Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Calling out for advice.. any opinion acceptable..

One of my good internet friends is looking for thoughts, suggestions, and advice to help her in this situation:

I am struggling to re-motivate myself in karate after a long break. I am wondering what to do to re-enter my beloved world of martial arts. It's now several weeks since I motivated myself into turning up at a lesson - partly because the last thing I feel like doing after 14 hours with a 4 year old and a 1 year old is to go out and exert myself - but I'm sure that's not the main reason.
What can I do??

I am tempted to start afresh and try a local Taikwondo class (not sure that I can even spell it, let alone attempt to learn it)... this would be a complete change and would present me with new challenges etc.
You probably need to know more about why I feel I can't get back into karate after 5 years away (I stopped to have children) - difficult to answer - it's partly because I wear a black belt and yet have forgotten a lot of what I once knew - e.g. katas - and struggle to energise myself into re-learning them. The pace of a lesson is so slow when you don't wuite remember your moves. It's also because my former club is no more and I'm training with a new sensei and new karate-ka.... and it's not quite as physically challenging as it was in my old club - I need more to aim for.

Any views on taikwondo? (There's a 'good' local club that I could try out)


supergroup7 said...

O.K... let's dissect this to the facts:


a) You love to do martial arts.

b) You are open to new challenges such as learning a different martial art than the one that you have been training in.

c) You have experience in martial arts, and have achieved Black belt level.

d) You are willing to let go of your rank to be able to train in a different art.

e) You desire a type of training that combines a good work out with the instruction so that you can walk away feeling that glow, and gain in health.


a) You lack motivation to follow your enjoyment of training in martial arts. You assume it's because it's due to chasing two children all day, but it could be something else.

b) You dislike the feeling of inadequacy that accompanies the 5 years of non-training. The classes at your dojo is not "filling in the gaps" very well. Instead of feeling a building up of skills, you actually feel an emptiness.

c) You miss your former club, and Sensei. You have no established bond with this new club yet, and they have a way of doing things is different from what you were accustomed with. Oh I can relate with this!

O.K. Looking at all the above points, if they are correct, here's what I would suggest:

Going to a different martial art will not take away the stress of having to chase your kids all day. You need a perspective change. Instead of seeing your martial arts training as a burden to place ontop of your daily chores, you need to see it as "freedom", and a chance to relax, and burn off stress. We all have different reasons, motivations, and goals for training in the arts. Do not feel guilty if you go to the dojo, and just enjoy yourself. You don't have to feel responsibility, and "work" when you go to the dojo. It won't matter which art you chose to follow.. if you see it as additional stress, you will have difficulty motivating yourself to go to class.

Maybe the whole idea of becoming a white belt can help you remove the chains of Rank, and allow you to relax, make mistakes, and just have fun. You can get that same feeling as a black belt.. you just have to set your goals, and your borders. You can accept that you don't know those kata, and maybe one day you may want to look into them, but not now.

Tae Kwon Do is a very similar art to Shotokan.. ( If I'm correct you are a Shotokan karate ka like me, right?) However, Tae Kwon Do is a full contact sport. You will be hitting things more.. such as bags, target pads, even the person across from you. I personally enjoy smacking the bags, target pads, and such. There is a feeling of understanding what my technique does, and where my balance is. You will also get hit back. Therefore, full contact sports demand alot of body conditioning exercises such as push ups, sit ups, etc. etc. It isn't unusual for me to have to do close to 100 or 200 push ups during one class. This is a totally different way of sparring, and you might find that your earlier training will help in some aspects, and really hinder in others. For example, everytime you pull back that hikite hand to chamber.. you may find a foot heading for your head really really quickly. You learn to keep your hands up front, but then you have to figure out how to send a powerful punch in that position. One thing that I can tell you is that you will not stay as a white belt for long in this striking art.. your earlier knowledge/ and training is going to boost you up the rank ladder, and you will become a Tae Kwon do Black Belt more quickly than you'd like. Also, you will have to relearn all of the techniques, and commands in Korean. So, your brain will be thinking Gyaku Tsuki, and Reverse Punch.. and you will have to memorize the Korean name for it too.

