Sincerity - Shisei

Welcome to the Articles section where you will find information on Karate training, history, tips and much more.

Please click on each heading to browse through our articles, which we hope you will find of interest.

Anger management made simple

Some common-sense points about anger management

From 'Getting Control of Your Anger' by Robert Allan PhD, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital

A 3-step process for taming rage:

1.  Identify the 'switch' (trigger) that lights on your anger.

Just by knowing that there is a trigger that sets your anger off can be liberating in itself.  It's the first step toward changing your reaction to your anger and not allowing yourself to directly express that anger by yelling, swearing or getting physical.

2.  Step back or remove yourself from the situation causing your anger.

By doing this, you can figure out why you need the anger.  Then you can try some relaxation or deep-breathing exercises to try to get back some of your self-control.

Develop an observing-self: a mini-version of yourself who you visualize sitting on your shoulder viewing the big picture and warning you not to take the anger bait (switch or trigger).

When we get angry, the feeling is usually fueled by the need for respect or the need not to have our territory breached, or both.

3.  Fill this need without expressing anger directly.

Instead, ask for what you need!

So remember:

  1. Identify your trigger
  2. Stand back to observe
  3. Communicate

Zen 3


Conflicts in the Dojo

Quarrelling in the Dojo is always sparked by self-righteous and competitive attitudes.

Both are wrong, but both feel right. Note that “it was always because of the other’s behaviour!” Usually quarrels result from past unresolved issues. Lack of communication is often a component.

It is important to realize why dojo quarrels should be avoided AT ALL COSTS.

  • Karate is meant to eliminate or reduce considerably one’s EGO (that poisonous inflated sense of self-esteem). So when a quarrel is starting, THAT is the time to restrain our Ego
  • Once a ‘spark’ starts, it could burn the entire forest. In other words, the argument develops into a heated one, and then it could escalate physically. This may also include outsiders, fellow students, and the instructor etc. who will normally intervene. The good training atmosphere in the dojo is ruined!
  • Karate is a means of self defence but the mental aspect is more important than the techniques themselves. The poise, balance, patience, empathy, social intelligence, and conflict resolution skills are MORE IMPORTANT in real life, than the ability to destroy an opponent. THIS is the time to TRAIN these skills, and not give-in to base instincts.
  • Karate is based on the Dojo Kun. The real Karateka should reflect on the 5 concepts (listed below in ‘short form’) and live by this code inside and outside of the Dojo:
    c) EFFORT
    d) RESPECT
  • It is clear that two students, quarrelling for a perceived ‘slight’:

    a) Have much to perfect in their CHARACTER
    b) SINCERITY was surely lost
    c) There was certainly no extraordinary EFFORT to avoid the clash
    d) RESPECT for each other (as well as for the others present in the Dojo, for the Dojo itself, and for the whole ‘system’ of Karate-Do) was LOST
    e) SELF CONTROL is obviously the first victim
  • Your true grade is reflected by your attitude, not by your belt colour.
  • The consequences of a quarrel may lead to:
    a) Quitting training altogether (by one, or both involved, or even more people!)
    b) Having less fellow practitioners to train with;
    c) Your partners may be reluctant to train with you, because they see you as unpredictable, or be over cautious so that eventually you will not get the benefit of sincere attacks;
    d) Kumite training might be stopped altogether, losing one of the most important pillars of Karate training.
    e) Tension in the dojo, tension on the instructor, tension on all students, shorter ‘bonding’ changing-room time, lack of enjoyment in training etc.
  • Instead of dwelling on feelings of resentment towards others, LET GO! 

Think instead on what your behaviour will be the next time you feel anger swelling up your throat! 


Hitting the wall

An open letter to a karate student who has been ‘hitting the wall’ in his training

Let's try to 'part the clouds', as Funakoshi Sensei put it in one of his poems...

 Temple wall

1)    Feeling like you are getting nowhere is to be expected from time to time.

This can happen to anyone because our mind, our knowledge and our expectations grow much faster than our physical capability.

