Karate For Mental Health 2019

We’ve done it again!

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This year we managed to raise £900 in support of Combat Stress charity, we had nearly thirty participants, who enjoyed training together. Trying different versions and interpretations of Karate and Kempo under John Johnston, Iain Abernethy, Marek Mroszczyk and myself.

Below you can find few snapshots and a clip from this event, I’m already having conversations about KFMH 2020, hope to see you there!

And a promised clip

If you enjoyed this clip “Karate For Mental Health 2019” and are interested in reading my book about mental health and Karate please check it out on Amazon:

ANXIOUS BLACK BELT

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Les Bubka is a dedicated practitioner of the way of the empty hand and has been for over twenty years. He is the founder of LB Posture Training, which incorporates the art of Karate with his personal training qualifications in order to help people.
Les has experience in running projects in association with mental health charities and other institutions, introducing Karate as a tool to help build confidence, self-esteem and physical activity to disadvantaged members of the community.
Les runs an inclusive club in Guildford (UK) where everyone is welcome.

 

Not all roses

 

As most of you probably know I’m a strong advocate for the benefits of Karate in relation to mental health. As with everything in life there are two sides of the coin and rarely things are black and white.

 

For some individuals or groups Karate might have a negative impact on health both physically and mentally. Whether or not a person benefits positively from training depends on several factors such as:

  • Personal circumstances
  • Instructor
  • Group social setup
  • Training methods

 

Personal Circumstances

In the case of personal circumstances, an individual might have an underlying mental health condition, which Karate training can make worse if not conducted properly. Most people who start a martial art will have to face fear in some form. For example, fear of sparring, public performance or overcoming the fear of breaking stuff. Without positive mentoring the result of these fears might have a negative impact on a person.

Instructor

Sometimes an instructor, or the head of an organisation, might be charismatic but lacking in understanding of the needs of students or is simply unaware of factors impacting their students health.

If training instructions are given in a form that pressurises a student to do tasks this might lead to a negative impact on health.

Often, especially in more “traditional” branches of Karate, there can be a culture of power and bullying. This can create a mental vicious circle where bullied students either quit as they feel not worthy or tough enough to be a part of the group or result in the creation of more bullies who then take revenge on new students. This situation was recognised in the Polish army and is named “the wave”. This situation is very difficult to eradicate.

This culture was very popular in Karate in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I believe that conditions have improved now, but “the wave” is not completely gone.

Group Social Setup

Karate is an activity that can make people feel that they belong to a group, which can easily turn into a sect or cult like organisation. This is a world wide problem that sports and social clubs face everyday from football, rugby, wrestling and Karate, leading people to feel that they are better than those who don’t belong to the tribe.

Browsing through forums, Facebook pages or YouTube comments we can easily come across conversations or comments about the superiority of a given branch of Karate. Many claim that their style of Karate is the original one, supporting their claims with lineage, or that their system is the strongest as they <…insert whatever you want here…>.

This cult thinking can lead people into developing a delusional view of themselves as the better person. From history we know that this kind of brain washing activity can lead to the abuse of power and abuse in general. Resulting in traumatic experiences for members of that group and/or others.

Training Methods

Another factor to consider in terms of benefit outcomes is training methodology. Here again “traditional” ways can creep in, where people hold the belief that past methods are always superior to modern ones. The problem here is that even just 50 years ago we didn’t know aspects of sport science, mental health and physiology in general. So, as the masters of the past relied on their knowledge at the time, now we know we can train better, safer and more efficiently.

The term traditional can also be used to hide a lack of knowledge of modern methodology, to create an illusion of exclusivity, or be used as an excuse for the barbaric treatment of students in the name of worthiness and commitment to the only true style/system.

In every aspect of life all things can be used in a positive or negative way, Karate is no different. If you pop into a Dojo and would like to start Karate, please have a look first at how the club is set up. Consider asking yourself a few questions. How is the instructor treating the students?

How are the students themselves treating each other? Do the students look happy? How does the instructor refer to the competition?

Search for things that are not said – the body language of people within the dojo, the approachability of the teacher, the overall atmosphere etc.

All of these aspects can give you an appreciation of the feel of the club and I would recommend that you only join it if you feel good about it and you feel welcomed. Your gut instinct is usually a great indicator of things being good or not for you.

I hope that most dojos now have moved on from being cult like and provide motivating and fun classes.

If you enjoyed this chapter of my new book “Karate For Mental Health” and are interested in reading my previous work, the book can be purchased from Amazon:

ANXIOUS BLACK BELT

Did you like this article? You can help support this writer, securely via PayPal:

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Les Bubka is a dedicated practitioner of the way of the empty hand and has been for over twenty years. He is the founder of LB Posture Training, which incorporates the art of Karate with his personal training qualifications in order to help people.
Les has experience in running projects in association with mental health charities and other institutions, introducing Karate as a tool to help build confidence, self-esteem and physical activity to disadvantaged members of the community.
Les runs an inclusive club in Guildford (UK) where everyone is welcome.

