Friday, June 29, 2007

Attacking the striking limb

I was working with the various moves of kata, and the concept of "Treat your opponent's hands and feet as swords." popped into my mind. I remember reading this exhortation in one of Sensei Gichin Funakoshi's books.

I thought to myself "How possible is it to strike an oncoming punch/ kick?" Man, those things come in pretty darn fast. One would have to have MUCH experience, and be faster than their attacker to succeed.

However, if someone was holding a weapon in their hands, we'd want to anticipate, and catch the arm of the strike before it develops to it's full potential. We'd want to disarm our opponent so that they cannot use that extension to their attack range. We might wait until they have commited to a full extension, and then strike the arm to damage it, but that would be our second choice. I was watching this video documenting the knowledge of Sensei Uehara, a Budo Master:

He would just walk forwards with strong balance, and perfect timing, and deflect the attack before it had a chance to exist in fullness. Watching Sensei Uehara made me aware of how much energy I'm applying in various directions when I spar rather than just handling the moment. I understand that my efforts are necessary learning steps. In time I will develop the timing, proper stance, proper distance, and proper applications of the blocking hand to be able to anticipate, attack, and deflect an oncoming strike at the same time.

Then it dawned on me that Kata was designed with all of that in mind. We are anticipating, stepping forwards, and stopping an attack BEFORE it can develop. This would explain why the majority of "blocks" are done moving forwards in the Heian ( Pinan) Kata instead of stepping back. The only time that I've had to step back in a kata has been in Bassai Dai.

Monday, June 25, 2007

It's going crazy around here..

Belt rank tests, piano recitals, awards ceremonies, Junior high school grads, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. etc. You know.. all of the "End of the year" events.

My hands have been so full, and the fact that the children have no classes at school makes things difficult for me to keep up with housework, and at home training. The kids and their friends are socializing in my home constantly. This is good, actually, because then I can keep an eye on them.

My day has been expanding into my night. I've been staying up hours past my bedtime, and waking up hours early. I've been commandeering my children into chores just to free my hands for other things.. especially karate.

I'm facing the chance that I might be testing in the next two weeks for my next Kyokushin belt rank. I want to be ready for that, or at least as ready as I can be. I've added extra training to my weeks, but I also tried to respect the fact that I do not want to overtrain ( and thereby weaken myself.) That's such a hard balance!

I still have to purchase boards for breaking, and ink for printing up my essay. I might have to write my essay up in handwriting. Money has become tight in our household due to all of the birthdays packed into these weeks.

It's all good stress.. but it's there, and saying "Hey there.. how much do you think you are capable of?"

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Pulled something in my shoulder last night

I was doing fine. I was improving. Sure.. 4 months ago my shoulders started giving me trouble with push ups. I couldn't do ONE without awful sharp pain radiating up into my neck. I couldn't figure it out. I had been working towards building up my push ups, and had managed to get 40 regular push ups in a row without stopping. Then these sharp slicing knife-like pains took over my shoulders. In fact, I couldn't raise my elbow above shoulder level anymore. All Jodan ( head high) strikes, and blocks were painful for me.

I had to do something, figure out what was wrong, fix it, and then rebuild. For a couple of months I removed ANY weight bearing activity from my day. (Including my housework such as carrying a bucket filled with water to mop the floors.. instead I'd push it with my feet ) In the dojo, with my Sensei's permission, I adapted all of my efforts. All techniques were done at chudan level because I felt no pain there. I did sit ups instead of push ups. At home, using 1 pound weights to start and building up in weight load, I started a full spectrum shoulder exercise routine to build up all of the various muscles in my shoulders so that they could work as a unit and help each other. Icing my shoulder's most painful spots three times a day, and stretching them twice a day became a routine for the first month. Also, I worked on having proper posture during the day to support my back, and shoulder muscles so that they could heal. I put aside all Bo staff work.

Through all of these efforts, I brought my ability to use my shoulders back up. Yesterday, in class, I was able to do around 80 regular push ups interspersed throughout class with no pain whatsoever. Then, with the satisfaction of what I had achieved so far, I attempted one of the more demanding push ups. (The 5 fingered push up) After only 3 successful push ups, I felt a sudden painful tearing feeling behind the scapular of my shoulders. Not good.. I swear that all of the blood left my face as I stood up from the ground feeling a burning hurting feeling on my back.

Why? Why did that happen? If I can do normal push ups without pain, why would shifting the position of my hands on the floor cause me such injury? If I wasn't a Martial artist with a few years of mental control under my belt, I swear that I would have broke into tears right there on the spot. I knew that I'd have to go home, ice my shoulders, stop carrying heavy things again ( back to shoving things with my feet), put my Bo staff training aside, rebuild my muscles..

*HEAVY sigh... big heavy sigh*

Maybe it will not take as long to heal, and rebuild this injury since it's a recent one that I supported right away with the R.I.C.E. ( rest, ice, compression, elevation) method.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Streaker in my Shomin wall

Let me explain:

Mizu Dojo's Shomin wall is actually a panel of windows overlooking a lawn bowling green with lovely trees surrounding the area.

Each class, when we start, and end, we kneel facing the wall of windows, and do a traditional bow in ritual with Mokuso, and Dojo Kun.

Today, at the end of class, I knelt in front of my students, and closed my eyes to the command being called by one of my lead belts of "Mokuso". Peace flowed over me, and through me, although all of my muscles were stiff and sore from the previous night's hard training. It was difficult to ignore the aches, and pains, and bring myself to stillness.. but I managed. When my student commanded "mokuso yame", and I opened my eyes, I was greeted with the sight of a naked cute happy little 3 year old girl wearing nothing but a baseball cap on her head, running back and forth on the springy grass of the bowling greens enjoying the sun on her skin. Her father was standing out there watching over her.

