Sunday 23 November 2008

Winter Training Regime

Finally I’ve up updated my training regime leading into the Japanese winter and the imminent kangeiko. I’ve made some profound changes, however, I’m not sure how significant they might seem to someone reading this? Nevertheless, I’ll outline them here, and from my commentary, hopefully you’ll see that they are particularly significant for me as a karate practitioner. As December looms, I happily can look back on 2008, and honestly say that it has been my most productive year, ever, insofar as my karate technique is concerned. My goal is to keep following this ‘karate way’, which was ‘set’ in January (when I upgraded myself to mukyu: click here to see my New Years day post – which set my practice pattern for 2008:

On to the business… Here's my latest self-training routine.

Oi zuki kara niren choku zuki. Emphasis on perfect hiki-te and punch ‘connection’ and complete body power regardless of intensity/energy applied. Drive from kakato for oi zuki and ‘hips into the target’; (2) Gyaku zuki. Fundamental training of koshi no kaiten in stationary zenkutsu-dachi, also perfect co-ordination of tai no shinshuku from the compressed zenkutsu; (3) Mae keriage. Stationary practice from heisoku dachi and zenkutsu dachi. ‘Extreme’ compression in the load-up and hiki-ashi is the main focus. (4) Jodan age uke/Chudan soto uke/Chudan uchi uke/Gedan barai. Quite simply a full wind up of the torso (tight shomen) and full hanmi insofar as the ukewaza are concerned. In regards to the arms, Asai Sensei style ‘muchiken’ application of ‘snap’ power, that is, each technique is a whip like attack. (5) Chudan shuto uke. Focus on ‘locking in the posture’ on shuto uke and correct ‘line’ in kokutsu-dachi hanmi. Essentially, I am seeking a greater control over this technique, which to me, is 'forever' a challenge.

This month the focus is on Heian (presently Yondan and Godan), Tekki, Enpi, Jion and Unsu. The Heian kata are to address my core power sources, which need to be further explored, not to mention just getting to grips with kihon in general (a never ending challenge). Tekki (as always) to deal with infighting application, also to push my alignment, as mentioned in my shuto uke comments above. Jion, for perfection of the fundamentals that really matter in a real fight. And to be honest, I can never get past this kata… It is just technically so very deep - an 'exemplary' Shotokan kata. And Unsu for desert... Sheer technical diversity, dynamism and explosiveness. Gojushiho (Dai) has been dropped out of my training schedule.

I’ve really been motivated by Paul Kallander’s blog to practice my kaiten uraken uchi, which is Yahara Mikio Sensei’s tokui-waza. Asai Sensei referred to Yahara Sensei’s uraken as being “phenomenal”. He also said to me that “Yahara Sensei is the most dangerous karateka that the JKA Honbu ever produced”. I personally think that such a comment makes study of Yahara Sensei’s technique essential for anyone serious about JKA style Shotokan karate. My other focal point has been to further refine ‘go no sen’ or ‘taking the initiative later’. In jiyu kumite practice at the local dojo I attend, I’m essentially using deai all the time. What I’d like to emphasize here (especially for those without a JKA background) is that I’m not working on countering, but rather attacking, using my opponents initiation to my advantage (using their ma'ai, and both physical and mental 'gaps'). This training is not easy for me as sen no sen is my natural inclination, but is clearly optimal for my physique, talents, and weaknesses.

So that pretty much sums up my present karate practice schedule and should take me well into December. Where ever you are around the world, and regardless of style, organization and nationality, I wish you all the very best in your own karate training.

OSU, André.
© André Bertel, Japan 2008

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