Tournament Forms: It’s All in the Details

Tournament forms are all about the details. Check out this video of Rika Usami (a world tournament forms champion). She’s doing Kosokun Dai. She does a few of the moves slightly differently than in our Seito Shito-ryu Karate version, but that’s not important for now.

What is important is to watch her presence in the ring and sense of timing. This is a form that is performed at a very high level, with 100% attention to detail. Nothing is out of place and there is no wasted motion. She is totally focused on her imaginary opponents, and you can tell that she’s winning the imaginary fight. Continue reading

What is Open Floor?

We’re trying something new this month; you may have seen it on March’s calendar, “Arnis/Open Floor.” We’d like to do 1-2 of these classes every month if the first few work out.

Open floor sessions will take place during normal class hours on Saturdays, 10-11am, and everyone is welcome at them! Continue reading

Success through Visualization

With the upcoming tournament, many of my posts this month will be focused on preparing for competitions. Today we’ll take a look at one of the key ingredients of success: mental practice and visualization.

Visualization, or image training, is something many athletes (and other successful people) use to help them hone their mental focus, boost their confidence, and add to their performance. Image training aids your ability to believe in yourself and makes you more likely to perform for success.

Additionally, practicing for a competition  in your head may also help with performance/test/competition anxiety. Continue reading

Conscious Effort, Instinctive Response

“Cognitive Secret: It takes long-term, conscious effort to hone a skill before the brain assigns it to the cognitive unconscious.” –Wired for Story by Lisa Cron

Wired for Story was a book I read recently (Little-known fact about Sempai Yudanjanim C: she is an aspiring writer). It focuses on the relationship between brain science and writing stories based on brain science.

I found those words in one of the chapters, and was struck by how much it applies to martial arts training, not just writing. Continue reading

Monday Musing: The Martial Artist Outside the Dojo

What does a martial artist look like outside the dojo?

This is my question for my youth students this week.

It may seem like it has an obvious answer, but it can sometimes be a challenge to get youth to translate from dojo to home. They know that focus and respect and trying your best is important while they’re in class, but what do those things mean when they argue with their siblings at home or are given a challenging assignment at school?

A true martial artist should look the same inside and outside the dojo.

Outside the dojo, the situations are different. You don’t have to bow to your mom or your boss, or perform forms in order to get an A in math class, but the attitude you should take towards those activities is the same. Continue reading

Arnis Seminar

Thanks to Sabumnim for teaching the Arnis seminar!

We spent a lot of time on empty hand drills in both the beginner and advanced seminars, so the photos mostly show our students practicing joint locks and control holds. Arnis is a self-defense oriented art, and anything you do with a stick also holds empty hand application, hence the focus on empty hand defense.

A few important points from the seminar:

-“It’s all the same.” If it works, it works. Wise words from the Professor (Master Remy Presas).

-There are good and bad martial artists, not good and bad martial arts. Different styles just have different things they focus on or prefer. Continue reading

Monday Memo: Purely Physical

My goal today is just to highlight some muscles that martial artists use a lot (and sometimes neglect to stretch/strengthen). There’s plenty of information on the web about how to stretch or strengthen any muscle you want, so I’m just going to highlight what we use them for.

Bottoms of the feet: The plantar fascia take a beating, not only from stepping, jumping, and kicking, but also from gripping the floor in your stances. Stretch or massage the muscles at the end of the day and you’ll be surprised at how much tension is released.

Achilles tendon: This tendon is used in walking, running, and jumping, and also to flex the foot into correct position for many kicks. It is also a common one for injury, so be sure to stretch it whenever you exercise. Continue reading

Monday Musing: Learning Plateaus

You’ve probably hit a plateau before. You learn learn learn, get kind of good at what you know, then your progress evens out instead of continuing to climb. You don’t feel like you’re improving, and you may even feel bored.

This is a perfectly natural part of learning anything, and it’s a tricky stage to get through. Martial arts aren’t easy, and when students feel they aren’t improving as quickly, they often quit instead of sticking with it.

Of course, I’d advise anyone who hits a plateau to keep going. There is value in continuing to do the same old blocks, kicks, and strikes. Meaningful repetition, particularly in combat arts, builds habits and eventually instincts. This takes a long time, and most of us aren’t perfect. As Sensei often says, “Practice makes permanent; only perfect practice makes perfect.”

My second piece of advice for getting out of a plateau: Continue reading

Tuesday Thought: The Big “T” Word

We have a lot of students who will be testing soon, so today I’d like to offer some insight into how NWSMA handles rank testing/grading. I’m going to talk generally about the subject and at the end, I’ll offer some thoughts about what every martial arts student can do to make the most of their training.

How students advance through the ranks can be quite different from school to school and style to style. NWSMA instructors aim to tailor our approach to each individual student’s particular capabilities and situation.

At NWSMA, as a student satisfactorily learns the requirements listed on their sheet, we give them colored tape stripes (blue for kicks, yellow for hand techniques, etc). This allows any instructor to see what areas a student needs to work on, and it gives the kids a tangible mark of achievement.

When it comes to actual testing, though, the #1 school rule is that

Continue reading