First off, I would like to thank Mr. Mattson for a very exciting and beneficial weekend. We appreciate all the time he spent with us over the course of the three days he was here. We are very lucky to have a man of Mr. Mattson’s abilities to visit Chicago and keep us in touch with what people on the East coast are practicing.
Throughout the course of Mr. Mattson’s seminars, I picked up many useful and practical tips relating to Uechi-ryu. To begin with, after my Nidan test Mr. Mattson pointed out that many of us Chicagoans seemed to be out of breath or breathing heavily. With that said, one of my goals in practicing Uechi-ryu is to generate more power through less exertion and proper body mechanics. Proper body mechanics make a huge difference when it comes to effortless power. The subtle movements of the lower and upper-body can be the key to generating that explosive karate we all strive to achieve. Another key correction Mr. Mattson discussed many times during the seminar dealt with the free hand during the Wa-uke block.
Many of us were putting too much movement in the free hand of the block. Mr. Mattson corrected and told us it should be the slightest of movements. The hand should move only a matter of an inch rather than inches. Mr. Mattson made us aware that those extra inches we moved our freehand can develop into dangerous habits. Another topic of the Wa-uke block Mr. Mattson discussed was the shoulder movement. He demonstrated that a proper Wa-uke block must have shoulder movement. The slightest shoulder movement allowed us to move the freehand less and through the body mechanics we could generate more power in our block.
The improved block felt more natural, and Mr. Mattson even talked about putting more hip into the block which emphasized more body mechanics to create the smooth, effortless power. On the first day of seminars, Mr. Mattson had us focus on the acceleration of our techniques. Mr. Mattson stated that it is very important for us to accelerate up to full speed through the strikes, rather than try at the beginning of each strike to force the movements at one hundred percent. Allowing the acceleration of each movement made me feel a great deal smoother in all of my katas.
The strikes were just as powerful or even more with the bettered acceleration. This correction made a big difference in the feel of the katas, and for me, I think it is one of the most important concepts he touched on. Mr. Mattson also showed us how we could generate powerful kicks for longer periods of time in our life. Mr. Mattson touched on a point that could save our knees in the long run. Many of us had the tendency to lift the knee up and slam it down while thrusting the leg out. Mr. Mattson showed us that by doing this, there is tons of stress on the knee and could provoke easy injury and long term problems with the knee. Mr. Mattson discussed of how important it is to practice doing different Sanchins. While he was in town we did multiple Sanchins that were different in length, speed and purpose.
It was the best way to practice Sanchin. Mr. Mattson brought to our attention that if we only practice things one way, that’s the only way we will be able to do them. One of the Sanchins we did was very long and smooth focusing on acceleration, another one was the new “in your face Sanchin”, and the final one we did had multiple variations of how we stepped off the sides and did our Wa-ukes. For the one with multiple variations we did many steps and strikes, and when Mr. Mattson instructed us to do so, we would turn off, step, block and strike each on a different count, and another where we would step block and strike as we were turning. The drill is a great training aid and it helped mix things up in the dojo.
The part of Mr. Mattson’s seminar which I felt was most beneficial to me was the flinching technique. Mr. Mattson showed us how to flinch into the proper position. We did a drill where one person would punch from a relaxed position and the other would have to react by flinching. Mr. Mattson demonstrated the ideal way to flinch. He basically flinched into a Sanchin arm position where most of the upper body was covered. In order to train one’s self to get into the Sanchin position on a flinch takes an immense amount of practice. Mr. Mattson showed us that it is the ideal position to be in. I really believe in this training aid because I feel it will help me in about any situation where I could be attacked. It may seem like a simple concept, but in order for it to work; it has to be second nature. It will take a great deal of practice, but I feel confident that it will help me react quicker and get into in better positioning when I’m not thinking about karate.
Mr. Mattson made sure to let us know that it is very important to make contact while training. He emphasized that if we do not practice making contact that we will end up pulling all of our techniques on real encounters. Mr. Mattson had us practice this by doing Kyu Kumite slowly but making sure all counter attacks made contact on the suggested targets. This drill also helped me with my targeting and gave me a better idea of where more effective strikes are in the Kumite.
One of the last major concepts I remember Mr. Mattson discussing was about the center line. He emphasized that we must remain centered in all of the Kumites and two man drills because it eliminates extra movement. He gave us an example in number three of Dan Kumite. When Mr. Mattson goes for the downward block of the front kick, he pointed out that you will not see him pushing the kick outward, but instead, blocking downward through the centerline and only moving his arm through Sanchin. This gets rid of the kick with minimal extra movement.
His concept of centering will help me eliminate extra movements in the Kumites and become more efficient. Once again Mr. Mattson’s seminars were very beneficial. I would like to thank him again for all the great help he has given me and the rest of the people in Chicago. He helps us keep in touch with the latest of happenings in Uechi-Ryu. And, I would also like to thank my sensei, David Kahn for arranging a great weekend.