Archive: Post-training wrap-up

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu/MySpace
Original post date: 1 February, 2007

Training last night was awesome. As opposed to some of the prior classes we’ve had lately, last night’s session was really full on, with lots of drills, running, crunches, all the good stuff. We spent a lot of time on training ours kicking, which is really good, because it’s been a while since we worked hard on them.

In addition to all the usual gear, one of the instructors proceeded to take individuals aside and running them through their current kata their training in. For those unaware of what kata is, to quote Wikipedia:

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Kata (literally: “form”) is a Japanese word describing detailed patterns of movements practiced either solo or in pairs. Kata are used in many traditional Japanese arts such as theater forms like kabuki and schools of tea ceremony (chado), but are most commonly known for the presence in the martial arts. Kata are used by most traditional Japanese and Okinawan martial arts, such as aikido, iaido, jodo, judo, jujutsu, kendo and karate. Other arts such as t’ai chi ch’uan and taekwondo feature the same kind of training, but use the respective Chinese and Korean words instead.

The most popular image associated with kata is that of a karate practitioner performing a series of punches and kicks in the air. The kata are executed as a specified series of approximately 20 to 70 moves, generally with stepping and turning, while attempting to maintain perfect form. There are perhaps 100 kata across the various forms of karate, each with many minor variations. The number of moves in a kata may be referred to in the name of the kata, e.g., Gojushiho, which means “54 steps.” The number of moves may also have links with Buddhist spirituality. The number 108 is significant in Buddhism, and kata with 54, 36, or 27 moves (divisors of 108) are common. The practitioner is generally counselled to visualize the enemy attacks, and his or her responses, as actually occurring, and karateka are often told to “read” a kata, to explain the imagined events. Source

Anywho, Sensei K went through Saifa with me a few times and helped me get the opening forms really solid and focused, so I don’t feel anywhere near as sloppy as I have been while working on it. But the really awesome thing that happened last night was a technique he demonstrated that involves using your upper body to control your hips and legs.

I’m not sure if this will make sense, but I’ll try to describe it anyhows – by quickly drawing your arm back to your hip (as if you were preparing to do a normal punch), you can generate enough energy to quickly bring your front leg back and turn your hips so that you’re standing the usual 45-degree angle to your opponent, left side forward. This is useful in that you can use this energy to imediately throw your other hand (i.e. the one that hasn’t been retracted to your hip) as either a jab or an outside hooking block very fast. The trick of course is learning how to control this energy to avoid swinging your hips too far, too fast to throw you off-balance, which for me is going to be my task here.

Okay, so that established, why is this discovery so important? Well, because I lack a foot/ankle/calf/knee on my left leg, I have a much reduced capacity to utilise my hips and abdomen to draw power from in karate; as any martial artist knows, utilising your legs, hips, waist and stomach muscles are what generates the incredible power behind a great deal of attacks, if not possibly all of them. Because I lack an essential component in this makeup, by learning to use my upper body to compensate for this means I now have the potential for drawing out greater power in my strikes and enable me to move and counter much faster than I could previously have achieved. There is of course going to be a long learning process in order to learn to use my body thus, but I’m confident this will mark an important point in developing greater prociency in my karate.

It’s pretty logical when you think about it, though – I use my upper body a lot to ease the stress on my right leg in every day life – I’ll use my arms instinctively when going up or down stairs, when standing up from the floor, I’ll do as much work as possible with my arms to move my weight, and probably stacks of other stuff I can’t pick out that I do simply as instinct.

So, last night was definitely enlightening, as hyperbolic as that sounds, and I’m looking forward to refining the technique over time, especially when using it in kumite (sparring) and learning how to utilise it in my standard forms and kata.

