Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Concentration in Karate Training

Why is concentration so important in karate training?

The first prinicple taught at Bobby Lawrence Karate is respect, respect for self, others, and eventually other things. Respect is associated with the third energy center, Rei in Japanese. Through this energy center we set clear boundaries. Through this and the second energy center we harness the power of our ki'ai.

The second principle taught at Bobby Lawrence Karate and the one discussed in this blog is concentration. Concentration is the ability to focus on one thing. There are two types of concentration or focus, white dot and black dot. Most of us are familiar with white dot focus and that's where begin. Picture a white dot on a black background. The white dot represents what you are focusing on. The black back ground represents everything else, the things you are not focusing on. For example if your school teacher were talking, you should listen to him or her and not to a whispering buddy. Or when you're playing footbal and attempting to catch a pass that's in the air on its way to you, you focus on the ball and ignore the defensive back's attempt to ruff or mess you up. This is white dot focus.

Concentration is a fundamental skill to be practiced early and throughout your training at Bobby Lawrence Karate. Concentration helps us learn faster. Just last Saturday while teaching another black belt a self defense technique, metaphorically referred to as Delayed Sword, it was amazing to watch her struggle with the technique until she relaxed and started concentrating on one point, i.e., her partner's neck or throat area. From that point forward she picked up the technique easily and quite competently.

The second type of focus is black dot focus. This is much harder to understand, but once understood opens up a whole new world and way of training in karate. The idea here is to focus your eyes on one point but instead of excluding all other stimuli you increase your awareness. It is said that ultimate awarenss is true enlightenment. I practice karate as a vehicle for me to become enlightened. If you want to train like me, then when you practice karate focus your eyes on one thing but think of nothing or no thing and become aware of everything. It may sound like mumbo jumbo, but it's really fun to try. In fact, I challenge you to try it in your very next class. And let me know how it works.

Bobby Lawrence

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Practice Karate Without Self Criticism

I prefer to practice karate like the masters of old. For them and me it was a means of enlightenment. One of the keys to practicing this way is to practice without self criticism. In the modern world where ego wants us so badly to be number one, we often miss the subtle value of seeking enlightenment through practicing our karate without self criticism.

Just today in my class one of my black belt students while learning a new self defense technique started chiding herself for not being able to pick it up as quickly as she would have liked. As a seasoned teacher I reminded her that the goal of karate is perfection of character or enlightenment and that it is more easily obtained when we practice non jugdment, even to ourselves. I continued, though that's kind of a zen concept Jesus said much the same when He cautioned his disciples against judging others.

Bobby Lawrence, Founder Karate Kwon Shu

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Respect in the Martial Arts

From the very beginning, martial artists realized that respect was essential to their practice in many ways. How would you like your practice partner to use excessive force while you are trying to learn a technique? What if a student decided he didn't have to follow the master's instructions? What if the best fighter decided he would treat people wrong just because he could?

Indeed, one of the first things we teach a new student is how to show respect. If student is not willing to show respect and obey the rules of karate, then they cannot be taught.

The most common way to signify respect in martial arts is with a simple bow. Even when we bow to the master, we are not saying that we worship him, but rather that we respect him, his curriculum, and his teachings.

Many children, once they are a certain age, learn that their parents are not perfect. This can be a hard blow because many children have nearly an attitude of worship for their parents. At that point, they have two options. They can love them and continue to respect them. Or, they can rebel.

I hope you are one that can forgive your parents, role models, and heroes for not being perfect. That you will be able to see the good in them and how much they really care for you. That you will be able to accept them as they are and learn from their mistakes. All this while still giving them all the respect they deserve.

Let the Black Belt within you break free!
For a great Martial Arts Program, check out www.BobbyLawrenceKarate.net

Repetition in Martial Arts

Do you ever learn something that you know will help you in your life, but you don't apply it? Sure, maybe you try it once or even twice. Yet, for some reason, even though you learn something intellectually, and even though you know it is good for you, it just doesn't become part of your life. Funny creatures, aren't we?

One way to make something become part of you is through forced repetition. I know, it's not easy, but for a limited time, while you are excited about the goal or the outcome, force yourself to do the thing over and over until you become a different person – a person with this particular habit. Once you have established the momentum, it will take less effort to keep it going.

Many routines, patterns, and habits are good for us and give us structure, but be careful not to over structure your life. This is called getting in a rut. It leaves no room for creativeness, spontaneity, and improvement.

For example, broccoli is good for you, but it's bad to eat just broccoli for every meal. Doing kicks and punches the same way every day would get very boring and suck the fun out of your martial arts practice. Fortunately, there are innumerable ways to practice your basics and systematically build on them. If you can't think of some fun drills, ask your instructor to help you.

