Tuesday, October 26, 2010


A technical piece on stances in karate that i wrote a couple of years ago:



Stances are a very important subject to study carefully so as to fully understand your martial arts training. They are the foundation to our techniques, they facilitate movement, changes the distance to the opponent and also strengthens the leg-muscles to minimize the risk of injury.


How-to technical points.

Always have your spine straight and the hips level. Your karate-movement should not deviate from how the body naturally is designed to move. Remember never to let your behind stick out or lean backwards (thus compromising your posture). Do not let your knees be twisted in a different direction than your toes (if this is not observed rigidly, then the risk of injury is very high)

For beginners this way of moving is perceived as rigid and unnatural, but this is usually due to lack of muscle-control and also over-complicating the process.


Overview of basic stances.

Zenkutsu dachi

Great for projecting power forwards. Shoulder-width to allow for the smooth use of hiprotation and about two shoulderwidths long. Front toes turned slightly inward to promote firmness in the structure of the stance (makes it more natural to engage the inner thigh-muscles) The toes of the back foot should ideally point in the same direction as the front foot. If this is difficult to achieve due to lack of mobility in the ankle then make a shorter stance. (The free operation of the hip is more important than the extremely long and low stance sometimes seen in non-japanese karateka) To make sure that stance-stability is maintained, dont let either knee travel sideways at any point while using this stance. (This is also very important to minimise the risk of debilitating injury)

Kokutsu dachi.

Slightly shorter than zenkutsu. Front toes pointing straight forward, back toes at a 90 degree angle and the feet in a straight line towards your opponent. Bending the knees exactly the same way as your toes again is of utmost concern. Front knee bent slightly, back knee bent as much as possible while maintaining a straight posture and level hips. This stance is very useful to train body-shifting away from the opponent and also leads to ease of counter-kicking with the front foot.


Double shoulder-width, toes slightly inwards, drop weight as far as possible, as long as you are able to maintain your hips under your shoulders. Make sure knees are in the same direction as the toes. Beginners usually have their knees too far inside and needs to concentrate on pushing them out a little bit. However, not to the point of the stance becoming like "square-ish" as this again is an un-natural way of moving.


General afterthoughts.

In my opinion basic stances are for training the body and to develop good habits that will make your karate efficient against an opponent and injuryfree for you so that you can train karate even into your senior years.

Rigid observation of stance in kihon and kata is of great importance for training, but this should be understood that is for health and for the muscles to remember the principles of correct movement.

For application in kumite or selfdefence a more freeflowing stance is desirable (heels may float and the rigid observation of form is of little value)


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hydration for optimum results

I will talk more bout nutrition in an upcoming blog but for today the topic is hydration. Its one of the simplest ways to improve your ability to train hard and to recover again after hard training.

Quick thoughts: I used to walk around dehydrated for so many years that i started to think that it was the normal state of affairs. Then when i added more water and experienced how my body started working better. So; how much to drink? Well, it all depends on how much do you sweat, how much water-rich food do you eat and so on. The picture below gives you a quick overview of which color your urine should have when its all good. (Take into account that the color will look brighter and more healthy when diluted in the toilet, though)

What to drink, you might wonder? I think water makes most sense for most situations and i try to drink as much as possible these days. I usually end up at around 3-4 liters, but i am still borderline dehydrated. It seems i drink nowhere near enough during training. Regarding training; if you train for one hour, then water is great. If you train longer, or sweat a lot, then you might wanna consider a sports-drink with a bit of carbohydrates in it. These usually also contains salt which we lose a fair bit of through sweating, so its basically a win-win situation. They can be expensive though, so you might wanna make your own: 100ml honey, half a teaspoon salt, 50ml lemon-juice and fill up with water until the strength is to your liking.

Stay away from diet drinks cause they mess with you insulin-levels and please drink something smarter than the likes of Coca Cola. Not too much coffee and alcohol is definitely a very powerful diuretic, so be extra cautious with these.

