5 Benefits to Physical Fitness You Can Gain Through Karate

There are a whole host of reasons why people take up karate. Whether or not you do so to improve your fitness and physical form, participation in karate certainly brings with it a range of benefits towards this. For both young and old, karate can enhance your physical fitness in a number of ways. This doesn’t simply aid your performance in karate, but can also be useful in everyday life and is certainly beneficial for promoting your health and well-being. Karate therefore offers a great alternative to the gym, running, or taking part in any other endurance activity. As an enjoyable activity that boosts confidence and promotes social skills and self-discipline, it certainly does have a lot to offer.

Increase cardio-respiratory fitness

Karate requires movements that involve the muscles of the upper and lower limbs, as well as those of the core, significantly increase the muscle’s requirement for oxygen and glucose for respiration, the process that allows the release of energy to power the muscles. These essential components are delivered via the bloodstream and the increased need for them by the muscles triggers an increase in heart rate for faster delivery; this also aids more efficient removal of carbon dioxide, one of the waste products of respiration. The breathing rate also increases to allow oxygen intake to rise and aid the removal of carbon dioxide. As a result cardio-respiratory fitness is improved, allowing enhanced performance during training, but this also helps to achieve a healthy blood pressure and lung function which are beneficial for long-term cardio-respiratory health. A diet rich in heart healthy nutrients that contains oily fish, wholegrains, fruit, vegetables and pulses, as well as the likes of olive and rapeseed oil can further promote the circulation.

Improve flexibility

Warming up prior to a karate session helps to promote flexibility itself, as does stretching after you have completed your workout. Even on the days when you don’t participate in karate, consistent daily stretching is the best way to enhance your flexibility; though to avoid injury, stretches should always be completed after you have warmed up rather than cold. Improved flexibility aids your performance in karate, enabling you to achieve a greater range of movement to tackle more complex moves and to achieve a higher kick. It also helps to protect you against soft tissue injuries such as torn muscles and ligaments. However, everyday activities that involve bending and stretching also become easier with greater flexibility and this is of particular benefit as we age, as our flexibility naturally declines with age. Low back pain, which is believed to affect 80% of us at some point in our lives, can also be prevented through increased flexibility. Choosing foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, D and K can all help to support the joints, aiding greater flexibility.

Enhance balance

Even if you don’t have great balance when you start karate, regular participation will soon see you become steadier on your feet. Standing on one leg to perform a kick in multiple directions requires significant balance and even more is required when turning and jumping kicks are performed. However, learning the correct techniques to execute these moves and through practice, improvements in balance can be achieved. Adopting the correct stance, maintaining focus and regular exercises designed to perfect your balance all help to enhance this skill, which not only helps you to become successful in karate, but provides wider benefits. With more control over your balance, day-to-day tasks that require you to reach up and lift objects are easier to complete, but also helps you to avoid injury as you are able to correct your position. By reducing your risk of falls, this also helps to protect older adults from fractures that are otherwise increasingly common as a result of osteoporosis.

Promote gains in strength

Different moves in karate work a variety of muscle groups, offering a whole body workout. Each lift and kick helps to strengthen a group of muscles in your leg, while punches and blocks similarly help to strengthen those muscles in your arms and core. By strengthening your muscles this increases their power, allowing you to exert far more force and perform more powerful moves. The stretching that is integral to a karate session additionally helps to tone and lengthen your muscles to maximize your muscle gains. Developing your muscles again helps in your everyday life, but is especially helpful for anyone wishing to reduce their fat stores, as the creation of extra lean body mass boosts the metabolism. Strength training, particularly when through a weight-bearing activity like karate, also helps to promote an increase in bone density to guard against the loss of bone mass that occurs with age. An increase in muscle size and strength can additionally be supported by consuming a balanced diet rich in lean protein. Sources of protein such as lean meat, fish, eggs and pulses are typically rich in iron, zinc and B vitamins, all of which are necessary to promote tissue repair and muscle-building.

Boosts stamina

Karate promotes both cardiovascular stamina – the ability of our heart to supply our tissues with oxygen during sustained activity – and our muscle stamina – the capacity of our muscles to continue for the duration of the activity and its intensity. By enhancing our cardio-respiratory fitness and our muscle strength, this naturally helps us to increase our stamina, but specific training drills can be used to further build on our stamina. Being able to last longer during training allows you to push yourself harder to achieve greater results, further increasing the benefits that can be gained through participation in karate.

