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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15918
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2022 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The last couple of weeks have had their share of ups and downs.

I'm still battling with that nagging issue in my side. It turns out that it's a rib that is wiggling about a bit and pinching a nerve from time to time. Right now it's stable, but I can't do any falls or it flares up. So, no aikido for awhile.

I pray that your issue with your side works itself out sooner, rather than later.

Quote:
Two weeks ago, Zach tested for (and passed) his nikyu testing board. I watch him in class and get frustrated with him because he spends half his time messing around and not trying his hardest. But then when it's time to demonstrate in front of the CI or for a test board, his puts forth his A-game and looks really good. I just wish he could put forth that effort all of the time.

Zach is doing great. He's dealing with the Testing Cycles like I encourage my students to do because the Testing Cycle ALWAYS takes care of itself. Oftentimes, students have their way at the dojo, and while it can be frustrating for you to watch Zach mess around and not try his hardest, and while you're his dad, if the CI isn't getting on Zach for his actions, good or bad, then just silently shake your head, and let the CI run the floor.

I was a goof off myself when I was Zach's age. Why? Because I was just a kid, a kid doing the MA. Dai-Soke was strict but not so much that he too just shook his head and let the kids be kids. I trained, and I goofed off, but when it came time for me to be serious, Testing Cycle or not, I was dead serious, especially at Testing Cycle's because anything but respect and seriousness would cost dearly; to our Soke and Dai-Soke that was Holy Ground.

Quote:
So one interesting thing about post-shodan training is that there is only one specific requirement for your next rank (rank kata), but there is a whole wealth of material that you have access to. Certain pieces are expected at a certain rank, but you don't actually get tested on them. These include the kata bunkai and yakusoku kumite. For our advanced black belt ranks, we are expected to learn and be proficient in the dan-level kumite drills for other Uechi-Ryu organizations.

At nidan, we are expected to know the kumite for Okikukai. At sandan we are shown the Kenyukai drills, and at yondan we are expected to know the Kenseikai drills.

The nice thing is that these aren't hard and fast requirements, so a couple of weeks ago when we had a good mix of dan grades in class (a few nidans and a yodan), our CI had us work on the Okikukai driills for awhile, and then he started showing us the Kenyukai drills (expected for sandan). These are very different from the other drills we've seen. In some ways they're more visceral and direct, and definitely not something you want to practice with a partner that doesn't have good control. For example, the first drill involves responding to a lunge punch by stepping to the side, pushing across with the far hand, and simultaneously performing a nukite to the side of the neck.

This right there, is the beauty of Karate. While styles differ, they also are the same darn thing when one looks at them without blinders/loyalties. You're maturing as a MAist, and even more so as a Karateka. Train hard and train well, my friend.

Quote:
Last week was also a pretty good week in general. I was able to make it to the Tuesday black belt class, which is always fun. Then Friday I did my apprentice teaching, where I got to work 1:1 with one of our new junior black belts on his requirements for nidan (and got to work on my material as well). After that, we had our quarterly black belt training, where we worked more of the advanced two-person drills (in this case the Kenseikai drills [expected for sandan]), and then we did some of the throws and takedowns from the Kanchin bunkai (required for sandan).

Needless to say, after an hour of teaching and two hours of training I was pretty well exhausted. But it was a good exhaustion.

You're strongly becoming quite well-rounded both as a student and as an instructor in the most definitive way possible.

I want to thank you for being transparent in the sharing of Zach and yours MA journey in the most possible way. I've thoroughly enjoyed the readings immensely.

Train hard and train well.



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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 29537
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE, Police Krav Maga, SPEAR

PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2022 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aurik wrote:
bushido_man96 wrote:
aurik, it can be tough with the kids sometimes. At the end of the day, remember that they are indeed just kids, and they will have those lapses. Praise the great performances, and be encouraging with the other ones. As they get older, if they really love it, you'll see the focus increase.


Thanks for putting things into perspective. I am probably harder on him sometimes than I need to be -- I just see how good he can be when he really tries at it. He has also expressed a desire to start learning Kobudo in addition to karate, so maybe that will help him a bit too. However, his mom laid down the law that he has to show us that he can keep up with his schoolwork without being nagged before he is allowed to add any more extracurricular activities.