Being your own worst critic, however, definitely has its advantages. It’s the person who thinks he has learnt everything that will stagnate and regress for real!

At other times, we may have the impression that we have reached a certain level of accomplishment in our mind’s eye, until someone corrects us, or we see ourselves on video, and suddenly that feeling of accomplishment comes tumbling down as we see ourselves from the outside.

All these things are normal and to be expected. Don’t let them get to you. Just acknowledge that there are still plenty of improvements to make (as is the case with anybody else) and just move on.

Use the negative and turn it into a positive. Don’t see your defects as failures. See them as areas with a lot of growth potential. If you had nowhere left where to develop, you would soon lose your motivation, don’t you think?


 2)   Understand that progress in Karate (and in all other arts) is not linear but in steps.

You will think that you have reached a wall, when in reality what seems like a wall is just the step to the next level!


3)    Don't concentrate about the goal of obtaining 'recognition'... concentrate about the process.

This is the only real secret of Karate-DO and Martial arts in general.

This is what makes goal oriented persons weaker: If they feel it is too uphill, they quit the race. They are so concentrated on the destination, forgetting that the real experience is in the journey.

The point is: we are not doing any race at all!

We are fighting with ourselves to do a little bit better than last time, and not competing with anybody else.


4) Just do it

The Way of Karate-DO is clearly explained by Osaka Sensei's motto, "Do your best and let fate do the rest".

You have to compare yourself with a diesel engine, slowly ticking over but never stopping. Sometimes progress may seem so slow that you hardly notice it at all. But little bits of progress accumulated steadily over time, will make a big difference eventually. Think of the long term.


5)    Appreciate what you have, and do not compare yourself with some imaginary super-hero.

If you only concentrate on comparing yourself to others (or getting your grade before others) you will miss the most important element: the sheer enjoyment of training and performing even a simple technique you like.


6)    What about the practical benefits of Karate?

Unwinding from the daily pressure;

Taking a little time for yourself

Keeping fit;

Feeling and looking younger than your 'calendar' age;

Enhancing your mind to muscle link;

Increasing your flexibility;

Developing more concentration;

Becoming a calmer person;

Enjoying an Art;

Investing your time in giving your children a youthful parent (when others start losing pieces);

Being a better person...

Personally, I can confidently say that Karate was the best investment of my life


7)     Appreciate that you are part of a group which is keeping alive the flame of real Karate.

This gives us pride, responsibility and frustration sometimes, especially when people don't realise they will be soon taking-off to new levels of excellence.

Do you know what the original meaning of the word ‘OSS’ is?

It means: Strive on, don’t give up, don’t quit!


Interesting Quotations

“There is no man living who, however much he may have trained and practiced, can exceed the natural bounds of human powers.”

“Students of Karate-do aim not only toward perfecting their chosen art but also toward emptying heart and mind of all earthly desire and vanity.”

“What you have been taught by listening to others’ words you will forget very quickly; what you have learned with your whole body you will remember for the rest of your life.”

"Just as it is the clear mirror that reflects without distortion, or the quiet valley that echoes a sound, so must one who would study Karatedo purge himself of selfish and evil thoughts, for only with a clear mind and conscience can one understand that which one receives. This is another meaning of the element 'KARA' in Karatedo."

“True practice is done not with words but with the entire body.”

"Karate is the Martial Art of intelligent people." _ Gichin Funakoshi


"Poor is the student who does not surpass his teacher." _ Leonardo da Vinci  


"In our time there are many artists who do something because it is new; they see their value and their justification in this newness. They are deceiving themselves; novelty is seldom the essential. This has to do with one thing only; making a subject better from its intrinsic nature." _ Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


"True Science does not constitute a separate branch of knowledge from Art" _ Eugene Delacroix


"Time is still the best critic, and patience the best teacher." 

"Have the body supple right to the tips of the toes"

"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable only when you have overcome all difficulties, like art’s final seal. Whoever wants to obtain this immediately will never achieve it. You can’t begin with the end. One has to have studied tremendously to reach this goal. It’s no easy matter."

