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Martial Arts Teaching and Learning

For the Beginner: Some Advice On Choosing A Martial Arts School
By Victor Smith and Christopher Caile

If you've decided to begin training, you want to do everything you can to find the best school and martial art for you.

Beginner's Mind
By Sara Aoyama

As a beginner in the martial arts I try to hold on to the freshness that is so natural to me now.

Beginner's Mind: Starting Training
By Sara Aoyama

Regardless of why I initially started training, I find all kinds of reasons for training and all kinds of benefits that I would have never thought of before I started.

Beginner's Mind: Listen to Your Body
By Sara Aoyama

In order to listen to your body, you first have to know your body.

Beginner's Mind: Auto-pilot
By Sara Aoyama

I decided to operate on auto-pilot which means that unless I am ill, or unless there is an event that I absolutely must attend, that I go to the dojo if it is a training time.

Beginner's Mind: Paying Attention
By Sara Aoyama

Beginner in the martial arts we are often told we should not ask questions, but that doesn't mean we should just accept what is said to us without trying to understand it further.

Beginner's Mind - George's Cat
By Sara Aoyama

A question came up recently, on how one honors one?s Sensei.

The Teacher As Facilitator
By Pat Christi

My way of teaching often involves teaching by doing something different with the same skill required to do the technique.

Take It Easy
By Neil Ohlenkamp

Like most activities, the way to enjoy Judo or any other martial art is to learn to relax.

Uke: Receiving
By Dave Lowry

Experienced martial arts students should learn to measure toughness not as the ablity to dish it out, but as the ability to receive.

Fighting or Playing - The Martial Art vs. Sport Debate
By Neil Ohlenkamp

Martial arts sports are a lot more than competition, they also contribute to a student's ability to defend themselves.

Beginner's Mind: Pushups
By Sara Aoyama

Doing push ups was one of the first physical challenges I came up against in the dojo. I couldn't do very many of them and the ones I did were really cheaty looking.

Beginner's Mind: Dojo Family
By Sara Aoyama

The idea that the dojo should function as a kind of extended family was one of the easier ideas in martial arts for me to buy into.

Beginner's Mind: What is a Master?
By Sara Aoyama

I know this defining of a Master is a popular subject of debate, but it seems to also be a very individual thing, be it by rank, organization, etc.

Simple Lessons: Posture: Meaning and Intent
By Terry Bryan

The true essence of Okinawan karate is in understanding the Kamai, or the fighting postures of the kata.

The Beginner?s Mind: Fast Track
By Sara Aoyama

One reason why Japanese students are promoted to black belt faster than those in the West is that their beginner?s mind may not be our beginner?s mind.

The Way Of The Scout: Seeing: The World In Single Imprint
By Christopher Caile

Tom Brown, Jr. is a modern day Ninja and Indian tracker who can disappear into the wilderness, move like a shadow and survive, skills that inspired the new Paramount film, The Hunted.

Beginner?s Mind: Sinking Your Teeth Into Training
By Sara Aoyama

As with karate, there?s something to be learned from practicing my tai chi form in a variety of ways and places.

Simple Lessons: Mokuteki o Motte Hajimeru - Begin With the End in Mind
By Terry Bryan

Seven steps to successful planning can be summarized in an old Japanese adage that goes: See your target and hold it in your mind, then begin.

Keppan: The Blood Oath - Part 1
By Dave Lowry

During Japan's feudal period, before beginning his training a samurai would often be required to sign an oath of allegiance to the martial arts organization (ryu) with which he would study.

Nothing to Lose
By Jeff Brooks

Too many martial artists fall into the trap of constantly seeking to accumulate more information about their art rather than developing their own mastery of it.

Japanese Traditions - Entering the Dojo: What Price are You Willing to Pay?
By Dave Lowry

Today?s traditional Japanese martial arts schools (dojo) still reflect a heritage passed down from classical bujutsu (feudal era schools of military combat) as well as their modern successors, budo of our time (judo, kendo, etc.).

Simple Lessons: Kaizen ? The Path of Constant and Never Ending Improvement
By Terry Bryan

The warrior constantly strives to increase his abilities because he understands that you are either get better or worse all the time.

By Christopher Caile

Martial arts instructors should prepare their students for the reality of self-defense including the physical and mental reactions produced by fear and high stress.

Two Wolves
By Prof. Gene Roos

This story illustrates the ongoing internal battle between good and evil.

Sloppy Basics Make Sloppy Technique
By Christopher Caile

Too many martial artists make the same mistake: they believe that after practicing basics for a few years, they have mastered them.

