Happy birthday to me!

Happy Birthday

Well… not me as such.  My own birthday was in December when I finally left the 20’s and hit the big 30.  Instead today marks the first anniversary of the Shotokan Karate Training website.

It’s been quite a year if I look back.  In a nutshell I’ve started to enter tournaments again, attended new seminars, met new karate friends and for the first time put my thoughts down in writing for the purpose of this site and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.  I’d like to say a thank you to everybody who has supported me with this over the last year and also followed the Shotokan Karate Training page on Facebook.  Without your support it wouldn’t be worth doing it.

I’d like to give a special thanks to Tipton Shotokan Karate and Matt Price Sensei for the seminar and content Matt allowed me to upload.  Also I’d like to thank my own club Ruach, Gary Beggan and Ronnie Christopher for their teaching and opportunities to enter various competitions.  In addition to this Sensei Sean Roberts who came over from Hawaii.  There were some extremely mind boggling lessons there that i;m still trying to implement in to my karate,  I’d also like to mention World Champion Luke Howard for his time for the interview for the site it is much appreciated.  I musn’t forget old friend and Sensei Tom Davies and his South Staffs club along with student Louis Powell for the excellent Kyu grading syllabus material permission to upload.

Finally I’d like to thank Sensei John Johnston for his publishing of my material to a wider audience stirring up quite a good debate earlier on in the year and the invite to Birmingham University to take on some of his students.

Here’s to another successful year and I hope to see you back to take on the journey with me.

Matt Cromwell


ALS Ice Bucket Challenge for Dummies, a load of cold water over nothing?

As you’re reading this, it is certain that you’ve had to connect to the internet via one device or another and if so then I’m pretty sure that you’ve seen or heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that has been sweeping social media sites such as Facebook and Youtube.  Everybody’s getting involved from Bill Gates to Kermit the Frog!  I had my nomination last week from fellow karateka Russell with an additional challenge to write about it for the Shotokan Karate Training blog.  Guess what Russ?  Challenge accepted!

If in case you have actually been living under a rock for the last few weeks, it’s time to get to grips with this challenge as it doesn’t seem to be disappearing anywhere anytime soon.  Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) also known as Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a progressive degenerative condition that affects the central nervous system over time.  Early symptoms can include but are not limited to cramps, muscle weakness affecting arms or legs, slurred and nasal speech in addition to problems when chewing and swallowing food.  The challenge involves the nominated person pouring ice cold water over their heads and then nominating more people to take up the challenge.  At the moment there are currently around 5000 sufferers within the UK and there is no known cure.  The ALS association have asked posters of their challenge videos to hashtag in #icebucketchallenge, #alsicebucketchallenge, and #strikeoutals in order to further spread the word.  Donaters can text the word ICED55 followed by the amount eg (£5) to 70070

So why has this Ice bucket thing gotten so big now?  Well one of, if not, THE founding member of the challenge Corey Griffin decided to do it to raise awareness for fellow friend and MND sufferer Peter Frates.  Griffin was 27 from America and has since sadly passed away a little over 2 weeks ago after an accident whilst diving in to the Ocean from a building in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

 Corey Griffin (right)Corey Russell (Right)

I must admit three weeks ago I’d never even heard of ALS.  If it had have been described to me as MND I’d have had some clue, but I guess that’s the whole idea of these campaigns; to raise awareness.  I’d seen countless Ice bucket challenges done and plastered all over Facebook, but wasn’t sure what they were in aid of until I saw a video that really touched my heart.

Until this point it didn’t really bother me if I was nominated or not, but I guess I was hoping for the chance.  It sounds strange really, a hope that somebody will think of you enough to actually nominate you within one of their videos, a sense of feeling wanted I guess.  I know it’s possible to just donate without getting involved in the challenge.  I’ve seen this comment made plenty of times on Facebook, but the point is that there is an idea behind the challenge specifically involving ice in that the paralysing effects of ice cold water is supposed to reciprocate the same kind of sensation that an ALS sufferer endures.

According to, the Ice bucket challenge has raised in excess of £18.9 million and continues to climb.  Due to a big charity fund raising event within the Ruach karate clubs for MacMillan Cancer support, I decided to do two buckets.  One for ALS and one for MacMillan and keeping within the theme of karate I thought it only right I donned my Gi and tried to perform Kihon Kata.

If you do decide to do the ice bucket challenge and whoever you decide to do it for it doesn’t matter.  I cannot imagine one charity begrudging another’s fortune for using awareness to help us all do good for charity as a collective.


Good luck with your challenges!

Be the best you can be: What if i told you? UPDATE

This relates to my original post about someone very close to me that has been looking to start karate for a very long time now, but has backed out for various reasons and the advice I have given to try and tip that willing soul over the edge slightly in to the unknown in to a life changing experience.  If you haven’t already read the first Blog, it may be worth a look which can be found here.

Well I thought it was time for an update;  After writing the previous post and showing it to the lady in question she again came down prepared.  A determined mind laughing and joking about her first session.  All kitted out in comfortable shorts and t-shirt to start her 20th “first” Shotokan karate training lesson.  Again she got to the door, but unfortunately it was to no avail.  After seeing the huge array of people ready to train, coupled with the daunting effect of so many people in such a small training area; fear inevitably kicked in.  Like I said before, to me it is frustrating.  Not because I want her to do it for me, but for her to do it for herself.  I guess it’s easy looking in from the other side seeing it from both perspectives, knowing both sides of the coin.  One, a scared, but curious beginner venturing in to the unknown.   The other, seeing the benefits of not only learning a self defence, but also an art form, a mind set, a focus and a fitness regime all being rolled in to one.

For another evening we went home, so many thoughts going through my head knowing that if only that first step was taken it would be the start of something spectacular.  My hopes raised just before each lesson thinking this is it!  This will be the time that when LINE UP is shouted, there will be an extra addition to the family.

Tuesday comes and another karate lesson, another window of opportunity, again she arrives with me, tshirt and shorts all ready to go.  This time i’m asked to start the lesson and look over to see a firm shake of the head.  By now I’m used to it, I’ve accepted the fact that this person may never give it a go.  As I lead the warm up I see her talking with Sensei and a minute later he’s off out of the Dojo.  Where he’s gone I haven’t got a clue.  Minutes later and Sensei returns clutching a brand new Giko gi in its plastic wrapper and complete with compulsory white belt as standard.  Now I know what’s coming, off my friend trots gi in hand and minutes later the Shotokan family has its’ newest member.  At last! It’s been a long time coming, but as they say, better late than never.  I held back the smiles whilst completing the warm up with the need to be professional and during the lesson I couldn’t help but look over to check on her progress.  I must say she did pretty well for her first lesson.

After the hour lesson was complete I asked her about the conversation with Sensei and it transpires that it was my fault for not bringing her my spare gi to train in! Apparently it was a  fear of looking out of place compared to the rest of the group.  It has never crossed my mind that a little thing like this would have been an issue.   For me personally I’ll train in anything and anywhere, but then again not everybody’s the same are they?  And so the journey for another has begun, Sensei’s final welcoming words on handing the Gi?  “Hurry up and get in line.”  I wouldn’t have expected anything less.


Welcome to Shotokan Karate Training.  I hope you will find use in the resources provided to aid your development in Shotokan Karate.  The site is very much a long term project so please check back regularly for updates.

If you would like to see anything added to the site that will be beneficial for users then please email me at or leave a comment.

Good Luck with your training and I hope this site will benefit you in the true spirit of karate-do.