It's great that you are putting the onus on him to be more proactive in the things he needs to get done, so that he can earn the privilege to do more things that he wants to do. Excellent.

Quote:
Honestly, when I'm sparring, I rarely back up either. I'll sidestep or stand my ground and counter. I much prefer stepping off the line of attack than stepping straight back. Stepping at a 45-degree angle TOWARDS the attacker can make for some very nice counterattacks though.


I tend to do some backing up when sparring, mainly because the rule set limits what I can do with my hands. However, I am going to be more mindful going forward about giving up less ground, and trying to move more laterally.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15918
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2022 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While Shindokan practitioners are stepped heavily in not ever backing up, I see no problem in an occasional backing up in tournaments and the like. Shoot, I was infamous for backing up in order to draw my opponent in towards me, and then score at the interception point in my tournament days.



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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 29537
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE, Police Krav Maga, SPEAR

PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2022 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
While Shindokan practitioners are stepped heavily in not ever backing up, I see no problem in an occasional backing up in tournaments and the like. Shoot, I was infamous for backing up in order to draw my opponent in towards me, and then score at the interception point in my tournament days.


I agree with this strategy, and I understand the concept is different in sport fighting than it is in self-defense. I'm not winning any trophies in class, though, so I've just picked it as a good time to focus on the concept of not backing up, or at the least, backing up less. If I do, I want to keep it to a few very focused steps, as opposed to withdrawing across the distance of the ring because I'm getting overwhelmed by someone's offense.
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aurik
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 313
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2022 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Training over the past few weeks has been going reasonably well, without any major kerfluffles. Zach occasionally vexes me, but I'm pretty sure that's his job as my son -- to keep me grounded For example, last Tuesday the plan was for us to attend the 5-6pm youth advanced class so I could get in my teaching hours for the week, I was going to take him home, and then I'd return for the 7-8:30pm black belt class. Per the usual arrangement, at 4:30pm I asked him to get ready so we could leave at 4:45. When 4:45 comes around I go find that he is reading a book, and he asks me, "Can we go to the 6pm adult class instead?"

At least it wasn't "I don't want to go today, I'll go another day instead". But still... that threw my plans out the window, and I wasn't going to get my teaching in that week because I had an event on Friday night. But I also didn't communicate that with him either so that was on me.

So this week we've started having that conversation at Sunday evening dinner, what is going on for the week so we can all understand what the expectations are.

Tuesday afternoon Mrs A and I both got our COVID booster and flu shots for the year, so classes on Tuesday were pretty much out the window. We had decided that Zach and I would both attend the Thursday night and Friday night classes, and we are planning on going blacksmithing in Colorado Springs on Saturday.

Our CI and his wife are currently in Okinawa for the karate day celebrations, and he just (yesterday) successfully tested for his godan in Kobudo. His local instructor also successfully tested for his 6th degree, so the testing had to be done at the hombu dojo for the organization under Itokazu Sensei. As a result, he has a number of substitute instructors teaching the various classes, with his father supervising.the classes. So we're all lined up for last night's class waiting for things to start, and Kyoshi (our CI's father) comes up and says, "why haven't we started. Ken, you're teaching today. Get them going".

So... I have a major deer in the headlights look on me. I hadn't planned on teaching today, but I go with the flow. I get warmups started, and since we've got a mixture of students from white belt through 1st degree I slow the warmups and supplementary exercises down, and I'm also sure to say all the techniques in both Japanese and English. As we;re going through the supplementary exercises, I look for a few teachable moments -- for example we have one technique which is initlally taught as rising block, leopard fist punch, circular block, leopard fist punch. However, advanced students should perform that first block as an intercepting block/strike in a snapping motion.

Last week I had been working kotekitae (forearm conditioning) with one of our returning 4th degree students, and he gave me a very interesting piece of advice -- when you strike at your partner's forearm, you aren't just conditioning his forearm, you are also conditioning your own hand. I saw a number of younger students who were barely touching their (older) opponents last night and shared with them this observation as well.

