Friday, 31 October 2014

These plasters work!

Many traditional kung fu students know about this or that medicinal ointment or treatment for those injuries commonly associated with training.

I am currently nursing a cracked rib. Rib fractures don't really have any quick remedies and unlike limbs, ribs can't be put in a cast.

These plasters I got from my friend, Chen Feng (She and her husband Chris helped me with my book, remember?). It's been 2 days since I have put them on and I am now able to laugh without pain and to cough with minimal pain. I breathe and move normally now. I am going to keep this up for the week to come and report back.

Remedies like these that use menthol and camphor stimulate the body's circulatory system which in turn helps to relieve pain and facilitates recovery. It works especially well on sprains and bruises.

Anyone interested in this product or other Chinese health products (or massage therapy) can contact Feng Chen on Facebook. She is based in my hometown, Nelspruit, South Africa.   

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Warning to others who want to join a karate dojo these days

Did anyone read my post about how I once left my Shotokan dojo and went on to study other stuff? Well... to sum up anyway before I continue this post I got fed up with the entire school here at the time after a grading in which I got failed while I watched others with much less skill get their black belts.

Now- here's the story of my return to Shotokan and my departure from it for good:

It was early in 2014 when my sensei from back then came back to Nelspruit after a long absence. A long enough absence for me to learn Jeet Kune Do and a whole lot of cool stuff and to develop my own style which I have come to treasure.

Now Sensei Roelf was quick to ask me to take up karate again. And I agreed and soon found myself showing up for the first couple of classes in which I was to reacquaint myself with kihon and kata that I have unlearnt over the years. Not kumite, though. Nobody touches my way of fighting!
If you want to teach me a better way to fight- then face me!

From month 1 I had to hear that I was to grade the next month. Grading fee nowadays is 
R 1 050.00!This- I will tell you is not money that I leave lying around all over my home! 

Missing this grading due to illness (those close enough to me knows what had happened), I had waited out a month to recover again and go back to class. This while continuing to pay the R 250.00 class fee which I later heard I was the only one paying!

Well- one of my class-mates- actually an instructor I respect a lot- became a Sandan- and another fellow 1st kyu got his Shodan grade. Judging by his skill level I deemed this grading a piece of cake...

Well- I was back and had the persistent reminder of a coming grading and a syllabus to know- so there was no time for self defense lessons, skill development and those things...
Noooooooooo... Now it was more importantto make sure my hikite was pulled back far enough, my toes pointed down when I did ushiro geri and many related stuff...
Anyway- my legs got a good workout!

Now- the grading approached. I got my form and with the date of the grading- 25 October 2014- 2 days away I was to get another surprise:


Seriously now- on a Fiday?!! I am to travel in work time after getting leave on a 2 day notice?! Just exactly what are you people smoking?!!!

But, hey! It gets even better-

I manage to get accepted for the grading in spite of me not having attended the R 300.00 gashuku that Friday and am as excited and ready for action as I ever was. Met some really cool people and...

Wait- another surprise! I simply MUST write a R 900 exam NOW!!! before I grade...

Well... I breathed deeply- kissed R 900 goodbye and wrote the exam in record time which I actually passed! (I don't mind failing the referee's exam, because I never liked competition much anyway...

Now- exam done and R 900 spent and me smiling outwardly while cursing inside "can we grade now?" I finally get to the grading part...

My grading consisted of kihon (I actually love it), kata (always been fun) and lastly kumite (something I had spent a decade of developing WITHOUT the help of any of Shotokan's instructors).

Well according to a minority on the panel it went like this...

Thank you for at least SOMEBODY acknowledging hours of exercising, months of getting beaten up and a decade of rebuilding my broken confidence to come and take this grading again!

As for those who had this to say (or who just failed me):

(for some reason I just can't get this image rotated into position so please just bear with this outraged individual...)

I want to say: I have come to the conclusion that we have irreconcilable views about karate...

