Thursday, 24 June 2010

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"sankaku" 三角 which means triangle.  This week I thought I'd share some of the drills that we do at karate (since nothing of interest is happening at school hah).  In karate class, I try to keep the sheer amount of talking/explaining to a minimum, especially with the young kids.  A lot of them might be interested in the inner workings of karate but often times they have more fun if they're moving around.  And if taught properly, their foundations will be good enough that when I explain the details later, they'll still get it.

In terms of keeping them moving, kumite drills are a great, fun way of doing that while still using some karate skills.  So what we did last week is we set up the "Triangle of Death" (I called it the "Triangle of Cardio" but I was soon overruled on the name... hah).  

Not the Triandle of Death...

Anyways, the triangle works like this: 

One sensei stands at each point at the triangle.

At the first point, the kids do a kizami-tsuki (lunging front punch) and basically try to score a standard kumite point.

Then they run to the next "vertex" where they work on their counter; the sensei will throw a punch and they have to block it and counter with their own attack.

Then they run to the last corner where the sensei is holding a kick back and they do 3 mawashi-geri (roundhouse kicks) in a row.

Then they complete the triangle by running back to the first sensei to start again.

Of course, this is all expandable in terms of having the sensei making it easier or harder for the students to hit them (especially at that first corner), adding more vertices (a Square of Death perhaps?), and/or spreading the corners out.

Aside from working a number of different skills, it also gets them moving and keeps the cardio up.  And it's also a fair bit of work for the people at each point since they're dealing with a stream of people.

And it's fun!  Which is a crucial aspect to training with kids =P....

Anyway, we're gearing up for a summer karate camp this July, M-F 3-5pm so if you're interested, make sure to get in touch.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"joba" 乗馬 which literally means "ride a horse".  I bring this up because last week, walking through North Van, I saw a "Joba" in a store window.

The Joba is actually a peculiar little fitness machine which, as you can see from the picture, mimics the motions of riding a horse.  And you sit on it, pretending to ride a horse, gyrating your hips in an effort to lose weight and get fit.

Some of you might remember me mentioning this way back in 2007 when I first saw it.  It really is a bit of a weird sight to see and I never expected it to break into the American market, yet there it was, sitting in a display at the front of a store.  And if you do come across a Joba, I suggest you take it for a ride.  It's fun for about 5 seconds though the novelty then wears off.  But for more entertainment, you could always convince your friend to give it a try and then crank the speed setting to max and then watch them hang on... that'd be worth a few laughs... =P

Anyways, not much happened this past week but next week is grading at PSWK!  A big portion of the club is testing for their next belt and I'll be sure to have a few pics for you.

Til then!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"machigai" 間違い which means "mistake" or "error" which is a funny thing to think about.  I mean, there are mistakes like these:

which is clearly just a case of not having checked with someone knowledgeable about what the answer it.  My dad went to explain that the Chinese actually said "Yogurt Bar" but they just translated it word for word and ended up with "Lactic Acid Bar".

But it brings up an interesting point- Is making errors always so bad?  Obviously in terms of marketing, selling something called a "Lactic Acid Bar" is probably a bad thing since the number of people interested in giving themselves flavoured-muscle-cramps-on-a-stick are relatively few.  But what about other cases?

For example, in karate there is a lot of focus on "doing the move right".  But that interpretation changes depending on who you talk to.  Before I left, a lot of "correctness" came from exact positioning.  My knowledge of the inner workings was pretty limited so I was left with basically imitating what I saw.  This meant that "bring right" was simply that I was able to reproduce a specific stance or arm positioning.

As I trained in Japan however, I began to see that while there is still a ballpark range for a move to be right (a high block is different from a low block), it's more important to be understanding the principles behind the movement and the positioning.  In fact, often times focusing too much on positioning inhibits people's ability to do the move properly because they become overwhelmed with details.  Sometimes it's just step back, point out one or two critical things they should work on, and simply let them get on with it.  It's quite difficult to do because it's many people's first reaction to simply fix everything right away but the reason we practice is to give us many opportunities to fix things over a long period of time.

Then again, making mistakes is sometimes crucial to development.  I lost tournaments for nearly a year straight before finally placed somewhere I could be proud of.  And for many, the failure is quite a deterrent and while it can be a bit rough at times, I made mistakes in the ring that I probably never could've predicted.

This also ties into education since there's always talk about steering students away from testing and performance based assessment towards experiential learning opportunities.  Again analogous to "doing it right" vs "trying it out", it's something I've had a few chances to try out, particularly at Science World.  Now I'm not here to say that all testing is bad, I really do think that it's necessary.  But I would never judge a student purely on achievement either.  Take the following picture:

We were given materials (a few sheets of paper, some tape, scissors, and a paper clip) and told to make a house.  Our group built a motorhome.  By all intents and purposes we didn't exactly build a typical "house" but by no means are we wrong.

The difficult part then is separating mistakes that occuring along the path of progress and mistakes veer off in a different direction.  And then it's deciding of those "different direction" mistakes have merit of their own, which many argue they do.

With PSWK's grading coming up in a few weeks, this is something I'll be thinking quite a bit about...

In the meantime, one final mistake which is quite clearly a mistake.  But at least they learned something... maybe...