The Way Beyond Tsuki and Keri

When my walk with karate-do began over fifty years ago, I had just two objectives; learning how to throw a karate punch and learning how to execute some basic kicks.  I persuaded my good friend (now Sensei Peter) to sign up with me, and so we entered the dojo together.  Previously, my training in aikido had provided me a decent background in how to fall, applying wrist locks and throws, and a feel for distance and leverage.  Although atemi is a part of aikijutsu, our aikido training did not include any striking techniques.  All I wanted to do was to gain a basic proficiency in this. Despite what Sensei Peter has said about our early training, we were both quick learners. I was able to acquire basic punching and kicking skills within a couple of months and so…I quit!  Mission accomplished!  Not a very good example for new karate students, eh?  Fortunately, Sensei Peter realized that there was so much more to learn from karate-do and kept on training.  I watched him continue to improve and get promoted over the following months.  After telling my then-girlfriend (now my wife), “Wow, he’s doing so well…if I had continued, I could have [...]

Outdated Similes

Seeing as how all of your senseis (with the exception of Sensei Trish) are In our seventies, I guess that we’d be considered “elderly” or (more kindly) as kupuna these days.  Nowadays, the term is often applied to anyone over a certain age (say, 65) and especially during the pandemic, you’d see “kupuna hours” at various stores.  Actually, the term refers to a grandparent or other prior ancestor.  Since Sensei Peter and I are indeed, grandfathers, we both qualify for the original meaning of the term. Being so old and having grown up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, I sometimes forget that our younger students are often two or even three generations after us.  This means that sometimes, the comparisons, similes, and analogies that I like to use when teaching karate can be so outdated as to lose their meaning and impact on certain demographics in our class, haha.  Small wonder that I see blank faces staring back at me when I use certain sayings during class.  Here are some examples and clarifications (for the kids): – “Sometimes, I must sound like a broken record.”  Kids, in case you don’t know, a phonograph record was the cassette….er, CD…er, streaming music [...]

Practice Makes Perfect

Actually, I’m sending this short note and videos with the white belts in mind, although it certainly applies to all of us. Being able to perform kihon and kata well is the product of practice, practice, practice. Training with a focus on improvement is the best one can expect of oneself. Here’s a clip of a young Mahiro Takano (6 years old at the time) performing Heian Shodan (along with her brother): watch She’s good eh? As a youth, she won the kids JKA kata championship something like six times. The immediate thought is, she must have been doing this right after she climbed out of her crib, haha. She has trained consistently since she started as a four-year old. By contrast, see what Mahiro looked like, performing Heian Shodan when she was four: watch Cute yeah? Looks like any white belt kid just beginning to learn Heian Shodan, though I must say that she had a nice deep stance, even then. Today, Mahiro is about 14 years old and still practicing her katas. Here she is, practicing Kanku Dai recently: watch Now, you don’t have to spend all of your free time training in karate. And a young white [...]