Tradition in Motion: Aesthetic Movement in Japanese Dance and Swordsmanship ? Part 1
By Deborah Klens-Bigman, Ph.D.

Americans and Japanese have different approaches to movement, especially apparent when it comes to traditional Japanese art forms.

Tradition in Motion: Aesthetic Movement in Japanese Dance and Swordsmanship ? Part 2
By Deborah Klens-Bigman, Ph.D.

Advancing the same side arm and leg is only the most obvious characteristic of traditional Japanese movement.

The Chains Of A Master
By Christopher Caile

Martial arts teachers who adopt the title ?Master? sometimes lose more than they gain.

Viewpoint: There Are No Blocks In Advanced Martial Arts
By Jeff Brooks

The chances are good that you know a lot of martial artists who could take their defensive ability much further.

Challenge Of A Lifetime: A Ten Year Martial Arts Mastery Program
By Christopher Caile

Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming, one of the most celebrated and respected masters of Chinese martial and healing arts today, has issued a bold and audacious challenge. It also represents a career opportunity.

ViewPoint: Resilient Arts & Resilient People
By Jeff Brooks

There are cultural rigidities in the way martial arts is often practiced that inhibit the progress of the students and produce spiritual and technical rigidity.

Time, Space & Mind: The Three Dimensions of the Reactionary Gap
By Jeff Brooks

To strike your opponent successfully you need to enter through a gap in his defenses ?by overpowering the opponent, deception, or finding a weakness in his posture. In medieval Japanese budo these openings in the opponent?s defenses, these opportunities to strike, were called ?suki.?

A Spirit That Inspires - The Story Of Kevin, Continued
By Christopher Caile

Sometimes your teacher is the most unlikely student.

Phoenix Boxing: What Boxing Experience Can Teach a Karate Student
By Christopher Caile

While different martial arts, boxing can teach a karate student a lot about how to actually fight or respond in a self-defense situation.

The Zen Mirror: Moving from the Center
By Jeff Brooks

We need to prepare our mind and life for balance just as a warrior must walk to be sure that he does not loose footing on uneven surfaces.

Finding A Martial Arts Instructor
By Gene Roos

Be selective when choosing a new martial arts school or instructor. There are a lot flashy instant masters, and self-promoted teachers out there who don?t have the background or sufficient knowledge to be what they claim.

The Zen Mirror: The Nature of Water
By Jeff Brooks

Unlike water that adapts to conditions, we can also to some degree determine the conditions in which we live. Thus our ?true nature? does not describe some permanent inherent characteristic, but instead we reflect conditions of life and a universe of our own making.

Martial Mania: Split the Difference
By George Donahue

The whole point of martial training is to make ourselves smarter and stronger and faster and better armed (if not with physical weapons then with technical knowledge) than we were when we started.

Martial Mania: Acquired Stupidity Syndrome
By George Donahue

You see Acquired Stupidity Syndrome (ASS) too often in martial arts. From an outsider?s perspective, it seems as though whole martial systems or organizations are mired in ASS. In general, however, it?s not the system itself that is afflicted but its adherents, who somehow have managed to embed themselves into its fabric and thus retard its expression and development.

Zen Mirror: Obstacles and Good Fortune
By Jeff Brooks

In martial arts training you will encounter obstacles. If we treat them as external to training, something to get rid of so we can get back to training, we will inevitably be defeated by one of them.

Martial Mania: The Class Cork
By George Donahue

I?ve finally realized that what keeps us from developing to our full potential as martial arts students are our internal corks, whether we?re aware of them or not.

Martial Mania: Reciprocity
By George Donahue

" If you are looking at a martial arts school, if there is no true reciprocal courtesy, too little kindness, too little consideration, you are better off going somewhere else to train.

Viewpoint: Selling Out
By Herb Borkland

Selling out involves what you teach, not how you teach it. If you maintain your curriculum but add new methods that are positive, you shouldn?t be criticized.

Martial Mania: Nippon Hamu
By George Donahue

Sometimes, ham is just hamu.

Martial Arts Training: The Sleeping Warrior
By Phoenix Carnevale

If you are a student of karate, taekwondo, kung fu, Brazilian Jujutsu, boxing or any other martial arts here is one consideration often neglected.

Traditional winter training in Japan: The Kashima jodo gasshuku
By Deborah Klens-Bigman, Ph.D.

When I reflected on what gasshuku really meant: there was nothing else but practice, food, practice, food, practice, food, sleep.

