Technique vs Strength for Self-defense in Karate

Technique vs Strength for Self-defense in Karate

Jesse Enkamp is quoted as saying:

“Comparing two equally technical fighters, my money is on the stronger one.
Comparing two equally strong opponents, my money is on the more technical one.”

This brings up the different role’s ‘technique’ and ‘strength’ or power play in karate.  And it also leads us to question what we mean by strength.

“Strength is for me more internal,” explains Sensei Leo Ming.

“Physical strength is applicable in Karate and self-defence, but the downside is one does not get stronger as one grows older. So, this physical strength needs to be nurtured and transformed inwardly, into a mental strength.”

If we look at it with a longer-term view, this mental strength is far more important. It gives us the ability to deal with the hardships that life throws us, from which no one is immune.

The body can endure much, but it is the strength of our mind where we ultimately win or loose when facing pain.

“Strength and technique are always important. If you use only strength you will soon be tired. If you only have technique and no strength, it will not do either as it won’t be effective.”

With self-defense, the reality a person is facing in that moment of personal danger gives the person the adrenaline rush that will boost their strength, which is needed for survival.  But it will be short lived as the body fatigues, and yet hopefully enough to get the person out of trouble.

Sensei Leo Ming teaching a self defense technique

So learning the skills of maximising your body’s leverage in terms of centres of gravity, the ease of deflecting attack and also gaining momentum to move out of harms way, are a strong components of effective self-defense training.

Some of these moves seem counter-intuitive to our ingrained instinct to fight or push or pull, yet with training the body and the mind, these self-defense and karate techniques can become second nature.

They then allow us to find that sweet spot, where we have enough technique to know how to use our strength to our advantage, without unnecessary fatigue.

 

To learn more about self-defense and Karate techniques, and develop the inner and physical strength to apply them, contact Sensei Leo Ming.

Jesse Enkamp is quoted as saying: “Comparing two equally technical fighters, my money is on the stronger one. Comparing two equally strong opponents, my money is on the more technical one.” This brings up the different role’s ‘technique’ and ‘strength’ or power play in karate.  And it also leads us to question what we mean …

Ethics in Karate

Ethics in Karate

Patience; discipline; respect; control; effort; etiquette.  These are some of the qualities student learn in our taiji or karate classes.

Karate fists and ethicsPart of the foundation of martial arts, is developing a high degree of ethics.  This is emphasised in kobujutsu karate training, due to the nature of the physical skills that karate teaches us.

Charles C. Goodin explains how integral ethics is in martial arts, by looking at a significant karate hand gesture:

“A clenched fist represents the destructive potential of Karate.  The open hand symbolises karate ethics and restraint. The open hand covers the fist, just as ethics restrain the karate practitioner’s actions. Many karate kata begin and end with the hands in this position.” – Charles C. Goodin.

An open hand symbolizes ’emptiness’ and being able to let go, while the fist is a universal language of combat.

“It is a combined version of the yin and yang,” suggests Sensei Leo.  “When we have studied the ability and the control to what we choose our hand to be for situations, we ourselves are much more aware and in better control of the self.”

What is Ethics in Karate?

“This is life-long work on the self” explains Sensei Leo Ming.  “It is very easy for the average person to recite and understand but very difficult to live by.  Displaying ethical behaviour challenges us.”

“It is about how we look at things in life, our attitude. It is how we are able to do right and if we miss an opportunity, to then ‘make right’. It is about our daily conduct. It is about what we say (especially to others). It is about consistency.  And it is about integrity.”

These lessons and qualities are ones that even Leo, for the past 43 years, has been working on in himself.  He sees his role in developing ethics in his students, as their Sense, as a very important one, where he needs to set the example.

“I think values such as these never change… the things around us may change, such as modern technologies and phones etc, but these values remain constant, and hence relate to modern day society too.”

Ethics and the Credo

Each system of martial arts may have variations on their credo. The credo is just simply theory if one only reads it. To be able to fully understand the Mings Martial Arts Credo, we must bring the points into practice.

“Therefore we have certain ‘rules‘ of entering and leaving the training place, the dojo,” clarifies Sensei.  “These are the ‘hidden’ understandings and methods for actual practice that students often overlook.”Ethics in karate

An example is when a karate or tai chi student bows at the door, he is not bowing to anyone in particular, but to himself.

“Students may think they ‘have to’ or that it is for me, the Sensei, but I don’t only see it that way. If they can understand, it is a training for their higher self,” wishes Sensei Leo.

Living Ethically

Students who train in karate and tai chi are encouraged to not only develop their physical abilities, but to conduct themselves in their daily life with ethics and integrity.

