon or Kumite? Why?

My favorite is kata because its cool

- What made you start studying karate?

I thought it was cool

- Briefly describe one thing that you think makes you unique.

I am 7 and I'm going to karate

- Name one thing you wish your Sensei/Senpais to know about your training experience at the dojo. Is it something you like or dislike? And why?

I really like kata and kumite and everything.

- Name: Tori Mulock

- Birthday: 01/16/1997

- Rank: 10th Kyu (2nd level White Belt)

- Years of training: Less than 1 year

- School: Peavine Elementary

-What is your favorite part about classes at the dojo?

The feeling of accomplishment at the end

-Do you have a favorite Sensei and/or Senpai? Why do you like them?

Sensei Evans because he's nice and understanding.

- Which do you like more? Kata, Kihon or Kumite? Why?

Kumite because I'm pretty much attacking my partner

- What made you start studying karate?

My dad taught us some karate

- Briefly describe one thing that you think makes you unique.

I find myself unique by the fact that I already knew a bit of karate from the start

- Name one thing you wish your Sensei/Senpais to know about your training experience at the dojo. Is it something you like or dislike? And why?

I'd like my Senseis to know that on Mondays I just am low on energy so I try to take it easy to have enough energy to get through the class

- Name: Gary Mulock

- Birthday: 03/17/1954

- Rank: Ni Dan

- Years of training: 17

- Profession outside of karate?:

Database Analyst/Programmer

- What is your favorite part about teaching?

Watching the light go on! Helping others to become self-sufficient

- If you could only do one kata for the rest of your karate training, which one would it be and why?

Kankusho. I just like the way it feels: strength, power, quickness, jumps.

- Which of the following do you like the most? Kata, Kihon or Kumite. Why?

Kata. It makes my technique feel real (and I am better at it than kumite).

- What made you start studying karate?

Always wanted to as a kid, plus martial arts movies.

* What makes me keep studying karate?

The satisfaction of getting better, and staying in shape

- Briefly describe one thing that you think makes you unique.

Insight, or perhaps the ability to synthesize a new idea or concept from previous knowledge or experience.

- Name one thing that you wish your students to know about karate that you had to learn the hard way.

I did not have to learn this the hard way, I came to understand two things after I had been a black belt for a while. One, black belt means you can now walk down the street - and chew gum -at the same time! What I jokingly mean by that is, black belt means you have gotten to the point of being able to do the techniques without having to think about them. Two, black belt means having the confidence to know that you can defend yourself. With that confidence, if you find yourself in a threatening situation, you can choose your course of action instead of reacting out of fear. Your best defensive weapon is your mind and your best way out of a situation is to think your way out.

Upcoming Shotokan Events:

July 11-17 2009
San Diego, CA
For more information, please contact:

International Traditional Karate Federation

1930 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1007

Los Angeles, CA 90057

(T) 213-483-8262 / (F) 213-483-4060


Food For Thought:

OK, anyone who has ever had Don for their instructor on one of those days that he spends 30 minutes warming you up before a hard class knows why this article is perfect for him. Don, I know you love push-ups and when I saw this article, I knew it was perfect for your "Weekend Warriors" (i.e. Sara and Dale and anyone else who goes to Saturday classes).

Doing the Perfect Push-up

Could the push-up be the "perfect exercise"? Here's what it can do for you, and how to get it right.

By Colette Bouchez

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

While fitness fads may come and go as fast as their late-night infomercials, some types of exercise transcend trends. Among them is the push-up, which uses your own body weight along with gravity to tone and condition muscles. Some fitness experts have called the push-up the closest thing there is to a perfect exercise. And with good reason.

"One of the reasons the push-up has endured so long is it's cheap, it's easy, it doesn't require any equipment, it can work multiple parts of the body at the same time -- and pretty much everyone, from beginners to athletes, can derive benefits," says personal trainer Jonathan Ross, a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

What kind of benefits? If you're thinking the push-up is the best upper body exercise, many fitness experts agree. But, personal trainer Jessica Bottesch tells WebMD, the push-up benefits many muscle groups body-wide.

"The primary movers [the major muscle groups that produce the motion of a push-up] are the chest and tricep. However, if you look at the form your body takes during the perfect push-up, you're typically suspended from your toes all the way to your neck, so in reality, every muscle between your shoulders and your toes is engaged," says Bottesch, co-owner of Empower Personal Training in Durham, N.C.

This includes the all important core muscles of the trunk, as well as the abdominals, legs and hips, she says.

And for women, Bottesch tells WebMD, the push-up has an extra benefit.

"A push-up is considered a resistance exercise, so in addition to muscle strengthening, you also get bone-building effects. It can be as effective as working out with weights," says Bottesch.

The Perfect Push-up: Mastering the Basics

Although there are many variations on the push-up, the basic principal remains the same: Engage your upper back, shoulders, and arms to lift your body weight off the floor, then slowly lower it back down. While that sounds simple, experts say there's plenty of room for mistakes.

