Global Martial Arts University Blog

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My Karate Journey with the Global Martial Arts University (Guest Post by Jonas Bieri)

This is a guest  post written by Jonas Bieri, of Switzerland. He is currently a 3rd kyu brown belt in Shotokan Karate-Do with the Global Martial Arts University. He also maintains a blog about his karate journey.

When my kids started Karate at a local dojo, my interest in the Shotokan style started. Watching them train, learn and grow made me want to practice Karate, too. Observing their world-class japanese instructor teach them techniques, mindset and stamina, and seeing all the kids improve, rank, sometimes fail and retry, motivated me enormously.

Being already a student in a local Goshindo Jiu Jitsu dojo and training once or twice a week, I did not want to spend yet another weeknight away from the family to practice Karate, so in 2016 I joined the Global Martial Arts University with their distance learning course to learn Karate at home via video lessons instead. We have some free space in the corridor between the kids’ rooms, that’s where I placed a mirror and now call it my home dojo.

The beginning was easy. Every free minute I slipped into my Karate gi and practiced along the lessons and classes of Sensei Jon. I already knew about the techniques from watching my kids, so I progressed fast, and soon I was able to test for yellow belt. I made space in the living room, started the camera on my phone - and felt horrible stage fright creep up on me!

I have never had problems with oral examinations at school or uni, but demonstrating my Karate on video for my Sensei, that was different territory. It really is hard for me to keep calm, breathe, and stay focused while still relaxing my body during an exam. Never before have I experienced a mental blackout, but in Karate exams this happens regularly to me (as you can observe in my latest examination video at 3:00). Thus for me practicing to overcome the blackouts is a great lesson for life.

The level of stress may be lower than what my kids experience during their exam in front of their Sensei and parents, but I think this is compensated by the much longer and physically more demanding video exam the GMAU requires. With each belt level, new techniques are added to the syllabus, and it gets more demanding. Even though with the addition of the different kicks the training gets harder, I now prefer longer training sessions than I did at the beginning. At yellow belt level I usually trained 30-60 minutes, while I now prefer 1-2 hour sessions. The longer the session, the more important it is to vary training intensity, so I had to learn to listen better to my body.

I usually do not plan my training session ahead - I begin with a short, 30 seconds meditation to calm my everyday thoughts and worries, focus on the state of my body and mind, what feels good and what not. Often I start with one of the video classes for the warm up, no matter what belt level they are targeted at. Depending on my mood and how much my legs can take, I vary the intensity of the basic techniques (Kihon) that follows. Sometimes I control myself in the mirror, sometimes I trust my body feeling alone. Towards a belt exam, I remove the mirror to gain confidence in what I do and how it feels, and shoot a video to check if what I feel matches how it looks from the outside.

I never do a training session without Kata. Usually I repeat every Kata twice, finishing with that required for the next belt level. Learning a new Kata is always hard for me, I’m not the fastest learner. It takes real dedication, perseverance and many hours of watching videos, checking my Karate books over and over, visualizing myself working through the techniques several times a day (e.g. before drifting off to sleep at night), and of course physically training the form dozens of times. Yet it’s worth it.

With my Kata training I think I now understand and feel what C. W. Nicols describes as “Moving Zen” in his Karate Memoirs. I often reach that state Sensei Jon describes as “No Mind”, where Kata movements just flow without thinking about what was and what’s next, and my mind is completely focused on the here and now. After such a session I feel reinvigorated, relaxed and full of energy for life.

And for me, that’s what it is all about.

Jonas is an active contributor on our Discussion Board, and has also filmed a "Student Created Class" for the entire shotokan student base. When you login to a free or enrolled account, go to Extras, then "Student Created Classes" to see his class.

Journey to Shotokan Black Belt with Charles

Charles Penoyer, who hails from a small town in the hill country in Texas, has taken the first step toward earning his shodan in Shotokan Karate, by enrolling into the Global Martial Arts University. His entire journey from white to black belt will be documented in a series of “private lesson” style classes taught by Sensei Jon Hodge, the head instructor of the GMAU Shotokan course.

New Follow-Along Classes at Every Belt Level

This is not only a way for you to watch a true beginner to the martial arts, as he goes through the ups and downs, mistakes, challenges, and victories at each step; but also a way for you to re-energize your own home training. The GMAU Shotokan Course already provides the entire syllabus in easy to follow instructional lesson videos, as well as dozens of follow along classes. But, this new “Journey to Black Belt with Charles” series will allow you to take every step along with him, as you grow and progress through the ranks.

We will be filming a special white belt introductory course, with a few classes just to get you started. You will then be able to test to earn your white belt.

After this, the real training to the first color belt (yellow belt), will be begin. We plan on filming around 24 classes at each belt level. This will give you two classes a week to do at home, for three months, at each belt level (along with the other instructional lessons and classes at your disposal).

Vlog and Blog Posts

Charles will also write and film regular updates along the way. He’ll discuss how shotokan training is affecting other aspects of his life. He’ll talk about the good, bad, and ugly. This will be the first time a student’s real journey through the ranks will be documents.

Make sure and subscribe to the Global Martial Arts University Youtube Channel for updates, or simply login to your GMAU account. If you don’t have a free GMAU account yet, get one! Free accounts will be able to watch his updates in the “Extra Training” section of the website.

Interact with Charles on the GMAU & Social Media

Charles is an enrolled student in the Global Martial Arts University. Not only will he be taking private lesson style classes with Sensei Jon in person, but he will use the website, and train at home with the videos. We have a new “Discussion Board” feature coming soon to the site. You will be able to interact with Charles, get to know him, and discuss your own journey.

Charles will be posting other updates on social media. Be sure and follow him:

Twitter: @CharlesPenoyer

Instagram: @Charles Penoyer

Facebook: Charles Penoyer

Now is the Time to Begin Your own Training

This is the perfect opportunity to begin your own journey to black belt, to become the best version of you, through the life-changing benefits of the martial arts. Be sure and create a free GMAU Shotokan account today to begin training, and then enroll as an official student.