Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Survey: Karate Uniforms

I am shopping for a new gi. It has been a while since I purchased a new uniform so I was wondering if you could help me out and tell me....

What is your favorite?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Going Green....Tea

It has been a week since I started drinking green tea. I am a tea drinker and my brand of choice is Turkey Hill Ice Tea. In February, when I went to Florida on vacation, I made sure to bring along a few gallons of Turkey Hill Ice Tea. I would compare my love of ice tea to others love of coffee.

A few weeks ago, the owner of the company I work for came to PA for a meeting. The owner lives in NY and does not like the coffee made in the office. He walked by my desk and mentioned that he needed a good cup of coffee. He asked the location of the nearest Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. Eventually, I offered to go and buy him a good cup of coffee. In a flash, he handed me ten dollars and told me I could drive his Lexus to the cofffee shop. I guess the coffee in the office is that bad!

There have been days at work that I needed to make an iced tea run. I am not a coffee drinker and I do not like orange juice. It is all about the it is all about the green tea.

From eMedexpert:

Currently, tea in the form of green or black tea, next to water, is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. According to Chinese legends, tea was discovered by the Emperor Shen Nong in about 2700 BC, when a gust of wind blew tea leaves into a kettle of boiling water.

Teas contain polyphenols which act as antioxidants and exhibit numerous biochemical activities. Tea polyphenols consist mostly of catechins, the most powerful of which is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is found only in green tea. Since ancient times green tea has been considered a health-promoting beverage and currently researchers find more convincing proof of healing qualities of green tea.

If you would like, you can read the article: 20 Benefits of Green Tea.

I am now drinking the Turkey Hill Green Tea. I am not crazy about the added honey. I just may have to break out the Ice Tea Pot and brew my own. Or maybe...I'll have to try loose-leaf tea.

Disclaimer: There are many articles/posts on the Internet regarding the health benefits of green tea. There are also articles that claim there is no health benefit. You may want to check with your doctor to see if green tea would be right for you.

Friday, April 23, 2010


The results.....

My daughter wanted an American Girl doll or a kitten. Since we already have a cat, I voted for the American Girl doll.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Martial Arts Training for the Elderly

From Science Daily: A new study reveals that martial arts training may be the key to helping osteoporosis patients fall more safely.

Brenda Groen worked with a team of researchers from the Sint Maartenskliniek, Nijmegen, to study the effects of fall training in six healthy people. She said, "For obvious safety reasons, this could not be directly assessed using persons with osteoporosis. Therefore, we measured the hip impact forces during the martial arts fall exercises in a group of young adults. Based on our results, however, we believe that fall training would be safe for persons with osteoporosis if they wear hip protectors during the training, perform fall exercises on a thick mattress, and avoid forward fall exercises from a standing position"


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Preparing For Black Belt Testing

We have a group of 1st kyu students in the dojo preparing for shodan. The test is in two parts. There is a comprehensive in-house black belt test which includes kata, weapons, basics, self-defense, combinations, sparring, ground fighting and bunkai. This test is performed over three weeks and takes 25-40 hours. If the candidate is approved, they must test formally in front of the Federation President and advisory board.

The testing dates are fast approaching. Here are a few of my recommendations for the 1st kyu students.

1. Enjoy. This time in your karate journey should be special. Enjoy the training.

2. Have confidence in your training. Remember that you have been practicing for this test for several years. When questions are asked or kata are to be demonstrated, your training is your resource.

3. Continue to practice your basics. My husband will tell every testing group the same story. When he was training for shodan, he made sure to attend a beginner class each week to work on the basics.

4. You will make mistakes. It happens to everyone. You will be judged on how you manage them. Once a student who made a mistake during in-house black belt testing walked off the dojo floor and went home. Nothing was said...she simply went home. Work through your mistakes.

5. Avoid the "deal breakers" - poor basics, poor weapon handling, non-functional bunkai. Sorry about this...I had to state the obvious.

6. You cannot cram for a martial arts test.

7. You are what you train. You will reap the reward of your effort during testing.

8. Expect the unexpected. During my last test, I felt certain I would not have to perform an individual kama kata. Well...I did!

9. Try to stay calm. Easier to say than to do. Three hours before one test, I had an ocular migraine complete with flashes of light, spots and stars.

10. Be prepared for long hours.

Tuesday Tip: Preparing for Black Belt Testing.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Judging A Book By Its Cover

I am sure we have all heard the metaphorical phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. This phrase reminds us not to judge by appearances. Today I am going to temporarily ignore the idiom and literally judge a book by its cover. In fact, I am going to compare two covers of the exact same book “The Dao of Taijiquan: The Way to Rejuvenation” by Jou Tsung Hwa.

During Tuesday’s Tai Chi class, the senior student brought his copy of “The Dao of Taijiquan”. He was looking for a passage where it states that the optimal time to complete the Yang Long Form was one hour. The book had paperclips identifying pages, highlighted passages and notes in the margins. This book was read and more than one time. The book had tattered corners and some wrinkles. This book was not sitting neatly on a bookshelf. This book was being used to its full potential…it was studied and used as a point of reference.

