Karate as a tool.

It has been a long time since I have written here, family life took over. All of the side projects had been put aside. Today I have a few hours of spare time while I am traveling to Poland, so I have taken this opportunity to write few words about a Karate project that I was asked to participate in as a teacher.

Anxiety and depression in children and young people are on the rise, more and more of school children are negatively affected by pressure both educational and social. Nowadays bullying does not stop when leaving school walls. It is constant through the social media, young people are always connected and attached to their phones or computer. These youngsters are not able to detach and break the cycle of stress, it seems that the education system does not have a strategy to cope with this problem.

For few years now, I have worked with a mental health charity running Karate classes for them. And after gaining control over my own huge anxiety problem via Karate training I have been asked to run classes for children in order to boost their confidence and feeling of self-worth. Karate as a tool is great for this task as it has a structure and system for development in place where students can see their progression through goals. Both short and long term, these goals are achievable and measurable. For this purpose, we use a belt system with technical requirements and time frame. Students going through sets of challenges are learning the techniques and getting confidence so that they can perform and accomplish given tasks. As it takes time and effort (things that are not so common in today’s instant gratification world) young people learn the importance of adherence, hard work, and discipline which will benefit them in adult life.

Also, being guided through the failures which are a part of learning in martial arts, students learn and train their mental resilience and toughness which helps them to deal with stress. Meditation incorporated in the lessons helps to improve their focus and mental calmness, which results in helping to be more efficient in studying at school. A big role in Karate training for children is physical fitness. Fit people are more confident, have a better opinion about themselves and are healthier. In training children there is not so much focus on pure Karate but the development of ABC skills which are transferable to any other sport or activity. ABC stands for Agility, Balance and Coordination. All three are essential for a human development and Karate can help with that via sets of coordination drills, quick directional changes and the unpredictable demands of sparring.

As karate is mainly an individual art, teaching students that all is in their hands, and how much effort they put in controls how much they will get out of it. We cannot forget about their communication and social skills development, therefore in every session we have games and challenges where students need to work together in order to solve problems or challenges. As in adult life there are winners and losers, so we let students fail. It is very important for mental development to experience failure. If we can allow students to fail in controlled environment we can boost their resilience and change their outlook from stress to being motivated to work harder and learn from their failure which in future will help them achieve their chosen goal without being discouraged by difficulties. In my class I like to go through some philosophical aspects and talk about how some behaviours are affecting our life, on a way towards who we want to be.

Below is a very short and nonspecific session program:

  • – Seated meditation (mental preparation for class).
  • Introduction to topic of the class, key safety points.
  • Warm up (joint mobilisation, specific exercises, games).
  • Karate specific training (working on ABC).
  • Cool down (calming down exercises, stretches).
  • Philosophy (encouraging proper behaviour).
  • Seated meditation (mental cool down and relaxation).
  • Feedback.

All of the above is making karate training a very powerful tool to make a valuable society member. In my opinion the pillars of society are strong and caring people and Karate helps to cultivate them.

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About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing.
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GAME PLANS FOR CROSS-TRAINING

I came across this article at Iain Abernethy forum, and with approval to post it here by the author Josh H. from Pittsburgh. Enjoy the read

INTRODUCTION

This article is for martial artists who are interested in cross training (or just beginning to cross train) and want guidance on how to balance their priorities.  It may also be useful for bunkai-focused traditional karateka who study many different kata.

OVERVIEW

Most of you are probably already familiar with the concept of a game plan, especially if you compete.  In a nutshell, a game plan is a list (or map) of your most reliable, high percentage techniques.  Some people write them down on notepads, some people draw them out as flow charts, but I prefer to just make a list on my computer.

Here are the three core elements of an effective game plan:

  1. it should include the techniques that work best for you,
  2. it should connect some of those techniques together, and
  3. it should be relatively simple and understandable.

GAME PLAN DESIGN

As an example, let me describe how a novice might design his or her martial arts game plan.  Let’s say our hypothetical novice has a solid grasp of straight punches like the jab and cross.  He’s decent with his hook punches but they don’t have as much power as he’d like.  He almost never lands uppercuts in sparring.  His game plan could be very simple at first:  “whenever I see an opening on the enemy’s jaw, I’m going to launch my right cross.”

