This week I am in Manila, Philippines on a mission trip. So to keep you guys entertained I do have a few guest posters for you. Today you get to "meet" my friend, Ryan. She (yes, she...I think that's why we like each other so much is because we understand having a man's name growing up) actually graduated with my husband, Big A, from high school. Then she and I worked a few years together at the college cafeteria. I loved working with her - minus the kidney punches. Although she did stop doing those when I got pregnant with Moose, thank heavens. So it's no surprise to me that Ryan started karate a few years ago. I'll let her tell you more, but it does sound like a viable option for crosstraining for the runners who read. -Randi
Hi, this is Ryan, from Ryan's Random Ramblings, and I've been invited to do a guest post about one of my passions, karate. After many different ideas, I thought perhaps you as S Club readers would like to see what we do in a typical week at karate. My form of karate is called Cuong Nhu, which blends Judo (throws/grappling), Aikido (self-defense), Shotokan (classic karate and katas), and other styles as well. My favorite things to do in karate is grappling, weapons, and katas.
I always arrive early to the dojo. Maybe it's the adult in me, but I hate being late. So I show up about ten minutes prior to class every day and am able to use the restroom (as it's awkward to ask mid-class about a potty break!), put on my uniform, also known as a "Gi," chat with friends, and take a few swigs of water.
Class starts where everyone lines up according to rank. The white belts are on the right side, green and brown belts are in the middle, and black belts are on the left. We bow in, meditate for fifteen seconds or so, and then normally stretch out our body; rotating arms in circles, touching our toes, leaning backwards, and so on. Then the warm-up starts. Typical evening class warm-ups involve sparring drills. To do a sparring drill, the Sensei gives a set of techniques, gradually adding more to it, such as jab-jab-knee, and he issues a count, in which you do your combination, and then keep moving on your toes as if you were in a real boxing match. Kicks are added in as well to keep the legs working.
After the warm-up, we stretch our legs on the walls, and then split up into groups according to rank. I currently am a green belt, so I will go over what we do as green belts.
Normally, we get the really physical done first. This is so we learn to focus under stress on the more mental tasks, as you are physically exhausted after this round of work outs. Lately, we have been doing a lot of bag and target work. This normally involves having a partner and a big kickboxing bag. One person is in the middle, bag on one side, and a partner with smaller targets on the other. We then take turns doing minute-long drills of kicks on the bag and hand drills on the target where you sprint to each station. After about five rounds of this (which progressively gets harder, such as adding jump kicks) we are finished with the all physical part of class.
We then move on to technique drills. To do this we either have a large 'shield' or the small hand-held targets. A sequence of moves is given and you need to focus to aim properly(else kick or punch your partner!). Your body is still tired from the last round, and it's hard to focus, but at green belt, you normally are trained enough to where you can still think. We do this for a good ten minutes or so, and then we transition to katas and applications.
Katas are the 'arts' in martial arts. Its a long sequence of moves that has meaning to them. I am sure you've seen TV shows where you have the people in the park all doing the same sequence of moves together slowly. That is most likely a kata form. Each technique you do in the choreographed sequence has a real world use to them. It looks pretty, but it actually is helping your body with muscle memory of techniques you learn in class. At green belt, we are at the katas Pinan 4, Pinan 5, and Jutte (Pinan means peaceful mind, Jutte means ten hands, if you are curious!). We line up and do the katas together a few times, before breaking off into partners again to study the applications of what we just did in the kata. In the green belt class and above, it normally means that you will bring your partner to the ground via a throw or sweep (think of tripping someone for sweeping) and subdue them. During this time we learn to fall properly as well, so we do not get injured.
After we are done with this, it is normally time to 'bow out,' which we bow and medidate once more and then class is over for the day.
There are times when we add in different fun activities, such as weapons practice, grappling (wrestling), and sparring (kickboxing). Each of these activities has their own class, however, so it's more focused in the specialized class vs doing it at a normal karate class.
You may ask, "What do I get from doing karate?" Well, along with a full body workout, you gain physical and mental endurance, along with discipline. When I come across something that may be a challenge, like a long grueling hike, stress at work, or home, I have in the back of my mind: "Yes, I can do this! I've had worse!" And the friendships that I've gained in my two years of karate are stronger than many I had in school. They see you at your best and worst, and always have a hand to help you up, because you've seen them in the same way.