Posts Tagged ‘karate’

Muay Thai and Karate

Written by Jess. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013, Uncategorized

Muay Thai

Muay Thai, Thai BoxingWhat is Muay Thai?
It is a form of hard martial arts which is practised in areas like Thailand.  It is the art of fighting without using any weapons.  Muay Thai is thought to be a form of science as it develops discipline, knowledge and respect.

It is referred to as the Art of the Eight Limbs, as it uses: hands, shins, elbows and knees. Practitioners need to be able to use these limbs to execute strikes correctly instead of only using two areas which are usually fists and feet.

You have to practise Muay Thai with proper training because it can be dangerous if you do not know how to protect yourself properly.  This martial art keeps you in good shape and improves blood circulation. If you practise Muay Thai regularly, your flexibility improves which then means that the bones, muscles and the use of the tendons in bending and moving all improve.

Muay Thai requires bravery as practitioners need to accept there is danger and pain which is involved in this sport.  Muay Thai isn’t only used to gain physical appearance or skill, but improves the quality of life. This is due to: moral values and disciplines in life being taught to the practitioner, as well as to be modest, confident, and truthful and to avoid sins.

There are no major variations of Muay Thai, so virtually every style is the same – just minor techniques may differ.




This diagram shows some of the different techniques that Muay Thai incorporates.



What is Karate?

‘Karate is an unarmed combat that uses the hands and feet to give out techniques, and block them.’

  1. ka·ra·te


    An Asian system of unarmed combat using the hands and feet to deliver and block blows, widely practiced as a sport.…0l5.………..0.5GRKInmHFoM


Karate was developed in Asia, as well as in India, China and Japan. Over the years, there have been many variations of Karate, so there are now hardly any people who practise ‘traditional’ Karate. They are many different associations and styles of karate from Shotokan to Wado Ryu to Shitoryu.

Karate is seen to be a way of life instead of a way to fight people. There are 3 areas of karate- Kumite, Kata and Kihon. Every practitioner needs to know every area and be able to effectively put them into practise.

It is one of the most dynamic martial arts, and a practitioner can use their mind and body together thus allowing the power and strength of both to work in perfect harmony. Karate isn’t about physical strength, it is about how mentally strong you are and how with the whole body working, the strength will come through.

The word Karate is the Japanese word for Open Hand. This symbolises that the main weapon is your body, instead of weapons you use, punches, kicks and blocks. Practitioners are aware of the world, and so they can react to any situation.

This diagram shows the different stances that are used in Karate.


Differences in the way Muay Thai and Karate are taught

Muay Thai teachers believe in passion and can sometimes lead their students to a fall due to their hard teaching ways.  However, most Karate teachers treat their students with respect and try to help them to develop because Karate isn’t about how hard you can hit or hurt someone.

Muay Thai spends a lot of time on warming up and conditioning. This is because the martial art is mainly about fighting which can lead to injuries if your body is not prepared for the work or pain that can be caused. Karate however does spend time on warming up as obviously, no-one wants any injuries, but, the majority of lesson time will be spent on practising techniques to develop skill.

Muay Thai training is hard and high intensity all of the time. This is because they are preparing themselves for the fighting and the unexpected hits that could come at any time.  On the other hand, Karate training can vary from being high or low intensity as you can work your body or your mind at different levels.

Muay Thai doesn’t have many variations unlike Karate. In Karate, there are many different styles and associations, so the differences between each one will be bigger than the differences between the Muay Thai variations.


In my opinion, from what I have researched, Muay Thai appears to be an aggressive martial art due to the focus being on fighting. On the other hand, it does teach you respect yourself, others and the world around you, but in a different way from Karate.

Karate appears to be more about defending yourself, and not starting fights. The focus is spread out between different areas which help practitioners to respect themselves and others. It also doesn’t appear to require brute force or strength to combat an opponent, but skill and mental awareness.


Philosophy & Martial Arts

Written by Sue. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013

Martial Arts Philosophy, Thinking, Dalai Lama, Karate-Do, Philosophy & Martial Arts

Susan Pogmore


“People like Funakoshi are attributed to writing things like “The 20 Precepts” relating to Martial Arts. What would a modern day equivalent be?”


Before I can offer a modern day equivalent I should really explain what the precepts are, as I understand them.
At first glance I thought they were rules or instructions for training in the art of karate. However, the deeper I delve into the history of Funakoshi and Karate; it seems that perhaps these precepts are instructions for the life that is the Way of Karate. Ambiguous, I know, I will try to expand.

