Tidying up my website at the start of this week I suddenly realised that a whole calendar year had gone by without my writing a single blog post. How could this happen?
Possibly to the chagrin of some I wasn’t abducted by Aliens. Possibly to my own disappointment I haven’t spent a few years in the Tardis and been accidentally returned to my own timeline a tad too late. So where has the year gone?
I cannot blame injuries. 2020 saw a major abdominal surgery in the Spring, a broken foot in the Summer and a thumb injury (damn speedball) in the Autumn, but I was able to keep writing.
Admittedly individual surgery on both eyes at the start of 2021 did make me minimise how much time I spent doing any reading or writing over three months until both eyes were at the same prescription, but that still leaves a lot of months unaccounted for.
The root answer has been Covid. Returning to online training again in September 2020 through to April 2021 took up a vast amount of my time and energy. My regular students are always my top priority and so because I have a lot of written material easily accessible via my books as well as short video clips highlighting both training methodologies and technical application of karate, I chose to focus on their development rather than writing new articles.
Lockdown and the return from lockdown did present opportunities for introspection on teaching methods and syllabus structure. Watching students return to ‘hands on’ training in Summer 2020 and again in Spring 2021 after either no training or purely online individual ‘thin air’ training presented a unique opportunity for syllabus analysis. What had stayed with the students? What had they lost? What came back quickly? What attributes took time to resurrect? Were they what the instructor team expected? Were they what we wanted and if not, how could we change that?
Syllabus analysis is not new, it is always an ongoing process, but two such ‘lockdown recovery’ periods in Summer 2020 and Spring 2021 have perhaps provided more material than normal. As an instructor teaching regular classes I naturally want students to stay training and progress across multiple levels, but at the same time I want anyone that trains with me for a short while and then leaves (whether because they move away or because they choose to pursue other interests in their free time) to get the maximum benefit from their classes, thus ‘lockdown training break recovery periods’ have been educational opportunities.
I have had other projects on the boil beyond my personal training and my classes. The writing project that perhaps ‘broke’ the blogging routine was contributing to Les Bubka’s Rules for Success in Karate in November last year. I’ve also taken time to revisit the 2016 Karate & Self Defence: Selected Articles and publish a second edition of the same book under a new title, updating the HAOV pictures. The title has been re-released this month as Karate & Self Defence: Volume One – Thoughts on Training. Alongside this release I undertook the long process of sifting through a large number of articles that used to be on my website, choosing to present those I felt the most important in a second book in the series, now released as Karate & Self Defence: Volume Two – The Reality of Karate & Close Quarter Combat. I’m very grateful to Peter Consterdine for not only agreeing to write a companion foreword for this second volume, but also for suggesting the subtitle for the work. Both books are available worldwide on Amazon in paperback and ebook formats.
As we begin the last two months of 2021 I’m still incredibly busy. Like many instructors I’ve had a surge in new students after a recruitment freeze over the previous year and that naturally results in more work, especially as we approach the end of year gradings. I am however committed to writing more regular blog posts and articles this year and continuing that habit in 2022, but I will also be working to publish at long last the Self Protection book that I have been writing for the last twenty years. This year I have resumed teaching seminars but because of my suppressed immune system I have decided to limit my public teaching in 2022 to my scenario training days and a group seminar project I committed myself to prior to the initial spread of Covid 19 in 2020. I intend to supplement this with more video instruction for those who do not have the opportunity to train with me on a regular basis.
2023? Wait and see.
Keep training and stay healthy!