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  #401  
Old 21st April 2012, 12:59 AM
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So had my second GKR lesson today - really sore and tired atm cos I put in 110% effort again, and Sensei made us do "hard and fast" drills - and also when I was practising kata, I forced myself to go hard and fast on it after practising it a few times slowly first.

I arrived early, so before class started I started warming up and practising the Taikyoku Shodan kata on my own. Other students rolled in and were just standing around chatting. I forgot to bring my membership card for Sensei to tick (d'oh!). That's something new I need to get used to.

Started off doing punching and blocking drills, this time in 3 to 5 move combos. What got confusing for me was when Sensei started yelling out the names of these moves in her "Senseinese." I wish she'd just say them in English. (o_O) During some of these drills, students from orange belt and above were doing certain hand moves with open hands, but I was told to keep my fists clenched at all times. Sensei told me that white belts aren't allowed to use open hand techniques because they're considered too dangerous. That's interesting, because in Tai Chi (and other internal Kung Fu styles like Bagua etc.) open hand strikes are considered less dangerous than closed fist strikes. But what I find a bit odd is that I'm expected to keep my hands in closed fists at all times, whereas previously I've been taught to only clench my fist at the moment of impact during a punch -- otherwise I'm to keep my hand relaxed "neutral" guard that is neither fully opened or closed - kinda like this. <shrug>

We also did some more stance practise, this time I was taught the Nekodachi (Cat Stance), Kibadachi (Riding Horse Stance), Sanchindachi (Sanchin (aka "Three Wars") stance) and sumo stance. Sensei then spoke about the importance of stances and how we should be standing in a way where if someone pushed us, we wouldn't fall over - but she didn't know how to verbally describe it in further detail than that (although I could tell she wanted to). She did walk around and push the more experienced students in their Lower Dantian - a green belt moved when she did it, and she said that it shouldn't happen. She pushed the other students who stood firm except one brown belt who was moved. So most of the more senior students were firmly standing in their stances.

Then the class was divided -- all students from blue belt and above did Kumite, and the rest of us did Kata. So we had student segregation... beginners with beginners, more experienced students with more experienced students -- no mixing... I hope not every lesson is like this, because as I've said before, I think the best way to learn is to train with someone who's _better_ than yourself... and I'm not going to do that if I'm only going to relegated to other junior belts all the time.

So yeah, the rest of the evening was just kata practise for me, which was beneficial because I got to iron out some mistakes I'd been making during my private practise at home. I was watching the other belts do their kumite - there were students from blue to brown belt. All of them were fighting at "noob" long distance range (i.e. punch/kick range). Not once did I see anyone move into intermediate mid-range (e.g. elbowing, punching, clinching etc) or advanced close-in body range. Not even the brown belts. And they were all punching and kicking at their opponents' hands and feet -- nobody seemed to be targeting the head or body or legs or groin etc. (o_O) If someone were to punch or kick in front of me, I don't think I'd even bother trying to defend against that (what's the point? It's not going to make contact unless I stick my hand or leg out there to get hit). At no point did anyone try to close the gap. It looked like what someone once described to me as "tit-for-tat fighting." I'd love to see these guys go up against anyone who is capable of fighting at mid range or closer. Or anyone with even rudimentary grappling/wrestling skills.

And they all spent a LONG time sparring with each other without any decisive result, especially one brown belt who kept on going and going and going and going and going... it was painful to watch. Whatever happened to Karate's famous motto of 一撃必殺 (ichigeki hissatsu: "one hit one kill")? (o_O) Real fights start and end in a matter of seconds... spending even an entire minute or longer in a single "match" against an opponent seems much too long.

So yeah -- another lesson of complete non contact. But on the whole I did enjoy this lesson more than last week's. Got to do faster moves, combos, more stance work -- great to hear Sensei talk about the important traditional concepts of being "anchored" in one's stance. I came home really puffed out, sweating and sore all over from all my repeated kata practise!