We then worked two-person drills as a group, with students rotating partners. I stayed in place so I could watch everyone in turn. This turned out to be a good thing, because I was able to notice a few additional teachable moments. For example, on our kyu kumite drills required for green belt ranks, the final technique ends with you spinning your opponent to face away from you, then you step up behind them, grab them by the shoulder, and do a one-knuckle strike to the base of the skull. Well, if you are much shorter than your opponent, the correct move is to grab them by the belt, and do that strike to the kidney -- because there is no way you're going to get a good angle on the skull from that height difference. When I saw my partner (who is 13-14 I think) make that mistake, I paused the drills, picked the tallest guy there and demonstrated the alternate technique on him. (Turns out he and I started a few months apart -- he's currently in his black belt prep cycle too, testing in the next month or so).

When 7pm came around, there were a number of students that didn't get the memo about the combined class and started showing up. I picked this as a good time for a break, and then rearranged the groups by rank. I had the upper ranks working on their advanced 2-person drills, and the lower ranks working kata and/or bunkai.

One of my favorite techniques to teach are the throws/takedowns that we do. We have a couple that we do all the time in our dan-level 2-person drills, and a lot of people have a hard time taking people down when they don't give them the throw. I won't ever give someone the throw if they don't have it right -- it's not really fair to them in my opinion. I will however work with them to show them the proper techniques so they CAN get it.

Our first throw is all about the principle of kuzushi -- offbalancing. The technique starts with the attacker coming in with a left front kick, which the defender uses a scoop block to sweep to the side. The attacker then commits fully with a right hook. The defender jumps in to intercept that, blocking both at the wrist/forearm and the shoulder/clavicle. If they do it right, they will jam the attacker's shoulder back before they can fully engage it. The NEXT part is what people have the hardest time with -- the defender needs to anchor their forearm against the defender's chest, pull the attacker's right arm down, and then they step forward into a low stance, and use their forearm as a transmission to drop their entire bodyweight on the opponent's shoulder. If they can do this properly, the attacker's weight is all on his right leg and he's already off-balance. Once that happens, the defender drops further into a low stance, places his left hand behind the upper calf, presses outwards on the inner thigh, and the attacker's leg just folds under him, and he goes down. The defender holds onto the foot, slides forward and to quote Master Ken, "re-stomps that groin".

With my size and weight, I just don't go down unless they get that off-balancing part right, so that's the part I have them focus on. Once that part is down, they rest is pretty easy.

We then ran group kata, starting with kanshiwa (first rank kata) all the way up to seiryu (required for second degree). I performed one with the group and then watched the second go-through -- except for Kanshu -- where I screwed myself up and made some obvious mistakes, so I felt obligated to run through it with them the second time. Kyoshi of course then went on to say how once you learn our second-degree kata (seiryu), it tends to mess your brain up for your earlier kata. In fact, all of our kata do that to a certain degree -- they are all related and have many of the same or similar sequences in them. Which makes it really important to focus on which kata you're actually doing at the time.

All in all it was a good class, and I felt really good about the way I ran it. Kyoshi is a wealth of information (and doesn't hesitate to share it), but I was able to keep the class moving forward at a pretty good pace. A couple of the advanced students told me I did really well afterwrards, so that made me happy.
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 29537
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE, Police Krav Maga, SPEAR

PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2022 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not "giving" the students the throw...that's a great teaching call there. Make them feel it, and make them get it right. Kudos to you!
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aurik
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 313
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2022 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So last Friday, I taught again (in my normally scheduled hours). The class went very well, up until the end, and then it became a very difficult class. We had a good mix of brown belts/junior black belts, purple belts and one blue belt. The class is generally geared for students that are starting to learn the dan-level yakusoku kumite drills, so the purple belts (yonkyus) were at a point they were just learning it.

I changed things up a bit and had our students work their hojo undo techniques on a partner (as opposed to solo). I split them up with one of the junior black belts working with the lower ranks, and I worked with the higher ranks. Most of the students did really well, and I was able to give each of them some constructive criticism as they paired with me, so that was good.

We then all worked dan kumite for awhile. I took the junior black belts with me to work with the low ranks in teaching them, while I let Kyoshi supervise the brown belts (since they already know the material).

For the last segment of class, I had students work on their bunkai. I paired students off and went around to monitor them. When I got over to Zach, he was alone and his partner wasn't to be found... It turns out that at one point in the drill, Zach had performed a prescribed overhand with a (wooden) knife on his partner, his partner had missed the prescribed defense, and Zach bopped his partner on the head with the knife hard enough to raise a decent sized goose egg.

