Farewell Said, Old Friend

Said’s Farewell – Next Tuesday 26th January at 8pm (Studio 2 upstairs)

Unfortunately Said Nassor will be returning to Tanzania for good on Wednesday. He is coming along on Tuesday to say his farewell. We shall hold the training session as normal and if time permits, go for a drink afterwards at the local pub, the Willow Walk. Please join us!

I first met Said in 1997 in Tanzania. I was working out there and a guest instructor for the Shorinji Kempo club in Dar Es Salaam. I have fond memories…35-40° heat, 90% humidity and lots of mosquitoes. That didn’t deter the Tanzanian’s who packed out the dojo like the Bruce Lee craze of the seventies. Training was very basic and very hard. 5 days a week and full on. I used to get muscle cramps just teaching.

Said came to the U.K. in mid 2004 and joined me at the Covent Garden Dojo. His loyalty and commitment was unparalled. He was by far the most regular student, always training hard and always with a friendly smile. For years I tried to re-mold his style but I admired the way he always managed to retain his original instructor’s form. Said got his black belt and continued to train with me on and off over the years.

Said even kindly agreed to help in the Bushin opening demonstration at late notice. I had a last minute pull out and Said appeared unexpectedly during rehearsal night to say hello. Without a thought he agreed to stand in, put on his dogi and got to work. Without a doubt a loyal, true friend and the real hero of the night!

Please come along and say your farewell to our dear friend. Said, I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours. We shall all miss you.

Knife Part II

Knife Defence Seminar II: Next Thursday – January 28th at 7.30pm (Studio 1 downstairs)

We are kicking off the 2010 technical programme with a follow up on the knife defence seminar I ran in December. There will be regular monthly seminars throughout the year starting with this one. The seminar is open to all. I shall go through a quick revision of the basic guards, defences and counters. Then we shall move onto some more advanced knife strips, traps and throws.

The last session was a blast and everyone seemed to enjoy moving into the freeform stuff at the end. One thing I’ve learnt about knives over the years: its 70% confidence, 20% distance and timing and 10% technique….and the more you practise, the more confidence you have!

If you have a practise knife and eye goggles, then please bring them along. I will have plenty of spares for those without and if you want to buy one please let me know.

As usual you are welcome to join us after the session at our local pub, the Willow Walk, a few doors down.

Move like Water, Hit like Stone!

This week’s training focused on body movement or tai sabaki. This is a basic but fundamental part of training, consisting of simple moves like a dodge (yoke) or bob and weave (kagami). It has a number of uses that really falls into three categories: attack, defence and positioning. In attack, tai sabaki allows you to move off line of a potential counter attack and also put the weight of your body behind your punch or kick. In defence, it allows you to evade an attack with more speed and less effort. In positioning it allows you to either move completely out of the firing line or, more importantly, into a stronger position that your opponent so you can counter.

A simple example we practised was using a right dodge (migi yoke) against a jab (jun zuki) to get to your opponents back. In close quarter fighting, this gives you a huge upper hand and lends itself perfectly to an easy counter punch or takedown.

When practising tai sabaki in sparring you have to keep moving at all times, like boxers do, to minimise the chance of being hit. Remember if your body isn’t moving then your feet should be (using footwork or ashi sabaki). However, its difficult to do both. Most times I’ve been hit in competition is because I’ve got too tired and stopped moving enough.

The main thing is keep moving to break distance and, when the opportunity arises, unload a counter. If you get too close then shoulder barge your opponent away, use your feet to move out, or switch to grappling. Avoid tension by keeping relaxed at all times, explode powerfully on countering and then relax again. Move like water, hit like stone!

New Year – Open the Mirror!

Akemashite Omedeto – Happy new year! Welcome to 2010, a new year and a new decade. This is one of my favourite times of year. In Japan many people celebrate with kagami biraki, the opening of year ceremony (literally “mirror open”). The mirror stands for the reflection of our true self and the hope is each year our reflection will be become truer to the original. The ceremony signs the importance of beginning the new year, a new period of life.

As we end one year and enter another, it is always a time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. What were our achievements and disappointments of the past year, and what can we learn from them. For me, the biggest disappointment was permanently losing full use of my knee, while the best achievement was starting Bushin, a seed I hope to grow into a forest.

The dreaded new year resolution. Have you even got one? Some people want to achieve, others just want an easy life, while perhaps the majority prefer to float along the waves of life, bobbing above and below the surface. Most people make a resolution but fall short of achieving or maintaining it. “My new year resolution is to give up smoking”. However, this often fails after a short period of time due to lack of a plan or waning commitment.

I am a huge fan of list writing. At the beginning of the year I write of list of my aims for that year. There are usually around 10. If I have a good year I will achieve 6, partially achieve 2 and fail 2. I include ones that I know are easily achievable and ones that are a challenge. Some are near term and some are further out. There is always a spanner in the works and 1 or 2 roll over into the next year.

The goal can be simple but you should be specific about how you can achieve it and within what timescale. If you just say “get fitter”, then you will probably fail. For example:

  1. Wear off Christmas turkey – Train 3 times a week for all of January (Bushin on Tues & Thurs, Gym on Sunday). Aim to lose ½ stone.
  2. Get a new job – Update CV and covering letter, look on job websites and newspaper. Send out to at least 10 companies within 3 weeks.
  3. Eat more fruit – Buy 1 portion of soft fruit from Tesco on way to work and eat for desert at lunch. See if I notice a difference after 3 weeks.
    ….etc, etc.

I can’t say that my method is for everyone. Some have their own methods and some are just happy as they are. Either way, if you do have a resolution its all hard work and you have to keep at it. The main thing is to give it a try…at least you’ll a 50% chance of success. Words are cheap and if you do nothing you achieve nothing.

My first resolution is to provide a full year of hard, enjoyable Bushin training. I’ve put a training calender in place with monthly seminars, gradings and special events. I promise you’ll love the classes. If you don’t then I’ll improve them to make sure you do! The first class of 2010 starts on Tuesday 5th at 8pm with a chance for you to wear off the turkey!

So, what do you say? Let’s open the mirror and give it a go! Gambarimasho!