 "Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on" 

"Practice demands intensity and concentration. It is not purely mechanical" _ Fryderick Chopin


“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts” _ Bertrand Russel


“You should not have any special fondness for a particular weapon, or anything else for that matter.”

 “Even when still, your mind is not still; even when hurried your mind is not hurried. The mind is not dragged by the body; the body is not dragged by the mind”

 "As I see society, people make the arts into commercial products; they think of themselves as commodities, and also make implements as items of commerce. Distinguishing the superficial and the substantial, I find this attitude has less reality than decoration."

"The field of martial arts is particularly rife with flamboyant showmanship, with commercial popularization and profiteering on the part of both those who teach the science and those who study it. The result of this must be, as someone said, that amateurish martial arts are a source of serious wounds." _ Miyamoto Musashi 1643 A.D. 


"Those who speak, don't know; those who know, don't speak" _ Lao Tzu


"Eastern Philosophy speaks of the Superior man and the Inferior man. The difference is this: The Superior man is governed from within. The Inferior man is governed by law."

"Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one." 

"Getting into the "flow"; Athletes call it "the zone." How do you know when you're there? You become an observer of yourself. You shift away from the first person. You watch yourself creating art. _ Anon.


"U.S.S. Nimitz = 100,000 Tons of diplomacy" _ T shirt


"Keep the company of those who seek the truth (and run away from those who have found it)" _ Vaclav Havel


"Power is nothing without control"Pneumatic tyre advertisement 


"It's not how you start. It's how you finish." _ Nick Vujicic

Interesting Quotations 2

“If you don’t raise your eyes, you’ll think you are at the highest point.”_ Antonio Porchia


“Even a broken clock is right twice a day.” _ David Steel


“Being busy is the best excuse for not working.”_ Kenneth Tynan


"The heart of a virtuous person has settled down and he does not rush about at things. A person of little merit is not at peace but walks about making trouble and is in conflict with all."

"People with intelligence will use it to fashion things both true and false and will try to push through whatever they want with their clever reasoning. This is injury from intelligence. Nothing you do will have effect if you do not use truth."

"A person who knows but a little will put on an air of knowledge. This is a matter of inexperience. When someone knows something well, it will not be seen in his manner. This person is genteel."  

"In China there was once a man who liked pictures of dragons, and his clothing and furnishings were all designed accordingly. His deep affection for dragons was brought to the attention of the dragon god, and one day a real dragon appeared before his window. It is said that he died in fright. He was probably a man who always spoke big words but acted differently when facing the real thing." _ ‘Hagakure’ - Yamamoto Tsunetomo (1658-1719)


"Fine art is that in which the hand, the head and the heart of man go together" _ John Ruskin


"Let him who desires peace prepare for war" (Qui Sivis Pacem Praeparet Bellum) _ Flavius Vegetius, AD 390


"What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind" _ Punch magazine (1855)  


“Our greatest glory is not in never-falling but in rising every time we fall” _ Confucius


Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear”

"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." _ Mark Twain


“At the end of a matter ask, "What will I learn from this to make me better?"”

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow” “_ Mary Ann Radmacher


“Everybody has talent, but ability takes hard work.” _ Michael Jordan


"Ars Longa, Vita Brevis" (Life is so short, while the art so long to learn) _ Hippocrates (c.400 BC)


"To ask when you already know is politeness. To ask when you don't know is the rule."

"A person who is said to be proficient in the arts is like a fool. Because of his foolishness in concerning himself with just one thing, he thinks of nothing else and thus becomes proficient. He is a worthless person."

"In affairs like law suits or even in arguments, by losing quickly one will lose in fine fashion. It is like Sumo. If one thinks only of winning, a sordid victory will be worse than a defeat. For the most part it becomes a squalid defeat."

“When an official place is extremely busy and someone comes in thoughtlessly with some business or other, often there are people who will treat him coldly and become angry. This is not good at all. At such times, the etiquette of a samurai is to calm himself and deal with the person in a good manner. To treat a person harshly is the way of lackeys.”

