Time Waits for No One

Yes, you can probably recognize one of the old trite old sayings that my father would sometimes tell me when he was in a philosophical mood. That means that you’re in for a “Deep Thoughts” note from me, haha. Recently I came across the obituary for an old friend of mine who passed away several months ago. His name was Chester Sasaki who I met in Vandenberg AFB when I was a young 2nd Lt and he was a senior captain. Chet was a missile man who later worked as a project manager at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab and led the Genesis space program in the early 2000’s. He was also an excellent martial artist, having attained a Shodan in Shotokan Karate, a Sandan in Aikido, and a black belt in Kendo as well. He received his karate black belt from the legendary Hidetaka Nishiyama, no less. In fact, one of his fellow karateka in the lineup was the actor John Saxon who you may recall, was “Roper” in the classic “Enter the Dragon” movie made famous by Bruce Lee. Saxon passed away in 2020 at age 83. Chet and I used to work out together and exchange ideas [...]

The Mae-geri (Front Snap Kick), and Variations Thereof

Soon after starting one’s journey in Shotokan Karate-Do, the very first kick that white belts are introduced to is the Mae-geri or front snap kick. Karateka then spend the rest of their lives practicing and trying to improve this first kick along with the many other techniques they learn along the way. While the front snap kick may be the first and most basic kick that we learn, in order to be done well requires that one develop the same basic skills that all kicks need to be effective: good balance on the supporting leg, a supple ankle and knee, a flexible hip, speed, kime, controlled snapback, accuracy, and the proper placement and alignment of the striking foot upon impact. While a well-coordinated person can render what appears to be a nice Mae-geri shortly after learning it; iit may take many years of practice to in order to achieve what he/she is truly capable of with this kick. I’ve often said that when you first learn karate, instructors teach rules of movement and positioning in very black and white terms: “70-30% weight distribution on the front/back legs in zenkutsu-dachi”, “back foot at 45%”, “back leg straight”, “Han-mi (side) position for [...]

Mr. Miyagi’s Comment on Belts, “Canvas, JC Penny. Three-Ninety Eight. You Like?

Recently, we completed a rank examination for HISKF – the first testing in almost a year.  Most dojos hold exams every 3-4 months while HISKF tests every 9 months or more.  Partly, this reflects the fact that most of our members only get to train once a week, while students in a regular dojo train three times or more a week.  As a result, both the learning process and the exam schedule become stretched out.  Fortunately, our members strive to improve their knowledge and ability in Karate-Do in the midst of a busy life, filled with many activities.  I like to think that HISKF students are not obsessed with ranks, tournaments, or trophies. That said, we know that most students (especially our younger members) quietly relish being promoted to a higher rank, especially if it involves a new color belt.  They may not realize that In the old days judo and karate adherents trained so very hard, often on a daily basis, when there were no color belts nor any black belts to achieve and wear!  Some ancient Japanese martial arts used a shodan/chudan/jodan rank system; others used the menkyo or license system.  Master Jigoro Kano issued the first judo [...]