Knees must

I have one very simple New Years resolution for 2016.  I will bend my knees more when doing blocks and throws!  And then bend them more.  If nothing else I want to her constructive criticism beyond the, “you can bend those knees more!”

Posted in General observations, Technical | Tagged , , ,

Sweat and tears

Yesterday I spent a happy half hour in jitsu practising groundwork techniques.  The good points were:

  • Matched with someone who was good training partner.  (He was more skilled but lighter than me, so it all balanced out.)
  • Progression of technique.  The instructor started off with the basics and then went through the, “so if you can’t do that, try this.”  By the end of the half hour we had five potential responses to one ground lock.
  • It’s always good fun rolling around doing groundwork.

The bad point?  The guy I was with clearly hadn’t washed his gi (training gear) for quite a while.  Every time he locked me in a choke I was nearly tapping out from the smell!  It was only the quality of the groundwork that stopped me from calling a halt to the fun and games.

Jitsu is a physical activity and everyone gets sweaty.   BUT, there’s a heck of a difference between sweat that is two hours old and sweat that is two months old.  The former is OK, the later is disgusting, especially in a martial art where you spend a lot of time in very close proximity.  I have, on two occasions, flatly refused to train with people whose old sweaty gi’s were…. enough to bring tears to the eyes.

If you’re reading this and shrugging saying, “well, no one has complained,” that’s NO EXCUSE!  Even if you can’t wash your training gear between one session and the next then at least haul it out the bag and hang it up to air.  Better still, buy a second kit so you can wash one and wear one.  After all, do you really want to be that person no one trains with?

Posted in Uncategorized

Kote gaeshi

Kote gaeshi is a popular wrist lock in both jitsu and aikido.  Both those martial arts teach a “jump out” from the lock.  Dan Djurdjevic has explained a range of counter- techniques from a kote gaeshi application in his blog.  See it here!


Posted in Other Blogs, Technical | Tagged , ,

Good course?

I like to go on courses relating my martial arts.  You train with different people. you learn different ways of looking at known techniques, you learn new techniques, and you have a lot of fun with people who also enjoy their martial art.  Courses vary – they can be good, brilliant and (sadly) indifferent.  I have yet to go on a bad course, but I have come away from a few which have left me feeling a little frustrated with the lack of organisation.  So here is my view, as a student, on what I like to see on a course.

Flexible payment options
I appreciate that costs have to be covered, but try to think of the matter from a student perspective.  If other commitments make you unable to attend one day of a two-day seminar, yet you are expected to pay for both days, then chances are the student wont even turn up for the single day.  This week the British Aikido Federation have been running their week-long summer school.  You can either pay for the week block (£120, an absolute bargain) or you can pay for a day slot (£25).  I could only make one day, but if the charge had still been for one week then the organisers would have missed out on £25.

Mat/training space
The overcrowding of training spaces at a seminar is something that really irritates me.  This problem often occurs where someone well-known in a certain martial art is teaching.  I understand the need to cover costs, and to keep the cost down for each individual training, but if the instructor or his assistant cannot get around to see you because there are 200 plus people in the room, then really your benefits from the course are limited.

There is also the safety aspect.  If your martial art involves falling, then you need to be able to have the space to land safely.  I have been on one seminar where we couldn’t complete the throws because the mat was too crowded!  If your martial art involves weapons, then space is required to be able to move the weapons.

If need be, split the class in two for when it comes to techniques that involve throwing.  I have seen this done.  It allows half the class time to pause to recover their breath, watch what the others are doing and learn something as an observor.  Which neatly brings me on to my next point….

Time out
I am not superman, nor are most the people I train with.  A four-hour seminar should not have four hours of constant training!  People can only absorb so much information, then they stop learning.  Organise a break where people can have a snack and some water.

