focus

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

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24/7 training, is it possible?

How often do you train?  Once a week? Twice a week? Three times or more?  Some of you may say you train for an hour a day, every day.

What if i were to tell you that you’re probably always training and if you’re not, it is possible to.  I know i am.  When you go to the dojo, put on your gi and do an hour or two under the guidance of your Sensei, this is primary training.  Practicing on your own at home, in the garden or wherever else you can get a bit of space is also beneficial, but there are opportunities everywhere you go.

Now i’m not saying we should walk down the street and do our kicks to get from a to b, but we can use our minds to focus on danger prevention.  Allow me to explain a little more…

There are a lot of subway underpasses around where I work and live, not places you want to be hanging around late at night.  However these are necessary to get to where i want to go.  By force of habit before i turn that corner i’m looking to see what is behind me, then  If you were to watch me you’d also see me taking the outside line so i can see at the earliest opportunity any possible danger.

When I buy jeans and trousers, I’m making sure these fit well around the waist, but also give me enough flexibility to make sure i can use my kicks if i need to.  It’s highly unlikely, if not near impossible that you’ll be wearing your gi come a real life fight on the streets.  To be honest, if you’re wearing your gi in situations that you don’t really need to then you could be asking for trouble.  You’ll never be short of a few air heads looking to prove a point so don’t give them the opportunity in the first place.

When I’m out and about for in a bar or restaurant, especially in places i don’t know; i’m looking to be sitting with my back to the wall.  Why?  Because behind me will be one less place i’ll be having to look if something kicks off.

Have you ever been stopped in the middle of the street by somebody you don’t know?  I personally don’t like it.  I get that awkward feeling.  What does this guy want?  Money?  Directions? The time?  In an ideal world to avoid any chance of possible confrontation I’d walk off and ignore, but then again being kind, friendly and with a innate need to respect other people I stay to find out what is needed.  The way in which I look to help however may come across as a little intimidating.  My eyes will scrunch as though i’m ready to kill putting the other person on edge.  My voice when responding becomes sharp and aggressive with my hands coming out of my pockets.  Why do I do this?  It’s not because i’m a bully, it’s not because i want to intimidate anybody, but more so a need for self preservation.  99 times out of 100 we will be stopped in the streets by strangers for genuine reasons and all is fine.  Let us imagine this person is stopping you for alternative reasons and they’re sizing you up to take your phone.  There is no way on Earth i’m going to make myself look like an easy target by being all nice.  As soon as this stranger acknowledges my response its intention should be to ask themselves the question, “Do i really want to be picking this target?”

  Some may say i’m over cautious, some may say i’m paranoid.  I say that i’m training my brain and focusing on little things I can do to give myself every extra chance of survival if put in to a situation that i’d rather not find myself in.

So, 24/7 training.  Is it possible? I think it is albeit not your standard training that you use in the dojo.  I’d be interested to see other people’s take on this.  Do you have little things you do for self preservation?  Do you think I’m barking mad?  Let me know in the comments section.