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psyren
7/21/2011 4:03am,
I've trained at this school for close to 4 years, and am 1st kyuu after this time. I train 5 days a week at 2 of the dojos.

Aliveness:

2-3: Compliant partner drills, board breaking, point sparring

Nothing but competition sparring, with the occasional compliant drill.
Demonstrated best by some of the teenagers performing ippon.

Equipment:

6-7: Respectable equipment, somewhat worn.

What they do have is reasonable. The bags/focus mitts/kick pads do the job.

Classes held on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday have mats.
Classes on Monday and Wednesday are done on a hard, slippery, carpeted floor.

Gym Size:

Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday classes:
3: We train in the basement.

Any more than 20 people attending the class means there's hardly any room to do anything without running into someone else.

Monday and Wednesday classes:
4: But it's a freakin' big basement.

Approximately twice the size of the other area, however, the classes are also larger, meaning the problem of space is still there, but not as bad.

Instructor/Student Ratio:

6-7: large class but instructor is accessible and oversees most classes.

Not much to say here. Main instructor gives out instructions/goes through drills, black belts walk around and check on people.

Occasional splits according to rank are done, with black belts taking each group through whatever it is they've been told to do.

Atmosphere/Attitude:

6-7: Fairly impersonal, various cliques or noticeable drama.

There are several classes to separate the younger kids from the adult class, but even the adult class has lots of shitty tweenagers who wouldn't understand the meaning of 'effort' or 'hard work' if someone beat it into their face.

On the other end of the scale, you have some black belts who, while reasonably skilled, practice just to make themselves feel good. More on this later.

Somewhere in the middle, you have those who work hard to improve themselves, but are somewhat misled about their abilities since all we ever do is compliant drills and points sparring.

Striking Instruction:

6-7: Comprehensive striking (all ranges) or superior single range striking with success in local/regional competition or practical application.

Most of what we practise is what is allowed in sports karate.
Occasionally, we will practise other techniques (elbows, knees, open hand strikes), but only in compliant drills (like ippon) or on bags/pads.

Grappling Instruction:

Normally:
1-3: No grappling. Anti-grappling.

Not even anti-grappling.

Sometimes:
4-5: Limited single sub-range (standing, clinch, ground only).
We have a black belt at the club who also practices BJJ. He sometimes takes classes where he will demonstrate a few ground techniques for us to try, and will cap off the lesson by saying 'have a wrestle and see if you can make it work on each other'.

Weapons:

2-3: Compliant partner drills and preset encounters

Saturday classes are for weapons training. So far, we have done bo, and are currently on nunchaku. All we do are a few basic set moves, and in the case of bo work, partner work with these set moves and a single kata.
Not realistic, not particularly useful.

Comments:
According to one of the senior black belts at the club, they have been training this way for 15 years. Competition sparring is all they know (and the club has had several successes in state/national/world competitions).

Some instructors are stubborn in refusing to let students modify techniques slightly or using different moves to make things work for them (having said that, there are a couple who are more than happy for us to find a comfortable technique to use).

The black belts I was talking about earlier (in Atmosphere/Attitude) are not pleasant to spar with. Yes, striking reasonably hard is a good exercise in realism, but any more force than is needed to make your point is detrimental to both parties. The person hitting now doesn't have a partner, and the person who was hit has to wait until their guts/ribs reassemble themselves before continuing. Doesn't help that I'm small/light.

I've seen a lot of club members in my time here who really did not deserve to pass gradings. Supposedly, only 2 of the instructors who grade the junior kids (<10 years) ever fail anyone, meaning the ones who are graded by the main instructors will be passed, no matter how bad they are. Good examples of this are some of the girls who are on sub-1st dan.
I don't really think I deserve my rank. Since I joined the club, I've graded every 6 months and gone up one rank (apart from my first grading, in which I went up 3), until I reached my current grade.

I am planning to leave this club at the end of the year if they don't stop focusing on competition fighting, but I can't find any other clubs near me who can offer what I want.

jdempsey
7/21/2011 6:26am,
What kind of thing are you after?

PizDoff
7/21/2011 11:12am,
Is this the school site?
http://www.karatekids.net.au/shobukan_karate?d=1311264552076

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Japan-Karate-Do-Shobukan/115663561780162

psyren
7/21/2011 11:47am,
Is this the school site?
http://www.karatekids.net.au/shobukan_karate?d=1311264552076

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Japan-Karate-Do-Shobukan/115663561780162
Yes, that is their site. Simpler version is http://www.shobukan.com.au/


What kind of thing are you after?
I want to learn from a school that understands that there are fights that don't have referees, medics on standby, a 'perfect' arena.
I want to learn from a school that teaches fighting based on protecting yourself or those you care about, not scoring points.

For all the talk of 'using these techniques out on the street', we've never actually practised something close to 'real' situations.

A friend and I occasionally try breaking out of the back and forth, in and out points sparring we do (if I throw some punches out and we get caught up/tangled, we then try to throw and go into groundwork), only to be stopped and discouraged: "What's that? Clean techniques only".

I don't have a problem with the techniques we're taught (however unlike I am to use some of them), only the way it's practiced.

The instructor who runs the Monday/Wednesday/Saturday classes always goes on about "we only ever use 5% of karate's techniques", but doesn't teach us anything other than what's needed in our kata/'standard' ippon.

