Athena School of Karate kindly invited me to guest teach for them in person at their school in Oxfordshire. The class of higher grade juniors (teenagers) tried out combination 10 on the focus mitts. My objective was to transfer the work we had done online to actual pad-work. This is also included coaching on Thai focus mitt holding. We began with a series of shadow boxing drills designed to promote fluidity in combination work and fast changing to different techniques. My intention here was to get across a feeling of rhythm and coordination required when coaching lengthy combinations.
We then moved onto the focus mitts and I chose a challenging combination that involves a side-step, a weave and a slip chained with punches before a big kick at the end. I explained how fluid striking should be encouraged by the pad holder meeting the student’s impact whereas power strikes need a very firm pad hold. Then we looked at more active engagement with breathing patterns and the importance of the coach setting the example with stance and footwork.
As I have come to expect from Athena, the students were attentive, hardworking and diligent in their efforts. It was a pleasure to teach them and to see how they have been able to transfer principles learnt during lockdown training to this level of interaction.
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