Budo seminar Greece

My personal favourite was the Tai Chi session – being a Karate practitioner it made a nice change to use the exercise of a martial art for calming purposes. A.KB


Our club recently took part in a Budo seminar in Athens. This event was organised by our friend Sarantis Theodosiou and Zendo Ryu Karate Do Greece.  A group of four represented Shin ai do United Kingdom, Anna, Les, Cassandra and Marek.  Greece greeted us with rain and cold temperatures, which is not quite what we had expected, but a warm welcome from our friends and excellent food more than made up for the weather!  We spent a couple of days at Amarithos (Evia) and then moved to Athens and the Olympic stadium where the Budo seminar was held.  This year we the opportunity to train with teachers from Greece, representing Zendo Ryu Karate, Aikido, Hapkido, Kenpo, Tai Chi and Ninjitsu.  All of these training sessions were interesting and were run in a friendly atmosphere.   All of the teachers were keen to answer any questions and so we were able to get an in-depth view of the way of each of their martial arts.

After six hours of learning and exchanging ideas we then headed off for dinner.  I have to mention the restaurant that we went to as it is run by our Tai Chi friend, Nick.  The food was absolutely excellent and I would definitely recommend that anyone staying in Athens consider paying it a visit.  (The restaurant is called Fish Co Platters – www.fishcoplatters.gr)

The day before the seminar we had a chance to catch up with our friends from Germany who treated us to an interesting trip around the island of Evia.  Thanks to Dietmar for showing us the sites, even if it was via the scenic route!

During the last day of our trip we were able to visit some of the tourist attractions of Athens before flying back to London.

Overall we had a brilliant time and are looking forward to the next seminar!

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Anna’s Review

“As always it was great to catch up with our fellow martial artists in Greece.  It was also great to see a lot of new faces and meet new instructors.

The seminar featured a wide range of different schools and it was brilliant to be able to try aspects of so many styles at one event.  My personal favourite was the Tai Chi session – being a Karate practitioner it made a nice change to use the exercise of a martial art for calming purposes.”

Cass’s Review

“I just wanted to tell you what an interesting trip I had last week with the Shin ai do martial arts organisation.Once we arrived in Athens we drove to the sleepy island of Evia where we had a fish supper with Dietmar and Stefan. Afterwards we checked into our hotel room and as it was the low season it turned out we had the whole hotel for ourselves.  The Greek style breakfast was followed by a drive around the island which should really be done in a 4×4 in case you get off the beaten track! Then lunch with Dietmar and his wonderful wife Ilona. The view from their house was wonderful and tranquil, and surprisingly warm. Dinner was a typical affair, plentiful and tasty.  Can’t wait for a good workout now.Sunday was an early start with a trip back to the Athens Olympic Stadium dojo for the seminar.  The purpose of the seminar was to meet other instructors and students in various forms of martial arts, and I wasn’t disappointed. We had taster sessions in Hapkido, Kempo, Ninjitsu, Tai chi, Aikido and of course, Karate giving a view from a modern and realistic approach.  Students ranged from beginners to 8th Dan which didn’t matter as everyone was there to try out and hopefully learn something new.  We were all given a certificate of attendance and the opportunity to socialise with the instructors over a wonderful meat feast and lovely Pinotage!

The final day gave us the opportunity to check out the old ruins of Athina – I’m referring to the Acropolis (including the Parthenon). Then back home.  All in all a very pleasant and interesting trip.  Definitely worthwhile – where will the next one be?”

Training and the immune system

DSC_0379This week I would like to have a closer look at the relationship between training and health.  There is no doubt that engaging in regular physical activities improves our health.  Exercising increases the production of white blood cells, which are responsible for our immune response to infections.  In Poland we have a popular saying “sport to zdrowie”, in English “sport is health”; whilst this is true it is only true up to a certain point.  When we increase the duration and intensity of our workouts, our immune system actually gets weaker.

A good study that supports this is one done by Dr David Nieman who is a pioneer in the research area of exercise immunology at Appalachian State University.  The study I refer to examined marathon runners at the Los Angeles Marathon in 1987.  Dr Nieman himself took part in 58 marathons and noticed that when he ran around 144km a week he more often suffered from throat infections, however when he reduced this distance to below 100km the infections stopped.  In examining the impact of marathon training on health Dr Nieman and his team questioned a randomly selected group of 4926 participants of the Los Angeles Marathon.  The main interest of this study was history of infections before the marathon and health problems that occurred after the run.  The study showed that for a long distance runner the probability of getting an infection is nearly six times greater than people who run lesser distances.  Dr Nieman suggests that athletes that run more than 100km a week double their risk of infection.  It has been proven that this happens because training hard for long periods (over 1.5 hours) can weaken the immune system, with this affect lasting up to 24 hours.  This study was published in the Journal of Applied Sciences, 2007.