According to rumour (I have not confirmed this with the instructors), the shodan grading consists of a regular grading (basics, kata, ippon, kumite), an essay of sorts (about karate or its history), and a separate session where those grading must fight 10 black belts in 2 minute rounds, non-stop. The fights that happen during this session are 'no holds barred', I am told. A bit of safety gear is worn, and one person basically faces off against 10 people in a row for 20 minutes where anything goes.
Bit strange that they would pop this on people out of the blue when our training doesn't come close to this sort of thing normally.

jdempsey
7/21/2011 8:49pm,
Sports oriented martial arts can be very beneficial to self defence situations as you get to practice landing techniques on a live resisting opponent, even in a controlled environment with rules ref etc. Especially when competing full contact.
If you want something more realistic dont get sucked in by anyone claiming to have the superior street style. Unless you need to be told how to fight dirty and run fast.
The only way to get good at something is by doing it- learning from the experience- and training your strengths & weaknesses.
My advice would be to train something involving full contact head punching and basic grappling. This with strength training should make you fairly dangerous.

psyren
7/22/2011 12:16am,
I agree, sports can be a good starting point and a good training tool. It's just that I've gotten tired of doing only that.

I've considered full contact training, but my small build means I probably won't get very far with it.

I have been looking for other places to train near where I live, but it's a bit of a joke. The more interesting looking schools are too far away for me to train there regularly.

jdempsey
7/22/2011 12:46am,
Yeah I'm in a similar situation in regards to finding the right school. I'm going to travel once or twice a week for technique work then train myself locally for the rest. Not the best but a start.
Have you got a boxing local boxing gym? I know you're sick of the sport aspect but if nothing else you can get used to being punched at and put under pressure. How small are you?

psyren
7/22/2011 9:08am,
~170cm, ~60kg. I don't have much fat, at least.

The instructors at my school are away next week (for more competitions), so maybe I can ask whoever fills in for them into doing some stress work.

I handle pressure OK. Had many years of getting used to it, with what I used to do (public performing). I'm normally quite calm; I can get angry/agitated, but not scared (nearly been killed a few times on the road, never batted an eyelid).

Fire Jack
7/24/2011 9:16pm,
There is a good book called facing violence by Rory Miller that I think you would like. If you follow his advice, you should never get in a fight, but he has a few easy things to help you if you do. If your trying to learn self defense so you can go to dangerous areas and feel invincible when some guy mouths you off (hey **** you I can do what I like), then all the training in the world won't save you. I think you should find something you enjoy and keep in mind what self defense is and isn't. I don't think getting beat in the head repeatedly in full contact sparring is necessary, staying in good shape and eating a healthy diet will do you a lot more good.

psyren
7/25/2011 2:18am,
I'm not the sort of person who picks fights/fans flames, so I understand what you mean.
I work in an area where verbal deflection is a necessary skill.

oplus
7/28/2011 7:00pm,
~170cm, ~60kg. I don't have much fat, at least.

You've got about 2 cm on me, but I've got about 6 kilo and would probably be considerable skinny/lean by most people. You probably ought to look into some barbell training and weight gain.

Also, if you've got it around, maybe give Judo a shot, especially if you don't have boxing lying around anywhere.

psyren
7/28/2011 10:27pm,
I can't seem to put on or lose any sort of weight. If I eat more and don't exercise, I turn into a space heater to burn off the energy. If I do exercise, all the energy is burnt. Even if I do extra muscle training in my spare time (push ups, sit ups, squats), it doesn't seem to make much of a difference.

Having said that, I don't really want to bulk up too much. I'm quite happy with my speed.

oplus
7/29/2011 2:29am,
I can't seem to put on or lose any sort of weight. If I eat more and don't exercise, I turn into a space heater to burn off the energy. If I do exercise, all the energy is burnt. Even if I do extra muscle training in my spare time (push ups, sit ups, squats), it doesn't seem to make much of a difference.

Having said that, I don't really want to bulk up too much. I'm quite happy with my speed.

Good lord. I see why strength trainers get really snappy. That said, I can appreciate where you're coming from.

First, the answer should be apparent from your statements: you should eat a LOT more, and you should exercise. That way, you'll gain weight, largely in the form of muscle. In particular, I like the Starting Strength program, but any program with compound barbell lifting (5x5, Westside for skinny bastards, GOMAD, Texas method, to name a few) will do you good.

Second, it's a huge misconception that lifting weights will make you slower. If you're gaining muscle, you'll move faster (to a point, anyway).

Ask any of the more experienced folk to confirm this if you'd like. I'm under the impression that this is the consensus for experienced martial artists.

psyren
7/29/2011 11:17am,
Thanks for the advice.
Do you have any good links on how I should go about building a diet/eating regime? I tend to eat until I'm quite full, but still end up (sometimes) snacking later on (more often drinking a bit of water to belay the hunger).

I currently have apps on my phone that I'm using to build my strength up to do X number of push ups/sit ups/squats in a row (sit ups, at least. Haven't started the others yet).

oplus
7/29/2011 3:49pm,
Comprehensive, concise, interesting: http://www.liamrosen.com/fitness.html

Follow it. All of it. Starting strength is among their recommendations, I would also recommend it.


I currently have apps on my phone that I'm using to build my strength up to do X number of push ups/sit ups/squats in a row (sit ups, at least. Haven't started the others yet).

No. Again,


any program with compound barbell lifting (5x5, Westside for skinny bastards, GOMAD, Texas method, to name a few) will do you good.

Look, if you really want some good strength for martial arts, you may have to get a bit fat for a while. You'll lose your six pack (you can't fool me, I was your height and weight before I started, I liked my pathetic six pack too) for a few months. Deal with it; it's not a good indication of strength anyway. Once you get heavier (probably at least 70kg), you can cut the fat, and you'll have your beloved six pack again. Besides which, if you put on that muscle, it'll stretch your skin out more, making the six pack more pronounced.

psyren
7/30/2011 5:05am,
Haha, I don't care about my muscle tone, I just want them to work when needed.

Seems I just need to force myself to eat more.