But boy... I'm dying for some contact! (bad enough my previous Tai Chi school was also complete non-contact too!) *sigh* If it's gonna continue to be complete non-contact, then I might as well bring my strap-on wrist and ankle weights and train with them on... that's what I did during all my Yang Tai Chi lessons. If I'm not going to make contact with anyone, then I might as well chuck in some weight training with my drills and kata stuff.
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  #402  
Old 21st April 2012, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by GoktimusPrime View Post
But what I find a bit odd is that I'm expected to keep my hands in closed fists at all times, whereas previously I've been taught to only clench my fist at the moment of impact during a punch -- otherwise I'm to keep my hand relaxed "neutral" guard that is neither fully opened or closed - kinda like this. <shrug>
You are meant to keep your hand in a fist, i doesn't have too be white knuckled clenched though until impact, Therefore you are both right and wrong :P

I think you are seeing very bad examples or gkr sparring/fight potential. Get yourself along to a tournament and watch the open division, or check out some youtube stuff maybe?
It can get quite impressive even for "non-contact"
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Old 28th April 2012, 10:12 AM
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How'd you latest session go goki
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  #404  
Old 28th April 2012, 06:42 PM
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Had a disagreement with my sensei last week. We had 8 people with sparring gear in class so we had a points sparring tournament. Unfortunately I drew him in the first round so I was expecting to lose. I don't know how other points sparring contests work but within Kumiai Ryu only shots from the waist up count and controlled shots to the head. Anyway I was losing as expected but then I decided to change up my attack and threw a feint front leg kick. As my knee reached the correct height instead of throwing my leg out I dropped it back down, closing the gap on my and my sensei and he lowered his arms to block the kick and I hit a nice jab onto his chest. I shouted "Yay 1 for me" and he said it didn't count as I threw a leg kick. I argued that it did count as it was only a feint and not even a kick. End result was he pulled rank and said it didn't count so I lost without getting a point

What was interesting was even after we were eliminated we kept fighting other eliminated sparrers to determine ranking. I ranked 4th. Had a chance to rank 3rd but walked into a spinning back fist like a moron. Seriously it is such a telegraphed move I was so dirty on myself for getting hit by it.
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  #405  
Old 28th April 2012, 08:34 PM
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Had a disagreement with my sensei last week. We had 8 people with sparring gear in class so we had a points sparring tournament. Unfortunately I drew him in the first round so I was expecting to lose. I don't know how other points sparring contests work but within Kumiai Ryu only shots from the waist up count and controlled shots to the head. Anyway I was losing as expected but then I decided to change up my attack and threw a feint front leg kick. As my knee reached the correct height instead of throwing my leg out I dropped it back down, closing the gap on my and my sensei and he lowered his arms to block the kick and I hit a nice jab onto his chest. I shouted "Yay 1 for me" and he said it didn't count as I threw a leg kick. I argued that it did count as it was only a feint and not even a kick. End result was he pulled rank and said it didn't count so I lost without getting a point

What was interesting was even after we were eliminated we kept fighting other eliminated sparrers to determine ranking. I ranked 4th. Had a chance to rank 3rd but walked into a spinning back fist like a moron. Seriously it is such a telegraphed move I was so dirty on myself for getting hit by it.
I disagree with your sensei entirely. He obviously just didn't like that you bettered him (especially with a simple combination).
The problem you has is it's a case of house rules in the sense that it's your sensei' dojo and being that he is your sensei and a hight rank, one must respectful take the decission on the chin, wrong or right.
I have had this same problem with higher ranks, sometimes it's a one off (maybe they were having a bad day) and others when they clearly are insecure about being bettered.
Personally as the higher rank in a situation like this I take it as a perfect learning opportunity. Sometimes even thanking the opponent or partner. Though this depends on personal relationship with the individual and or their understanding of correct etiquette and respect.
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Old 29th April 2012, 01:25 AM
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From a game/competition POV you may have lost Bartrim, but from an actual martial arts fighting POV I don't think you did anything wrong.