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Archive: Post-Australia Day wrap-up

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu/MySpace
Original post date: 31 January, 2007

New blog time 🙂 Granted I’m training tonight, but I meant to post sooner but have been really busy. BTW, for those interested, I’ve put some new pics up from April last year during my recovery period. The whole stuffed Nemo toy has a silly backstory to it (one of those corporate programs whereby management does stuff to increase staff morale – in our case, you got Nemo, you’re being congratulated/acknowledged for your hard work; sounds silly, but it was fun :P), so ignore him in the pics. Except for the one I bow to him. That’s funny. He’s also on the BBQ in the back yard. This is also funny 🙂 Not that I’d condone frying Nemo, but it’s kinda ironic that the only way I could get him to my height was by putting him on a BBQ 😛

Anywho, last Friday marked Australia Day, otherwise considered ‘National Barbeque (BBQ) Day’, and yes, we had a BBQ. Wifey’s family and mine popped over and we all ate food and drank and a few went down to the beach, even though the cool change had already come through. In short, great day, and I loved the long weekend we got out of it.

So, what does this have to do with karate/training/stuff? Well, Tank and my father-in-law (haven’t thought of a pseudonym for him yet – got any thoughts Hamez?) were over, and the three of use were randomly attacking my boxing bag. It was a bit of a shock to see either of them throw punches or kicks into the bag – each one sent the bugger flying, much more than I can manage unless I threw in two punches or kicks. I mean, I know (a) that I only come up to their chin/collar bone and hence they are much taller than me, (b) they’re also much broader than I am, and (c) they have two legs, but it was still almost crushing to see how easily they sent it flying. It got me thinking – will I ever be able to summon that much power and focus it into my techniques? Not that I bemoan that power they have (quite the opposite – I think its uber and all that), or wish they didn’t have it – I’m just commenting here.

I talked about it with Wifey over the weekend, and she helped put it in perspective, and we talked about how I could look at training to improve my technique if I’m keen on pushing myself like that. Obviously I don’t want to focus on physical strength at the expense of speed – I just want to be able to focus with greater impact/effectiveness on my techniques, particularly upper body since I’m more adept with my hands/arms than my feet. I have a few things in mind and will talk them over with her Dad, who has experience with weight training and should be able to suggest further ways I can strengthen myself. I feel more focused because of this, and want to keep pushing myself to the best of what I can do.

But even beyond that, I wonder – will I ever achieve that kind of power? What will I eventually achieve if I continue to train in karate for however long I continue to do so? What will I be like in, say, five years, or ten years? It’s hard to say, and I hope my body lets me keep doing it.

I also managed to check out something on the telly last week (huzzah for Foxtel, aka Australian Cable TV). We don’t get any martial arts stuff on free-to-air telly, and even Foxtel is pretty bare, but they had the ISK World Championship Karate thingie on, and there was some pretty cool stuff. While I understand how some martial artists may dissuade from this kind of stuff, and its important to understand competition isn’t the whole reason behind martial arts, that it’s just as much an internal thing, polishing your soul through hard work, dedication and commitment, it did prove interesting. While many would argue the utility or what-not of performing your own kata to music (which could be argued as more dance than karate, &tc), to my relief the music was dulled in the footage and the aerobic fitness these guys demonstrated was amazing and inspiring. While all the yelling and screaming seemed a liitle hyperbolic, I found it really great to see real people demonstrating their form, especially this little 7-year-old dude doing kama (they look like mini, hand-held scythes) forms, and he was incredible! In comparison to the other kids I see at our classes, it was just so awesome. I reckon I’m going to have to look out for some more footage of karate and what-not, maybe on DVD, but I reckon it’d be hard to work out what’s good and what reeks of dodgy 😛 If anyone has any suggestions, post a comment and I’ll look into it.

Anywho, the point I was getting at is that this proved inspiring, and has helped me be more determined in my application of karate. Tonight I’ll hopefully be able to find out what other classes are on during the week, so I can increase the amount of classes I do each week (without mangling my stump again, or course!) and can bring Jyastin-kun back, and Hamez can continue training too. I’ll try and post before the end of the week to write about tonight’s training, so stay tuned… or something 😛

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Archive: Slackness :)

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu/MySpace
Original post date: 26 January 2007

Ack, I’ve been a little slack with this blog the last week and a bit 😛 My bad. I didn’t end up making it to training last week – the skin on the back of my stump was sore, and I didn’t want to cause any further damage to it, so I held off training. It was a bit of a bugger, because apparently a number of the regulars are back, so it looks like things are back to normal-ish, which is good.

