Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Heart of Karate-Do

This book by the late shotokai master Egami Shigeru is hereby officially a book that any serious karateka must read. It does contain some dated ideas regarding technique, but his thoughts on how to feel and how to approach karatedo are very deep and interesting. I am sure your karate will benefit from studying this book.

Link to the book on Amazon

(Wow; pricey.... i would look for used copy)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

When to test for your next grade?

I often get asked: "Can i test for the next grade soon?" And i always think that i am not the right person to ask. Yes, i teach the stuff and yes i administer the tests, but i will try to explain some of my feelings on this subject.

In my opinion, one should develop the personal insight to know when to test or when to wait a bit. Everyone is of course different in the sense that some people will be ready to test in a matter of a couple of months and for some its a way longer process. However; if you are not confident in the execution of whats on the syllabus, then *get* confident or wait until the next opportunity to test. One can also look at the level of the people that have the same rank as you do and if they all seem like they are miles ahead, then wait. If they seem like they are not approaching your level at all, then test immediatly.

Then my next point: Try to stop caring so much bout the result and more about the process leading up to the test and where to go after it. (Regardless of passing or failing) I think the ranks of karate is a neat trick to make sure there is some structure to what we learn and to force people to focus so as to facilitate improvement. That said (and some will resent that i say the next part) i do not think what color belt you are wearing should matter much, seeing as your grade is not a by-product of a uniform standard. There is no such thing. Yes, we like to imagine that a brown-belt should be *this* good and a black belt has to be atleast better than *this*, but its not working like that. There are great brown-belts out there and there are also some very funky high-graded black-belts. So what; Karate should be about *you* and *your* improvement.

My best advice; Struggle to improve, make sure you *know* whats expected of you for the next rank and test when you feel confident that you will look at least decent while testing. Then, after that, deal with the result in a constructive manner. Too many people give up on themselves if they have *one* bad test. Hello?? Karate is supposed to build confidence, mental resilience and a spirit of never giving up... Quitting cause of a bit of resistance is not gonna make you feel stronger.

I fully expect to fail a test someday, and i can assure you that when i do, i will learn from that and test again as soon as i have fixed whatever part that i failed.

To wrap this up; I am for the most part ok with anyone testing, as long as they have fulfilled the minimum time-requirement since last test and are willing to take any result in a constructive way.


Shameless plug: Its about 5-6 weeks until the next test and if you are worried bout being ready by then, then maybe you wanna invest in some private tuition. I charge 4000 for an hour session and 5500 if you bring a friend. I am available from 0900 to 1500 monday to thursday, all day on fridays and in the afternoon on saturdays and sundays.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Monday, October 05, 2009

Training at the JKS Honbu

I found this youtube-video to be quite interesting. As one can see, there is very little ego present (nobody *has* to win and no-one gets very upset if someone score if they themselves miss) In addition to that one can see that the intensity and "fun-ness" is at a high level. Myself; i love to participate in classes like this. There is also some kata at the end and disregard the russian comments :)

Link to video

Sunday, September 27, 2009

And then it was over for this time...

Amos sensei is on his way back to New York and we have our heads filled with "move from center; start swiftly and then maybe back off; the wall isnt very intelligent; your tecniques must be smooth; be considerate of what your partner is trying to accomplish; you must maintain your composure at all times" - and so on. I am very excited bout the clarity of senseis teaching and i cant wait to train with him again.

Big kudos to those of the higher grades that participated in *all* the classes available:

Bjørg, Villi, Disa, Gudrun, Vidir, Gretar, Arnar, Leifur, Kari, Einar and the very big Einar, Gusta, Eyrun, Heida, Hafdís, Valgerdur, Oddny. And ofc kudos to Helga for watching everything, making sure we got it right. ;) (Let me know if i missed someone) And lowergrades; as soon as you can do all the classes; I really recommend that you do.

And to everyone that showed up; Thanks for coming, please remember the principles of what was taught and apply it to all of your karate.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Amos sensei training camp 25-27sept 2009

Its that time of year again, guys. If you wanna learn shotokan karate from one of the best teachers alive, then do not miss this awesome event at Lindaskoli.

Richard Amos method of transmitting complex concepts in a understandable way with new exercises is amazing and that is the main reason why i have traveled out of the country more than 10 times to train with him (He has also visited Iceland twice before) He is now coming to a place very close to you and i cant emphasize this strongly enough: Do not miss it.

And to the brown and blackbelts: You have the opportunity to join in for all the classes (yours and the lowergrade class) and if you do, you will get your name mentioned on my fabulous (!!) blog.... ;)

Seriously; immersion is vital for fast progress and weekends like this where we can do over 10 hours of training with a worldclass teacher that actually really wanna teach are quite rare, so i am definetly there for all possible sessions. (I also do the kids-class in addition to the regular classes when i visit him in NY)

I guess you can tell by the nature of this post that i am quite excited bout the weekend already..... :D

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Workout music?