Kancho Joko Ninomiya summarised this nicely by saying “Don’t train hard, train smart”.  In this way it is recognised that a “good hard session” in the dojo or gym is not always beneficial to our health.  It is good sometimes to stop and think about our workout programmes to make sure that we are getting the best out of them.

Video about Thigh Kick/Mawashi Geri Gedan

Last week I published an article about Mawashi Geri Gedan.  Although I can describe the details in writing I felt that it was all a bit “dry” as it forces us to use our imagination and is open to different interpretations.  Consequently this week I thought I would provide a short video on the subject of thigh kicks.

Apologies that the video is not very professional. It was recorded during one of our training sessions and I did not want to waste any of my student’s time in all the setting up etc.  The clip itself is to illustrate the general movement of Mawashi Geri Gedan, if you are looking for further details please refer to our post “How To – Thigh Kick/Mawashi Geri Gedan”.

Enjoy watching.

Thigh Kick/ Mawashi Geri Gedan

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This article covers how to perform thigh kicks or in Japanese, Mawashi Geri Gedan.  Around the world different martial arts and combat sports have a variety of methods for teaching and executing this technique.  Which one is the best?  The answer to this question is simple – the one which works best for you.  We are all different and so each individual will favour a method that is suitable for them.

In this article I describe our approach to Mawashi Geri Gedan.  This kick is devastating and can cause a lot of pain and even prevent the opponent from being able to stand or walk.  Correctly executed the kick may be equivalent to being hit by a weight of up to two tonnes (metric).

We have a lot of variations of this kick.  For example sometimes we kick with the foot/shin travelling upward, sometimes the kick drops down and pushes into the thigh and sometimes the kick is just a tap to score a point.  All of these variations have their uses, but personally I believe that the best results are achieved when the kick is done in its most basic form where it travels along a single horizontal plane using correct body mechanics with the muscles tensing at the appropriate time.

A thigh kick is most effective and safe when performed with the shin, as the foot is fragile. The part of the shin that comes into contact with the target is the sharp edge of the bone where there is little muscle.

Impact point on the shin
Impact point on the shin

When kicking this way there are two options for the setup of the foot – the toes can be pointed or the foot can be pulled back.  In both cases the aim is that the foot muscles are tensed.  Many injuries are caused when a kick is performed with the foot relaxed.  This is because if the foot is relaxed not only are the muscles in the foot relaxed, but also the muscles in the lower part of the leg are relaxed.  Kicking with the lower leg muscles relaxed can result in a broken shin.


The following description provides an overview of the basic mechanics of a thigh kick.

Let’s start with the supporting leg. The correct setup of this leg is crucial to performing a powerful thigh kick (or indeed any kick).  I will describe the kick from a fighting stance where our left foot is forward and the right leg will kick.

The left foot steps outward slightly (to the left) to just past the centre line of the opponent’s body. When stepping the toes on the left foot turn outwards.

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This move allows us to open out hips and protect our knee from over twisting.  It also gives more power to the kicking leg.  After moving our supporting foot we then shift our body weight to the front leg and start to lift the kicking leg up.

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Our body is now ready to pivot on the support leg with the knee of the kicking leg rising to the side (we imagine that our kicking leg will have to pass over a chair that is placed right in front of the right leg).  This lift gives us momentum to pivot and our kicking knee should travel in a wide arc towards the opponent, making sure that it passes the centre line of the opponent’s body.

When we pivot on our supporting leg, our body has to work like a door – the left side of the body is hinged and the right side of the body can move freely about this hinge.  The upper part of the body works like a counter weight and so the right arm will travel in the opposite direction to the right leg.

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At the point of impact our shin hits the thigh of our opponent and at the same time our supporting knee works like a compressing spring, which makes the shin drop down further, giving us more energy.  When our shin comes into contact with the thigh all of our muscles have to contract and our mind has to focus on the delivery of force to the target. Our aim is to kick just to the side of the thigh where the nerves are placed.

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After kicking the right leg is pulled back quickly to avoid being caught.  In our basic practice the return path is the same as the arc followed when the kick went in.

This description provides an overview of the mechanics of the kick, but is limited by the static pictures.  Next week I will provide a video of the kicking motion.  However, neither of these can replace the feeling that is experienced when actually performing the kick therefore it is always best to train with an instructor.  Below you can find a set of pictures that provides the sequence for the whole kick.

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Photo 02-10-2014 21 03 13 (1) Photo 02-10-2014 21 03 13 (2) Photo 02-10-2014 21 03 13 (3) Photo 02-10-2014 21 03 13 (4) Photo 02-10-2014 21 03 13 (5) Photo 02-10-2014 21 03 13 (6) Photo 02-10-2014 21 03 13 (7) Photo 02-10-2014 21 03 13 (8)

Many thanks for reading.  I hope you found it useful.  Please feel free to share!