TKF Nationals 30th October 2011

Well over 10 years later, I’ve decided to enter in a kumite competition again. Sports karate is all about the speed and timing, together with a sharp and polish technique and fighting against 17-28 year old is a very difficult challenge.

I’m not sure of the reasons why I’ve decided to enter again in a kumite competition. One of the reasons is to push myself further, test myself and make me train harder with a focused objective in mind.

Another reason is to enjoy the rush of adrenaline you get with kumite. See whether you still “have it” in you. I’m realistic of my possibilities, but one thing is for sure: I don’t compete to lose.

Karate and spirituality

The reality is that we don’t know: we have been misinformed, knowledge and information have been concealed and, occasionally properly deceived with the help of millions of pounds of marketing campaigns and advertising.

We don’t know how to breath, we don’t know how to keep our posture and, above all, we don’t know how to eat.

Feeling depressed for no reason? Suffering of stress and anxiety? Work getting on top of you? Not feeling peace at home? Don’t seek for pills and tablets straight away, give yourself a real chance: change your diet, find a hobby and exercise. How very obvious, right?

As a rule of thumb, we can do by eating half of the amount of whatever we are eating every day. Give up white refine sugar (deadly drug), coffee and sugary fizzy drinks completely. Stick to your five-a-day. Stretch your body 10 min every day and stop for 15 min every day to breath deeply (inhaling slowly and focusing on the long slow exhale) while empty your head of every day thoughts. Feel how you slow down, going to a stand-by mode.

At bed time, recreate yourself with positive thoughts: your family, the people you love, your daughter, your dog. Try to remember funny things that made you laugh. Fall asleep with positive fun thoughts and memories.

Education, real education, start at home. We are role models to our children. We are everything they look up to. Exercise on front of your children and let them join you, which they will. Don’t argue on front of them. Have, at least, one healthy meal at the table with all the family members every week. Ask your children for help when you are cooking to make them feel part of the meal they will be having.

When you are eating meat, think and feel what you are doing: thank, internally, the animal that died on your benefit as you are absorbing its energy. When you are eating fruit and vegetables, think of the energy from the sun and water which you are now absorbing. Be spiritual with your food and don’t just eat it without consideration. Where possible, try to eat organic food. The money you can save by eating half of the amount  can be spend on good quality food. Try to fast one day a week. What a misconception this is: fasting is not starving.

Ignorance is not an excuse any more. Read and inform yourself. It’s not about how long we will live, but the quality of the years we live.

Being spiritual is part of karate-do.

Karate kyu grade exams with Paul Coleman

Title: Karate kyu grade exams with Paul Coleman
Location: Donnington Social Club 10am to 14.00
Link out: Click here
Description: Bar available, tv etc.

Register in class by Friday 19th August 2011

Townsend Square, Oxford OX4 4BB

Take a 2nd turning left along Donnington Bridge Road, coming from the Iffley Road.

The social club is to the right, and is a dead end. Parking available.
Start Time: 10:00
Date: 2011-09-18
End Time: 14:00

TKF National Championships

Title: TKF National Championships
Location: Crystal Palace National Sports Centre Maberley Road, Crystal Palace London, United Kingdom
Link out: Click here
Come and test your skills against karateka from around the country at this prestigious venue. Whether you prefer kata or kumite or even if you’ve never competed before, the Nationals is the perfect place to push and challenge yourself. Divisions for boys and girls, men and women from 6 years old right up to adult.

You have put the time into your training, now’s the time to rise to the challenge!

Traditional Karate Federation (TKF) is the England name for the group incorporating Seiwakai, Goshukan, Shuseikan and other affiliated members.
The National Championships is open to any student from any dojo affiliated to the TKF.

The tournament follows the rules and format of the JKF Goju Kai World Championships. We are using these competitions as a basis to create a formal Great Britain squad to represent our country at international level; especially in Japan.

The rules for international entrants are restricted to allowing up to 2 players to enter any single division from any country. We mirror the 39 divisions used at the Japan Karate Federation competition and invite the gold and silver medallists from each division to be provisionally selected for the Great Britain squad. Following the National Championships there will be a further selection day for members who want to try again for one of the two places available. This process will give our Association time and opportunity to organise training in the build up to the 2012 JKF Goju Kai World Championships, which will be held in Chiba; Tokyo, Japan.

Start Time: 08:00
Date: 2011-10-30
End Time: 19:00

Self-Defence and the Prevention of Crime

Reasonable Force
A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances for the purposes of:

  • self-defence; or
  • defence of another; or
  • defence of property; or
  • prevention of crime; or
  • lawful arrest.