“The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants” Gichin Funakoshi

Funakoshi wrote the 20 Precepts as one liners, with no further expansion or explanation. Many people have, along the way, translated and interpreted his words. Some suggest that he wrote them in such a fashion to entice the mind of the ardent karate student. A book was written in 1938 by Genwa Nakasone called Karate-do Taikan, which sought to expand on the precepts and received Funakoshi’s endorsement; so I hope that I am travelling down the right road. However, I have a sneaky suspicion that Funakoshi still meant for us to interpret these concepts ourselves. The act of seeking meaning is a lesson in itself.



This point refers to respect; it not only covers the reverence for those who hold authority or seniority over us, but also humility towards others and all manner of life on this planet.


This is a moral instruction to avoid violence; he is telling us that we should not be the architect of violence.


We must have moral fortitude to do the right thing.


Recognise your own strengths and weaknesses and then, realise the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent. 


Your mindset is more important than anything. You need a fire in your belly, the technique will develop after.


Thoughts can get in the way of performance. The aim is to be competent without having to think about it – ‘unconscious competence’.


Straight forward really, carelessness in our actions can lead to disaster.


Karate should be part of our lives. We should strive to lead wholesome lives outside of the dojo. There is a Buddhist saying that “any place can be a dojo.” Karate Do is not only the acquisition of certain defensive skills, but also the mastering of the art of being a good and honest member of society.


It is a lifetime dedication to the perfection of the human character through unlimited physical, mental and spiritual seeking.


MYO is described as a wondrous & strange feeling, to have outstanding skill. Through the intensity of our training we develop attributes which help us to deal with life’s obstacles outside the dojo.


To remain good at karate, you need to train constantly & consistently. If you stop training you start to lose your skills. “If one does not use it, one will lose it.”


I have come across two possible interpretations of this precept and both seem to me perfectly sensible. The first is to turn away and run; avoid confrontation. The second is that karateka understands the principles of fair play and excels in the celebration of competition. For those that win, it is a celebration of the tactics and skill that won the match. For those that lose, it was the experience of the loss and the chance to learn from their mistake. So there are no winners and no losers. Both are winners.


When the enemy strikes out, seek for weaknesses in your opponent. Every attack has its counter attack.


Traditional Karate Do uses combat situations called Ken & Tai. Ken is seizing the initiative; Thai is waiting for the enemy’s first strike. Water adapts to reach its goal, so must you.


Hands and feet have power, combat is serious. Also consider that your opponent’s hands and feet have power.


This is not advocating paranoia, moreover a healthy awareness and vigilance.


“Karate has many stances and it also has none” This refers to the fact that stances are effectively the moving of bodyweight. When we first begin to learn Karate it is easier to understand a specific stance, where to place our feet, our posture and therefore our body weight will follow. Once we mastered the low stance we understand how to use our bodyweight and move it to our advantage.


Kata is precise and exact, developing finite movement and body awareness. In combat we flow and adapt.


Kata is the combative principle frozen, mindful of muscles, speed, size and in tune with our body.


Be mindful of your training; honest perception of where you are. Reflect on your training.



A modern day equivalent                                                                                                    

In my research I have looked at Codes of Conduct held by other clubs and organisations for ideas. The Bushido Code, the code of the Samurai Warriors is not a modern code but is inspiring. It holds fast, the seven virtues of RECTITUDE, COURAGE, BENEVOLENCE, RESPECT, HONESTY, HONOUR and LOYALTY.

Another ancient code, the Knight’s Code of Conduct is very similar holding the virtues of LOYALTY, SERVANT-LEADERSHIP, HONESTY, SELF-DISCIPLINE, KINDNESS, HUMILITY, EXCELLENCE, INTEGRITY, PERSERVERANCE and PURITY.

I have even discovered that there exists the moral and ethical code of the Jedi. Although fictitious, another ancient code:

  • Jedi are the guardians of peace in the galaxy.                                                                                                     
  • Jedi use their powers to defend and protect, never to attack others.                                                                      
  • Jedi respect all life, in any form.                                                                                                                                      
  • Jedi serve others rather than ruling over them, for the good of the galaxy.                                                           
  • Jedi seek to improve themselves through knowledge and training.


Girl Guides, Self Defence, Martial ArtsAnd the Guide Law:

  • A Guide is honest, reliable and can be trusted.                                                                                                            
  • A Guide is helpful and uses her time and abilities wisely.                                                                                             
  • A Guide faces challenge and learns from her experiences.                                                                                           
  • A Guide is polite and considerate.                                                                                                                                   
  • A Guide respects all living things and takes care of the world around her.




