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Old 11-12-2012, 05:35 PM
drudo drudo is offline
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Default Shotokan Karate Magazine - Fiting in your own skin article by John Cheetham

I'll break the ice and make the first post about the article Sensei John asked us to read and comment on that appeared in Shotokan Karate Magazine named "Fitting in your own skin." and written by John Cheetham.

First, a lot of the article resonated with me but I think Mr. Cheetham missed the boat on 2 points.

1) We all learn a little bit differently.
2) Persistence, dedication and passion even if a little bit misguided eventually will pay off.

1. The core of this article suggests that at a certain advanced level the karate-ka needs to make karate work for their body and not slavishly mimic kihon as it was tought to them nor try and exactly reproduce the karate style of their teachers. The article suggests for us to "Relax", to not try so hard, to breath, to find balance. All of that is well and good, but what does it mean? For me, in order to find extra meaning for anything that I learn in the dojo I need to practice on my own, at my own pace, to break techniques down, try them slightly differently, try and interpret what my Sensei meant to teach me, rather than what I originally learned or thought he was getting at with his description.

Self training is where I get to experiment and I think that experimentation and mixture of intellectualizing while working through techniques and thinking about how and why they function the way they do is an important part of truly learning what I've been taught.

Simply "doing" 1000 gaidan Borai or 1000 Shuto won't make those techniques any better, they'll just tire out my body. What will make the techniques better is thinking and being aware of what exactly is going on with each techique as its executed. How did that one feel? What if I do the next one with more vibration? Better or worse? What about more rotation? Better or worse? What if I use a bigger hip motion? How do the mechanics of this technique relate to another technique? And then... an epiphany! And that, for me, is "fitting in your own skin". Its not just making the technique comfortable, its understanding what do to with my body to make the technique feel like its working best.

2. The last few paragraphs are a little unclear but I think Mr. Cheetham is getting at the Yoda philosophy: "There is no try. There is do, or do not." While there's a truth to that, I don't believe that there is such a thing as trying to hard. Also while I believe that "Just let it happen" is a great way to approach love, I think with karate you should have goals, ambitions and try your hardest to improve. The author may have been "trying" to make the point to not let your ambitions or will to improve result in physical stress or tension, but I think you could easily interpret what he was saying was to approach your karate training with midlessness and I think mindfull attention to your training is a better way to achieve your training goals.

These are just my thoughts. I'm hoping others with more, less and different experience than myself will share their comments on the article as well. I found it a terrific read filled with insights and during todays training constantly found myself thinking about this article and how it informed that days training regimine.


Last edited by drudo; 11-12-2012 at 05:51 PM.
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Old 11-12-2012, 07:37 PM
Rob Penn Rob Penn is offline
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Default Fitting in your own skin

I guess we all tailor our karate to suit our body type or even mindset after a while. Our instructors generally teaches us in a fairly cookie cutter way which is not bad to iron out the bad habits that tends to occur.
That said,I reckon that most senior karatekas tend to develop their sub-style as time goes by. Is that good or bad? I would say that it could go both ways. I personally took a little bit from my two instructors but because of my size and the fact that I trained with guys who were naturally stronger and had a longer reach than me, I had to find ways to compensate. Also,being a person who shied away from tournaments and shows, I tend to love kihon and tai-sabaki drills as opposed to flashy kumite and katas.....and then lo and behold...I got pretty good at both!!!
Anyway,the argument would be,t what point do the individual start deviating? After how many years of training? By how much should one move from the centre? And at what point does one deviates so much that they think they have to put a name to it? We seems to have that problem in Belize....
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Old 11-15-2012, 07:17 PM
drudo drudo is offline
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It seems to me that even while maintaining that classic shotokan form on the exterior, there's a lot of internal learning to be done as well. At my level, my external form is hopefully pretty similar to the mold, but I can feel that I've got a long way to go before fully understanding why that form is correct and has come to be in the first place.

Its a good question about at what level of training you begin to experiment or stylize or at what point what you are doing maybe isn't something others would call Shotokan. Straight through Shodan I was pretty much only concerned with getting my external form looking good and close to resembling my seniors.
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Old 11-27-2012, 06:08 AM
jnunez jnunez is offline
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First and foremost before one can move into a "substyle" is the understanding of kihon and the basic principles of form, power, speed, strength, etc. One has to have a good foundation from which to move on. Unfortunately a few folks move to developing their "substyle" without a solid foundation. In the end they fall for any and everything. Constant training under expert instruction is the key both as a beginner and advanced student. As a beginner you obey; as an advanced student you analyze. In both cases you have to train. The body can only do what the mind says if the body gets off the chair.
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