By Claire Morris

How Karate Can Become Part Of Your Child’s Healthy Lifestyle

Many parents across the Western world share a common concern regarding the lack of exercise and discipline in their child’s lives. While previous generations would have spent their childhood free time outside playing, many of today’s youngsters spend hours in front of the television or games console. Admittedly today’s world is different and it is much harder to give children the freedom to play outside for safety reasons. However, this doesn’t mean the only other option is to keep them indoors. There are plenty of safe alternatives to keep your children active and healthy, and karate could be just the solution you need.

The benefits

Karate brings fitness and focus into children’s lives. Some parents are concerned that it promotes violence but this isn’t the case as it actually helps to develop self-discipline and socialisation skills in youngsters. This is particularly apparent in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as karate helps to develop concentration and self-control which are exactly the skills that are underdeveloped in kids suffering from ADHD.

Classes begin with a bow to the teacher, or master, and then pupils move on to learn and practice karate skills, including kicks, punches and blocks. This all involves concentration and attention from the children, which is a great way to help them develop those skills.

Some people consider the respect learnt through karate to be the most beneficial outcome for kids. Students bow to the teacher and are expected to stand still to wait for the next command. As the sport is steeped in such history and tradition and is portrayed so positively in modern films, such as Karate Kid, many children seem to appreciate and connect with this form of discipline and respect when they have failed to do so elsewhere in their lives. Once this discipline is learnt it often carries over into other aspects of their lives such as their behavior at school and at home.

A healthy way of life

Karate sessions will keep your child active. Regular participation in karate lessons will improve your child’s cardio-respiratory fitness, flexibility and balance as well as core muscle-strength. It is recommended that the age of six is a good age to start karate as by that time children have enough muscle control to punch and turn safely. This is essential if they are to progress and get the most from the karate sessions.

One of the benefits of karate is that children can practice it at home without the need of special equipment or teammates to practice with.

A confidence boost

Taking part in karate sessions can also be a great confidence boost for your child. Whereas many other sports are all about winners and losers karate is more focused on personal development. Progressing though the various belt colours as their skills improve gives children a great sense of satisfaction and confidence in their abilities, providing them with an ‘I can’ attitude. The sport also encourages children to cope with uncomfortable situations. In terms of karate this can take the form of performing in front of fellow students or stepping into the ring and sparring with them. The development in confidence will translate into other aspects of their lives such as giving presentations in school, and speaking with older kids or adults more confidently and authoritatively.

Parents can get involved, too

It is a good idea for parents to work as closely as possible with their children to ensure that their lives are lived in a healthy and positive manner. This can cover parents getting involved in various aspects of children’s lives to help them learn how to live their lives healthily and to guide them in the right direction. A classic example is parents cooking with their kids, which according to licensedprescriptions.com helps kids to ‘learn a skill which will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives’. The same can be said for karate…What many parents don’t realise is that karate can be a great way to bond with children. Many karate schools, including Surrey Karate Academy encourage the involvement of parents in their sessions. Involving parents is the best way of helping them to appreciate that karate really isn’t a violent sport. In fact it is great for parents to see the safety measure that are put in place during classes as well as the important self-protection skills that it teaches their children so these can be continued at home.

Being involved in karate lessons with your child is also a great way to bond with them and to encourage them to stay dedicated and committed to progressing. What better way to show your child that you are interested in their hobby than by taking part with them? Practicing with your child at home is also a great way of developing your relationship and spending quality time together.

An enjoyable life skill

As well as the many benefits of karate covered above, karate is also a hugely enjoyable activity for kids to take part in. They may be enjoying themselves so much that they don’t realise that their life is changing for the better around them, and that is exactly as it should be!

Article written by Claire Morris

Training Blog

It has been a while since our last training blog and, although summer time is always more relaxing, by no means we haven’t been training for that long.

Last Friday training was a good session indeed. After our normal warm-up exercises we introduced a simple yet powerful crossfit workout of high intense training.