Anxious Black Belt

I’m very excited about publishing my book on the subjects of Karate and Anxiety. Below you can find an excerpt from the book. Please let me know what you think.

try.pngI started writing this book as a therapeutic exercise, to find out more about why I was suffering from a fear of the smallest things and to ensure that I not make the same mistakes with raising my own children as my father did with me when I was young. After talking about the idea of writing down my experiences with a few friends, they convinced me that I should write my story down in this book.

I’m not a writer, so forgive me for my lack of beautiful descriptions and poetic sentence. This book is about my fight with anxiety, how martial arts helped me to combat my fears and how it has taught me to become a stronger and more caring person.

It was a tough road. All of these experiences have led me to set up my own company, LB Posture Training, where I try to help other people improve their health and mental wellbeing and part of this business is Karate.

Karate can be used to help people who suffer from mental health issues, loneliness, and isolation. We provide group classes for adults from 18 years old, with our oldest student currently being 87 years young.

I hope that this book will help others to understand how difficult it is to live with anxiety, especially as I have only recently learnt that this is the condition that I have been suffering with.

I would like to show the art of Karate in a different light, not just a mere fighting system, but as a tool for improving one’s quality of life.

Karate has saved my life, and I am grateful for that. That is why I have decided to use it to help people around the world.

“Strong and Caring people are the pillars of society, and Karate helps to cultivate them.” Les Bubka 

For as long as I can remember I have had an overwhelming feeling of fear. I never imagined that this was something that I could change or erase, however I began to learn more about these feelings when I started to teach Karate for the charity, The Welcome Project. Here I met people who suffered from anxiety and other mental health issues.

It has become important to me to describe the ways in which I deal with these feelings. They stem from my childhood and have continued with me through adulthood. They have been with me on my journey to gaining a black belt in Karate and to becoming a person who is fortunate to teach all over the world, using Karate as a way of helping others.

In my opinion, the root of my anxiety can be found in the relationship I had with my father. He was a strict man who never showed signs of love to me or my brother and from whom words such as “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” were never spoken. Everything we did was scrutinised, never good enough or done incorrectly. This behaviour of my father turned the simplest tasks into unpleasant experiences, full of the fear of failure.

I have this clear memory of my mum sending me to a shop to buy some fruits. At that time in Poland it was not so easy to get fruits and other groceries as the communist regime had just fallen and democracy started to settle in.

I distinctly remember my mum telling me to go and get bananas, potatoes, and other groceries for the family. My memory of that event is that feeling of fear of asking people over the counter to buy a few simple Items. I felt paralysed. Luckily I found that a friend of mine was in the same queue and so I managed to convince him to ask a salesperson for my shopping. This type of fear of communicating with strangers has accompanied me to this day, but over the years I have developed coping strategies to deal with it. Now when I recognise this feeling creeping in I can reduce its impact on me via meditation and reasoning.

It doesn’t matter how hard I try, fear never leaves me. It is always lingering in the bottom of my gut making me worry that something bad is going to happen. I hope that my story will go some way to describe what people are experiencing when suffering from anxiety every day.

If you enjoyed this chapter and are interested in reading more, the book can be purchased from Amazon:

ANXIOUS BLACK BELT

Did you like this article? You can help support this writer, securely via PayPal:

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Les Bubka
Les Bubka is a dedicated practitioner of the way of the empty hand and has been for over twenty years. He is the founder of LB Posture Training, which incorporates the art of Karate with his personal training qualifications in order to help people.
Les has experience in running projects in association with mental health charities and other institutions, introducing Karate as a tool to help build confidence, self-esteem and physical activity to disadvantaged members of the community.
Les runs an inclusive club in Guildford (UK) where everyone is welcome.

Medals at P.A.K.T.

On Sunday the 13th of October members of the Shin ai do Karate club took part in a Practical Applied Karate Tournament (PAKT) in Watford. This competition is unique in that it focuses on the self defence aspect of Karate, including not only Kata (forms) but also their practical use. The latter being tested on both a compliant and non-nompliant attacker, giving it a more realistic feel. Participants can test their punching skills on pads and in fighting. When fighting there are two options – regular competition rules and “vertical grappling”, where opponents start from a clinch.

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Raquel, Chloe and Alix took part in three of the five challenges: Kata, Kata applications and pad work. Bringing back an array of medals! All of them managed to win Gold in at least one event. Whilst winning Silver and Bronze medals in other categories.

Alix – Gold in Kata, Silver in application and Bronze in Pad work.

Chloe – Gold in Applications, Silver in Kata and Silver in Pad work.

