Karate

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    Luca Valdesi - Unsu kata
    Demonstration of Unsu Kata
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      John Luttrell As part of our club's 15th anniversary we had a course on Unsu with Sensei Hazard and Sensei Trimbel it was excellent and we all learned a great deal. If you get a chance to train with either of these gentlemen you will learn a lot.
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      Al W Can anyone help me develop the jump in this kata? I need to learn to perform the Sempu Tobi Geri on both legs for reasons that will remain classified at present
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      Al W If I could be half as good as him then I would count myself lucky
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    What is "hard" and "soft" karate styles?
    What does it mean when you see a karate style labeled as "hard" or "soft"? Does hard mean you chew on iron nails for breakfast and soft is tai chi-like? :)

    Seriously, wikipedia labels some karate styles harder than others - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_karate_styles

    Also according to the opinion of karate students (and not wikipedia) - what is the hardest karate style? And what is the softest karate style?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
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      Bryce Hard and soft styles, in my own personal experience, tend to be all about how one approaches blocking. In hard styles (in karate, at least) such as Shotokan, you see blocks which have a lot of power, and the point of these blocks is often not only to avoid injury yourself, but to injure the opponent as well with the power of the block. In order to put up with the impact created by such powerful blocks, practitioners of hard styles will often take part in exercises to toughen up their bodies (see Kyokushin karate).

      Soft styles, on the other hand, tend to focus on staying relaxed during a fight and tend to redirect or avoid their opponent's energy as opposed to directly clashing with it. This means that the blocks themselves only use enough energy to avoid injury, in theory allowing the soft-style practitioner to retain their energy for later in the fight (with enough endurance training and body control their is obviously no difference in endurance levels between practitioners of different styles; this is just the theory). Wado-Ryu karate is one example of a soft style; the style blends the relaxed, circular movements of Japanese jiujutsu with the hard, direct strikes of Japanese karate in a style of movement called Taisabaki (or body shifting). In this, the practitioner shifts away from the opponents strikes using their core, employing their blocking hand merely as a safety measure to ensure that the punch or kick does not redirect (in theory, one could perform this part of taisabaki without moving their arms at all). This places the practitioner away from the opponent's strike, but closer to the opponent themselves, allowing the practitioner to move their shifted body weight into the opponent with their counterattack.

      One of the other black belts once asked my sensei which was better, and in response he said "punch is punch; kick is kick." In other words, both types of martial art can be deadly. It depends on yourself and your teacher, not the style itself.

      (Note: Sorry that the soft style explanation is larger; I am a practitioner of Wado-Ryu, and I have more experience with it than I do the hard styles. I felt I should only explain as far as I understood).
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      SenseiMG For those who wonder why Kyokushin is considered the hardest karate I will give you some answer. Foundator of kyokushin or a main figure like Shigeru Oyama thought that there was no practice without sweat. Also, combat practice was their priority. Courses included training with pads but many movements are done directly on a partner. Talking about the first Kyokushin school in Tokyo, Shigeru Oyama said: « Face punches were allowed at this time. I was surprised to find that everyone had their hands wrapped in towels. Teeth will cut your hands. So everyone had their hands wrapped in towels.» Also, at that time, the hyakunin kumite (fighting against 100 man consecutively) has to be done to become a teacher of this discipline. Today, kyokushin become "softer(!)" in order to keep more students in their rank, but many traditions remains in the actual pratice and in the virtues of kyokushin. There is no more face punches but kick to the head is allowed, hyakunin kumite still exists as the ultimate challenge for those who wish to accomplish it and black belt exams include tameshiwari (breaking techniques) and many kumite (usually between 15 to 20 combats against different opponents for a shodan) in addition to kihons and katas.
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      Andy In practically all martial art (certainly of the oriental variety) hard and soft are both parts of the whole and one cannot be practiced without the other, Kata is considered a 'soft' technique (though it does incorporate many hard elements) because it involves visualisation, timing, accuracy (all soft/internal elements that should also be applied to sparring and other hard external elements). The thing is that it is generally a misconception (perpetuated by the Ashida Kim's of the martial arts world) that there are specific hard and soft styles. Take Tai Chi, it is often taught and practised by old ladies in village halls as a healthy exercise, there is however a real combat (hard) application of genuine Tai Chi and in it's hard element it is a devastating martial art. In Karate,Kata should also be practised under dynamic/isometric tension to strengthen the internal and external parts of the body which is another reason why Kata are included in the soft aspect of training.
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    New School Blues
    So as it stands I am currently running a class on a Thursday night, on my instructors advice, but at present all I have is at most 5/6 students.

