Over the next few posts, I am going to look at something that interests me, namely why did people start training and also what keeps them coming back, week after week and year after year.
To this end, I asked my club mates to explain what attracted them to the club and what motivates them in their training. Hopefully this will provide an interesting and valuable insight into why Shoto Budo just might be the martial art for you.
First up, is Ross G. Take it away, Ross . . .
It's been just over three years since I started Shoto Budo, and I've never once looked back. Although I've sometimes questioned whether or not it's actually possible for me to achieve a black belt, I look around and realize that I'm training with some of the best, and I just know that my ultimate goal of achieving 1st Dan will be possible under their supervision and guidance. Had it not been for Shoto Budo, I'd probably be spending my Tuesday and Wednesday nights sitting in front of the T.V and stuffing my face (I leave that for weekends). I also wouldn't have met all the lovely folk within the organization.
When I started attending training regularly, it really propelled me into the world of martial arts and I've been extremely keen on it ever since, exploring all the different arts and generally learning how to turn my body into a lethal weapon. In the past six months or so I've also attended Thai Boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA and Boxing classes. I used everything I learned in those classes in order to excel further in what has always been my favourite martial art - Shoto Budo.
Lately, I've really been putting in that extra effort to improve my cardio and general fitness. I've started to cycling to training and back, to both the Tuesday and Wednesday classes. When I'm not cycling or training, I'm focusing on my technique and trying my best to perfect every kick and punch with great precision and power. I also study lots of different martial arts, ranging from Krav Maga to Kickboxing. If my last grading taught me anything, it was that I seriously need to improve my cardio if I'm going to be able to perform to the best of my ability (so basically try not be out of breath before sparring even starts).
Speaking of grading - I hope that I get the opportunity to grade again soon, because I've missed out on a few opportunities before and I can't help but think what belt I might be now had I actually gone to all the grading courses. Despite this, I always tell myself your true ability doesn't show itself in the form of a belt; it shows through your technique and understanding. I may still be an Orange belt, but I feel my opportunity to go for Green is overdue, and so I've been working extremely hard to prepare myself for when the day comes that I get the go ahead for Green.
Shoto Budo has also helped channel any aggression I feel, which means no more screws and metal plates in my hands or scarred knuckles! Before I started, I had a bit of an anger problem and often misplaced my rage. It sometimes put a strain on my relationship and friendships, and so I started training a lot more to get it out my system in order to prevent it happening so often. Unfortunately, I was still sometimes capable of snapping. I realize now that I was so busy focusing on the physical side of things that I didn't bother to see what I could do to train myself mentally for situations that would anger me. Fortunately, I found the answer within Karate, and I feel a lot more disciplined and controlled now.
To summarize: Martial Arts isn't just a hobby for me; it's a way of life. No matter how many different kinds I try, Shoto Budo will always be the one that matters most to me because it has really helped me mature and keep myself from getting into any trouble. My only regret is not trying it sooner.
Thanks Ross! Nicely put and very honest. I agree with the sentiments and like you, wish I had started sooner (like when I was your age!).
Until the next time, keep your guard up.
Has it really been four months since my last update? Sadly, the answer is yes.
As it turns out my neck issues dragged on a bit longer than expected. However, one MRI scan and several sessions of physiotherapy later and finally I am back in training. Now, where were we again?
Having missed four months, and being inactive for most of this time, my fitness level has plummeted. It's probably the least exercise I have done in twenty odd years, going back to my student days, so getting back into the routine was always going to be a challenge. I started training again three weeks ago and started gently for my first week, just training on Tuesday night. And the next day I felt like I had been through a weekend National course. Had I lost ALL my conditioning?
Fortunately the following two weeks, I trained both Tuesday and Wednesday with no ill effects and I can feel my fitness starting to come back. I have kept my training light, focusing on pads and kata until my neck feels ready to include the takedowns, sparring and grappling elements of training.
Over these past three weeks, Hugh has been taking us through an interesting kicking practice. Rather than doing individual or double kicks, this sequence involves 12 then eight then three repetitions of the same kick. We then do the same sequence for another kick and then do these in a combination. For example, we do 12-8-3 mae geri (snap kicks), 12-8-3 mawashi geri (round house kicks) and then repeat the combination of mae geri - mawashi geri - mae geri four times.
I think there are a variety of benefit s here. The repetitions sharpens up kicking skills but it also helps balance and stamina whilst the combinations are proving a useful tool for judging and changing distance which will be good in a sparring situation. I have found myself improving in each area over the course of the past three weeks although my balance on the sets of 12 for yoko geri kekomi (side thrust kicks) still needs some work. A useful tip from Hugh is to have your partner provide a hand with balance when required. Over the sessions I have found that my need for the balance is decreasing, although it is still a welcome hand (quite literally).
Following on from this, Hugh has then been taking the club through some new grappling moves, takedowns and moving on the ground. As I am taking my first tentative steps back into training, I have been a spectator for these which is slightly disappointing partly because this is my favourite area of practise but mainly because the moves look REALLY COOL. I will talk about these more when I am taking part.
Finally, we have rounded out the sessions with kata and some stretching. I would never claim to be the most flexible person in our club and after all the time off that definitely has not changed!
So it is early days getting back on the road to my First Dan but it sure does feel good to be back.
Until the next time, keep your guard up!
Scott has been training in Shoto Budo since 2007 and is a 1st Dan Black Belt. He is working towards his 2nd Dan grading.