The novice is training in bunkai-oriented karate, so he’s been taught the basic concept of applying hikite to control limbs.  So he incorporates this in his game plan:  “whenever my enemy lifts his arms to cover up his head, I’m going to grab one of those arms, pull it to my hip, and use my free hand to punch him in the jaw.”  Now he’s starting to connect his techniques.

Our novice starts to get better at striking and he’s ready for a more sophisticated game plan.  He realizes that other students in the class are using jabs to keep distance from him and shut down his offense.  So now he adds another layer to the game plan:  “if my opponent jabs, I will parry it or slip it and I will launch a counterpunch immediately after.”  So he drills the elements of this technique until he can use them, then he starts hunting for that parry-counterpunch in sparring.  And if he’s lucky and he works hard, pretty soon he’ll start to see his game plan materialize in sparring.

GAME PLAN ESSENTIALS

There’s no perfect template for a game plan, because the core of the idea is to make one that fits your body and your attributes and your style and your preferences.  It’s about you.  But most game plans should include these essentials:

First, you should choose one preemptive strike.  (If you aren’t familiar with this idea, you can find Iain’s writing on it here:  www.iainabernethy.co.uk/content/pre-emptive-striking-and-karate-ni-sente-nashi.)  The forum has a lot of resources on preemptive striking, so I’ll save space and won’t discuss it further.

Second, you should pick an “oh shit” move (we’ll call it the SHTF move).  This is what you do when you don’t know what else to do.  You can get creative here.  I personally like to use the flinch reflex:  I throw my arms up instinctively and lunge into the enemy, trying to drive my forearm into his neck or my palms into his jaw.  Iain teaches this move here:  https://youtu.be/ptpALIuZBwQ?t=20.  But you might prefer another option, such as:

***covering up and firing your jab to create space (while you move at an angle),

***covering your head and closing the gap to clinch the head (shown here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2juMhXuzEjc),

***covering your head and closing the gap to secure a body lock (if you’re a grappler, example:  https://youtu.be/ycLeAPx23Rg?t=19),

***launching a straight blast (i.e. a rapid-fire offense of straight punches, example:  youtu.be/XwnQ9hKNtOc?t=111), or

***any of these weaponized flinch options helpfully taught by Wastelander (shown here:  https://www.iainabernethy.co.uk/content/kusanku-opening-flinch-and-limb-control).

I won’t get into extensive detail about how to choose a SHTF move, but I will suggest that it needs to involve some kind of body movement.  Not just throwing a punch, but moving your whole body (either into the enemy or at an angle).

Keep in mind that the SHTF move is never going to be perfect. It’s just meant to buy you a few seconds of time to orient yourself in the chaos. If you’re lucky, you’ll surprise your enemy and interrupt his decision cycle (sometimes described as resetting the enemy’s OODA Loop).

GAME PLAN TEMPLATE

Here is an incomplete game plan example to show you what I have in mind.

***Preemptive Strike

***SHTF Move

***Sprawl (for takedown defense)

***Fight for clinch, launch knees (example:  https://youtu.be/RUlHxXC6t1I?t=79)

***If clinch isn’t there, launch punches.

***If he lifts arm while I am punching, control limb to open strikes.

***If necessary, consider quick takedown (example:  https://youtu.be/amC7TEboz3k?t=23), strike once or twice, then flee.

***If he grabs wrist, defend (example:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r2YygHmswM)

GAME PLAN MANAGEMENT

Many martial artists will discover that they quickly “outgrow” their game plan.  That’s a good thing, because it usually indicates that you’re improving.  Here’s a few guidelines on how to keep your game plan effective:

First, keep the game plan narrowly focused on common, key scenarios.

Second, choose one technique per problem.

Third, be very careful about which techniques you put into the game plan.  Most of the techniques in your game plan should be high percentage OR should be techniques that you are planning to practice until they become high percentage.

Fourth, try to choose techniques that work in multiple contexts.  For example, in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu there are techniques that will only work against an opponent who is wearing a gi.  Unless you’re routinely competing in BJJ tournaments, you’ll usually want to fill your game plan with techniques that can work in self-protection/no-gi grappling/mixed martial arts/and gi grappling.

Fifth, “prune” your game plan frequently.  I usually update mine the day after a class finishes.  When in doubt, err on the side of deleting techniques rather than adding new ones.  As you progress, you’ll discover that some techniques will eventually become instinctual.  That’s excellent.  That’s what you want.  When that occurs, you can usually delete them from the plan.  (Exception:  I would always leave a preemptive strike and a SHTF move on the game plan, no matter how good you get.  It’s important to train those consciously and endlessly.)  Sometimes you will leave them on, but only as part of a combo.