    It's two classes back-to-back and only 2/3 students do both lessons. I've advertised on Social Media, and leaflet drop in the local area for more students, but at present I am struggling to keep the focus of what students I do have, who also train at our main club on other days of the week.

    Any help?
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      Andy @Al W, you need to be creative with the name/description of your class, you need to advertise something that will get people's attention, I don't know, maybe something like Big AL's MMA KRAV-BJJ Martial Arts and fitness accademy. Join NOW and receive a 10% discount towards my 'Realistic Chain Saw defence' seminar this coming December, dont forget, Free entry on Thursday to ALL female students (provided they are between the ages of 20
      -40 and pass the 'Fitness' test (if the bouncers think your fit they'll let you in) :)
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      Jean We're about to embark on this path within the next year. I interested to see the ideas that will come out in this thread.
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      Ray Try being a karate school at an mma gym. We have a all included program. Many pay for it. Only 6 kids participate in the karate program full time. Of course we get dozens to filter thru. I have 12 at my sparring class. Of course waivers are signed.

      After we swept a local sparring tournament last year my karate class grew to almost 20..... and now I am back to the original 4 plus 2.
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    Own Dojo
    From all of you experienced martial art peeps, when do you think someone can start a dojo?

    My Sensei is giving me his Community Center dojo when I become a black belt sometime next year. He is letting me create the curriculum and run it how I want. I will still be under him to promote brown and black belts, but in essence it is my dojo. He even wants me to have it under a different name.

    My question to you is will you look at my dojo with respect at first glance?

    I have great things planned. I know I will be ready and will give quality instruction. I am not in it for the money so it won't be a McDojo, but I am just worried about what other people in my small Karate community will say or think.

    Any advice or opinion is greatly appreciated!!!!
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      S.P. If you are gonna make changes, I suggest small ones and not all at once. People get used to a given routine and tho it mayn't be (or, may be) great, changing that should be gradual.
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      Richie Our founder:
      We should open Karate to the public and receive criticism, opinions and studies from other prominent fighting artists.” – Chojun Miyagi (founder of Goju-ryu Karate)

      Goju-Ryu was founded from a merge of other styles. This is why I love my style so much. The best comparison is a Japanese version of Jeet Kun Do.
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      Andy [220601,Richie], first off I think it is great that you are going to be running a dojo. No doubt there will be people (other martial artists) who will be negative and disparaging without having the vaguest clue as to what your club is all about (you could have the best dojo in the world and teach excellent, genuine no BS MA and there will still be some who will bad mouth and slate you!). The thing is to not give a hoot what others say or think and to go into it with a positive mindset and do the best that you can do, at least you are (or will be) a genuine, conscientious black belt and as long as you yourself are still learning and are willing and able to pass on what you have learned so far (and what you will learn in the future) then all should be good.
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    Promotion.
    So today out of the blue I was tested and promoted. Sill not a black belt but that takes about 6 years minnimum. In Chidokwon Karate.

    With all the other years of training. 2 tkd, 4 plus boxing, 2 of military combative including 1 as an instructor. And the 4 plus of mma training. And other weapons etc over the years, I need to ask.

    What makes one a real black belt?
    Is it years at 1 art?
    Or years of training?
    Or is it mind set and the ability to pass on that knowledge.?

