Leaning Into the Punch

There is a boxing phrase, “Leaning into the punch”, which my dad used to say sometimes when I was practicing at home. Now Dad wasn’t a boxer, but when he was a teen, he and his neighborhood friends used regularly box and spar with each other. This was way back in the 1930’s (no video games back then). He had picked up the phrase from an elderly man who lived nearby and would sometimes watch and advise them. He professed to having been a boxer years earlier. Like most teens, I didn’t pay too much attention to my Dad’s old boxing story. Many years later, I watched a karate master demonstrating that very advice with live action. A large group of black belts were gathered at a seminar given by senior JKA instructor, Akiyama Sensei. Sensei Peter and I both remember him looking tall and very fit for an “old man” (probably only in his sixties back then). It was a memorable training session, as he never gave the “Yame” command to allow us to return to the Shizentai (normal rest) position – we were in stance for the entire, rather lengthy class. He walked around us, stick in hand, [...]

JKA Shotokan’s Close “Relative”

You all know that you practice Shotokan Karate-Do, but how many of you have ever heard of its close cousin, Shotokai Karate-Do? A Bit of History Master Gichin Funakoshi introduced what would become the Shotokan Karate-Do system into Japan in 1922. As with most things in the world, the passage of a century inevitably brought changes, and Karate-Do was no exception. In 1934, one of his main disciples, Hironori Otsuka (who was also an expert in jujitsu) left to establish his own style, known today as Wado-Ryu. In the 1940s, Mas Oyama would study Shotokan as well as Goju-Ryu and go on to create his own system in the 1950s, known today as Kyokushin. Both styles are popular and practiced around the world. For a long time, the Japanese Karate Association (JKA), established in 1949, was the premier organization representing the Shotokan-Ryu. Although other large Shotokan organizations have splintered off and grown in recent decades, the style remains so consistent that you could probably enter and train in a dojo from any of these groups without having to make too many adjustments. Shotokan continues to be identified with long and low stances, explosive speed and power, and emphasis on long-distance [...]

Works in Progress

We’re completing our semi-annual exam cycle, something that most folks greet with mixed feelings.  On the one hand,  many members experience varying degrees of stress about the exam itself, performing in front of the class and having instructors judge them on their progress.   (Note: a bit of stress can actually be good for you.)  On the other hand, there is a sense of relief after it’s over, followed by several anxious weeks awaiting the results and hoping for promotion to the next level. Our members may train together as a cohort, but each travels his/her individual and unique journey in their study of Karate-Do. Here are three examples of differing attitudes and approaches towards exams/rank and how that impacts the path of progress in the art of Karate-Do When I enrolled my son for his first karate lesson (over 40 years ago!), I was pleasantly surprised to run into an IBM co-worker who was already training as a green belt in class.  Like most dojos, classes were held three times a week with exams every quarter.  Many students dreaded taking the exam, they all looked forward to being promoted to a higher rank.  Over time, I realized that my [...]