Knowing the difference between what we are capable of or have a right to do, and what is actually right to do, is a life skill that can lead us far in our own lives, and as a society as a whole.

Join us on this daily journey of living ethically.

 

For more information and to try a class out, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Patience; discipline; respect; control; effort; etiquette.  These are some of the qualities student learn in our taiji or karate classes. Part of the foundation of martial arts, is developing a high degree of ethics.  This is emphasised in kobujutsu karate training, due to the nature of the physical skills that karate teaches us. Charles C. …

Children with ADHD benefit from Karate Classes

Children with ADHD benefit from Karate Classes

Has your child been labelled with ADHD?

Martial Arts, and specifically karate, is a useful activity to supplement any other strategy you are considering to help your child.

Karate has many benefits for children.  Specifically for children with ADHD or Asperger Syndrome or any similar challenges, martial arts activities can help them develop skills that can be translated positively into many areas of their lives.

Karate is not a team sport and yet it is social.  So the dojo becomes a safe and non-competitive place for children to learn, while still having healthy role models, and needing to engage with others and develop social skills.   They are taught about respect, accountability and leadership through the exercises and routines in karate.

Because Karate is also a sport that needs commitment, children learn about practicing something repeatedly and attending class consistently.   The grading system with different coloured belts teaches personal goal setting, and is a healthy means of marking and measuring progress.  This helps to provide structure and the mindset that things can be worked at and developed with perseverance.

Mental/physical control is an aspect that ADHD children can benefit from, and this is developed in karate alongside a growing self-confidence.  As the children learn certain drills and sequences in the karate katas, they learn to follow procedures and find rhythm, which help with them learning about controlling their minds and bodies.

Focus and self-discipline is also needed to learn the kata’s and routines, as well as the ability to stay on a task.  When asked if karate classes can help children who battle to focus, Sifu Leo responded:

“The brain can be trained to create new pathways by learning new positive methods while using up excess energies.”

“Also mental focus becomes stronger from Karate because the skill of focus is trained inside an environment where certain methods are repeated over and over, becoming a positive habit.”

Martial art is a means to stimulate the body and the mind, and encourage participation in a constructive manner.

“I’ve had experience with children with ADHD, and with its challenges, I’ve seen my students being able to channel their excess energy into something positive for themselves,”

continues Leo.

“Martial art is a great method of managing negative energies.  And I welcome the opportunity to assist in any child’s development through the benefits of karate.”

 

Contact Sifu Leo Low Ming on 0833780468 to learn more about his Karate Classes for children in Parkview and Midrand, Johannesburg.

Has your child been labelled with ADHD? Martial Arts, and specifically karate, is a useful activity to supplement any other strategy you are considering to help your child. Karate has many benefits for children.  Specifically for children with ADHD or Asperger Syndrome or any similar challenges, martial arts activities can help them develop skills that …

Bruce Lee and Karate

Bruce Lee and Karate

Get to know your Sifu

 

Did you know that a source of inspiration for your Sifu, Leo Ming, is Bruce Lee?

“Bruce Lee was a spiritual being and philosopher; he was the searcher and the seeker of truth.  He often said what he thought. He was an analytical thinker, and had a great insight into life,” believes Leo Ming.

Bruce Lee, born in 1940, is one of the most influential figures in Martial Arts.   He not only acted in and made films where he showed his skill as a martial artist, he was also a philosopher and he founded a martial arts called ‘Jeet Kune Do’.


Having both charm and an attractiveness about him, Bruce Lee loved displaying his wit and knowledge.    He was so fast, that he could pluck one coin off of a person’s hand and leave behind a different coin, before that person could close their palm.  He also could catch grains of rice in mid-air using chopsticks!

“I think he was a gift from above and was way ahead of his time, in his thinking and in his actions,” admires Sifu Leo.

Some of Leo’s favourite quotes from Bruce Lee include:

“Don’t think. Feel. It is like a finger pointing out to the Moon, don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”

This means that if you focus only the finger which is directing you to look in a direction, you will miss the point.  Don’t confuse the finger (the teaching about Truth) with the moon (the actual Truth).

Leo also enjoys Bruce Lee’s saying of:

“If you spend too much time thinking about it, it will never get done.”

As martial art students, we can take a feather from both Leo and Bruce’s cap, and balance our thinking with some action. Make one small step today towards your martial arts goals. (Share your step with Leo in the comments section.)

“My all time favourite is Bruce Lee’s quote about being like water” says Leo with a smile.

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Water can flow and water can crash, be water my friend”

Leo explains: “This is what martial artists aspire to be like- adaptation is crucial. To be zen like, to be receptive as an open mind but calm.  And yet if needed, to be as one minded as a devastating tsunami.”

