Sunday, 1 April 2018

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SENSEI R HARBORNE GO DAN



DE} G’day, or is it good night over there in the Land of Oz? More about that later…I’d just like to say, welcome to this interview Sensei Harborne. I take it you know who I am [Laughs] Lets begin by you taking us a little step back in time. At what age did you take up Martial Arts, why was that and what was it like training back then?


RH} I first became interested in the Martial arts, probably about the age of seven. This would be around 1971/72, one night my family was watching TV… when an old program now called Cinema came on. Which reviewed Films and had a special on Asian/Martial Arts films, which was totally new to us and I remember watching in awe. I was an avid reader as a child, so searched for anything else on this subject and not long after Discovered Bruce lee…that was it, I was hooked from that moment on. I really wanted to start classes and learn, BUT my Father (remember these were different times) refused, along the lines that I was neither old, nor responsible enough to learn the Arts. Plus there wasn’t many clubs around at that time apart from Judo, which did not interest me although I have full respect for ALL Martial Arts. So I just kept researching myself, lending books from a library, following the pictures etc. Everything from Yoga and Tai Chi, to Karate and some (what I could find in those years) Kung Fu. Then in 1976… my Father started private lessons himself at The Temple Karate Center in Digbeth, with Sensei Toru Takimazawa. All though was not allowed to grade, because it was private lessons (how times have changed) Then in 1979 at the age of 14, my Father said to me, “Okay, you’re mature enough and responsible enough to start attending lessons and learn correctly. But at the first sign of a problem it stops." I agreed and the Temple was advertising a beginner’s class in January of that year in the Birmingham Evening Mail. (Let’s be honest, there was nowhere else i was going to go!) So on the 21st of January 1979, I stepped in to my first Dojo at the age of 14. (The kids class 12 years and under as I remember, was Saturday mornings) Into a class of around 30 beginners, I was the youngest. On a Saturday afternoon 1pm until 2.15 pm (I still remember the date and time lol) It was taught by Sempai Patrick Scantlebury, after a few weeks/months the class whittled down to perhaps 7 or 8, of which I was still one. If Patrick was away, Sempai Bob Taylor took the class and if both were absent because of tournaments or other things… Sensei Takimazawa took the class. I achieved 6th Kyu (Orange Belt) there and entered my first Tournament (the Wado Ryu Nationals) on October 14th 1979 (a day before my 15th birthday) where it actually went by Grades and being over 10/12, I was in adult sections…no mats just a hard wood floor taped off, my first match I was drawn against another 6th Kyu of about 20yrs and just under 6ft. I remember him walking to the line once we were called, looking at me (5ft 4 and barely 15yrs) laughing and gesturing to his friends with arms up! Right or wrong, any nerves I may have had was gone in that instance. It ended a split decision and I scored with Chudan Mai Geri, he caught me with a Gyaku Zuki, one point each. The Ref awarded the match to him after debate and that was it, no arguments…just accept, bow and then leave (how times have changed lol) However, after that match I was approached by a 1st Kyu…who asked if I would fill in at the Temple Team? For my grade, I said yes (of course) and was matched against a 5th Kyu Green Belt, about 24 and stocky (I remember thinking, "Why did I agree to this?”) but ended in a draw. Unfortunately soon after that time, I left the Temple and stopped. (Turned teenager…discovered going out among other things) A choice I still regret now I am older, but do not believe in dwelling on a past you can’t change. So that was probably my first chapter of Martial Arts completed…Oh, and it is Evening LOL.


DE} You sure walked the old school way of life. Tell me, have you seen many changes in the martial arts in your time. How does then, compare to now and what makes you happy and what don't you like?


RH} Yes I have seen many changes through the years, as I have watched the Martial Arts grow and spread wider in popularity. Years ago there was not the restriction in place as now, due to increased politically correctness and compensation culture that has grown…so Instructors do have to be more careful and aware when teaching. Probably not a bad thing in all cases though. Are there things I don’t like? Yes. Some of which i will not name here, but probably my biggest gripe was a thing I saw rise during the 90's of certain dubious people opening classes to simply make a quick buck. With NO Instructor training or qualification and in a few cases, not even being a qualified Black Belt (or even a high Kyu grade) themselves! They seldom lasted long, but did not see or care of the damage they did in that time to the true Martial Arts/Instructors and classes around. As students who may have been good with correct teaching, simply went away with a totally different view. What makes me happy? Without a doubt it's seeing a student progress. Regardless of if that is achieve a higher grade, win an award, or simply overcome a technique they have struggled with and through perseverance and self-belief, see it suddenly click in to place.


