November 12

What You Need to Know About Bullying

More than a quarter of students ages 12-18 were bullied at school during the 2008-09 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ website, infographic

Select the image to download the PDF

However, perhaps a more alarming trend is that 9 out of 10 students in the third, fourth and fifth grades said they felt sorry for students who are bullied, even though they may not take action.

“Many times,” the infographic says, “when kids see bullying, they may not know what to do to stop it.”

As students age, they are less likely to report bullying. About 80 percent of third-graders report bullying, but that drops to just over half of all 12th-grade students.

The organization urges youth who witness bullying to tell an adult, and for adults to take immediate action to stop it. uses mostly data from the past 5 years to explain the bullying climate in middle and high schools. Here are several other trends that they found in their analysis.

  • Nearly 1 in 5 students were called names or insulted, and about 1 in 10 were pushed, shoved or spit on.
  • Males are more likely to experience physical bullying, while females are more likely to experience bullying through rumor-spreading or exclusion.
  • Students are more likely to be bullied as 6th graders, but less likely as they reach 12th grade.

The data also suggests that kids keep silent for a number of reasons. Females stay mum because of negative messages about tattling and snitching, while males are concerned about retaliation. Both males and females must work through gender stereotypes, as well as – and perhaps most importantly – a lack of confidence in adults’ actions.

Leave a comment to describe the types of bullying you’ve seen in Metamora. Let us know if you’ve stopped someone from being bullied or heard someone else’s stories about being bullied. Please do not use the names of bullies or bullying victims. If bullying persists, please seek out a responsible adult.

If you’re interested in learning more about joining our kids karate class, contact us!

November 2

How To Tie Your Belt

Even if you’re new to Metamora Martial Arts, chances are you know that karate practitioners wear belts. Many other arts – judo, tae kwon do and more – do, too, although some wear sashes and others don’t wear any kind of material to show their rank at all.

Metamora Martial Arts students need to learn how to tie their belts before they reach yellow belt.

Students are promoted by stripes. At each belt level, you start with 0 stripes. When you learn the techniques and correctly perform them at a testing, you’ll earn an additional stripe. After three stripes, you earn a new belt.

A future post will discuss belts more in depth, but for now, let’s just walk through each step as explained in the video.

  1. Fold your belt in half. Hold it with the folded portion in your left hand.
  2. Swing your belt around your back along your waist while maintaining a hold of the folded portion in your left hand and the two loose ends in your right hand.
  3. One of the loose ends will be closer to your body than the other. Pin that to the area just below your belly button with the folded portion. These parts should not move.
  4. Take the other loose end of your belt around your body twice.
  5. Push that loose end underneath the portions of your belt touching your body so that it slides along your stomach. Pull your belt tight here so that it looks nice when you finish.
  6. With the ends of your belt in each hand, cross your left hand underneath your right hand.
  7. Bring the portion that was in your left hand through the hole.
  8. Grab each end and pull to tighten your belt for class. This way, it won’t fall down in the middle of working out.


As always, remember to never wash your belt and to never let it touch the ground. Both are signs of disrespect.

Note: I acknowledge martial artists tie their belt in different ways, and that my way is just one acceptable way to tie it.

June 2

Ippon Kumite Kata – One-Step Sparring

Power is a word typically associated with ippons. Each move should be done so strongly that it can break a board.

This past week, I introduced the basic class this shorter series of self-defense techniques.

The full name for an ippon is ippon kumite kata, which can be understood as point sparring form or one-step sparring drill.

Something you’ll notice about the name right away is that it contains the word kata. Kata, as you’ll know, means form. Unlike full-length katas, ippons are much shorter in length (5-8 movements, or so).

Ippons begin and end with a block in order to respond to “any possible renewal of aggression,” according to Master Trias. In other words, karateka are always aware and prepared for the next potential attack.

“While these techniques were designed primarily to develop POWER,” Master Trias writes, “each movement should be distinct, purposeful and in good form.”

Let’s break that down.

Distinct – Each technique should be clear and should not necessarily blend in with another or be executed at half-speed or power.

Purposeful – Focus your intent with your techniques and imagine what targets you are hitting.

In Good Form – Keep the power while still maintaining proper stancing and targeting. Don’t sacrifice form for power. Good form will give you power.