GAME PLAN APPLICATION

As you cross-train, you’ll be exposed to a variety of different skills and techniques.  Use the game plan to manage these effectively.  After a while, most of the techniques you learn will not end up in your game plan.

Remember that you don’t have to memorize the game plan.  It’s not like you’re going to be in the middle of a fight and think:  “OK, it appears that he is now in the process of tackling me.  What did I write down on my game plan?  I will remember that technique and use it now.”    The goal of the game plan is to help you prioritize and structure your training, so that you can apply the game plan thoughtlessly when the time comes.  Game plans tell you what to practice.  Practice makes those techniques instinctive.

For this reason, I think the most important function of the game plan is for use in designing drills.  For example:  a lot of karateka will put shuto-uke on their game plan.  If so, you want to drill shuto-uke frequently against a variety of scenarios, over and over and over again.

You can also use your game plan to structure your strength and conditioning work.  This is useful because you’re not just doing sport-specific training, you’re doing game plan-specific training, so you’re dialing down on your precise needs.  I don’t want to pretend to be an expert on weight training, because I’m not, but I’ll share some of my notes to spark your creativity:

***To my knowledge, most karate styles emphasize using the hips and stance to generate power.  Power drives up from the floor, through the core, into your strikes.  This will show up in a karate game plan.   For this reason, a good default program for healthy individuals with adequate mobility would be Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength.

***For bunkai-oriented karateka who focus heavily on limb control (especially pulling arms to the hips), I would tweak the routine to prioritize chin-ups, deadlifts, and rows.  Stronglifts 5×5 (plus chin-ups, example here:  stronglifts.com/5×5/) could be a good starting point.  I would do those chin-ups from a dead hang, so you’re hitting the full range of motion.  Once the deadlift stalls, you might add in work with a grip trainer (e.g. captains of crush or something similar).  (If you can’t do a chin-up, try gradually working in negative chin-ups:  https://youtu.be/Dx740NIKX94 – these can optionally be augmented with lat pulldowns.  Over time, build up the frequency and volume of the negative chin-ups, and you’ll see significant improvement.)

***For individuals who want overall strength and conditioning development but who struggle with recovery (maybe because they’re cross-training a lot), I’d consider a program like Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1.  You could do kata, footwork drills, and jump rope as your warm-up (to support striking), and do one conditioning session per week (maybe sprinting).  Consider adding lunges as part of your assistance work once your body can take it.  (https://www.t-nation.com/workouts/531-how-to-build-pure-strength)

***For individuals who are already strong, Crossfit might be a decent choice, so long as you’re careful to start slowly and you’re obsessive about good form.

***For recreational martial artists who don’t much care, consider just a basic, low-key bodybuilding routine.  To draw upon the common-sense advice of Bill Pearl, devise a program that will fit in your schedule, and don’t perform any exercise that causes pain to old injuries.

***Be careful if you’re not used to heavy lifting.  Get proper instruction on form.

Once again, I am not trying to present myself as an expert on strength or conditioning.  I am only providing those resources so you can use them as a starting point for your own research.

WHO DOESN’T NEED A GAME PLAN?

I’ve pitched this article at individuals who are just starting to cross-train or who are thinking about cross-training.  In most cases, I think these are the people who will need a game plan to stay on track.  But there are some cases where you could skip this.

For example, if you have a great instructor who has plenty of time to spend with you, and who knows your strengths and weaknesses, you really don’t need a game plan of your own.  That instructor will essentially do all of this work for you.  He or she will push you in the right direction, will give you the feedback you need to succeed, and will schedule classes so you’re drilling your fundamental skills over and over again.

Another reason to skip the game plan is if you only focus on performing a single kata, and you’ve pretty much internalized its lessons.  In that case, the kata is your game plan.  It will show you how to connect your techniques together.  It will show you how to prioritize your drills.  Once you’re sufficiently familiar with the kata, you don’t need anything else.

The last reason you might not need a game plan is because you’re already skilled enough that you know what works for you, you know how to drill it, and you aren’t planning to change it.

CONCLUSION

Game plans are a simple concept that have been around for a long time.  Even though they appear deceptively obvious, I believe that they’re a very effective tool for individuals who are cross-training.  Cross-training exposes you to a lot of unnecessary techniques that you don’t really need.  To make the most of your cross-training, you need to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Game plans are a good tool for that.  They help you stay focused on what’s important.

