Traditional Okinawan Karatedo training uses the machiwara as one of its primary pieces of equipment for training different strikes techniques – especially its basic punch. Inexperienced Karateka mistakenly thing that the machiwara is meant to strengthen and toughen the hand and knuckles of the fist. This is mostly a byproduct of training and not its main focus. More importantly the machiwara is meant to train the kinetic chain of the legs, waist and back, as well as teach proper rotation of the arm and alignment of the bones when punching. Additionally, the machiwara can be used to teach footwork, distancing and timing. It truly is the “work horse” of Okinawan Karatedo.
When I lived in Japan, I really liked a song called “Iiwake” (Excuses) by Shram Q back in the day. Excuses of course are sometimes necessary in the proper context, but that doesn’t include the dojo. The other night at practice, during the break, two new students told me how tired they were from junbi undo and kihon practice. I had told them at the start of class that the most important thing to do during these exercises was to maintain proper form, and that if the number of repetitions were too much then they should do every second repetition, or if that was still too hard, then do every third repetition, and so on. I was a bit shocked at the replies. One stated, “Well, I’ve been working all day” to which I immediately replied, “So has everyone else in the dojo.” The other student lamented that his legs were tired from weight-lifting – today had been his squat day. “That’s interesting,” I said, “because today I was doing front squats.”
On May 19th, 2013, Come join us as Sensei Taka Kinjo celebrates 40 years of teaching Gohakukai in Canada! The Taka Karate School will be having an anniversary demonstration and hosting forty guests from Okinawa and mainland Japan including the head of Gohakukai, Kaicho Iken Tokashiki. Students from all over Western Canada and the United States will be coming back to Lethbridge for the demonstration. Sensei Kinjo has touched the lives of many people and we are inviting friends, family, and students (both past and present) to come show support for a very remarkable man. The 40th anniversary demonstration will be held at 2:00 pm in the Yates Memorial theatre at 1002 – 4th Avenue South, Lethbridge Alberta. Tickets are only $15 and are available at the door or from Sensei Kinjo. Proceeds from the demonstration will be donated to a local charity.
Fitness trends come and go while others make a resurgence. This is particularly true in recent years with Russian Kettles bells and Indian Clubs. Both of these pieces of equipment have been around for hundreds of years, yet it is only in the last decade or so that they have become main stream again among exercise groups. Kettle bells are basically cannonballs attached to a metal handle, while Indian Clubs are made from wood and are shaped roughly like a bowling pin. Both of them vary in weight from a few pounds up to quite heavy. Exercises with both of these pieces of equipment involve swinging them in different directions around the body in order to strengthen the arms, core, legs, and back, as well as increase joint mobility. Read more
I’ve been practicing Karatedo for a few years and one thing that I’ve noticed that can be difficult for students is balancing out the practice they do at the dojo, with their own perceptions of what is good or bad for them mentally and physically. For example, is it that a certain exercise or technique is too difficult, their fitness level is too low, the teacher is a poor instructor, the material itself is inherently weak or dangerous, or some combination? As a student it is not, in this day and age, unreasonable to ask questions. But how do you formulate the question?
In “Karate years” I’m quite young but in looking back over my time practicing Okinawan Budo there are a few things that I would have done a little bit differently. So, the following is a bit of a thought experiment about some things I would like to tell my younger self (whether he’d listen is another matter entirely).
When I started Karatedo practice in the 1980s my seniors at the time told me that originally our dojo had no kids classes (that was in the 1970s). Still, at the time I started practicing I would guess the ratio of youth/adults to kids practicing was about 60/40. Nowadays, I think the ratio of adults to kids is closer to 10/90. I bring this point up because if the majority of students learning Karatedo are children, what are the adults learning?