EDITORIAL By John Cheetham.
They say, "You live and learn," and I totally believe in that philosophy. I had a very 'learning' experience last November. I spent a week in Alicante (Spain) for two reasons, one to visit my friend Dr. Bill Laich who runs the Institute for Advanced Human Performance and secondly to train on a course with Yoshiharu Osaka and Osamu Aoki, head of JKA Spain. It was some week!! I spent a lot of time with Doctor Laich and trained with him in both karate and at the gym, where I was shown many revolutionary ideas on 'how' to train to improve both speed, power, and flexibility, and also how to prevent injury by using correct weight-training and correct stretching for karate. This man trains 'elite' athletes from all over the world, he's an 'expert' in terms of athletic performance. Now, what I learned more than anything was this: we (the average karateka) will 'never' do karate like the masters, NEVER! It's a physiological impossibility. These people are 'one-offs'. O.K., we maybe all know that, but what most of us don't know is that we (the individual) could be considerably better than we are, even by 25/30% faster, stronger, more powerful, more flexible, have better timing and reaction etc., etc., if we knew how to train correctly for 'OUR OWN BODY', that's the point! Because that is where we are failing according to Dr. Laich. We all try and 'copy' the movements (and training intensity) of the masters; this can be to our disadvantage! Of course, we must copy and learn from a good role model, but make sure it's within our own physical capabilities. Many people are now suffering (injuries etc) for the simple reason that they 'copied' something that their own body couldn't cope with. Even Osaka sensei now carries many serious injuries and Dr. Laich believes it's through years of over-training and over-stretching, causing long term damage to the joints, and not using modern weight-training methods to strengthen the ligaments, tendons and muscles which surround the joints. Now, the point is, if you have a teacher who understands the basic biomechanics and principles of the body movements involved in karate, then this is just as good as having a brilliant teacher who only offers (with the best intention) that you try and copy their unique form and technique! Obviously when we begin karate, we 'must' copy the movements of our teachers, but we only have a certain range of motion in our joints and only so much strength in the muscles at this stage. So trying too hard for instant results, can be counter productive in the long term. Of course, range of motion and strength can be improved with training over a period of time, 'and then' we should be concerned with how to make ourselves the best we can possibly be, for our own unique body, mind 'and' spirit!
As we progress it's the principles and dynamics of the karate movements (biomechanics) which we should be focussing on, 'the inside' and not just 'copying' the 'outside' form. I feel there's a new way ahead for Shotokan; still retaining the traditions and techniques but taking it further in terms of correct technical training and conditioning, and through this, realising and attaining our own personal maximum potential.
Good health and good training. Editor.