Applied Karate Show podcast update

The Applied Karate ShowAfter a long hiatus, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for The Applied Karate Show podcast.

There were several issues that saw the show go into hibernation, including the crashing of the entire server system for TPN. TPN has rebuilt its server infrastructure, and has a renewed focus and direction, so its time for the Applied Karate Show podcast to get back on the air!

Firstly, the files for all the episodes have been re-loaded to the site. So if you were trying to download the show and getting an error message, you can not get these. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Secondly, I am planning the second generation of the Applied Karate Show, so would love to know your thoughts, etc, on the show, what you’d like to see, who you’d like to see interviewed, etc.

Please leave a comment on this post to let me know, and I look forward to being back on the pod soon.

Stretching in Karate

Paul and co. at the Karate Cafe podcast have started a new series of “minisodes”. The latest (minisode 7) features a brief update from sports trainer Matthew Matson.

In this update, Matthew provides a brief update on flexibility, which he defines as “strength through a range of motion”, as opposed to pliability. He also differentiates static stretching, active stretching, PNF stretching and dynamic stretching.

An important point is that static stretching can actually lead to injury, and should be avoided in all situations except for rehabilitation, postural correction and post-workout. This is somewhat challenging as many traditional and contemporary martial arts schools use static stretching prior to training.

In the Kengokan Dojo, I have been reviewing our warmup exercises progressively over quite some time, and have removed most static stretches, instead emphasising active and dynamic stretching. Static stretching is left for after class, if at all.

Thanks to the Karate Cafe crew for this great minisode. Listen here.

Naihanchin 360

Thanks to the fine folks at for posting this interesting interpretation of a classic kata – Naihanchin (also known as Naihanchi, Naifuanchi or Tekki).

As a kata, I’ve long been fascintated by Naihanchin, and the possibilities this seemingly simplistic form provides us through its myriad of applications.

As a practitioner of Shorinjiryu karate, Naihanchin is usually one of the first forms learned. Yet the Naihanchin forms in Shorinjiryu differ markedly from those in most classical systems, with our forms having a lot more movement, including larger steps, and movement away from the lateral line. Many can’t see the connection between a Shorinjiryu Naihanchin and that practiced in other styles, without first seeing the missing link forms, such as Naihanchin no Sho (as taught in the Watanabe Ha lineage), and the Koshiki Naihanchin form introduced in the Kenkokan organisation.

Watching the Naihanchin 360 form shows that clearly the applications seen by many are more expansive than the base pattern lets on.

Similarly, the Naihanchin application used in the Kodo-ryu of Nathan Johnson sensei shows that the kata is very much a grappling form, at least from their perspective.

I’d be interested in hearing other perspectives on Naihanchin and its applications.

Jissen Issue 7 Available for Download

Jissen Issue 7I’m pleased to advise that issue 7 of Jissen magazine (for the Northern Hemisphere Summer of 2010) is now available for download (right click and download the image to the right).

Jissen (meaning actual combat) is published by Iain Abernethy, and contains information by, for and about martial artists interested the pragmatic applications of their art.

Issue 7 of Jissen contains a number of very interesting articles. As a kettlebell enthusiast, I was quickly drawn to the article Functional Training With Kettlebells For Karate’s Hojo Undo, by Chris Denwood, which contains a practical perspective on the role of kettlebells in karate training. I also enjoyed the interview with Gavin Mulholland, author of Four Shades of Black, an excellent exploration of some of the more functional aspects of Goju karate.

Other articles in Issue 7 of Jissen include:

  • The Gurkhas: Masters of the Kukri
  • Cross Training and its Relevance for Sport
  • Functional Training With Kettlebells For Karate’s Hojo Undo
  • Structure and Function of a Knife: Knife as Weapon Series
  • Gavin Mullholland Interview
  • Speed in Training
  • Kyusho
  • Ben Hockman Interview on Training in Urban Krav Maga
  • It’s Hard to Fight When You Can’t See
  • How Many Martial Artists Does it Take to Screw in a Light bulb?
  • Martial Arts Scepticism: How Factual is Martial Arts TV
  • Fighting Dirty: Karate/TKD’s/TSD’s Most Commonly used Technique
  • Dead or Alive
  • The Martial Arts Unanswered Question
  • The Roundhouse Kick: Karate’s best Kick or a Threat to your Survival?
  • Karate’s History

I hope you enjoy issue 7 of Jissen

Contrast Hydrotherapy for Recovery

Inspired by an excellent post on Recovery after Martial Arts Training over on the MarksTraining blog, I thought I’d post an article on Contrast Hydrotherapy that I’ve previously posted over on the website for my dojo.

Have you ever experienced muscular soreness and stiffness following a grueling training session? Not the type caused by actually injuring yourself, but the type that reminds you that your muscles and connective tissue have been working, and that they now need to recover. If so, then you might want to consider contrast hydrotherapy as a form of active recovery.

Sometime ago I attended a 2 day kettlebell instructors course here in Sydney, Australia, conducted by Don Stevenson of Octogen Fitness, Australia’s leading kettlebell instructor. Although I’d been keenly using kettlebells for 8 months (at the time I originally wrote the article several years ago) as an augmentation of my karate training, this course worked at a level of intensity that had me feeling pretty sore and stiff.

