Monthly Archives: July 2017

Pondering Posture

 “Some say the eyes are windows to the soul. This may be true, but posture is most assuredly the reflection of one’s spirit. It tells a story, more eloquently than words ever could, of your strength, your resolve, and your confidence. Posture is an essential element of warrior bearing.” Forrest Morgan

There are times when we all walk into the Dojo and something triggers us to elongate the spine and stand upright. You can feel the difference – you even feel better. But 3-4 moves into a kata and it’s gone again. We all know that subtle weaknesses in your posture (Loosely translated from Kamae in Japanese) take away from your karate’s look and feel.

It’s easy enough to maintain good  body position for a few moments, but not so easy to keep it, even though (as Morgan stated above) a good posture makes our Karate stronger, it aids our determination, and it bolsters self-assurance: feel like you look good and you look good. Besides that, years of karate without paying enough attention to correct structural alignment will mean physical issues down the road.

mc_ship_9148-1_640Technically, in movement and transitions, if you’re starting out with common posture idiosyncrasies such as your head tilted or shoulders forward, you’re already at a disadvantage. It’s like sailing into a storm with a negative sidebend in your mast.

An invaluable exercise is to run through a kata you like while your Sensei is watching for posture irregularities and pointing them out.

Another important point (that I tend to forget) is that you don’t need to muscle though your techniques or your kata in order to eliminate Kyo (dead time or openings). Eliminating Kyo has more to do with subtle tension and intention than it does might. Strong-arming your techniques typically means your posture takes a nosedive.

So, warrior…karate is posture is karate.

Sensei Toru Shimoji Seminar: New Friends

On the weekend I watched Sensei Toru Shimoji interact with my daughter as well as with other kids of various ages in the Karate dojo.

Sensei Shimoji is a former student of the likes of Sensei Hidetaka Nishiyama, and is well known in his own right as an elite Karate teacher, and what I noticed was that age didn’t matter. In this seminar, he paid as much attention to the littlest ones as he did to the more adept, older ones.

He was the vessel, they were the cups, and everyone got an equal share.

He corrected them, he complimented them, and he taught them the same karate principles as he taught the adults, but in a way in which they could relate. He’d fix a back stance (sometimes over and over) and he’d tie a belt; he’d demonstrate and he’d observe; he’d offer suggestions and clap at their successes. The kids were being molded…and they loved it.

My daughter’s observation was this: “He is such a nice man! And his Karate is epic!”

Kids were learning about respect, about the movement of energy, about body mechanics and camaraderie. The teachings were coming from a stranger to NL form Atlanta, Georgia, and yet it felt like they’d made a new friend who genuinely cared about where they went form here.

This new teacher was talking about calm in the midst of chaos and about exuding positive energy. He was teaching principles such as setting a goal to help someone else get better.

Some of this might seem lofty to some, but the fact is that they were getting it. They did their Kata, Kihon and Kumite demonstrations with pride and with a remarkable thread of technical ability.

The building of character through Karate is no cliché – and what better place to start than with the kids, the next generation of the Dojo…and of society.