Friday, June 1, 2012

10,000 and going

The site has hit the 10,000 views mark. Thank you all for visiting and I hope it is worth your while. Cheers!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Explosiveness

Explosiveness is a much talked about, but difficult skill to achieve in karate. Many people think of it as being really fast or hitting really hard. The concept of fajin "(expressed power)" brings it into better perspective. "Fajin is considered by many to be the most sophisticated physical expression of energy in the martial arts...".

Uechi-ryu has many movements that give the practitioner the opportunity to practice explosive movements solo, and with partners. And for a system that focuses on close-in or close combat fighting, being able to learn and use these techniques is an important, though not the only, step to your success.

I suggest reading more about the theory and application of explosiveness, and how it applies to Uechi-ryu. These are two great resources.
  1. Elements of Fajin in Uechi-ryu Karate, by David Elkins, L.C.S.W.
  2. Explosive Karate, (1) by Arthur Rabesa (Amazon.com)
  3. Explosive Karate, (2) by Arthur Rabesa (EasternArts)

Some examples of this explosiveness in action by Wayne Otto, 5 Dan. Though it's kumite, you see the explosiveness and control exhibited.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Product Review - Warrior Full Sparring Gear Set

Occasionally I review products from karatedepot.com (KD). My last one was about breaking boards and focus targets. I try to keep these specific to youth but you can see the application for parents/adults.

A few weeks ago, KD was kind enough to send me a set of sparring gear to test and review. I requested a youth set so I could test it for kids. Pictures follow the review.

I started by reviewing the different sets on their website and found what I would consider a reasonably priced set. You want quality but not something too expensive as most kids will 1. outgrow it in a year and 2. frankly not use it as often as you would expect. I settled on the Warrior Full Sparring Gear Set by Macho because of the price for the full set and other reviews I had seen. The set comes with Warrior model head gear, punch (gloves), kick (feet), a reversible chest protector, and Macho-branded mouth guard and case. This is a popular set for kids so it was odd to me that a face protector is not part of the set for kids orders. You can, however, purchase one separately. If you do opt for it, get the Warrior Face Shield, other ones will not fit the Warrior head gear - more on this later.

The next step was taking measurements according to the guide on the KD website. These worked very well. Head gear is usually the toughest to get a good fit but the head gear I received was spot on. The mouth guard is your typical one that needs to be put in hot water and molded to your teeth. It was easy to get the fit done quickly.

I found the chest protector to be very simple to put on and take off. Though like most, you need one person to assist. It is designed so you do not have to thread the ties multiple times but still provides a snug fit. It is thick enough for beginning sparring with strikes. It may be a bit thin for absorbing kicks.

The hand and feet gear are pretty thick and are easy to put on and take off. They use velcro straps to stay in place and so far have been very reliable. They absorb impact pretty well. The gloves completely cover the fingers and extend to cover the wrists. The Kicks cover the entire foot along with the ankles, and about an inch or so above the heel. They do not "stick" to the floor when sparring. Youth have no problem putting them on and taking them off.

The head gear fully wraps the head, with some openings in the back and sides for breathability and to be able to hear. It is made of the same thick, vinyl material as the hands and feet gear. By itself it is a good quality piece of gear.

Because this set can be sold for kids (and for the price it is probably a best seller for KD) I expected it to come with a face protector or shield. As I mentioned earlier, you can buy one separately, but it costs nearly 50% of the the entire sparring gear set. Though it is cheaper than ordering the protector directly from Macho Martial Arts.

As a parent of a youth martial artist, this is a major concern. For all the confidence that a youth and\or his teacher may have in his abilities, the fact is that youth do not have great control - neither do adults, I can attest to that :-). But even if they had great control, a blocked strike can still glance off and land hard anywhere in the face and cause some damage.

My recommendation would be to purchase the face protector in addition to the gear set. But because of the added cost, you now need to consider if it is a better value than a complete set would cost through your school. With some schools, it can literally take months to get gear after you order it, others have inventory on hand. I can say that after ordering this set, it only took about 3-4 days to receive it.