"The biggest mistake people make when doing a push-up is to try and take some of the stress off their arms by using other muscle groups to help lift their body, so they don't get the full benefits," says Todd Schlifstein, DO, a rehabilitation physician at the Langone Medical Center's Rusk Institute at New York University and assistant professor at the NYU School of Medicine.

Ross agrees: "Body weight should be lifted by your arms, and don't use your butt or stomach or the lower half of your body to pull you up," he says.
The correct movement for the perfect push-up, he says, is smooth, "with no swaying of the hips as you go up and down."

Bottesch adds that it's also important to keep a straight line from your head down to your ankles when you're in the lifted position.

The Perfect Push-up: Mastering the Basics continued...

Another tip to get the most out of your push-ups: Don't let your chest actually touch the floor when you come down.

"Your chest should come within 2 to 3 inches of the floor. Put a textbook, a sneaker, a rolled-up sock underneath you, and when you touch it, it's time to go back up," says Ross, who was named ACE's 2008 personal trainer of the year.

Now if all this sounds a bit daunting for your out-of-shape body, fear not. There are ways to make push-ups easier while still gaining the benefits.

"If you're having trouble ... lifting the whole body in the proper alignment, you can do the same exercise, but do it on your knees," says Schlifstein. While you still need to keep a straight line from neck to torso, by engaging the knees you'll reduce your lifting load by about half.

For those looking to minimize tension on the wrist, Ross says a variation called the "knuckle push-up" can help. For this type of push-up, you close your hands and put your weight on your knuckles instead of your palms, avoiding the wrist extension motion. But be sure to do this type of push-up on a padded mat or carpet.

"Because there is clearly less fat on this part of the hand, you really do need to add some type of padding if you are going to try this," says Ross.

The Perfect Push-up: How-to's for Beginners

If you haven't done any kind of push-up -- let alone a perfect one -- since your high school gym teacher stood over you with a whistle and a scowl, don't worry. There are several ways to ease into doing push-ups.

One option is to use a low bench to prop up your arms, and then do either a regular push-up or the knees-on-the-floor version, Bottesch says.

"If you put your feet on the floor and put your hands on the bench, you can work on getting the body form right with much less strain," she says.

If even a kneeling push-up with a bench is too tough for you, there's an even easier way to begin.

You don't have to lie down at all, Ross tells WebMD. Instead, do your push-ups standing against the wall, which dramatically reduces the pressure on arms and upper back. To make it simpler still, stand closer to the wall.

"With your feet very close to the wall, there is almost no strain, but it still allows you to keep your body in alignment so you get a real sense of how it should feel," says Ross. As you gain strength, keep moving your feet further away until you feel confident enough to try push-ups on the floor.

The Perfect Push-up Gadgets: What Works

Although the push-up doesn't require any equipment at all, that doesn't mean it hasn't found its way into a late-night infomercial or two. There are a variety of push-up gadgets on the market, designed to put variety into your routine. Most are based on some of type of handle you hang on to during the exercise -- and it might surprise you to learn that experts say they can work.

"They provide variation in your workout, plus the basic handle design is especially good for anyone who has an issue with keeping their wrists fully extended," says Ross.

Taking the handle concept a step further are devices like the one called the "Perfect Pushup," which incorporate a swiveling action. By rotating the arms while lifting the body, you may be able to increase your range of motion, which in turn increases benefits, Schlifstein says.

Even without gadgets, experts say, you can put variety into your push-up routine by changing up your positions. For example, there's the one-handed push-up, though experts say it's not for the faint of heart.

"This requires not only upper body strength, but also a very good sense of balance, so you really have to be in pretty good shape to try this," says Schlifstein.

Another advanced option: With your hands on the floor, elevate your feet on a low bench behind you as you do push-ups. "It's an amazing workout, but I don't recommend anyone try this unless they have really mastered a regular floor push-up," says Bottesch.

A word of caution: If you feel pain while doing any type of push-up, particularly if the discomfort is focused on one joint, stop working out and talk to your doctor, Bottesch says. And if you have shoulder or elbow issues, including any previous injuries to those areas, Bottesch says push-ups may not be the exercise for you.

6 More Perfect Push-up Tips From the Pros

Here are six more tips from the exercise experts to help you perfect your push-up technique:

1. Keep making small changes in your routine, like angling your hands or changing how far apart they are. This will ensure that you keep gaining benefits.

2. When starting out, use a "spotter" -- someone to watch the angle of your body. If that's not possible, do your push-ups next to a mirror where you can turn your head and catch a glimpse of your form.

3. As you lower yourself toward the ground, the first thing that should graze the floor is your chest. If your hips or legs come down first, you're doing it wrong.

4. For toning muscles (and for smooth, jiggle-free upper arms) you need more repetitions with less body weight, so go for push-ups on your knees or standing at a wall.

5. To build muscle mass in your upper arms and back, go for fewer reps with maximum weight load. Do push-ups with your legs straight out, and bring your chest no lower than 2 inches from the ground.

6. Remember that while a push-up helps tone muscles body-wide, it doesn't offer much in the way of cardio benefits, and it won't help develop the "pull" muscles in your back. So be sure to include other exercises in your regular workouts.