Now let me compare my copy of the exact same book. My copy of the book is only a year old. I have not read this book cover to cover but I have read selected chapters. The cover of my book looks like it did when I first bought it. There are no paperclips, notes or highlights. My copy looks like it has been sitting on the bookshelf. The binding does not even look broken in.

When I looked at the senior student’s copy of the book, it was readily apparent that I have a lot of work to do. "Judging this book by its cover" could be a metaphor for my Tai Chi training and a reminder of how much training/studying needs to be done.

A quick aside: Years ago, I worked part-time for a Non-Profit Society and had the opportunity to work with an excellent group of people. The Society published an annual volume series promoting the education of preservation of Pennsylvania German history. The Executive Director, who was a Ph.D. candidate in folklore, would talk about his love of books. He even had a procedure on how he would open a new book and break in the binding. A hard cover book would make a distinct cracking sound when opened for the first time. Does anyone else have a book opening procedure?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Always, Never, Yes or No

Asking questions are an important part of the learning process. As a karate instructor, I make sure to ask the class if there are any questions before we move on to the next topic or kata. Specific questions can be answered simply with a Yes/No or a concrete answer.

Is the bo strike an overhead or side strike? Overhead
Do we step with our right foot? Yes
Is it a punch to the face or solar plexus? Face
Can I add a roll fall in the sai kata for tournaments? No

Then there are general questions posed with always.

Is the right hand always on top in an X-block?
Is there always a punch at the end of kata sequence?
Do we always spin the nunchaku forward?
Do we always use a rear foot turn?

I am very careful answering these questions. It would be so simple if we “always do this” or “never do that”. It does not work this way because there are exceptions. In my experience as a karate instructor, I answer very few (if any?) questions with always and never.

There are also the simple sounding yet complex questions that are answered with “Yes and No”. Last night in tai chi class, I asked one of those questions.

“Are there any linear movements in Tai Chi?”

My instructor paused and said “yes and no”. He explained his answer and discussed the concepts. He described how there are segments that appear linear but eventually will turn circular. Once again, I am transported back to high school geometry and physics class. I should have paid better attention.

Perhaps the title of this post should be...Sometimes, Maybe, Yes and No.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I receive "Breaking News" alerts from my local newspaper via e-mail. Yesterday, I opened the link discussing a traffic fatality. A 25 year old man was killed. He lost control of his truck, hit a utility pole and flipped his vehicle. He was partially thrown out of his truck and crushed under his car. He was not wearing a seat belt.

I knew him.

Jeff was a karate student at our dojo during his teen years. Jeff's father walked in the dojo over fifteen years ago and asked my husband if he would accept his son as a student. Jeff was bullied in school and got into some trouble when he started fighting back. For three years Jeff was an active member of the dojo community. He rarely missed a class, participated in demonstrations and competed in tournaments.

Jeff progressed through the karate ranks and earned a brown belt before he stopped taking classes. At a community carnival, Jeff defended his sister and was attacked by several older boys. He fell and sustained a compound fracture to his arm. Jeff was in a cast for months and never returned to class.

It has been at least ten years since Jeff has been to the dojo. His name plaque still hangs on the wall. He will forever be part of our dojo community. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family and friends.

May you rest in peace.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

10 Martial Arts Signs of Getting Older

Just for fun...and from personal experience.

The top 10 Martial Arts Signs of Getting Older

1. I consider Ibuprofen training equipment.

2. When I hear the words "modify"...I listen closely. :)

3. When you have uniforms older than some students.

4. Conversations with "Remember when..."

5. I know what Glucosamine is.

6. I would rather use a bo made of ash than red oak.

7. My favorite kata are the ones without jumps.

8. Kneeling in seiza on a reconstructed ACL for more than 5 minutes can be painful.

9. Karate "kids" sending you wedding invitations.

10. When R.I.C.E. has nothing to do with food.

Join in...please add to the list.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Leave Feeling Better

I admit it. There are times that I do not want to go to karate class, tai chi class or the gym. It could be one of many reason…tired, busy, stressed, bad day at work, my daughter needs help with homework, grumpy or simply because I do not feel like it. I am sure I am not alone. We have all had these days.

A recent email exchange with my sister:

K: I am tired and I do not want to go to the gym. I am going home to take a nap.
Me: Go to the gym.
K: I am going home.
Me: Go to the gym.
K: Nap…
Me: Go to the gym.

A half an hour later…

K: My tiredness has passed. I am going to the gym. :)

Last week it was my sister’s turn to encourage me. I was in my car on the way to the gym but was delayed by an errand. I called my sister and told her it was too late and I was not going to the gym. She told me to…”Go to the gym.”

I did. No surprise...I left the gym feeling better than when I arrived!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tuesday Tip: April 24th is World Tai Chi Day

April 24th, 2010 is World Tai Chi and Qigong Day.

The Mission

World Tai Chi & Qigong Day (WTCQD) educates millions worldwide about Tai Chi & Qigong's benefits, how to find local classes, how to get the most from those classes, and we consult health care, corporate, government and educational institutions about integrating these health tools into society at all levels.

You can search their website for local events. I hope to attend an event scheduled at a local university. The event includes a group session, demonstrations and information. Should be interesting...

Tuesday Tip: April 24th is World Tai Chi Day