DE} Please tell us more about the style of karate you teach and have taught to myself.
I understand you're opening a new club (to be your 4th one I understand) and at the moment, there is no school about teaching this rare style...it is my understanding that people are aware of Sankukai, but what exactly is Sankuryu?




 Well, the differences between Sankukai and Sankuryu are slight. But because those differences are there it, must be called by a different name. As you know I am a great Traditionalist in my views, however a short brief history may explain this better. In the early/ mid 90's, I was fortunate to meet an Instructor who ran a school in Derby. His name was Tony Brown and although he had previously studied Aikido, Jui Jitsu, and other styles of Karate, gained his high grades in Sankukai. Now I will never speak ill or disrespect any style, I do believe that no style answers all the questions or has everything. It Seemed Sensei Brown also thought along these lines and although being a Traditionalist himself, felt that Sankukai put slightly too much emphasis on spinning techniques…and he was always taught never to turn your back willingly on an opponent. So Sankuryu was formed/refined over a number of years, with just a few slight changes to the way certain techniques in some Kata's are performed. And because of these slight changes cannot be called pure Sankukai, so therefore is known as Sankuryu. After leaving the Temple, I did go back during the Eighties, but felt it had changed somewhat to how I remembered. So I moved on again to try Shotokan and then Freestyle, which is where I gained my 1st Dan. Then upon meeting Sensei Tony Brown… joined his classes and learnt Sankuryu which was more Traditional and what I myself prefer and through his guidance and teaching, attained my 3rd Dan in Sankuryu in September 1999.


DE} The good old 80’s. When did you open your first club and did you teach your children too? What makes a good Sensei and what makes a good student?


I opened my first club on 21st January 1995 (ironic isn’t it… the exact same date I attended my first lesson) and ran that club along a few others until 2012, when I moved to Australia. Yes I did teach my own children, but also had them attend other classes of my own Sensei at that time and I have no doubts they will tell you I was a little harder on them!! [Laughs} Which looking back in all fairness, I probably was so as to show no favouritism. What makes a good Sensei or student? That’s a hard one as everyone has their own attributes and ways. All I can possibly say on this looking back over my own Sensei’s is that they all had calmness about them. I never once heard any of them raise their voice in a lesson, but all got their message across in a very calm, confident manner and this seemed to filter through the lesson and the students attending.


DE} Well I can say to you now, after training under you and reading this…that you carried that through also as a Sensei. I've trained with your Son and been taught and graded by your daughters, it's safe to say they were potent. Been a smaller guy, have there been times or situations where people have underestimated you? Have you had to use your Karate at all?


Yes a few times. With awareness of possible situations, I have sometimes managed to avoid this or diffuse it before it can start. Other times some people do not expect the reaction they receive and are suddenly unsure, so back off or diffuse the situation themselves. However, there are or have been a time which has always left me a little disappointed, as I have always remembered an old saying from a Japanese instructor ..."If you have to fight, you've already lost the battle."





DE} I do remember you thrusting out Yoko Geri (Side Kick) and explaining how you shocked people before causing them to back off with their mates. I know what you mean, as Bruce Lee said, "The art of fighting without fighting." So now into the training side of it, did you follow a set routine then and now? What exercises do you use to compliment Karate, did you ever do the weights and how do you view heavy or light training?


Yes, years ago i used to train Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Using weights etc to a regimental routine for each day, then run classes in the evening and a 4hr class with Sensei Brown on a Sunday. Now I’m a little more relaxed with routines, but do use Iyengar style Yoga to help with flexibility and stretching and Chen style Tai Chi to help focus the mind (and is also a great Art on its own) Other than that I no longer use weights in my training, apart from ankle/wrist weights sometimes. Or a medicine ball and still use candle punching and speedball in training and split workouts. Kata, Speed, Technique, Fitness and stretching. Also sometimes a technique I have used since age of 14… mental awareness/shadow fighting. Where I close my eyes and imagine an attacker/attackers and what attacks they would use, or how depending on the direction. Then react to these as explosively as I can (to any onlookers I must seem to have lost my mind, attacking thin air or invisible opponents [laughs] but on the other hand…what are you doing with Kata?) I also meant to add Bag work! [Laughs] As for heavy sessions I would only do of a weekend, time permitting to have a day or two rest to allow the body full recovery. Otherwise would keep sessions pretty light, but to the stage where I still push myself. However if I had more time, or perhaps not so many other commitments, I would probably split training to a heavy session followed by a light session followed by a heavy session etc.


