Taiso through Pam’s eyes


 Taiso Group 

Guest article from one of my friends and “trainee” as she calls herself. I wish I could be as articulate as Pam.

Watching a Taiso class you could be thinking that it’s just a group of people waving their arms about with the occasional punch and kick thrown in; but it’s much more than that. It is a discipline, based on Karate that combines gentle exercise with  better posture, mobility and balance. The consensus of opinion is that learning something new, especially when we get older, helps to keep the brain active. This can be anything, from learning a language or playing the piano, but with Taiso you get a bit of exercise as well.

Each set of movements – or a form as it is called – is carried out in order with a little leeway for artistic interpretation. If the person who is learning has limited mobility, they can still take part; perhaps by sitting and just doing the arm movements. You just complete the sections that you are able to.

Once a form has been learnt, a breathing pattern is introduced to co-inside with the movements. Inhaling (expanding the abdomen instead of the chest) and then exhaling for longer than the inhale, helps to clear the stale air at the bottom of the lungs. This will increase the oxygen in your brain and other organs.

Once this has been mastered, another facet is added. Upon inhaling, introduce a slight stretch upwards and outwards and on exhaling, a gentle relax and slight bending of the knees. This may seem like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time but with practice it should come. After that, you can add tensing the muscles when you stretch. An arm movement, for example, that seems as if you are pushing out against something solid is enhanced and the muscles tightened. As the arm is withdrawn, the muscles are relaxed. A form can be executed slowly for relaxation or speeded up for a bit of a work out.

You will not get bored either as there are a total of eighteen forms to perfect.

If you like Pam’s writing, please click like and I will ask her to write more…

Kind regards,



Kumite Dachi

Kumite Dachi- Fighting Stance, eight basic steps for our style of Karate


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.

8.5 million people suffer painful joints

As a Personal Trainer (PT) and therapist I work mostly with clients who have some kind of injury. Talking with other PTs I have noticed that they have a growing number of clients who are training with an injury.

photo-11-09-2016-12-35-47 Clients who have seen a GP and have been sent away with pain killers decide to work through the injury. As pain killers are great at reducing pain they can make clients forget about an injury, which might lead to their condition worsening as they train. In the United Kingdom around 8.5 million people suffer painful joints*. During a year Accident and Emergency treat 380,000 sports injuries and 30% of GP appointments relate to musculoskeletal problems*. As the NHS is lacking the budget, staff and resources to cope with these problems, the responsibility for helping clients with injuries is often transferred on to PTs.

PTs can create bespoke programmes to help with injury recovery and prevention. PT’s have tools to improve balance, strength, mobility and the neuromuscular system.  With correct forms of action a PTs can help clients regain mobility of the joints. If our body is lacking in a range of motion it starts compensating and overloading tissues. A good example of this is lower back pain triggered by a limited range of motion in the hip.


My clients mostly work with functional movements through the use of plyometric exercises and kettlebells. We can classify movement patterns as:

  • Lifting
  • Pushing
  • Pulling
  • Squatting
  • Rotating
  • Walking

Restoring mobility, agility, strength and balance in those patterns brings relief and reduction of pain.

A fully mobile, strong and agile body deals better with daily stresses, works more efficiently and is more resistant to injury, just like well-oiled and maintained machinery.



*Data taken from

Register of Exercise Professionals journal.


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.

Seminar in Poland

This year our governing body, Isshindo Kan, organised an international seminar in Poland.


Isshindo Kan 

Over the weekend we had a chance to meet new people from across the organisation and to practice a variety of different martial arts systems. This year I was asked to introduce and teach mobility protocols for martial artists.



The seminar was split into two sections:


The morning of the first day was dedicated to grading examinations for the Greek students of Zendo Ryu Karate Do.  The afternoon was then divided into three sections, each with a different instructor:

– Ryszard Jozwiak – concepts of Kem Vo Combat

– Stefan Reindl – concepts of Jiu Jitsu

– Artur Marchewka – concepts of Shin Ai Do Karate

Saturday evening was dedicated to an official meeting of representatives from each member country, which was followed by an informal meal and fun.



Sunday was divided into three sections:

– Les Bubka – Mobility

– Dietmar Schmidt and Sarantis Theodosiu – Zendo Ryu Karate Do

– Marek Mroszczyk – Jukado Kempo



The whole seminar was flawlessly organised by Marek and his students and took place in a brand new hall.

Due to unforeseen circumstances our team from the UK was reduced to two, but it was a pleasure to travel around Poland with Robin who had come across to Europe from Thailand especially to take part in this seminar.

I am very happy that so many people were interested in what I demonstrated at the seminar.  As a result of my popularity I ended up spending most of my breaks analysing and helping participants with their health problems, which ranged from bad posture, knee pains and mobility issues to back and head pains.  Lots of people are interested in getting their hands on my future mobility PDF document and to participate in more seminars on the subject of mobility.