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I disagree with your sensei entirely. He obviously just didn't like that you bettered him (especially with a simple combination).
The problem you has is it's a case of house rules in the sense that it's your sensei' dojo and being that he is your sensei and a hight rank, one must respectful take the decission on the chin, wrong or right.
I have had this same problem with higher ranks, sometimes it's a one off (maybe they were having a bad day) and others when they clearly are insecure about being bettered.
This attitude seems contradictory to the values of self-control, discipline and humility that martial arts are traditionally supposed to encompass. It also seems kinda odd to have all these strict formalities on rank, address, bowing etc., only to have someone have a whinge like a sore loser. Ironically in my Chen Tai Chi school we had no formalities -- no rank, no titles of address (he refused to allow anyone to call him "Shifu" and insisted on first name basis - junior students always referred to all seniors by first names too) we used to bow, but then everyone just gave up. Yet there was always mutual respect. If someone got a hit in, it was because their attack was better than your defence. Nobody ever had a cry about it.

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Personally as the higher rank in a situation like this I take it as a perfect learning opportunity. Sometimes even thanking the opponent or partner.
Exactly!

If someone gets a hit in because they exploited a weakness in your defence, then you've learnt something!
If someone gets a hit in because you just made a mistake and stuffed up, then you've learnt something!

-------------------------------------------------------------

Anyway, onto debriefing about my latest Karate lesson...

Weights

Because previous lessons have all been completely zero contact, I decided to bring along my velcro strap-on wrist and ankle weights. I always used it in Tai Chi, especially my Yang Tai Chi classes where we almost never did apps, just so I can get some weight training done along with practising my form or fighting against thin air. I had intended on arriving to class early to speak to Sensei about it beforehand, but I had some stuff to do after work, so I only arrived just on time to class and I just quickly strapped on the weights because Sensei wanted everyone to line up to do the formalities. The reason for Sensei's objection: because it looks different from everyone else. Yeah, that's seriously what she said.She said that she would speak to her regional director about it. A few other students told me that they thought it was a neat idea to train with weights on - they could immediately see the benefit of practising punches, blocks, kicks and doing kata with weights on. And indeed, I could feel the burn in my arms and legs as I was training! When we did partner work, I took the weights off to avoid contact injury.

At the end of the class, Sensei spoke to me again about the weights and reiterated that she would speak have to speak to her regional director about it (she also said that same thing about the shoes - she still hasn't gotten back to me about it). She then asked me why I wanted to train with weights on (seriously?), and I told her that it was for strength/conditioning (that's the general purpose of weight training, is it not?). She said that she would need to check with on it because using weights is not part of Karate. W h a t ? ?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hojo_und%C5%8D

This wasn't some lower belt telling me that weight training isn't part of Karate... this was a black belt Sensei... <speechless>
I told her that the Okinawans traditionally used weights in their training, and she told me that that was a "different style" and that it may not be an accepted part of training in GKR. Now, I just bit my tongue real hard and nodded politely. I could then see her think about it, and then she told me that there might be an issue of insurance, although one of the sempais said that it shouldn't be an issue. <shrug> I told her that when consulting her regional director to please explain it in the context of weight/conditioning training, and that I would always remove the weights if there were any contact/partner work... she didn't seem to be listening at that stage though.

Form over function

Sensei seems to insist on everyone doing everything the way she wants it done, regardless of reason or function. I saw her snap at one of the brown belts because he was doing something a bit differently, and he said that one of the other Senseis taught him to do it that way, and she just yelled, "Well this is my class and you'll do it my way!" (or words to such effect).

Wow... so different from my Chen Tai Chi teacher who always told us that as long as we weren't getting hit and we weren't compromising ourselves (e.g. leaving openings, being unbalanced etc.), then what we were doing was right, even if it was different from other students or even different from what he was doing. I remember in the beginning I'd practise a defensive move, and I'd do it a bit different from what I was shown, and I'd say, "Oops, I'm sorry, I stuffed that up," and my teacher would say, "You got out of the way and you didn't get hit. It worked just fine!" I much prefer this way of just focusing on what works rather than insisting on conformity for conformity's sake. I prefer function over form rather than form over function.

