Monday, June 6, 2016

Arch nemesis #1: The push up

My goal is to perform 100 push ups without becoming tired.

To do so, I have taken on Todd Kuslikis' advice.

Test Day:
Perform as many push ups as you can in one set.
Multiply this number by five.
There's your target number.

Day #1:
Perform push ups to exhaustion.
Try to reach your target number in the minimum number of sets required.

Day #2:
Perform push ups spaced across the day.
Comfortably reach the target number.

Day #3:

Repeat this process until Day #14.
Then do as many push ups as you can.
Repeat the whole process until you have reached your ultimate goal in life.

Although I have already done a whole lot of exercise today,
I just did my test go.
My maximum number of push ups just now was 41.

That makes my target number 205.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Strength Training

I pondered over why it's so difficult for me to complete workouts.

And then it hit me.
I wasn't strong enough.

Strength training.

Saitama got his powers purely through strength training

That's what I need.
That's what every Karate practitioner needs.
And I'm not talking about weight lifting,
But callisthenics. 

I went to this website which listed some workout plans.
Out of them I selected two which I will consecutively attempt:

To transition between the two I will turn to Kenpo Karate.
Apparently this endurance workout is derived from them.

At some point I also want to achieve 100 push ups.
Back in the day,
When I used to train somewhat regularly,
My maximum number of push-ups was about 60.

Anyway, I hope this helps one of my readers.
Above all, I hope it will help me.

For the rest of the day, I will try a hand-stand.
And of course I'm not putting flexibility training on hold.

Me in a few months time... hopefully...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

I am weak

As most of you hopefully know.

I am weak.

Well weak compared to the healthy martial artist.

I tried the warrior workout again just now.

But failed to finish,
Not being able to complete the third last exercise as my arm's gave way.
Doesn't matter, I'll try again next time.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kata Genealogy: How Pinan Shodan became Heian Nidan

The five Pinan Katas were created in Okinawa
By a legendary master called Anko Itosu
(My master's master's master's master).

Only known image of Anko Itosu

They were first known as Pinan
Until Gichin Funakoshi called them Heian, so that the name would sound more Japanese.
He then switched the order up to make them easier to learn.

But in doing so, he confused thousands of students.

Funakoshi Gichin (my master's master's master a.k.a. founder of Shotokan Karate)
So all of that got me thinking...
Could I map out how a single Kata has evolved over time?

A few searches and photo edits later,
I present to you my breakdown of the evolution
of the first three moves of Pinan Shodan.
(I didn't do the whole Kata since I'm practically about to fall asleep right now)

Here is Uema Yasuhiro Sensei of the Shorin-Ryu style:

Here is a representative of the Shito-Ryu style:

Here are Funakoshi Gichin and Hirokazu Kanazawa Sensei respectively of the Shotokan style:

Here is Hironori Otsuka Sensei, founder of the Wado Ryu style:

And finally, a representative of the Kyokushin style:

The founders of Shorin-Ryu, Shito-Ryu, and Shotokan
All studied directly under Anko Itosu.

The founders of Kyokushin and Wado-Ryu were heavily influenced by Shotokan.
Both Wado-Ryu (whose founder was a Jiu-Jitsu expert)
And Kyokushin (whose founder slaughtered bulls with his bare hands)
Are combat orientated.

Notice how the power is generated differently for the first move.
Some styles begin with their hands at the hips,
While others go straight to the technique.

If we pay attention to the crossing of the arms,
we can see a clear progression between styles:

What appears as a cross close to the body in the Shorin-Ryu,
Appears as two distinct techniques in Kyokushin.
The stances also vary significantly between photos.

Another noteworthy difference is the final strike within the sequence.

In some ways this tells us what the previous moves achieved;
How they placed the opponent in a vulnerable position.

In the first three photos, the stances are short,
So the previous moves must have been enough to unbalance the opponent.

The last two styles leap in with a longer stance.
This tells us that the previous moves were of a block and counter fashion, which did not unbalance the opponent.

The two popular interpretations of the Kata are shown below:

The latter leaves the opponent in a vulnerable position, even if not thrown, and may have been the one preferred by Shorin-Ryu.
Whereas the former application is closer to the one depicted by Kyokushin.

As you can tell, there are multiple applications for the same movement.
This idea stems from Minamoto Bujutsu, which taught that all movement is essentially the same.
To read more about the origins of Kata, get this book:

Monday, May 30, 2016

The knowledge: Karate in a nutshell

An evil organisation has wiped Karate out from the face of the earth.

You are the last one standing.
What do you do?

The answer is pretty obvious.
I would film myself performing all of the Kata of Shotokan Karate
and hide the tape in a secret location

But wait a minute.
I don't know all of them!

I must repent.
Although I knew all of them at some point in my life...
... It seems I have forgotten about half of them...

Over here, in London, Taxi drivers have something called the knowledge.

To be a certified black cab taxi driver, you first have to learn the whole London map off by heart (and be able to drive).

Well everyone can drive in Karate.
After all, every physically fit individual has the ability to move.
But it's the knowledge that most Karate students lack.
The knowledge of every single Kata.

To be fair, it should take years to study a single Kata.
Understanding why every motion is executed as it is.
But before I understand the Kata,
I must first be able to do it.

And that is why from this moment onwards,
I will try to learn every single Kata there is in Shotokan Karate.

Look out for updates!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A worthy challenge: Iain Abernethy's warrior workout

Iain Abernethy is one of the men who led to my awakening.
My awakening to the true world of Karate.

So as one might expect, I am signed on to his newsletter.

He recently published his Warrior Workout.
Click here to see it.

The last time I tried it, I ran out of breath halfway through
and felt like a 104 year old great-granddad clinging to life
It seems I wasn't strong enough.
Or perhaps, I simply didn't have the mental willpower.

From now on, I will continuously attempt the workout every day until I am able to complete it. Updates shall be posted!

Basic Fitness : Flexibility : Episode 3

A trilogy.

That's what I was going for.
But wait.
I haven't even mentioned The Genius of Flexibility.
Well people, I read parts of it...
And it was a little too spiritual for my current liking.
 I may return to it in the future.

Anyway, here is the full flexibility workout I promised.
Of course, different exercises suit different people.
I chose these to suit my current needs.

Warm up

Do one hundred jumping jacks.
Then do five sets of two minute jumping rope, each time using a different technique.

For the jumping rope, here are a few such techniques:

Jump normally then increase your speed to let the rope pass beneath your feet twice per jump.
Jog lightly, with the rope passing beneath you every time you switch legs.
Lightly jump on either leg twice before switching.
Cross your arms and jump through the rope.
Jump, criss-cross, then squat.

Dynamic Stretching

Fall into various deep stances.

Then follow this by swinging your legs forwards from a deep stance. Also do side, back, and crescent swings.
Begin low and slow, with great control in sets of eight.
Then perform them with increasing speed.

Swing the arms as you would do to the arms.
Then perform stretches associated with your hips.
There are too many to choose from for me to list here.

Main Part

Perform two Kata of your choice:

First, slowly with extra long stances and arm reach as well as correct breathing.
Then, with kime but still reasonably slow and with long stances.
Then full speed.

I chose Bassai Dai and Bassai Sho for this.

Then, either perform kihon with kime, or practice punching and kicking against a makiwara or heavy bag.

I will practice punching and roundhouse kicking a mattress.
Ten repetitions on each limb.

Dynamic and Static Stretching

Stretch the feet, by lightly bouncing onto the toes as shown. Try to stretch the muscles at the sole of the foot.

Stretch your ankles by falling into a sort of front stance while supporting yourself with your arms against the wall. The front leg should feel the stretch.

... then your calves, as shown. The back leg should feel the stretch.

... the hamstring. The mounted leg feels the stretch.

... your quads. The back leg feels the stretch.

... your hips ...

... hip abductors ...

... and Glutes.

This has practically stretched the whole lower body.
Exercises for the chest, arms and neck can be done naturally.

For the dynamic part, simply launch into a variety of stretches.
Remember. Each stretch should last ten breaths.

Isometric Stretching

The part I have been waiting for.

My shoulders have decent flexibility because of my Karate.
However, I have been unable to do the splits since the age of five.

That's what I will work on.

Me in a few months time... hopefully...

Assume the position for the splits.
Tense your muscles.
Relax. Ease in. Repeat.
For details on the exact process, read my previous post.

Relaxed Stretching

Here, I'll just ease into the splits using my body weight.
Then I will touch my toes, again just by body weight.
These exercises aren't too important but should be relaxing.

Cool down

Apparently, jumping rope qualifies as a cool down.
Personally, I will perform light kumite on the spot.
This is the Karate equivalent of shadow boxing and involves some light jumping.

After that, shake off the limbs and drink some water.


I will stretch twice a day five days a week.
The morning one will only incorporate dynamic stretching and the main part consisting of kate and kihon as well as kumite for the cool down.
The afternoon one will be the complete workout.

(As you might tell from the quality of my writing, I am pretty tired now since I wrote the last three posts in one go... off to sleep... the time here is 06:34 am).