For more about Karate and to get to know your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, contact him on 0833780468.

Other blogs in our “Get to know your Sifu” Series:

Get to know your Sifu   Did you know that a source of inspiration for your Sifu, Leo Ming, is Bruce Lee? “Bruce Lee was a spiritual being and philosopher; he was the searcher and the seeker of truth.  He often said what he thought. He was an analytical thinker, and had a great insight …

The Science behind why Martial Arts Meditation leads to Stress Free Living

The Science behind why Martial Arts Meditation leads to Stress Free Living

“In most if not all martial arts, there is some form of integrative meditation component that forms the building blocks of a balanced yet formidable martial artist… half the battle is won and lost in the mind,” says Nicholas Bruce in his in depth article in the Business Day, May 2018.

Standing meditation in Tai Chi

The article explains how martial arts like karate and tai chi can help us develop the ability to prevent ourselves going into the fight/flight response.  When we don’t have this ability, we can lose part of our logical thinking faculty and can make less healthy decisions, and we find it harder to manage our emotions.

One of the key ways that martial arts helps one to be stress free, is its meditation component.

We ask Sensei Leo Ming to give his input on this key element of martial arts training, and encourage you to learn more about the science and research into this aspect, in Bruce’s article.

 

Q: What is Beginners Mind and why is it important in martial arts training?

Leo:  Sho Shin…beginner mind… This is such an important concept in the martial arts. We always have the ego which gets in the way of the reason for doing our martial arts. We get side tracked, whether it be from something visual, something external that catches our eye, or from an internal thought. A simple example would be when we are trying too hard to impress others, or wanting to over achieve in class. Once this happens your ‘way’ (or dao) is lost. We need to always remember to keep our training pure and authentic.

There is a saying that in the beginners mind there are countless possibilities, but in the experts mind there is only one. Thus we get stuck because we think that something can only be done in a certain way, and that our way is the ‘correct’ way.

If we look at children, they are very spontaneous and have an open energy. It is free, uncluttered, and natural. They can absorb but they can also let go of. They cry with intensity, and then it’s all over. We want to train to attain our original mind, our spontaneous and empty mind – this is a good example of sho shin.

More often than not we bring our baggage wherever we go, in the dojo, onto the court, on the field, even into our homes.  This weight prevents us from flowing and feeling the moment.

Q: What are the benefits of this ‘beginners mind’ for life outside the dojo?

Leo: There are so many. A few benefits are:

  • learning confidence
  • learning about breath control – for anxiety and for focus
  • letting go of the ego – developing humility
  • growing your perseverance and overcoming obstacles,
  • and overcoming stress build up.

    Martial Arts meditation in Wudang Mountains, China

 

Q: What is meditation in Martial Arts?

Leo: It is essentially learning self introspection, being aware of self, being aware of breath, emptying the mind -having the beginner mind.

Q: What aspects of your teaching do you do to encourage this development?

Leo: Meditation is one of the teachings that I integrate into all my classes- to learn patience with the process. Mindfulness is learnt through meditation as well as through self perfection of techniques. One trains a single technique repetitively until it becomes part of you, or you become part of it, hundreds and thousands of times until you reach a state of ‘no-mind’  or mu-shin. Everything muscle and tendon is relaxed, flowing and natural, yet filled with chi. This is something which cannot be replicated through learning theory.  You need to experience it.

We welcome you to join us for a complimentary class, so you can experience a taste of Sho Shin, and the benefits of becoming a martial artist.

 

For more about Tai Chi and Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

“In most if not all martial arts, there is some form of integrative meditation component that forms the building blocks of a balanced yet formidable martial artist… half the battle is won and lost in the mind,” says Nicholas Bruce in his in depth article in the Business Day, May 2018. The article explains how …

How to prepare for Grading in Karate

How to prepare for Grading in Karate

Part of Karate is the process of grading.

What is Grading?

Gradings are a test of your skills and how they are integrated.  As you reach higher levels in your ability and understanding of martial arts, students must also be able to do more skillful and precise moves.

During black belt grades- the highest levels – students are tested physically and mentally, and then in their knowledge of theory as well.

Coloured Belts

Achievement of a grade is represented by a coloured belt.

“In the West, the emphasis is too one sided on belts. A belt holds one’s pants up. Yet it is also a visual illustration of the length of time a student has trained in Karate” explains Sensei Leo Ming.

“Usually there are what we call ‘kyu’ or rankings. There are about 8 to 10 kyus depending on the style, before one gets black belt.”