"...In seeking correction from others, you excel them."Yamamoto Tsunetomo


“I do not know the way to defeat others, but the way to defeat myself” _ Yagyu Munenori



Kata counts

In the following table are listed the formal JKA Kata counts.

The idea behind these counts is to promote standardization in the way one thinks about a particular Kata. The counts themselves can represent a single movement (like turning the head) or a complex group of hand and leg techniques.  

This forces the performance of the kata to follow a distinct rhythm. Another advantage of knowing the counts is having an index and catalogue of the Kata movements. This is especially useful when explaining movements on written texts (instructor manuals etc).

Finally, counts serve as double check on whether a movement was missed, or the Kiai points correct, whilst still learning a new Kata.

Of course, the primary aim of Kata is still the physical perfection of the movements, the understanding of the principles therein, and the possible applications.

Kata counts are just a means to go deeper into the Kata itself.

Kata  number



Kiai in move Number:





















































































































Maxims for the Karate Trainee, by Master Gichin Funakoshi


by Master Gichin Funakoshi

From Karate-do Kyohan

"The word “BU” of BUDO (martial arts) is written with the Chinese character for "stop" within a character signifying two crossed halberds meaning to stop conflict. Since karate is a BUDO, this meaning should be deeply considered, and the fists should not be used heedlessly.

Youth is justice and vitality. Vitality is stimulated by BU (martial arts) and it overflows into good or sometimes bad actions. Thus if Karate-do is followed correctly, it will polish the character, and one will uphold justice, but if used for evil purposes, it will corrupt society and be contrary to humanity.

Force is used as a last resort where humanity and justice cannot prevail, but if the fist is used freely without consideration, then the user will lose the respect of others and be shabbily treated, while being censured for barbaric action. At any rate, the high-spirited youth in the prime of life is prone to rash speech and action, so prudence is essential.

One must have dignity without ferocity. Martial arts must bring one to this height. It will not do to act recklessly to no purpose and cause trouble for others. Masters and saints may appear as simpletons. Those who are pretentious declare to the world that they are just novice scholars or martial artists.

To stand still is to regress; those who think that they have learned everything and become conceited braggarts proclaiming their own merits after learning the movements of some Kata and acquiring dexterity in their physical movements are not fit to be considered as serious trainees in the martial arts.

It is said that even a worm that is an inch long has a soul half an inch long; thus as one continues to gain skill in Karate, one must become more careful with one's speech.  Again, it is said that the higher the tree, the stronger the wind, but does not even the willow manage to withstand the wind? Similarly the trainee of Karate-do must consider good behavior and humbleness as the highest of virtues.

Mencius said, "When Heaven is about to confer an important office upon a man, it first embitters his heart in its purpose; it causes him to exert his bones and sinews; it makes his body suffer hunger; it inflicts upon him want and poverty and confounds his undertakings. In this way it stimulates his will, steels his nature and thus makes him capable of accomplishing what he would otherwise be incapable of accomplishing."

If introspection reveals the self to be unjust, then no matter how base the opponent may be, will I not be afraid? If introspection reveals the self to be just, then I will go even though against a thousand or ten thousand men.

A gentleman should be gentle and never be menacing; close, yet never forward; slay but never humiliate; no sign of indecency is found in his abode; his nourishment is never heavy; even a minor mistake is corrected but there is no accusation. Thus is his strength of will.

A gentleman must be broad-minded and strong willed. The responsibilities will be heavy, and the way is long. Make benevolence your lifelong duty. This surely is an important mission. It is a lifelong effort, truly a long journey.

An ordinary man will draw his sword when ridiculed and will fight risking his life, but he may not be called a courageous man. A truly great man is not disturbed even when suddenly confronted with an unexpected event or crisis, nor angered upon finding himself in situations not of his own making, and this is because he has a great heart and his aim is high.

Eight important phrases of karate:

The mind is the same with heaven and earth.
The circulatory rhythm of the body is similar to the sun and the moon.
The Law includes hardness and softness.
Act in accordance with time and change.
Techniques will occur when a void is found.
The Ma requires advancing and retreating, separating and meeting.
The eyes do not miss even the slightest change.
The ears listen well in all directions.

