May 19

5 Improvements Coming to Metamora Martial Arts in June


These changes are the culmination of months of thinking on my part, and the responses by our students and parents to a recent survey I sent out.

I think you’ll be pleased to see these changes, and I’m looking forward to seeing how we progress.

1. An Updated Curriculum for Basic Students

The requirements listed for basic students – mainly white belts – has changed several times since we began holding classes at the Metamora Community Center.


First and foremost, I want our martial artists to learn how to protect themselves. By adjusting what I teach at a basic level, I help ensure that our students are adequately prepared to defend themselves.

Second, as I gain new information in a variety of ways (seminars, chatting with other instructors), I learn what other teachers and styles are teaching. By incorporating this material into our curriculum, it makes our students stronger and better able to defend themselves.

A changing curriculum is normal. Master Robert Trias, who brought karate to America, pulled from a variety of sources while evangelizing Shuri-ryu karate worldwide. When he learned something new, he would find a way to make it work in the style he learned. This is why Shuri-ryu karate is a complete martial art. I look to continue to evolve our art and our style.

This curriculum will be used going forward starting June 1.

2. Two Full Hours of Karate on Thursday

Both the kids classes on Thursday will increase from 45 minutes to 60 minutes per class.

That means basic class will meet Thursdays 6-7 p.m., and the advanced class will meet 7-8 p.m. starting June 1.

3. Break a Board – Monthly Review Sessions

I will run all students – kids and adults – through a review on the last class of the month. We’ll review the recent techniques we’ve learned, and brush up on the ones we haven’t worked as much during the past several weeks.

Promotions will more than likely be earned on these nights. However, students who demonstrate stellar knowledge may be promoted at any time.

The best part is that students who earn a promotion will be eligible to break a board!

Unlike other martial arts programs, I do not charge a testing fee. The only fee I charge related to testing is for the cost of a new belt.

4. Get Your Gear – Regular Sparring Sessions Starting

Once students have their first stripe on their white belt, they will be eligible for sparring.

These sessions will take place on at least every third class of the month. Given we are extending class to 60 minutes, we may do sparring more often (especially if we’re going to a competition in which our students are participating in sparring). For now, though, we’ll stick to once a month.

Students who do not have gear should contact me for pricing and to learn what equipment is required.

Sparring, for those who have never done it, is essentially a game of tag using hands and feet.

Contact me about your required set of gear.

5. Classes/Demos During Metamora Farmers Market

Students have a unique opportunity to do something Metamora Martial Arts has never done before.

I will be holding informal classes in the Metamora square during the farmers market, and students are encouraged to participate and help out.

More details on this are to come on this, so stay tuned.

May 10

Class Update: Pictures and Board Breaking May 22, 2014

Our annual photo op takes place Thursday, May 22, at 6 p.m.

I’m asking all Metamora Martial Arts students – kids and adults – to be present for this event in full uniform and belt. We will take a group photo, followed by individual photos for anybody who would like them. Plus, couple photos and parent/child photos!

These are a great keepsake, and a great way to track your progress from last year. Pam Siefken (Portraits By Pam) has been taking our pictures for 12 years and has always done a fantastic job.

Envelopes for ordering pictures will be available at class May 15.

Following the pictures, I will host a board breaking seminar!

I have boards on hand for anybody to break who would like to try at no cost to you.

Here is a unique break from Metamora Martial Arts’ first black belt, Adam Ulbricht.

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.

April 12

Forms Training for Tournament Competition

Last night’s advanced class featured one of my favorite drills for competition training – drilling one form 16 times in four different ways.

It’s very tiring when done right, but I know it can lead to improved tournament preparation. I credit this drill – along with regular practice and instruction – for the numerous 1st-place trophies I’ve accrued at martial arts tournaments.

Mr. Bockler competes at the 2009 Metamora Martial Arts Open Tournament

Mr. Bockler competes at the 2009 Metamora Martial Arts Open Tournament

You’ve picked two forms – your primary form and your back-up form. You know you need to spice up the form for competition, so you’re not necessarily concerned about practical application. Knowing the difference between practical application and competition is crucial.

For competition, we emphasize the “art” of martial arts. We want the form to look good. We still want to know the application, and we still want to show intent of destroying opponents, but everyone should acknowledge that a competition form may not be the same as a practical form.

For example, competition forms may feature kicks to the head, slow, tense breathing techniques, elongated stances, and more graceful motions than we might use in a real fight.

In reality, for self-defense, we would keep the kicks low, perform our moves quickly, and keep a higher stance for protection and ease of movement.

