Posts Tagged ‘Speed’

Compare and contrast hard and soft Martial Arts

Written by Katherine. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013

Karate for women, adults martial arts, ladies self defence, kung fu for women, martial arts basingstoke, taekwondo

Katherine White

2nd Dan Project

 

The main element to my research project, as part of my 2nd dan grading, is to compare and contrast 5 “hard” and 5 “soft” styles of martial arts – looking at their key underlying principles and methods of power generation and also looking at how these different styles encourage and develop effective techniques.

 

(Admin’s Note:- As part of the Black Belt grading requirements in 2013, 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.)

At first glance this looked fairly simple and easy to organise but after a quick scout round the web I realised it was more of a Tardis-like question, or one of those children’s joke snake- in-a-jar – it looks small and simple outside but somehow there is a HUGE amount contained within!  Even the question of what counts as a hard or soft martial art is open to interpretation and there does not seem to be a handy black and white list of what fits what category. It is sometimes down to personal interpretation; how the particular Martial Art is carried out by each practitioner; or if, over time, the style has adopted a variety of techniques rather than being a “pure” single style.

 

My plan is to research these martial arts in a couple of different ways. Obviously the great god google will provide an easy way to look at the different styles – I’d look at personal, dedicated sites rather than something generic like Wikipedia. There are a lot of blog style sites where senseis and teachers have written ideas so they will be a useful resource.  If possible I would love to visit a lesson of each style although for dull practical reasons – training 2 or 3 nights a week, doing 4 gym runs with my children other nights, a travelling husband etc I will not guarantee I can do this for each of the 10. It would also be lovely to “interview” senseis from these different styles to get a personal view on how they interpret their particular martial art.

 

It is quite hard to “prove” this research as it is such a subjective issue – how one person carries out their martial art, their reasons for choosing a particular style and how they apply any principles taught will vary for everyone. At this stage I am open to see how any “results” prove or disprove anything – I suspect it will be on the majority thinking and also looking at the historic principles of the style – rather than from one person way down the food chain who trains in it.

 

My plan is to look at these disciplines one at a time – and in doing so will discover their underlying principles and also find out any areas where there is common ground and also where they differ. It would be a huge undertaking to report on all 10 in one go – I think it will be more of a “build up the collection” type project – where each report adds on a new style to look at but will also refer back to previous styles and will compare and contrast. As the project moves forwards more styles will be added and by reading them as a whole it will be able to see where they overlap and where they differ.

 

My chosen disciplines are –

Soft: (from) judo, ju jitsu, aikido ,tai chi, hapkido, wing chun

Hard: TKD, kendo, boxing, muay thai, bajiquan (though these may change this is my intention now!)

 

I felt “kung fu” and “karate” were too woolly titles and were often umbrella terms encompassing many styles or branches and also it was interesting to explore unknown styles. Judo is the exception – I have taken part in this for a couple of years now!

 

Extra topics to also research are to look at the validity of Tai Chi as a fighting martial art and this is an area I admit I know very little about and, for personal, preconceived ideas, have tended to write it off as “floaty” relaxation techniques rather than practical. As I have progressed in my own training I have started to see how it can be used as part of a martial art – but have yet to understand it as a stand alone martial art so watch this space…

 

Another area to look at is what martial artists can learn from yoga and meditation. This is the area I will struggle with most – on two levels. The first is that I know very little about either, and have never practised or felt the need to practise either. I see Yoga as a stand-alone exercise programme – good for flexibility and core stability but this is not the only way to achieve these ends.  Due to my background growing up in a Christian family I have an embedded belief not to practice meditation or yoga in the sense of “emptying the mind” as this is not a practise endorsed by the Christian faith and also because it has its roots in Buddhism and Hinduism and other non-Christian beliefs.  As such, I am happy to research the benefits etc but will not be actively taking part. Again, I am open to learning new ideas and will see where this path takes me.  I am not against focus, concentration or visualisation which are elements of meditation but not completely emptying, or focussing on other gods for example.

 

The final area is about what we can learn from modern sports training methods for speed and relaxation.  From this I am defining “modern” as utilising new technology or new ideas – obviously getting speed out of runners’ blocks for examples is a practise that has been around for years. This will probably involve a bit of stumbling round in the dark as I am not even sure of a starting point so will hope to find a way in. The focus will probably be on technological advances and better understanding of the make-up of the body – from blood types and even genetics.

 

Between now and December I will endeavour to write up a report on each of my 10 styles (2 at a time)– hopefully each will build on the previous one and ultimately there will be links throughout the  threads as well as elements discrete to each.