In assessing the reasonableness of the force used, prosecutors should ask two questions:

  • was the use of force necessary in the circumstances, i.e. was there a need for any force at all? And;
  • was the force used reasonable in the circumstances?

The courts have indicated that both questions are to answered on the basis of the facts as the accused honestly believed them to be (R v Williams (G) 78 Cr. App R 276), (R v Oatbridge, 94 Cr App R 367) and (Archbold 19-49).

To that extent it is a subjective test. There is, however, an objective element to the test. The jury must then go on to ask themselves whether, on the basis of the facts as the accused believed them to be, a reasonable person would regard the force used as reasonable or excessive.

It is important to bear in mind when assessing whether the force used was reasonable the words of Lord Morris in Palmer v R, 1971 A.C. 814;

If there has been an attack so that self defence is reasonably necessary, it will be recognised that a person defending himself cannot weigh to a nicety the exact measure of his defensive action. If the jury thought that that in a moment of unexpected anguish a person attacked had only done what he honestly and instinctively thought necessary, that would be the most potent evidence that only reasonable defensive action had been taken…

The fact that an act was considered necessary does not mean that the resulting action was reasonable (R v Clegg 1995 1 A.C. 482 HL) and (Archbold 19-41).

However, where it is alleged that a person acted to defend himself/herself from violence, the extent to which the action taken was necessary will, of course, be integral to the reasonableness of the force used.

In R v O’Grady 85 Cr App R 315 it was held by the Court of Appeal that a defendant was not entitled to rely, so far as self-defence is concerned, upon a mistake of fact which had been induced by voluntary intoxication.

Pre-emptive strikes
There is no rule in law to say that a person must wait to be struck first before they may defend themselves: R v Deana, 2 Cr.App.R. 75.

Failure to retreat when attacked and when it is possible and safe to do so, is not conclusive evidence that a person was not acting in self defence. . It is simply a factor to be taken into account. It is not necessary that the defendant demonstrates by walking away that he does not want to engage in physical violence: R v Bird 81 Cr App R 110.

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Albert Einstein on Crisis

I recall reading in Spanish a script from Albert Einstein on Crisis, which I’ve found in English. The text is very powerful and inspirational and captures beautifully the true spirit of BUDO:

Let’s not pretend that things will change if we keep doing the same things. A crisis can be a real blessing to any person, to any nation. For all crises bring progress.

Creativity is born from anguish, just like the day is born form the dark night. It’s in crisis that inventive is born, as well as discoveries, and big strategies. Who overcomes crisis, overcomes himself, without getting overcome. Who blames his failure to a crisis neglects his own talent, and is more respectful to problems than to solutions. Incompetence is the true crisis.

The greatest inconvenience of people and nations is the laziness with which they attempt to find the solutions to their problems. There’s no challenge without a crisis. Without challenges, life becomes a routine, a slow agony. There’s no merit without crisis. It’s in the crisis where we can show the very best in us. Without a crisis, any wind becomes a tender touch. To speak about a crisis is to promote it. Not to speak about it is to exalt conformism. Let us work hard instead.

Let us stop, once and for all, the menacing crisis that represents the tragedy of not being willing to overcome it

Karate is for Self-Defense

During the years I’ve been training karate-Do I’ve gone through periods of intense training and, for various reasons, periods of little training. I even went through a period of martial art identity crisis,  which is something I think all martial art practitioners experience at some point in their life, where I questioned the value of karate as a true self defence science/art. I questioned the value of karate techniques, its applications and whether they would work in a real ‘dangerous’ situation.

This ‘crisis’ pushed me to try other martial arts and I flirt for 2 years with aikido, capoeira and a mixture of kung-fu styles applied to ‘real life situations’, but I didn’t quite find my path there either…

The question whether Karate is valid for self defence taunted me for a while and, as a matter of fact, it is something I still discuss with a dear and beloved  friend of mine who fall out of karate a few years ago, but who I met, ironically, thanks to karate.  One day, though, I realised I was asking the wrong question. The question is not whether karate, or any other martial art in this respect, it’s valid for self defence or not. The question is what is self-defence?

Typically, we reduce the definition of self defence to that of a physical action or reaction in order to protect yourself from a physical threat or attack, and with the explosion of MMA, Cage Fight, K1 and other fighting modalities, martial arts seems to be judged on this fighting ability alone. I’m not criticising these fighting sports at all, far from it. As a matter of fact, I quite enjoy watching it myself.

