I talk infrequently about my own personal training on this blog. Instead I’m usually more interested to hear how other people are training or how training was conducted in the past. That said, I thought I would take a few paragraphs to explain what my own training consists of lately.
When I think of training in Karate-do and Kobudo I first look at it with respect to an overarching aim, then specific areas with their own respective goals. Keeping that in mind, my aim is:
That my training in the Okinawa fighting arts serve as the foundation for improving the quality of my daily life.
You’ll notice my aim doesn’t say anything about being an ‘Uber Kurodee’ guy, having a large dojo with hundreds of students, having some crazy title or ridiculous rank. No, the aim of my training is to improve the quality of my life. That may come across as selfish, but I see it in a different light in that if my life is poor mentally, physically and emotionally then I am little use to anyone and therefore won’t be able to provide any help. Take care of yourself first, then you can take care of others and finally forget about yourself.
Under that general aim I have specific goals which break down into three areas: physical, mental, and spiritual/emotional. I’ll touch on each of these specific goals briefly.
- Physical – Having quality movement in my Karate-do and Kobudo as presribed by my teachers combined with adequate strength and range of motion.
- Mental – Having a clear purpose for training with the goal to always strive to refine my skills and techniques.
- Spiritual & Emotional – To have insight into myself in order to understand who I am and who I am not.
One thing you have to keep in mind is how skilled do you have to be? A lot of Karateka would say that they want to be as good as some famous instructor. But the simple answer is, as skilled as the goals you’ve listed for your training within the parameters your teacher has set. It therefore doesn’t matter about the style you practice, it’s about quality. That’s how I approach training and teach my students. So for me being skilled means improving the qualities and attributes that comprise my Karate-do and Kobudo.
Because I’m in my mid-40s, I try to approach my training intelligently with an emphasis on safety and recovery. This is very important and some people overlook this before they over-zealously dive into training. The results of which can be disasterous resulting in short term injury or worse still, chronic injury
I beleive that you cannot go wrong with strength training as the foundation of health and Karate. This is something that I am forever grateful to Miyagi sensei for reintroducing me to several years ago. I’m not one for direct cardio training because Karate-do and Kobudo training provide cardio-training IMHO, not to mention that lifting weights also gives that benefit. Instead, I prefer to focus my strength training on (surprise) lifting weights. I enjoy using the barbell, dumbbell, Karate kigu and body weight exercises and rarely ever use weight machines. The primary reason being that the former allow for whole body movement which directly translates to improved movement, range of motion and technique while the latter doesn’t.
What am I doing right now? Since my illness last year I’m focused on recovering my strength and range of motion. I’ve been using three main references: Max Strength , Stretching Scientifically, and Relax into Stretch. I also enjoy focusing on one or two kata and their supporting exercises for several months at a time. This is something I learned from Yoshimura sensei. For Kobudo that means Chatan Yara no kon and for Karate-do it means Seipai. As summer is here and the sunrise is getting earlier and earlier, I enjoy training outside in the morning before I go to work.
Not surprisingly, I prefer training at home. I’ve never really needed a dojo to motivate me to train or training partners for that matter. Don’t get me wrong, I like training with like-minded people, but it’s not a necessity of me. For the most part I train at home or in a park. I enjoy the solitude.