    My students are always assumed to be higher belts than they are. Is this the decline of western martial arts or is my school just that thorough in training

    For example my oldest does boxing wrestling and karate. 4 days a week for 3 years strait.. He had a green belt in tkd at 8 But is only a 8th kyu in Chidokwon. He knows all the techniques and does them well. He lacks the disapline ti advance though , and he knows it.
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      Al W A belt round the waist is just that, a belt round the waist. I can buy a black belt of Ebay for £5, doesn't mean I am one. A black belt is more than the belt, I would have to say they must meet (at least most of, if not all) the following criteria:-
      Be compassionate
      Be able to encourage their student to try their best
      To be dedicated to their chosen art
      An ability to demonstrate advanced techniques in a way that less advanced students are able to understand
      Display a level of knowledge expected of a teacher
      Someone who never gives up on a student
      Someone who knows the difference between discipline and being a bully
      Someone students can look up to
      Someone who is approachable
      Someone who would never belittle a student
      Someone who knows that respect is earned and not given
      Someone who understands that everybody learns at different speeds and not every student is capable of superhuman feats of agility
      Someone who will take the time to help a student who is having problems learning
      Someone who will take into account a students age, disabilities, and other limitations into account when teaching and/or assessing
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      Michael I think the western idea of a black belt is "someone who is taught all the moves." I have seen so many schools promising black belts in 1 or 2 years. One school I remember from my youth was notorious for loosing kumite matches for being too aggressive/ lack of control. On the other hand, the marines who brought Isshinryu back to America only studied with master Shimabuku for a year or two before being named black belts. Nowadays, any reputable Isshinryu school requires 4-6 years before black belt.
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      PAUL (paldo) REYNOLDS First, congrats @ Ray on your promotional test. What makes one a real black belt ! my world-wide understanding is: acquiring all the black belt skills and passing a test in one style by a recognized karate organization or sensei thereof. Second phase, maintaining black belt proficiency levels after acquiring 1st dan or Japanese Shodan.To me, the key word is "real", which I believe equates to "experience" or 2nd or 3rd dan, with proven personal respect for the art and standards thereof, and the ability to teach skills with objective integrity, and maintain righteous pesonal character and honour karate herritage.
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    Yellow Stripe Advancement
    Experienced my first testing event tonight, Yellow Stripe.(Tang Soo do). Blew some things I thought I had down cold. I need to work on focus. Broke my first "board". Front kick and blade hand. Sambo nim dool was awarded 6th Dan, and his daughter 4th Dan. Pretty cool, I'm pumped.
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      KSP08 Congrats! Nerves etc never go away but you will get better at handling them. And mistakes are part of the experience. Congrats and best wishes as you move forward.
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      Michael Congrats! The focus will come with experience. My first belt test was abysmal. Kept messing up kata that I had performed at least 100 times. The pressure is definitely part of the test, and something that I feel gets easier in time.
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      Christopher Adamchek nice
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    You win some you lose some. Does it matter?
    So today I took part in a non contact tournanent. Its a part of kyokushin thats not that widely known about called clicker fighting. Its a continuous point scoring format where we wear gloves and unlike knockdown you can strike at the head and no kicks are allowed below the waist. Although its billed as non contact it tends to ve touch contact. My current picture has been changed to show my foot planted inthe side of my opponents head today :) its not a format that I overly enjoy but always enter mainly as a warm up to the full contact tournament that will follow in a few weeks time. Although it uses a conpletely different skill set its still a tiring few minutes on the mats in front of the public. This is the sixth such tournament ive entered and chronologically my tournanent place record is ,0 3,2,2,1 and I didnt place today so back to 0. Im not in the slightest bit bothered that didnt place but wonder if I should be? Although I lost very narrowly and waa eliinated it gave me a conifdence boost for the real thing in a few weeks, validating that I can protect my head well from quick kicks from a much more ninble opponent and that despite being a 17st chunk I am quick enough to deliver a potential knock out kick to the head. My knockdown tournament record is similar 3,0,3,2,2,1 but I dont think ill be so relaxed about dropping back to a 0 as its a much more important aspect to me.
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      Mary Cayte Reiland I know a lot of people place a lot of stock in that stupid medal or trophy, but I don't, and I don't believe that they should either. Tournaments are not about winning and losing, they're another form of test for yourself to see where you rank around other practitioners in your area. If this tournament with the non contact fighting is truly a stepping stone to the full contact tournament for you, then you're placement shouldn't matter at all. Focus on the full contact, if that's the one you want to win, and also on improving yourself. Good luck!
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      Will - Black Belt Wiki [212430,James]

      Surprised this type of "non-contact" tournament is part of Kyokushin. Is it to encourage other Karate styles to join a tournament?