Mobility Session

As Robin had travelled so far to get to the seminar we decided to extend our stay in Poland and travel around some of the sites.  Fortunately for us Marek’s wife, Tiger, kindly offered us the use of her car.  As a result we were able to travel circa 1000 kilometres around central and eastern Poland.  We visited some extraordinary places with outstanding beauty.  This trip was full of surprises with a lot of very kind people helping us to discover the awesomeness of Poland.

Please find below a review of the seminar written by Robin.

“The 25th and 26th of June saw two interesting days of a martial arts seminar near Minsk Mazowiecki  in Poland. Some notes on these two days follow.

Day 1

Two young Greek Karateka were graded to acquire 1st Dan. Their presentation and interaction with Polish martial artists highlighted the different emphasis in the different national groups.

The usual welcoming talk for the seminar plus the presentation of banners for the various representatives of the national groups within the Isshindo Kan organization.

The warm up led by Sensei Marek Mroszczyk was up to the usual standard of Sensei Marek. Lots of rolling and strengthening. The older martial artist like myself might find this quite tiring and demanding but worthwhile.

Something new, for me at least, came from Sensei Ryszard Jóźwiak. The use of a small stick not much bigger than a pencil called a Yawara. The techniques and style of Sensei Ryszard are straight forward, direct and laced nicely with common sense. Sensei showed how to use this small weapon in close contact to reinforce techniques often carried out just with the hand. It was pointed out that any similarly shaped object could be used to the same effect making everyday objects into a weapon. A point that should be obvious but that is often forgotten was made in that the first priority is the combat situation not the weapon to hand.

Sensei Artur Marchewka focused on low kicks, which we tend not to do so much in Seiki Juku or Goju Ryu, and attacks to the leg to result in a take down. We trained with various partners which gave the experience of dealing with different levels of opponent. For me this section of the seminar seemed to be over all too soon.

Day 2

Sensei Leszek Bubka went through some interesting ideas on mobility of the hips showing simple exercises that, according to others, increased mobility noticeably. In my case this seemed not to be the case so much as my joint mobility, and pain, problems are more focused on problems within the joints themselves rather than the muscles around the joints although, like everyone else, my muscles and tendons could do with improvement. Of more significance and help for me were the techniques to help loosen the back.

Sensei Dietmar Schmidt discussed and demonstrated techniques for increasing the power of strikes. This involved starting with a relaxed open hand that only closed and tensed at the moment of impact. It could be felt that these strikes seemed very fast and probably would deliver a lot of power but in the basic form were seriously ‘telegraphed’ so the concept would need significant refining and shortening to be really effective in real combat.

Sensei Sarantis Theodosiu showed his ideas on shuto yoko gamen uchi which followed on from Sensei Dietmar’s loose to tense strike with body movement down and hand rising amplifying the force of the strike at the point of impact. Again in the basic form rather ‘telegraphed’ but with possibilities. There was a look at a revised form of kansetsu geri which I personally could not get the hang of. This form of the kick seemed fast but also to impact on the rising movement and in an oblique manner. Maybe it was just me but I could not get it. Lastly Sensei showed escape techniques from a grab from behind. A sideways step then pushing the attacker over the leg was very similar to techniques that I have encountered in Aikido and Jujutsu but in this case the attack included what I know as a full nelson grab and neck injury could result if the grab was fully engaged before the escape was made so escape must be made quickly.

Sensei Stefan Reindl discussed real case conflict situations and how to avoid unfortunate repercussions. The concept of minimal action then to escape and the idea of drawing attention to a potential conflict to gain witnesses for the full situation. Training at low speed with full contact, medium speed with light contact and full speed with no contact to get a feel for techniques without injuring partners in the dojo.

Sensei Marek Mroszczyk gave us more leg kicks and take downs with hold down to follow.

The two days of training were a chance for different styles and nationalities in the organization to get together and experience each other’s approach. It has to be said that it can be seen that some groups have a more practical combat approach while others are more suited to a competition or sports training style. Was the seminar enjoyable and worth the effort of travelling to attend? Yes. The training and social aspect of the weekend made it worth attending. The facilities in the modern sports centre were excellent.”

Robin Kibler.

Mobility vs Flexibility

In teaching Karate I see a lot of students struggle with kicking, moving and standing in stances.


Neko Ashi Dachi

Whenever I discuss this with people they say that it is due to a lack of flexibility.  Most of them focus their efforts on improving their flexibility.  So they stretch and stretch, but without the desired progress.  This is often because they have forgotten about mobility.  Only through both increased flexibility and mobility can we improve our range of motion, but we cannot do one without the other.



This article will focus on exercises for improving mobility in the ankles and hips with detailed descriptions of the movements that I use as a part of my corrective exercises, which I teach as a personal trainer and therapist (www.lbposture.com).