DE} That sounds familiar. If I remember rightly, you had us doing that years ago. You would put in the finger strikes to the eyes and hits to the groin. Hold on a minute…I’ve suddenly come across all nosey again! I hear you have some news regarding a certain club you're opening in Australia? Would you like to tell me more about that?


Sure, after moving to Australia six years ago, this subject has come up many times with some people approaching me and asking me to perhaps open a club. I always resisted, perhaps deep down part of me did not feel settled enough to start such a commitment. However, now I do and feel that the time is right to do so. I am now a member of Martial Arts Australia, have arranged insurance through Worldwide Sports Insurance. Designed specifically for sports and Martial arts clubs, have arranged a venue (pic supplied) Certificates, badges, supplies and will be opening the Victoria Sankuryu Karate Academy on the 10th of April this year all going well.





Me- That looks and sounds perfect and I want to wish you the very best, as you know I'm behind you. Who or what inspires you and do you have any advice for the kids of today and even the adults, or maybe your younger self? One other thing... Do you remember your quote that you would always revert back to?


Thank you very much Duane. Who/What inspires me hmm? So many it would be unfair to name just a few, but when I see people young or old with Disabilities in sports and Martial Arts, it always reminds me that if you want something bad enough you'll find a way. If not you'll find an excuse! The level some of these people show brings it home to me ...There are NO excuses! But all students in lessons or I have taught and watching them progress, always inspires me to do and give my best to them. My advice to any student would be never give up because something is difficult, but always persevere and you will overcome the difficulty. To perform something well, you first have to believe you can do it yourself. Students or parents looking to start, perhaps do a little research on a club first and the instructor. I will have my Qualifications on show in the class and would take no offense to a student or Parent asking about my background or qualifications. I would be happy to explain and I think any Instructor would be the same, as for quotes [laughs] there are so many again, but I always said "The best block is not to be there.” Which is within the Sankuryu style.


DE} I've always said that it was my karate training under you that prepared me for reality, more so than when I trained other arts. My reason… I found the different angle of movement within the katas and the two vs one training very beneficial, not to mention practising blindfolded. A lot of combat sports train on a one vs one basis, where as you had us fighting from seated positions and so on?


Yes it's the angle's that probably attracted me so much to Sankuryu. I find them to appear a little more complete and although as you know, I am or appear to be very Traditional orientated. I still am always on the lookout for any knew or possible training techniques, not only for my own improvement, but also if they can benefit students and improve them then all good. Even if some may seem a little unorthodox, there is a reason for all and if it works then use it. By the way…thank you so much for the compliment, I’m really pleased that you feel you got the more out of routines. I guess that proves my point in a way.


DE} Martial arts is supposed to teach us control and it's clear to see that young men in general, have anger in their DNA. Tell me, have you ever had to call on your training to calm you down? You strike me as the mysterious type, a cross between Yoda and Seagal and Norris in your demeanour. Finally what would you want to see for the future of Sanku Ryu karate?


Yes I have many times, I think we all do. However I find Martial Arts training helps a great deal. Let me explain a theory I have, now please understand I have no scientific evidence or back up for this. It's simply my own belief and personal view from what I have seen and felt through the years, we are all human, we all get frustrated by things every day of our lives. Something does not go quite right; some idiot in a car cuts in front ...many things. All this builds as a negative emotion (anger) it may build unchecked for a few days, weeks or even months. Then some slight little thing can set us off to react with Anger in a way we should not, because it’s so trivial but it happens. Yes anger can momentarily give us a slight increase in strength and aggression, but it takes so much away too…like control, focus, awareness etc. However I do believe that consistent regular training in Martial Arts, where you are constantly using "controlled aggression” helps to alleviate this and removes the negative frustration and anger that is slowly building inside. Think about it… you go attend a lesson and are punching, kicking, blocking in a controlled manner… or even with force against a focus mitt, heavy bag, kick shield, speedball or whatever. Releasing all this frustration and anger that has built up, or is building up in a positive way. Turning negativity in to positive action and results. I believe that’s why I see so many students becoming calmer in their manner, along with an increase of self-confidence of course. But like I said previously, this is only my own personal thought.