During the training session, Don mentioned that he sometimes advises his personal training clients to undertake contrast hydrotherapy to aid in recovery. Maybe it was just me – I was in a group of fitness professionals that know a lot about this stuff – but the term contrast hydrotherapy was new to me.

Pretty much as soon as I got home I could feel the soreness levels rising, and I knew that the next day I’d really be feeling it. So, not wanting to climb the stairs to my office, I grabbed my wife’s computer and Google’d the term.

I found a couple of articles discussing contrast hydrotherapy as a form of treatment for acute conditions, but it took a little bit longer to find something discussing it as a strategy for recovery. When I did, I hit gold, with an article disucssing its merits and the protocol apparently used by the Australian Institute of Sport.

The protocol is this – alternate a period of exposure to hot water with one of exposure to cold water, and repeat. Twice.

There are 2 versions of the protocol – one where you have a bath or spa available, and the other for where you just have a shower.

Bath Protocol

  • Bath for 3-4 minutes in a hot bath (37C-43C)
  • Shower for 30-60 seconds in a cold shower (12C-15C)
  • Repeat two more times (for a total of three circuits)

Shower Protocol

  • Shower under hot water for 1-2 minutes
  • Shower under cold water for 10-30 seconds
  • Repeat two more times (for a total of three circuits)

How did it work? Well, for me, very well indeed. Where my soreness was around 7-8 (on a scale of 10) in several major muscle groups, immediately after the shower it reduced to around 3-4. The next day, when I would traditionally “feel it” the most, it was still around 3-4.

Now, as I understand it, there are few studies proving that contrast hydrotherapy works. And to date I can only provide personal anecdotal evidence of a single experience. So it may not work for you. But I reckon its worth a try…..

Geeky Enlightenment

The fabulous Mikka Bouzu online comics follow the adventures of a budoka seeking enlightenment through the study of martial arts. He perseveres through hard and soft and is a bit of a hapless seeker.

Sometimes I see a bit of myself in this character.

Especially when it comes to the role that gadgetry plays in his quest.

I’m sure my wife and I have had that conversation.

Make sure you pop over and subscribe to the Mikka Bouzu webfeed.

Earth Hour 2010: Protect the Planet

As martial artists we practice self defense on a personal level. We work hard to avoid, diffuse and occasionally  definitively deal with threats to our personal security. Martial arts are a practice of life preservation techniques.

We know that being aware of whats going on around us, being aware of potential threats, is a vital part of self defense – more important than any technique or skill.

On a global level we also have to recognise threats. One important one is global climate change. There appears to be widespread consensus in the scientific community that the climate is changing, and that the changes are likely to have far reaching consequences. We need to take action.

One small action is to reduce our energy consumption. Earth Hour is an annual event where people around the world show their commitment to reducing consumption by switching off all lights.

Life protection means protecting our life on a personal and a global level. Visit the Earth Hour website and calculate your footprint. Its quite astonishing to see the impact we have, and great to see that there are simple steps we can take to reduce our footprint.

This website will be blacked out for one hour during Earth Hour in Sydney, Australia. From 8.30pm tonight, you’ll get an Earth Hour page instead, showing our support for Earth Hour. This is achieved using BraveNewCode’s Earth Hour WordPress plugin.

Kanazawa Sensei Interview

Back in 1993, when I was living and training in Japan, I had the opportunity to attend the International Budo University’s 5th International Seminar on Budo Culture. One of the masters present was Master Hirokazu Kanazawa, head of the Shotokan Karate International Federation . A talented and dynamic karateka, Kanazawa Sensei was the perfect ambassador for Japanese karate to this international group.

A couple of weeks after the seminar, Kanazawa sensei invited me to his dojo in Tokyo where I conducted an interview for the magazine Australasian Fighting Arts. As this magazine is now sadly no more, I have posted the interview here on Essential Karate News for reference.

Enjoy this interview with Master Hirokazu Kanazawa.

Jissen Magazine Issue 6 Ready for Downloads

Iain Abernethy Sensei recently released Issue 6 of the excellent Jissen magazine. Meaning “actual combat”, each issue of Jissen features a number of articles that discuss applied martial arts.

You can download the current issue and archives of Jissen Magazine directly from the Essential Karate News site, or you can visit Jissen directly

Issue 6 of Jissen features:

Contents: Martial Arts Scepticism: The Pornography of Reality-Based Self Defence – Never Give Up – Bouncer – How to Win a Bar Fight – Karate’s Holy Grail – Whiter Shade of Pale – Anatomy of Back Stance – Flow in Modern Karate – Oh S*it! Taking Chudan Uke to the next level – Stav – Karate Jutsu – Bunkai and the Horseman – The Innocent Walking Stick – Dave Turton Interview – Styles: Are They Killing Karate? – Transitional Aspects of Karate (Part 2) – Contact in Training (Part 2)

Contributors: Jamie Clubb – Lawrence Kane – Geoff Thompson – Rev. Art Chenevey – Michael Rosenbaum – Dave Turton – Andi Kidd – Chris Littlefair – Nikolaj Fænø Skarbye – Eric Parsons – Tony Brush – Kris Mansfield – Ron Briens – Ernest Tuff – Michael Rosenbaum – Iain Abernethy – Chris Denwood – John Titchen

How to download: Right click on the cover image and then select “save target as” (some times “save page as”). Then choose where you wish to save the file (normally the “desk top”) and download it.