Fighting against the clock, we completed 3 times with no rest the following routine:

  • 40 squats
  • 30 sit ups
  • 20 seiken (knuckle) press-ups
  • 10 shoulder 4kg dumbbell lateral raise

This explosive workout was completed within 4 to 5 minutes, depending on condition, and the purpose is to compete against yourself: log the time you took and beat your own time next time. A very simple way to know if you are making progress with your own physical condition.

This routine is just one of many. Plenty more to come.

Class continued with kihon ido: sanchin and zenkutsu dachi sequences were covered and performed with power and kime. Special attention given to hikites and good form.

Extra kihon ido was introduced. With both legs on front:

  • Neko ashi dachi – kake uke (kake-te)
  • Shiko dachi -ura uchi (uraken)
  • Zenkutsu dachi – yako tsuki

At first on a straight line to work out sink in the sequence and feelings, but soon move to perform this on angles. This was practice at kumite speed and with kumite feeling. Good way to understand how absorb an attack and jump to strike twice and back protecting yourself after an attack.

A lot of leg work follow through with three of my favourite leg workouts was covered:

  • From heiko dachi, five kicks – four directions: mae geri, soto geri, ushiro geri, mawashi geri, ura mawashi geri
  • On a straight line: soto geri, ushiro geri, mawasi geri, ushiro mawashi geri
  • “The brush”, which I will post on a video on due course.

Various grappling drills were practised to finished what it was a highly physical and technical class allowing 10 minutes to practice mokuse on seiza, an aspect on karate often overlooked, and one I aim to bring back to our regular training.

A good session indeed!

 

 

 

Quote

The Formless Form

 

“I hope martial artists are more interested in the root of martial arts and not the different decorative branches, flowers or leaves. It is futile to argue as to which single leaf, which design of branches or which attractive flower you like; when you understand the root, you understand all its blossoming”

Bruce Lee,  Tao of Jeet Kune Do

 

Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Kyohan: The History and Fundamentals of Goju-Ryu Karate

Gogen Yamaguchi

Gogen Yamaguchi

Yamaguchi was the legendary and colorful early 20th century karate master who founded the All Japan Karate-dō Gōjū-kai Karate-dō Association (which later split into the JKF Gojukai and the J.K.G.A.).

Among the many famous martial artists who were influenced by his teachings was Mas Oyama, who went on to form his own organization, Kyokyushin karate.

One of Yamaguchi’s American students, Peter Urban, helped introduce goju-ryu into the United States, but later broke away to found his own American Goju-Ryu Association.

But it was Shuji Tasaki Shihan, founder of Seiwakai,  who well known as Gogen Yamaguchi’s most competent fighter having proven himself in the very first All Japan Karate-do Gojukai Championships in 1963 which was basically a day’s competition of knock-out, knock down, break bone and finish them matches. Having earned the cup for first place it set him as a target to be dealt with in the Dojo.

Karate-Do

Karate-do was born combining kakutojutsu [fighting martial arts], which had been studied in Okinawa 500 years ago, and kempo, which was introduced from China. As you can see in many countries, fighting martial arts have been handed down in each country. Some remain a national sport and others remain just a sport among others.

In Okinawa, for a long time, using any kinds of weapons was prohibited because of a policy of prohibiting weapons. For that reason, they had to invent toshukuken, the way to fight without a weapon. This was especially true in the beginning of the 17th century since it was thought that fighting martial arts, referring to Chinese kempo, was invented among Ryukyu [Okinawa] samurai because their weapons were banned. In Okinawa, before it was called karate, it had two names, one was Naha-te and the other was Shuri-te.

These are the names of regions. The source of present day styles are these two te. Naha-te was invented by Tono [Higaonna] Kanryo Shihan, who went to Fuku-ken-sho [also Fuken-sho, Fujian Province] in China and learned Chinese kempo, which was combined with Naha-te and named Shorei-ryu.

Shuri-te was represented by Matsumura Soken Shihan. It has been separated as Matsu-Toukan-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Wado-ryu. The history of Goju-ryu begins with Miyagi Chojun Shihan who is an unparalleled saint [fuseishutsu no kensei].