Anywho, had training again last night, but I was flying solo – Hamez is back at soccer training and Jyastin-kun can’t make Wednesday nights anymore. Bugger. So, I’m looking at what classes are on Monday or Tuesday nights, and I’m pretty sure there’s one not too far from us – I’ll be getting some up-to-date details from one of our Sensei’s next Wednesday, and I’ll go from there. This’ll be good, because it means I can up my training to twice a week or three times a fortnight, which will be ace. Plus it means Jyastin-kin and Hamez can continue with the training, and sparring with Jyastin-kun is always awesome, because he always pushes me and I learn each time I train.

Last night’s class went reasonably well – it didn’t push me mega hard, but that’s okay – my knee’s still a bit sore, so I’ll have to see a physio if it doesn’t get any better. I got called out the front to help with the punching/arm techniques, so that was good. I always forget some of the names and the order, but Sensei R helped jog my memory, which was good. We did the usual routine, some kata (I’m feeling my Saifa get stronger each week), a couple of joint-locking techniques (Sensei R showed me a great wrist-lock-break technique similar to the ones Wifey’s uncle has shown me), a little practice on tumble-rolls onto cushy mats, and some light sparring. All in all, it was pretty good, and I’m looking forward to next week and the prospect of some extra training with the other two.

And in not-related-to-karate news, I’d llike to thank the small collective who are reading this thing 🙂 It’s kinda like back in the mid-90s when everyone threw a people counter on their arse personal website and you got excited because a few people visited your homepage, even though it was probably just your mates, and they still thought it was a crap page, but they went there ’cause they don’t suck… or because it was more interesting hitting the ‘refresh’ button while on the computers at school rather than do anything productive 😛 Still, it’s all in good fun, and if you feel like it, post a comment or something, ’cause I think it’d be cool 🙂

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Archive: Update and a recap

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu/MySpace
Original post date: 16 January, 2007

Well, it’s now Tuesday and despite the fact that I forgot to throw on the knee brace this morning, all is going well. I’ve had the anti-inflammatory for the last few nights, and I’ve been icing up my knee as well. I think it’s working really well – my knee feels like its swinging through a lot better now. I’m not sure how many people talk about knees swinging through, but yeah, it’s definitely an improvement! I reckon I might ice my knee up post-training for a few weeks to make sure it stays well (thanks for the suggestion Wifey!), and hopefully this week I’ll start some exercises between classes to strengthen up my leg to help cope with the training.

Okay, so I said a while back that I’d throw in tidbits from my training, and I figured that now might be a good time to start… especially seeing as it’s 40 degrees outside at the moment, and knowing my luck, not enough people will rock up tomorrow night for training again 😛 Anywho, back to the point – I figured today I’d talk about the reason I had my 12-month break from karate from November ’05 – November ’06.

First up, I’ll give a little background to the situation. In early 2005 I was given the privalege of an invitation to join the instructors and assistants at the weekly senior training sessions. These would be on a Sunday night and go for a good 1.5 – 2 hours, and the only way you were able to attend was purely by invitation – students from lower grades were generally invited if their instructors thought they had potential or showed a great level of commitment in order to prepare them for assisting during class, and eventually being able to instruct classes themselves. The commitment and potential of ur little group (Jyastin-kun, Tank, Buu-Adam and myself) were looked upon favourably, so we were extended an invitation. I was chuffed, given I only had one leg and could still do this crazy training.

Anywho, senior training was/is awesome – it’s incredibly full on and the standard is really high, and it definitely pushed me, which is a good thing. In the leap up to my grading at the end of October ’05, I pushed myself a bit too hard, and post-grading, a started having troubles with my leg. The maleable plastic sheath inside my prosthesis started to tear, and as a result started damaging the skin on my stump. I’d also destroyed another knee unit over the course of 12-18 months, and when a new one was installed, I misjudged the correct height and waited too long to get the height adjusted properly. The incorrect height, coupled with the tear in the plastic sheath, started to cause my skin to tear.