I had the exact same issue with my Yang Tai Chi teacher -- she also insisted on form over function. Likewise a former colleague of mine who's a black belt in Shorinji Kempo, Kendo and Iai. And in that regard, Sensei shared another thing with my Yang Tai Chi teacher - they both keep telling me that my Bow Stance (Zenkutsudachi) is too 'narrow' and that it's unstable and that I should stand with my legs wider apart... exposing my janglies This is similar to how I stand in forward stance (not quite as narrow as this dude's, but close enough). That's pretty much how my Chen Tai Chi teacher taught me bow stance. Both my Yang Tai Chi & GKR teachers insist that the bow/forward stance should look like this... each time I practised this wider version of the Forward Stance, I gotta tell ya, the tune for Tchaikowsky's Nutcracker kept playing in my mind! Maybe it's because both my Yang Tai Chi and GKR instructors are female... <shrug>

Working with partners!

YES!! Oh man... having gone through Yang Tai Chi with bugger all partner contact, and also my initial Karate lessons with no contact it felt so good to be training with a partner again!! The training itself was extremely basic, but I was just glad to be doing contact work again.

In each drill, the attacker would step forward with an attack, and the defender would step back with a defence. That's fine; retreating defences is definitely what beginners should be taught. Our initial defences involved blocking the attack, and then striking back. When striking back the blocking arm would then return to the hip. In practical fighting apps the spare hand should be guarding, but I understand that for beginners the spare hand is placed on the hip to help them learn how to align their hips/waist into their stances properly -- so as a learning technique, that's fine too... the only thing is, everyone had to do this, even the brown belts. I can understand we white belts and keeping the spare hand on the hips because we're noobs... but surely anyone above white belt should be keeping their spare hand in guard.

At one stage we were practising blocking a forward kick with an inward lower block (Gedan-uke?). Sensei told us to use this to contact the inside of the attacking leg... I didn't think much of it (I guess cos I was just so happy to be doing contact work), but my brown belt partner noticed that something was wrong -- by blocking the inside of the leg, the defender was of course stepping into the attacker's inside, right into danger! It made more sense to block the outside of the leg. My partner mentioned this to Sensei who admitted that she was correct and thus we all practised it correctly after that. I told my partner that she made good call on picking that up - so it all worked out well in the end.

Then we did some grappling. The attacker throws a punch, defender uses the "mirror side" hand to push on the outside of the punching arm. Then the "diagonal" (or "cross") arm performs a Kakeuke block and grapple and then punches with the spare hand. There are two parts of this drill that seem dubious to me.
(1) The Kakeuke should begin with the outside of the arm facing the opponent (reference). This is really important for two reasons I can think of; (a) it's a basic pre-requisite for sticking, (b) the inside of the arm is soft and weak - if the attacker has a knife they can sever your tendons, or worse, cut a major artery and you could potentially bleed to death.
(2) This drill seems far too complicated - and in its complexity I have doubts over its effectuality in combat. This drill is heavily reliant on overt partner compliance - i.e. after the attacker throws the punch, s/he just leaves it there while the defender three separate moves (block>kakeuke>punch)! Who in their right mind is going to do that in a real fight??? I would hate to think that these kinds of drills are giving students false confidence if they seriously think they can defend themselves with this technique as we practised it.

Why not just use the Kakeuke as the initial defence?? If done properly, with the outside of the arm facing the opponent, then you should be able to _stick_ onto the attacking arm, like this. As soon as this contact is made, the kakeuke hand rotates 180 degrees and grapples the arm, dragging the opponent in while the spare hand delivers the punch simultaneously (instead of punching after the grapple -- cos you're naturally going to resist/struggle when someone grabs you, even if it's just instinctually yanking that arm out). Another advantage of doing the grapple and counterpunch simultaneously is that you're dragging the attacker towards you, so not only are you punching them, but their body is actually on a collision course with your fist! Here is a photo of Yip Man (Bruce Lee's Wing Chun Kung Fu master) practising sticking (and here's a photo of him practising it with Bruce Lee himself ).

