Pinan Sono Ni Opening Section Application

Yesterday going through the application for Pinan Kata Sono Ni students asked me to record this material so they can use it as a memory refresher. this is a basic level of application.

Kind regards

Les

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Moving Club to Guildford

After few good years at the St Mark’s Hall it is time to move to new lactation. Considering all the options I decide that new location have to be closer to home, this decision was dictated by new member of the family arriving in March. New cub will be at the Queen Elizabeth Park on the ground floor of the QE Park Centre. This hall is nearly new with excellent wooden floor and bright light, having a good feel to it. 26952156_1990748001163412_3991770896776039895_o

First class will be held on the 8th of January 2019 at 8pm, everyone is welcome, our club is oriented to include everyone no matter their ability, we are involved in supporting people with mental health problems, autism and other physical disabilities. Our sessions can be modified and adjusted to the individual needs.

Looking forward to starting this new stage in our club, see you at the dojo.

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.

Aggressive sales, email lists ….

I have been qualified as a personal trainer for over a year now and have dutifully joined professional governing bodies that regularly send out magazines, links to web articles etc. in order to help you keep up-to-date with the latest developments and fashions.  In particular they provide a lot of information on how to run a successful business.  I have to say that the marketing techniques material that they send me makes me cringe.  Some of the ideas they suggest are against my philosophy of how I wish to train people and are at times completely opposite to how I believe a successful business should be run.

I have formed my beliefs and perspective as a result of having spent 15 years teaching groups of students in martial arts and having taught at seminars around the world.  During this time I have gone through a variety of different approaches whilst running clubs in different cities and countries and one thing that has always become apparent to me is that the best thing is to just be yourself and do the best that you can.  In this way people are more likely to recognise you and your efforts.

Here are a few examples of the types of suggestions that I do not agree with:

  • SalesTo make it to the next level you need aggressive sales. No I don’t.  What I need is to provide quality training and great customer service, which will make clients to come back to me.  I don’t believe that my clients will be happy if they are forced to buy stuff.  Personally, if someone tries to aggressively sell something to me I immediately decline and will avoid this provider in the future.
  • Sell only in packages – “Selling individual sessions is a waste of time. Yes, but only if your aim is to extract as much money from your client as possible. I prefer the approach of aiming to impress my clients at every session so that they want to come back to me and book more sessions.  If they specifically inquire about or request a package, then sure we can look at developing one.  Again, for me personally, if someone said to me that I could only train with them if I bought a whole package I would walk away.  For example I like to train with specialists in particular areas, but I would only train with them say once a month.  In this way I can train with a variety of instructors who can each provide input on different areas of my progression.
  • Email list – “Your goal is to add new names to your email list. We are told that our target as personal trainers is to have a massive email list that we can send countless emails to with offers and advice. I personally don’t do that.  My clients receive one email from me after a consultation with their tailored training programme, corrective exercises or treatment schedule.  As a part of their consultation we will agree a means of contact so that they are happy with how and how frequently I will get in touch with them.  I don’t understand this obsession with the number of email addresses.  My email is constantly flooded with offers and information from different fitness sources and most of it goes straight in the bin.  In my view it is a waste of my client’s time going through a lot of spam messages.  I would rather my client be out on a relaxing walk then be sat in front of a computer reading my emails on random fitness fads.
  • Workout plan – “Never give your plans and training secrets away. I am not sure how that would actually work, as every time you train someone (or a group) you have to show then your plan for the session and so they know it.  If we do not share our methods then there would not be any progress as everyone would have to rely on their own development rather than being able to gain from sharing best practice.  We need to be transparent so that others can learn new methods and we can in turn learn from others.  In any case it is not the workout itself that is the most important aspect of personal training but the quality of instruction.  You could have the best workout but if you cannot teach it effectively then no one will want to do it.
  • Success – “Getting a fitness business over the £…k per month will make you more successful. Only if this is your vision of success.  I believe that if you are a better trainer that you are likely to have more money as you will build a stronger client base, but I do not believe the converse is true.  As you help people they are happy to pay you a fair price for your services.  For me personally, being successful is about being able to bring smiles and confidence to people, enjoying their achievements and being a part of their story on their road to success.  So long as I have enough money to pay the bills I’m happy, but maybe that is just me – I don’t need much to have a contented life.

These are only a few points that make me doubt the intentions of the fitness industry.  It seems to be more about making more sales then help people.  An example of this is a survey that one of my tutors did on my course.  His question was Why are you here on this course, what is your deepest motivation to become personal trainer?” 29 out of 30 people responded with “to make money”.  You are probably wondering what the response was from the other person, well I said that I wanted “to help people”.