DE} If the whole world was listening right now what would you say?


Never give in, never get demoralised. If you want something bad enough, you can / will get it. First believe in yourself and the rest will follow.


DE} Harborne Sensei, thank you for your time in speaking with me. It has been insightful and encouraging – Bow.


Domo Aragato gozai mashita Rei, and your very welcome.



DUANE EMSLEY 2018.


Thursday, 16 February 2017

HOW TO KEEP YOUR HANDS UP


“Hands up, baby hands up!” what a fun song from Ottawan in 1981, but we are not here to dance just now, we are here to train. 
This particular training method is one I have used more than once and only came to light recently, after I began training in Taekwondo  in order to work on my kicks. What I discovered is as I was focusing on my technique with my kicking, my hands would slowly creep down. Inside this bothered me as I am or at least try to be an aware person. We are all human and learning holds no bounds as I was been reminded…so it was game on and I armed myself with a tea towel!
Now, I am epic at whipping flies in the kitchen or whipping family members too but this time it’s going around my neck. Here’s what we will do using a tea towel or any towel really for that matter. 

The first drill is to grasp the towel with both hands in a basic guard position, note that its natural to hang onto the towel and let your elbows flare out a bit and you can polish this up after. Don’t pull down too much as you don’t want strain on the back of your neck. The key is to grasp the towel lightly and mindful in your hand position as you kick. At first you can just walk around your home or garden or do this whilst cooking, but don’t pop the shops okay. Practice your stance or footwork before moving onto kicks. I would suggest working some knees at first to get used to your balancing without using your arms, remember to some advanced martial artists reading this, this is aimed at starters too away from class. I taught myself this very method although I can’t recall where I picked it up from but I’m sure some of you will recognize it. After you can execute some knees and keep your guard where you want it and then move onto some low kicks. Any kicks you like remember this is about you and no one else trying to rule you. Again I’ve chosen a low sidekick, and as before you can give attention to your foot positioning after. Practice in left and right stances because we usually have an arm that is stronger, so get them both used to being upfront and guarding.


Eventually you can train higher kicks and I love the feel of that tea towel on them high kicks, but above all be careful. Of course lose your towel eventually  and hold on to your Gi or neck of your top, before you can hold a guard while performing any kick or movement. If you’re feeling brave, Nunchakus can be used an advanced drill instead of a towel and blend really well into a weapons workout of Budo…and yes be mindful of the chain on your neck. I’ve used all sorts over the years such as wrist weights, dumbbells and weighted rings to train the punching guard including resistant bands, all can help you too and strengthen your deltoids. I wouldn’t recommend trying the spinning kicks while anything is around your neck, just in case you strangle yourself and burn your cooking. You still want plenty of space to be able to move freely and safely.
There is a dual purpose to this drill, you can actually use it to give your hands a rest after a punching workout. This is great as now you can just concentrate on your kicks knowing your hands are chilling out not in the way. I know of some people who clasp their hands behind their backs to kick. Even seen some placing their hands on their head a bit like the Keysi Fighting Method.

“We, like martial art, are like a mirror and need polishing daily so we can be seen clear.”

The good thing about this simple method is that it can simply be revisited over and over if need be, and let’s not forget to have fun in training, and to make the most out of your free time even if that means doing some random acts to improve yourself on any level. I myself for one, have found that during solo training things have a habit of coming out in the wash. By that I mean in class you are being taught and showed a way, in class you might not get it or there is something eating away at you that you just cannot put your finger pointing on? I have always and I mean always worked it out in private, it all irons out and do you know why that is? Your body is key way beyond all the expert advice and guidance, even this column you’re reading now is being absorbed while you’re relaxed? Think about it, in school you produce your creative work alone usually when you relate to the inner YOU for answers. Bit comparable to shadow kickboxing, working yourself out by moving through space and time. I’m not saying you should not receive your proper training and go around messing about with crazy ideas, no, you get your external training through others and don’t neglect yourself over class mates or teachers. Remember to learn we seem to follow, but some just keep following and yes they become great but you are now a copy of them or their way or path. Just look at the potency and ability of Bruce Lee who in fact ironed many creases out in private. You must have that third eye though to realise you will need advice and we can’t do it all without some help. Combine all minds you learn from within just like we all absorb parts of others energy no longer with us.