The point I am trying to make is that, in my opinion, to measure karate on this respect alone is vague, to say the least. Of course, there’s a very important core element of fighting skills in karate. Essential, in fact; but self defence is not just about learning how to fight and be able to take one, two, three, hundreds of attackers and send them to hospital. Where’s the limit then?  How far can we take the “what if” scenarios we so much love to question ourselves in order to test our fighting abilities. How to take one person down? Two people? Ten? An attackers carrying knives? Or guns? How to avoid a sniper?

We can carry on with the most ridiculous ‘battle context’ scenarios where no martial art technique will ever protect you. But then, again, other aspects of your training might do: you build confidence to talk in a tense situation, you develop a sense of conflict awareness and learn to read a situation before it kicks off;  your body reacts to other people’s body language and protects itself just by naturally changing your stand and loosing up your hands and legs; more often than not, there’s always an honourable way to slowly walk away from the conflict because, let’s face it, it’s just not worth it.

Have I ever had a real fight? Sure I have, but I will keep that to myself; the fights I didn’t have is what now, looking back, I’m more proud of. And trust me, is not due to lack of opportunities because the world is full of egomaniacs with a sad need of making a point to overcome their void and lack of achievement in life. Do they deserve your fight? Absolutely No. Me, personally, I don’t want to go back to work on Monday with a black eye even if I ‘win’ (whatever that means) the fight. Unless me, my family or my friends’ physical integrity is under genuine threat, fighting is just not worth it. Cross that line and it’s a different story… Romantic? No, not really. Just practical.  I love free sparring and Goju kumite. We, Karatekas, live in an eternal contradiction: we train to fight so we don’t have to fight, and this ‘contradiction’ is not new; it is captured in Vegetius’ adage, si vis pacem, para bellum.

But, again, self defence is way more than everything I mention above: self defence is also building confidence to say ‘no’ to an abusing work colleague, self defence is being able to stop bullies at school by facing up against the offender and saying up loud ‘enough!’; self defence is to assertively stand up for yourself against an unfair and dictatorial boss and say what you think and how you feel; self defence is about being smart; self defence is to be able to look to another human being with respect and no fear. Self defence is that profound feeling of not being afraid again and karate helps to build the confidence, the character and the respect to achieve this very ultimately goal of overcoming your fears, whatever they might be.

Ever since I started training some 19 years ago Karate has always been in my life, whether undertaking intense formal training, assisting to seminars and workshops, talking about it, reading about it, watching videos and looking at other karatekas’ moves, using the mirrors of a lift while performing a ‘quick and dirty’ sanchin kata, or a kake uke standing on sanchin dachi while waiting for the bus, or messing around with a friend play fighting, the occasions are endless where your mind is doing karate. It follows you wherever you go and in this moment of my life I’m absorbing as much karate as I can so I can deliver good quality teaching which, I feel, is bringing some interesting holistic results because teaching karate is also making me a better karateka.

Karate-Do is a very personal experience. A personal path, guided by your instructors and assisted by your training mates, but walked alone. It’s a path of perfection, not a goal of perfection, because there’s no such a goal. A path of perfection in your techniques, your moves, your breathing, your stands, your fighting abilities, your whole body awareness… You train your techniques consciously to feel them unconsciously.

At a personal level, Karate has given me more friends in more countries than I ever dreamed having. It has always been there in one way or another. It was there for me when I was at my lowest and it has given more to me than I have managed to give back; and this is the underlying feeling that embraces the start of the Surrey Karate Academy, which rests in four pillars:

  • respect to yourself
  • respect to others
  • respect to the environment
  • train with discipline

I love Karate with a passion and, yes, as well as having an exhaustive repertory of nasty and applicable fighting techniques it is fantastic for self defence for all the reasons explained above.

Karate in England

There are an estimated 150,000 Karateka (practitioners) in England. The majority practice two to three times a week to keep fit and in pursuit of the ultimate goal of a Black Belt. It is very common for practitioners to start as children and continue to practice as senior citizens.

There are many styles of Karate but Karateka tend to mix well together and enjoy comparing training methods and techniques and show respect for each other; visitors to dojos from other styles and associations are almost invariably made welcome.

Karate is the largest Martial Art in the country and is practised by both sexes and involves many from poorer areas.

Sport England and the CCPR recognise this inclusivity and Karate is seen as meeting all their requirements of equity, ethnicity, gender and age and as having a code of conduct which is socially highly beneficial. Karate is recognised by the educational establishment as a criteria for GCSE and A Level in Physical Education.

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