One of the keys that students always seem to forget is breathing. Let your breath come through your mouth. Don’t try to contain it – let it out. You can liken it to a silent kiai. Breathe out, think about destroying that board, but don’t necessarily kiai every time (though that is a drill we work from time to time).

Any questions on ippons? Post a comment here, or ask me during class!

April 28

Master Phillip Koeppel: Pay Attention to Details

During 2013, I’ve made a personal goal to attend as many seminars as my schedule (and budget) allows me to.

One I wanted to make sure was on my radar was a seminar taught by Mr. Phillip Koeppel and hosted by the Springfield Karatedo Budokai.

Mr. Koeppel teaches kyu ranks at his 10th annual seminar in Springfield

Mr. Koeppel teaches kyu ranks at his 10th annual seminar in Springfield

Peoria-area martial artists should be familiar with Mr. Koeppel. He opened his first school in Peoria in 1960 and, from what I can gather, has been in or around town ever since. He’s also the founder of the United States Karate-do Kai, an international organization consisting of karate schools of different styles whose headquarters is in Peoria.

Metamora Martial Arts students should associate Mr. Koeppel as a senior student of Master Robert Trias, with whom he trained for 22 years.

“I was the first shichidan (7th-degree black belt) he ever promoted,” Mr. Koeppel said in an interview with H.P. Henry. “He promoted others later on to this grade, but as far as I know, and as far as I am concerned, he never graded anyone above the rank of shichidan.”

(The interview is great, by the way. I suggest reading it. Mr. Koeppel talks about training with Master Trias in great detail, as well as his entire martial arts career, and led him to leave Shuri-ryu and begin taking up Matsumura Seito Shorin-ryu, with which he developed his own style, Matsumura Seito Shorin-ryu Koeppel-ha.)

Upon his arrival in Peoria in the mid-1970s, Mr. Hawkey trained at a dojo owned and operated by Mr. Koeppel and received instruction under one of Mr. Koeppel’s instructors, Mr. Randy Holman.

The seminar itself was intriguing.

Mr. Koeppel, 75, started by running the attendees (mostly black belts) through Ryu Sho Ken. I quickly realized I was one of the few who did not know this form. With the help of Mr. Loyd Shults and his son, I was able to keep up. Mr. Shults looked at me at one point and said, “I can tell you don’t know this form.”

I really liked what was described as the “Four Winds Kata.” I found my phone and recorded a group of attendees practicing the form so that I could review it later.

As he was throughout the four-hour session, Mr. Koeppel was a stickler for details. He described how the feet should move in two motions instead of one, and how the hands and feet should be at 35-degree angles. He illustrated exactly how the hands should swing down for the opening motion.

Clearly this day was about perfecting. Not introducing.

After Ryu Sho Ken, we went over gokui waza. In talking with Mr. Shults, Mr. Koeppel created the gokui waza to be short snippets of kata. In other words, Mr. Koeppel would extract essential points in kata for shorter, more direct waza. These are similar to our ippons, taezus and kihons.

Again, more detail. Raise the arm up vertically instead of rotating it out. Step out of the line of attack. And so on.

My favorite part of the session was a Chinese form that I understood to sound like Ba Bu Lin (I’ve seen other spellings online, including Ba Bu Lian or Lien. Somebody help me understand which would be proper).

Mr. Koeppel said he learned this form from Patrick McCarthy, translator of the famed text, Bubishi, in 1997. “I’ve dedicated my life to learning it,” he said to me afterward.

The form appears briefly in the Bubishi under the name Happoren. It is also apparently a predecessor to Tensho, a tension form for advanced ranks in Shuri-ryu.

As a practitioner of Chinese martial arts, I instantly loved the form and am working on memorizing the movements.

Again, Mr. Koeppel emphasized details. The traditional Chinese opening of the form. Breathing when releasing the tension in the hands. Releasing energy on a movement known as “fire hands.”

Overall, this was a great seminar to attend. Mr. Lucky Phillips hosted it at his home dojo, a beautiful space in a Morton-style building. And, if the seminar wasn’t enough, Mr. Phillips cooked a big cauldron of chili for everyone to enjoy afterward.