      Must be hard to switch from a knockout mentality to a non-contact point sparring style. Are any of your fellow Kyokushin martial artists good at both contact formats? Or is the non-contact format difficult for all Kyokusin students?

      Will
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      Ray My trophys are proudly set up in my home gym. Along with a note to tally all my competitions. I rarely look at them. Each and every win or loss is a big deal to me. At the time. I don't even remember my last event. But I remember my kids first steps.
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    How To Promote New Martial Arts Clubs
    HI Guys,
    I linked up to Blackbelt Wiki a year or so ago and now I'm seeking some advice. The club I am running is on a slow decline and there is a number of reasons for that, one of which is that we have been in a sports centre with 4 maybe 5 other martial arts clubs. Anyway, a new venue has come up and a couple of other opportunities so in the new school year I am aiming to make a push and get several new sessions going at different venues in my areas I live and work in.
    So what works best when I come to promoting a Karate club? Flyers, posters, website or what? Should I offer one off self defence courses for women of weightloss and Fitness advice or combinations? What has worked for you?

    Any marketing tricks you can through my way would be much appreciated.
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      PAUL (paldo) REYNOLDS Hi @ Phil Marc: good advice from all. I have some suggestions that may help a bit. At the dojo where I'm a part-time instructor. The business issues are: affordable prices with discounts for various entities, ie, seniors, kids, veterans, etc. Location without close competition eliminates increases the demand for students. Having a good website featuring oriental features as symbols, language fitting to your martial art, and a very high ranking (preferable oriental) dan with great credentials. I would advise to advocate your karate organizational sponsor as like, Shotokon, Taekwondo headquarters sanction for creditability. These answers are always a big part of a business owner's operational guidelines. Tournament fees shold be less than reasonable so all who want to participate are welcomed. Tournaments are a great publicity entity that attracts new students and in some cases other students from other styles. Statistical data of various events should also be on the website as: tournament champs bios and instructor bios, and kids and adults success stories. Boasting of the organizational events is a must that links good community fortune for your organization. The organization that I belong to has a contract with two local police dept's. in teaching special grappling techniques to police officers because of the widespread fears of over abbusive force, that can cause lawsuits on police officers or internal police abbusive charges that can cause a plice officers job, jail time, or both ! If affordable, hiring young instructors or obtaining part-time volunteer instructors is a great relationship to very young kids. They naturally relate to each other and invoke fun as opposed to an older Sensei's as my self, who would be imtinidating or non-related to kids at first. You may want to search the internet for marketing features of other good reputation karate organizations for tips and ideas etc. The main issue, which maybe hard, is to have a lower pricing system compared to your competition. Money is hard on families ! P.S. consider a family tuition fee along with your discounted fees also. Hope I helped. Our organization has over 800 students with a mixture of kids to seniors and black belts up to master degree and the owner /head Sensei is a 7th dan, Kyoshi, qualified from Okinawa where he goes to test when eligible.
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      Ray My school will be doing a free women's self defense class next Month.
      That usually gets one or 2 folks to sighn up.

      My truck is a billboard on wheels. Come to think of it I a a bill board as well.

      We do demos from time to time as well.

      Having a winning fight team is also a big plus.

      Our big issue is the size of our new facility. People often walk in to the gym/co op. And walk right back out. It's clean and we'll organised, but it can get a bit crowded. Curb a peal does matter, but it comes at a price.
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      Todd Mendenhall I agree it is better to retain students than start new ones. However, I look as a school as a generational family, have seniors, juniors, young and new born (not age just level). So, you really want to find a balance of retaining students and at same time bringing in new ones. As far as promoting, Demonstration are the best tool. Look at the demographic your going to demonstrate for and try and match it. Once did a demo as a senior center and ensured had some senior (age) students there, so others can see "wow, I can do that". As far as retaining, talk with them often. Keep them motivated, we all know the thresholds that people get too, motivate them to stay with it or help show them the path, "just one more wall and a haven is open to you"
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    Wooden dummy
    I am looking to improve my reflex's and muscle memory with block/punches. After research I like the wooden dummy for this. I have seen some round, flat or with three arms or one that has a spring.