And when I was practising this - again, even the brown belts would simply throw a punch out and leave it hanging. No attempt to resist or block the defender's counteroffensive, even from the senior belts. IMO this kind of over-compliance is both counter-intuitive and counter-productive to learning self defence. Some of the brown belts have recommended to me that I should come along to another class on a different day with a different Sensei. Yeah well... easy to do when you're a single young fella... not so hard when you've got work and family commitments to work around.
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Old 29th April 2012, 09:55 AM
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It seems like your sensei is ignorant and unwilling to learn. To me she sound very disrespectful
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Old 29th April 2012, 05:48 PM
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It seems like your sensei is ignorant and unwilling to learn. To me she sound very disrespectful
It also seems rather insular to me... as if she's never looked at martial arts outside of her Dojo/system. As someone who carries the title "Sensei", I would expect a higher level of knowledge/expertise about Karate. I was already quite surprised that, as a Sensei, she couldn't even tell me GKR's lineage. And GKR's a modern style of Karate (its founder is still alive!)... it's not like older martial arts where the origins of their styles are really hard to trace due to records being lost or destroyed (if indeed they ever existed).

So anyway, on the advice of some of the brown belts, I went to another class this morning. I'm usually not able to go out on a Sunday morning because my wife usually does stuff and I'm hope looking after the baby (I give her advanced notice if there's any collector fairs/conventions that fall on a Sunday ). But this morning she let me go, so yay.

So I met another Sensei, and this class had a lot less "down time" compared to the Friday classes. There were quite a lot of new students there, so the entire class had to go through the basics again... I found that kinda frustrating. Why not get one of the brown belts to take the first timers aside and go through the beginning stuff with them, and let the rest of us do other stuff? It's like everyone has to do the same thing, and any time a newbie comes along, everyone else has to go back and do the beginner's stuff all over again. He was able to give some of the colour belts more complex variations of what he was teaching the newbies, but as a white belt I had to do it all over again.

On the plus side, I did arrive a bit early and I asked this Sensei if he was cool with martial arts shoes and weights - he said the shoes were fine, and weights were okay as long as they weren't "too obvious" (e.g. bulky, brightly coloured). I showed him the weights and he said they were fine. So at least while I had to do all the boring basics again, I managed to get some weight training done. The funny thing was, when we were practising stances even some of the coloured belts were whining about how their legs were hurting. Considering that I was standing there in deep stance with weights on my wrists and ankles, and that I often practice my Tai Chi forms slowly with weights, and in Chen Tai Chi we often meditated in our stances (sometimes holding up to 29 postures! ) I had no sympathy for these people who were just whinging about holding two stances for a minute.

Sensei took all the white belts through first kata - he then allowed me and three other white belts who had already learnt first kata to learn second kata. Which is basically the same as first kata with some punches and kicks added. Sensei just looked at me and told showed me the punch and kick for the 'sideways' movements, and the kick and punch for the 'lengthwise' movements, then told me to lead the others through it!

No contact work today though. Just drills in the air and kata.

I had an interesting chat with Sensei after class, because in the beginning Sensei asked me if I had done martial arts before, and I told him that I've done some Tai Chi and I also explained that I was interested in learning martial arts for self defence. Sensei and I discussed GKR and its effectiveness in self defence both before and after the lesson, and these are some things that this Sensei said about GKR:

+ One big problem is the fact that GKR teaches students from the very beginning to hold back and pull their hits. To always stop short in front of the targets and not through them; so students don't start off learning how to issue power and their strikes are often ineffectual.

+ Kumite and competitions impose lots of restrictive rules, and once you introduce rules, your fighting form becomes less effective. He said that some GKR fighters get a rude surprise when they go to train in Dojos in Japan where Japanese fighters will just begin the fight with a sharp kick to the family jewels and drop them like a sack of potatoes. He said that Kumite really doesn't well prepare students for a real fight.

+ I told Sensei that 2 weeks ago I had witnessed the coloured belts on Friday sparring in Kumite, and it was all long-range "tit-for-tat" fighting... like aggressive patty-cake... but nobody tried to close the gap, not even elbow/kneeing range. Sensei nodded and said that was no surprise because the students are all too afraid to come any closer! So because of the point-scoring nature of Kumite, it allows them to comfortably play patty-cake with hands and feet, but ill prepares them to get any closer. Sensei said that if you ever just go right up close to the average GKR fighter, they'll freak out and they won't know what to do! I told him that I would wonder how they would handle fighters that specialise in up-close fighting, like Brazilian Jujutsu - and he said, yeah... they just wouldn't cope. And since I'd brought up BJJ...

+ GKR has does no grappling, wrestling or throwing, and as such doesn't teach breakfalls. He said that none of his students know how to fall - and even he only learnt how to grapple and fall by Jujutsu - and that GKR itself never equipped him for any of that.

+ Sensei said that as a fighting system GKR is 'incomplete'. He said that their defences are good in terms of blocks (I suppose only good against basic long range attacks -- I'd like to see how GKR fighters would defend against more advanced mid to close range fighters including grapplers and wrestlers etc.) but their attacks are lacking. He told me that I want to learn a fighting form, then I might consider looking elsewhere. He also said that if I'm already trained in another style then it'd be more beneficial to continue doing it rather than starting from scratch with another style. I explained to him that my Yang Tai Chi school: (a) doesn't teach apps and rarely has contact work, and (b) only has ONE class a week, which happens to occur on the one day that I have to work late. So I joined GKR because I was desperate for some kind of martial arts training instead of just sitting on my bum thinking about it.

So Sensei gave me some interest food for thought and I must say that with what I've seen and experienced of GKR so far, I'm inclined to agree. But I'll keep persevering through the rest of my three-month trial period and see if GKR shows me anything that will convince me to stay on. I've already started making friends with some of the brown belts there... I'm thinking that if I decide to drop out after the trial period, I might keep in contact with them and we might cross-train with each other privately.

I must say kudos to this Sensei for his no-nonsense approach and open honesty in his discussion with me. Another thing I found out though... GKR Senseis are unpaid! They're all volunteers who don't receive a single cent for their teaching (other than maybe a paltry token $30 "bonus" around Xmas). Now... considering how much money GKR generates (I often hear other students talk about how expensive GKR is; just this morning I heard 2-3 students complain about it) surely they can afford to pay the Senseis some money for their time and effort! Sensei was like, "Well we all do it for the love of the sport," yeah but... dude, it's your _time_. Everybody's time is important... and considering that GKR is reputed to be such a big business, surely they can afford to pay their teachers (fair pay for fair work).
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Old 29th April 2012, 06:38 PM
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It also seems rather insular to me... as if she's never looked at martial arts outside of her Dojo/system. As someone who carries the title "Sensei", I would expect a higher level of knowledge/expertise about Karate. I was already quite surprised that, as a Sensei, she couldn't even tell me GKR's lineage. And GKR's a modern style of Karate (its founder is still alive!)... it's not like older martial arts where the origins of their styles are really hard to trace due to records being lost or destroyed (if indeed they ever existed).

So anyway, on the advice of some of the brown belts, I went to another class this morning. I'm usually not able to go out on a Sunday morning because my wife usually does stuff and I'm hope looking after the baby (I give her advanced notice if there's any collector fairs/conventions that fall on a Sunday ). But this morning she let me go, so yay.

So I met another Sensei, and this class had a lot less "down time" compared to the Friday classes. There were quite a lot of new students there, so the entire class had to go through the basics again... I found that kinda frustrating. Why not get one of the brown belts to take the first timers aside and go through the beginning stuff with them, and let the rest of us do other stuff? It's like everyone has to do the same thing, and any time a newbie comes along, everyone else has to go back and do the beginner's stuff all over again. He was able to give some of the colour belts more complex variations of what he was teaching the newbies, but as a white belt I had to do it all over again.

On the plus side, I did arrive a bit early and I asked this Sensei if he was cool with martial arts shoes and weights - he said the shoes were fine, and weights were okay as long as they weren't "too obvious" (e.g. bulky, brightly coloured). I showed him the weights and he said they were fine. So at least while I had to do all the boring basics again, I managed to get some weight training done. The funny thing was, when we were practising stances even some of the coloured belts were whining about how their legs were hurting. Considering that I was standing there in deep stance with weights on my wrists and ankles, and that I often practice my Tai Chi forms slowly with weights, and in Chen Tai Chi we often meditated in our stances (sometimes holding up to 29 postures! ) I had no sympathy for these people who were just whinging about holding two stances for a minute.

Sensei took all the white belts through first kata - he then allowed me and three other white belts who had already learnt first kata to learn second kata. Which is basically the same as first kata with some punches and kicks added. Sensei just looked at me and told showed me the punch and kick for the 'sideways' movements, and the kick and punch for the 'lengthwise' movements, then told me to lead the others through it!

