NEVADA KARATE ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER
Hi all! Welcome to the second installment of Zanshin, our dojo newsletter. First and foremost, there are a few things that need to be mentioned before we get down to business. First, congratulations to everyone who tested in our grading on Friday April 24th.Between the dojo and the University we had 35 students participate. You all did a great job, keep up the hard work! Results of the grading will be announced on Friday, May 1st and will be followed by a little get together for pizza after class at that pizza place around the corner.
Second, a big congratulations goes out to Christina Spadaro and Sarah Altemara for their great showing at the Ozawa Cup. Sarah placed 5th in the Kata competition and 4th in Kumite (yes, she did get a medal!) while Christina placed 5th in Kata and 4th in Kumite (no, she didn't get squat!). They represented our dojo and standards exceptionally well and we're all very proud of them. Great job ladies! (And thanks for not bouncing around like monkeys during Kumite - that would have been embarrassing!)
Third, we are now offering classes a whopping 6 days a week! WOOHOO! In addition to our Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday classes, we now have Tuesday and Thursdays from 4:30 - 6:00 pm with Senpai Tony Grider. It will focus on basic and introductory training and is open to all members. Like I said before, you now have 6 days a week to come in and train, so that means more opportunities for us crazy, hardcore training people to put ourselves through the abuse and less excuses for you guys who aren't coming in regularly.
INSTRUCTORS, listen up!! There will be an instructors meeting on TUESDAY, MAY 5TH at 6PM. There are a lot of things Don wants to cover so please attend.
Nevada Karate Asssociation
April 24 (Dojo)
Tori Mulock Emily Paris
Drake Anderson Brandon Hockenberry (UNR)
Devon Anderson David Kayser (UNR)
Alex Andrae (UNR) Alexandra Matsis (UNR)
Cody Bakker (UNR) Jessica Montoya (UNR)
Jeff Bigham (UNR) Jose Rodriggoez (UNR)
Trevor Bullock (UNR) Shana Rogers (UNR)
Kyle Davis (UNR) Emily White
Clayton Ellis (UNR) John Williams (UNR)
Robert Fox Jamie Woodmancy (UNR)
Ryan Bugg (UNR) David Patterson (UNR)
Ashley Cox (UNR)
Sara Altemara Brienna McAuliffe
Adam Brown (UNR
Jennifer Diggs Preston Mulock
Monica Keady Dan Young
ARTICLE OF THE MONTH:
The Snap of Karate
I remember years ago watching Bruce Lee films. Like many, he was my idol and although he died the same year I was born, I grew up watching his movies over and over again.
When I was twelve I started karate and shortly after my first lesson I remember watching a documentary of Bruce Lee where he talked about Kung Fu and Karate. He said Karate was like being hit by an iron bar… "WHACK" as he mimed using an iron bar to hit someone. "However," he continued "Kung Fu is like being hit by an iron bar attached to a chain" and then he made a noise only Bruce Lee could make, as he mimed the snap of the bar and chain combination… "I wish I did Kung Fu" I thought!
Twenty years later I have come to realise that maybe Bruce Lee didn't know everything there was to know about karate. However, I have forgiven him as I have seen many karateka who have also fail to see the snap of karate.
Please try this: Make a fist and then hold your index finger up, straight. Now, as quick as you can bring the finger back down to the fist. Now return the finger back to the same place, but with your other hand pull the finger back as far as it will go and then release. Hopefully there will be a difference. With the first exercise the finger is being forced forward by the tension of the muscles. With the second exercise, it is the other hand that is forcing the finger back and when it is released it snaps back. However, because the muscles in the moving finger are relaxed, it moves twice the distance of the previous exercise in less time. This "snap" of the finger can demonstrate how we should snap all our techniques.
Let me first talk about what I see is inefficient about the way that many people do karate. For the sake of simplicity I am going to refer to this as the "western" style of karate. However, let me assure you, I trained for many years in Japan and I have seen many karateka there do techniques in a similar fashion. However, this style seems to be more prominent in the west and therefore I will refer to it as the "western" style. And that style is tense and stiff, with movements of the arms beingforced into place as techniques are executed.
If we take the example of the simple gedan bari, people often execute this block in two movements. As they start to move forward from the simple yoi position, they bring their arm up so the blocking hand is to the side of their face. That position is then locked as they step forward. As they land, they force their arm/hand down to the blocking position. From the still relaxed yoi position, the arm is constantly tense throughout the movement. Even when they land the arm remains tense as it is forced into place. However, this is how beginners learn the techniques, but I have seen high dan grades do the technique in a similar, stifled, stiff manner.
In order to maintain that locked, prepared position as you moves forward, you have to tense your muscles. With tense muscles, you are probably able to get your fist up as far as your ear, but no farther. However, this tension causes a blockage of the body's natural power. Then, as the block is executed, the arm is still tense. In the short term it may feel strong, but tension of any muscle makes movement slow and slow movement reduces the power and effectiveness of a technique.
However, the "Japanese" style is much more relaxed and so much stronger and faster. We have all been on a course taught by instructors who seem to glide across the floor with so much speed and control and then deliver a fast, strong technique. I have been there, trying to produce the same amount of power, but the more effort I put into it, the less effective it seems to be. How can they make it seem so effortless? I found myself saying… But that is it! Less "effort", less tension is what produces the increased power and snap of their techniques.
Please try this exercise. Stand with your arms outstretched, shoulder blades back, chest open and upper body completely relaxed. Now, with your pectoral muscles, pull your arms in, so they wrap around your body. However, this is just a fast, snapping exercise. The idea is not to hug yourself and keep hold of your body. The idea is to snap your arms into your body, only to allow them to return (not force them to return) back to the start point. Try this exercise repeatedly, only concentrating on the initial "snap" of the pectoral muscles which bring the shoulder blades forward. If you huge yourself (depending on your flexibility) you will probably be able to get your hands to your shoulder blades. However, if you snap, the relaxed arms/hands will travel farther and faster, with your hands momentarily making it farther around you back. This is how you should execute gedan bari.
As beginners it is very difficult to make power with karate techniques. The movements are unusual and clumsy. We are learning to use our bodies in ways that don't make sense. As a result, many people tense their bodies as it is a natural/unlearnt way of creating power. It feels strong and initially produces results. However, as a result, this over tension of the body always stifles power when the karate movements are learnt. If you try these two ways of training and compare the tense, two-part movement of the "western" style to the constant fluid action of the "Japanese" style, it becomes obvious that the latter style is superior.
We can then take this principle and apply it to all our techniques. The basic blocks divide into two categories. Out to in (e.g. age uke and soto uke) and in to out (e.g. gedan bari and uchi uke). An exercise for the in to out category is the one described above, and for the other category you can practise the opposite. Start with your arms hugging yourself and shoulder blades forward. Concentrating on the back muscles, snap you shoulder blades back and elbows to the side like yoko empi (don't allow your arms to become outstretched, you don't want to cause hyper-extension). As they reach their apex, allow the snap to bring them back to the hugging position.
Once you have mastered the "feeling" of the snap in the exercise, recreate it when you do the blocks. Gedan bari has already been described. For soto uke, as you prepare make sure the blocking arm shoulder is brought right back as far as it will go (without hyper extension) and then the snap will catapult it forward. Again, just at the end add the split second of kime to produce the strong, fast, smooth action which is so characteristic of the "Japanese" style. (A word of caution: when people practise soto uke they are often over concerned with where the hand should be in preparation. This is not important. The hand should remain close to the ear. What is important is that the shoulder and shoulder blade is snapped back. If we consider age uke, the hand doesn't move, however, that is not to say there is no preparation with the blocking arm. The preparation of the shoulder is vital and should feel exactly the same as the soto uke preparation.)
There are two further points I would like to make before I conclude this article. The point about the age uke preparation is vital to understand how the relaxed use of the shoulder snap can be used for punching. Just because the hand does not move, does not mean that the same body mechanics mentioned above do not come into play. If we consider oi tsuki, when stepping forward the arm that will deliver the punch does not move. However, the snap of the shoulder should still be used to create a relaxed, fast punch. If you just rely on the arm muscles to force the arm forward it will produce a slow, stifled weak thrust, not a snap.