I’ll leave it on that.  Please take time to think about what your motivation is…

Moral spine of Karate

 

When I started my training in martial arts I did not think about all of the culture, rules and traditions – “I just wanted to kick some ass!”  As I was always one of the smallest on my estate I tried everything to make myself bigger and to be able to fight.  So I started going to the gym and I joined a Karate club.  I had a clear vision of being just like Bruce Lee.P6070005.JPG

Moving forwards 20 years and I now appreciate all of the rules, traditions and morality associated with The Art of Empty Hands, especially the aspect of “Do”.  Looking around I find that the emphasis on the moral aspect of martial arts appears to be decreasing.  Quite a few teachers seem to promote aggression and the disrespectful behaviours of macho men/women.  Good examples of this can be observed in the worlds of Boxing and MMA where fighters try to dominate their opponent before they even step into the ring, making as much hype as possible around their persona in order to generate more money.  Two fighters who highlight this particularly in my opinion are Connor McGregor and Ronda Rousey.  Both are exceptional fighters with excellent skills, but they are extremely rude to and about others.  Behaviours like this puts me off from watching MMA and makes me question whether these famous fighters are the best role models for young people?  I personally do not think they are and I have more respect for an average fighter who has respect for others.  He might not be at the top of his profession but he is a humble hero who promotes the best behaviour for the young people that take up martial arts classes.

From running my own classes I have noticed that people are drawn to moral martial arts where you can learn honour, diligence and respect and how this fits in with traditional systems such as Karate, Aikido, Ju Jitsu and others.

For me the philosophy of Karate works, giving people that train not only a physical workout, but in addition teaching them a structured, moral code.  This is the essence of the phrase “Karate ni sente nashi”, “Karate does not attack first”.  The name Karate “Empty Hands” is telling in itself in that it signifies that empty hands are about protection and that the hands being open is a welcoming gesture.   Karate should be used only for good reasons with respect to others and in case of danger to self or others.  Kaicho Nakamura has pointed out a few key principles in Karate that really resonate with me and that I try to impose in my training and life so that my existence is meaningful and helpful:

  • GI – Rectitude – To take the right decision in every situation and to do it without wavering. The right decision is the moral one, the just one, the honourable one.
  • YU – Heroism – Bravery means taking risks to our position, status or self-interest on a daily basis.
  • JIN – Compassion – We should always try to find ways to express our compassion for others.
  • REI – Courtesy – We should practice it constantly especially in modern times where we are lacking in courtesy.
  • MAKATO – Truthfulness – In all dealings with others, we should develop a sincere, honest straightforwardness.
  • CHUGO – Devotion – always be devoted to your family, friends and teachers.

The above are great tips for an honourable life.  I guess the question is how many of us follow them in our lives once we step out of the dojo?  We can hear in the media about martial arts instructors scrounging on benefits, molesting children and taking people’s money.  It is easy to preach about honour, diligence and respect on classes and then get involved in corrupt behaviours and doing harm to others.  Many instructors want to be perceived as holy, without a mark against their character.  We would all like to be like that, but reality if often different.  We all have faults, but we can strive for perfection through our choices and actions.  I do preach about honour and respect and I have to confess that I am not always perfect, but I try to follow the path of Karate do, self-education and excellence.  Since I started to employ these principles I have noticed that my life has changed for the better and I am now helping others through Karate.  I wish for all instructors to be an excellent example to their students, we certainly need more respectful people in this world.

 

Les Bubka

 

The enemy within

 

DSC_3699.jpgTurning up at the dojo, just before training starts I can sense the enemy around.  He is waiting to strike.  The class lines up and starts the initial ceremony, shutting our eyes in meditation, he is here creeping around us.

Training starts and as we go through the kihon the battle commences with my worst enemy.  The enemy within.  The voice in my head that whispers “you have done enough, you don’t need to do those punches, no one will notice”.  We move on to partner training – “take it easy, you know this stuff, you don’t need to try”.

Then on to sparring – “give up, you don’t need to fight, you did well in the first bout” and so on…  All students will face the same enemy, which is why Karate is a way, “do”, for self-development.  If you can win with yourself you become strong.  We need strong, self-confident people.

Being confident means that you are not afraid to stand up for yourself or for others, which enables us to take action and to help.  Strong and honourable people are needed in a healthy society and Karate is a tool for creating individuals with a strong spirit through hard training.