Miyagi Shihan was born in Meiji era 20 [1888] to a famous house in Naha, Okinawa. He had practiced karate since he was 14-years old with Tono Kanryo Shihan. In Meiji 36 [1904], when he was 16 years old, he was ordered to go to Fuku-ken-sho, China, and practiced Chinese kempo.

In China, Miyagi received rough and strict training. At the same time he studied theory from old books. After he came back from China, he compared Chinese kempo and Okinawa-te. Miyagi adopted his unique and effective way of breathing, which he called ikibuki [also ibuki], a way of preliminary exercise that is necessary for mastering karate-do. Ikibuki is also a supportive scientific exercise that is related to the structure of the body and its movement.

After that, Miyagi continued studying and reorganized both Chinese kempo and Okinawa-te’s merits and added his own ideas. This is how Goju-ryu was born. Goju-ryu’s name was extracted from the Bubishi, a Chinese documentary record.

One of eight Kyo phrases (precepts of Chinese martial arts) in the Bubishi (the once secret White Crane and Monk Fist Boxing text owned by many Okinawan karate masters) is called “Hogoju.” Because it means “the method of absorbing and releasing hard [go] and soft [ju],” the style was named Goju-ryu. Miyagi taught karate at an Okinawan police training school, a Naha public business school, an Okinawan teachers’ school, and an Okinawan health centre. In Showa 4 [1929], Miyagi was invited by a karate club at Kyoto University and by Kansai University, with honor, to become an advising teacher. He was then invited to teach permanently by Ritsumeikan University. Over time, Miyagi spread his methods throughout Japan and took the initiative of Goju-ryu.

By that time, the author of this book was recognized by Miyagi Shihan and was left the responsibility of spreading Miyagi’s method of guidance, creating a family of Goju-ryu, and organizing the All-Japan Karate-do Goju Association. Moreover, Miyagi Shihan was invited to Hawaii by a newspaper company, where he taught karate for one year and contributed to Goju-ryu karate-do in and outside of Japan. After World War II, Miyagi went back to Okinawa and quietly worked for the civil administration as a physical education coach. In October of Showa 28 [1953], he passed away.

Fundamental Idea of Goju-Ryu Karate-Do

Goju-ryu karate-do is composed of Yo [Yang], which is positive; and In [Yin], which is negative, as the ideographs [kanji] “Go” and “Ju” indicate. This is why the fundamental idea is so unique and has beauty. The eternal life of the universe develops with positive and negative working together. This is the same for the lives of humans. Life has Yo and In, or Go and Ju, both sides for all our lives, sometimes connected by becoming the will and harmony. The ancients who chose karate as a means of fighting endured their strict and rough practice to protect themselves and to win.

You can see that Goju-ryu is still keeping a primitive form for actual fighting when you practice the Sanchin and Tensho kata, which represent Go and Ju. In Sanchin, you make the whole body, all the nerves, etc. extremely tense and do not let your guard down even for a moment. On the other hand, in Tensho, you do not show a gush of fighting spirit, you keep it inside your body and wait for a chance to use it. As a result, Tensho draws a gentle curve and flows. The techniques of Goju-ryu use its own unique method of breathing, which is called ikibuki. The technique can be changed from Go to Ju or Ju to Go; and while you move without distraction, you still go along with the movements of the opponent. If the opponent comes by Go, you respond with Ju and restrain him. If the opponent comes by Ju, you use Go and temper him. Ikibuki is the way of breathing that controls conscious breathing from ordinary unconscious breathing. You go with the movement and breathing of the opponent and lead your physical condition to most advantageous situation. It is useful for concentrating your muscles and mind.

Goju-ryu has many postures that use the names of animals, like the cat, dog, crane, tiger, and dragon. In ikibuki, you imagine that a lion is roaring. When animals stand ready to fight, they are on their guard and all their power is concentrated for fighting. That form does not have anxiety or fear. They are just thinking about defeating the enemy. There is no desire of self-gratification and no dishonesty. You can say that they are desperate. The reason that the color of the old budo is very strong in modern budo is that we see the importance in the forms and the ikibuki of these animals. These aspects are the original aspects of Go, however, it is not perfect to emphasize the aspect of Go, in other words, the height of the form. If a strife of Go is one side, there has to be Ju on the other that avoids strife. That is how character building can be accomplished by Goju-ryu.