Essentially the first belt is white, representing purity and being a novice, as in ‘being empty’.  Then after passing through many other coloured belts, we reach the black belt.  Again, the black represents the ‘start of’ another phase, or the start of the journey.

Black belts are called ‘dan’ of which there are 10. There are also more specific names given at 5th dan, then again at 8th and again at 10th.

“When the black belt eventually fades back into white, one has gone full circle – back to novice” enlightens Sensei.

Preparation for Karate Grading

Preparation of gradings takes time and patience.   The time students spent committed to come to classes will show.

Their ability to overcome challenges from their previous grading, like if the student has improved on not only his/her strengths, but also weaknesses, is also looked at during a grading session.

Failure

Failure is difficult to deal with.   There can be so many areas that resulted in the ‘failure’, like nerves, physical technical errors, a poor mental attitude on the day, anxiety levels.

Even the fear of failure itself can cause the frozen rabbit syndrome – where a well-prepared student can just go blank and lose focus, displaying a poor level of skill.

If a student failed and didn’t get the next belt, it may cause that student to put more time and energy into their training, or it may cause them much inner disruption and mental and emotional issues for them.

“I think this is all part of the ‘belt’ and grading learning.  It’s what you do with the result.”  Leo encourages.  “But eventually the persistence pays off into a new level of confidence and further humility.”

Participate in Gradings

There are benefits to students to work towards their next grade, and want to progress through all the gradings.  Sensei Leo adds:

“I think the main aim is to set a goal for oneself to overcome. There are a few students who I’ve taught who don’t want to grade and just want to train for the sake of training.”

All approaches are welcome, and each student sets for themselves their goals to work towards.

We hope you will join us on your journey through the colours of the ‘kyu’, or rankings in Kobujutso Karate.

 

For more about Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Part of Karate is the process of grading. What is Grading? Gradings are a test of your skills and how they are integrated.  As you reach higher levels in your ability and understanding of martial arts, students must also be able to do more skillful and precise moves. During black belt grades- the highest levels …

Tips for beginners learning Karate

Tips for beginners learning Karate

When we start to learn something new, especially in a class format like Karate Classes, it can feel daunting and our self-consciousness can get the better of us.

Sensei Leo Ming has some points to keep in mind, so that you can enjoy your classes, and get the most out of your karate learning journey.

Sensei Leo Ming suggests that you should do no preparation for your class, as a new student.

“I usually like to see the student in his/her natural form. In this way I can teach and ‘fill the empty cup’ ” he explains further.  “If the student has preconceived ideas, then I would generally need to teach them to empty those thoughts which may hamper their advancement.”

The thoughts could be from martial arts movies they have seen. Some ideas may also be totally unrealistic.  For example, a goal that they want to achieve and a specific time frame in which they want to achieve it.

So, Sensei Leo recommends that students of Karate rather bring an attitude of an open mind to class.

They should also not spend the class comparing themselves to others in the class.

“For motivation it may be good to want to achieve something, but students should always bear in mind their own capabilities while striving for a goal.”

Sensei Leo also suggests that no food should be eaten about an hour and a half before you train.  However, liquids to hydrate should be taken frequently, during and after class.

The Role of Sensei in Karate

Your Sensei is your karate teacher and guide. He or she should always set the tone and set the example of what needs to be done. As you progress there will always be times of physical and mental discomfort for you, the student.

“As the Sensei I may give you a hard time depending on your personality and how you generally cope with yourself and others. These are tests for the students to see what they are capable of and how they handle tasks and difficult situations,” says Sensei Leo.

“It may be partnering with another difficult student; it may be just simply coping with the amount of push ups or abdominal exercises in the class. It may even be in the form of constantly giving the student critical comments.”

In traditional times the Sensei could not be bothered with students just wanting to learn something quickly and then leaving. Sometime students just wanted to ‘steal’ techniques, or students were not sincere in their pursuit of mastering the art of karate. If the student was really sincere, he would stay on through all the hardships of the training and become a ‘worthy’ one.

Still today, there are Sifu’s and Sensei’s who are aware of this.  Thus, Masters will still have certain students who are close to them in the inner circle, and they would be taught in depth.  These are called the ‘closed door disciples’ or ‘inner disciples’, and then there are those that are the ‘open door disciples’, and then also the normal students in the classes.

Join a class with Sensei Leo Ming, and not only will you learn karate and improve your physical fitness, you will also experience the mental fitness and personal growth that the martial arts are known for.

For more about Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

When we start to learn something new, especially in a class format like Karate Classes, it can feel daunting and our self-consciousness can get the better of us. Sensei Leo Ming has some points to keep in mind, so that you can enjoy your classes, and get the most out of your karate learning journey. …

How to choose to train in Karate

How to choose to train in Karate

When considering taking up Karate as your hobby or sport, here are some points to consider Karate over other sports.