Martial Arts: Karate, Taekwondo, Kung Fu - The Effects of Unison Movement
By Jeff Brooks

In karate, taekwondo, kung fu and other traditional martial arts training we learn to practice the same sequence of the same moves, simultaneously. If you do this you are more likely to function competently and successfully in life since you learn to subordinate yourself willingly to group action.

Martial Arts: Goju-ryu Karate Kata A Brief Over-view of the Etymology of Modern Goju-ryu Karate-do Kata
By Joe Swift and Mario McKenna

Okinawa karate is indebted to the Southern schools of Chinese boxing for much of its technical knowledge and expertise and the animals were associated with a specific physical/mental characteristic and training principles.

Zen Mirror - Training in Interesting Times
By Jeff Brooks

Those of us who are practitioners of karate or other martial arts recognize that during interesting times that the path is sometimes smooth and sometimes steep. We recognize that in the moment of violent confrontation, of physical or emotional shock it will be too late to train. We will either be prepared at that moment or we will not.

Viewpoint: The Power of Slow
By Christopher Caile

It seems almost counter intuitive, but in karate, taekwondo, kung fu and in many other martial arts you can gain speed and power by adding ?slow? to you practice.

Goaisatsu ? Greeting as a Gesture of Respect
By Deborah Klens-Bigman, Ph.D.

It may not be a western custom, but if your teacher is Japanese, proper etiquette suggests that you should show up to greet him or her upon arrival.

Viewpoint: Three Levels of Learning: Three Levels of Training
By Scott Kelley

Not too long ago, one of my students sent me an excerpt from a book called ?101 Things I Learned in Architecture School.? While I am not an architect, this person thought the concept was generic enough to be applied to many other aspects of life.

Viewpoint: Mindful Action
By Christopher Caile

Some people improve their karate. Others practice the same thing year after year with little improvement. Here is one reason.

Balance Beam Training
By George Donahue

A balance beam is a simple, easy, and effective karate, taekwondo or other martial art training tool for home or dojo.

Towel Makiwara
By George Donahue

Sometimes, when you want a little makiwara practice, a traditional makiwara won?t do. Maybe a towel will.

Koshi / Yao: An Introduction
By George Donahue

All good technique in karate, taekwondo, judo and most other martial arts arise from the koshi.

Koshi / Yao: Basic Development Exercises
By George Donahue

All good martial techniques arise from the koshi, or yao, but you can?t effectively use the koshi/yao without proper training. Here are a few of the basics.

Koshi / Yao: Sad History, Bright Future?
By George Donahue

The koshi/yao body segment(combined waist, lower back and upper thighs)was used in old Okinawan Shorin-ryu karate to develop power but the basics of its use has been lost to most modern practitioners. If koshi / yao is so important, however, why did it nearly completely disappear from modern karate?

Three-Dimensional Mittsu-Tomoe: A Koshi Visualization Tool
By George Donahue

For those trying to understand proper use of the Koshi/Yao or body center within their karate this three dimensional tool of three inflated balloons within a larger one can be used as a good visualization tool.

Strategies For Teaching Challenging Kids Martial Arts
By Alison Todd

Theoretically a martial art is the perfect sport for kids with challenging behaviour. For those of us that teach these kids, it may be perfect for them but it is far from easy for us.

The Problem With Kata Portrayed In Karate and Other Martial Arts Books
By Christopher Caile

Books illustrating kata and technique through still images are inadequate as a vehicles to convey proper technique, movement or the dynamics of generating power that are unique in many styles of karate or other martial arts.

Dynamic Arches
By George Donahue

Modern karate and much of sports-oriented martial arts do not incorporate the powerful body mechanics found in old Okinawan karate. One key to this power is the use of dynamic arches.

Change the Altitude to Check Your Kata and Technique
By George Donahue

Feel like your stuck, not improving in your kata and technique in karate, taekwondo or kung fu? Here is how a partner can help.

The Martial Grip - Introduction
By George Donahue

Karate, kung fu, taekwondo, jujutsu and other martial arts use a variety of methods of gripping the attacker in self defense, but they all are based on the same principles: maximum leverage and efficient use of power?your power and your attacker?s power.

The Martial Grip - Washite, the "C" Grip
By George Donahue

One of the most useful gripping techniques in the martial artist?s arsenal is called in Japanese washite (wa?shi?te, rhymes with ?laundry day? and means, literally, ?eagle hand?), which is substantially the same as the ?eagle claw? found in Chinese kung fu. In karate it is also found as a primary application in numerous karate kata, including Rohai, Wanshū, and Passai.

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