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The Power of the Pen, the Power of the Ken

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As you know, in recent weeks, I’ve been sharing various drills intended to help you understand that the fist (in Japanese, the ken) is only the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of understanding where the power of the punch comes from.  That’s the reason for the drills associated with keeping the foot “rooted” on the ground, leg thrusts, hip rotation, shoulder locks, arm thrusts, etc.  The fist – although crucial to the end-point delivery of the punch, is pretty much limited to being tightly closed and in proper alignment with the wrist and arm and the point of impact. It’s so much easier to show this to you by demonstrating it, and by having you practice the drills.  To augment this, I was going to write up a short note regarding discussing how the “power of the pen” actually comes from a mind full of ideas that is transmitted to the tip of the pen,  Similarly, I was going to describe how a powerful punch (the power of the ken) actually was the result of a whole chain of energy flowing from a rooted foot and conducted through various muscles/ligaments/tendons into the striking knuckles.  After several paragraphs, I became [...]

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Training

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Training classes are good in that they help one to work out and learn something new – left to our own devices, most of us would probably not spend an hour or two stretching and exercising our minds in this way. There are, however, some alternative things one can do to further one’s understanding of Karate-Do that don’t involve punching and kicking. Fortunately, there’s a lot of information out on the internet that can help flesh out and deepen one’s appreciation for what we often do by rote. Since I’ve been talking about kata recently, I thought it appropriate to share a decent article regarding theories on the origins and evolution of the basic katas that you all know and practice – the Heian katas…previously named the Pinana katas…possibly before that, named the Channan katas. A couple of old photos in the article show the very recognizable opening moves in Heian Nidan (performed by the Founder), along with a fairly recognizable photo of the “morote-uke” from the same kata (performed by Choki Motobu). Generally, the Heian katas are said to be the creation of Anko Itosu, one of Funakoshi’s senseis, for application in the Okinawan school system. The article goes [...]

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The Three “R’s”

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I’ve mentioned before that my dad was a treasure trove of old trite sayings. While I often chuckled at the triteness, there was usually a lot of truth in what he said. In particular, when I was still in elementary school, he often lectured us (my sister and me) about the importance of education and book-learning. I can still hear him proclaim, “Wesley, I cannot emphasize enough, the importance of the three R’s…Reading, Writing,…and Math!” Well, two out of three ain’t bad.😏 Looking back, he was totally right, of course. All three R’s are systems of two-dimensional alpha and numeric symbols. Between the ages of 3 to 5 years old, we begin the process of learning how to interpret and use these symbols in increasingly complex ways. Each of us advances to where we don’t even “see” the individual letters, words, sentences or phrases. Whole visions, actions, and conversations effortlessly take shape within our minds. Through reading, we unlock the thoughts, philosophies, and concepts of great scientists, historians, statesmen, and novelists. We can engage the minds of philosophers, gone hundreds or thousands of years in the past. Through writing, we can express our opinions and analyses of reports and studies [...]