 You should not feel awkward wanting to be your own person, and I’m not trying to be the next coming Jesus Christ or just another finger pointer. Take it from a real life person who has created themselves and sharing it now with you. You are real, what you see and feel and do is real. Look around next time you’re at training and ask yourself…
Do they read as much as you about the art and history or research the anatomy of the human body, or are they just good at the syllabus?
Do they train at home or do anything extra that may help them or do they just train for two hours per week?
(Here’s a good one) Can you relate to them as a person outside of martial art?
Finally I’d like us to recap and now practice all your kicks in front of a mirror and on purpose check my photos…
Are your elbows still flaring out like mine are?
Could you have your hands closer to your chin and maybe pivot your supporting foot more?

 Finally you should have attained more of a fun habit and an aid to helping your own development in the martial arts, maybe sharing it with your class mates and who knows…maybe you’ll be the one who knocks?

DUANE EMSLEY.

Monday, 13 February 2017

POUND 4 POUND



This column I am about to write has been inspired by a few martial artists online after I stumbled across some posts regarding the combat ability of your pound for pound ratio. I’ve read some interesting ponders on a martial artists potency in their weight field. Here I will go into it and then share with you some methods that I encourage you to look at, some I have used to help me remain potent at my weight, not just for your art but life in general.

Over the years, we all have questioned or listened to what ifs and the him VS him like these…
Who would win out of Bruce Lee and Tyson?
Jet Li VS Jackie Chan?
Punching VS kicking
The list could go on but I don’t believe in politics and debates as I have erased that type of competition from my mind. Let’s get away from shadow chasing of the curious brain, because here is what the truth is or as Bruce Lee said, “My truth is not your truth.” My granddad would say to my Dad that, “A good big one will always beat a good small one.” Surprisingly enough my Dad says to me that, “A good small one will always beat a good big one.” Adding to this I was told “A good Boxer will beat a good scrapper.” And a good Scrapper will beat a good Boxer.” Where does the truth lie? Well there are a few factors to consider, the first being that my Granddad was a bigger man that my Dad so both had highs and lows in life’s survival and each from their own experience. For the world out there are environments, personal skills and ability and mind set and at times it’s just the way the wind blows. Now I do get it if comparing fighters pound for pound at the top of their game to an extent in different weight classes but again pointless, for will it ever become?

Chuck Norris once stated that, “He thought Bruce Lee, pound for pound was one of the strongest men on the planet.” Now Bruce Lee himself was a true example of pound for pound ability, if not beyond. At his weight it is clear that he could take on people bigger than him and do better than an untrained person. His strength and abilities surpassed his actual body weight and although he never competed at his peak, there are facts and feats that he did do. So what about the rest of us? The key is to be the best we can be, safely and within our limits but stretching it gradually. Martial Arts are all about movements, so pound for pound can you move to the best of your ability? Do you have a decent strength, power and skill level for your weight? If you’re a lightweight martial artist, then can you hit hard? If you’re a heavyweight can you move quick? If you look at the two warriors Mike Tyson and Bruce Lee, each was exceptional. Tyson was very quick for his size and Bruce could pack a wallop. Small fighters should hold speed and big fighters should hold power, but can they always do both to an exceptional degree?

Here’s story… A while ago a few of my work friends decided to do some arm wrestling and at that period, I was into my Isometrics. First I arm wrestled some of the bigger lads, and of course I lost, even though I put up a fight. Their limbs were bigger or longer than mine. So off I went at the end of the day disheartened inside thinking I was weaker than I thought. Then one day more people had a go and I began to win? The penny dropped after I beat 3 people, because they were the same size as me. So pound for pound I was in that moment of being stronger had I beat the bigger guys I would have surpassed myself also. I’m not saying this is the be all and end all because maybe I just copped a lucky example. Again it’s about attaining and maintaining who and what you are, think about Kickboxing champion Oliver Sykes and the power of his spinning back. Here are some methods that will keep you fit and strong without having to add muscle, most of them we are familiar with.

