Posts Tagged ‘Black belt’

The differences between Beginners and Advanced practitioners.

Written by Jess. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013, Coaching


Beginners Karate Club, Karate club in Basingstoke, Karate in Old Basing, Karate in Hatch Warren, Karate in Brighton Hill, Brighton Hill Karate, Karate in KempshottThe differences between Beginners and Advanced practitioners.

Beginners- White, Orange and Red belts

By Jess Muller

I feel that beginners should spend the majority of their lesson time working on their fundamentals. This should include: the stances, the blocks, kicks and punches. Also, correct positioning of the body should be taught (weight distribution,) as well as how to correctly execute the moves.

So, in a 90 minutes lesson, 60 minutes should be spent on basic training, with the rest spent on warming up and cooling down. This will ensure that good power, skill and precision is learnt early on without overloading the brain with trying to learn a form as well as basic moves.

Once they have gathered some knowledge on the basics, and can complete each move without assistance, fighting can now be introduced. This is because they have now developed good skill, precision, control and concentration, due to the time spent learning the basics. Now the blocks, kicks and punches can be incorporated into the fighting. This is far more effective (I feel,) because it is easier to develop as they can see the moves being put into practice. Also, there is a smaller chance of injury as they have more knowledge on how to execute the techniques carefully and correctly. Therefore, rather than going into a fight blind with no previous experience, they will be prepared with some moves. By having good fighting skills the individual can gain good power, skill, precision, strength, control and timing, which can be incorporated into the basics and then katas/forms.

Once the basics have been further improved and the individual can now fight with relative skill and competency, it is time to introduce kata and/or forms. Heian Shodan is the first kata that is taught in Shotokan Karate. It encompasses the basic head and stomach height punches, as well as the downward block (Gedan Barai.) This is all the kata includes so it requires the very basic moves to be correct otherwise this won’t allow the kata to look good and be good. By having a good kata the individual can gain good balance, precision, strength, skill, control and concentration. Thus making the basics better as these new found skills can now be used to improve their basics and fighting. If the club starts learning forms first instead of katas, then the first form they will learn will be the Kickboxing Form. This includes the basic punches (jab, cross, hook and upper cuts to the head,) and two of the basic kicks, front kick (mae-geri,) and roundhouse kick (mawashi geri.) From this you can then learn the same skills as katas, just in different ways.

Advanced Practitioner- Purple to Brown and two white stripes.

By the time that practitioners have reached this level, they are considered advanced grades.  The time should be split accordingly to their strengths and weaknesses. For example: if there are 30 people in the class, and 18 aren’t very competent at kata, and the remaining 12 need practice on their fighting, then the time should be split in half evenly. This ensures that everyone can improve in their certain weakness, but also improve in another area even more.  By improving your weaknesses, you are making yourself a rounded martial artist as you are good at everything and not just one thing.

In a 90 minute class, the time divide will probably not be equal. More time will be spent or fighting drills or combinations rather than the basic techniques. Or you may start off with the basics quickly (as a warm up for 15 minutes,) and go into kata for 45 minutes and then fighting for 30 minutes. This helps to make sure that everyone is improving in every area, and not just in one.

As advanced grades, they should be learning more advanced fundamentals like multiple kicks on one leg and combinations of moves. There shouldn’t be a long time spent on fundamentals (like there is for beginners,) but the focus should be on the fighting and kata.

In fighting, individuals should now be thinking about: the gaps for the techniques, the speed, precision, guard and the techniques. This is because they can fight at these grades, and know what they are doing, but they need to understand their opponent too. Also, it is about pushing the individuals so that they have to think about where they are going instead of aimlessly throwing techniques. By understanding your opponent, you can read them to see any tell-tale signs of movement, or to see what techniques they do the most.

In their kata/forms work, they should know at least 3-5 forms (kickboxing form, close quarter form, power hands, 16 gates and possibly 13 hands.) This is for purple belts – higher grades should know all of the forms. Or the katas: heian shodan, heian nedan, heian sandan, heian yondan and tekki shodan– if they are taught the katas and not forms. This will increase their memory bank of moves as the different katas/forms contain different moves. In addition, they also begin to show different techniques which advanced practitioners need to work on. For example, in tekki shodan, it begins to teach the action of moving the waist and not the hips to generate more power. Likewise the close quarter form teaches this too.

Differences between the grades

A beginner should spend most of their time repeating: basic moves, katas and sets of moves. This will make the muscles remember the move and also make their brains remember how to correctly do a technique, or kata/form or fighting. However, an advanced practitioner would spend their time on increasing the speed of a technique, or the precision of a move or kata/form. They would spend less time repeating the basic moves, just briefly going over them to make sure that everything is correct.

The attitudes should be different as lower grades should be trying to catch up with the higher grades, and trying to improve as quickly as possible. The advanced grades should be looking at improving everything to get to black belt standard as it is in their reach, and still trying to prove how much of a gap there is between them and the lower grades. This shouldn’t be a negative thing; it is a good way of improvement, when you have a target that you are desperate to reach as it is achievable.

Summary of differences

  • Lower grades should spend more time on their fundamentals than any other area to get a good basis for katas/forms and fighting. Advanced grades should split the time between the three areas, especially the area that they aren’t so good at.
  • More repetition of fundamentals is required for lower grades compared to advanced grades.
  • Advanced grades should be improving the speed and precision of the fundamentals whereas the lower grades should be focusing on doing the moves correctly.
  • Advanced grades should try to learn harder techniques (multiple kicks, or hard combinations,) compared to lower grades who should get the very basic moves correct first.
  • In Katas/Forms, lower grades should know one or two, and make sure that they can remember them and demonstrate them independently. Advanced grades should know multiple katas/forms all at a good standard.
  • Advanced grades should think about their body positioning, weight distribution and waist movement to generate power and make every move as strong as possible. Lower grades should think about where the target is for every move and think about what the moves could be used for (Bunkai– analyzing the moves within in a kata/form to see what they could be used for.)
  • In Fighting, lower grades should try and use a few basic moves that they know (blocks, punches, front kick and roundhouse kicks,) to the best of their ability. Advanced grades know more techniques, so they should put them into practice to see if they work well for them as an individual.
  • Advanced grades should think about the openings of the opponent, and throw suitable techniques for that gap. Lower grades should think about where they are aiming their technique – head, stomach or leg.
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Black Belt Gradings 2013

Written by bryan. Posted in Grading, Updates

Black Belt Project, Black Belt Grading, Adults Grading, ExaminationAs Martial Artists, we should all seek to constantly challenge ourselves to test our knowledge and skills every time we train. As Gichin Funakoshi (who is credited with introducing Karate to Japan) said “Karate is like warm water. If you don’t heat it constantly, it will cool.” Without this constant evolution, we cannot claim to be Martial Artists.

In line with this, we are making a significant change to how we run the Black Belt grading this year. In 2013, there will only be 1 Black Belt grading, this will take place during December on the weekend of Saturday 7th.

As part of their grading, candidates will have to complete and publish a given research project where they have to justify and prove all conclusions that they arrive at.

The aim of this is to challenge the individual on a personal basis to broaden and deepen their knowledge base over a longer period of time and ultimately with the goal to significantly improve their physical and non-physical skills.

The pieces chosen for each individual will be targeted to be challenging for them and although a stretch to complete will be achievable.

Adults will have to do the following

1. Produce an initial briefing by the end of February that will be published to explain

1.1. About their topic and what it encompasses

1.2. How they will be doing the research

1.3. How they will be presenting your findings

1.4. Some indications of their timetable during 2013 to achieve this

2. Between March and November to provide a minimum of six reports/updates on their progress and thinking.

3. Produce a short summary of findings and conclusions and teach a 60 minute class on that topic during November / December

Children will have to do the following

1. Produce an essay explaining

1.1. What the topic means to them

1.2. How they will be doing the research on the topic

1.3. What they personally hope to get out of their work

1.4. How they hope their work will help other children

2. Between March and November to write three essays on their topic. 

3. Prepare a short < 5 minute talk on their topic to discuss with the other children and be prepared to answer any questions that they may have on the topic

 

For all candidates regardless of age, they must still meet the necessary technical standards during 2013 to be invited to grade in December.

 

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Does experience matter?

Written by bryan. Posted in Coaching, Martial Arts skills

Karate Instructor, GKR Basingstoke, GKR Region 38, Fort Hill, Everest, Go Kan Ryu, Go-Kan-Ryu, Shotokan, Wado, Shito, Goju, Karate in Basingstoke

Does experience matter?

