Sunday, 2 January 2011

My training aims

I have just calculated that I have 23 weeks before the black belt grading date (assuming I am invited to grade and that they don't change the provisional date of June 12th that I have been given). I have a feeling those 23 weeks are going to go by pretty quickly!

I have been thinking about how to organise my training schedule and what my training aims should be. It doesn't seem sufficient to just keep working through the syllabus to perfect the various sections that have to be covered - that would be just about training for the test.

I've decided that my aims need to be a bit broader than this and not syllabus based. Overall my aim is to be a better, more skilled martial artist - picking up a black belt along the way is a short term goal but it isn't the be all and end all of my training. So, with that in mind I have set myself some broad aims on which to base my training:

1. To improve general fitness in terms of increased:
  • Endurance;      
  • Strength and muscle tone;
  • Dynamic flexibility.
2. Development of good body alignment and movement:
  • Improved posture and balance
  • Better stances and stance transitions
  • Improved punches, kicks and blocks
  • Better use of hips
3. Better understanding and use of body mechanics to generate:
  • Greater power
  • Greater speed
  • Increased reaction times
4. Develop a better sense and understanding of self-defence strategy, specifically better use of:
  • Angles and evasion techniques;
  • Strikes, counter strikes and blocks;
  • Takedowns and throws;
  • Locks.    
  • Increase understanding of sen no sen, sen sen no sen and go no sen in a fight situation.
These are obviously long term aims that will take me far beyond shodan but hopefully I will improve in these areas sufficiently in 23 weeks to meet the shodan standard along the way.

These aims form the 'What' I want to achieve now I'm working on the 'How' I'm going to do it. Much of what I want to achieve will be done through the karate staples of kata, kihon and various types of kumite practice. However, I also plan to develop a program of specific drills and exercises that will help me improve my control over my own body, particularly in relation to my weaknesses which are kicks, balance, speed and reaction times.

What do you think of my aims? If you notice any gaping holes or have any suggestions then please let me know.


  1. Hi, SueC:

    In the spirit of countdown to black belt I wanted to pose some questions in relation to those four goals of preparation. I have prefaced the actual questions with a Q:

    No. 1 Q: What are you doing outside of the dojo to promote this resolution?

    No. 2:

    Improved posture and balance
    Q: What specifically do you feel you can do to enhance this aspect of your training?
    • Better stances and stance transitions
    Q: Again, what kind of training would you do to practice kamae and the transitions of both foot and hand transitions?
    • Improved punches, kicks and blocks
    Q: Do you utilize makiwara? Heavy bag? other devices? Do you utilize these aspects outside the dojo?
    • Better use of hips
    Q: Are you referring to gamaku or koshi?

    No. 3:
    Greater power
    Q: When you say greater power, what does that mean to you?
    • Greater speed
    Q: When you say greater speed, what does that mean to you?
    • Increased reaction times
    Q: What kind of drills do you use to achieve this and how does Uke tells fall into this aspect?

    No. 4: Why are you going straight into the technique portion before the more academic? Aren't these the last resort aspects and what do you feel is the true fundamentals of self-defense?


    Increase understanding of sen no sen, sen sen no sen and go no sen in a fight situation.

    Q: When you refer to fight situation are you speaking of kumite, tournament or street fighting? Do you realize, at least in the states, that fighting is illegal and beyond self-defense?

  2. Hi, Sue...

    I was about 20 weeks out for my shodan grading when my (now) sensei told me "Those who fail to plan, plan to fail." So hats off to you for putting a plan in place!

    I can tell you from my track and field days that when "the day" arrives, it may seem a bit surreal. I remember training for years and years for the Olympic trials only to get to the venue the morning of thinking "I can't believe it's here!" I spent the first 30 minutes of my shodan grading thinking the exact same thing...

    Endurance will be a big factor, for sure, but be careful not to over-train to improve yours. You might want to also consider tapering (backing off a bit) at least a week or so before your test so you won't be too fatigued to do your thing.

    Sending lots of calming energy and gentle hugs :-)

  3. Just wanted to pop by to say congratulations on the new blog. I think it's a great way to document and discuss another aspect of your journey. I also know the time and effort of keeping blog(s). I look forward to following this part of your progression as well. 'Countdown to Shodan' - talk about catchy!

  4. Charles, You're asking me a lot of questions that I'm still asking myself! I'm currently working on how I'm going to achieve my aims and I will be posting about it soon. However just to answer a couple of your questions now:
    No1: This training plan is about my supplementary training outside the dojo, though I may increase to 3 classes a week at the dojo as well.
    No2: I am fortunate in having a gym at home where I can train. It is the size of a single garage and has 3m x 2m of matted area, a heavy bag, a cross-trainer machine, several hand weights, a punching pad and a fit ball. It is also mirrored on one side so I can see how awful I look doing kata!

    Finally, when I said 'fighting' I didn't mean with me as the agressor, I just meant if I were ever in a situation where I might need to defend myself. I realise that fighting is not allowed! Thanks for taking the trouble to ask me all these questions - I realise you're just curious :-)

    Felicia, Olympic trails? Wow, I'm impressed - did you get picked? I'm starting from a much lower base than you! The closest I'll ever get to the Olympics is watching it in London in 2012 (which I'm hoping to do). Thanks for your advice - I can't go to wrong following your example ;-)

    Journeyman, Thank you, hope to keep you on the journey with me :-)

  5. Hi, SueC: You said, "so I can see how awful I look doing kata!" Let me say that in my training self-talk, "Jiko no hanashi no gaijutsu," is vital.

    Change this to say, "so I can see how much improvement I am achieving doing kata!"

  6. Charles, 'Jiko no hanashi no gaijutsu' - I will adopt this as my mantra when I am training. Positive self talk is important.

  7. Mental training as well, too. Take advantage of this symbolic moment to create meaning for your black belt experience--not just the test, but the climb leading up to it. Though you have been training extensively for the past few years, these last few months are a crucial time for self-reflection. Repair broken relationships, and see the old ones you have in new ways. Display constant awareness of not just your physical progress, but your mental/spiritual needs as well. I definitely agree with Charles that positivity has a lot to do with it.

    Let the universe of friends, family, and others recharge you, for though this is your black belt, everyone who cares about you will help you earn it.

    Good luck.

  8. Hi T, that was all beautifully put, thank you. You are absolutely right, one should not forget the mental/spiritual aspects of training. I believe that through hard physical training, together with self analysis and reflection can eventually lead to unity of mind, body and spirit. Thanks for your comment.


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