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Why Practise Karate?

Past experience has shown that people take up karate for many different reasons. Interestingly, the number of people who join to learn self defence by no means represent the majority. Many people join to get fit, some join because it's something different, and so on. Whatever the reason, those that persevere with the practise of karate invariably find it has much more to offer, both physically and mentally, than conventional sports.

Martial Arts: Fact and fiction

Martial arts, like karate, have received considerable attention in recent years, especially through films and television. Martial artists are portrayed as being capable of astounding feats of strength, endurance and super-human athleticism. The reality of the situation is, of course, totally different. Although of course people like Harada Sensei (our style's principle), are enormously gifted, karate will always be within the realms of the possible, where myth has no place.

Why Karate-do Shotokai?

Since Karate-do Shotokai emphasises mobility, coordination and balance with a relaxed body condition, this particular style of Karate can be practiced by anyone regardless of age, build or sex. However during the warm-up, practice can involve relatively strenuous activity. If there is any doubt about your ability to perform such exercise then the instructor can tailor the warm-up and set of practices to suit your needs. Generally a student who practices regularly will achieve an increased level of fitness at an acceptable pace.

Training consists of different aspects that form an integrated and comprehensive approach. The aspects are:

Physical Training

Karate practice is an excellent way of keeping fit, emphasising all-round development of the body. Most people who start karate want to improve their physical fitness. Physical training is usually divided into four categories:

Warming up

It is important to check the joints and to raise the body temperature. Stretching muscles is best done when the body is warm to prevent muscles being torn. This usually involves low impact exercises such as jogging.

Flexibility training

During training your limbs move further than in normal everyday activities. We need to prepare the body using stretches and to understand how to use them effectively. Attention is given to the physiology behind safe ways to stretch.

Speed

Education of the optimum muscles to generate fast and smooth actions.

Stamina

Exercises to build up the body to maintain peak work rate during the training.

Kata (Fundamental Training)

Kata is a series of karate movements and techniques joined together to make a sequence. Kata are designed to enable the practise of all karate techniques. There are just over 25 kata within the KDS, ranging from quite simple kata involving only a few techniques, to very complex kata requiring jumps and physical dexterity. If a particular kata can be performed well, then one has grasped many of the fundamentals of karate - concentration, balance, coordination and technique.

Kihon (Fundamental Forms)

Kihon is the exercise of the basic physical techniques. Training in the individual techniques allows the action to be executed smoothly, accurately and efficiently. It is during these practices that students learn the skills that will be the foundation on which the rest of their karate will be supported.

Ten-no Kata (Basic Application)

These basic exercises teach you how to apply the technique in relation to a partner. The partner executes an agreed attack to which you exercise a specific defence and counter. The skill developed is to learn to follow the trajectory of the partners attack and to apply a defensive technique in time and to gain maximum efficiency from it and to understand what counter technique will work.

Skills like how to move in a fast, yet physically relaxed manner; how to punch, kick or deflect attacks -all of these are covered in a systematic manner.

Sanbon Kumite (Pre-arranged Sparring)

The more subtle differences between controlling the partner or the partner controlling you comes down to being able to see that split second when the attacker is vulnerable and you need to exploit it. This practise is based on 3 nominated attacks delivered in one overall sequence, so that the defender can look for and check the time and position for the defence and apply by the 3rd attack. The defender can determine whether their ability to read the attacker and exploit an opening is of the appropriate skill level.

Ju-Ippon Kumite (Limited Sparring)

Being able to defend depends on your ability to read the attack. This requires you to subtly determine when the partner will execute their attack. Ju-ippon allows one to probe the attacker's attack and so to find an indication from them as to the time when they would execute their attack.

Ju-Kumite (Free Technique)

This practice is one of the most difficult of karate practices to accomplish well, and the easiest to perform badly. At its highest level, Kumite involves the free use of any karate technique, usually against a single opponent. Skilled practitioners only practise this when they have mastered the control of their technique. Kumite is usually only practiced by those of considerable experience.

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