From time to time that old chestnut pops up on the internet about people who are n’t Black belts teaching Martial Arts and whether this is an acceptable approach or not. The main thrust of the two arguments are:-
 

You don’t need to be a Black Belt to teach! 

The argument is that anyone can be a teacher of Martial Arts because its far more important that you can communicate well with people. Some systems proactively recruit junior students, in some cases with mere months of training experience to teach Karate or Taekwondo for them to an unsuspecting audience and this help them to grow their business or franchise.
 
Part of this argument is valid, in that in order to be a good teacher, you need to be a good communicator at many levels and in many different ways. In the past, I’ve seen people as high as 7th Dan, who technically were good at Karate, but were awful at teaching it and developing their students.

  You need to be a Black Belt to teach! 

The argument here is that in order to teach, one needs a certain level of technical knowledge and expertise, otherwise it becomes ‘monkey see – monkey do’ without any detailed technical depth of knowledge to back it up. As one progresses in Martial Arts practice, it becomes more demanding. Mentally with more things to learn, understand and develop and each year the person trains, they should develop new skills and enhance or even change existing ones. If they aren’t then they are simply doing White belt level Karate, even if they have been training for 15 years. I remember Vince Morris a well known Shotokan Karate 8th Dan asking us on a course about 28 years ago. “Have you trained for 15 years? Or have you trained for three years five times?” It took me a little while to understand the significance of his question, but after over 30 years of training, I find there is still so much more to learn.
 
People below black belt are unlikely to have the requisite depth of knowledge to be a competent and effective teacher, even if the syllabus that they teach is simplistic in the extreme.
 Part of this argument is correct, that you need to have a long term exposure to Martial Arts and be a senior grade before you can hope to teach it, perhaps I should caveat that and say teach it with any degree of depth or knowledge.

  What’s the reality?

In truth not only do you need to be an excellent communicator able to adapt to different learning styles, you also need to have a depth of technical knowledge and competence to back this up.
Martial Arts by virtue of what they are capable of doing can be dangerous for both the practitioner and also for their fellow practitioners if they are not taught correctly. This is due to the risk of poorly taught techniques causing severe long term chronic injuries to the practitioner or due to them injuring another student through inappropriate techniques. The other aspect to consider from a students perspective, particularly at the higher grade levels, is that in order to progress, its important to train with someone who is much better than you.
 I had a conversation with a friend of mine, who was ranked in Karate at Shodan (1st Dan) level, he told me about a conversation, he had with his instructor. He asked what more would he need to learn to achieve his Nidan (2nd Dan) and the reply was that the only difference was to learn a new Kata (A Kata is a sequence of moves, like a fighting dance.) Clearly something was amiss there, as the requirement was only to learn a new sequence of moves that he could already perform. Those clubs that encourage non black belts to teach are the ones that are typically part of a large business or a franchise model and are more interested in ££££ than developing good, competent students with a wealth of knowledge.
 So always ask what grade and experience the coach has with their Martial Arts. Don’t be fobbed of, by someone saying “my grade is Instructor.” If they say that, they are almost certainly not a Black Belt.
The other thing to consider is whether the teacher holds any recognised teaching/coaching qualification. As a minimum a good teacher must have a current First Aid qualification, hold an enhanced CRB form, have instructors insurance to teach you (don’t forget that the student should also have their own personal insurance too) and also hold a formally recognised external Martial Arts Coaching qualification. See the Martial Arts Standards Agency’s website for clear guidelines on what is and isn’t acceptable for an instructor. 
 Sport England’s Clubmark
 (Sport’s Quality Kitemark) say this about coaches:-

Coaching staff have a key role in establishing an appropriate coaching environment and creating a successful playing programme. All sports have to demonstrate that coaches are trained to appropriate levels and that the activity undertaken in the club reflects best practice in the development of young people. For example. coaches are required to ensure that young people do not train excessively or in conditions that may cause injury or discomfort. The emphasis within Clubmark is that coaches are supported in their professional development, so when new ideas or updates (e.g., LTAD) become available the NGB supports its coaches to understand and implement them.

Both coaches and students need to aware and mindful of what they are doing and who they are doing it with. Good training.

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Martial Arts Standards Agency British Judo British Council for Chinese Martial Arts – National Governing Body The World Union of Karate Federations Shi Kon Martial Arts British Council for Chinese Martial Arts – National Governing Body Safeguarding

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