Instructions for Life by the Dalai Lama  (which just so happens to live on the wall in the office at the centre).

1)       Always take account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2)       When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

3)       Follow the three Rs

  1. RESPECT for self
  2. RESPECT for others
  3. RESPONSIBILITY for all your actions

4)       Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.

5)       Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6)       Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

7)       When you realise you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8)       Spend some time alone every day.

9)       Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

10)   Remember that sometimes silence is the best answer.

11)   Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12)   A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

13)   In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situations, don’t bring up the past.

14)   Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.

15)   Be gently with the earth.

16)   Once a year,  go someplace you’ve never been before.

17)   Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18)   Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

19)   Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.


Okay, so here is the code that I have had hanging on my wall for the last 15 years. It has been my moral compass and I think it qualifies as a modern day equivalent:


21 Suggestions for SUCCESS by H.Jackson Brown, Jr.


1)       Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.

2)       Work at something you enjoy and that’s worthy of your time and talent.

3)       Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

4)       Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.

5)       Be forgiving of yourself and others.

6)       Be generous.

7)       Have a grateful heart.

8)       Persistence, persistence, persistence.

9)       Discipline yourself to save money on even the most modest salary.

10)   Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.

11)   Commit yourself to constant improvement.

12)   Commit yourself to quality.

13)   Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.

14)   Be loyal.

15)   Be honest.

16)   Be a self-starter.

17)   Be decisive even if it means you’ll sometimes be wrong.

18)   Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life.

19)   Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.

20)   Take good care of those you love.

21)   Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your Mum proud.


As I said at the beginning of this paper, this report is based on my personal interpretation of Funakoshi’s 20 Precepts. I believe they will hold many different meanings for others, but that is the very essence of Philosophy. I do not believe that the precepts are intended to be a rule book of what to do and not to do when studying karate. I see them as a much wider set of directions on how to live a good and honourable life. I offer the following 3 passages as ‘evidence’ to my conclusions.


Master Gichin Funakoshi, My Way of Life

“Each year in the month of April, a great number of students enrol in karate classes of the universities’ physical education departments – most of them, fortunately, with the dual purpose of building up their spiritual as well as their physical strength. Nonetheless, there are always some whose only desire is to learn karate so as to make use of it in fight. Those almost inevitably drop out of the course before half a year has passed, for it is quite impossible for any young person who objective is so foolish to continue very long in karate. Only those with a higher ideal will find karate interesting enough to persevere in the rigors it entails. Those who do will find that the harder they train, the more fascinating the art becomes.”


Vincent A. Cruz, The 20 Precepts of Gichin Funakoshi

“Karate Do is not only an instrument to attain physical abilities, but it is also an instrument to find the mastery in the art of being a good human being,”


In the book Moving Zen: Karate as a way of gentleness, the author C.W. Nicols travelled to Japan in 1962 to learn karate and judo. At the Yotsuya dojo, at the end of a lesson, the karateka would chant an oath with strength and sincerity:

“Dojo kun!”                                                                           (morals of the dojo)

“Hitotsu! Jinkaku kansei ni tstutomuru koto!”             (One! To strive for the perfection of character!)

“Hitotsu! Makoto no michi o mamoru koto!”                  (One! To defend the paths of truth!)

“Hitotsu! Doryoku no seishin o yasinau koto!”               (One! To foster the spirit of effort!)

“Hitotsu! Reigi o omonzuru koto!”                                      (One! To honour the principles of etiquette!)

“Hitotsu! Kekki no yu o imashimuru koto!”                    (One! To guard against impetuous courage!)



6th May 2013


Double British Champion

Written by bryan. Posted in Competition, News

Karate, Basingstoke, Martial Arts, Gold Medal, Sports AwardsMembers of our Karate club from Basingstoke recently attended the Karate Sport England (KSE) National Championships held in Loughborough.

The team included both experienced players and novices of all ages. The KSE championships are open to all styles of Karate and it attracts some very good international exponents. This year was no exception with European and World Champions competing. Club and Association Teams were entered from over 20 different associations from around the UK. This was our best event to date with us finishing 5th in the medal table for total numbers of medals won.

First up were the Children competing in the individual Kata events. With Georgina Butcher (13) winning a Bronze Medal in the girls under 15s Shotokan Kata (**) meant that we started the day well. Edward van Meerkerk (14) was next onto the podium in the boys under 15s Shotokan Kata winning a Gold Medal and becoming the British Champion. In the process he performed a very accomplished Kanku Dai in the final to convincingly win the Gold.