The partner was crying (he is ~10-11 years old, so completely understandable), we got him an ice pack, I checked him to make sure he was still lucid and didn't seem to be acting out of the ordinary.

I then line all of the students up to close out class, and then give them the "We love our partner" speech. And how important it is to be very careful when you're using a weapon -- even a rubber or wooden weapon. I talked about how horrible you will feel if you accidentally hurt someone, and how you need to learn to train at your partner's level. Push them a little, but not so hard to hurt them. Kyoshi reinforced what I said with some of his experiences, and then I bowed the class out.

As I was walking out to my truck, one of the junior black belts came up to me and told me that her partner has been hitting her a lot harder than he should, in areas that he should not. Since our CI is out of town, she felt she needed to bring it up to me. I told her that I would reach out to our CI, and I would also talk to the person in question. I've noticed that the student in question goes REALLY hard when training against me, but I'm also twice his size and can take getting hit in most places. I'm also not a 13 year old girl either.

So, I sent an email to the CI informing him of both incidents -- his wife mentioned that she had noticed the same thing with the student in question. The CI will reach out to the one student's parents about the head contact, and I'll talk to the offending student the next time I see him in case the CI hasn't talked to his parents yet.

Definitely not the fun part of being an instructor.
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DarthPenguin
Blue Belt
Blue Belt

Joined: 03 Dec 2021
Posts: 309
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Styles: Shotokan, Judo, BJJ

PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2022 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a good sign that the other students already feel like they can come to you with issues. Is always a tough thing when someone goes from being a student / one of the masses to any position of authority (be it in martial arts or the workplace) and managing the personal relationships around the transition. Sounds like you are doing a good job!

Also, while it is never good for someone to be hurt (goes without saying), if there had to be someone involved in a minor incident that necessitated the class being given a reminder it maybe worked out well that it was your son - it demonstrates clearly that you are fair and don't play favourites!

Sounds like the instructing is going well - Excellent!
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 29537
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE, Police Krav Maga, SPEAR

PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2022 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with DarthPenguin, 100%. I would only add a few things. One, that control is paramount in keeping you and your partners safe, but at the same time, someone getting hit doesn't always indicate a lack of control, but could indicate a failure to apply a technique or block correctly, which becomes a learning experience in and of itself. The other thing I would add is that it is a contact sport/activity, so at times, things like this will happen, and it's important for the students to be able to accept that and move forward with their training.

Now, the student that came to you about the excessive contact, and what also sounds like inappropriate contact, is a different matter entirely. It sounds like you are doing a good job dealing with that, and please let us know how that works out going forward.
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DarthPenguin
Blue Belt
Blue Belt

Joined: 03 Dec 2021
Posts: 309
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Styles: Shotokan, Judo, BJJ

PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2022 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bushido_man96 wrote:
I agree with DarthPenguin, 100%. I would only add a few things. One, that control is paramount in keeping you and your partners safe, but at the same time, someone getting hit doesn't always indicate a lack of control, but could indicate a failure to apply a technique or block correctly, which becomes a learning experience in and of itself. The other thing I would add is that it is a contact sport/activity, so at times, things like this will happen, and it's important for the students to be able to accept that and move forward with their training.

Now, the student that came to you about the excessive contact, and what also sounds like inappropriate contact, is a different matter entirely. It sounds like you are doing a good job dealing with that, and please let us know how that works out going forward.


the contact part is a funny one sometimes. It does vary style by style, school by school i find.

As an example i've been told at my shotokan class that i should be striking with power and would hit the opponent if not defended (obvious caveats of don't go in like a truck on a kid or a much older/smaller person) but for similar grades/ages students that if they don't block it it is then their fault if they get hit. I actually got told that at a grading if i am leading with the strike and the Uke doesn't defend it properly then failure to hit them would result in me being marked down (as my distance wasn't correct etc).

Have trained in other styles thought where the expectation would be that if the student missed that it should be stopped and just touch them at most.

Relative skill levels and recurrence are relevant i think. If you hit your opponent more than once because they can't defend it then you need to revise what you are doing / take a look at things.

I do agree with bushido_man though!
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