Therefore I say: Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.

When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal.

If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril; for to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill.

When birds of prey are attacking, they fly in low without extending their wings. When wild beasts are about to attack, they crouch low with their ears close to their heads. Similarly, when a sage is about to act, he always appears slightly dull.

Lin Hung-nien said: A stone with no water within it is hard. A natural magnet with no water within it is dense. If a body is hard within and dense without, how can it ever be penetrated? If a thing has an opening, then it will be filled. If a thing has an inch of cavity, then one inch of water will fill it."

On Bullying

Bullying is the repeated and deliberate abuse of a weaker person.

Abuse may be physical or psychologicalBullying

 Forms of bullying:

  1. Gestures (‘black looks’)
  2. Verbal (name calling)
  3. Physical (violence)
  4. Extortion (through intimidation or actual violence)
  5. Exclusion (isolation from the group of “friends”)

 If you are:

  1. Different in any way
  2. Alone and isolated – No friends to stand-up for you
  3. Shy/ Introverted
  4. Seemingly defenceless – Giving the impression that you will not retaliate - Fearful of consequences
  5. Physically big but not ‘frightening’ or so small that anybody will take a chance on you
  6. If you are not a ‘likeable’ person
  7. If you react with visible stress to the situation, offering an amusing spectacle
  8. If you have low self esteem
  9. If you never feel in control of the situation
  10. If you don’t know how to be assertive, but either back-out or lash-out (when it’s too late)

… you will be bullied.


Bullying is not inevitable _ it should be prevented rather than managed (‘cured’). Response to bullying should ideally be cultural and not individual: Everybody must stand up against bullying – always.


It is your right to be left in peace. You have the right to be different; alone; shy; introvert; fearful; unpopular etc… and it is not your fault:

You are not the cause of the bullying; you don’t deserve to be bullied.


Unfortunately, having the right to be different is not related to the sad fact that you will probably be bullied if the bullies think that they can get away with it.



So of what help can karate training be in this issue?

Diligent study of Karate in a good club can help you in:


  1. Making friends with like-minded people
  2. Getting rid of shyness
  3. Bolstering confidence;
  4. Radiating an aura of strength;
  5. Doing away with paralyzing fear;
  6. Socialising with people
  7. Training self control
  8. Increasing self esteem
  9. Providing you with the tools needed to be in be in command of the situation
  10. Learning how to be assertive

Karate is not a universal remedy, but scores of students vouch for its ability to turn you into a well developed and stable person.


It is important to note that character development only takes place in time, and only if the student has the will to improve mentally.

Quotes by Edward de Bono, freely applied to Karate

Some quotes by Dr. Edward de Bono _ (freely applied to Karate concepts): 


“Arrogance prevents any improvement in an idea. To halt evolution at some point is to claim that further evolution cannot improve the idea. It is like supposing that animal evolution ought to have stopped at the dinosaurs because they suited the environment so well.”

“I would go so far as to suggest that a person who was incapable of arrogance would be incapable of stupidity.”



“Being right is the feeling of being right because this is what one acts upon.”



“Too much experience within a field may restrict creativity because you know so well how things should be done that you are unable to escape to come up with new ideas.”



“An ‘intermediate impossible’ is an idea which is not right in itself but which one uses as a stepping-stone to get to an idea which is right.”



“Proof is often no more than lack of imagination in providing an alternative explanation.”



“Routines mean that you do not have to think about the next step, so you are freed to use your thinking on other matters. Routines can be liberating.”

“Without a road and without structure it is much more difficult to get anywhere. The energy you put into a situation may be wasted and you are back where you started.”



“Progress means being willing to climb the steps one by one and not expecting it all to happen at once.”

“If something is good then surely more is better. But more height may make the tower topple over.”

“There is a difference between a direction and a destination. If we drive north we do not necessarily want to live at the North Pole.”



