Today was my first class of 2016. The dojo was very cold and the floor felt like ice but at least it was dry. Either way, it felt good to be back and before long, my body started to warm up, except for my feet, but this is Karate not a knitting class.
Gotta get warm
Sensei Noia took the cold into account and had us run through a vigorous warm up. We started class by jogging to each line on the floor and doingÂ 5 each of the following. Jumping jacks, push ups, crunches and squats. We also did low walks to half court and front leg swings to the far end. Needless to say, I was breathing fairly hard at that point and the cold air was starting to feel a little warmer.
After the warm up we stood in a natural stance and then did single punches making sure to squeeze the floor with our feet and tighten our legs at the finish of the punch. Sensei explained that â€œkimeâ€ should happen at the last moment of the punch. Everything is loose and fluid until that last moment when the entire body contracts as the punch is completed.
Step down not back
For the next drill, we stepped down, into a back stance with knife hand block and then stepped into a natural stance with a punch. Instead of stepping back into the back stance, Sensei said to step down by dropping down before moving back. When moving from the back stance into the natural stance, the idea is to pull from your hamstrings instead of just standing up. We did the same with the opposite leg to even things out. We did the same leg movements but instead of knife hand block we did mange uke making sure to bring the upper blocking hand to our side and throwing the punch from the hip before moving into the natural stance from the back stance. We finished up this drill replacing the mange uke with a helping outward block.
For the next drill, we found a partner who stood in a front stance, we then moved away from them in a back stance with a knife hand block, then stepped forward into a front stance with a reverse punch. The key to this drill was to move from the hips and throw the punch from the hip too. Again, pulling from the hamstring when moving from the back stance to the front stance was the key.
We left our partner for a drill that started with us facing sideways, we pivoted 180 degrees on our right heel and punched, then pivot on left heel 180 degrees and punch again. In order to do this drill correctly, we had to initiate the movement from the hips. Extra attention to your posture and staying upright is a big part of the this drill.
The next drill was similar to one that I saw Naka Sensei do in a video. Starting in a natural stance again, we punched to the right without turning our heels, then back to center with a double punch then a single punch to the left. The key is getting the hips to throw the punches not the shoulders and keeping the feet in the natural stance position.
Sensei wanted us to get more of feel for that last drill and he had us partner up again hitting our partner, punching from the hip, while standing in a natural stance. Your knees have to be somewhat soggy to allow the hips move and the upper body needs to be loose. The punching arm needs to be similar to a rock tied to the end of a rope in order for the hip to throw the punch.
There’s always room for kata
After all the hip work, Sensei had us work on kata. We started out everyone doing Jion. Sensei counted out each move but all of the black belts had to do it in mirror image. Â Mirror image kata is always a mental challenge.
We moved on to Bassai Dai spending some extra time on the first movement. After a few tries, Sensei had us get a partner again and while we did the first move our partner hit our front hand with a pad to make sure that we locked the correct muscles.
We did Bassai Dai again while Sensei counted out each move and then moved on.
For the rest of the class, the brown belts worked on their rank level kata and the black belts had a choice of a few different black belt katas. We did three more katas with the black belts doing Kanku Dai and then different kata choices for each one.