I would suggest looking around at the various dojo/ dojang/ kwan that are in your vicinity, and watching the Sensei/ Sifu/ Sahbonim there.
If you want to avoid the hassle of learning new terminology.. look into Japanese arts. There is Aikido, Kendo, Judo, Goju Ryu, Shito Ryu, Chito Ryu, and many many others. Visit these dojo, maybe one or two of them per week, and watch a couple of classes that are being run by the Sensei. Ask yourself if this is the kind of person that you would want to be in charge of your formation. Would you trust your kids with him/her? Because in the future your son might ask to join you. Do you like how the higher belts treat the lower belts? Is it the kind of atmosphere that you could train in happilly? I would suggest being straight forward with that Sensei about your expectations. "I'm here to relax, get away from the kids, and work out, I'm not eager for rank, or tournaments or such." Do not fear his /her judgement. Look around until you find a Sensei that will support and respect your goals.

In my opinion the philosophy, knowledge, and attitude Sensei/ Sifu/ Sabohnim is more important the the martial art style. Watch for a lack of concern for the safety of those training.. I've seen some rare instances where the exercises that were commanded by the instructor made personal injury a big possibility during execution. I think that it is important to avoid training in this environment.

So what do the rest of you think????

[Mat] said...


I am struggling to re-motivate myself in karate after a long break.

HA! that feels like me after a 4 years break from taekwondo. I did it the other way around. Started Shotokan after tae kwon do. Pretty similar, depending on the style. Major styles are similar. WTF is, anyways. (and wtf doesn't mean what the fu.. for those who wondered)

I am wondering what to do to re-enter my beloved world of martial arts.
With all due respect, I think we overdo things, 95% of the time. Like the company says, Just do it.
Training will give you energy, not drain it. People have a tendancy to see it backwards. :)
I always feel better after a good session.

I am tempted to start afresh and try a local Taikwondo class (not sure that I can even spell it, let alone attempt to learn it)... this would be a complete change and would present me with new challenges etc.
I'd advise you to do so only if you feel karate has let you down in some way. If you truly love karate, stay in it. Sure, you'll progress faster in TKD, but, you'll quickly end up coaching juniors. If it's what you want, go for it! Otherwise, I say stay in karate. An art takes so much time to devellop and the black belt's only the beginning. Or so they say. Bringing your karate level back to what is was will take time and well... I heard a good thing a sensei once did. White belt until you're back in shape. Then, black belt. Ask the sensei.

It's not quite as physically challenging as it was in my old club - I need more to aim for.
I hear you. Sometimes, my classes are so slow, I can't believe it. I work at home to compensate. Believe me, I work.

Any views on taikwondo? TAE KWON DO (hand feet way) good art, when taught correctly. Very similar to karate. Lots of BS as in all arts, use your brain when seeing the art.

No matter what you'll choose, the important is finding something that fits you. And remember, the hardest part is always the same part:

getting in the car to go to class. Putting on the gi and going on the mat. If those steps are taken, everything else flows.

I do have to ask a question... If you don't have the energy to relearn those forms, how can you find the energy to learn new ones?

Remember that a mountain is climbed by putting one foot in front of the other, each step taken one by one...

Whatever you decide, good luck to you. It took me... 8 years to find an art that fitted me. Ever considered chinese arts?


Miss Chris said...

Wow! I know what you mean about having a hard time getting back into karate. Due to injuries I've been out for a while now but I'm hoping I can get back there soon.

Ruth said...

You know, it's really, really helpful to know that you all understand. I have felt so inadequate because of these feelings I've been having.

Thank you for summing up my position so clearly, Supergroup7.

There's so much advice here already - I am eternally grateful to you for this. I am now considering the following:

1) returning to my new dojo, but as a white belt.


2) trying a new martial art (possibly tai chi...?)

Your notes on Tae Kwon Do (ah, yes - of course, that's how it's spelt!) have deterred me slightly -partly because I am not used to full contact (yes, I did do shotokan - we did not compete and were non-contact (in theory anyway; umm - contact v non-contact: a subject for a whole new debate perhaps ....?)

Anyway, that's what I'm pondering at the moment. If I decide upon tai chi, I will take your advice, S7, with regard to trying out new clubs and questioning instructors. I also hear what you are saying, Mat, about the hardest part being getting into the car and turning up. You're absolutely right.

Thank you

Bob Patterson said...

I originally started out in Taekwondo but dropped out do to the McDojang Factor:

After boxing, PPCT, and Kung-fu I find myself back in Taekwondo.

A few points:

1) Taekwondo is not watered down Shotokan. There are simularities but that is because Korean masters borrowed from Karate, Kung-fu, and their own native fighting arts to create Taekwondo.

