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Kakedamashi, kumite, kakie- these terms are often used interchangeably. What exactly do they mean, how are they different, and what role have they  historically played in karate training?

Mario McKenna has posted an excellent discussion  of these terms and their relevance in a Nahate-derived karate context on his blog. Spoiler: none of them translates to “duel to the death.” McKenna has recently been posting some excellent insights into the formation of modern Goju Ryu which are also well worth reading- take some time to look around his blog.

Kumite on the Okinawan Karate and Kobudo blog

I’ve been eagerly following a series of postings by Garry Lever on the Okinawa Goju Ryu UK blog. The “Searching for the Truth” series follows his second trip to Okinawa, in which he trained with karate practitioner, historian, and author Hokama Tetsuhiro in an effort to find answers about the art that eluded him on his 2003 trip. It’s nice to see a bit of the Pioneer spirit in an age where the internet has made everyone an armchair black belt or Shaolin monk.

Take a look at the first part of the series here.

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu patriarch Helio Gracie has passed away at the age of 95. We wish to extend our condolences to his family, friends  and students.  Gracie had a profound impact on his art that will continue to influence future generations.

There is a short announcement with more information on Sherdog

The article linked below complements the BBC report that Gill posted this morning. In a nutshell, 6 out of 6 NFL player’s donated brains have shown signs of traumatic degeneration that is normally associated with career boxers.

New Signs of Brain Damage in the NFL

BBC news article covering a new study on the long term effects of concussion.

If you’ve ever wondered just how much cold a human being can tolerate, or how much heat, water pressure, air pressure, or physical exertion the human frame can safely function in,  take a look at “Life at the Extremes: The Science of Survival” by Frances Ashcroft.  Ashcroft is a professor of physiology at Oxford who also offers first-hand accounts of the subject material, whether that be from climbing Kilimanjaro or soaking in Japanese hot springs. She succeeds in making a scientific topic highly accesible, educational and entertaining.

The book is essentially a survey of what our environmental limits are and how it is that we know them, as well as live within them. The science behind these topics is extremely clear and well presented. Each chapter offers tutorials in the interaction of various human body systems and environmental conditions, ranging from extreme heat and cold to the effects of altitude sickness and the ocean depths at which oxygen becomes toxic. The chapter on human speed and endurance is especially interesting in that it provides an excellent synopsis of muscular function and the related physiological and chemical processes, as well as the narrowing search for hard limits to human athletic performance. While we may never experience some of these situations for ourselves, a knowledge of how, when and why the body fails is invaluable for karate students and teachers alike.

Ashcroft’s explanations are jammed full of related facts from history and the animal world that shed some light on our own limits and adaptations. For example, the relationship between a muscle’s size and the speed at which it can contract tends to limit larger animals from being sprinters. Horses and kangaroos sidestep this issue by utilizing more numerous short muscles to load specialized tendons, providing an elastic rebound on each step, thus reducing energy expenditure and allowing them to move at high speeds. Human beings have a less specialized version of this adaptive mechanism: the calf muscle and Achilles tendon.

If karate is ultimately a process of learning what we can survive, “Life at the Extremes” should be interesting reading indeed.

Unfortunately rolled ankles are pretty common in karate. This is especially true for people who spend a great deal of time walking on the sides of their feet in order to condition them for sokuto (foot edge) strikes. Stretching the outside of the ankles results in ankle instability and this can present a real danger for people working in groups that emphasize sweeps and throws in conjunction with strikes.

In the group I teach we no longer use sokuto for larger yoko-geri (side kicks), instead we use the sole of the foot (closer to the heel). Striking with sokuto with a strong yoko geri results in a great deal of compression on the outside of the foot that can result in Morton’s neuroma, ankle injuries, and knee damage.  We still use sokuto for the smaller kansetsu geri (knee kicks) as not as much force is required for it to be effective.

Click Here for the article.

I just lost a few brain cells listening to a Youtube Sifu explain how chi is the result of the “radiation of the cerebrospinal fluid” and the “static electricity generated by moving the fascia and storing it in the organs.” George Lucas would be proud to have such an imagination.

For a very good look at how it is that “chi masters” sell this idea to their students, and how it is that those students continue to believe, check out the link below.

How People are Fooled by Ideomotor Action

And Here is an eloquent denunciation of chi by martial Tai Chi practitioner Joanna Zorya.

As a follow-up to the very thoughtful post on conditioning from the Ikagi blog, below is a link to a very sensible discussion on body conditioning by Uechi Ryu practitioner George Chaplin.

Read it Here

There is a nice article considering the advantages and disadvantages of body conditioning on the Ikigai Blog. Click here to read it:

Should I use Body Hardening and Conditioning in Karate? | Ikigai | Blogging the Martial Way.

"Try to see yourself as you truly are and try to adopt what is meritorious in the work of others. As a karateka you will of course often watch others practice. When you do and you see strong points in the performance of others, try to incorporate them into your own technique. At the same time, if the trainee you are watching seems to be doing less than his best ask yourself whether you too may not be failing to practice with diligence. Each of us has good qualities and bad; the wise man seeks to emulate the good he perceives in others and avoid the bad."
Funakoshi Gichin


January 2009
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