Self Improvement

While training the body, one learns about the Okinawan or Japanese culture; such as its history; its tradition of respect in the symbol of bowing, and the distinction in seated bows, standing bows and the reasons behind this.

One also learns about discipline by way of being on time, by way of dress code, and mind and body preparation.

There is etiquette involved in the process of learning, so it is not just how fast or strong one is, but how to reduce the ego and become a more refined person in life.

Sports in the modern day is about winning or losing; points or no points; highest; fastest; best. The values of traditional martial arts are about the inward qualities of winning over oneself, the ego. They are about striving for self improvement.

In the words of the late great Funakoshi:

“The ultimate aim of karate lies not in winning or losing, but in the perfection of character of its participants.”

Logistics and Lifestyle

Obviously one also needs to take into consideration the times and costs of classes.  Look for a dojo location that makes it easy to attend class, due to it being close to your home, work or school.  You also want class times that suit your other life activities and family obligations.  This way it will be easier to make your karate practice part of your lifestyle, and hence a more sustainable health choice.

Karate Teacher Influence

Even more important than the logistics of class, is the instructor’s methods and philosophy i.e. the actual teachings of your Sensei. The second point to consider when choosing your Karate teacher, is the reasons you want to train versus the reasons the instructor wants to teach his karate system.  Do they match or compliment each other?  Or will they lead you in opposite directions?  The difference can mean a far more enjoyable and rewarding experience for all.

Kobujutsu Karate

Karate is known to improve fitness and strength and sharpen self defense skills.

Some systems or styles of Karate have more emphasis on different criteria eg. sport karate vs traditional karate. There is no problem with just doing sport karate, as long as one realizes that it is but a small part of karate itself.

Karate is a paradox. When one learns a technique a thousand times over many years, it not only builds physical strength but also mental confidence not to have to get into an altercation.

Kobujutsu  = ko -traditional     bu- martial    jutsu- technique . The karate we teach is an art of traditional ways.

Choosing Kobujutsu is essentially choosing to experience personal growth while learning martial arts.

 

We look forward to welcoming you to class.

For more about Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

When considering taking up Karate as your hobby or sport, here are some points to consider Karate over other sports. Self Improvement While training the body, one learns about the Okinawan or Japanese culture; such as its history; its tradition of respect in the symbol of bowing, and the distinction in seated bows, standing bows …

Weapon Training

Weapon Training

Recently Kaicho Akamine come from the Okinawa island of Japan to Johannesburg.

He gave a Karate weapons workshop, which Sifu Leo Ming attended.

Akamine is an 9th dan and head of Ryu Kyu Kobudo.

Hiroshi Akamine was born in 1954 in Tomigusuku City, Okinawa Prefecture, as the fourth son to Eisuke Akamine, the second President of Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinko Kai.

At the age of 6, he was given instruction in Karate by his father.  He began his serious practice of Karate in his junior high school days.  While he studied Karate under Shijin (old name for Hiroshi) Gushiken Sensei of Shorinryu Kyudokan, he learned Kobudo from his father.  In 1999, upon the passing of his father, he became the third president of Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinko Kai, thus inheriting the organization.
(from http://ryukyu-kobudo.com/hiroshi-akamine-kaicho/)

 

“He is well respected and pleasant to converse with. Some of the weapons which we covered were the Sai, Tonfa, Tekko and Bo” shares Sifu.

For more about how to handle weapons and for Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Recently Kaicho Akamine come from the Okinawa island of Japan to Johannesburg. He gave a Karate weapons workshop, which Sifu Leo Ming attended. Akamine is an 9th dan and head of Ryu Kyu Kobudo. Hiroshi Akamine was born in 1954 in Tomigusuku City, Okinawa Prefecture, as the fourth son to Eisuke Akamine, the second President …

Kobujutso Karate with Weapons

Kobujutso Karate with Weapons

Kobujutso is the Japanese term for “Traditional Martial Arts’. It is a form of karate that is a combination of open or empty hand techniques, and the proficient training in the use of weapons inspired from domestic and farm tools.

Here are two of our teenage students demonstrating the use of the sai (a set of dagger-shaped truncheons) and the (a very tall and long staff or stick weapon):

For more about classes in Johannesburg in Kobujutso Karate, contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Kobujutso is the Japanese term for “Traditional Martial Arts’. It is a form of karate that is a combination of open or empty hand techniques, and the proficient training in the use of weapons inspired from domestic and farm tools. Here are two of our teenage students demonstrating the use of the sai (a set …