Repetition And Relaxation Of Your Technique

Every now and then, you get an “aha” moment, when something falls into place. I had one recently so I thought I’d share it with you.

I was on a seminar recently with Sensei David Hooper, an Englishman who has studied with the Japan Karate Association in Japan itself on and off since the 70’s and moved there permanently in 1988. He now lives in Tokyo and runs his own Dojo there.

David Hooper Karate
Sensei David Hooper

Now the Japanese have the reputation for doing many hundreds of repetitions of a given a technique. My understanding was that this practice was mainly to achieve physical strength and stamina, whilst developing a very strong determined mind that can push through the pain and tiredness and keep going. Develop a strong indomitable mind and spirit, even if it ruins your joints in the process (especially knee and hips)!

Anyway, one the main themes of Sensei Hoopers seminar was achieving a high level of relaxation whilst executing your technique. He pointed out (and this is where the “aha” moment came in), that when you know you’re going to do about 500 front kicks, you pace yourself. When you pace yourself, you do each technique in a more relaxed manor, rather than what I call the “ug and grunt” of trying to ring out every last morsel of muscular exertion into the technique. This made sense to me. If you going full pelt, you simply won’t last for 500 kicks (and neither did the Japanese expect you too). However, 500 paced techniques, teaches you to maintain the structure and body mechanics; but do so in a very relaxed manor. And as anybody with experience will know, a relaxed technique is faster and can be more whip like

Now I still think that doing hundreds of repetitions, especially kicks, will damage your joints and I still wouldn’t recommend it. I’m told that many senior Japanese instructors have had hip and knee operations, but it’s something that is not spoken of by them. However, I can see the value in doing a high enough number of reps that you need to pace yourself. It is one way to learn relaxation. Intuitively, we associate fighting skills with strength. It is what we grow up with as unskilled fighters always rely on strength. When children play fight, they generally wrestle and it is usually the strongest who wins. So men, especially strong men, are used to relying on strength and it takes a lot to let that go!

John Johnston & Iain Abernethy Applied Karate Joint Seminar Oct 2015

1 seminar.

2 of the Worlds very best masters of applied traditional martial arts.

About 3 hair follicles between them 🙂

Sensei John Johnston adaptive Karate and Sensei Iain Abernethy are coming together again for another joint seminar in Derby, UK. Although they are both Karateka, the seminar is open to other styles, especially Taekwondo and Tang Soo Do which have close links to Karate.

I’ve attended courses with both of them individually as well as their last joint seminar and I can highly recommend this seminar to any traditional martial artists who want to be able to apply their art for real World self defence, not just sport.

For details, the poster below. See you there!

Johnston - Abernethy seminar Oct 2015


Fighting Is Not Self Defence

I read the following post on Facebook today by Kevin O’Hagan, one of the Worlds best teachers of Reality Based Martial Arts. It sums things up so well that I thought I’d share it with you:-

“I read alot of posts on facebook these days about the age old question,’What is the most practical and effective fighting system. I hear shouts for Krav Maga, BJJ, boxing, Thai etc etc.

Kevin oHagan2One of the things we must take into consideration is fighting is not self defence. Fighting or having a fight is about two participants agreeing to engage in mutual combat.

Self defence is about one party minding their own business getting on with life when unfortunately violence comes their way unexpectedly.
These are two totally different things. If you are prone to fighting in the street you will have a very short shelf life. You will either be spending a good percentage of your life behind bars or eventually six feet under.
Self defence can be split into two distinct areas. Confrontational and ambush. That’s it. A match fight is not in the equation.

In self defence if the situation warrants physical response and isn’t dealt with in 3 seconds it will deteriorate into a type of match fight but that is a rarity. Normally the first person to land a shot wins.

Self defence isn’t about sparring up and feeling out your attacker before you launch your deadly attack, it is about somebody sucker punching you in the head before you even know it, or pushing a glass in your face or a knife in your guts. There will be no posturing and twirling of the weapon or any bad ass dialogue before this happens.

It is about somebody grabbing you around the neck whilst you are checking your Iphone.

It is about being chasing down and having a pack of animals kick ten bells out of you.

In the world of match fighting it has been proved beyond doubt the big boys that stand up under pressure are boxing, wrestling, Thai and BJJ/submission wrestling. Why? Because they are mainly practised as combat sports.

Self defence is situational and scenario driven. It is a totally different world. Its not to say these combat arts can’t make the change over but they need to be adapted greatly. This is a huge topic on its own.

Having a row outside the chip shop or pub isn’t and never will be self defence if you have willingly engaged and not tried to find another solution.

Teaching self defence and teaching fighting are not the same thing”.

If anybody is interested in real world self defence, I’d highly recommend that you “like” Kevin’s page to find out when he runs his seminars. I might well meet you there!