In a future article, I’ll explore how to take this game plan concept and apply it on a more granular level to individual kata (giving sample game plans for Heian Nidan/Pinan Shodan, for Tekki Shodan, for Kanku Dai, and for Ji’in/Jion).

Three Components of Martial Arts

Video by Stephan Kesting where he makes some great points about essential components of every martial art:

– Techniques

– Equipment

– Training Methods

These three components combined together make the art or a sport effective. We can have perfect technique but without appropriate equipment and training methodologies, we miss the full potential of the fighting system. I highly recommend this clip.

 

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About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing.

 

 

 

Posture Modulates Action Perception

Have you ever wondered if your posture influences your actions?

httpwww.sri.com

Picture from http://www.sri.com

Marius Zimmermann, Ivan Toni, and Floris P. de Lange did, and published a paper on the subject of “Body Posture Modulates Action Perception” on 3rd of April 2013.  It is a fascinating read on the effects that our posture has on our brain and our ability to take action.

“Recent studies have highlighted cognitive and neural similarities between planning and perceiving actions. Given that action planning involves a simulation of potential action plans that depends on the actor’s body posture, we reasoned that perceiving actions may also be influenced by one’s body posture. Here, we test whether and how this influence occurs by measuring behavioral and cerebral (fMRI) responses in human participants predicting goals of observed actions, while manipulating postural congruency between their own body posture and postures of the observed agents. Behaviorally, predicting action goals is facilitated when the body posture of the observer matches the posture achieved by the observed agent at the end of his action (action’s goal posture). Cerebrally, this perceptual postural congruency effect modulates activity in a portion of the left intraparietal sulcus that has previously been shown to be involved in updating neural representations of one’s own limb posture during action planning. This intraparietal area showed stronger responses when the goal posture of the observed action did not match the current body posture of the observer. These results add two novel elements to the notion that perceiving actions relies on the same predictive mechanism as planning actions. First, the predictions implemented by this mechanism are based on the current physical configuration of the body. Second, during both action planning and action observation, these predictions pertain to the goal state of the action.”

The full paper is available at the link below.

Body Posture Modulates Action Perception

Why I don’t like boxercise

Please note that this article is not intended to criticise individual instructors, but rather a comment against the current system of education and qualifications in pad work.  I love training and teaching pad work routines.  Using pads is an integral part of martial arts training and brings great benefits.  It is a great way to improve fitness, coordination, strength and self-confidence.  My issue with Boxercise and other similar systems is the time it takes to become a qualified instructor.  Being able to hold pads and being able to punch pads are two sets of skills and to become skilful in anything takes time.  To be able to effectively teach these skills requires experience as well as knowledge of teaching in either a 1-2-1 or group situations.

012In browsing through social media I have noticed a surge of instructors offering pad work.  From the images and videos I have seen it appears as though they have very little experience of how to hold pads safely.  Seeing the way that they hold these pads raises the question in my mind why are they teaching?  It turns out that in order to qualify as a pad work instructor typically only requires a one day course – that is why they are teaching.  However, being able to obtain an instructing qualification quickly extends beyond the realm of pad work.  When I did my PT qualification we received 4 hours of kettlebell training.  After this we were assessed on what we had learnt and having passed this assessment all of the participants on my course were qualified in kettlebell instruction. I found this slightly surprising and so I spoke with my classmates about their confidence in teaching kettlebells.  Most of them said that they did not wish to teach kettlebells because they had no prior experience and did not feel that the training they had received was enough for them to feel confident in teaching others correctly.

In my opinion this system of having just a 4-8 hour course to train instructors will sooner or later result in injury.  Recent studies suggest that the shortest time it takes to learn a new skill 20 hours (for example: https://first20hours.com/) with more traditional views suggesting it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill.  Certainly in the case of martial arts I think 10,000 hours is more realistic – I am not aware of anyone who has been able to proficiently learn a martial art in 20 hours!  Even the fast learning systems implemented in organisations such as the Army to fast track soldiers to be combat ready takes 140 hours.

As an example of the types of areas covered by these 1 day instructors courses please find below an extract from the Boxercise website of the topics covered in 1 day:

“Punches – learn and practise the eight fundamental punches ensuring correct & safe technique. Learn the importance of good footwork and stance.