    Anyone use a wooden dummy as a Karateka or have other tools to help with solo practice sessions?
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      Richie Thank you for all the advice. I have just started training with Nunchaku. I have also been putting targets on my punching bag. So with that and my makawara training I have no need for a wooden dummy. This saves me time and money, K.I.S.S.
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      Al W Wooden Dummy? That's no way to talk about your instructor lol
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      timothy http://kungfupanda.wikia.com/wiki/Gauntlet_of_Wooden_Warriors (:
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    Thank you!
    This community is amazingly inspiring, helpful, and organized. Hopefully it isn't too late for an oldish guy like me to learn. The information here, along with the training and community in the dojo, encourages me. Thank you to all who have built this and who share their wisdom and passion! I have great respect for all of you.
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      Ray In my 40s I started preparing for my first mma fight.
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      Mary Cayte Reiland Hi Thaddeus! It is never too late to learn! The oldest member of my school is 85 years young! Keep it up!
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      PAUL (paldo) REYNOLDS Hi @ Thaddeus Semon Sr: Welcome ! Perhaps I'm one of the oldest at 69 with a life-time of Shotokan and three years of Taekwondo. I'm relatively new myself in this new journey (blogging) and having fun ! Wish you and your son good karate experiences together. I myself have just started training my nearly 5 yrs. old granddaughter in my home dojo. You may want to be familiar with the Black Belt Wiki website for Shotokan instructions and videos to assist you in your training. Regards !
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    Kenji Yamaki 100 Man Kumite
    Kenji Yamaki's 100 man kumite from 1995. There are a few around that have been filmed and can be seen on Youtube etc such as Francisco Filho's among others. Only around 20 people have succesfully completed this feat the first being Mas Oyama himself who did it 3 times on 3 consecutive days. As a student of kyokushin I see this is pretty much the ultimate test of endurance and spirit and am interested to know how it is viewed by practitioners of other styles and arts.
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      Andy Thanks @James, excellent video and a great performance from Kenji Yamaki, a lot of non martial artists don't realise how much energy it takes for 1 round of full contact sparring/fighting let alone 100!!!
      That's what I call fighting fit!
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      PAUL (paldo) REYNOLDS Preface: My many years in Japan and throughout Asia truly testifies to this great new karate standard of today, the (100 Man Kumite ) is an amazing karate feature and superior test of endurance of a karate-ka ! ...interpretation reflects the Japanese warrior of the old days, " a test for battle ". A 100 man kumite is a most upcoming dojo feature today, while the majority of dojos have not adopted the 100 man kumite as yet, and conduct kumite on a much lower scale than the 100 man kumite. In my opinion and throughout all Japan, Kyokushin is highly recognized for its sparring and combative style has extensively expanded throughout the world. The spirit of Kyokushin is spreading throughout the world with gigantic credit towards Japanese karate overall. Kyokusin is now a most admired Japanese style ! My personal opinion is: soon dojos in all Japan will have the 100 man kumite as a regular featured test. Students of Kyokushin is truly a karata-ka and a defendant of the Japanese warrior protrayed of the old summari years of Japan, is truly honorable whether practioners are aware of its history value or not. Stretching Kyokushin would be most similiar to the Korean sytle of Tong Soo Doo as an extreme combative style of which I have fought against as a 1st Dan in Taekwondo years ago in Korea. Kyokushin in comparison to other karate styles is of a hard classification for combat, whereas, there are many other styles in the soft classification that have no combative feature. Kyokushin is a definate admired Japanese style of today !
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      Al W The key to winning is to eat a ton of beans the night before the match
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    Martial Arts Stances - Deeper vs Shallow
    Stances like zenkutsu dachi and kokutsu dachi are practiced across a number of styles and are not exclusive to karate - there are only so many ways you can stand.Some styles insist on the stances being lower and deeper than others. When actually fighting whether it be in real life or in a tournament or sparring scenario to some degree you transition through many stances but rarely if ever will they be as deep and exaggerated as the aesthetically pleasing stances that we practice in your opinion what's the ideal? What's the benefits of deeper vs slightly shallower stances? Is deeper better?
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      Michael I originally studied Shotokan and still have fairly deep stances as a result. A few years later I started studying Isshinryu, with much more natural stances. In my opinion, stances are all about balance. Sensei Jesse Encamp (from KaratebyJesse.com) has stated that we shouldn't stand in stances but rather flow through them, and I think he is quite right.

      It is important to halve good balance and the only way to do that is practice. Deep stances lower your center of gravity and increase muscle strength. In my opinion, shallower stances are more practical for mobility and maneuverability. These are the stances you will likely use 80-90 of the time during a fight. For these reasons I prefer shallower stances, and work to improve balance in the stances (where balance is more easily accomplished in shallower stances).

      The catch is, there is no "right answer." Deeper stances can turn the tide in some situations where increased mobility is crucial in others.
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      Ray McLean this is a very good question James , they both have their benefits, for example lets take a look at Taekwon do today compared to Taekwon do of yesterday. here is a traditional Korean martial art and sport that in the old days all stances had to be deep and solid ,then in the mid 1980s through to today all stances are shallow .
      I personally use both shallow stance and a deep stance in my style , and here is my reasoning for it a shallow stance can be easily for quick short distance techniques and I use a deep stance when doing my patterns .
      for example a shallow stance can have it's benefits at a short distance you can execute a slap kick or a quick midsection snap kick.
      but for proper balance and stability a deep stance , when practicing a kata , form , pattern or system the pending on that routine will require that particular stance . in a lot of Kung Fu arts a shallow stance is used
      and yet in a lot of traditional karate styles the deep stance is always used.
      so James as you can see both have there benefits.
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      Krissy As it has been mentioned, deep stances during forms are aesthetically pleasing. You should be comfortable to some degree and able to move to through the next motion without getting stuck so to speak. A very shallow stance is basically no stance at all. Have to find that happy medium.
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    Tameshiwari (breaking) - good, bad or ugly?
    Has anyone here done much breaking? What fo you use? Do you see value in it or is it just a novelty party trick?
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      Al W My club have recently revised the syllabus and introduced breaking as part of it. We have three boards yellow (easy), red (intermediate), black (effing hard). I can break the yellow and the red relatively easily, tried the black for the first time and ouch. Need to work on my techniques because I face the black board at my future black belt grading (thankfully not until next October at the earliest)
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      Al W My class did some breaking at the weekend, which I missed. At the end of the lesson my son came up to me with a board and said "Dad I bet you can't break this", to his horror I not only broke the board but managed to get within millimetres of his nose.

      Not bad for a first time
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      Andy Ok, so we have talked about some of the good and bad aspects of breaking, I would now like to talk about the 'ugly'!
      I am ashamed (not too ashamed obviously or I wouldn't be mentioning it on an Internet community that is potentially viewable the whole
      Worldwide not like the time I pee'd myself in a corner shop because i was really drunk and the que was so big! Oh Crap did I just admit to that on an Internet site that is potentially available the whole Worldwide?? Lol) to say that I have on occasion gone totally Hulk and smashed things out of pure temper! Ranging from doors, tables, dry wall, various household ornaments I have on a couple of occasions 'destroyed' stuff that I shouldn't have! I know that this is bad (and that it is not only martial artists who have ever done
      this!!!) my point is that I agree with Spider-Man (with great 'or
      at least increased' power comes great responsibility!!!)
      In other words no matter how pissed off you are try not to break your own stuff ! :)
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    ARE KARATE TOURNAMENTS NEEDED ?: WHY OR WHY NOT !
    Do karate tournaments have a purpose? Some say karate tournaments are the ultimate test of development, whereas, further debate defends a case against martial arts tournaments as a waste of time and effort. Do kata and kumite competitions really matter? If you became a tournament champion or not, what would that mean. Why are karate tournaments needed or not !
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      James Whether or not tournaments are needed is closely linked with your reasons for training in your martial art in the first place. You can spend years studying an art or a combat system being assured that it works by the sensei,being given confidence that it works by the results you get in the dojo against compliant or at least semi compliant training partners but unless you end up in a real life situation where you are forced to defend yourself how do you know that it really works? Of course tournaments aren't real life. They have rules of engagement, referees ready to step in and no chance of a third party getting involved while your backs turned. I can only speak with confidence on the types of tournament that I have taken part in, and seen my children take part in too. When you step on the mat in a kyokushin knockdown tournament you know that your opponent is a trained fighter who is going to try to hurt you, and you are going to have to take the hits and gain the advantage. The benefits for personal development and confidence that that brings are huge. I have felt this for myself and seen it in my children. While its still not "real" it gives a true measure of your endurance, ability to hit and take hits in a way that shows whether they are truly effective and just the courage to step on the mat in the first place. There are no points for pretty techniques you are measured only by the effect of your strikes, and the lack if effect that your opponent has had on you. I have akso taken part in semi contact continuous point scoring and while that carries some of the same benefits it is more a test of skill in executing nice looking techniques rather than true efficacy. I'm really interested to har others views on kata tournaments. I love kata and feel it is at the heart of karate to understand and develop the bunkai of the kata however all of the kata competitions I have seen focus purely on the visual form, making it almost a dance contest where the best looking kata maybe performed by someone with little or no knowledge of what lies behind the movements that they are performing.
      I have not yet entered a kata competition but despite my misgivings I more than likely willfo so in the coming months. The other formats I have both won, taken a first three position in and flatly lost outright on various occasions in however each one is an important learning experience and the position I finish in is only superficially important.
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      Michael At my first dojo, tournaments was the underlying emphasis (though I didn't realize it for quite some time). As a result I can't help but feel a little biased towards them.