Secondly, the shoulder is a ball and socket joint. So too is the hip. Although the exercises I have mentioned above would not apply to the hip, the hip can be used in a similar way. If you combine the snap of the shoulder with the snap of the hip, it will produce far more power than the forced, stifled approach of the "western" style.
I would like to conclude by going back to Bruce Lee. I agree with him, I think Kung Fu (from what I have seen) is like an iron bar attached to a chain. It has that fluid, non-fixed form to it that is so alien to karateka. However, he is wrong about the "iron bar-karate". Good karate should never be stiff; although it does have more form than kung fu. Therefore, I prefer to think of karate as a flexible piece of steel. If you imagine a piece of steel that has been securely anchored at one end with the other end pulled back to its maximum apex: the power that is required is in the pull back. This produces potential power, which is released when the steel is freed and is snapped forward. Because there is no tension on the release, there is no blockage of power. Karate is exactly the same. We always maintain our form, but within that movement, we use the body to snap our techniques into place and use kime to finalise the movement.
UPCOMING SHOTOKAN EVENTS:
- '09 International Camp
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:
This month, since we just came out of a grading and everyone's still a bit nervous as we wait for our results, I decided that an article on positive thinking would be quite helpful. Not to say that we aren't all a cheerful and happy lot, but we have all had our moments of negative thinking during training and everyday life. Hopefully, this article will help bring a little ray of sunshine into your day; especially after class when you've been told about everything that you did wrong during the test.
Positive Thinking Your Key to Success
by Remez Sasson
Positive thinking brings inner peace, success, improved relationships, better health, happiness and satisfaction. It also helps the daily affairs of life move more smoothly, and makes life look bright and promising.
Positive thinking is contagious. People around you pick your mental moods and are affected accordingly. Think about happiness, good health and success, and you will cause people to like you and desire to help you, because they enjoy the vibrations that a positive mind emits.
In order to make positive thinking yield results, you need to develop a positive attitude toward life, expect a successful outcome of whatever you do, but also take any necessary actions to ensure your success.
Effective positive thinking that brings results is much more than just repeating a few positive words, or telling yourself that everything is going to be all right. It has to be your predominant mental attitude. It is not enough to think positively for a few moments, and then letting fears and lack of belief enter your mind. Some effort and inner work are necessary.
Are you willing to make a real inner change?
Are you willing to change the way you think?
Are you willing to develop a mental power that can positively affect you, your environment and the people around you?
Here are a few actions and tips to help you develop the power of positive thinking:
- Always use only positive words while thinking and while talking. Use words such as, 'I can', 'I am able', 'it is possible', 'it can be done', etc.
- Allow into your awareness only feelings of happiness, strength and success.
- Try to disregard and ignore negative thoughts. Refuse to think such thoughts, and substitute them with constructive happy thoughts.
- In your conversation use words that evoke feelings and mental images of strength, happiness and success.
- Before starting with any plan or action, visualize clearly in your mind its successful outcome. If you visualize with concentration and faith, you will be amazed at the results.
- Read at least one page of inspiring book every day.
- Watch movies that make you feel happy.
- Minimize the time you listen to the news and read the papers.
- Associate yourself with people who think positively.
- Always sit and walk with your back straight. This will strengthen your confidence and inner strength.
- Walk, swim or engage in some other physical activity. This helps to develop a more positive attitude.
Think positive and expect only favorable results and situations, even if your current circumstances are not as you wish them to be. In time, your mental attitude will affect your life and circumstances and change them accordingly.
Follow the tips and suggestions in this article, and prove to yourself the reality the power of positive thinking.
When you expect success and say "I can", you fill yourself with confidence and joy.
Fill your mind with light, hope and feelings of strength, and soon your life will reflect these qualities.
If you want to help out with the newsletter via submitting articles or info that you find interesting or helpful please get in touch with either Don or myself. And remember, feedback is greatly appreciated! Please, please, please, please, please let us know what you think about the newsletter! Any feedback on content, style or anything in general would be greatly appreciated so this thing can get better and more interesting for your monthly reading enjoyment.