Group Work Section including instructing skills & Boxercise Aerobics       

Boxing Equipment Discussion and good practise recommendations. Class format and design.

Padwork – Learn all the relevant safety and coaching points for using the focus pads. Also learn how to coach every punching fault so you are prepared for when it occurs in a real world situation.

Assessment – Working in pairs you will be assessed on your ability to coach, teach and instruct a novice puncher and demonstrate all punches safely and effectively. Pass mark 70%.

Class Examples of four different styles of Boxercise class, including bootcamp style.       

The Boxercise Instructor Course includes footwork drills 1-17 for the Boxercise Footwork Training System.”

This is a lot to learn in one day, especially when you consider that you then have to be able to teach someone else.  I have been practicing martial arts for nearly 20 years and have been on both sides, as the puncher and as the pad holder.  Based on my experience I would definitely say that to be proficient at either takes more than a day.

Instructors often post pictures from their training sessions and from these you can notice basic mistakes such as holding the pads too high or too wide.  From this you can deduce that the holder does not have sufficient tension in their arms to prevent injury.  It is also not very realistic for the person who punches – unless they are fighting with a very tall person with two heads.  Another common mistake I have noticed is the pad holder doing all of the work, smashing the gloves of their client.  This may sound and feel stronger for the client, but it does nothing for his/her fitness.

Here are some points to avoid when holding pads:

  • Pads at the wrong height
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    too high

Holding the pads very high causes a lot of stress on the shoulders as muscles are not able to provide support to the arm when receiving a punch in this position.  This is also bad for the person punching as they do not learn realistic targeting.  The pad holder should keep the pads at an appropriate height for the target such as the head or body in relation to their build.

 

  • Pads at the wrong width 
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    too wide

Holding the pads in an unrealistic position where the pads are too wide apart can cause the person who is punching to overstretch and slows down their technique.  In the same way that holding the pads too high causes stress on the shoulders, holding them too wide does as well.  The pads should be held within your own shoulder width at the appropriate target position (head or body).

 

  • Relaxed arms 
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    relaxed

Keeping your arms relaxed is dangerous for both the pad holder and puncher.  The puncher does not get any feedback about their technique and risks hyper extension whilst executing a punch due to lack of resistance.  Conversely, without tension in their arms the pad holder does not have much control over their muscles in order to protect their joints when receiving a punch, which might easily lead to injury.

 

 

  • Hitting oncoming punches     

01 - CopyMany instructors hit the punch of their client with the pad in order to make it sound and feel more powerful.  By doing this we create a false distance for the target and cause unnecessary impact on the joints of both the holder and puncher.  This behaviour teaches the puncher to shorten their technique and therefore they cannot develop full power.  There should be a very slight movement towards the punch just before contact so that your joints can prepare for receiving the impact, but this movement should be minimal.

  • Lack of instruction

It is not enough to just ask the client to punch with a particular combination.  You have to actively monitor and correct his/her technique throughout the workout.  For example giving tips on footwork, striking technique and body mechanics.  The instructor should be looking to spot errors at all times, but in order to do this he/she needs experience in punching and body mechanics.

In summary good pad holding helps to:

  1. Prevent injury to the pad holder and puncher
  2. Establish the correct distance for each technique
  3. Enforce the use of proper body mechanics
  4. Improve punching skill
  5. Support a smooth transition between punches

All of this takes time and practice.  As with other manual skills, our brain and muscles need time to develop neuromuscular patterns.  In my opinion a few hours on a course does not provide enough time to attain these skills and in this article I have only touched on the basics.  There is a lot more to consider in pad work such as punching technique, structure, moving, progression and use of different types of pads.  It is such a vast topic that it is not surprising that great pad holders are paid top money for their instruction.   They spend years developing their approaches.

If you want to learn how to hold pads correctly I would recommend visiting a boxing gym or martial arts club where the use of pads is embedded in their system of training.  Alternatively find a pad work instructor with demonstrable experience.

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About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing. Our club provides classes in Guildford area. Contact via email shinaido@yahoo.com 

Unexpected friends

Doing my diploma in Personal Training and specialisation in posture with preparation for starting my own business gave me some free time on my hands. Spending all that time thinking about how to make my company grow was driving me to frustration and stress.