Flexibility and Mobility

Our ability to move within our range of motion is determined by the physical structures of our body.  These structures are the tissues that surround our joints, which allow specific movements.  The muscles have to stretch and relax to some degree to allow movement.  This has to be accompanied with the ability to use and activate appropriate muscles at the right time and in the right order to adopt a correct position.  Different muscles have different jobs to do within the motion of a joint.  Some will drive the movement, others will assist or stabilise and whilst others will stop the movement once the joint has reached its end of range of motion.

We can see that flexibility is a highly dynamic action that will require a series of coordinated and sequenced muscular responses.  It is about being sufficiently mobile, that is “having freedom of movement”(Collins Dictionary), which needs stability to control the movement of that joint.  Increasing the static flexibility of muscles will not see an improvement in these qualities/abilities.

 “Joint Integrity must never be compromised for range of motion. The goal of flexibility training is to functionally lengthen and strengthen.” (Vern Gambetta)

For a joint to have a high level of mobility it must have a high level of stability to control the movement within its limits.  If the joint has weakness within its range of motion then the body will limit that range of motion with other structures in order to protect itself.

The ability to functionally take advantage of just the right amount of motion at just the right joint in just the right plane in just the right direction at just right time.”(Gary Gray)

The optimum ability of a joint occurs with the right amount of movement and an appropriate amount of stability provided by the joint and muscle tissue.

To improve the range of motion within a joint it is necessary to conduct repetitive and appropriate exercises using the right methodology.  It is extremely important to work on strength to control the newly developed range of motion within that joint.

 “Repeated movements can be used therapeutically to produce desired increases in joint flexibility, muscle length, and muscle strength, as well as to train specific movement patterns”. (Shirley Sahrmann)

Mobility is the key to performing efficient movements in Karate.  Freedom of movement allows you to execute the correct technique with the least amount of effort.  In my teaching I use sets of exercises developed by therapists and personal trainers to increase mobility and reduce the probability of injury.  Please find below a small selection of exercises.  Note that detailed workouts are designed on an individual basis following a postural assessment of movement patterns.


Tightness in a joint is caused by our body trying to protect it.  Only once our body feels stable and strong throughout a joint movement will the new range of motion be possible as the body’s protective mechanism switches off and neural over-activation of the surrounding tissues subsides.

Muscle tissue has to be able to control a wide range and type of movements and conditions.  Therefore exercises should mimic these factors:


  • Light
  • Heavy
  • Slow
  • Fast
  • Simple
  • Complex
  • Isolation
  • Compound

In martial arts we increase the range of motion by working on:

  • Static or partially loaded movement – isometric, stable and controlled exercises through full range of movement
  • Bodyweight – gravity load from slow to fast movements
  • Complexity – combining movements from other parts of the body or changes in planes of motion
  • Progression – adding resistance, repetition and reducing rest


Ankle and Foot Mobilisation

  • Leg Swings

Stand leaning with your hands against a wall.  The back leg is straight (no bend in the knee) and the ankle is nearly at the end of its range of motion, with the heel firmly on the floor.  In this position raise the front leg off the ground and swing the leg from side to side in the same fashion as a pendulum (yoko keage).  The front leg should be nearly straight with the foot passing through the centre line of the body as far as possible on either side.  Continue to swing the leg in a controlled manner, enabling the supporting foot to pronate and supinate, without lifting the heel.

  • Driver

Kneeling on one knee, place the elbow on your front knee and shift your bodyweight forward so as to flex the front ankle.  Use the elbow to drive the front knee forward and the calf muscles to return.  Try to cover all of the directions of the front ankle’s range of motion (to the left, right, forward and so on), all without lifting the front heel.

Hip Mobilisation

  • Shifts

Stand with one foot on a raised surface with that leg straight.  Lift your hands up over your head and gently drive the arms towards the straight leg whilst at the same time driving the hips towards the supporting leg, which is slightly bent at the knee.  Return the hands to centre and repeat again with control.

  • Squat

Stand with one foot on a raised surface.  Squat down whilst reaching your arms forward at hip level.  Make sure to keep the back straight.  Return up and repeat.

Pelvic function

  • Kneeling Overhead

Kneel on one knee; this will be the side that will be worked.  Lift your arms up and gently drive the hip (on the working side) forward and then back.  When driving the hip back lower your arms in front of your body to shoulder height.  Repeat the forward and backward motion with the arms moving up and down.

  • Step to Overdrive

Place one foot on a raised surface with the instep of the foot on the surface.  Lower the supporting leg into a squat position whilst raising your arms overhead.  Return to the starting position and repeat.

Joint mobility is starting to become more recognised as an integral part of improving body movement and posture.  As a result more and more martial artists are becoming aware of its importance.  I will be teaching aspects of improving mobility at the Isshindo Kan International seminar that I will be attending in Mrozy, Poland next month.


References:  Postural Analysis and Corrective Exercise Manual, Premier Training