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Evasion is timing + agility.


Addendum: Evasion is perception + agility. Timing is usually referenced with relation to optimal conditions, such as sparring. Perception can operate in sub-optimal conditions.

Noted following a very fun and educational session with a phenomenally skilled wrestler, in which he handled me like a  kid and pointed out that a few of my favorite reversals only work against people who aren’t trying/able to dominate you first…thanks Nich!

Regular training can enable people to do all sorts of physically impressive things, but most of those things require specific conditions in order to work. The dojo is an optimal environment. Training partners can unconsciously be too cooperative.

Is it more valuable to be able to do impressive things that require optimal conditions, or to be able to do necessary things under non-optimal conditions?

Which one are you training for?

Rule of thumbs:

If you end up with an opportunity to manipulate a wrist but are not sure where to go with it, remember to move towards the thumb in the direction that is already pointing in:

  • If the person’s palm is facing down, twist the hand counterclockwise and forcefully flex and evert it so that the thumb points down and then to the outside.
  • If the person’s hand is facing palm up, turn the hand clockwise and forcefully extend and invert it.

Being able to turn the wrist forcefully  into it’s limited range of motion is more important than the other elements. Experimenting with a  compliant partner will let you develop a feel for how to transition between the two as he tries to turn away from the force.  Experimenting with a non-compliant partner who is trying to hit repeatedly you will point out how unreliable this as as a primary defense.

Consider using the momentary control of the wrist to achieve further ends:

  • explosively jerk the arm while moving backwards and lowering your COG until they are face down
  • fold the arm into their body and get control of the shoulder and neck
  • use the captured hand as an anchor while attacking with the other arm and legs

Once control of the wrist is established, take the first opportunity to  attack rather than focus on fighting for continued control of a single limb.  The goal is to put the person on the floor or pin against a wall as opposed to struggling for standing control, where they may strike you, regain their COG and use the legs for assistance.

That being said, if the initial wrist control is immobilizing,  keep it. But don’t count on it.

When throwing hooks and uppercuts, use the return as a strike in the opposite direction instead of pulling the hand away after the strike is complete. For example, after throwing a hook to the head, return with a backfist (or elbow) to the other side of the target and follow up with a strike off of the other hand in the same direction. Or after an uppercut, bring the arm back down sharply to strike with the elbow or a backfist.

Done in succession, this creates a very rapid flurry of powerful strikes that can be overwhelming. With some practice on the heavy bag you can start to link each coupled set with a series off of the other hand. Change angles and target zones as you do this, working gradually up to faster speeds. Think about your overall movement as working around a ball in front of your torso, as opposed to simply moving the hips back and forth on a horizontal (transverse) plane.

A few examples of this can be seen on the clip below at :50

When ducking a punch, maintain balance on the balls of the feet, transition weight between the feet in the direction of the duck, and use the calves to rebound back up for the counter.  Staying flat footed reduces the speed of the duck and the return, and the overall body weight that can explode into a counter strike or tackle.

I’m not very good about keeping a training journal, but I do scribble notes here and there when things occur to me after thinking about something from training or from watching others train. Lately I’ve been cataloging these bits as I find them tucked  into various books, pairs of pants and under couch cushions. So in no particular order, here are some of my random training notes (watch out, Jack Handy):

How you train dictates how you will try to fight- but there is no guarantee that a fight will resemble how you train.

Bob tipped me to this resource, which deals with the necessity of training movement skills in the frontal plane.  While it is written with regards to Lacross players, the information can obviously be applied to karate training with very productive results. All of the conditioning exercises shown are a valuable addition to any karate training program for both injury prevention and performance enhancement.


Multiplanar Training: “The Forgotten Plane”

Dr. Brian Paris, DC, CBP Fellow, NASM-PES
Colin Cooley, MS, NASM-PES

If you’ve ever heard something like “we’ll do 500 punches/kicks to relax you- after your muscles are too tired to be involved, you’ll have pure technique” then you have heard some of the inaccurate training information that has plagued karate training for a while. It might make sense on the surface; relax those pesky prime movers and let my hips take over. Sensei says that muscle and strength won’t help me, only perfect technique.

Right. In the meantime, the damage that this sort of thing will cause to your joints, tissues and functional movement patterns will probably end up counter balancing any development that you may make. If the example above were so, why don’t we see professional American-style football coaches making their players do biceps curls and pushups to failure right before working on precision passing technique? This topic can get into some sophisticated concepts and jargon pretty quickly, but suffice to say, quality of practice and movement is more important than quantity- and focusing on quantity can sharply reduce quality.

Read the rest of this entry »

A note of thanks to Mario McKenna, who graciously posted a photo of the kakiya from Kyoda Juhatsu’s garden dojo, and provided me with some estimates of it’s height and arm length.

By Popular Demand

I’ve received a few emails asking about where a kakiya can be purchased or how it can be made. I don’t know of any place where one can be purchased. Below are the materials and steps that I used to build mine. If you aren’t into power tools and concrete, I am open to the possibility of assembling kits and selling them: contact me at REMsimpson at gmail dot com and make an offer. The reader assumes all risks from building and using this piece of equipment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Below are two more short sample clips of training with the kakiya. Training with a partner is best, but the kakiya can provide a good tool for skill refinement when a partner isn’t available. Plus, it’s just plain fun. In both drills, the demonstrator’s hands remain in a high guard and punches are thrown from this level instead of a pullback/hikite, a bad habit which karate training often imparts. As an added bonus, training on uneven ground prepares the student to use these skills in a more realistic setting than smooth dojo floors.

Low Kick Entry to Striking Combo

Here the kakiya is used to train basic entry and attack skills. Facing the kakiya at a close engagement distance, the student throws a low kick to the height of an opponent’s knees or groin. Immediately following the kick, he uses his lead hand to pass the “guard” of the kakiya arm to enter and throw a striking combination.
While higher kicks may be more visually impressive they place the kicker at a very high risk for disabling counters; a low kick to the kneecap or groin is far less risky, and will cause an attacker serious pain.

Kakiya Ducking Drill, Varied Response

Here  a punch ducking and counter striking drill is practiced on the kakiya. The aim is to duck under the kakiya arm, which simulates an opponent’s extended arm. Both feet ideally clear the attack line to the outside of the arm, placing the student in a position to attack along the “opponent’s” weak line. Notice that his feet do not stay flat, as is commonly taught in karate. Flat feet reduce mobility, response speed and power. When ducking the arm, notice that his head remains upright enough to see the target.

When returning up from the duck, counter-strikes are thrown in conjunction with the rising and twisting of the body to exploit power generated by the rebound of the legs. The drill starts slowly and then progresses to half speed. The student ‘s responses begin with punching combinations, then progress to knee strikes and low lashing roundhouse kicks followed by strikes to the body and face.

"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


May 2020

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