HONEST GRAFT – Okay, activities such as manual work and gardening. The body naturally adapts well to stabilising and lifting things. Survival and purpose based methods that feel like you’re not training when you actually are. Long walks across hills with your dog are great for the relaxation and the mind.
ISOMETRICS – Paul Vunak described a person who was strong and didn’t look it as a sleeper. This is all about training the tendons holding or pushing against things or yourself in a variety of ways. Remember to breathe and it’s better to do a little bit most days instead of over straining in a marathon session. Always do some stretching.
 MARTIAL ARTS – Goes without saying that if you train yourself into a fighter or hone good self-defence skills then you have the upper hand against another at your weight that is not trained.
CALISTHENCS – Beauty & Strength. Body weight training can be a natural way to build strength endurance and a great compliment for the military and martial arts. Again there is a variety of methods but I’d suggest keeping it simple, basic and progressive. Just think, if you can do more press ups than your mate who weighs the same them pound for pound you have surpassed him. Be sure to make it healthy competition and support your partners if that where your heads at.
DYNAMIC TENSION – This moving strength method won’t get you real strong but allow you to control your existing strength and muscle control, many perform kata this way.
PLYOMETRICS – You can use power lifting to activate neuromuscular function within your body gaining explosive strength, but I’d still go with body weight moves or lighter weights. It’s your call really so stick to what works for you, and never, ever neglect the heavy bag. Plyometrics are used by many martial arts to improve speed and strength and is great for improving your output in your own weight. Please take your medicine ball if feeling under the weather, it is a great training aid.
Last but not least – STRETCHING! I don’t mean splits or anything extreme even though that is great, I mean a real world activity like cardio. Believe it or not, stretching helps you become stronger as you are lengthening the muscle. It warms you up and down and can ease aches and pains. You will experience a kind of runners high so to speak. As we age we shrink to a degree, and if you stop training for a while the two things you notice is tighter muscles and heavy breathing. Swimming can be beneficial too for martial arts, especially shadow kickboxing in water.

Often in competition, you will have your fight weight so it’s a good idea to test each other on your abilities in sparring or hitting the pads. Get a partner at your weight and compare punching and kicking power, come up with ways to improve each other. It may be a sit up contest, I rep bench press or a power side kick test. Even if you don’t compete and as you age your weight increases or decreases (as it can) then you will need to maintain some kind of level. Not just for output but for longevity and for your family. Always better to have a body that can serve you if the mess hits the fan, or you may have a job on at work. Above all, being a pound for pound fighter is really about martial skill in the stand-up game combined with conditioning. Your wins and losses will reflect this. If you just train by yourself or don’t compete, then unless you are working out with weights a lot you will stay a constant weight. At least you will have that ‘peace’ of mind that you are doing something for yourself, training is training. You cannot tell if a person is a good drawer until you see them draw a picture. Stay humble and respect the code of Budo, it’s only in the game when a martial artist’s skill should come into play.

To me though, the highest meaning of pound for pound lies not in your potency as a fighter, but as a true martial artist and his or hers positive approach to their training and others. Pound for pound… is your worth in gold coins who is a good person. Conducting yourself in the right way as much as you possibly can matter what you’re made of. Life can be challenging for us all some days, and when it does I picture Jackie Chan in Armour of God getting battered by them strange ‘ladies.’ He’s doing his best to cover and goes down onto one knee. In a fit of frustration and a quest to get through it, he fights back…

“Keep punching Apollo.”

DUANE EMSLEY.

Monday, 10 October 2016

A Person training is a Person training.



Don't think for a minute that you are not playing your part in the world of martial arts, if not your world of martial arts. For some out there, they wont class you as a real martial artist unless your'e a black belt or fought in the ring. Although these are great and keep the world of martial arts at a professional spin, it is not the be all. To me it goes deeper or if you like, as deep as it means. 