In the future, karate-do should not be a technique to defeat humans. When it gives an edge to others and yourself, then initially, it becomes a precept as Do and practice becomes valuable. In modern times, there is a method of instruction and a way of studying karate-do as a sport, but I do not know how the readers interpret karate-do, as a budo or just a sport in common with the West. Certainly, you can think that there is no difference from other sports when you refer to the rules of the game. Also, the main purpose of sports is to train the mind and body at the same time. It applies to budo as well. Yet, it is difficult to say that the many events that have been invented in the West are simply sport and that only Japanese ancient grappling games are called budo. Presently, there are Olympic games and many kinds of events. Judo, kendo, and karate-do have been introduced as sports. Their sporting elements are emphasized and introduced by many people and have also been reformed to become a sport. Still, there will be a big difference in the mental attitudes between people who practice karate as a sport and as a budo. This is because our society is formed into many organizations, sometimes in a family, school, or workshop. In these societies, the purpose of sports is to make healthy minds and bodies, to bring together a sense of cooperation to make a member of society adapt to this human society. Moreover, it promotes the improvement of a member of society. By having characteristics common to all by sports, the events are used to encourage making peace in the world.

What about budo? Budo did not originate in a peaceful atmosphere. It was necessary to protect one’s life at the time, and to learn how to use budo as a weapon and achieve one’s responsibility as a warrior. It was the warrior’s duty to develop spirit. This rule was established in the hierarchy. It was the theory of a warrior to desire winning a war.

Modern budo is not the extension of ancient budo. Right now, there is no hierarchy like in samurai society. Society does not force you to destroy human life; however, one of the conceptions of ancient budo is skill inherited in modern budo. Before, warriors practiced budo and respected it as Do, suffering, and facing death. In spite of the fact that death is the destiny of all human beings, the idea of death is dreadful. I do not doubt that the ancient budo philosophy was resisted by human beings facing death and yet also the way of character building to learn to overcome death. For a living thing, instead of knowing that life is the most precious thing, death was the naught. As a result of putting oneself in the naught, they could ignore their fear of death.

In the ancient budo book, Hagakure, it is written that budo is death. In these words, you can find the spirit of budo, which is superior to death. In other words, an object of the fear of death is neither others, nor weapons — it is oneself. As a result, it was necessary to obtain a technique to protect oneself and one had to have a strong spirit to correspond to that. When one could overcome a conception of death, there was an improvement of a human being as a samurai. When it was developed, karate-do was used in place of weapons and studied that way so that the spirit of the samurai was needed at the beginning of its conception to learn karate. Now there are rules, but the techniques and elements have not changed.

The goal of many sports is competition; however, there is a sense of entertainment or hobby. On the other hand, karate is the fight against one’s self without having an object. In sports, records are saved and defeating these records becomes the success. They are introduced to many people as a means of character building and harmonizing mankind, and they are kept. In karate-do, there is nothing to be recorded. The more superior is judged by the technique used. Now, karate is the battle against one’s self and a means of the way of one’s life not to defeat others or to die. This solitary fight is to know one’s own spirit and the desire to the naught that is superior to the limitation of the body. If one’s aspiration is a formal victory or defeat, that is just a stage of learning techniques, not a faith of kyo or mu. As an author, I also studied Yoga and Shinto to seek this faith. I also trained myself to get closer to the strictness and mystery of Do.

Goju Ryu Karate Do Kyohan

Goju Ryu Karate Do Kyohan

In conclusion, it is not necessary to be strong even though you practice karate-do. You want to be stronger than others because you compare your strength with others. The object of karate-do is Do, not comparing with someone else, and this Do will continue forever and ever.

Reference

Yamaguchi’s book, “Goju Ryu Karate Do Kyohan”

Training blog

Very good session last night.

After completing 20 min of intense warmup (or mini workout) we trained and studied sanchin and tensho katas spending over an hour analysing the moves and performing at different levels of intensity.

Working drills in pairs, we reinforced the moves and actions to take in confrontational situations where you are about to be grabbed or punched ; and also once you have been grabbed. Very functional (and devastating) technology.

Finished the class with more sanchin and tensho.