I am looking for some help as to what kinda songs that would be good to have on my Ipod for working out to. Upbeat, happy stuff seems to make most sense and to kick it all off i will post some of my favs to get the list started. Hope you guys will pitch in with your best tunes.

Eye of the Tiger - Survivor
Beds are Burning - Midnight Oil
Tubthumpin - Chumbawumba
Born in the USA - Bruce Springsteen
Pretty Vegas - INXS
Dr. Feelgood - Motley Crue
Whatever You Want - Status Quo
Waterloo - Abba
Dude Looks Like A Lady - Aerosmith
Back in Black - ACDC
Smooth Criminal - Alien Ant Farm
I Understand Completely - Paul Gilbert
Hard To Handle - Black Crowes
Truth - Clawfinger
Bad Horsie - Steve Vai
Summersong - Joe Satriani
Pretty Fly For A White Guy - Offspring
Mr. Brownstone - Guns and Roses
Let Me Entertain You - Robbie Williams
Alive - Pearl Jam
Them Bones - Alice in Chains
A New Level - Pantera
You Gotta Fight For Your Right - Beastie Boys
YMCA – Village People
Cotton Eye Joe - Rednex
Get This Party Started - Pink
Funkytown - Lipps Inc.

And now; YOU GUYS!!!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

You can do it!! :-D

Just a quick post about putting your biggest muscle into whatever you are trying to accomplish......


Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I know many people wanna order japanese uniforms and belts, and i will just here publicly take the opportunity to apologise for procrastinating in helping you guys out with this. (Its not *all* my fault since its also been hard to get all the measurements, but thats beside the point)

I will print out an orderform and measuring info and then we can either make a group-order from Japan (and save on shipping) or i can put you guys in contact with the European dealer in Holland with whom we will get the best price available.

Again, i am sorry, and will try my best to get my head around this issue now.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mizu no Kokoro

Seeing as i have a clear personal opinion as to how one should feel and respond during kata and kumite; i thought i should try to elaborate on the japanese saying "mizu no kokoro"...... However, as my feeble attempts failed to impress me, i decided to link to an article online, instead. Some of this guys meditation-ideas might strike us "westerners" as being bit too much, but at least i think its a good attempt to explain what i mean.


And here is the article

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Icelandic tradition...

According to ancient icelandic tradition; for ceremonial purposes, all belts must be worn.... (hihi)

Monday, June 29, 2009

The realisation of a big dream

When i was 13 years old i was hugely impressed with our new VCR.... My mom let me rent a couple of videos pr week and i quickly got into the mysterious and captivating world of martial arts. Dubbed movies from Hong Kong, horribly ninja-sagas, vengeful samurais, Bruce Lee and similar characters all impressed me and i could not wait to start training. At the same time my mom was working far from home and my babysitter was a highly accomplished martial artist so i took her advice bout what to practice very seriously.... (she was a shotokan 6th kyu.... hihi)

However, as we were gonna move clear across southern norway i postponed starting until i was 14. At my new home there was a very solid Kyokushin dojo about 3 km away, but as i said; my expert friend had recommended shotokan so i had to ride my bicycle 17 km each way to train at closest the shotokan dojo.... (it was run by an awesome 3rd kyu, btw.... hihi)

This was a huge turning point in my life; i suddenly had passion and desire to accomplish something and even though i had failed at any other sport i tried, karate was patient with me. The fact that everyone just did their best and that no-one was ever ridiculed or looked down upon was enough to get me completely hooked.

The next part of my way is not a part i am proud of, nor do i recommend it; I did, however, drop out of school and devoted as much brainpower and physical effort into improving as i could muster. This singular focus made going through the beginning ranks of shotokan a rather swift affair. Speaking of ranks; the highest ranked karateka in norway at that time was an old gentleman called Egon Solem. He was a 5th dan and i was pretty sure he could fly.... Passing shodan just before my 18th birthday and getting my sandan only 5 years after that was two very proud moments in my life.

The 27th of june 2009 i passed my 5th dan test and it really makes my head spin.... 2 weeks after i turned 40, i had the extreme pleasure of fighting Tom Kompier sensei (among others), show my Gojushiho Sho, Heian Shodan and Meikyo. The fact that the audience included some of my peers from when i started training, some of my current committed students and friends from all over the world made it a very emotional moment for me.

I will strive even harder to improve my karate in the years to come.

To my main teachers, from the bottom of my heart, thanks for all your help and support:

(in alphabetical order)
Richard Amos
Enoeda Keinosuke
Kawasoe Masao
Geir Larsen

My biggest hope is that i can inspire someone in the way that you guys inspired me.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Kaizen is japanese and means continius improvement. Its my chosen name for my group of like-minded people. (Kai means group)

How do i think the concept of being a student of karate (or any skill for that matter) should change over time..... hmm.... I think most people *do not* study for their first time in our dojos, and the sooner they decide to immerse themselves, the better. Then; how long until i see my students as my "colleague"? For me the answer to that is whatever time it takes for the new student to develop a strong sense *ownership* of their karate. An solid opinion about how to execute our techniques and *why* it should be in the way they believe. Furthermore i think they should as soon as possible arrive at the level of understanding required for them to be their own most important instructor. A litmus-test would be something like: Can their karate improve without the input of anyone else? If the answer is yes; then i see the student as my peer.