Splitting the class
To date my favourite weekend long course is the Auichi Jiu Jitsu annual nationals.  One of the reasons I love this event is because of the way the classes are run, alternating between everyone training together and then splitting down into smaller, grade based groups.  So a typical morning will see the entire mat train together, then the mat split into different sections depending on the kyu and dan grades present.  There are many advantages to this system.
a) The joint training allows everyone to learn off each other.
b) The grade related training allows specific techniques to be honed in on for a specific level of ability. It stops the lower grades getting frustrated because they cannot grasp the advanced techniques. It stops the higher grades getting bored and gives them a chance to practice advanced skills with people of equal ability.
c) It allows other people to teach. These people may not get a chance to teach much in their own club.

Social event
So you train with your fellow martial artists all day, then you shower up and go home.  Humans are social animals, we like to meet people.  Any social event after the course, be it a coffee, a beer, a pizza or a full meal, gives the chance for people to:
a) discuss what went on in the course,
b) get to know each other.

As a student, feedback what you enjoyed about the course.  I know it sometimes seems that the instructor has super powers, but I promise you that mind-reading is not one of them.  Let them know what was good, let them know (kindly) where you felt things could have been improved.  If you couldn’t attend the course that your own club organised, let them know why.

As an instructor, be open to the feedback.  Encourage students to tell you how they got on.  This is where that social event comes in handy.  You can’t please everyone, but if 90% of the class are saying something was good/in need of improvement then it’s likely they are right.

Posted in Courses, Training | Tagged , , ,

I can do something!

It’s often said that learning progresses by leaps and bounds.  Rapid progress is made in a new area, then the acquisition of new skill sets slows, and with it progress seems to slow as well,  This is due to the refinement of existing knowledge, rather than something brand new, and it is considerably harder to measure progress in this area.

At Aikido practice I found myself training with someone who started a year ago.  Now I consider my aikido pretty shambolic.  I try and try, I enjoy the learning process, but oh boy is there so much to learn!  There are times when I feel I am tripping over my own feet, that I wouldn’t know how to stop an attack if it came with a five minute warning… all the usual feelings martial artists get, so I know I’m not alone.

Training with someone who has “only” been training a year made me realise that actually, I have progressed.  I’m sure I am still causing a few private giggles, but hopefully not as many as I was before.  And OK, the moment we do randori I have to firmly suppress the jitsu techniques, but I am starting to move more in a manner of an aikidoka rather than the proverbial puppet without the string.

At the same aikido practice I then paired up with someone who is more or less on the same level as me.  Both of us had missed the detail of the three techniques we had been shown and were meant to be practicing.  Rather than raise our hand up for the sensei (teacher) to come over, we decided to work things through and see if we could figure it.  To the delight of both of us we came up with something that was workable…

…only for sensei to come over and point out the tiny bit we had totally wrong and why it wouldn’t work.

Oh well, at least we could do some of it right!

Posted in Training | Tagged

What if?

A few weeks ago I was, for the first time in my adult life, a victim of crime.  Some low-life scum smashed my rear windscreen with a rock, tore the parcel shelf up and stole my (hidden from view) handbag from the boot/trunk of my car.  I was fortunate in many ways.  There was a low volume of cash in the handbag, nobody was hurt (I was away from the car for 10 minutes), and family nearby where able to come to the rescue and help me.

However, in the aftermath of events, when credit cards had been cancelled, the police informed, the window repaired, a new lock fitted to my house (the keys were in the handbag), a new driving license applied for and my ranting calmed down etc etc, then a number of, “what if,” scenarios came to mind.

Now for various reasons I think someone had seen me store my handbag in the boot/trunk of the car and had followed me to the remote parking spot.  A few minutes after I left the car  a drive past and confirmation that I was gone from it presented them with a chance to smash the window and make off with things of little monetary value but of great convenience value.  So how determined were they to get that handbag?

What if some drugged up idiot had been determined to get that bag no matter what?  What if they had followed me into the field I had gone into and instead of smashing my windows had smashed my head?

What if I had come back to the car when the crime was taking place?  Would the person have panicked  and responded violently?  Or tried to just drive off?  Or stopped and run away?