“A group is not a collection of individuals but acquires a special ‘group’ identity that is more than the sum of its parts.”



“Language is an encyclopaedia of ignorance which forces us to perceive and communicate in a limited way.”

“One only acts upon named ideas”



A note on etiquette (Rei-gi) 

“Karate begins and ends with courtesy”
Gichin Funakoshi, founder of the Shotokan Karate Style, and father of Japanese Karate.  

Most if not all of the following rules might seem self evident. It is the responsibility of the higher grade students to point out to beginners any slips in the Dojo etiquette:  

Enter the dojo with a level of hygiene appropriate to the times we live in. Be especially careful of your feet and nails. 

Your Karate-Gi should be white, signifying purity, not grey or off-white, and it should never be smelly. Wash your Karate-Gi after each session. (Hand-wash your Karate-Gi if possible, as repeated hot machine washes will age the fabric)

Do not allow your uniform to be disheveled during training. If you need a major re-dress, face away from the class, lean on one knee, and arrange your Gi.

Females should only wear white tee-shirts (without visible prints) under the Gi-top, whilst males should generally avoid wearing anything under the Gi-top, even in winter.  

No chewing gum. 

Spectacles are allowed, but soft/disposable contact lenses are recommended. 

No heavy perfumes, nail polish, greasy gels etc. should be used. 

Jewels or other similar items (rings, watches, ear-rings, chokers, necklaces, piercing - especially tongue, face and belly piercings, sunglasses, fancy hair ornaments, religious symbols etc.) are NOT allowed in the Dojo: 1st for your safety: If you sprain a finger while wearing a ring, the ring will need to be carefully cut in hospital to avoid serious problems. 2nd for your attitude: All the students have to be equally attired. We are expected to get rid of our cumbersome ego. Therefore leave all signs of individualism outside.  

Don’t bring expensive items to the dojo: a) For your own security b) So that you may concentrate better, not having to worry about what you left in the changing room.  

Leave shoes in the changing room. Walk barefoot on the Dojo floor. 

On going in and out of the Dojo, perform a standing bow (Tachi-Rei) towards the ‘Kamiza’ (shrine) 

If you are late in joining the class, perform a kneeling bow (Za-Rei) as soon as you have the attention of your Sensei (instructor) or Sempai (higher belt) who will nod at you to join in.

When you join, take your place nearest the entrance. Only after lines are broken should you take place according to grade. 

Opening formal procedure: 

On starting the class, the Sempai (the higher ranking belt at the moment), will call “Musubi dachi” (attention stance).

All those present will immediately silence and gather forming one or more straight lines, in order of grade, with the higher grade farther from the entrance to the dojo, and facing the Kamiza.

“Seiza”: as soon as the instructor kneels facing the Kamiza. All the students will kneel in seiza.

The Sempai will call “Mok’(u)so”, to close your eyes and still the mind before the start of the session.

The Sempai will call “Kaimo” to end the short meditation period.Zarei

He will then call “Shomen-ni Rei” (Bow to the front);

the Sensei will turn and face the class.“Sensei-ni Rei” (Sensei and Class will bow to each other) the class will then say “Onegai shimasu’ (‘please do what is expected of you’).

The Sempai will call “Kiritsu” and the class will stand up in Musubi Dachi to perform a standing Bow (Tachi Rei).

The session will start.  

Closing formal procedure: 

As at the start, the Sempai will call “Musubi dachi”, “Seiza”, “Mokuso”, “Kaimo”, “Shomen-ni Rei” and “Sensei-ni Rei” (see above).

The class will then say “Arigato gozai mashita” (essentially ‘thank you very much’)

The Sempai will again call “Kiritsu’” and the class will stand up in Musubi Dachi to perform a standing Bow (Tachi Rei).

The session will end there.

During the session: Keep your attention on Karate and avoid cross-talking, giggling, and general childish behaviour. Remember that Karate techniques are potentially very dangerous, even when practicing in empty air. 

Don’t leave the class, or turn to drink, or stop training, without the acknowledgement of the Sensei taking the class. 

