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SimonSutherland
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Hi, I'm Simon and currently living in France. We might move back to the Uk but only if it stops raining.

I first met karate when a friend and I decided to go in for the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme (you'll have to look this one up), way back when neither of us or our parents knew what to do with us. All I remember now is that I had to find several "subject"s off an official list and do some work to get points towards an award. On the way back from another class I stumbled upon a karate class (shutokai ?) in the same building and found it was on the list of things we could get points for. So I persuaded my friend to join with me. He stopped after the first lesson and me after the second -  my stamina wasn't great back then.

Later, at University I found out they had Shotokan classes, did about 18 months worth, got a green belt then a cracked sternum from an overly enthusiastic, none-controlled black belt and stopped (they only allow you to stay so long at University anyway).

Moved to London, found a weapons training class (nearest I could find). First lesson, got my bo broken in half by the instructor when he was explaining a basic overhead blocking technique and didn't go back. I think I was lacking in motivation or something or I was running out of things to get broken.

Over 30 years later my son started karate as an extra-school activity, liked it and joined the instructor's Shotokan club. I picked him up after class, got talking with the instructor and she persuaded me to take it up again, which I did. Highly embarrassed as I was allowed to keep my green belt but don't remember doing any of the Heian katas for my gradings. (I have kept my grading card with the same comment at each grading "Kiai !"; reminds me of "could do better" on my school report cards).

That was nearly 10 years ago. Now I am preparing for my 3rd Dan.

We have people in the club (one in particular) who comments that things that we do aren't realistic and wouldn't work "in the street". At the time, I tried to explain that we weren't a self-defense club but finally realised what he was getting at and now I also realise that I wasn't explaining it to him correctly either.

Like with my other hobby, genealogy, I like researching and understanding and teaching and when I finally found Iain's videos, this forum and everyone else out there, I suddenly realised that I could continue to learn and enjoy karate with a new focus. I continue to attend our club, I maintain the website and occasionally take the class. [the other day I was asked and as it was the last day before the school holidays - 10-13 year olds treat, learning Bassai Dai and an Iain Abernethy drill (shuto). The only other adult in the class suggested that I should be correcting their stances etc but I persisted with the kata (easier to learn Bassai Dai than correct their stances). We didn't finish it before the end of the lesson, but a white belt 10 year old came to see me at the end to ask whether he could stay longer to learn the end of the kata. Its moments like these that make teaching worthwhile.]

Since I've been involved in teaching (usually technology but mostly people) for many years I also look for opportunities to share what I've learned and decided to see whether any of my friends who had stopped coming to the club wanted to learn with me. I have managed to drag two along with me and so we learn together, try things out, but without the cracked sternum and focus on competition, which seems so prevelant these days. We are having fun and I hope to persuade others to have fun too.

We've been doing this for about 8 months now, on and off, but I'm only just getting around to joining this forum.

Living in the south of France, our work area is my front terrace but the other week (during the storms) it was the garage. We've bought some mats and I have pads, now its just a case of getting stuck in. I think hitting the pads will be worked more enthusiastically than falling on the mats, but thats one of my challenges, helping people by adapting the work to their needs, whilst really trying to adapt them to the work.

You've all given me loads of ideas. Keep up the good work, its great.

Heath White
Heath White's picture

Hello everyone, 

I am 1st dan in Tang Soo Do, training for my 2nd, which typically comes with  instructor's license.  I'm particularly interested in using bunkai to tie instruction closer to the forms.  

I'm 45 now, so no longer as young as I  used to be.  But it is fun learning new things, staying  in shape, and hopefully being able to pass the art on.

