Joe Berne on Training Prioritisation

Joe Berne sempai (guest in Episode 15 of The Applied Karate Show podcast) has posted a thought provoking article about how you should prioritise your workouts when time is limited.

Joe makes several great points, and the whole article is well worth a read. But I particularly enjoyed the following:

I’d say you probably shouldn’t spend any time on actual karate unless you have more than an hour a week to train. That is, your first hour of exercise (I don’t mean the first hour on Sunday, I mean the first hour we’re counting) should be dedicated strength training. Keep your muscle and bones healthy. If you have 2 hours a week, still spend 1 hour of it strength training, but add in dynamic stretching and skill training sessions for the second hour. And, if you have it, the third.

It should be no surprise that I am a big fan of strength and conditioning training, particularly using kettlebells, and I suspect that my approach is similar to (but perhaps not as well develoepd as) Joe’s. The point Joe makes is that strength training should be the foundation – strong bones and muscles will help us prevent injury as we age. And then being able to move dynamically is the next piece of the puzzle.

I also like a key point in Joe’s article:

Try this conditioning trick: stand on a soft-ish surface, maybe a yoga mat or a wrestling mat or even an old futon. Fall to the ground – break it as well as you can. Then stand back up. Alternate falling to your left and to your right. Repeat for 2 minutes. You want to live long and be healthy? Be strong and learn how to fall without getting hurt. Don’t think it matters? Visit a local nursing home and walk around for 15 minutes. Then come back and we’ll talk.

Learning ukemi waza (breakfalling techniques) is not just a lesson for martial arts, but a lesson for life. Kind of goes with one of my favourite kotowaza (proverbs): nana korobi ya oki – fall down seven times, stand up eight.

5 Okinawan Karate Masters Recognised as Intangible Asset Holders

The Okinawan Prefectural Government has announced that five karate/kobudo masters have been recognised as Intangible Asset Holders:

  • Ishikawa Seitoku sensei (Shorin-ryu)
  • Uehara Takenobu sensei (Uechiryu)
  • Hichiya Yoshio sensei (Gojuryu)
  • Nakamoto Masahiro sensei (Bunbukan / Kobudo)
  • Higaonna Morio sensei (Gojuryu)

The contributions of these five gentlemen are recognised in a way that only 9 others before them have been. Their contributions to the advancement of karate/kobudo in Okinawa and around the world are amazing, and it is pleasing to see the esteem in which they are held to be recognised by the Okinawan government.

Podcast Episodes Coming Back Online

Since The Podcast Network went dark, the back catalogue of The Applied Karate Show episodes has been unavailable. I, like a number of listeners that have left comments or contacted me by Twitter or Facebook, have felt this was a shame.

So I am pleased to announce that I’ve setup a hosting arrangement on a paid Libsyn account.

If you go to the Podcasts page on this site, you’ll be able to download those episodes that are already available. I have a monthly limit, so I started by getting the first four episodes uploaded (they were among the more popular), and then worked backwards from the most recent. So all bar four episodes 5–8 are now online!

These will be uploaded in about a months time, when I get my next bandwidth allotment.

During the next month I am going to consider the best path to go forward. I do want to revitalise the show, but it does take time. And some money. I have some plans for future guests, and would really like to get going with a monthly episode.

Feedback would really help me out – do you want more episodes? Who would you like to have as interview guests? Let me know in the comments, or contact me through Twitter.

Episodes Currently Available Online

Hiding Techniques in Plain Sight

Wayne Muramoto on the concept of Damasare (Hidden in Plain Sight) in budo

Those aren’t blocks. And not all of them are at gedan level, I would conjecture. They are hidden techniques, hidden within plain sight. Those who don’t know think they are just three gedan blocks done one after another. Those who do know what they really mean…well, a lot of times, they won’t tell you unless you’re part of their school, and a trusted student at that.

This concept has been around for a long time, with the purpose of protecting the “secret techniques” of a ryu from potential adversaries. But as Muramoto sensei goes on to say, the modern purpose is perhaps even more important:

Nowadays, the purpose of damasare has changed somewhat. It is used to mask the essence of the ryu from those who would steal the methods via printed media or videos and market it as their own.

Copyright is an important concept in all lines of endeavour. People who create something, whether it be book, app, photographic image or novel training method should have the right to protect their work, and to share it as they please – with or without compensation as they choose.

A content creator may choose to:

  • Share it freely (i.e. freeware)
  • Share it openly with restrictions, such as Creative Commons style licenses that might allow non-commercial usage, usage with attribution or no-derivative works
  • Share it only with those who enter into a commercial license (i.e. they retain “copyright”)

Is there any reason why the creator of a new training methodology (e.g. a certain kata, yakusoku kumite or flow drill) should have the right to choose a similar approach?

The passing of Pat Nakata Sensei

Charles Goodin sensei of Hawai’i reports the sad news of the passing of Pat Nakata sensei:

I am very sad to report that my good friend and senior, Sensei Pat Nakata, passed away last week, on Thursday, February 7th. He was 68. Words cannot express my sense of loss and also my deep respect for and gratitude to Nakata Sensei.

By way of an introduction from my friend Mark Tankosich sensei I had the very great pleasure to have conducted an interview with Nakata sensei on episode 13 of The Applied Karate Show.