Remember, if you want a pattern to become part of your life, you have to become the kind of person that has that particular habit, and forced repetition is the key to becoming that person.

Let the Black Belt within you break free!
For a great Martial Arts program, check out www.BobbyLawrenceKarate.net

Saturday, June 6, 2009

When Children Fight

Dealing with fighting children is a huge challenge. Here are 5 basic guidelines that are easy to memorize and remember in the moment of frustration.

1. You Are in Control

Don't get caught in the emotion when solving a fight between kids. Remember that you are in control. There are many tactics for keeping yourself calm in tense situations. Count to ten (if there is time), take a deep breath, think of a happy time or something good the children have done, etc. The point is to find something that works for you.

Once you are clam, separate the fighting children physically, like a boxing referee. Calmly stop the verbal accusations. In order to stop the evil eyes, face pulling, and gestures, you will need to divert their attention to something besides each other, such as having them focus on a family picture or listen for a cricket.

2. Disarm and Set the Tone

Look each one in the eyes and sincerely say, "I love you." This reminds them and you that you really do love them and want to help them overcome the situation and you aren't just a mad authority figure dolling out a punishment. You can even give each one a hug or elaborate on wanting to have a happy family.

Usually they will still be mad and reluctant to let go of their anger. That's fine. They have adrenaline in their veins and it must be used. Jumping jacks, push ups, and hitting a punching bag are all good ways to use up the adrenaline.

3. Start With Feelings

Instead of asking what happened, first ask how they feel. Once they have expressed how they feel, ask them why they feel that way. At first it will be difficult to keep both from talking at once and from accusing each other. Reassure them that each will have a turn to talk.

4. See Other's Point of View

If your children are over 5 years old, help them see the situation from the other person's point of view. Remember, who is right and who is wrong is not as important as what we learn from the experience.

5. Discuss the Consequences

If one or both children are at fault, discuss the natural consequences of their actions and any punishment that may be required. At this point, even a spanking will not psychologically damage the child. They know you love them and don't want to punish them. It is mechanical rather than passionate.

Remember, your children aren't perfect and neither are you. Don't be too hard on them or yourself. Every conflict is a learning opportunity.

On the other hand, your children have unlimited potential. If you teach them how to learn from fights and conflicts as a child, they will have a skill they can use throughout their lives.

Let the Black Belt within you break free!
For a great Martial Arts program, check out www.BobbyLawrenceKarate.net

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Target Areas

When you are facing an attacker that is bigger and stronger than you are, there are a few martial arts principles that can help level the playing field. One of these tricks is to strike certain target areas. For example, being poked in the eye hurts worse than being punched in the shoulder. Am I right? Before you start thinking about how hard you can hit or kick, it might pay to focus on where to hit and the best way to make contact.

In life, this can be likened to having a plan created from an effective vision. Every person should strive to be a leader, no matter what roles they play in life. I have heard it said that the man who knows how will always have a job. The man who knows why will always be his boss.

The vision for a company comes from a leader that has foresight, analyzes and predicts trends, and is willing to take responsibility for important decisions. These leaders are important because the choices they make will shape the destiny and profitability of the company.

Families also need strong leaders to create a vision and make decisions. However, their decisions are far more reaching because their choices shape the character of family members. From a broader perspective, our individual family decisions are shaping the moral fiber of our society.

What kind of leader are you? Do you know the targets you are striving for? Do you execute decisions with power and accuracy? Take a few minutes to reflect and meditate about your work and family decisions. It's never too late or too soon to make changes.

Let the Black Belt within you break free!

For a great karate program, check out www.BobbyLawrenceKarate.net

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Laws and Principles of Nature

Contrary to the popular belief of movie directors in Hollywood, martial artists don't fly or defy the natural laws of the world we live in. Instead, we learn principles of motion that help us understand how to use natural laws to our advantage. By using these principles, we can learn to hit harder, confuse our enemy, get our opponent off balance, maintain proper distance, and break through boards. Once you understand the principles, there is no magic.

What role are natural laws playing in your life? Are you fighting them or using them to your advantage? Let's start with something basic, such as gravity. When we pack on extra pounds, it seems gravity is working against us, pulling us down and sapping our strength. However, we use the same law of gravity when we do weight training, which makes us stronger and more energetic.

The law of the harvest says that we should plant our garden, nourish it, and cultivate it. Then we can have confidence that the plants will actually grow and bare fruit. This law can work against us if we fail to follow the proper pattern. If we wish to reap a bounteous harvest, we must make the law a part of our life. Of course, this law applies to more than just gardening.

Take a moment to think of areas you might be trying to “break the law” or areas where you could use the laws of nature to your advantage.

Let the Black Belt within you break free!
For a great Martial Arts program, check out www.BobbyLawrenceKarate.net