No contact work today though. Just drills in the air and kata.

I had an interesting chat with Sensei after class, because in the beginning Sensei asked me if I had done martial arts before, and I told him that I've done some Tai Chi and I also explained that I was interested in learning martial arts for self defence. Sensei and I discussed GKR and its effectiveness in self defence both before and after the lesson, and these are some things that this Sensei said about GKR:

+ One big problem is the fact that GKR teaches students from the very beginning to hold back and pull their hits. To always stop short in front of the targets and not through them; so students don't start off learning how to issue power and their strikes are often ineffectual.

+ Kumite and competitions impose lots of restrictive rules, and once you introduce rules, your fighting form becomes less effective. He said that some GKR fighters get a rude surprise when they go to train in Dojos in Japan where Japanese fighters will just begin the fight with a sharp kick to the family jewels and drop them like a sack of potatoes. He said that Kumite really doesn't well prepare students for a real fight.

+ I told Sensei that 2 weeks ago I had witnessed the coloured belts on Friday sparring in Kumite, and it was all long-range "tit-for-tat" fighting... like aggressive patty-cake... but nobody tried to close the gap, not even elbow/kneeing range. Sensei nodded and said that was no surprise because the students are all too afraid to come any closer! So because of the point-scoring nature of Kumite, it allows them to comfortably play patty-cake with hands and feet, but ill prepares them to get any closer. Sensei said that if you ever just go right up close to the average GKR fighter, they'll freak out and they won't know what to do! I told him that I would wonder how they would handle fighters that specialise in up-close fighting, like Brazilian Jujutsu - and he said, yeah... they just wouldn't cope. And since I'd brought up BJJ...

+ GKR has does no grappling, wrestling or throwing, and as such doesn't teach breakfalls. He said that none of his students know how to fall - and even he only learnt how to grapple and fall by Jujutsu - and that GKR itself never equipped him for any of that.

+ Sensei said that as a fighting system GKR is 'incomplete'. He said that their defences are good in terms of blocks (I suppose only good against basic long range attacks -- I'd like to see how GKR fighters would defend against more advanced mid to close range fighters including grapplers and wrestlers etc.) but their attacks are lacking. He told me that I want to learn a fighting form, then I might consider looking elsewhere. He also said that if I'm already trained in another style then it'd be more beneficial to continue doing it rather than starting from scratch with another style. I explained to him that my Yang Tai Chi school: (a) doesn't teach apps and rarely has contact work, and (b) only has ONE class a week, which happens to occur on the one day that I have to work late. So I joined GKR because I was desperate for some kind of martial arts training instead of just sitting on my bum thinking about it.

So Sensei gave me some interest food for thought and I must say that with what I've seen and experienced of GKR so far, I'm inclined to agree. But I'll keep persevering through the rest of my three-month trial period and see if GKR shows me anything that will convince me to stay on. I've already started making friends with some of the brown belts there... I'm thinking that if I decide to drop out after the trial period, I might keep in contact with them and we might cross-train with each other privately.

I must say kudos to this Sensei for his no-nonsense approach and open honesty in his discussion with me. Another thing I found out though... GKR Senseis are unpaid! They're all volunteers who don't receive a single cent for their teaching (other than maybe a paltry token $30 "bonus" around Xmas). Now... considering how much money GKR generates (I often hear other students talk about how expensive GKR is; just this morning I heard 2-3 students complain about it) surely they can afford to pay the Senseis some money for their time and effort! Sensei was like, "Well we all do it for the love of the sport," yeah but... dude, it's your _time_. Everybody's time is important... and considering that GKR is reputed to be such a big business, surely they can afford to pay their teachers (fair pay for fair work).
what previous ma experience do you have if you don't mind me asking :P
i had suggested you check out other classes :P
and though senseis are unpaid, they do receive more than 30 dollars. (when i taught it was 5 % of your classes takings over the year up to i think 500 dollars) and all of a senseis training is free.

a problem that occurs with gkr is that their senseis do not usually have enough experience when they begin teaching, imo i can understand well knowledge colour belts being sempais but only black belts should be eligible for a sensei role and only if ready.
When i completed my sensei training (all be it it was a hell of a lot harder 10years ago to get in) i was a yellow belt, i was then triple graded which is extremely rare. but i was naive and didn't quite understand it all then. Not to blow my own horn but i excelled fairly quickly but again this doesn't always happen.
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Old 29th April 2012, 11:30 PM
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what previous ma experience do you have if you don't mind me asking :P
Primarily Tai Chi; initially Chen style, then more recently Yang style.