And from my point of view as a trainee martial artist, what would I have done if either of those above scenarios have happened?

One advantage our martial art training gives us is to help prevent us from freezing with fright when encountered with danger.  While I find it unlikely I would have physically engaged with the low-life-scum I do like to think I would not have frozen in shock.  Instead I would have found it within me to shout out, frighten them a little and (hopefully) deter events from escalating.  Yes, at one level it would be good to think I could have gone in with metaphorical guns blazing (gun carrying is not normal in the UK), but perhaps training in a martial art has made me more aware of my own limitations.  If this person was just lifting my bag out the car, probably best to shout and leave it at that.  If he/she was attacking me with a rock then the game changes and I would have been forced to defend.  If they had a mate with them?  Different story again.

So despite running several, “what if,” scenarios in my head, the reality is that I just don’t know how I would have reacted.  But it makes for interesting thinking.

Posted in General observations | Tagged

When does push become pull?

I have previously mentioned the perils of training with someone who continually over-steps the levels at which you feel confident at training at, but sometimes this a good thing.  So what is it that differentiates the partner you train with from being one who makes you uncomfortable when they push your limits to the one who you approach with a slightly weary smile knowing that you might be challenged but you don’t mind?

Part of me thinks it comes back down to that interaction that people have.  Some people in life you get on with, some you don’t.  One person might be a joy to train with for you, but avoided by someone else.  It is a quality which is hard to define.

Being a good teacher is hard.  I have a been a student and teacher in many areas of my life.  As a student I admire teachers who can pause, reflect and suggest another way of tackling a learning problem.  As a teacher I become delighted when a student and I manage to work out the stumbling point.  But sometimes we don’t.  Sometimes more and more confusion results until the student is left more confused and I, as purported teacher, am left feeling frustrated.

Perhaps that is the key bit.  If someone can grasp your issue, then you are halfway there.  And if someone can work through that issue, then there is a real chance of progress.

What I have noticed is that person doesn’t have to be more experienced than you, they just have to be willing.  A few weeks ago I confessed my being thrown from ipon seio nage hangup to someone I was training with.  He’s been training for less time than me, but I wanted to explain why I was going to resist the throw if he went in full throttle.  So we both went slow.  We refined our throwing technique, we refined our falling technique.  I am not going to claim being cured of that slight worry of ipon seio nage, but I am now longer eying up the dojo door thinking of excuses to leave if it comes up in training.

Communication ladies and gentleman!  Mind reading is not a skill many of us possess, and some people are not good at picking up on body language.  Tell your teachers and training partners the points that make you have a mental wobble.  If they don’t care, then don’t train with them.  Instead find someone who is willing to help you overcome that hurdle.

Now excuse me, I still have a lot to work on from falling from a jitsu throw.

Posted in General observations, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Love of martial arts

Why do I practice martial arts?  Principally because I find it fun.  The very first time I stepped into a dojo saw me hooked on jitsu.  For eight months I trained six to eight hours a week because I loved it so much.  When I had to move house then one of the first things I did was find another dojo.  A work placement abroad saw a similar occurrence.

To be able to block an attack and throw or pin someone who is twice your body mass is both liberating and fun.  To be able to safely land, without injury, from a throw awakens something in me.  The development of a close group of friends with whom I literally trust to safeguard my health and life is something special.

If you’re thinking of trying out any martial art, I would say go and try.  The only way to find out if the same love for martial arts resides in you is by experiencing it first hand.

Want to know why other people practice martial arts?  Perhaps they might inspire you. Check out the following.

Brain Johns
Jackie Bradbury
Joelle White
J Wilson


Posted in General observations, Other Blogs, Other martial arts | 1 Comment

The Light Response

Some years ago, when I was working on ships, my boss asked me to tell the crew not to use compressed air for cleaning up the deck and tank tops. There was a danger paint chippings could go in their eyes, and using compressed air in this manner was against the Code of Safe Working Practice. The crew were to use a broom instead.