April 14

Iain Abernethy’s 4 Principles of Kata

Kata boils down to four main principles, according to a world-renowned martial arts expert.

Mr. Adam Bockler with Mr. Iain Abernethy at his seminar in Chicago

Mr. Adam Bockler with Mr. Iain Abernethy at his seminar in Chicago

Iain Abernethy professes practical kata application all around the world. Though British, Iain says both his surname and the spelling of his first name are Scottish. He’s traveled to many countries to teach martial arts seminars, some of which include Ireland, Scotland, Germany, the U.S. and Canada.

When I asked him where he’d like to teach but hasn’t yet, he replied, “Iceland.”

Last week, I spent a weekend training with Mr. Abernethy at Enso Studio in Chicago’s financial district. I started following him around 2006 or 2007 after reading Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder’s The Way of Kata for the first time. I liked Iain’s quotes the authors included in their book, and made the effort to like his page on Facebook and eventually follow him on Twitter. After several years of occasionally messaging and tweeting back and forth, it was great to finally meet him.

Martial artists, mostly black belts, came from all over North America to learn more about applying new ways of thinking to their forms – Texas, New York, Florida and even Canada were locations I remember hearing.

Kata Principle #1: “Karate is not merely practiced for your own benefit; it can be used … as a way of avoiding injury by using the hands and feet should one by any chance be confronted by a villain or ruffian.”

This is a direct quote from Anko Itosu, who plays a significant role in the development of Okinawan martial arts after bringing karate to the Okinawan school system, and his 10 precepts of karate. (A special thanks to Mr. Abernethy, by the way, for posting this translation for free on his site.)

In other words, karate is meant for self-defense against someone else who isn’t trained in karate. It isn’t meant for sparring, necessarily, but as a means of avoiding an attacker or defending yourself.

Kata Principle #2: Both hands are active.

During the Friday night portion of the seminar, Iain talked about the nine throws of Gichin Funakoshi. Some of them he talked about in context of a kata, but only mentioned them briefly. (Jesse Enkamp also has some great photos and descriptions.)

In short, Iain explained that many people think katas are only about what the “active” hand is doing, as if it’s singular, whether it’s a shuto, a block, a punch, etc.

Instead, he said, think about the hikite, the hand the comes back to the waist or the chest. In his analysis of kata, the hand that comes back to the waist will typically have the other person’s wrist. The hand that comes back to the chest will usually have an elbow locked.

Some throws worked better than others. The upside-down hammer, for example, resembled a move that would likely look good in professional wrestling with two people working together to make it look effective, but would not work well for someone who didn’t want to lose a fight.

Kata Principle #3: Stances represent the way you need to shift your weight.

This may best be explained by illustrating the principle.

For example, in order to maximize the effectiveness of a wrist lock, you might step back into a front stance while yanking down on the attacker’s wrists.

Kata Principle #4: Angles are where you should be in relation to your opponent.

Rarely did Mr. Abernethy show a technique in which he was standing directly in front of his attacker. Instead, he often shifted so that he was still able to move in on his opponent, while his opponent was put in a bad position.

An easy way to imagine this would be cutting to a 45-degree angle. Your focus is still on that person, while that person is still headed in their original direction. Another way to think of this would be to get your nose out of the way, as Mr. Hawkey likes to say.

Thanks and Shout-Outs

Thanks to Sensei Jay, Sensei Denise, and everybody from Enso Studio for hosting the event at their beautiful dojo.

Thanks to Bill for picking up Sal and I at the dojo so we could get dinner.

Thanks to Jay Herbst and his daughter Nicole for being great to chat with about martial arts and letting me know I need to learn more about how Shuri-ryu helped form Shito-ryu. If you’re in the Fort Myers, Fla., area, support the new dojo Jay has recently opened up as part of Kurokawa Martial Arts.

And finally, thanks to my partner whose name I did not catch the spelling of. If you read this, please comment so you can get your proper credit.

Iain Abernethy’s Upcoming Seminars in the United States

At dinner, Iain said he had bookings through September 2014. I wanted to post his two listed U.S. seminar dates here for anybody reading who is interested in attending.

May 31-June 2 – Madison, Alabama

September 13-15 – Lenexa, Kansas

NEWER OLDER 1 2 3 7 8