But I am not done yet!
At the end of the grading ceremony I get called aside and told that I was to receive my Shodan certificate with no grading and at no extra cost IF I attend another gasshuku in February (date yet to be announced at the last minute probably) in Durban which, to readers from abroad is about 500 km from my home town.  

Anyhow- I think I am done with this type of karate.

Anyone ith similar stories are welcome to reply.


Friday, 17 October 2014

Dealing with long weapons using kicks.

Most martial artists know that an opponent using a long weapon like a staff, baseball bat or sword is at a disadvantage as soon as you have managed to get past the weapon itself and close to him.

Most of us are more comfortable with using our hands to manage the weapon and stepping past it to get to the opponent. Most adversaries would most likely expect you to do that as well...

Now the major advantages of using a kick like the crescent kick I am showing in the sketch are the following:

1. It uses a limb more powerful than the arm;

2. It leaves both hands free to attack;

3. It opens up a path for you before you bring your body in range;

4. It gives you the element of surprise on your side.

To me- a weapon that is held poised and pointed toward me is a bigger threat that one that is being swung. A swinging weapon can be timed and often clears the way for you to move in by itself. A poised weapon, however, is a trap! The crescent kick is a good way to clear it away before you get close enough for that punch.

Of course- some of us would follow up the crescent kick with a side kick instead of a punch. 

Enjoy your training! 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Warm-up exercise for roundhouse and reverse roundhouse kicks

I like having my legs as available as weapons as much as my upper limbs are. In another post I will show some defences against weapons that rely on quick feet or light legs.

This warm-up exercise is a great way to get the legs ready to deliver some powerful explosive kicks, 

Start in a horse stance and step into a cross-stance. The leg with which you have stepped forward is now the supporting leg. Now from whichever side of your supporting leg the other leg's foot is resting, swing it over in a wide arc through an imaginary target at head height. The supporting leg is firm and the swinging leg is relaxed. The kicking foot should now come to rest at the other side of the supporting foot- to shoot of in another high, wide arc to the other side.

Repeat about 10 times each side and switch legs.

Real kicking would require you to tighten the kicking leg's muscles at the moment of impact. This exercise has none of that as it is meant to loosen the limbs before training.

Let me know how it works for you. :) 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Stretching the body with Qi

I really pity those of you who train with an instructor who does not teach anything about Qi!

The one big difference between Wenhsiuquan and Jeet Kune Do is that Qigong is expressly part of Wenhsiuquan's training regimen. 

Last week I have learnt a really cool training method from Wu Style Taijiquan. I must admit that the writer of the book actually gave a lot of complex information that I have still not digested, but one really cool technique did find its way from the pages into my morning work-out's warm-up.

It goes like this:

Standing in an upright posture (yoi for the karate people), feet flat on the ground, shoulders relaxed, and so forth (Taijiquan people know the drill...) you begin to stretch your neck upwards so that all the vertebrae have a space between one another. This is not done by straining, but rather in a relaxed posture and while breathing slowly.

 Just by doing that I have already felt a surge of Qi course through my veins. Not quite the same as flexing all my muscles and yelling until I am bathed in a halo of fire and my hair turns white, I suppose, but awesome nevertheless. Those of you who have just made your acquaintance with Qi may be happy enough with this, but I immediately went on to do something else:

The next technique was called, very simply, but still aptly, "Lengthening the limbs with the imagination".

Now- Wu Taijiquan's high stances and techniques are not something I would choose to practice, but hey, I love my high kicks! So- after learning this technique I immediately applied it to my splits! Instead of visualising the muscles softer and longer I actually imagined my legs growing longer! Now THAT really does wonders! In no time I ended up a lot more limber and kicking for the skies!

I am still not as flexible as Chloe Bruce, and really also do not want to be. Still- the increased flexibility I have gained is welcome. I really see no point in kicking beyond your own head's height (and in earlier years some fighters would not even bother going beyond their own waist-level) and I would therefore not spend too much time training to do so. If you, however, want to be the next Chloe Bruce (no- I do not mention Jean-Claude van Damme in my posts) then I hope this tip is of at least some help.

Enjoy your training!