Thought for the Week (April 19th, 2004)

From Steve Lott
Midtown Karate Dojo


Onegai-shimasu to all,

The following are some of the concepts and techniques that have been talked about many times before but there seems to be a problem incorporating them into our Karate. Instructors it is up to you to set the example.

Notes for instructors:
1. Conduct the warm-ups slowly. The warm-ups are not a race. There is no sport in the world in which the athlete warms up quickly.

2. Count and then move. Do not move with the count. This goes for the students also. They should not move until the instructor calls the number. It is when the students are new that they can more easily learn this very important discipline of waiting for the count. Stay in synch with the instructor. The entire class should move as one.

3. The most valuable tool in the Dojo is the mirror. Every so often have students face the mirror doing warm-ups. This is the only way for students to know how they look during the stretches. There should not be any instance of an advanced student with arms, legs, and head moving wildly in all different directions while doing the warm-ups. This is extremely important for beginners because it gets them use to the idea of picking up the action from the mirror and then translating the information into their brain and then into the stretch. This is the way to learn body control. Using the mirror to observe the body as it moves and remember HOW IT FEELS. The mirror is used exactly in the same way when learning Kata. Habits, good or bad, are hard to break. It is surprising to see an advanced student unable to keep his or her eyes on the mirror when specifically requested to do so during an exercise.

4. Be certain that the student does not move or shift feet when doing warm-ups. This is important because it translates directly to the Kata. This is seen mostly during the last couple of stretches when there is twisting and turning of the upper body with the legs separated. The body can be properly stretched only when the feet are properly planted. Again, this is excellent practice for Kata.

During class:
Always turn clockwise on the deck during class. Instructors, have the students practice this. Simply have the class Mawate a few times starting from various directions. An exception to this clockwise turn may be the beginning of the class during meditation. If the Shindan wall is to either side then the class would turn to that wall and then turn directly back to face the instructor. Instructors, this applies to you too. If the Shindan wall is behind you would turn clockwise to the wall and then continue turning clockwise to face the class.
If it is your turn to count then enunciate each number carefully. If the instructor asked you to announce the Kata Denzook ( no count ) then the word Hajime ( begin ) should not sound the same as the word Ichi ( one ). All too often it is difficult to tell the difference. Also, do not use the short abbreviated count: hi, he, ha, he, go, ro, he, ha, hu, hoo. It makes it impossible for the other students to know what the count is.

Steve Lott
Midtown Karate Dojo

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