Saturday, April 28, 2012

ACL Injuries in Women

From Science Daily

For some reason, women tend to have knee motions that make them more susceptible to injury. Among other things, when landing from a jump their knees tend to collapse inward more than that of most men. They suffer significantly more ACL injuries during physical activity. "We're finding differences in nervous system processing that we believe are related to this," Johnson said. "The causes for those differences are unclear, but it may be due either to a biological difference, such as hormones, or a cultural difference such as different exercise and training patterns."

Friday, April 27, 2012


We count a lot in karate class.

In the beginner classes, it is an easy way to keep everyone together and practice safely.  Counting/pausing gives the instructor an opportunity to view the class and offer corrections.  We practice kata to a count, we count during drills and basics and we count turns when working with a partner.   Counting becomes less evident in the advanced classes and almost non-existent in the black belt class.

There is a downside to counting.  It gives the students an unnatural beat or tempo to execute their techniques.

block down...pause...punch...pause...step...pause.

We were working on tempo this week in the dojo.  The goal was to accelerate the beat and break out of the monotone count of a kata.

one,two,,, two, three....
block down, punch, step...pause...knife hand, punch...pause...kosa, step, block down

The class noticed they had preferences and certain kata were easier for them to break free of the standard count.   The dojo will be working on this concept again next week and in the upcoming months.

A big thanks to Kyoshi Baer for the training suggestion at a recent seminar!

Friday, April 20, 2012


Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.  - Aristotle

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Karate Provides Options

I am a parent, karate instructor and co-owner of a traditional dojo. School bullying is a complex topic that affects children, parents, teachers, school administrators and medical professionals. In studying karate, we learn control, self-defense and courtesy. In our dojo, kids who start fights or engage in bullying behavior are asked to leave.

My initial exposure to bullying was from karate students who came to class and shared stories about their day. The students would talk about bullies, the fear of riding the bus and frustration because teachers often did not witness the taunting. The bullies were smart, sneaky and inherently mean.

My daughter was bullied in elementary school. It is agony to watch your happy, smart, kind child begin to hate school. In second grade, my daughter announced, “I am a clique of one.” In third grade, she suffered with stomach problems and told the school nurse, “The kids have been mean for a while.  Now that they are older, they just find new ways to be mean.” In fourth grade, the homeroom teacher explained how my daughter had a larger view of the world and the other kids “will catch up”.

Two examples from our dojo:

Student at a crossroad

A parent brought his 11 year old son to the dojo for karate lessons. The parent asked if we would accept his son as a student. He cautioned us that other parents did not want their kids around his son because he was in trouble at school. The young boy was constantly picked on and tormented by other kids in his class. One day, the boy took a butter knife to school in his backpack with the intention to use it against the school bully. The teacher found the knife and luckily no one was hurt.

A young boy took a knife to school because he felt he had no other choice.

The father wanted his son to learn self-defense. We accepted the young boy as a student despite the protests of other dojo parents. The boy loved karate and found his place in the dojo community. He studied karate for 4 years. He was taught to use his voice, de-escalate or simply walk away. He knew techniques to escape and control. He learned options.

Target turned bully

A father brought his son to the dojo to learn self-defense. The pre-teen was bullied at school and on the bus. The father was excited to watch his son in karate class. After 8 months, the father informed us that his son had “learned enough”. He left the dojo. A few weeks later, we discovered the child became the bully. The father encouraged his behavior. We were heartbroken.

Whenever I research the topic of bullying and the role of a karate program, I inevitably ask more questions than find answers. Dr. Jay Carter, author and lecturer, suggests that traditional martial arts are excellent for the bully because it provides physical activity and a code of ethics. Dr. Carter led a program on anti-bullying at my daughter’s school for the students, educators and parents. His comment made me wonder who would be better served in a karate program – the bully or the target.

I would love karate training to a solution for the anti-bully movement, but there are limits to what a program can offer. Learning karate takes time. The decision when to use the karate training is not up to the instructor. Parents of school aged children need to be involved in the decision as to what is appropriate for their child. We do not use the words “You should” or “You shouldn’t” rather we present multiple options and levels of responses.

I can only speak from the perspective of a parent and a karate instructor. Through the years, I have witnessed shy children blossom into confident teenagers. At a wedding of former student, the father of the bride made a point to stop at our table. He thanked us for the time his daughter spent in the dojo. He believed karate training helped shape the self-assured woman who stood before us.  I watched my own daughter find her voice to stand up to bullies and help others in need.

My conclusion is simple. Karate can be a component in a bully prevention plan because karate training teaches us options. Increased confidence and self-esteem aid in the decision making process. We can decide how to respond – avoid, de-escalate, use your voice, walk away, escape or control. Perhaps a young boy wouldn’t need to hide a butter knife in his backpack because he felt he had no other choice.

Martial Arts Perth