      Tournaments are good because:
      - They help get your school/style's name out
      - They improve relations with other schools
      - They can act as a litmus test for practical application of what is taught
      - The results can motivate students (no matter if it's "I can do better next time" or "I did it" or "I want to be like him/her."
      - They take one out of their own comfort zone (their dojo) which improves mental control/conditioning

      Tournaments can also be bad because:
      - They can't perfectly simulate effectiveness "on the street" since there are rules
      - They should not be used to influence promotion (i.e. holding students back to improving their chances, winning trophies = next stripe/belt, etc)
      - Not performing well may demoralize some students (especially young ones).

      Of course, that last point really speaks volumes regarding the instructor, rather than the student.
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      James Anderson Tournaments do matter, but not just for fighting. Tournaments win, lose, or draw will develop a belief in ones abilities. It will prove that what we teach will work if used properly. It will also teach them about taking a hit from someone they do not know. We as instructors know that you are not always able to walk away, but you do know you can protect yourself and take a hit if you are jumped.

      Winning or losing a tournament who really cares, But it does feel good to win....LOL Really though we have all had that student that did not believe in himself, or maybe it was you, but competition will build character and confidence. BLUFF Bottom Line Up Front unless you believe in yourself and the techniques taught to you if really does not matter who teaches you. At least tournaments allows our student to practice in a controlled environment.
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    Martial Arts Grading Requirements
    Following on from my post on class structure I thought it may be interesting to share and compare the grading requirements of the Kyokushin organization that I am a part of with other styles and organizations.

    This is based on my last experience of grading.

    The warm up takes nearly half an hour and consisted of the usual jogging, star jumps and basic stretches with only 20 each of push ups, sit ups and squats finished off with around 10 minutes of 4 in 1 stretching.

    The next three hours was then spent on kihon, moving up and down the hall in the various stances going through just about every stiking, kicking and blockng technique for the entire syllabus from 10th Kyu up until 3rd Kyu. Only the briefest respite from moving was given while the sensei were speaking and this is often done when your arm is held out at the end of a strike and you can not allow it to drop. No drink or rest breaks are permitted during this time but at the end of the first three and a half hours you break for a 30 min opportunity to eat and drink.

    Once back from the break a short warm up followed by more kihon this time for the ranks being tested so first each person will be asked to demonstrate the techniques that they are grading for solo then the whole group goes through them up to their grade. This is where lots of the tobi (jumping) kicks come in so if you are not tired yet this sorts you out.

    We then go through all of the kata as a group. Starting with the basic taikyoku kata through to the pinan (heian) series right up to yantsu and tsuki no kata for my grade, 12 kata in all some were repeated over and over again. We would then demonsrate solo the kata for our grade plus a kata of our choosing. We would then be give a kata of the sensei's choosing.

