Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Discussion Topic: Training

Is your training where you want it to be?
I was asked this question by a karate friend during an email exchange.  I responded by talking about the dojo, a black belt student's recent testing and promotion, upcoming training camps and new students in the dojo. 

A few hours after I sent the email, I realized I answered his question without answering the question.
Is your training where you want it to be?
I have fantastic instructors who guide and share their knowledge.
I have a great group of training partners. 
We challenge each other to improve and grow in our practice.
We laugh.
I have good karate friends who ask me tough questions and offer assistance. :)
I believe I am on the right track but I know there is a lot of training/reading/studying/exploring to do.

Enjoy your training!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


The movement of a karate student is tense and stiff. Movement is slow and transitions are difficult. The instructor tells the student that they need to relax. Sound familiar?

Two examples:

My tai chi instructor would take one look at my movement and identify where I was holding stress. It usually manifested in my right shoulder. My movement was stiff and restricted. At work, I notice the tension in my right shoulder when I sit at my desk. I relax my shoulder and step away from my desk for a few minutes.

In the mid 1990’s, a teenage boy was a student at the dojo. I was a new class instructor and I freely admit…he made me nervous. I was concerned he would get hurt. His movement was extremely tense and stiff. I cringed during breakfall practice. His whole body was rigid and he would fall to the mat like a plank of wood. I have never seen anything like it before or since. If I close my eyes, I can still visualize him falling on the mat. I even remember the sound he made as he smashed into the mat. Splat! Despite instruction and guidance from a group of instructors, he never was able to relax and perform a proper breakfall.

Relaxing the body and mind are important components of martial arts training. What advice would you give a new student who is tense and needs to relax their movements? How did you learn to relax?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Discussion Topic: Women's Self-Defense

A co-worker shared a story about advice she was given ten years ago on the topic of women's self-defense. At the time, my co-worker worked as an executive for a large retail department store chain.  She would often travel to store openings and promotional events.  She was given the following advice by a security professional: 
You are a women and at the end of the day it doesn't matter.  A man will overpower you.   You have to remember...men are stronger than women.  Regardless of size, a man can take a women down.  It is the way men and women are designed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Temporary Student

I think teaching a temporary student is challenging for the karate instructor.  In the dojo, there were several occasions when students wanted to learn karate but only had a limited amount of time.  It may be a parent who wants their teenager to learn basic self-defense before heading off to college.  It could be something a person has always wanted to learn but never had the time and are able to give it a few months.  The temporary student is usually forthcoming about their time constraints. "I want to learn karate but I only have X time.  How much can I learn in X?"

Tough question to answer. 

Answer Option 1:  You can learn a lot about karate in six months.  It ultimately depends on how much time you commit to practice and study. 

Answer Option 2:  Karate is a lifetime of learning.  The more you learn the more you recognize how much more there is to learn.  Six months would barely scratch the surface.

Thoughts? How would you answer the question?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happy New Year!....Ten Days Late...

My plan was to start off 2012 differently than prior years.  My daughter and I were going on a trip over New Year's weekend.  Our initial plan was to drive to Niagara Falls with my sister and her husband.  After many phone calls and Internet searches, our New Year's destination changed to the Grand Canyon.  The Grand Canyon is my sister's favorite place.  We had a busy itinerary:

1. Fly from Philadelphia to Phoenix.
2. 1 night in Phoenix.
3. Visit Sedona/Montezuma's Castle/Tuzegoot
4. Drive to Flagstaff.
5. New Year's Eve in Flagstaff for Pine Cone Drop.
6. Drive to Grand Canyon and stay for 3 days.
7. Take the Red-Eye home on Wednesday.
8. Back to work/school on Thursday.

Our trip actually went something like this:

1. Fly from Philadelphia to Phoenix.
2. 1 night in Phoenix.
3. Visit Sedona/Montezuma's Castle/Tuzegoot
4. My daughter got sick (24 hr virus) on Saturday. Spent all day in our Flagstaff cabin.
5. Drove to Grand Canyon on Sunday.  My daughter was still not feeling well.
6. I got sick on Sunday night.
7. Spent all day Monday in room.
8. Felt a little better Tuesday.  Spent time at the Grand Canyon.
9. Drove back to Flagstaff.
10. Arranged for an earlier flight to Philadelphia on Wednesday.
11.  Still not feeling 100% on Thursday.
12. Back to work/school on Friday.

I am planning on staying home in the near future.  In a few days/weeks/months, I hope to only remember the 2 fabulous days of the trip and the breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon.

Happy New Year to the readers and followers of this blog!