Eugene Fliman Second-degree black belt
I would like to start saying that it was a great weekend! I got promoted to second-degree black belt (Nidan). It was not an easy road for me, and it took a lot of effort and dedication both on my side and on my family’s side, especially my wife Sofya, who was totally supportive and very proud of me.
After the test on Friday, we had a day and a half of seminars, covering many aspects of Uechi-ryu. I would like to list here what I have learned, and how I am going to improve my Karate using this newly acquired knowledge.
It was very interesting to see how little changes in my Karate can impact overall performance, in particular soft movements instead of hard; they really freed up the energy of my body, and allowed me to move easily, with less energy loss, and better breathing.
Hands rubbing exercises were looked at under a new light, giving us a chance to make it a very useful exercise, allowing me to practice balance, Uechi hands, stance, and body movement. Actually, Sanchin hands are a very important aspect of one’s training, and should always be used, giving us advantage over other martial arts, and are one of the fundamental principles of our Karate style.
It was also very useful for us to continue working on speed, non-stop movements in Dan and Kyu Kumites. We were also encouraged to experiment with Dan and Kyu Kumites, and to think about new finishing techniques.
We did Sanchin Kata for a few minutes using three different timing sequences – traditional, strike chambered on step, strike completed on step. This actually makes it a very interesting practice, opening new venues in this basic, but very important Kata.
During exercises we learned to practice “touch” kicks, which really means better targeting, which is important in Uechi-ryu. We also learned to follow through on punches – to do it slow speed, and to not pull back. Following this teaches us how to use Karate in real life situations, where some practitioners fail, since they have never done real punches with the partner.
Sensei Mattson also showed us how to correctly use hip movement at the advanced belt level, emphasizing that it should go from the ground, using it to add power to the movements.
We were also introduced to the concept that the shoulder can be used (not in Sanchin) to finish the smoothness of the movement, especially in the Wauke blocks. Also, we were taught to not straighten the arm during Wauke block – to keep it always in Sanchin.
Sensei Mattson demonstrated how the breathing should be such that you can breathe at any moment in the Kata. Sensei Mattson also demonstrated different ways to block – not to hit the opponent with your block (even though it could be used as one of the techniques if so desired), but rather defend your line of the body.
And another very important point that he made – we should accelerate all the moves, giving us additional power, without really adding any additional effort to the move. Sensei Mattson also showed us another way to do the hammer-fist strike – we shouldn’t open the arm, but rather do it from Sanchin.
My final lesson learned was to keep the semi-circle (not straight arms) during the two-arm strikes in the Kata.
Overall, I felt that this was an extremely useful seminar, and I would like to thank Sensei Mattson for his time and dedication, and I would like to thank Sensei Kahn for all that he has done for me in preparation for my Nidan test.