Class Attended: Hatfield Leisure Centre – Beginners Class
Instructor: Richard Telford-Nicholson
Subjects covered: Bushido Nihon Kata, Mawashi-geri and Ura mawashi-geri
The lesson was started with an energetic game where the class was split into two teams who raced to complete various exercises. The most notable exercise being what I have dubbed a ‘komodo walk’ due to how it resembles the movement of the komodo dragon. The student assumes a press up position and walks forward using alternate hands to feet, each time a leg comes up to meet an elbow, a press up is performed. This uses the whole core and is more, compacting and stretching the obliques and is more entertaining than standard push ups, care should be considered as it is not an ideal exercise for those with bad backs/knees.
Nihon kata was then performed, slowly, building on a few moves at a time to help students who did not already know it. To start with, I insisted the kata was performed slowly, the emphasis was to be on really considering each move and performing it fully. I emphasised the importance of weight transfer and how the movement should be driven from your core. This was practiced several times slowly and as familiarity grew, I increased the speed of the kata allowing the students to use more power. My aim was to first get the techniques correct, so that when they are performed high speed, the students instinct is still to perform the full technique. Finally, we did a performance of Nihon full speed, full power, full kime to illustrate to the students the difficulties that arise when they feel pressured to use excessive power.
The rest of the class focussed on Mawashi Geri, it is a kick we do not perform as often as Mae Geri but one that I personally feel is much more difficult to master. I think this is because the direction the kick comes from causes us to rotate the hip in its socket which is counter intuitive and uncomfortable as we spend very little time increasing our flexibility in this axis (in everyday life). Because of this, I have found in my own learning that I feel apprehensive, almost self-conscious when performing mawashi-geri as it is an iconic and easily recognisable kick but one I have not practiced enough to perform to the level I perceive I ought to be able to. My students confirmed that they feel similarly. The aim of the second half of the lesson was to help them avoid this feeling by practicing mawashi geri more than we normally do to increase familiarity and flexibility.
Firstly only the knee was raised, to illustrate that it is important the kick comes around as I have noticed in the past students bringing the knee straight through as in mae-geri, commonly used in sport karate.
Mawashi-geri was then performed stationary, followed by moving.
The final technique taught was ura mawashi-geri, though in less detail. I explained the use of this technique in competition sparring and also how the kick is changed to strike with the heel, using the gluteus muscles if the intent is to harm.
The lesson was rounded off with a re-match of the beginning game but with different exercises. I utilised medicine balls which are available at the hall and kiba-dachi stance to continue the opening of the hips from the mawashi-geri exercises.
How I would improve the class next time:
Having seen where the students most struggled I would increase the amount of dynamic stretching in the mawashi geri plane of movement during the warm-up.
I also will be finding the opportunity to cover Nihon perhaps even more slowly to benefit the white belts who struggled with memorising the directions of the kata.
Write-up by Richard Telford-Nicholson