Whenever you interact with a fellow Karateka you should both perform Tachi Rei at an appropriate distance. 

Apart from the superficial aspect of greeting your partner in the Japanese style, the bow should be much deeper in meaning: A sincere bow will tell both practitioners that they can trust each other; That if there is a huge mismatch in skill, the higher grade (Sempai) will care for the lower grade (Kohai); that, unless required, the lower grade will not try to cheat the higher grade (as it will be his turn next!); that two matched partners will try to give the best possible training to each other without being neither complacent nor malicious.

After a short time you will learn to recognize a true Rei, just as you immediately spot all irritating versions of insincere hand shakes. 

Be prompt and alert.  Follow the same rhythm of the class, without dragging.   

Perform the exercises and techniques as instructed. Don’t choose and pick. 

Turn on the same side as your sempai. 

Don’t try to ask ‘open ended’ questions as soon as you feel a little tired!

Don’t ask your instructor “Can we do this technique instead of that?” Remember that there are no absolute techniques or absolute responses which cannot be substituted. Therefore don’t ask the obvious. 

Don’t make a face when you are asked to perform something you dislike. It may well be that you dislike some exercise or technique because you don’t know how to do it. (It is for that very reason that you are instructed to do it, to stretch your imaginary limits) [Except in case of injury] 

If your instructor makes a mistake, point it out as you would like it done if you were in his place. 

Don’t try to impose your idea on the whole class by trying to influence the instructor. Everybody loves and hates a different part of Karate. If we are to workout ‘democratically’ the main part of training might be omitted. 

‘Empty your cup’ and preserve the ‘beginner’s mind’.  


Unless mutually agreed-upon beforehand, we should all strive to focus our full power techniques a few millimeters away from the body of our partner (The principle of ‘Sun-Dome’)

In case of doubt as to the legitimacy of a technique, imagine it is being performed on you. 

A special case arises in the formal fighting drills (Yakusoku Kumite) such as Gohon (5 step), Sambon (3 step) and Kihon Ippon (1 step) Kumite. 

Here the attacker is declaring his target, and he should honestly try to hit the target…subject to an inability of the partner to defend himself properly (relatively inexperienced, or a misunderstanding).

For more advanced practitioners, if the block does not work, the attacker is not justified to injure his partner, but the defender should not complain if he was hit, as it is primarily his fault. The advanced practitioner should have no problem in relaxing his strike as soon as he feels contact is being made, thus preventing injury.

Some Kumite drills require that an attacker waits for the counter attack of the defender, so as to help him train:

It is the ultimate in bad manners to hit with full contact your accommodating partner, who is effectively waiting for you as a still target.    

Mistakes do happen. Apologise immediately and sincerely, but keep practicing. Don’t stop the class for a minor bump. On the contrary learn to keep going. Don’t nag with other people about what that student did to you, forgetting what you did to others! 

Treat everybody with respect. Keep your mind open. Your Sempai or even your Kohai, can teach you even more than your Sensei, by relating direct experiences in a new light. If you respect yourself first and foremost, you will never have difficulty respecting others. 

Keep up your good training. You will reap many rewards.


Report on Malta Gasshuku 2010

Since joining Lewisham Shotokan Karate Club two years ago I heard glowing reports about the annual trip to Malta for the 3-day Gasshuku (Training Camp). Despite doing a few national courses in the UK, I was really looking forward to training intensively in a new environment and to escape the cold and rain in London for the Maltese winter sun.

Lewisham’s links to Malta were forged back to the 1980’s when the club’s Chief Instructor, Sensei Roy Tomlin, 5th Dan JKA, made a trip to the island. Since then Sensei Roy has taught and trained countless times in Malta and the island has become a strong centre for karate, in no small part due to the tutelage of JKA-Malta Chief Instructor, Sensei Dario Chircop. As in previous years, Sensei Roy and Sensei Dario were the Chief Instructors at the Gasshuku, which brought together participants from England, Malta and Spain. Sensei Dario met us at the airport on Friday evening before shepherding us to our first training session.

