Archive for the ‘Karate’ Category

Funny Karate Winter Training Story

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Yesterday I was reminded of a funny situation I found myself in a few years ago. But first, here is a little background to help put the story in perspective. We have an annual tradition where I do my karate training. Every first full week in January, our JKA school in Trenton/Hamilton meets each morning at 5am for some invigorating training. This year marks the 45th annual training of the school.

I’ve been participating in this week of “Karate Winter Special Training” since I was about 11 years old. I have missed a few years here and there, but I’m currently on a perfect attendance streak of 12 years. I look forward to the training each year, along with its “interesting” rituals. The special classes consist of kihon, kata and kumite (basics, forms and sparring), but there are other traditions we maintain. One of those traditions is an outdoor run, barefoot and shirtless, regardless of the weather. So if it’s snowing or if there is hail coming down, or if the ground is covered in ice, we still run outside barefoot sans gi top. It might sound crazy to some, but it’s simply a custom we do to build spirit and character, and maybe a few blisters on our toes. I must admit, we also do it because we are told to.

These classes are only an hour long so the run is not that far, otherwise it would consume too much of the hour. After all, it’s a karate class, not a running class. We typically run about one mile. If the temperature is closer to zero, we might only do a half-mile. But on some days, Sensei Kisaka keeps us inside for other special activities.

A few years ago during one of our winter trainings I suspected we wouldn’t run during class, for reasons I won’t get into here. However, I wanted to keep the barefoot running tradition (I enjoy running). So each day I arrived extra early and went out to do my barefoot, shirtless run alone. If we ended up running during class too, I just conceded the point that I would run twice. On Thursday that week, it was about 4:30am, snow was falling, and there was already a nice coating on the ground, a couple of inches of cushion — you know the kind where the road actually feels soft to run on and you can hear the snow crunch when your foot lands?

I was running in the street headed south on Olden Ave. Of course there are almost no cars on the road at that time of day. Sometimes just a few vehicles pass by, delivery trucks or sanitation vehicles starting their run, or even a salting truck or snow plow.

There happened to be a Hamilton Police Officer sitting in his cruiser parked alongside the road. It was easy to spot from a distance because the parking lights were on, and I could see the car was running by the stream of fumes escaping from the tailpipe. As I approached, the Officer opened his window and called me over.

When I jogged up to his door, I remember noticing the warm air coming out the window. It was cold and windy. He very bluntly asked: “Are you all right sir?” I didn’t hesitate to respond, blurting out “Yes” in my hardened, macho, cold state of mind.

Then the image of what I was doing suddenly flashed through my mind from the Officer’s perspective. He must have though I’d lost my mind, running barefoot and bare-chested in the snow in what looked like my “pajamas” (white gi-bottom pants). Maybe he suspected I had escaped from a mental institution.

He didn’t look convinced with my one word answer so I repeated, betraying a slight smile, and explained, “Yes, really, I am okay… Doing special karate winter training at the school down the street. We do it every year.”

With a slight smirk on his face he responded “Okay. Carry on,” and rolled the window back up in his warm cruiser.

Workout Sat 05/18/2013

Saturday, May 18th, 2013




Cindy WOD: 20 Minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible):
5 pull-ups
10 push-ups
15 air squats

I completed 16 rounds in 20 minutes. I literally finished my last 15 air squats as the clock counted down to zero seconds. Very happy to have done this workout with Ed Wenzel, who posted on the Crossfit Mercer facebook page that he wanted to workout after his 1pm body fat test.

Workout Fri 05/03/2013

Friday, May 3rd, 2013


1 round of FGB, roughly one minute of max reps of each, empty Bars
Push Press
Box Jump
Wall Ball

Deck Press
5×5 (95#, 95#, 115#, 115#, 125#), 5×3 (125#, 125#, 125#)

15 min EMOM
3 Stone to Shoulder (115lb stone)
6 Box Vaults (24″ box)

easy 3 mile run on treadmill (testing shin splints, yep still there), 8 min miles.

Lots of stretching
Semi-free sparring
Enpi, Jion (worked on the steps after the Migi Jodan Morote Uke). When moving into Gedan Juji Uke, my left heel was turning ever so slightly out of place. Then when landing in Gedan Juji Uke, my right foot was turned slightly to the right. Need to land with the toes pointed left. My Jodan Juji Uke, Migi Ura Zuki Hidari Age Uke, Migi Jodan Nagashi Uke, and Migi Jodan Ura Zuki were all too high, per Sensei’s instruction. I always thought these were blocks (or attacks) to the opponents face. Apparently not.

Workout 04/06/2013

Saturday, April 6th, 2013


Met Tim 1/2 hour before class to get in some extra sparring.
Worked on two-on-one attacks, semi free, and niju-shiho with some bunkai.


Warmup: couch stretch, samson stretch, hip opener.

WOD: Will You Still Love Me When I’m 64?
4 Rounds for Time:

1 Mile Run
16 pull-ups
16 push-ups
16 sit-ups
16 air squats

Completed this in 38 mins, 52 secs. Looked like one of the fastest time of the day. Grueling workout, and the pull-ups were my achilles heel. After the first two rounds, I could no longer do dead hang pull ups. I resorted to… hate to say it… jumping pull ups. Alex caught me doing this and told me I’m getting no benefit from doing them. So, after the workout, in my depleted state, I started working on kipping pullups. It requires a certain amount of finesse. I’m still not sure they are better than dead hang pull ups. Sure, they’ll get your workout done faster, but I need to figure out why they are better than jumping pull-ups. Perhaps it’s more about training the timing of your hips, shoulders, arms and legs for the kip than improving strength for the pull-up? I’ll be sure to ask for Alex’s assistance next week as I work more on this. It will be a focus point for me.

Ultimately, aside from the pull-ups, this workout was made for me. Thanks to Donna who came up with the original idea of 1 mile run, 64 pullups, 1 mile run, 64 pushups, 1 mile run, 64 situps, 1 mile run, 64 air squats. I suggested the modification to break each round of 64 reps into sets of 16. And Happy 64th birthday to her!


32 burpees, 32 mountain climbers, 32 jumping jacks.

Workout 03/16/2013

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Warm-up run before karate.
Karate at 7am: stretching, basics, then 1-step and semi-free sparring. During basics, we did lots of kicks, which was sure to effect my race performance today 🙂
During the sparring, we tried to defend using various kata techniques instead of the typical rising block or fore-arm blocks and counters. I used some foot retraction and opposite leg kicks, trying to land the kick before the attacker lands their strike. We also practiced submission moves.
Unsa kata: when dropping to the floor, bend the right leg underneath in order to reach forward with the subsequent kick. I’ve been keeping the leg straight, which doesn’t allow a far-reaching kick. Then, when switching from the right hip to the left, the switch must be more dynamic. I’ve been doing this too slow.

9am: Bordentown St. Patrick’s Day 5k
The first mile was 6:05, but my legs got heavy (probably from all the kicks at karate this morning), and the other miles were closer to 6:30. Finish time was 19:56 according to my Garmin. I placed 11th overall, 1st place in the 30-39 age group. I’ll probably do a separate blog post with more details about this race.

Late morning workout:
73 pushups, 73 situps, 73 second side plank on each side, 15 pull ups.

Masahiko Tanaka – Shotokan

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Tanaka is a legend in Shotokan karate. Here is a link to a video where he takes some students through some of his sparring techniques.

Saturday: Diana 5k Run

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

I trained for an hour before the Diana 5k Run:
– repeats of gyakuzuke in place (x60 each side)
– repeats of mai geri ushiro in place (x60 each side)
– basics, combinations
– 5 attack sparring
– Striking force training (kicks and punches)

Diana Run 5k race in Plainsboro – 21:52 (7:02 avg pace):
Mile 1.0: 6:35
Mile 2.0: 7:12
Mile 3.0: 7:20
Mile 3.1: 0:44

I finished in 32nd place; not my best 5k time but I’m pretty sore from my first week of marathon training, a new circuit routine on Wednesday, and lots of kicks this morning right before the race. Congratulations to Jen Liney who took first place in the women’s category with a time of 19:49. The course was great – slight decline in the first mile, then back up the same path in the last mile. The course was laid out in a very simple way, which was nice.

I’ve actually run near this course before. When I run eight miles at lunch I do an out-and-back starting at Dow Jones in South Brunswick and turn around at the parking lot of the middle school in Plainsboro (which is four miles each way). The parking lot is where the 5k began. Now if I’m feeling adventurous and have an extra 20 minutes I can add three more miles of familiar territory to my eight mile run.

Wednesday: A New Training Routine

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

A trainer at the DJ Fitness Center showed me a new training routine (listed below). It was tough, but I plan to repeat it next week. In the morning I did a warm-up run before karate.

– Run 3.1 miles (1 mile barefoot)
– 70 reverse punches each arm
– 70 front kicks each leg
– freestyle basics
– sparring: double jodan attack to jaw
– sparring: 5 attack sparring full length of floor

At lunch, I did a free 30 minute training session with a trainer at Dow Jones’ Fitness Center, Lisa Curtin. It was a tough workout; here’s what the circuit involved:

– 0.5 mi sprint on the treadmill (ran 0.15 at 10mph, 0.15-0.40 at 11mph, last 0.10 at 12mph)
– 10 plyometric pushups on two risers
– 15 star hops (reaching to the ceiling)
– 500 meters on the rower
– 1 length of frog hops (down the long hallway)
– 1 length of walking lunges with two 35lb dumbbells
– 1 mile on the bike (~135 rpm)
– 10 step-ups with each leg on the large metal stand.

Repeat one more time.

I didn’t fit the second circuit into the half-hour of the trainer-led session since I burned a few minutes at the start on a warm-up. I did finish the routine on my own though. It was awesome and challenging. I recommend trying it out.

2008 Karate Winter Special Training

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Karate Winter Special Training started at 5am on January 2nd, 2008. This marks the 38th year that Japan Karate Association of New Jersey hosted KWST. Kisaka Sensei led the class through some vigorous stretching, kihon, kumite and kata each morning. We had a good mix of dan students and brown belts. Everyone involved demonstrated good spirit and benefited from the experience.

As is the custom, we ran outside barefoot without shirts. The temperature on two of the mornings was perfect for our routine: 18 degrees, but felt like somewhere between four and ten degrees with the wind chill.

Weather for Jan 3, 2008

We had some good participation this year, as almost 100% attended training every morning, on-time. This marks my fifth year with perfect attendance; but I’m sure there are others out there from prior years that achieved better records than that.

2008 Events

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Jan 1 – Hamilton Hangover Run
Jan 2 – Jan 5 – Karate Special Winter Training
Feb 5 – Feb 9 – Karate Special Winter Training II
Feb 23 – Polar Bear Plunge, Seaside, New Jersey
Mar 2 – E Murray Todd Half Marathon
May 4 – New Jersey Marathon
May 4 – Broad Street Run 10 Miler – Can’t do this as it’s the same day as the NJ Marathon.
Mar 15 – St Patty’s Day 5k in Bordentown
May 24 – Spring Lake 5
Sep 21 – Philly Distance Run – Half Marathon
Nov 2 – NYC Marathon