I had the height fixed in January, but by then I was already having massive issues with my leg. I was wrapping gauze padding over certain spots of my stump and taping it down with adhesive bandages; over the course of the month, the repeated stress the adhesive caused to my stump resulted in infrequent skin break down on my stump. I was working with the guys who take care of my prosthesis (they’re awesome people) and we were in the process of moulding a nw socket and preparing to tray something a little different with the net result – the stump would still be help in place by a suction leg with a valve on the side to assist with controlling the air pressure therein, but we would be moving towards using a silicone “stump sock” to act as the interface between my stump and the socket this, in itself, is a topic in and of itself – I’ll have to post something down the road that explains how these legs work, and the types of artificial legs I’ve had over the last few years. This experiment would therefore allow me to keep my current level of activity, but the use of the silicone material meant that the skin on my stump wouldn’t have to bear the brunt of the damage. The organisation that offers support for amputees where I live had also added it to their free listings scheme under certain circumstances, so I could afford to make the move as well.

Anywho, by the end of Febuary, things got really bad I only wore my leg when I needed to, and generally hopped around everywhere or used my crutches to get around, which I’d started doing in January. One evening when I was changing the gauze and adhesive bandage, I literally tore the skin off the base of my stump – I felt it doubly because I used to use eucalyptus oil to clean the adhesive residue off my skin, and it stung my skin as a result. I took a week off work, saw the doctor to get some stuff to make sure it didn”t infected, and stayed off my leg for the week. At this point, we’re looking at it being the end of Febuary/early March.

Shortly after this lovely event, I received my new leg with the silicone goodness. To my relief, my stump had healed up completely within two weeks, and I noticed that the impact tearing on the other end of my stump (something I’d had for five years) had gone away. This was definitely a good thing! The tricky part wass learning how to control the leg with this different method of suction and keeping the leg in place. I had decided to go back to training before my wedding and give myself a break in the week or two leading up to it (which was in July last year) – I went back in June for a lessono, and then Wifey and I ended up getting too busy with wedding plans to have my going off to training again.

Shoot forward to late August/early September – Jyastin-kun and I head off on a Monday evening to go back to classes, and we get greeted with nobody there – it turned out that the Monday classes ended up getting cancelled in lieu of senior training being changed over to Monday nights (it used to be on Sunday nights). This put both of us in a quandry, as both of us worked Wednesday nights and we weren’t game to just show up at senior training after such a long absence (not to mention that our form was poor owing to a lack of regular training!).

My lucky break came in November, where I started a new job, and I no longer had to work weekends or late into the evening – the first week starting my new job, I was back at Wednesday night training. Uber.

Well, there you go – a long entry, but like I said, I’m writing this to record all the stuff that has happened with regards to my training. True, its long winded, but that’s not surprising – I generally waffle on too much! I reckon I’ll leave it here, and will probably post again on Thursday or Friday to talk about how tomorrow night’s training goes… if the heat backs off 😉

BTW, if random people (and not-so random people!) are reading this, feel free to add comments and stuff 🙂

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Archive: Third blog this week!!

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu/MySpace
Original post date: 13 January, 2007

Hmmm, looks like I’m getting the hang of this MySpace thing – kudos to Pru and co. at We Grow Up and to Madman’s Anime Snacktime 🙂

Well, in an update to training stuff, true to form Hamez and I ended up doing some light sparring last night, and I had a chat to my father-in-law about my knee. I was doing my stretches Friday last week (I normally go through all my leg stretches twice a week outside of karate to encourage my body to increase my flexibility), and I pushed my leg a little too far – my knee made a little ‘pop’ noise (not uncommon – only having one knee means it gets worked on pretty hard) and it’s been a little sore since then. Last time I mangled my knee was back in 2004 when I fell down the last few stairs at the place wifey and I were renting at that time – broke my little toe, and compensating for that mangled my knee (not to worry though – I saw a physio who fixed my knee up).

So, obviously I wanted to fix up my current issue as quickly as possible, so I actually asked for help 😛 Having experience as a sports/fitness trainer, he said it looked like I’d done a little damage to the knee, but nothing too serious. He’s recommend to keep the pressure off the knee as much as possible, so I’m sporting a knee brace for the next few days, and I’ll take some anti-inflammatories once a day and ice the knee up twice a day for 20 minutes at a time.

Since I’ve only got one knee, I figure I’ve got to take care of it, so I’ll be following the advice to the letter and I’ll see how its going next week. If I continue to not be slack, I’ll post how I go then.

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