"Taekwondo has a diverse pedigree that uses Chinese and Japanese martial art forms with traditional Korean styles that date from the oldest known inhabitants of the Korean peninsula."

2) There are some pretty crummy Dojangs out there! As I said in my post: it pays to shop around.

3) Sit in on a few classes and make sure that you discuss the school's approach to one-steps and self-defense. I'm not sure where my first school got their's from but they stunk! My current school adapts many from Hapkido. So we do a fair amount of falling and rolling.

I also post on tko's geneaology here:


supergroup7 said...

Welcome to my blog, Miss Chris, Thanks for your comment. I sure do hope that you regain your momentum in martial arts. Here's sending you good vibrations.

supergroup7 said...

Wishing you the best, Ruth. Please keep us informed as to your final choice, and how well you are enjoying it.

Glad that we were able to help you brainstorm, and think it out.

supergroup7 said...

Thank you for visiting my weblog, Bob Patterson.

I went to see your own weblog.. oh my gosh.. what a lovely presentation you have created! I haven't seen such a lovely background before. I didn't have any time to read any of the postings yet, but I will return to enjoy them when I have met my responsibilities as MOM.

I find it amazing that anyone could suggest that Tae Kwon Do ( a wonderful martial art in it's own right) is only watered down Shotokan. Where did they get such an idea? In my opinion, each martial art has it's own validity, and expresses it's founder's vision, and philosophy.

Thank you for your advice. I'm glad that you found a dojang that meets your needs, and goals.

[Mat] said...

"washed down Shotokan"??

Woah, I didn't mean that, for sure. I'm sorry if that's what transpired from my words.

I used to train in TKD and there are similarities to Shotokan. That's all I meant. Just as there are similarities in Chito-Ryu to some chiGong moves. Although they are VERY different.

But it all comes down to the same thing in the end. All arts converge, in fact. Although emphasis is placed on one thing or another, we all end up kicking, punching, taking down, blocking, dodging, moving, and so on.

In linear movements are round movements, in round movements are linear movements. Taking Aikido showed me that. Although I'm no expert!

Our bodies are the one telling us if the emphasis of one or another style is the one for us. Or so I believe.

Mir, you'll have the opportunity to see that live as you'll see lots of styles and ways of thinking all put together. It's a very good learning opportunity for you in that other country. :-) Maybe it's my mind seeing things, but I more and more believe that all arts strive towards the same thing with different emphasis or ways.

I used to say it before, but I meant it differently. And I'm sure in 10 years, I'll see it differently again.

Many ways, one path. Many paths, one way.

Again, no disrespect was meant in any form. Sorry if there was a misunderstanding.

Peace, perseverance, hard work.

supergroup7 said...

"washed down Shotokan"??

Woah, I didn't mean that, for sure. I'm sorry if that's what transpired from my words"

Hey Mat, I didn't get that kind of idea from your words. From what I read, you were saying that TKD is a good art. You only warned people to watch out for the McDojangs like Bob was doing.

Ruth said...

Tonite's the nite!!!
Tonight I shall return (yet again, to bow with immense humility before my sensei) to my shotokan club for Wednesday's kata lesson - but this time I'll be wearing a purple belt (I think, or blue..?). my intention is to return to the rank that requires me to perform bassai dai at my next grading. And I'm going to re-grade from here-on-in until I re-achieve my shodan. I feel that this is the right thing to do. (I won't be a black belt wearing a purple belt, I'll be a purple belt).

I also have an enquiry pending with a local tai chi club - hoefully theyll get back to me soon.

I am feeling inspired, motivated and raring to go. This is wholly down to you and and your commenters and I thank you all. I will keep you posted. I hope that I stick at it this time.

Best wishes


p.s. Here's a thing. The local church youth group leader has asked me whether I can take the teens for a couple of lessons in self-defense. Well, my teaching license expired 5 years ago, and anyway, I'd be far too rusty to do this. But I know a man who can - so hopefully we'll have a few local budding new martial artists soon (I know self-defense is not the same as karate, but I'm sure this guy will inspire them to take to the dojo).

supergroup7 said...

"I am feeling inspired, motivated and raring to go."

Here is my official wish that you maintain this joy, and positive energy throughout all of your training.

The best to you, Ruth. My you have a happy, and fruitful future training in the Way of Martial arts. I'm glad that you found an answer for yourself.