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

Don’t be scared of the bigger fish..

Today’s post is inspired from a squad training session I had last week.  It’s always good to do a different kind of session outside of your normal karate training as it can help to teach you new techniques, help face new opponents and generally just help to take you out of that comfort zone.

In my opinion there are issues you can find facing the same people week in week out, the predominant ones to me are that you get to learn your opponents fighting style and because of this, there’s a possibility of adapting to fight just one style of opponent.  This as you well know won’t work well in the real world!  The problem I have had, (as I found out last week) was not one of complacency or laziness as you were, but one of learning bad habits.  I differentiate between the two because to an outsider they could be viewed as one or the other, but only the individual training will  really know the answer.

After doing the squad session last week fighting my instructor, I found myself on the receiving end of a good double step gyaju tsuki jodan (reverse punch, head height).  I’d anticipated the move forward, moved back, but not enough as the punch was coming and found myself leaning back to avoid the attack.  This adopted style by myself can only have been greeted with sheer delight as a further step was taken by my instructor  giving me not a cat in hell’s chance of getting out of the way. As rightly pointed out to me; When you lean back and all your weight is sitting on your back foot then moving any more doesn’t become an option.  The result?  Me standing there like a sitting duck with a punch coming that I have no way of moving away from and a nice split lip for my efforts.  (And that’s not to mention the dry cleaning bill)  A friend said to me the next day that he thought karate was all semi-contact, failing to understand how the injury had managed to arrive in the first place.  I politely reminded him that that WAS semi- contact and if it had of been full contact without mitts then the situation would have been a lot worse for me!

A week on and the damage has almost healed, eating certain foods, especially those containing salt tend to bring back sudden reminders of my mistake, but the point is I do not regret what happened.  By venturing out of a comfort zone and training against more knowledgeable karate opponents allows you to learn from your mistakes in a controlled setting so you’re equipped for the real world.  Best to know your mistakes during training than when it’s too late if you know what I mean.

If I go back to my earlier laziness or bad habit comment; This exercise showed me that I’d learnt something incorrectly.  At all of my previous training sessions with the same old opponents I’d been able to get away with leaning slightly as an evasive action and thus by doing this thought it was correct.  Now I know I have to go back to the drawing board and unlearn something I previously thought was right.  It may be a pain in the backside, but I’d rather know now and spend the time working on my technique in the safety of the dojo than to not have known at all and coming unstuck when I need my training the most!

This lip will serve as a gentle reminder for the next few days at least to keep working hard and that there’s always a bigger fish.  Embrace the situation, learn from it and it will make you a lot better for it.  The journey is most definitely a marathon, not a sprint!