As long as you have had training and educating yourself then you train and train what you like. Personal training costs nothing but time and old cloth. Its rewards can be good and yes by all means step out if you wish to take it further at classes etc. Never fool yourself that the bag session, run or press ups don't mean nothing on a big scale because it does. It will matter to you and you know it it. Just because a person has trod a glory path lined with achievements does not mean your little bit is fairy dust, if you train your mind by reading and watching and your body by doing then well bloody done. GOOD FOR YOU, GOOD FOR YOU! Eff the snobs and judges out there. There are various ways of investing in yourself, including seeking out good instructors and clubs, but above all you are your best teacher and maybe you don't even know it?

Friday, 12 August 2016

Take an inch, give a mile.


I often wondered why Bruce Lee used to perform exercises such as quarter lock out and a lot of inch punch work. There are many methods that we all are aware of to help improve our strikes, and different ones are used by us as different ones. It is common know how that using a full range of motion is the correct way is most exercises, however those who are at an advanced stage of their training can play around with tweaking experimentation. These practitioners are creative and fearless in their quest for self discovery, so let's have a look then.

A good example of this is a body builder who is not experimenting with partial reps in order to gain more burn. My Sensei would teach us the ridge hand strike like you were throwing a discus, this felt like a hook and more powerful.
 I recall hearing Someone saying one time... "You don't hit people with your muscles."
When muscle is mentioned people often think external muscles of a body we can see, but the body has over 600 muscles and there are minor ones we don't know exist. Decent punching is mechanics of the body working under the flesh, so the skeleton is right from tendon and ligament guidence.In a previous posts I mention Isometrics and mentioned pushing your fist against the wall to train the punch 3inchs in and then with the fist closer to the body. At times when the fist is close to the body there is more muscular tension, like in hooks. A good way to gain power apart from brute force is the use of something I call DISTANCE - INCH - FOLLOW THROUGH. Now of course fighting is not really that clever to try by having your tools extended enough so you can use the last extension, so what we will do is a few exercises to work the explosive contractions of the extension and then incorporate the distance for follow through. Although at times certain minor training methods may come across as gimmicky to the judges out there, never forget that if it help then it helped. The jolts and thrusts of an explosive nature within our body's combines Plyometrics with Isometrics, these shock methods wake up fibres and joints.
Learn to explode from the nothingness and gain a body feel that only you can explain through movement.
Personally I find kata a great method for dynamic activations, only because much pad and bag work requires you to relax. When you play around with your own mechanics you can swiftly perform blocks or strikes through the air and use stopping power to jolt all your energy into one snap.

The first drill is our beloved basic press up, only this time the elbows are kept it and fists closed using the first two or last three knuckles. Again palms facing in or towards your feet is  your call. Exhale on pushing and only lower about 3inches and then explode up. I highly recommend them rotating push up handles to train the inches of your corkscrew.

The second is the bench press with the same aim as the press up for those who enjoy the weights. Again, lower 3 inches and explode up. Because of the shorter range or motion more weight can be handled. This is not normal weight training, you are on the job of martial interactions and interchanged mechanics.

Next we will use some equipment, this serves to strengthen the wrist and forearms so I use some basic hand grips for making a fist, and of course a dumbbell or bar with a weight of the end for training one inch punch methods. In regards to the long bar with a weight on the end, make a stance and snap the wrist, elbow should powered by the waist, legs and foot pivot. Try to get the weight plate to make a chime for feedback. You can use a barbel bar or some safe type of pole. Good thing it is like a creative activity that is your own blue peter, think unlike the rest for they are a rest
If you have not got any hand grippers then get ready for it... Roll a pair of socks up into a ball and wrap masking tape around it, there's your poor mans gripper.

Now it's time to apply these mechanics in skill to the punch bag. I've chose the heavy bag to to power and feedback principles, pads may be used but the bag will make you feel the felt shock more at the end of your moves. This is not to be used to lock out your joint as such but seconds away from that. Stance in front of your bag, extend a jab to gauge the distance until you can rest your glove on the surface. Your arm should be dead straight, now just step in a few inches. Your arm should be bent and the bag will push back or roll off your glove this is fine. Now just shoot jabs through the bag from your boxing guard, Work from both sides, ensure your in a position and distance to get them final three inches exploding through and make that bag hop the scotch. Next try it with crosses and then try jab - cross.

