A Season for every Martial Art

The martial arts are fantastic in many ways.  It is a great form of exercise.  It is a great way to reduce stress.  It allows you to gain better control of your mind and body.  It allows you to feel safe and protect your loved ones.  Everyone both young and old can reap benefits from practicing the martial arts, regardless if your goal is to just have fun or to become a serious blackbelt. 

What should I work on this Summer?

Summer is just a few weeks away!  Kids are about to get out of school and the pools are about to open to be a huge source of fun.  But this also means that Spring classes are coming to an end.  Specifically, kids karate classes will stop in the middle of June and not pick up again until September.  So, the question we commonly get is, “What should I work on this summer?”  Here are some suggestions:

The Value of Competition

Are you one of those people who love to play a sport or a game to see who wins?  Are you driven by the idea of testing yourself against others to see who is best?  Does winning matter “a lot” to you? 

If so, then I would describe you as a competitive person.  Some people find great motivation in competing, while others shy away from it and avoid it whenever possible.  I would suggest to you that if you are one of those people who avoid competition, you might wish to reconsider, and here’s why.

Being Thankful

I love to set big goals and work hard to achieve them!  It drives me to succeed and forces me to work hard to earn the things I want.  Being driven and motivated is awesome and can take you very far in life.  But, sometimes when you are going so fast and are so focused on a goal or set of goals, you can miss the small subtleties of life.  One of these is stopping for a moment to “count your blessings.” 

Is it Kenpo or Kempo?

For those who have been around Kaizen Karate for a little bit, you understand that our system is comprised of several key components, one of which is our kata, master form, from the International Karate Connections Association (IKCA).  But, I have been asked, is the IKCA system Kenpo (with a ‘n’) or Kempo (with an ‘m’)?  Lets discuss which is correct.

A Vital Piece of Equipment

The practice of karate can be extremely hard on the body.  We train to fight and in the process can get hit or kicked, causing bodily damage.  We choose, however, to practice sparring while wearing protective gear.  This gear allows us to use actual contact against our fellow classmates, while minimizing the damage done with those attacks.  Most students learn good control as they gain more experience, so it is extremely vital to wear protective gear especially when working with less experienced practitioners.

One of the most important pieces of equipment you can use to protect yourself is probably the cheapest and one that might not seem to be that important.  It is the mouth guard.  The mouth guard has been a staple piece of protection in the martial arts and boxing for a very long time and for good reason.  

If you are not wearing a mouth guard, you could potentially damage or knock out your teeth, you could break your jaw, or cut your lip.  Furthermore, you can reduce the risk of getting a concussion while wearing a mouth guard if you are hit in the head or jaw.  These are all excellent reasons to wear a mouth guard.

Remember, we don’t wear protective gear because we are giving our opponent a license to hit hard.  We wear gear in case we accidentally hit too hard or don’t use good control.  To that point, you can never predict when an accident will occur.  But, we all know that Murphy’s law tends to show itself when you are least ready for it.  In other words, it will be the one time you don’t wear a piece of protective gear that you will be hit in that spot.  Make sure it is not your mouth!

Furthermore, keeping your protective equipment in good working order is important.  For the mouth guard, make sure you rinse it with warm water after every class and let it air dry before putting it back in your bag.  Occasionally, it is a good idea to let the mouth guard soak in mouthwash (like Listerine) to remove germs, odors and make it as clean as possible.  That being said, the mouth guard is relatively inexpensive, so replacing it often is a good idea.  

There are many kinds of mouth guards on the market, and they all offer different advantages and disadvantages.  I really like the double-sided mouth guard.  I find it very easy to use, and gives a superior level of protection.  

Be smart about your sparring.  Always wear your protective gear, and make sure it is in good shape.  Doing these simple things might be the difference in avoiding a painful and unpleasant injury.

-Coach David-