This sparring gear set is overall a great product and can be a great value - depending on if you value total cost or delivery time. The individual products' fits are accurate and the quality of the materials is excellent. Sold as is, I would recommend purchasing this set for the beginner martial artist, just think twice about ordering without a face protector.

Following is what Arrives with the Set
Any white spots you see in the pictures are from the camera, not the products. Also, the blogspot picture uploading tool did not upload the correct orientation of a couple of pictures, sorry for that.


Head Gear:






Chest Protector:





Punch and Kick:




Mouth Guard:







Monday, February 27, 2012

Arm Pounding and Youth Karateka

Arm Pounding.  That's attention grabbing, but it's just another way to say arm conditioning\rubbing, or Kotigitae.  Karate conditioning helps the practitioner "toughen up" muscles and bones.  I posted about partner conditioning, geared more for adults here.  Arm conditioning introduces you to getting hit and building up resistance to bruising.  It also helps develop concentration, core strength, spacing, and balance.  The following is an excellent article on karate conditioning that goes into more detail: Is Body Conditioning Karate's Lost Art? by George Chaplin.  Arm pounding is just the beginning of learning to condition your body, both internally and externally.

Depending on the Uechi dojo, youth\children will probably start learning this at around the 6-4 Kyu rank.  If your child is learning it, seek out their teacher to learn how it is properly and safely practiced.  It is important that they practice correctly and go somewhat easy initially because it is very easy to condition the wrong parts of the arm or hit too hard.  The goal is to build up resistance, not injure and bruise each other.  I wouldn't recommend practicing this exercise with your child, but learn to look for signs that it is being done incorrectly - as a parent safety should be your first concern.

As your child progresses, he will be learning leg and core conditioning, and "Sanchin Testing".  Done properly all of these exercises will buildup a tougher body, which is a great defensive aid if they should ever be attacked.  Conditioning is an integral part of karate with benefits that go beyond avoiding injury.


http://www.uechiryu-karate.co.uk/images/iansimon.jpg


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Karate Kid Part 2 Greenlighted

According to Variety, Karate Kid 2 (sequel to 2010s remake of the 1984 original movie) is a go with Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan reprising their roles. Though Smith's character is taught Kung Fu, all traditional martial arts schools should see a boost in interest and enrollments when the marketing machine begins to hype the movie.

This is obviously good for martial arts schools as they will likely see an increase in enrollment. If you own a school and haven't thought about it, now would be a good time to start preparing for the uptick in interest and questions. Especially if the parents want their kid to learn Kung Fu but they come to a Karate school because that's the name of the movie. :-)

Some schools used Karate Kids promotions in 2010/2011 and be prepared to see more of the same when Part 2 comes out. As parents, when you start seeing these or any promotion, carefully check them out. Remember to go in with an open mind and be on the lookout for the less than honorable schools. See my previous post on TMA schools and McDojos for a refresher.

That said I look forward to the movie and all the new students going to the dojo!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Year, New Session, Ready to Go

The end of last year was very busy for me and the beginning is shaping up the same. Karate has begun and I'm back helping teach the class my son attends. I felt pretty good today until our second Kanshiwa kata when I re-aggravated a nerve in my foot...That smarted. :-)

We have 6 and 5 Kyus in this class and I helped work with the 6 Kyus on their Kanshiwa. It's time for them really start showing some intent, snap and quickness in their katas and everything else. It's interesting to note that at this level they have the same kind of attributes to work on. Proper extension of Shuto Uchi, relaxing shoulders before a Nukite, intent (Tiger Eyes), time on target, etc.

The kids always seem to take to it a little faster than the adults but now it's evening out. You have to focus even more on explaining things correctly and making sure they listen and go slowly, especially during Sanchin testing.

I'm looking forward to getting back both for the experience of helping other students and to help lose a bit of the Holiday goodness I gained. The kids and adults look motivated, especially after our school had students place anywhere from 1 to 4 in different ages and categories at the World Cup Martial Arts Organization tournament in Reston, VA this weekend. It should be a good session.
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