 

The Tai Chi; Yoga and meditation; and Modern sports will all be separate articles, presenting my findings and how they can be applied.

 

The class at the end…will absolutely depend on what happens between now and then.

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“Stronger”-“Faster” Are they the most overused words in Karate?

Written by bryan. Posted in Coaching

Martial Arts secrets, taekwondo, Karate, Kung Fu, strength, flexibility

“Stronger” “Faster”

are two of the most overused words in Karate and usually without a correct understanding of the meaning behind the words.

 

Some of the best Karate-ka I have ever seen have come from a ballet or dance background. Sure the flexibility that is inherent in good practitioners of these disciplines helps, but that is not the main reason. In Karate we are often told to perform a technique “faster” or “stronger”

These overused soundbites are n’t usually used in the correct context and lead to many of us developing bad habits. So if we look at what they should really mean.

“Faster”

What this should really mean is to accelerate the technique more.

Speed of the technique at impact point is one (note that I say one *) of the reasons why a technique can be effective and will cause damage. So going faster is generally a good idea, but please remember, it is all about the acceleration of that technique to a maximum speed at it’s impact point without any deceleration.

* At a more senior level, other skills are developed which mean that speed is n’t quite as important. Timing and the way the technique is performed become just as useful tools.

“Stronger”

Now this is the tough one to look at. We are often told to “use more Kime” or to make the techniques as “Strong”  as we can.

Note Kime is defined by Wikipedia as “Kime is a commonly-used Japanese martial arts term. In karate it can mean “power” and/or “focus,” describing the instantaneous tensing at the correct moment during a technique.”

 

In reality we should be told to relax more not to make a technique stronger. 

Often the result of being told stronger / more kime is to make the Karate-ka contort and contract the muscles of the body in all sort of funny shapes in an effort to be strong. All this usually achieves is that the Karate-ka tenses all of their body muscles to take on the western ideals of strength and once this is done, any pretence of speed is lost. Ever tried to walk or even run whilst tensing your muscles? Not easy is it, unless you are happy looking like a robot.

 

Many instructors translation kime to their students as tension. This is not strictly correct, its really focus at the end of the technique. Now if you buy into the idea that Kime is necessary to make a techniques effective (and I don’t by the way + ) then what you have to achieve or at least initially, for newer students, aim to achieve, is that the technique and whole body is totally relaxed and fluid right until the moment of impact. Then for a micro second, you focus (tense) the whole body but immediately you have to go back to that state of relaxation.  If this is done correctly, it also helps the practitioner with the flow and speed of transition between techniques. The most common mistake being made here is that people are too tense for too long, its really not necessary and if you keep doing this you’ll never make it as a competent Karate-ka.

 

In order to be a competent Karate-ka you must flow between each and every technique, but each and every technique must be effective. Look at some of the Youtube videos of the likes of Asai or Kanazawa, they look and are smooth. A dancer understands this and can make their techniques flow, look at someone doing Tai Chi, they understand this concept, many Karate-ka (exponents of Karate) who have yet to ‘get there’ look at Tai Chi and see something performed slowly and without power and assume that that this means its only for health and is no good for self defence. Nothing could be further from the truth and I’d go as far to say that martial Tai Chi (ie Tai Chi not taught by some new age hippie type on a health trip) is a very good martial art both in terms of the principles it teaches and also the moves you learn. Many Karate-ka would benefit hugely from practising it. I’d also go as far to say that Tai Chi is harder to learn and practise than Karate, due to the softness required.

So to summarise the main messages here. Relaxation is key, from relaxation stems speed and power.

If Tai Chi was easy it would be called Karate ;-). You may not practise Martial Tai Chi, but all the principles in Tai Chi exist in Karate, if its taught and practised well. Karate and Tai Chi are the same fundamentally in what they teach. The biggest difference is that in many schools Karate always is ‘stronger and faster.’ You could say that Tai Chi is the thinking persons martial art as students are training to think for themselves and to be always mindful of what they are doing and how they are doing it.

Why not try some Karate kata at ‘Tai Chi speed’ or do some pushing hands to learn to be more relaxed.

 

Enjoy your training.

+ I mentioned that I don’t buy into Kime being necessary for effective techniques. What Kime actually does is to stop the flow of a movement right at the moment of impact. It’s a bit of a contradiction don’t you think being told that you have to accelerate faster but then just as you hit the target you have to slow the technique down by using Kime? I know, I’d finished the article but could n’t resist the final curve ball 😎 Have a look at this clip of boxing knockouts. Is there much use of Kime within it?

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