Next up were the adults with Mark Nevola (49)winning his first Kata medal at a national level. For many years Mark has been a talented and successful Kumite (**) competitor, but in the last year with help from the other club coaches he’s also developed good skills in Kata. He achieved a Silver medal in the veterans Kata beating some more experienced Kata exponents on the way.

Lindsey Andrews (38) was last up for the adults and won a Bronze medal in the Ladies Open category followed by a Gold medal in the Ladies Shotokan open, reinforcing her position as UK #1 in this discipline. In both events she performed new Kata that she has been working on in readiness for the World Championships in June. In the Ladies Veterans Open event, she was leading the field until the final, where a slight mistake cost her the Gold and she ended up with a Bronze medal.

Following the finish of the Kata events, the event moved onto the Kumite, starting with the children’s categories.

Children's Karate, Kids Karate, Safe Karate, Karate for girls, karate kid

Emma Cronk (9) was not only entering her first ever competition, she was entering a National level tournament with many experienced players. She fought her way through to the semi finals and gained a Bronze medal and got some invaluable experience in the process.

Spardha Kumar (16) fighting in the 15-17 years female category also won a Bronze medal, losing out to some very experienced international competitors. Her team mate Jess Muller (15) went one better in the same event and won a Silver medal losing to one of her peers on the Karate England National Team in a narrow final.

Harry Cronk (12) made it a spectacular day for the Cronk family winning several fights very convincingly before being disqualified for excess contact in the semi finals.  This was Harry’s first medal at a National Level and his performance on the day merited a higher medal, but he should be proud of what he did.

Rebecca Halil (14) also had a good day winning fights to get her through to the semi finals, before being narrowly beaten by 1 point to get a Bronze Medal.

Edward van Meerkerk (14) fought through a large contingent in the boys under 45k event. In the quarter finals he fought and beat current England International and World Champion Josh Valentine. He carried on to the final with his usual array of exciting scoring techniques using kicks and punches to score points. He won the Gold Medal and become a double British Champion on the same day having earlier won the Kata event. The video below is of him in action.


Matheus Sanches Alves (19) fought in two events the first being the 18-20 years old category and then the 18+ under 75k category. Both of these events are very difficult with some highly experienced and very good international fighters. He fought some excellent fights to win a Bronze medal in both categories he entered.

Mark Nevola (49) added to the medal haul with a Bronze medal in the Senior Men’s Open and also a Bronze in the Shobu Ippon event. In the Veterans (over 35s) Kumite, Bryan Andrews (45) did well winning his Quarter Final and Semi Final matches 6-0. In the final a controversial decision after a foot sweep downed his opponent, meant he was disqualified and received a Silver Medal. Both fighters are currently working hard to prepare for the World Karate Championships in June.

** (Kata is a choreographed sequence of movements where attacking and defensive movements are practised in sequence. Kumite is fighting against an opponent)


The differences between Beginners and Advanced practitioners.

Written by Jess. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013, Coaching

Beginners Karate Club, Karate club in Basingstoke, Karate in Old Basing, Karate in Hatch Warren, Karate in Brighton Hill, Brighton Hill Karate, Karate in KempshottThe differences between Beginners and Advanced practitioners.

Beginners- White, Orange and Red belts

By Jess Muller

I feel that beginners should spend the majority of their lesson time working on their fundamentals. This should include: the stances, the blocks, kicks and punches. Also, correct positioning of the body should be taught (weight distribution,) as well as how to correctly execute the moves.

So, in a 90 minutes lesson, 60 minutes should be spent on basic training, with the rest spent on warming up and cooling down. This will ensure that good power, skill and precision is learnt early on without overloading the brain with trying to learn a form as well as basic moves.

Once they have gathered some knowledge on the basics, and can complete each move without assistance, fighting can now be introduced. This is because they have now developed good skill, precision, control and concentration, due to the time spent learning the basics. Now the blocks, kicks and punches can be incorporated into the fighting. This is far more effective (I feel,) because it is easier to develop as they can see the moves being put into practice. Also, there is a smaller chance of injury as they have more knowledge on how to execute the techniques carefully and correctly. Therefore, rather than going into a fight blind with no previous experience, they will be prepared with some moves. By having good fighting skills the individual can gain good power, skill, precision, strength, control and timing, which can be incorporated into the basics and then katas/forms.