I have encountered several different martial arts before - because I like to cross-train with people who do different styles (so I don't just get used to fighting against people who do the same style as me). As far as Karate's concerned, I have dabbled in Goju Karate and Kobudo. And I have observed some Kyokushinkai, Shotokan, Seidokan and some other non-traditional styles whose names I can't remember. In Sydney there are lots of Karate Dojos with style names that I've never heard of and have never been able to authenticate either.

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i had suggested you check out other classes :P
That's why I went to this Sunday's class. I wanted to see what GKR was like under a different Sensei. As I said, it's harder for me now to get the time to check out every class when I'm working around work and family commitments. If I can find the time to attend another class on another day, then I will... but as it is, Friday night is the most convenient for me.

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Originally Posted by KalEl View Post
a problem that occurs with gkr is that their senseis do not usually have enough experience when they begin teaching, imo i can understand well knowledge colour belts being sempais but only black belts should be eligible for a sensei role and only if ready.
One would assume that a Sensei is a black belt and even then preferably above first dan, since "Shodan" literally means "Beginners Level." When I trained in or observed Dojos in Japan, there would often be nobody in the Dojo with the title "Sensei." Some Dojos would have maybe 1/3 of the class being black belts, but none of them held the title "Sensei" despite being black belts - not even the ones that were the instructors. The first class I ever attended in Japan; when I called the instructor "Sensei," he and the other black belts laughed and told told me that he was by no means a "Sensei," just a "captain." So it seems that it's much rarer in Japan for someone to achieve the title of "Sensei" -- which is a very honorific term that's usually reserved for someone who has achieved mastery in their field (as "Sensei" can also translate as "master").

Then again, I find that Dojos in Japan and Australia seem to run quite differently. For one thing, Japanese Dojos only have three belts - white, brown, black. A student stays on a belt for about 1 year, so it takes about 3 years to get a black belt, which makes sense, cos you don't want to spend too long before you become a Beginner Shodan. I think that because in Japan it's faster to get a black belt, it's also not as big a deal, especially when 33% of the class are black belts. One of the brown belts in Friday's class told me it may take six years of persistent training to get a black belt in GKR! You can complete a double university degree in that time...

Quote:
Originally Posted by KalEl View Post
When i completed my sensei training (all be it it was a hell of a lot harder 10years ago to get in) i was a yellow belt, i was then triple graded which is extremely rare. but i was naive and didn't quite understand it all then. Not to blow my own horn but i excelled fairly quickly but again this doesn't always happen.
I think it makes perfect sense to accelerate students if they demonstrate enough proficiency. I see no point in holding students back just for the sake of "timing conformity."

Both my Chen and Yang Tai Chi teachers would often accelerate students if they showed proficiency, especially if they had prior martial arts experience. When I did Yang Tai Chi, I told the instructor that I'd done Chen style before. After we did some basic stuff, she just skipped me right past the first form and got me right into the second form. And later she forgot that she did this, and when we had some new students come along who had NO previous experience, she asked me to teach them the beginners 8 step form, and I was like... I don't know this form! I can only show them the 24 step form which would probably confuse the hell out of them!

So yeah... I'm hoping that within my 3 month trial my Senseis will allow me to accelerate through some stuff. And to be honest, they have let me progress a bit faster. On Friday I did a drill that involved Kake-uchi, and open handed technique, and both Senseis keep telling me that white belts are only allowed to do close fist stuff. I'd never even been shown Kake-uchi before, I was just told to do it -- but I picked it up easily enough. And today I was taught the second Taigyoku kata despite only being my fourth lesson... is that fast?

Anyway... all I can do is keep giving Sensei 110% of my effort, which I always do... and hopefully demonstrate sufficient proficiency to convince them to push me along faster.
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