    Following on from this its exercise time. For 2nd and 1st Kyu (brown belt) 70 push ups, for shodan (black) 100 push ups. Brown 100 sit ups, black 150. As for squats it depends how many people are grading. On this occasion it was 31 so each person counted out 10 so 310 squats. Next come Mae geri keage, brown 150 each leg, black 200. Then 310 blocks jodan uke. At this point anyone who doesn't feel like they just died is pretty much superhuman .I felt like I'd died, been buried, been dug up and died again lol.

    At this point lots of fresh people come in, mostly black belts but some lower grades and head straight in to full contact sparring. As is the kyokushin way with no protection other than soft shin and instep guards and bare hands The rounds are 1 minute long with no rest in between. You are expected to defend yourself properly and put up a strong fight If you dont you will be hit. Hard. And you will potentially fail. They are not trying to knock you out so the fights don't have the same intensity of a knockdown tournament but ts certainly not made easy. 1st brown belt 20 fight, 2nd 25, black 30. Those going for 3rd Dan have 40.

    Grading over, the sensei,s go off and confer and come back in and award the belts to those who have been successful.j

    I have no experience grading in any other martial art and would like to know what happens in not just other karate styles but across the whole spectrum of martial arts.
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      PAUL (paldo) REYNOLDS @ James: P.S. to my previous post below> Seniors and Children Grading Considerations: They are evaluated on a slower pace scale, but must know all the requirements of the testing criteria. Seniors and Children are given a curve grading because of physical limitations, e.g., children for physical underdevelopment and senions for slowness or other health considerations. In some cases, seniors are granded a by-pass test based on their longivity in karate, unique experiences, and can be functioning in a "special honorary titles" as example, Assistant to Kyoshi or other Japanese Titled positions: Master, Meijin (wise man - learned karate-ka), Renshi (5/6 Dan-polished expert), Sempai (senior student), Sensei (highest ranked instructor),Sosei(unique leader of a group), Tashi (Honorary expert-4th Dan, Yandansha (black belt), Other titles of unique organizational heads, examples: kaiso (founder of a style), soshi (head teacher), Ssho (chief Buddhist Temple Priest) soke (head of family designed style), taiso (grand master) doshu (Master of the
      Way). These are of the Shotokan sytle. Other organizations may have different titles as varied to each dojo.
      • 1
      Al W Our gradings run like this:-

      Registration - 30mins
      Warm Up Lesson - 35-45 mins
      Break - 15mins
      10th Kyu & 9th Kyu Gradings
      10th Kyu & 9th Kyu Certification (Mostly due to the age of the majority of the students)
      Break - 15mins
      8th Kyu - 1st Kyu Gradings
      Break - 15mins
      Dan Gradings
      Break - 15mins
      8th Kyu and above Certification

      We have a photographer in the Dojo taking pictures of all the action as well as taking pictures of the students with their certificates and new belts, as well as family shots for those who want them. All the pictures are then posted on our social media pages
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      PAUL (paldo) REYNOLDS @ James: First, congrats with your achievements in Japanese Kyokushin karate. I've always admired that style very much. Promotional "Grading", Your question- "would like to know what happens in not just other karate styles but across the whole spectrum of martial arts". I can not speculate beyond Shotokan and Taekwondo, but Shotokan is very much like Kyokushin. Shotokan has simular heien kata from Kyu to Shodan. Each Japanese style has there own grading system, but most Japanese styles are very simuliar that requires individual and group testing requirements. If you fail a test, you will be given the areas of failure and an opportunity to re-test at a future date. This is pretty much standard throughout Japanese styles. Other martial arts have there own testing criteria and some styles may even accept your specific Japanese credentials or you may need to start at the novice level in there style. This is dependent upon that martial art organization. There are many karate-ka who have achieved black belts and transfered to other styles in search of broadening their karate experience, and the benefit you obtain is more diversity in karate as a whole. Second, About your interest of becoming a grader, that will depend upon your specific organizational requirements. Some schools require certification testing to become a " Promotions Grader and a Tournament Official". I admire your determination, keep practicing and excel! good luck. Hope this helps !
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