Tuesday, 30 October 2007


Well the nerves and stress leading up to my first Shorinji Kempo grading were soon given over to relief and joking with my fellow 'Kenshi'... 10 minutes of techniques was sufficient to show what we had learned for the exam as each small group (ours consisted of 5 people ranging in age from 15 to 75!) had an instructor/examiner watching and marking as the grading progressed.

It's always nice to bond with others on grading day! Everyone is ready to help, to give advice and to practice together. What a superb feeling of comradeship!

The grading being on Saturday I trained last night, Monday, and our sensei gave us some feedback. This feedback can be summed up in two words: focus and awareness. Or Kiai and zanshin. It was felt that although technically the grading was successful there seemed a lack of spirit. This spirit manifests itself in the focus given over by the practitioners and also by the focus and kiai during techniques. This is something that anyone slightly trained in martial arts can pick up on- how does the room 'react'? Does it feel like there is focus and awareness. Do heads go down due to a missed technique or a forgotten zuki?

Well I was inspred by our sensei who said (quite rightly) nthat towards the end of the class it's easy to ease off, chat a bit, not focus as well. But if you persist throughout and aim for a state of zanshin then week on week it'll become much more a part of your training. Or more accurately a part of you!

I tried this last night-I put a lot of effort in and tried to remain focused on the task in hand.

Today, I ache. Hmm.

Maybe that's the ache of progress?

Uke nagashi

I worked a lot on this form (Uke nagashi, seitei #3) and picked up some good tips from the teachers.

Firstly start drawing the sword before raising the body up! Seems obvious, but I was failing to do this....

Also I wasn't bringing the sword up vertical enough as I step out with the left leg. One sensei miplied that the whole movement of uke nagashi was to bring the sword above the head into the blocking position as quickly as possible (which makes sense!) and as such bringing the sword in it's saya as vertical as possible helps this. The sayabiki is pulling downwards to release the sword. Don't pull the sword up and out as this locks the arm out and gives no further room for manouevre. Instead keep the elbow relaxed during the block as this helps the turn and subsequent cut.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007


Well, I turn 37 years old this week!
No, I'm not particularly sad, worried or nostalgic...that's just how it is!

But I haven't been as active recently as I would like, through one thing and another, so I'm feeling a bit crotchety....My aches and pains seem to be taking a front seat and I don't want them there! I guess using a laptop a lot of the time and being bent over like a paper clip doesn't help!

So this morning as the water for my green tea was heating up (not boiling!) I stood up straight and breathed in. Ah! That's better. I lengthened my spinal column upwards and felt a little yoga coming on...

So after a brief 15 minutes stretching and groaning with tightened pleasure I felt great. Centred. Once my body is 'reset' it feels like my mind is reset too. A better idea of myself. My awareness set for the day.

It's nice to stretch out at any point in the day: just recentring. Whilst wating for the kettle to boil, standing at the bus stop, riding a bike. Think of the posture and feel your body mechanics. This sort of feedback is essential for a sharp body and I think, a keen mind.

Thinking about my posture helps my body and mind.

Thinking of my birthday and I get....excited!

Sunday, 7 October 2007

A Personal Path

Everyone's path in life is different. But if you check out Shane Thomas' brilliant blog about why he studies martial arts you're bound to get some useful insights, reflections or comparisons on your own path:
It's well written and very engaging.

Shane is a Kyokushin Budokai practitioner and he has published a downloadable insight (in fact a beginner's guide) to Kyokushin Karate which not only covers techniques and kata but some well crafted history notes to karate, jui jitsu and judo. You can download it here:

Good martial reading to broaden one's knowledge.

Thanks Shane.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

The Dokun

-Rely on yourself, and not on others, for no-one is as reliable as your own well disciplined self.
-By committing evil you defile yourself. By avoiding evil you attain purity.
-In acquiring this art, we pledge to honour our founder and not betray our masters, to respect our elders, and not slight the young. As comrades, we pledge to help each other, and cooperate for the accomplishment of these teachings.
-We pledge to leave our past aside, and to devote ourselves to mastering the art as plainly and naively as infants.
-We pledge never to perform our art for selfish reasons, but for the benefit of all mankind.
-We are grateful that we are endowed with our souls from Dharma and our bodies from our parents. We determine to make every effort to return their blessings.
-We love our country, and determine to better the welfare of our people.
-We love justice, respect humanity, observe courtesy, keep the peace and determine to be true and brave.
-We strive to master the art, and discipline the body and soul. We love our comrades, and help each other. We co-operate, and endeavour to establish an ideal world.