Thursday, June 27, 2013

Russia Seminar

Last weekend, on June 21-23, we held a seminar in Moscow, Russia.
Participants came from Germany, Ukraine, and some guys from Siberia took a train for 2 days, I have all the respect for this total dedication to karate.
We worked on fundamentals, such as posture, stance, body dynamics and kime, than kata kitei, as a mean to digest all those fundamentals and apply them in variety of directions, lines of energy.
We worked on finding one's own stance, and connecting the stance to the body center to transfer energy from ground reaction, and connecting the body center to the elbows.
We worked on Oji Waza (response) footwork and timing and applying the principles and methods we learned against unknown attack, by learning to thrust our breath and feet with our experience to make decisions. We touched Shikake Waza (set up), mainly "invite" and combinations attack, and creating and picking the right initial timing for combination attack.
It is important to work hard and intensely but also to know when to slow down and digest the details.
Nothing is more fun than sharing karate.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Rapid rate of contraction and relaxation in punch or kick.

The skillful karate fighter is not only strong, but in order to initiate a punch or a kick can contract muscles with great velocity, and also relax rapidly, the rate of relaxation is very rapid. The karate expert must start power generation in the legs through the hips, and as they hips explode the core contract quickly to transmit the force to the upper body, initial pulse start with quick contraction, and than the core relax as the punch or kick increase the velocity until the impact and than to avoid energy leak a second contraction occur.
Initiate with very quick muscle contraction and a very rapid muscles relaxation to allow speed increase, and a second sharp pulse of muscles contraction to deliver the full power.
One must do this using the big muscles of the hips through the shoulders for power generation, while keeping the spine stable, to allow full transmission of power, (power is not generated at the spine) to avoid stress on spine and to allow the spine to be an anchor for the bigger muscles to be fully utilized.
Therefore the sequence of contraction is as important as the rate of contraction.
Smaller, inner stabilizer muscles contract first, than the bigger force production muscles.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Give up power to better your technique and better yourself and society.

In my seminar in Israel last weekend, I had a little talk with Tzachi, Moshe’s student and Israeli team member. Tzachi is wise beyond his years, and I learned a great lesson.
The background to this talk was my emphasis the following lesson from previous training:  In kime, we make pressure to the floor with the breath, and the reaction of this pressure is absorbed through the body and delivered to the line of technique. No power in the technique arm is needed, rather, any undue tension in the arm will nullify the effect of the pressure to floor; it will block the reaction of the floor from coming back to the target.
In short, we have to give up power in order to have a strong technique.

Tzachi told me, “In every thing in life, people look for more power, in politics, in the work place, in relationships between people or countries, and this is the source of all conflicts. Here in karate we learn to give up power.”

Originally, most people come to karate to learn to be strong, but we teach them to give up power, to be weak, not only in technique, but also in the way we interact with opponents. We don’t compete against one’s speed (not to say that speed is not important, it is, in addition to skill); rather we win by accepting and harmonizing with the opponent. We give ourselves to become one with said opponent.
It takes hard work to give up power in technique, to give up fighting with the opponent and to eventually accept and become the opponent.

A while ago my very intelligent student, Tamir Nitzan, told me that he feels karate can bring out either the lowest, instinctive, animalistic side of humans, or the highest, most spiritual, and most selfless side them.

I remember that when I came to study with Sensei Nishiyama, I just wanted to become a better fighter. That meant more speed, more power, and of course better technique than everyone else. I still want to be a better fighter but in a totally different way. My technique changed once I understood that power is indirect, and my fighting changed once I stopped trying to fight and rather tried to win through synchronization with the opponent. This new journey is much more interesting since it bears no limits while my old journey was bound to the limitations of strength and speed.

If someone can apply the aforementioned principles, in the intensity of fighting and survival, if someone can give himself or herself up while being on the edge, he/she will have an easier time in other life activities.
Maybe that is why karate is an excellent way to better society and the individual.

I believe that if everyone takes the principles of karate and applies them to life and the world, we will have a better, more peaceful society, with less wars and conflicts.