Friday’s training session focused on coordination and balance – two of the six essential components of any training session along with Form/Technique, Stance, Timing and Distance. After a rigorous warm-up (needed after a 3 hour Air Malta flight!), Sensei Dario directed us through a number of basic moves requiring considerable coordination. Kicks included combinations of mae-geri, yokogeri kokomi and mawashi-geri. Sensei Roy then focused on Tekki Shodan and its related kata in the Tekki family, Tekki Sandan. An evening meal in the nearby town of Buggiba was followed by a few drinks in anticipation of a busy day ahead…

Saturday started early for a beach training session on the beautiful island of Gozo – a real highlight of the Gasshuku. After basics, Sensei Dario taught us the ancient kata of Wankan. One of the shortest kata, Wankan proved popular with the students keen to try their hand at a highly technical kata. It was instructive to learn that beach training encourages balance and fitness – it’s much more physically demanding to train on sand particularly when you sink regularly into the soft top sand. Following the morning’s beach session we stopped for pizza before training at the sports centre in Gozo where Sensei Roy went through some basic combinations followed by one-step kumite (sparring) involving various punches and blocks including kizami-zuki, oi-zuki, age-zuki and uchi-uke. Sensei Roy then focused on Empi kata, breaking down each move and step so that all students were left with a much more detailed interpretation of an essential brown-belt kata.

Sunday’s training session started early at 9am and by the time we left the dojo at 2.45pm we had studied basics, hand-foot combinations, kumite, the kata Jion as well as an Aikido lesson rounded off by advanced stretching exercises. Sensei Roy’s kumite drills were aimed at improving our sense of timing and involved combinations of kizami-zuki, yoko-zuki. We then moved onto an exercise where ashi-barai (foot sweep) was to be countered by mae-geri. After around 3 hours of karate, participants at the Gasshuku were given a master class in Aikido. Despite having learnt how to break-fall as a child doing judo I was surprised at some of the strength of the art’s techniques and was thrown about the mat with ease. The Malta 2010 Gasshuku ended with a presentation ceremony where participants were given certificates marking the three days of intensive training.

Overall, I would highly recommend attending the Gasshuku to anyone interested in improving their karate. It is only by pushing yourself that you really learn about what you are capable of achieving. Roll on 2011

Michael Zdanowski

JKAE November 2010

What is JKA Karate?

JKA Karate is not an ideology or a creed, but it does promote moral guidelines aiming to the development of a gentleman-warrior. 

JKA Karate is not a sport (as winning medals or overwhelming opponents is not THE goal) – but rather winning our own limitations and our ego.

In Sport, the emphasis is on the strong body, in JKA Karate-do the emphasis is on the mind.

In Sport the emphasis is on hitting first; In JKA Karate-Do the emphasis is on delivering the last hit (finishing the fight).

JKA Karate is a physical art based on BUDO, which in Japanese means martial path or way. The concept of BUDO is actually one of ending violence.Budo

One has the option to walk out of a fight only when one is truly able to defend oneself.

JKA Karate has been technically refined so as to seem simple and effortless.

Our style is known for its powerful no-nonsense techniques which cover the short, medium and long range.

While ‘simple’ straight techniques seem to be favoured at the beginner’s stage, round techniques are abundant and very important.

Focus (KIME), relaxation and full body synchronization are the main goals in training.

Excellence of technique (finishing blow quality), timing and distance are the means of action.

JKA Karate study is normally divided in 3 parts:

Kihon, Kata and Kumite, one part complementing and leading into the other.

Kihon is the polishing to perfection of one’s movements

Kata are collections of techniques representing fundamental principles of response to an attack. Through Kata one is able to study self defence, breathing, body dynamics and many other important physical and psychological elements. Different Kata teach different aspects of the art.

Kumite is the actual engagement with a training partner. Kumite teaches timing, intention, and other mental aspects which cannot be trained with Kihon or with Kata.

All the blows are aimed and focused at a distance from the training partner.

Accidents are very rare, much less than in mainstream sports. The reason being that training practice is careful and deliberate


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