Know that we know a little bit about the differences between the types of forms we can do, practice this drill with any of your karate forms, tae kwon do forms, kung fu forms and the list goes on.

I don’t have a name for the drill (yet), but let me explain it.

Four Times for Power

Facing a direction, perform your form four times for pure power. Don’t worry about how fast you go through; every move should break a board. That includes blocks, punches, kicks, and even the bow and the mudra.

These forms are all about destruction.

Four Times for Speed

Turn 90 degrees clockwise so you’re facing a different direction. Then, practice your form four times for speed. Make sure your attacks still have a focus and that you’re not just flailing your arms and legs out there.

You’ll probably notice your stances are a little higher up than usual. Your techniques will be sloppier, but we’ll take care of that in a minute.

Again, even the bow and the mudra should be done quickly.

Four Times for Grace

Turn 90 degrees clockwise again.

Now, practice your form for grace. This is where precision techniques and elongated stances come into play. Your muscles will probably be very sore after this if you aren’t using to working deep horse stances or deep front stances very often.

The movements should not be tense. In fact, you should be very relaxed. Focus on breathing and targeting.

Four Times Together

Turn 90 degrees clockwise one more time, and combine what you’ve learned.

To best demonstrate this, I’ll share with you how I’m preparing my form.

I open with a series of blocks. I do them with grace, and also with tension (advanced ranks will be working more with tension and breathing). On my last block, I do it very quickly, then explode with a series of powerful punches. Within 10 seconds, I have demonstrated all of the elements of a good karate tournament kata.

This is where you can mix it up. Maybe you would perform those blocks quickly, do a graceful final block, and then explode into your power.

As I explained to the students last night – think of your kata like the alphabet. There are certain ways for movements to fit together, just like there are certain ways for letters to fit together. Everybody has different handwriting. And most everybody will perform their form just a little bit different than everybody else.

Use this drill to make your kata unique to you.

Support Metamora Martial Arts as we compete at the North American Grand Nationals in Rockford on May 5!

April 4

Getting Ready for the North American Grand Nationals May 5 in Rockford

Metamora Martial Arts students are gearing up for the North American Grand Nationals in Rockford, Ill., in just over a month, May 5.

North American Grand Nationals martial arts tournamentTonight, the students asked me to help them prepare for this martial arts tournament. I, of course, was excited. After I placed first at the AKA Grand Nationals in Feburary, I’ve been itching to take some students to a tournament.

I’ve only been to this tournament once before, in 2006, six days before I tested for my first-degree black belt. I won first place in forms with Go Pei Sho.

I’m sure our students will do great. Over the next few weeks, I’ll make several posts on how to make the most out of a martial arts tournament.

Next week, we will do a drill where we run out forms for power, speed, grace and finally, a combination of all of them. Students should have picked out a form they want to use to compete with at the North American Grand Nationals.

Info on the North American Grand Nationals

According to the PDF, the event will be held at the Best Western Clock Tower Resort & Conference Center in Rockford, Illinois.

The entry fee is $50 for pre-registered events, or $70 at the door. Spectator fees are $10. All 1st place competitors win a 4-foot trophy.

Registration begins at 9. The tournament begins at 12 p.m.

I would suggest leaving Metamora around 8, giving us plenty of time to make it before the black belt judges meeting.

Preparing for a Martial Arts Tournament

The main tip to competing in a martial arts tournament is preparation. Students will need to practice their form daily in the weeks leading up to the competition. One hasn’t competed in 2-3 years. Another has never competed.

I want to make sure students and parents know that I’m less concerned with how they place (i.e., what trophies they bring home) than with how much effort they put into practicing their forms.

Own the Ring

Another tip is to be confident. In other words, own the ring. I want to point toward my article I wrote several years ago on owning the ring during a competition.

For that minute you’re competing with your form, all eyes are on you. Make it count.

For those two minutes (or however long) your sparring match lasts, get the first point. If you don’t get the first point, get the next two. If you don’t get the first two, get the next three.

This Month in History

Eight years ago today, Mr. Chianakas put on our first of three open martial arts tournaments, drawing more than 100 competitors from around Illinois. The next year we had nearly the same amount. Check out this post on April in Metamora Martial Arts’ 11-year existence.

Basic Class

In the basic class, we reviewed middle block, uppercut punch and vertical punch, as well as horse stance and front stance. We learned corkscrew punch for the first time, noting that the actual “corkscrew” does not begin until the fist touches the opponent.