And "how long time will that take" i hear someone think.... Depends; i would say that if you *study* a subject like shotokan karate-do; then 10 years or sandan should do the trick; whichever that comes first. However; even after 5 years and only the rank of shodan, i am ready to see people as my peers, if they really grow into having a strong belief in themselves and their skills.

Should they then stop studying? Ofc not, this is when it gets interesting.... You have taken the time and effort to get your body physically ready for martial art; you have developed a thorough understanding of the mechanics and mentality behind it all and therefore *now* is the time to develop this skill and also to give back to the karate-community in the way of helping others attain your level. This will get you better partners for your kumite and bunkai and we can then all pitch in to make sure our art does not degenerate into an olympic joke. (Harsh maybe, but its my firm belief that Nakayama sensei regretted some of the sports-efforts he helped to make popular)

In my opinion there is four levels of karate, and we can choose which group we will belong to.

1. Beginner
2. Student
3. Student / Teacher
4. Student / Master

Please note; i do not mean you have to run your own dojo or have a special rank to progress into level 3, nor do i think everyone with a very high rank fits into level four. Also note that i advocate the concept of continuing your study, no matter what your level. (Sometimes people have been "training" for 40 years, but in reality they have 1 year of experience 40 times. Its not the same as 40 years of experience, imnsho)

I hope you will think bout this and decide to upgrade to the next level shortly. You decide. Own it.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Susan Boyle

What?? Have you not heard of her?? :o

Well, neither had I, until i saw this clip from Britains Got Talent 09

(I may have cried, but that is a secret....)


Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday, March 09, 2009

Shotokan Kata performance

My opinion regarding the performance of kata is a subject i have blogged about before, so bear with me as i revisit this subject. I think real karate-do should be maintained as an art that has real potential to knock someone out (or worse) and i also think that kata is our "library" of technical ideas. Furthermore i think of them as a great way of drilling correct body mechanics, provided we do not change them to suit the whims of judges that sometimes are less than familiar with the subtleties of our style.

Does that mean i think we shall not change the katas, ever? Well, yes and no. I think its acceptable to change the kata if the new way will make for better mechanics and ease of understanding. If one needs to think bout whether this is wise, then i suggest comparing kata from 1955 and kata from 1985. One should be able to see that enhanced ways of training have produced a more polished look and smoother ways of moving throughout. Then for the changes i dont like; Theatrical entrance and exits, bowing that is too formal even if you meet the emperor, 5 seconds pauses in the middle of the kata, kiai-ing that sounds like people are being killed, excessive breathing and my biggest pet-peeve; changing the technique so that they *appear* faster and stronger yet in the process they lose any relevance to martial application.

Below here i have included some kata that represents the kind of karate-do that makes me wanna go and practice. In my opinion; None of these are "perfect" (nothing is) but to me this is art.

Mr Osaka; Bassai Dai

Mr Ohta; Nijushiho

Ms Mimura; WKF-Shitei kata Kanku Dai (Note the "illegal" dogi)


Friday, March 06, 2009

Jon Stewart exposing the "news"

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Which kata; what level....

In my opinion; Everyone should know all the kata below their level and at least one kata from the level above (preferably all on the next level, so that one can make an educated choice as to which kata to perform for the next test)

Then figure out which kata one like and which one does not like. The ones you like, you can probably do well (which usually is the reason we like stuff) and the ones you dont like are probably emphasizing a point that is weak in your karate. In my opinion, we should work on improving both of those. The ones like are the ones I recommend for tests and competing. When choosing kata for competition I suggest not going too low or too high in terms of difficulty-level. Most important is to gain a sense of happiness with what we do, so even though some parts of our kata is difficult, there is no reason to beat ourselves up and get frustrated with progress that may seem slow. Enjoy the process and make sure that you actively strive to get more confident and own your own karate. The sooner you can say; “It is what it is and i enjoy it” - the better.

Below is a list of the standard shotokan kata; Go through it and find both your favorite and the weak links. Try to figure out which you wanna do for your next test and lets have fun with it.

9-3 kyu
Kihon Kata
Heian Shodan
Heian Nidan
Heian Sandan
Heian Yondan
Heian Godan
Tekki Shodan

2kyu - Shodan
Bassai Dai
Kanku Dai

Bassai Sho
Kanku Sho
Tekki Nidan

Gojushiho Sho
Gojushiho Dai
Tekki Sandan


The rank-levels I have set on these katas are meant as a rough guide and at danlevel you can often discuss this with the examiner and do your choice, even if I have listed it at a different grade.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Wow... Time flies...

Yesterday it was five years since i came to Iceland. I will write the details bout my thoughts on this, shortly. For now i will just say thanks for putting up with me and hopefully we can make it last for many more years to come.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mobil blog-test

Someone made a very explicit snow-art installation in the spirit of Calvin. I smiled...... (Its about 260 cm tall....!!)