Nakata sensei was one of the early pioneers of authentic Okinawan shorinryu karate in America. He had had the opportunity to train with luminaries like Wadoryu founder Ohtsuka sensei and Walter Nishioka sensei. But his major influence was undoubtedly Okinawan shorinryu luminary Chibana Choshin sensei.

Every interview on The Applied Karate Show has been a fascinating learning experience, as well as an honour for me. The interview with Nakata sensei was special – he left an amazing impression of a man with quiet confidence, a lot of experience and a genuine enthusiasm for sharing his art.

I am very saddened to hear of Nakata sensei, and I wish his family, students and friends my condolences.

The Classical Budoka talks Dojo Variations

Wayne Muramoto Sensei talks about Dojo Variations:

And I think, too, of what my jujutsu sensei said once; that before dojo structures, martial artists used to train outdoors, out in nature, so they were in tune with the greater natural world, the “daishizen,” much more than we were. Handling a sword, maneuvering for a throw, handling a weapon, were part and parcel of their total world experience, as much a natural part of their lives as cutting firewood, knowing when it would rain or snow, intuitively sensing the lay of the land or knowing the changing of the seasons. In that sense, even the most “traditional” dojo is still a controlled environment at least one step removed from the roots of ancient martial arts, which came out of being embedded in nature’s own environment and rhythms

I’ve long been of the opinion that the dojo functions best as a home base, but that you need to get outside and train also – gasshuku (training camps) are one opportunity, but so too are everyday opportunities to train in the park.

In the karate tradition, few master had dojo, as such, before World War 2. Most trained in backyards, and even at the family tomb.

The dojo is a laboratory, but outside is where the real learning takes place.

From: The Classic Budoka | Dojo Variations

Mike Clarke Kyoshi Talks About Online Bullying in the Karate Community

Mike Clarke, Kyoshi on online bullying within the karate community:

Karate forums seem to be on the way out now, having been surpassed by the much faster Facebook and Twitter technology. Now, it’s possible to identify a target, and within moments have fellow pack members (friends) from all around the world, join in with the ridicule, sarcasm, and bile.

Tut….tut…karateka, if you want to be taken seriously, grow up!

Karate is meant to be about self-protection, and protecting those who need help. This sometimes mean standing up to bullies, and under no circumstances is it acceptable to participate in bullying. As a karateka. As a human!

Online tool such as Twitter (and even Facebook) can be a good way to communicate, share ideas and learn. Look any tool, it can be an aweful thing if used to hurt or bully others.

Hydration for Karateka

Refreshing glass of water by Bergius. CC: BY-NC-SA

Photo by Bergius. CC: BY-NC-SA

Karateka and author Chris Denwood, Sensei has penned a nice article on The Importance of Water for people in training – a topic I’ve written about before. Although there isn’t a universal recognition of this issue, some scientists believe that chronic dehydration is linked to a range of diseases.

75% of people around the world are chronically dehydrated.

This is amazing on the surface, when you consider that people are drinking so much – coffee, softdrinks, alcohol, energy drinks, etc. But how much is enough? Well some experts state that you should drink a litre of water per day per 25kg of body weight. I don’t know many people that would actually do that!

alcohol and many soft drinks actually steal water from the body and other beverages such as coffee require water from the body to be digested.

It seems like good, old fashion, natural water is the best thing. The 25 litres/kilogram guideline applies to water only. Other drinks are at best neutral, but most require you to add more water in order to be correctly hydrated. One rule of thumb is that every cup of coffee, softdrink, alcohol means you should add the equivalent quantity of water back into your system.

Of course, this is a base level – when we train hard we need to replenish the water lost through perspiration.

A recent piece in The Conversation pointed out that softdrinks in particular are a growing problem in modern society, and that the levels at which they are being consumed present a growing public health issue.

I’ve come to the opinion that it’s not just the sugars in softdrinks (which are bad in and of themselves), but the chemicals in diet softdrinks are also a factor in the obesity epidemic, and serve to reduce people’s satiety levels.

This is a double-whammy. As Chris said in his post:

In over a third of all people, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.

So people have reduced satiety levels from drinking too much diet softdrink, and they are also dehydrated, leading to more hunger! Not a healthy mix.

In the old days, karateka were often not allowed to drink water during class. We were told that sweating was good for us. In the Kengokan Dojo, I allow regular “water breaks”hydration pauses”, and insist people have some, especially during hard sessions or when the weather is particularly hot! I believe every instructor should take the same approach.

So for all reading this:

  1. Make sure your base level of water consumption is appropriate
  2. Eliminate, or at least drastically reduce, the amount of softdrink you’re consuming
  3. Take regular hydration pauses during your training

Oh, and one more thing – if you’ve not subsribed to Chris Denwood’s blog, do yourself a favour and do so now. Or follow @chrisdenwood on Twitter.

Mike Clarke Kyoshi’s Magazine Articles

While I sometimes take different views, it will be the end of an era when we see the tapering off of Mike Clarke Kyoshi’s magazine writing. His writing always challenges me to think about my own karate, and I’ve always enjoyed his interviews and perspectives.

I’m glad he’s still blogging, and look forward to future books.