Once the basics have been further improved and the individual can now fight with relative skill and competency, it is time to introduce kata and/or forms. Heian Shodan is the first kata that is taught in Shotokan Karate. It encompasses the basic head and stomach height punches, as well as the downward block (Gedan Barai.) This is all the kata includes so it requires the very basic moves to be correct otherwise this won’t allow the kata to look good and be good. By having a good kata the individual can gain good balance, precision, strength, skill, control and concentration. Thus making the basics better as these new found skills can now be used to improve their basics and fighting. If the club starts learning forms first instead of katas, then the first form they will learn will be the Kickboxing Form. This includes the basic punches (jab, cross, hook and upper cuts to the head,) and two of the basic kicks, front kick (mae-geri,) and roundhouse kick (mawashi geri.) From this you can then learn the same skills as katas, just in different ways.

Advanced Practitioner- Purple to Brown and two white stripes.

By the time that practitioners have reached this level, they are considered advanced grades.  The time should be split accordingly to their strengths and weaknesses. For example: if there are 30 people in the class, and 18 aren’t very competent at kata, and the remaining 12 need practice on their fighting, then the time should be split in half evenly. This ensures that everyone can improve in their certain weakness, but also improve in another area even more.  By improving your weaknesses, you are making yourself a rounded martial artist as you are good at everything and not just one thing.

In a 90 minute class, the time divide will probably not be equal. More time will be spent or fighting drills or combinations rather than the basic techniques. Or you may start off with the basics quickly (as a warm up for 15 minutes,) and go into kata for 45 minutes and then fighting for 30 minutes. This helps to make sure that everyone is improving in every area, and not just in one.

As advanced grades, they should be learning more advanced fundamentals like multiple kicks on one leg and combinations of moves. There shouldn’t be a long time spent on fundamentals (like there is for beginners,) but the focus should be on the fighting and kata.

In fighting, individuals should now be thinking about: the gaps for the techniques, the speed, precision, guard and the techniques. This is because they can fight at these grades, and know what they are doing, but they need to understand their opponent too. Also, it is about pushing the individuals so that they have to think about where they are going instead of aimlessly throwing techniques. By understanding your opponent, you can read them to see any tell-tale signs of movement, or to see what techniques they do the most.

In their kata/forms work, they should know at least 3-5 forms (kickboxing form, close quarter form, power hands, 16 gates and possibly 13 hands.) This is for purple belts – higher grades should know all of the forms. Or the katas: heian shodan, heian nedan, heian sandan, heian yondan and tekki shodan– if they are taught the katas and not forms. This will increase their memory bank of moves as the different katas/forms contain different moves. In addition, they also begin to show different techniques which advanced practitioners need to work on. For example, in tekki shodan, it begins to teach the action of moving the waist and not the hips to generate more power. Likewise the close quarter form teaches this too.

Differences between the grades

A beginner should spend most of their time repeating: basic moves, katas and sets of moves. This will make the muscles remember the move and also make their brains remember how to correctly do a technique, or kata/form or fighting. However, an advanced practitioner would spend their time on increasing the speed of a technique, or the precision of a move or kata/form. They would spend less time repeating the basic moves, just briefly going over them to make sure that everything is correct.

The attitudes should be different as lower grades should be trying to catch up with the higher grades, and trying to improve as quickly as possible. The advanced grades should be looking at improving everything to get to black belt standard as it is in their reach, and still trying to prove how much of a gap there is between them and the lower grades. This shouldn’t be a negative thing; it is a good way of improvement, when you have a target that you are desperate to reach as it is achievable.

Summary of differences

  • Lower grades should spend more time on their fundamentals than any other area to get a good basis for katas/forms and fighting. Advanced grades should split the time between the three areas, especially the area that they aren’t so good at.
  • More repetition of fundamentals is required for lower grades compared to advanced grades.
  • Advanced grades should be improving the speed and precision of the fundamentals whereas the lower grades should be focusing on doing the moves correctly.
  • Advanced grades should try to learn harder techniques (multiple kicks, or hard combinations,) compared to lower grades who should get the very basic moves correct first.
  • In Katas/Forms, lower grades should know one or two, and make sure that they can remember them and demonstrate them independently. Advanced grades should know multiple katas/forms all at a good standard.
  • Advanced grades should think about their body positioning, weight distribution and waist movement to generate power and make every move as strong as possible. Lower grades should think about where the target is for every move and think about what the moves could be used for (Bunkai– analyzing the moves within in a kata/form to see what they could be used for.)
  • In Fighting, lower grades should try and use a few basic moves that they know (blocks, punches, front kick and roundhouse kicks,) to the best of their ability. Advanced grades know more techniques, so they should put them into practice to see if they work well for them as an individual.
  • Advanced grades should think about the openings of the opponent, and throw suitable techniques for that gap. Lower grades should think about where they are aiming their technique – head, stomach or leg.
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