I couldn't help myself.. I broke into laughter, and announced to my students "There is a naked girl in our Shomin wall! Can you see her too?"

Well... a sound of shock, and giggling filled the room as we witnessed this sweet little girl bending down to pick at the grass and innocently mooning the whole dojo.

My student barely could get the words of "Shomin Ni Rei" out for all of the suppressed laughter. We all bowed towards the naked child.

Then I turned and faced my students, and my student called out "Sensei Ni Rei".

I could see that all of our shoulders were shaking with the effort to not laugh at this moment.

As I walked off of the Dojo floor, I exclaimed, "Oh Man! I've GOT to put this on my weblog!!!"

I will never forget the day that my Dojo bowed to an innocent naked 3 year old streaker's bare butt.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I just got evaluated..

Last night, I offered the parents of the young students, and my older students a chance to evaluate the Karate program offered in my dojo, and my ability to teach as their Sensei.

I can't really tell you how I felt handing out these forms. I wasn't excited, or scared, or bothered. It was more like how I feel when I have to do the dishes. It was a feeling of "let's get this done.."

I purposely mixed up all of the sheets so that I wouldn't know which person said which comment, and waited until I was home to read them all.

To my delight, I received almost 100% positive numbers on my karate program, my knowledge, my preparation, communication skills, and their impression of me.

The most important aspect that was making these people unhappy was the lack of adequate parking in the area. I have to agree with them on that point. There needs to be more access to parking. I know that the facility is considering doing some changes this year, perhaps they will address this issue.

I found out that I do not need to do this assessment as often as I thought that I did. Therefore, I will wait for a good while before I send out the sheets again.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Time for the International support to work it's magic

I have a WONDERFUL Kyokushin Martial artist internet friend who is setting the challenging goal that many of us have dreamed about, and desired. He would like to attend a World Tournament in Japan next year. He has the talent, the skill, and the desire.. what he needs is support. Not only financial support, but words of encouragement, and people to join him spiritually in his path. This is his campaign in his own words:

Dear friends,



We would like to present you our campaign to support and help Sensei Boaretto to go to the 2nd World Cup Kyokushin Union, will be held in Naha – Okinawa – Japan – in January 17 – 19. Beyond the duty as Representative, consist before in the accomplishment of a dream of an athlete.

How you can help us:

* Donations will be accepted through bank deposit on CAIXA ECONOMICA FEDERAL BANK – XXX. We are thankful the understanding.
* It buy the diverse raffles will be saled with the incoming reverted in favor of Sensei Boaretto
* T-shirts will be saled with collection reverted in favor of Sensei Boaretto.
* Attend in the events and tournaments with collection reverted too in favor of Sensei Boaretto.

Being the country and my state absent and knowing the understanding of all friends and several people, we would like to thank you very much and present my apologizes if I’m disturbing you in this way.

Yours in Kyokushin,


If you would like to see some pictures of my dear friend, you can look here:

It's a portuguese weblog/photo album so just click on "Todas as Fotos" ( All pictures ) to catch some really awesome training pictures. Check out the one where he is training under a waterfall!

Any form of support would be appreciated, especially positive words, advice on fundraising, and supportive comments on training for such a big event.

If you would like to send him an email:

To start I will say:


Friday, June 01, 2007

The lymphatic system

There is more lymph fluid in our bodies than there is blood, yet we know so little about this important part of our life support system.

The Lymph fluid surrounds our cells and provides the space for food, and oxygen to pass through to get from the arteries to the cells, and also a place for wastes to go. It doesn't have a pump to move it around like the blood does, lymph fluid relies on muscle contraction ( only some), and the action of the diaphragm ( mainly ) to circulate. The fluid circulates through lymph nodes to be cleaned of waste products, dead cells, and viruses/bacteria, and then, near the neck, it is dropped back into the blood system through a large duct in a vein.

The spleen, which is a shade larger than a kidney, is the big boss of this whole system. Located behind the stomach, under the ribs, and to the left, it's main job is to control the amount of blood cells, waste, and infectious foreign material in the blood. The first line of our body's self defense, the spleen's white blood cells attack and engulf anything that doesn't belong in the blood stream. The spleen is also a storehouse for a good amount of red blood cells in case there is ever a need for a sudden addition of them into the system.

For more detailed information on the lymphatic system.Click here

Deep breathing is one of the essential ways that this fluid circulates... Therefore it is to our benefit to incorporate deep diaphragmic breathing into our day.

Also, there is quite a mental, physical, and spiritual benefit to stopping for a few seconds, relaxing, regrouping, and taking a good 5 deep breaths randomly during the day. First, it will automatically lower our stress level, second, it will help clear our body of waste products so we will feel less tired, and third, it will boost all of our body's systems.

During training, the Kiai action of the diaphragm serves quite an important purpose wherein it will help the lymph fluid to circulate more quickly, and to remove waste products near the hard working muscles. This will allow your muscles to feel less tired, and to work harder, and longer. However, the Kiai action also causes you to tighten your abdomen, and unite your whole body towards the action. Instead of just using your arms and shoulders in a strike, the kiai unites the hips, and legs to the movement. So, on one hand you remove more waste products and circulate the lymph (less tired), but on the other hand you are using more muscles towards each movement (more tired). It's another balanced moment of karate training. Again we see the Yin/Yang of our Art.