And finally some kicks, we will hammer some front kicks. Basic thrust or snap the choice is yours, but same dynamics will apply. The art is in the final three inches, for this drill we are minimising the big muscle input of the quads and hamstrings. Although they make great power, we are using more connective tendon at the point of the hinge joints. Get that skeleton behind the blows. Time the bag, blast left and right, ball foot toe poke provoke. These are drills you try when solo training, because in class you may be in format. Take your time and enjoy your self, feel your own body and be aware and grateful for your ability you have no matter how great or small. Make the best of your own time and environment, the very fact you was born is a great achievement.

True inner power is in the solo realm, people always preach to look forwards but sometimes a visit to the past is called for. Remember when Christopher Reeve lost his powers in Superman II? He had to go back to find himself and get that power back. He walked in that blizzard and nobody stopped to help him. This can be compared to returning from a loss or anything in life, but when all the good and bad people in your life are no longer there then it's you alone. Just like Adrian said in Rocky III, "Just you, for you alone."


Inspirations come and go, foes come and go and friends come and go, the only one is you who must show, who must be there for yourself. It is lonely and you need to stay focused. One life that's why I'm writing these words now. Listen to advice but know when to take your own also, people will try to destroy you by having your best interests at heart. You own your own heart and know your own way of being. Waking up early or late is not always a matter of sleep... It can be a matter of conscious realisation and awakening. You don't even have to follow another's example and why? Because even if they are faultless you still have to be you. We all have a way but choose to follows another's way, try it out but move on and develop. That's real self improvement. You don't have to be an expert or a maverick, in training we tend to push the limits but what if we don't have to all the time? Sometimes easy is good, easy is nice and at times easy does not mean not trying hard enough or being weak. In times of ease we are at our happiest. Our bodies were not designed to follow a diet or use machines, we are a born functioning organism of muscle and fat burning already. Of course don't be greedy, but remember.. Sugar, takeaways and beer will not make you fat! Too much of them and lack of activity will. So with your lifestyle just make adjustments you can stick to and above all forgive yourself for having to much or saying to much or doing to little. I've never met a person who is made of gold, made of a few other things maybe and remember, we all go a little crazy sometimes... That's what keeps you sane. The thing that sets my articles apart is that I write for you, not as a world champion or teacher but a student and a friend, an everyday martial artist and I'm eternally grateful to be able to share with you all.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

From Small Foot To Meeting Superfoot



A couple of years ago I was fortunate to be able to meet a gentleman that had entertained me in films and the competition arena. Growing up I was always glad to see Mr Bill Wallace in a film containing martial arts. A very potent left leg owning a right leg that he couldn't kick with hence the name 'Superfoot'

Mr Wallace was very centered and full of one liner and quick thinking humor, holding a pair of eyes that seemed to brim with a solid old skool energy. The reason I am sitting here writing this is because if you were to say I would meet the guy years ago Id laugh it off. Of course I'm thankful to be considered for such an event, I also try to stay away from the details as I'm just a student of life and nothing more, not even close to these people yet we are all human. I grew up in a place that had pros and cons I suppose, a place that could swallow you if you surrender or a place to improve yourself from. I chose the latter but in no way am I saying I'm where Id love to be yet. What i'm saying to you now is that I was a pale skinny kid, a bit weird at times but to survive the ledge of insanity you must push the edge of sanity and own yourself. There is so many people that quit or allow themselves to be no greater than the decay around them, thing is with the internet these people could make the moves to reach out to people they hold in high regard. Sometimes you will get nothing back and sometimes you will but you have to do some work either way. We are all humans and can sicken or inspire each other and everybody can summon something positive to offer. So just by having an interest in martial arts as a boy led me to some cool people, yes some of us just communicate via Facebook world but as long as you are real and honest then that's all that matters. We all can be naughty and nice.

My main point here is that I do wonder what else would have taken my focus had I not enjoyed the odd scribble of punch and kick, regardless of if it was spent with others or myself. That didn't matter as I was always so self sufficient that way. A bit older now I don't really put others above me or on a platform, because why would I want to shift the focus off myself? I don't really feel the need to reach out to be accepted because I know myself and accept myself. Back then I didn't really understand that I was work in progress and that I was creating myself.

 I guess the lesson I have learned is that we all need to practice on ourselves and not expect anything in return, because our own improvements are just that. Enough of I, I, I...its how we treat others but more how we treat ourselves, so I will continue to work on myself while everybody else is "Too busy looking good."

You know where to find me.