I was lucky enough on Saturday to take part in a Karate course that actually formed the final part of our most senior student, Sempei Goran Powell’s, 5th Dan grading… so he’s already pretty good…!
The course was entitled ‘Yin’… i.e. the complementary part of ‘Yang’ in the Yin Yang duality that most have heard of.
For those who are not familiar with it, or perhaps with what it means; the idea of Yin Yang is to describe the interrelationship of dualities that can be found in nature; where one only exists because of the existence of the other (this is not the same as opposites).
Examples are:
Light and Dark, Hot and Cold, Male and Female, Up and Down, Hard and Soft, Pull and Push…etc.

From this weekend’s course I gained a new perspective on the practical applications of Yin Yang, or dualities.
The emphasis of the course was to draw attention to the other side of training, i.e. within our Karate system we work hard on the tough physical side of things, but what many individuals are missing is the softer, gentler side that includes the aspects between training sessions.
In order to train hard often (the Yang), one must also pay attention to the soft, less obvious side of training (the Yin) such as rest and recovery, diet, technique (incidentally, I just read on Twitter today “Good technique fatigues you before you could cause an injury or a breakdown.” @ChrisRowat… but I guess that also means that you need to learn when it’s time to stop!).
In terms of Karate training in Kata, one should look to training the parts of the movements in-between the strikes, block, kicks, holds, etc. The transitions between one technique and another are just as important as the end result of the technique itself!

Similarly, the aspects of movement where the opposing parts of say, a punch, where the non-striking arm is pulling back, adds to the rotational power driven down the striking arm and into the punch. We all know this, but how many of us practice these opposing aspects of the same movement…?

To extend this idea further, all aspects of life have an end point. If a person is focussed towards a particular goal, then they must undergo the journey to that goal.
However, if only the goal is in focus, then the method of reaching it may not be all that it could be, and in reaching the goal, it may be found to be less fulfilling than it might otherwise have been.

Life’s a journey, not a destination.” – Aerosmith

If you’re interested, the course was given by Goran Powell, now 5th Dan of Goju Ryu within Daigaku Karate Kai that practices in the UK in London, Bristol, Torquay and Braunton – Devon.
He is also the author of the books Waking Dragons, A Sudden Dawn, and Chojun that can each be found on http://www.liondogbooks.com

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