What about fruit-juices? Well, they are usually highly concentrated so you might very well be better off eating the real fruit and then adding some more of that pure water. (And if the label says "Made from concentrate" then the nutrients I used to think we got are long gone....)

To finish off i will just share that adding half a liter of water before training and drinking at least a liter afterwards has done wonders for my energy-level in class and also sped up my recovery-time.

Thanks to Dr. Chris Mohr of www.mohrresults.com for the measuring-slide.

Monday, July 19, 2010


The one ingredient that is vital for progress and happiness..... How to build it? I can only answer for myself; but for me it boils down to two things. Enjoying the grind of the regular trainings in the dojo and showing up for as many training-camps as possible.

Why does those two things work for me? Well, regarding regular classes: Its vital to enjoy the process otherwise you will quit before the real benefit of karate-do comes to you. How to enjoy it if you don't like the content of the class. Tricky, but doable. I used to just go into "auto-pilot"-mode and then just concentrate bout some minor detail in the technique that were taught. I found that what the teacher did was one thing and how i processed it and looked at it was even more important for my progress. Realize that *you* are the most important teacher you will ever have, so be careful how you teach yourself.

Then the other thing that makes me still be excited bout karate: Training-camps. These things have a host of stuff going for them; You get to see that your level is quite decent, cause you get exposed to lots of people that don't train all that much. You also get to meet "superstars" which is kinda nice cause you then see that you need to practice more, harder or smarter. You also get to train with teachers who have a slightly different take on karate which is really refreshing.

This summer i went to Amsterdam for 4 days of intensive training with Richard Amos sensei and as always the trainings were very enjoyable. Met students of Tom Kompier sensei from Holland, Switzerland and Japan. Good times. After that; one day break and off to Fredrikstad for another 4 days of lots of training. Richard Amos sensei, Steve Ubl sensei, Aidan Trimble sensei, Tom Kompier sensei, Scott Langley sensei teaching a total of 16 hours of karate in 4 days. Good times again. So many hours of training is of course a challenge for anyone to push through, but very gratifying to have done. This brings the participants closer together and gives you friends from all over the world.

All in all; 8 days of training for me and enough ideas to work on to improve my karate for a very long time. The new and old friends are too numerous to mention so i will just say a collective thanks to everyone that made these two events special. Feel free to friend me up on facebook if you have not already.

And lastly i would like to single out one person that really impressed me. Was he the highest graded guy? No. Had he trained for the longest? No. Did he have a handicap that made learning karate almost an impossibility? No. "Then what?" i hear you asking.... Remember this name: Jostein Espe. If he keeps moving forward like he has, then he will be very good, indeed. After 1 year and 7 months he passed his shodan in a very convincing fashion. This is what happens when an athletic guy goes full out. My theory is that total immersion is the key to his success. Thanks, Jostein, i will train harder now to make sure you don't catch up all the way too fast....


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kata - the root of shotokan

How many kata should we practice? Some say one, some say 15 some say 26, shito-ryu do about 60, Asai sensei felt the need to create even more than that, so which is it? In my opinion the answer lies within you. (Heck, some people do no kata whatsoever and still seem happy)

For me personally, i think kata is a great way of practicing movement and get control over our body. Then if a kata like Sochin or Jutte comes naturally to you, then by all means have fun with it and make it your favorite. That said; also practice the ones that seem to elude you cause *that* is probably the week point of you karate.

How many? Hmm... seeing as i like kata and i find them to have lots of interesting points that will help your mechanics, understanding of principles and general fitness, i would say quite a few. Here is a broad outline to keep karate-training varied and fun:

For all levels: the katas preceding your current grade must be kept sharp (otherwise, what was the point of learning them, they are training tools after all)

At 1st kyu one should have a strong command of the 5 Heian + Tekki Shodan. Furthermore one should be able to get through the sequence of "the big four" and pick a fav from them to perform for the shodan-test. (Big four: Bassai Dai, Kanku Dai, Jion and Empi)

Shodan: Add Bassai Sho, Kanku Sho, Jutte, Nijushiho and Tekki Nidan.
Nidan: Make it a longterm-goal to know the sequence of the rest of the classical Shotokan kata. Gojushiho Dai, Gojushiho Sho, Unsu, Sochin, Hangetsu, Jiin, Tekki Sandan, Chinte, Wankan, Meikyo.

And if you really love kata, nothing stops your from learning kata from other karate styles or even make up your own katas. Other kata that i practice for keeping my karate fun: Sanchin, Suishu, Seiryu, Junro Shodan, Junro Nidan, Seipai, Seienchin. And if anyone have a strong command of Anan or Kururunfa; then you are totally welcome to teach a class at my dojo.... :-)

Monday, May 10, 2010

The way of the empty hand

Some random thoughts about how to excel at traditional karate-do....

Train diligently. Make training a habit and make sure you have fun in the process.

Edify your teachers and your senior students. Its in everyone`s interest to make sure that the new people think that the teacher has a clue and the teacher should return the favor to the more senior students, so as to instill the attitude that they are to be listened to.

Show up to the dojo ready to do your best. If not in good spirits or with no desire to practice then maybe better to not come. (Although, i have numerous times come to the dojo feeling weak or sad and the proper application of karate has then energized me and made my day brighter)

Dont look for reasons to give up in class, look for the strength of spirit to keep going no matter what.

Always be ready to test yourself and show your stuff with no fear of embarrassment. Your karate is what it is and your accomplishment so far is to be proud of, not to be hidden cause of fear.

Show up for as many training-camps as you can. The immersion of many hours in short period of time is hard work, but will definatly move your karate fast in the right direction.

Karate is supposed to build your confidence and personal power. Take any opportunity to challenge yourself. (Teach, help juniors, judge, ask your sempai if they can help you with your kata or if they wanna do some kumite after class and so on)

Fitness + timing and/or the polishing of the external form of kata is not enough for the lifelong enjoyment of the art of karate-do. Regular dojo-classes with sufficient number of hours on a consistent basis is the only way to understand the way of the empty hand.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Billig på Island?

Til dere der hjemme som lurer på å ta dere en ferietur til saga-øya; her er en liten smakebit på priser og slikt:

Dagligvarer shoppa i dag:

8 liter brus
8 myke tortillaer
Hot tacopulver-mix
Grovt brød
1/2 kg fersk kjøttdeig
3 poser potetsticks
1 liter melk
1 glass hot tacosaus
1 boks bønner i tomatsaus
3 pakker med couscous
1 pose stekt løk
1/2 kg smør
1/2 kg sjokoladerosiner
1 pose

Pris: 172,- NOK

Eller til fest:

60 bokser med øl
24 rusbrus
1 flaske tyrkisk pepper

Pris: 1181,- NOK

Bil? Jeg kjøpte en et år gammel Mazda MX5 (med alt) som hadde gått 6000km for ca 115.000,- NOK


Thursday, February 18, 2010


While on youtube there seem to be no shortage of seeing karate of questionable quality. This is *NOT* one of those clips.....

Andre Bertels senseis karate impress me. As of now he very high on my list of teachers i wanna train with. (And if you read this, Andre, then we really, really wanna see your Seiryu again....)

Inspirational stuff.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Free e-book on kata

Rob Redmond has decided to give away the book i bought a couple of years ago and it comes highly recommended to anyone that likes to *study* karate. I may or may not agree with everything written in it, but that is totally beside the point. He is thought-provoking and reading his stuff can only benefit the karateka that strives to improve.

Link to pdf

A hardback-version of this book is also available from his web along with another book detailing his years of training in Japan.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


A subject dear to me: Edification. I consciously edify my top students for two reasons. One: to give them a sense of accomplishment and two: to establish them as an authority on whatever subject i might be teaching. My hope is that this will in turn make them be aware that junior students are looking at them to figure out how to do whatever we are working on.

Furthermore, i will try my hardest to edify my teachers so that my students will really strive to understand what they are being taught.

Third party endorsements like this really work and hopefully we can all grow even stronger as a group in the future.