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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Funakoshi’s Anxiety?

This article is just my speculation…

The other day I was going through one of Master Funakoshi’s books, “The Essence of Karate”.  In reading it one sentence really caught my eye,Funakoshi_Gichin

“As a child, I suffered from a very weak stomach until I started training in Karate…”

When I think about it, I too had a very weak stomach until I started Karate.  I know that there is no medical data that identifies for certain what condition Master Funakoshi may have had, but I know what was wrong with me.

A weak stomach can be a symptom of anxiety, self-doubt and lack of confidence, as it was in my case. Consequently, my theory is that Master Funakoshi also suffered with anxiety prior to him beginning his training at the age of 13 and that Karate helped him improve his mental health, leading to physical wellbeing.

“Once I started Karate, however, it would seem that my ailment was afraid of karate, as it disappeared, and I have not succumbed to illness for even a single day since that time.”

Funakoshi_Makiwara

Working with students who suffer with anxiety like myself I can see how Karate training and positive reinforcement from instructors can improve a person’s mental wellbeing.  It does this by boosting self-confidence and helping to emphasise self-worth through a structured progression.  Given my experience perhaps Master Funakoshi’s revelation that Karate cured his stomach weakness prompted him to promote Shotokan Karate as a holistic system of self-development and self-improvement as well as a martial art.Funakoshi_Gichin2

If my speculation is correct then I believe that this would be the first documented case of Karate helping to fight a mental health condition through structured training methods.  For me this seems quite plausible and would be seen as a positive demonstration of Karate practice leading to health benefits.

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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.

MAFMH

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We would like to invite you all to attend a ‘Martial Arts for Mental Health’ event. This seminar dedicated to raising funds to support wellbeing and good mental health. The event is organised by LB Posture Training. The money raised from the event will go to support the work of The Welcome Project in Waverley. The Welcome Project is a part of Catalyst, a non-profit organisation and registered charity which works with people across Surrey struggling with issues around drugs, alcohol and mental health. The Welcome Project works in partnership with other organisations and volunteers to provide a variety of activities, support, guidance and opportunities for people who feel isolated, have lost their focus, suffer from anxiety or need a change of direction.

Key Event Details:
• When: Sunday 9th of April, from 10:00 to 15:00.
More detailed timings are as follows
o 09:30 doors open
o 10:00 morning session (prompt start)
o 12:00 lunch break
o 12:45 regroup
o 13:00 afternoon session
o 15:00 finish

• Where: Surrey Sports Park (SSP) (for details on how to get there please visit their website here: http://www.surreysportspark.co.uk/guestinformation/howtofindus/)

• Cost: Entry donation is £10 or more (if you are feeling generous)
Please note that if you are unable to attend this event but would still like to contribute you can do so via our JustGiving page here:

http://www.justgiving.com/MAFMH

• Booking: As space is limited we would really appreciate it if those who are planning to attend either select ‘going’ on the Facebook event or let us know via email at les.bubka@lbposture.com.

• Important notices:
o SSP have a policy of not permitting any food or drink to be consumed on site unless purchased at SSP. Please note that there is a Starbucks and Sports Bar onsite for refreshments.
o Please do not take photographs as we require a SSP permit to do so. If you would like photographs of the event please ask us to take them on your behalf (using our camera).

Martial Arts Represented:
There will be a variety of Martial Arts presented at this seminar including Aikido, Karate and Jiu Jitsu. There will also be a demonstration of Taiso. We are extremely grateful to those who have offered their time to support this event. Please find details of the instructors below.
Confirmed styles and instructors:

Aikido with Hanshi Roger Payne
The Way of Spiritual Harmony. The Aikido we practice includes throws, joint locks and immobilisations, all carried out in a ‘Self Defence’ manner.

Jiu Jitsu with Renshi Jim Rooney
The Myo Shin Ryu Jiu Jitsu system places emphasis on throwing, pinning, and joint-locking techniques.

Jardine Karate with Sensei Matt Jardine
A pressure tested practice covering stand-up, clinch and ground fighting. A synthesis of arts, styles and experiences aimed at helping students define and design their own answers to their unique martial arts needs.

Shin ai do Karate with Sensei Les Bubka
Shin ai do Karate is an all-round full-contact style that inherits from Karate schools such as Goju Ryu and Kyokushin.

Further Information:
If you would like to learn more about the causes we are supporting please visit the links below:

http://www.catalystsupport.org.uk/

http://www.welcomeprojectsurrey.co.uk/

If you would like to know more about the instructors that have dedicated their time to support this event please visit the links below:

http://www.msmas.org/

http://mcsda.co.uk/

http://www.jardinekarate.com/

http://www.lbposture.com/

http://www.shinaidokarate.com/

If you have any further queries about this event, please contact Les via les.bubka@lbposture.com.

Link to the event below:

https://www.facebook.com/events/699556546858450/

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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.