After few days of thinking how to deal with this situation, stress is not helping me to be creative, I figured that some voluntary work should occupied my brain. I started to search for a charity that I could help. The best would be to use my skills and help people with back problems and health issues. I did not know how hard it would be to find a charity willing to get volunteers. On several occasions I have been advised that the best thing would be to give donation, maybe for them but not for me as I was skint only what I could give was time and skills. I was losing hope that I would find anything local, but then by coincidence I came across website Streetlife, where local communities post events, adverts and requests. One of these was message from Julie, asking if someone could help her and Barry to run a Walking for Health group, as it was five minutes away from my house I have joined the walking group.

10177935_922460987830382_9145627927276009621_nOn first meeting all of us were shocked, walkers, Julie and I as the age difference was quite noticeable. I got the impression that members of the group were a bit suspicious about me, why would such young person join their group.

12187848_921674601242354_8937600398097010802_n At the beginning conversations were a bit dry, but week by week it got better. Chatting to members of the Fairlands group is fascinating, so many stories, experiences and adventure. Since I started to walk with this group half a year ago it has grown to over thirty members. What is different about this particular group is the leadership of Julie and Barry who decided to create sub groups for people with different abilities.

At the moment there are three types of walk:

– Hourly fast walk for with a distance around two miles

– Medium speed one mile walk

– Short walk for people who are slower or less mobile which I have the pleasure to support and attend.

All this is possible due to relentless work of Julie and Barry, here I have to mention Rokers Café and their staff who are providing us with space and drinks for our sometimes loud group. I have to say that management and staff at the Rokers are most helpful!

Those collaborations with Julie have lead us (Christine and I) to become qualified walk leaders in the Walking for Health organisation. It was a very interesting experience and gives us a chance to known each other.

11705126_923101504432997_5242777228160645236_nChristine is volunteer as well and we both securing short walks providing one to one support. She is one of the kindest people I have met for a long time.

This experience of joining the walking group surprisingly has opened other possible opportunities to me including teaching martial arts as therapy. Even now when I am getting busy with my business I always have Wednesday 10 am booked for walking with my friends. More about Walking for health scheme you can find at www……

It is always a good idea to get out of your comfort zone, life is rewarding brave ones!

Kata Study – Tensho

In Shin Ai Do karate every student on one stage of their progression through grades is given a kata.

This kata is specially chosen to suit his or her ability and character. This kata is the main one to study. You need to know other forms within the system but this one you have to specialise in and know it thoroughly. For me it is Tensho kata.

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Tensho

I was “assigned” to study it around 15 years ago. I have tried many versions and adaptations in search of knowledge and efficacy of movement.

This kata was introduced by Chojun Miyagi in to the Goju Ryu system in 1921 as a softer Sanchin. The name Tensho is translated as “revolving hands”, “rotating palms”, or “turning palms.”  Some researchers suggest that it is a modified version of the Rokkishu form from Chinese Kung Fu.

Movements in Tensho are flowing but under tension with deep breathing. Over time many versions have developed. Every master did a little bit of modification. Nowadays every school where this kata is taught they have their own adaptation.

In our school we teach a version introduced by Mas Oyama. Although over time it is bit different few movements were changed to fit with the analysis of hands on interpretation.  We are using this magnificent kata for various reasons ranging from health, strength through self-defence, meditation and relaxation training.

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Tensho for Relaxation

Focusing on the self-defence aspects we have three levels of understanding the Tensho:

  • Kuzushi, Nage (off balancing and throwing)
  • Tuite (joint manipulation)
  • Atemi, Kyusho (strikes in to the vital points)

Beginners are introduced to the flow of unbalancing and takedowns with use of the stances and hands movement with use of Tai Sabaki (body movement). In this way students learn effective way of using their body and directions of the techniques.

Intermediate form focuses on the joint and muscle mechanics and how to take advantage of body responses to pain signals. All the movement are transformed to joint locks with use of the stances, body and arms.

The advanced version exploits weak points of the body, putting pressure or strikes to the nervous system, muscle system and other tissues of the body. Neurological responses to the pain.

All this makes Tensho kata very effective weapon in karate, which is often not recognised and used only as a “breathing “Kata.

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Off balancing

Performing and studying this kata for 15 years now I keep finding new ways of using it for different purposes. Understanding this kata opens up body strength, effective self-defence and mental relaxation. Teaching it on the seminars more and more people are discovering benefits of this form. Next time you do Tensho please try to find ways of using it not just for breathing.

 

short clip of possible analysis for Tensho.

 

 

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Les Bubka

About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing.