So you are progressing through the Kyu grades and you want to get better and get the most out of the dojo sessions you attend? What can help?
This is just a personal opinion but there are three areas where you need to concentrate:
- Body Conditioning. The fitter you are the better able to focus on the technique. You can help your body conditioning by repeating those Karate stretching exercises at home combined with the body weight exercises such as sit-ups and press-ups. You do not need to join a gym, if you need equipment a skipping rope and a kettle bell are all some very fit people use. Remember too that breathing is an essential part of physical exertion and ensuring you breath correctly when executing techniques is crucial to maintain stamina and for good technique.
- Technique. “Practice makes perfect” – this is so true. Why not run though your katas, practice those blocks, punches and kicks when you have time at home (but ensure you warm up first). Are they on target, is your stance good, are they delivered with focus(kime). Repeatedly drilling the basic techniques will condition the mind/muscles to be able to do this without thinking.
If you are stuck waiting for a bus/train and have nothing to do, run trough the katas in your head. Too easy? Now think of different applications for each movement of that kata or run it mirror image.
- Mental attitude. The right mental attitude is crucial to progress as karateka and particularly of benefit to other areas of your life. Firstly develop an attitude of respect towards your fellow students, the instructors/dojo and, importantly, yourself. How can you possibly respect yourself if you turn up to the dojo late in a dirty, crumpled suit? A positive mental attitude is essential; an open mind ready to learn and trying hard to master the objectives of the lesson is expected. If sparring, make your partner block but exercise good control. Listen carefully to instructions.
If you get home from work/school and are tired and all you want to do is eat and watch the TV just try to spend a few minutes stretching and working out; believe me if you get through the first minute or two you will feel better, eat better and sleep better, content that you have moved that bit closer to mastery of mind & body.