Raquel – Gold in Kata, Silver in applications and Bronze in pad work.

What is most impressive about their success is that some of them managed to overcome their limitations, both mental and physical, and competed against fully able competitors.

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Our club, in cooperation with the Aspire Project, started inclusive classes in the Guildford area with focus on students suffering with mental ill health. Karate For Mental Health helps people regain their confidence and self belief, helping them to achieve things they never thought possible and challenge themselves in a variety of ways.

This club is run by Sensei Les Bubka at the QE Park Centre and always welcomes new members of all abilities. For more information please visit www.shinaidokarate.com

Karate drills – Pad Work

Pad work is one of the best training methods in karate, allows you to work on distance, timing, speed, precision and power. On last session we went through some of our drills, focus was on flowing combinations.

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About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing.

 

Karate, Mobility & Taiso in Germany

September 2019 I had a pleasure to teach at Isshindokan Europa seminar in Germany. I have covered three subjects Karate’s blueprint for building drills, mobility protocol and relaxation with use of Karate which was run by my student and friend Gary. This clip is only an extract if you would like to know more about those subjects feel free to get in touch via email les@shinaidokarate.com To learn and practice this application please seek instruction under the supervision of a qualified Sensei.

Jodan Uke vs Shuto Uke- What’s the difference and does it matter?

 

I love it when students ask questions. Sometimes as a teacher I think that some things are obvious and everyone knows what I mean. In that moments it is great to have students who are not afraid to ask questions, even if they think they are trivial.

On our last session one student asked about the difference between Jodan and Shuto Uke, as for that student they feel very similar. Here’s my explanation about the differences from my perspective.

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About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing

Speak Up!- Podcast for Matured Martial Artists

I had a great pleasure to talk with Sensei Matt Jardin about mental health, martial arts and brain.

Matt honoured me to be his first guest, I have thoroughly enjoyed this conversation, Matt has the gift to make you instantly welcomed and comfortable.

Please have a look at our conversation below.

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About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing

I hit Sensei !

A few recent events and conversations at the dojo inspired me to write this article.

The first event was during a sparring session when one of my students delivered a lovely, spot on, spinning back fist that nearly took my head off. The second was during another sparring session where I had a good rear naked choke on a student. As he was doing a good job of getting out from it I allowed him to escape.

 

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I didn’t think that either of these situations were unusual until we started to chat about it afterwards. I have to mention here that many of my students are already experienced martial artists and so have backgrounds of training and gaining achievements in other clubs.

 

What was surprising for me was their reaction to these events. In the first instance, after this lovely back fist my student got scared. I was puzzled, why would she be afraid? So I asked “what’s wrong?” She replied “I’m worried that now you’ll punish me like my old sensei did.” I replied “why would I punish you? I’m congratulating you as you delivered a perfect shot at the right time, it was superb.” She asked me if I was not embarrassed that a student had hit me in front of the rest of the class? Well we’ll get to that a bit later.

 

The second situation was similar. The student had a previous background in martial arts and he was puzzled, asking why didn’t I finish him? I had the opportunity to do so. His previous teacher had always done that, showing him that he was a lesser fighter than the teacher.

DSC_0856 - CopyI don’t attempt to criticise other instructors as everyone has their own methodology of teaching. My view on this is that as a coach I try to point out the best in my students, and the way to do this is to support, motivate, and praise them but to also be honest. If they do something incorrectly I let them know. If something is done properly they are always acknowledged. This applies to all training aspects from kihon to sparring. As a coach I have to leave my ego outside of the dojo for the benefit of my students.

 

My approach is to get the best out of students. When I see that they have an opportunity to execute a correct technique no matter if it’s a strike, kick, lock or choke, I allow them. It doesn’t make me weak or embarrassed and gives motivation to my students that they can get me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not easing off but I make it possible with effort to achieve. Always making sure that I praise them for their achievement. I don’t get upset if a student, regardless of their grade, will catch me with a great punch and I don’t need to get revenge or punish them. I enjoy their progression as it shows me that I have taught them correctly.

 

As someone who suffers with anxiety, this is one of the few areas that I feel confident that I know my value and I don’t feel embarrassed or a lesser man if a girl with a white belt will choke me out, she simply did a good technique.

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This approach builds trust between a coach and a student. Students know that no matter what they will be treated with respect, building the right behaviour model when they spar with someone else in my dojo. No one is trying to show superiority and all of the students and instructors respect each other. This attitude makes me proud to be a part of a great team of like minded people.

 

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About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing

Tai Sabaki – Body Managment

Hi all,

At yesterday’s session we had a look at ways of unbalancing our opponent, clip below is result of our discussion at the club.

This is one of the possible uses of the Tai Sabaki

Kind regards,

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About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing