What do we mean by block? My old concise Oxford Dictionary offers 18 different meanings for ‘block’ as a noun and 6 for it as a verb, a number of which seem suited to the context in which the term is used in the martial arts: an obstruction; anything preventing progress or normal working, a […]

How do you use your feet? A few weeks back I was reading an excellent blog post on ‘Old School Karate’ by Garry Parker of Columbus Dojo. He’d made a personal list of the things he did that he considered as facets of ‘old school’ karate. Obviously such a list is very personal: you can […]

Recently I found myself passing a few days under observation in the specialist surgery ward of one of the local hospitals due to an obstruction in my airway. While I was there one of the young nurses who had moved to the UK from Portugal came to talk to me about karate as she had […]

To kick or not to kick, that is the question. This debate comes up regularly on martial arts forums and such discussions tend to produce variations on a number of regular characters: The person who is convinced that whatever he or she does in class will work. The person who sees kicking as a low […]

At some point in time almost everyone who exercises will sustain an injury that limits their ability to train in the martial arts. It may occur during training or randomly in daily life. Even those who are lucky enough to avoid breaks, sprains, strains, or hernias may catch a cold or flu, or have to […]

There are lots of different ways to train in the martial arts. Different systems and indeed different teachers will weight their training along diverging lines according to their training aims, the student to coach ratio and the type of students they have. No matter how long we train, whichever way we turn, the roots of […]

Introduction In sparring a good training partner can be a revelation: someone who has the skill to push you to do better but also illustrate your weaknesses without destroying your confidence. The role of an aggressor in scenario training is very similar, but the attributes they require are often more mental than physical and they […]

I’m talking legs. In fact I’m looking at what you’re doing with your rear leg in sparring, pad work, or indeed any paired drills. Every martial arts system, whether it be predominantly grappling or striking based, or whether it hails from China, the Philippines, Okinawa, Japan, India, Malaysia, New Zealand or Europe, has a number […]

Another book on the Heian / Pinan kata? I wrote my first book on the Heian / Pinan kata in 2004. Between that and the publication of the book in 2007 lay transplant failure, dialysis, and the gift of a second transplant – all factors that slowed me down but increased my appreciation of how […]

1. Train against attacks to the head The head is an obvious target.  Not only can we be knocked unconscious through strikes to the head, our ability to hear, see, shout and even our balance can be damaged. We do have natural reflexes to protect the head which will be activated should our eyes receive […]


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