Try the Early Morning Stretches

 Whilst there are literally thousands of different ideas and methods of stretching (particularly for the legs), they may suit some but not others. One thing most of the experts (Richard Norton, Dr Chris Tsolakis, physiotherapists) agree, are the early morning stretches. The only difficult thing about them is self-motivation. The good news – they are not strenuous nor do they take up too much time. The results should make a difference to your day and your martial arts training at night. This light form of exercise literally activates your leg muscles. These early morning stretches will not have the same effect if done in the latter part of the day so it is important you consider doing them first thing in the morning. Basically, all you need to do is 10 front leg raises, 10 side leg raises and 10 back leg raises on each leg. Just take it nice and easy, do not overstretch (otherwise, this may have the opposite effect). After that, I recommend some simple isometric training by holding your leg out in the finishing position of each kick, anything between 20 and 30 seconds for each position. You are now ready for the day; this takes only 5 minutes (that's good news for the rain dancers). Oh, by the way, if you are running out of time on any particular morning, it is ok to do less (something is better than nothing). After these stretches the muscles in your legs are ready to take on anything including if you have to use your kicks. Once your muscles are activated, any activity you do in the daytime eg climbing stairs, is going to enhance that muscle group to perform better at night during training. These stretches are designed only for the morning, they will not do much for you before training. Try it for a week and see if you notice any difference.

A Good Word about Instructors

 Our Instructors at Budoshinkai are very dedicated to their martial arts training and loyal to our organisation. I would like to mention the enthusiasm about two particular Instructors. Damien Philpott must have a lot of energy to drive back and forth from the ACT and West Pennant Hills on Saturdays to train with us and I don’t think the weather bothers him either (rain dancers take note). You’ve got to admire him for his enthusiasm and I’m honoured as his Master Instructor that he would take the time to visit us. Damien has long term plans for the martial arts and will be going a long way.

Jonathan Adams who has been teaching the Little Dragons for the last  few years has that special ability to control and teach youngsters with his communications skills, understanding and patience. Usually, after a kids’ class, he will then jump into an adult class and teach with equal ability. I commend both persons for their efforts. These qualities should not go unnoticed and I think it is important that we recognize people for good work whether it be a student or Instructor. The Instructor always makes an effort to compliment a student. Perhaps, a student ocassionally, should do the same for their Instructor. At the end of the day, all Instructors are students. I prefer to call myself a Professional Student rather than an Instructor. That gives me the right to make mistakes and learn from them. I may wear a Black Belt but I am a white belt at heart; after 34 years I am only at the tip of the iceberg.

Time and Money

 How often do you hear ‘get your money’s worth?’ Why should this be any different with the martial arts. So stop wasting time and money. As a young student, I couldn’t wait to get to the dojo and throw 200 kicks or get a few rounds of sparring in before class. Can you imagine what that extra training adds up to at the end of the year? Sadly, this rarely happens today. Equally important, not wasting your time, is not wasting anybody else’s time. The good news is you can help by responding quickly to instructions in class.

Once too often, I see students who seem to reward themselves by taking time out once they have acquired a new skill. My attitude is, ‘great, I’ve got it, now I am going to keep it.’ How do you do that? Aim for 1,000 repetitions (compliments of John Will); that is what I told the police trainers during a recent knife defence workshop who agreed this is the only way. If you take heed of this advice that will mean the difference between a novice and an expert. What about when you miss out on a kick or two on the Instructor's count. Don’t be grateful you didn’t get caught but think what that means to the person next to you who is going to end up doing 2,000 kicks more than you in a year. You may fool the Instructor but you cannot fool yourself! One last bit of advice, don’t use weather excuses to miss out on your classes. To some of those unfortunate people out there, bad weather presents itself a perfect opportunity to miss out training guilt free. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them would even take up rain dancing lessons.

The Early Days in the Martial Arts

 When I first started training in the martial arts over 34 years ago there was no Internet, no YouTube or even DVDs. The only source of information was one martial arts magazine in the newsagency which came out every 2 months. To most of us martial arts was a hobby but it was also a passion and an obsession. It was not long before the ‘Bruce Lee’ era there were only 2 words that were synonymous with martial arts – Judo and Karate. Judo was thought as something to do with chopping wood with your hand, many thanks to the cartoons around that time. Look at what’s around now – Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing, Kung Fu, BJJ etc. After each grading I couldn’t wait to visit the chemist and buy dye to change the colour of my belt. These were the days before calculators and long before YouTube. We had little available to us ie no information and no gear so we had to be innovative. I remember buying an army duffel bag from the Disposal store and then taking it to the beach and filling it up with sand. I didn’t realize how, heavy and hard, sand was. We didn’t have information available as we do today so we had to get out there and learn the hard way. There was a price to be paid which meant broken noses, cuts and bruises, to say the least. Those few who made it to Black Belt were tough. However, times have changed; today a Black Belt should have a 'tough' mind as opposed to a tough body. They should strive to better themselves in many ways and that is what Instructors are looking for from their students. I prefer to have a student who may not be so physically talented but has the right attitude to succeed as opposed to that of a talented student with a weak mind (they do not last long). The real benefits of martial arts training usually come at a later time and many of these will vary from student to student. Whatever, the reason for training in the martial arts, a student will eventually reap the rewards. Remember, a BLACK BELT IS A WHITE BELT WHO NEVER GAVE UP.