Now I felt we had more pressing safety concerns on our hands than this, I had been on the receiving end of a lot of grief about the lack of safety standards of some of the crew, but I dutifully passed the message on. Perhaps the scepticism was clear in my voice, because one hour later I found a crew member cleaning down with… yep, compressed air.

I lost it. It was in the engine room, were you have to shout to make yourself heard, but even I had been speaking quietly it would have made no difference. I called the crew member stupid, I demanded to know why he had ignored what I said. I knew I would be in trouble if my boss had caught the guy, so I was furious.

Unsurprisingly the crew member lost his temper in return He shouted back, things went downhill, and it took us about two months to recover to a good working relationship. In hindsight there are a number of things I should have done, such as going to a more quiet environment to explain what the issue really was, but what had been done was done.

I was reminded of this incident during aikido training this week. (Yes, I snuck in an aikido class, despite saying I would concentrate on the jitsu.) We were doing an exercise which required the defendant to be relaxed in order for the throw to work. The experienced was from the least threatening attack of all, a wrist grab. I am sure the experienced amongst you are now nodding wisely when I say it was very difficult to reach that relaxed state.

75T3ACgntbT_q_AVcwkRYsHRz42PDGQVxBhERCkYwc8,Sanct0iicDhb21XG2pjsrERtapbWBHYktjVrNx3kGSYIf you haven’t done this before, try it at your next training session. Hold your arm out, get someone to grab your wrist with as much strength as they can, and then relax your own arm. To check if it is relaxed ask your training partner to let go without telling you. A truly relaxed arm will swing down, a tensed one will not.

I reached the stage were I was able to keep that relaxed state when standing, but the moment I moved my arm tensed against the attack. And when I tensed up, my uke was able to respond and throw me. Eventually I managed to maintain a relaxed arm throughout the technique, but I can honestly say it is not an easy state of mind to be in and not one I could put into practice if someone were to attack me now.

Though it occurs to me that I sometimes do something similar in my jitsu groundwork. With certain training partners I know it is tricky to make a pin hold. So I cease to fight back. I go all limp, squirm out of every hold like a fish and wait for my uke to be worn out. Then I pounce!

It does feel counter-intuitive, not to fight back, but this is what our training is for. Staying calm and engaging on your terms. Shout at someone, they will shout back. Fight someone, they will fight back. Jitsu and aikido are not about shows of strength, they are about being able to take what your attacker offers and directing it back at them.

Posted in General observations | Tagged , , , , , ,

Falling with grace

Firstly, thank you to all that gave me feedback on my last post over on Google Plus.  Your comments have been helpful in many ways, and I hope to write a follow up article on the matter.

On to the main topic of the week.  This one concerns falling.  Or more accurately, landing safely from a throw.  Last week in Jitsu a group of us were taken to one side to work on our falling technique from a  throw.  We started off falling and landing on our own, as we do each session.  Then we progressed to falling around our instructor, from the position of a hip throw.  The our Sensei [instructor] threw us softly, and finally built up to throwing with some speed.

In the beginning
Rewind to when I started Jitsu.  I never had an issue with being thrown.  Granted, there was a nasty head bump from a backwards fall, but that just saw me spending hours falling back onto my bed until I could land without jarring my head and giving myself concussion.  I love what we call sacrifice throws, where during the throw you also fall to the floor.  I don’t mind if I am throwing, or being thrown, it’s still good fun.  If you are being thrown then you have to take an active role (in the air or on the floor) when you come down or else there is a potentially nasty SPLAT when you hit the mat.

For those that are unsure on sacrifice throws, here is an example of one on YouTube:

But unfortunately in the last 18 months I have started to develop a slight dislike of being thrown round and over, so throws like ipon seo nage, ogoshi, hane goshi.  It is not a major resistance, but it is enough that both my sensei and my training partners have noticed the  pull back and tensing before I am being thrown.

Tackling the issue
I didn’t know what caused the fear, but it was there and it needed to be addressed.  I felt fine when I was being thrown from ogoshi.  OK, I was being thrown by somebody very competent, which always helps and I freely admit my active landings need to be worked on.  And amongst our group was someone who was visibly trying to overcome a dislike of being on the throw in question, that always makes you feel braver when you are not the most frightened.

Then we switched to ipon seo nage.  Suddenly I was no longer OK, in fact I was now struggling to speak.  We were not thrown with speed, but with guidance, but I felt myself tense, I gripped tori so tightly I’m surprised he was still able to breathe.

So that was it.  Something had happened to me during an ipon seo nage in the last 18 months that had left me all tense and worried.  I don’t know exactly what this event is, but the following are probable causes:

  • Awkward landing.  This will have caused my body to create the flinch reflex that is is now having.
  • Being thrown by someone tall.  Some throws are just not as pleasant when done by giants, and ipon is, to me, one of those throws.
  • Being nearly dropped straight on my head.  I had forgotten about this until last week.
  • A combination of all three.

The answer to all this is to keep on training.  I need to work on active landing for those hip and shoulder throws, rather than acting like a sack of spuds, thus reducing the chance of injuring myself when thrown.  I need to realise that if the short people in my class can cope with every throw being done by a relative giant, then I can learn to deal with the occasional giant.  And finally, I no longer train with the group that felt there was no issue with dropping people on their head, so I should relax into a throw knowing I am in good hands.

Posted in Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What is the purpose?

A few months ago I was applying a technique called kote gaeshi, which is a wrist lock technique used in jitsu and aikido.  Application can vary from a mild lock to generate a shock reaction, to a full hard application which allows the experienced user to turn and jump out the application.  I was aiming for the lower end of the scale, there were no mats where we were practicing.  I applied the lock, my uke (training partner) tapped out and I thought, “ooh, good, got that right the first time.”

KotegaeshiKote gaeshi application the way I have been taught to apply it.

Well, according to my uke both yes and no.  Yes, I had applied the lock well, but the complaint was that I had applied it too well.  Eh?  I was informed that if I projected the hand in a different direction then it would be less painful on my uke and better all round.

Now I was really confused!

  • I asked if it was because if I did a full application it would be harder for the jump out, but it would apparently that would make it more difficult.
  • I asked if I had applied it too fast (which is a problem if you have someone who has very sensitive joints), but there was nothing wrong there.
  • I queried if it was felt that I did not have control of the lock.  Not an issue.
  • Instead I was told firmly not to direct the hand in the way I had.  This was counter to what I had learned in any other martial arts class.

I let the matter go, I was not going to get into an arguing match on the mat.  Also, I wondered if I was missing something.  Yet two months on I remain just as confused over what it was that caused my uke to confidently state that my angle of attack was, “not nice.”  Martial arts are not designed as a dance, they developed for attack and defense.  Yes, martial arts such as Judo now have rules to prevent too much damage to your opponent because they are competitive, but I do not practice competitive martial arts.

So what is the purpose of creating a defense that does not make your attacker think twice?  A defense doesn’t have to be painful, a throw, a block.  It can be a distraction technique.  Maybe this is what my uke was after.  Though frankly I can think of a whole range of distraction techniques that would work better than holding someones hand.

I remain confused.  If the answer comes to me I shall let you know!

Posted in Technical, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The calm in the storm

Three weeks ago, during a wonderful aikido seminar of which I really must type about, I re-herniated a disk in my lower back and was reduced to immobile agony on the mat.  Having assured my training partner it was not his fault (this has happened to me before) I then spent an hour trying not to bawl my eyes out.  The urge to cry was triggered by:

  1. the pain, which if I even as much twitched a toe sent a fresh roll of pain, and,
  2. pure frustration at not being able to train.

Today was the first day since that incident that I was able to seriously consider returning to the mat to train.  Today was a jitsu day, and for a recovering back it is not the best of martial arts to be doing, so I (wisely) decided not to train.  Instead I shall tentatively try an aikido session in a few days and see what my back has to say.

As someone who adores their training, who would happily spend every single night on the mat if she could (and on the odd occasion has managed to do this for a few weeks) this sudden inactivity, the lack of training, the lack of doing…  Well my mind went through several stages.

  • Frustration. How dare pain stop me.  Now note that I could (theoretically) continue to train.  My GP assures me there is no damage being done, it’s “just” that the nerve is being tweaked in ways it shouldn’t be. So if painkillers could numb the pain then I would be able to do simple things like sitting down.
  • Depression.  Because the painkillers removed the edge of the pain but it didn’t eliminate them.  A gloomy British winter was setting in, I was in constant pain, I couldn’t even have a beer because of the drugs.
  • Rage.  Stupid back, stupid ineffective drugs, stupid me.  The world was against me.
  • Acceptance.  Things have to get better in their own time.  Yes, there were gentle exercises I could do, but nature has to take it’s course.
  • Clarity. Ahhh.  And calmness.


Clarity.  These forced weeks of being away from the dojo made me acknowledge something important.  A few months ago I had mused about what sort of training I was going to do and how often, because in the city I am in there is so much on offer.  Sadly I am only here until June, and then I am back to the rural parts I normally live in and my choice is narrowed down.  I have been stupidly running around, training four or five times a week in aikido and jitsu and in this pause, in this calm within the storm, I realise that I was learning little.  I cannot have it all.  It’s too soon.  I am not advanced enough down any of the paths I do to concentrate full time on jitsu, aikido with one group and aikido with a different group.  Studies, family, training.  Something has to give, and it’s going to have to be the later.

So come the new year, before I plunge back into the maelstrom, I need to make a decision.  No that doesn’t mean abandoning one martial art over another but it does mean I need to choose a focus for the coming months and absorb myself into that.  Yes, I could do an odd day or two in the other, but I now know something has to take the primary position.

As to what that martial art will be, I really don’t know yet.  I am torn.  Whatever I choose I will feel like I have cruelly left the others in the cold, when really I have just sent them into hibernation.

Posted in General observations, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Random thought

Jiu Jitsu satisfies my need to manage my aggression in a controlled manner.

Aikido satisfies my need to calm and soften my thoughts while still maintaining a control.

I think there is a need for both, depending on events which are happening in your life.  You cannot walk around in a permanent state of anger, but you cannot always be passive.  A time to be calm, a time to be strident.


It’s not very profound, but it explains to me why I like practicing both.

Posted in General observations

When anticipation turns to dread

Ever had this moment?  You happily set off to train at the dojo, eager to go and do your best or learn something new, but as you approach the doors you find yourself thinking, “please can Bob not be there.”  Bob being a generic person who, frankly, makes your time on the mat less than pleasant.

There are many types of person Bob can be.  Below I list some examples, some of which I have experienced and some of which people have mentioned to me.

The smelly dude.  Everyone seems to have a tale to tell of the bloke who has yet to discover the wonders of soap and water.  Or thinks washing his gi/training gear is some sort of optional extra.  These people I throw with rapid efficiency, the less time near them the better.  But these people are hell to be thrown by because it means you end up with your nose pressed against them.  Yuck.

The argumentative oneThis person feels the urge to argue with everything the teacher tries to show.  I am all for a query or two about technique, but I am also someone who feels that you should at least try something before you can really appreciate any short-comings.  The arguers set my teeth on edge because they bring a general gloom to the class.

The bully. It doesn’t matter if it is you or someone else.  When one person feels the urge to make another person feel small, either through techniques or verbal abuse, then the entire class starts to feel uncomfortable.  I have heard sad tales of how sometimes the instructor is the bully, and in those cases I would say run away from that dojo as fast as you can!

The over-keen. I once trained with someone who was just that little bit too trigger-happy with the blocks, distraction attacks and throws for the level I was at.  In the end I had to take her to one side and point out my limitations.  I was fortunate, she was approachable enough to say this sort of thing to, but that is not always the case.  (Actually this entire matter of the difference between pushing your limits versus continually having them over-stepped is the subject of a future blog entry.  The first one is good, the other is unpleasant.)

The under-keen.  Attacks like they are day dreaming, throws like they are asleep, attempts a lock or pin but the only thing you feel is like yawning back at them.  This person is not just having a bad day, they are like a wet blanket every time you train with them.  No energy, no passion.  Makes you wonder why they come on the mat.

The tall guy when you are a midget.  Or as one person said to me, being thrown that extra foot down.  This isn’t an issue for me (I’m 5ft 7, so neatly in the middle) but I sometimes watch with amusement when short people actively avoid training with the giants because that difference in height when thrown makes for a slightly more painful experience.  The first throw is fine, the second one tender, by the time of the tenth the flinch reflex has set in.

The midget when you are the tall guy.  Or as one tall person sadly said to me, “they seem to be extra viscous to make up for lack of height, I get more bruises off them than anyone else.”

The uke’s enemy.  By that I mean the one who has no regard for your safety.  I’ll never forget the time someone crashed down on both my carotid arteries with full force.  Actually, I have forgotten a section of it because I remember the pain and then I remember coming around on the mat with a group of anxious faces staring down at me.  Then there was the person who tried to throw head first on to the mat, which would have resorted in a broken neck for me if I had not grabbed his body and slowed the throw.  Funnily enough I have never felt comfortable training with either of them since.

Mr No Pants.  (In the British sense, ie no underwear underneath their gi).  And yes, it is always a man.  Why?  Just, why?!

Posted in Uncategorized

Knock me out

Two events happened during jitsu training yesterday which led to the creation of this post.

1) I went in to punch someone, whose resultant block caused me to punch myself in my own mouth.  My punch was admittedly sloppy and I was annoyed at myself.  (My annoyance being mostly because of the blood spill over a clean gi, it takes forever to dry gi’s in the damp city I live in.)
2) Watching a novice stand a good distance from me attempting to punch my face.  Arm locked out, sloppy lean forward, but still ending two inches short of my nose.

Now with the second point I wish to add the proviso that I was the same when I started learning martial arts.  In fact my punches are still generally poor, likely to lead to those who learn attacking martial arts creasing up with laughter.

The martial arts I learn are defensive ones.  We learn how to deal with attackers.  We are not in the business of becoming the attacker.  BUT…. how the heck are meant to learn to defend properly if we can’t produce a decent attack?  Our senior grades all know how to attack properly.  I am relieved that the do hold back on me because having seen how they merrily seem to try and beat each other senseless I  can emphatically say I am not ready for that.  (I respect my limitations.)

We don’t specifically teach people to punch or kick.  It is not part of our remit.  Or should it be?  Or should we expand our repertoire and go elsewhere to learn the finer details of this techniques?

I imagine learning to attack properly takes as much time as learning to defend properly.  Though if I were to go and seek out the best place for developing my punches I am not 100% sure where to start.

  • Karate seems an obvious choice, but I think would conflict too much with my aikido and jitsu.
  • Boxing?  Or do the gloves influence the actions too much?
  • Muay Thai?  Boxing gloves argument.  Plus I don’t think I have that sort of attitude.
  • Silat?  <Whimper>
  • Krav Maga?

I look at the above list and I mentally look for the exit door.  The truth is that as much as I like my martial arts the thought of training to deliberately hurt someone who has done nothing to me goes against some core inner principle.  Sure, if you are going to try and run off with my handbag which is mostly filled with old bus tickets and snotty tissues…


If you are determined to try and inflict injury on me or my loved ones for a reason which is not salvageable then I have no hesitation in using what I have learned.  But to go up and provoke an attack?  That is not me.

Yet if I and my fellow jitsuka and aikidoka don’t learn to attack properly then we are never going to learn defense properly.  So at some point I am going to have to swallow my reservations and utter those words, “how do I deliver a strong effective punch?”

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