Linville
Linville's picture

Hello.  I’m Kris Linville; I’m from the U.S. Midwest.  I was first introduced to Karate at the age of 7 but after suffering an abdominal hernia I left class and didn’t return to formal training until over 10 years later.  At the age of 19, I enrolled in a semi-private Karate class taught by Sensei Ron White (at the time, the state director for kickboxing) who was well-known for teaching both full-contact amateur cage fighters and “traditional” karate classes.  After about a year of training, my wife and I moved back to our hometown which lead to a change in schools.  I started attending a primarily sport-based Shotokan school, under Sensei Vic Stanley, where I progressed to purple belt (3rd kyu) over the course of the next three years.  During that time, I also competed in two sport-based tournaments in adult male kata and sparring (years 2000 and 2001) in which I placed 1st and 2nd in kata and 2nd both years in sparring.  I also graduated college in 2001 and began the search for a job position in my field of study, Computer Information Systems.

Around that time, I learned of a non-sport teacher, Sensei Norman Beck, in the area teaching Judo/Jiu Jitsu, Karate, Kung Fu, and Asian Weaponry.  I found myself attracted to that form of training and therefore parted ways from the sport school and began the process of “re-learning” with the new instructor.  Belt requirements included a mix of learning basic techniques and forms in each of the four areas up through their 6th kyu before being allowed to choose a singular system to focus on to continue through Shodan.  Karate was naturally my path and after a little over 2 years, I was ready to test.  I achieved my Shodan rank in late 2004.  Unfortunately, a few months after receiving my Shodan, I had multiple life-changin events that pushed me to step away from training in favor of family and career.  Though I never lost my love for the martial arts I allowed my trainnig to take a back seat to other priorities.

Fast forward to 2015, unbeknownest to me, my instructor had stopped teaching for about 5 years due to some medical issues and was now looking to revitalize the class again.  After establishing a new group and training location, he reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in returning to my formal training and perhaps assist with building a foundation for the new school to build on.  Timing was right and I wanted to be able to get my son into Karate also so... we both joined the class.  Much of the concepts and knowledge was still in my head, though it was rather dusty so it took a few months before I felt like I was back at a level to where I could begin growing and learning new techniques and concepts once again.  I attended class about 6 hours a week over the course of the next two years working on refining my techniques, studying new biomechanical power source concepts, and closely working with the instructor to develop 7 new kata that would highlight the Shorin and Shorei styles of fighting.  During that time, I also assisted with teaching newer students through Kihon, Ten No Kata, and Heian Shodan while encorporating all of the new body mechanics that I had been studying.  In July of 2017, I was awarded Nidan rank in what was now being referred to as Koseiryu Bujutsu (having combined the four previsouly mentioned systems into a singular methodology of teaching and training).

I have recently discovered Iain Abernethy and have started back at podcast episode 1 in an attempt to absorb as much wisdom as I can.  I wish I would have known about Iain 10 years ago!  I can’t describe the joy I have gotten thus far through the podcast and website articles.  I very much look forward to the time when I can fit the purchase of the cost of the Bunkai Jutsu paperback into my budget.  In the meantime, I’ve been working my way through Karate-do Kyohan and Patrick McCarthy’s newest edition of the Bubishi from the critical perspective that I’m developing from Iain’s podcasts.

Many thanks to Iain for the quality (and quantity) of material that is shared for anyone interested to find and grow from.

- Kris

p.s. You can find some of my own musings at bunkaido.blogspot.com though they don’t hold a flicker of a candle to what Iain provides here.

niekyvanveggel
niekyvanveggel's picture

Nieky van Veggel, hailing from the Stansted, Essex, area. Currently wado ryu karate, previously aikikai aikido and judo. Interested in the more traditional approach to karate rather than competition, and lover of a thoroughly executed kata.

Brooks
Brooks's picture

Hello, I'm Brooks from the US. I have been training in karate for a few years though I've changed schools due to moving. I quit karate for a few years, but came back because I find it quite interesting. I thoroughly enjoy training, reading about it, and learning self defense. I am very interested in other systems too, but I have a strange attraction to karate. It can be very frustrating at times, but finding an application, reading another article, and having fun make it worth while.

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