Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The three St(ages) of martial arts training

Over the years I have come to realise that as one gets older (I'm 46 BTW) the way one participates in sport changes. Certainly there are physical changes, I no longer bounce back quite as quickly following a training session and gone are the days when I'd run up to the sports centre (carrying my gear in a backpack) do a 90 minute circuit training session, 2 hour karate class then run home. It's also true what they say about losing pace. My mind works just as fast but my body no longer responds quite in the way I want it to, when I need it to.

From a psychological stand-point too things change. When I started karate at the age of 10 I was all youthful exuberance and a strict A to B mentality. Fight not going my way, fight harder. Technique not coming off - do more until it eventually gave in to me. Not getting the point from an instructor, listen but almost certainly think I know better and do it my way when he wasn't watching. This stage lasted well past my first dan grading (at 16) and into my 20's.

But then life slows you down. You begin to realise that not all things need to be met by brute force. You realise that one can change your approach to fighting to match and exceed an appoint, not by pure power necessarily but rather a more subtle implementation of power backed by experience. This second stage of training is matched by physical maturity and peak ability. Truly the journey along the path of marital arts is well underway. My personal experience is  also that this second age/stage of martial arts training is also the point at which many of my contemporaries (myself included) graded to more senior Dan grades. An acknowledgement by our instructors that we had learned more than just the basics and were coming to realise something of the ethos of karate and perhaps, life in general.

My personal belief is that this second stage is as far as some students of the martial arts ever progress - yes they get older but they do not progress further in their journey. They begin to lose their physical ability without adding to their martial arts skills -  older then is not necessarily wiser therefore. I was very much in this camp for a long time. At one point I briefly gave up martial arts (between 2006 and 2010) but when I came back I learned important lessons about humility and my own hubris that (I think) enabled me to move on to the third stage. Starting a new style of karate I trained with the same mindset I'd had as a second dan at my old club whilst I was a beginner in the new style. Session after session I trained in my old ways, listening to the Sensei but never quite getting it. In the end my body told me I'd have to listen, learn new ways to breath and move and hey presto I began to progress.

Sensei Phil (centre) with students circa 2014

I can remember staggering out of the dojo one time in late 2010, having done a mere 20 minutes of free form kumite with a variety of partners. So exhausted that I actually got changed out of my Gi and into my street clothes laying on my back on the floor (I am not exaggerating !) - this was the point I realised, once I had rehydrated and recovered my wits that I needed a new mindset - yes to use my legacy skills from another style of karate, yes to to build on what I had but also to think about how the new style might work for me and I it - this brought a new clarity and focus to both my training in the dojo but also my outside approach to things like running and research around the new style - reaching this third, more informed stage is about getting older. It is admitting to yourself that in your mid 40's you can't train like a teenager. Nor can you imagine that the world will bend to every technique you throw - fighting stops being a physical challenge and becomes a cerebral one. Chess writ across a blocking arm, whipping roundhouse and avoided sweep. That's not to say the physical challenge stops, as an instructor I am still obliged to lead from the front. Able to undertake all aspects of the training better than my students but able to rationalise and accept that I'm probably going to ache as much as they will the following morning.

Lastly this stage of my martial arts career is being able to admit that I may not be able to train in the way I do now in the future - I will need to back off at some point and consider other options. It is interesting to note looking in the mirror (seeing the grey hairs for example) that I'm now almost exactly the same age as my first instructor : Sensei Ben Warren was when I first started training under him in 1980. A bit of an eye opener as to the cyclical nature of both martial arts and life.

Sensei Phil Knight
Club Instructor
Leeds Premier Karate - Yeadon Dojo

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Excellent Martial Arts podcast for you to try

As regular readers of the blog may know I am a martial artist and run a dojo in Leeds training Shukokai karate. I also have another (2nd Dan) black belt in Tai Sabaki Do karate a Wado Ryu based self defence style.

Karate takes up a fair amount of my spare time between actually training and keeping fit - at 46 simply turning up to work out is no longer even remotely possible especially as the instructor where I need to be a step or two ahead of my students.

I though you might be interested in a marital arts podcast I recently found - Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio - search for it on iTunes or click here. I love both the format, a relatively simply interview with a martial artist twice a week but also Jeremy the host has a solid range of questions which seem to get more from his guests - he focuses on martial arts stories, the lessons it teaches us, over-coming difficulties and so forth - all the good stuff which in some ways is missing from the lives of those who have never tried out martial arts.

Have a listen and if you're ever in Leeds please feel free to drop by and train - first two lessons in my dojo are always free !

Sensei Phil

Yep that's me, mid kata - Pinan GoDan to be precise

Monday, 13 March 2017

The government has no idea what self employed people do

I've worked as a self employed person for some seven years now and it still puzzles me how some people do not understand what it is like to be self employed.

To start off, lets look at the UK Conservative government who are proposing to increase national insurance for the self employed. This (they tell us) and despite an election pledge not to increase any NI costs is because the tax discrepancy between employees and the self employed is no longer necessary. It is outdated and somehow unfair for employees. I'd like to ask in what way unfair ?

Let me re-frame the discussion.

I am delighted to pay for more NI. I'm looking forward to starting to receive the following :

paid leave
paid bank holidays
statutory sick pay
work place pension
minimum weekly hours
minimum wage

Until such time as those things are made available to those of us small business people and entrepreneurs who form the back bone of the economy then we damn well should be paying less in tax.

Now before I get complaints that NI is actually for the NHS and other social benefits I would say. That's nonsense. No tax in the UK is hypothecated any longer - NI is just another tax.

I also get frustrated by employees who work for companies who seem to (often deliberately) misunderstand what being self employed is all about. Let's put it like this. If I don't get out of bed on a morning I don't get to earn any money. If I don't do the work, all of the work then it doesn't get done and again I don't get paid. Employees have the luxury (within reason) of allowing the work to expand to fill the time available and they still get paid their salary. The self employed do not have that luxury and each extra soul destroying piece of admin we are required to conform to simply adds more and more unproductive time to our day.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Holistic advice in the medical insurance space

Within my medical insurance practice I work with a range of different types of clients. Primarily high net worth individual clients and small companies (3 to 250 employees).

However I have a wide spectrum of individual, self employed and corporate clients and would be delighted to chat to anyone who is interested in new cover or a review of their existing arrangements.

Many of my clients are introduced to me via professional introducers : IFA's, General Brokers, Accountants and other business contacts

As you can see from my personal page on my compliance providers website (www.pch.uk.com/consultants/phil-d-knight/) I do advise on a wide range of products within the medical insurance space including : individual and family private medical insurance (PMI), company paid PMI, international PMI, personal, voluntary and company sponsored Hospital Cash Plans, Dental Insurance, Employee Assistance Programs and Health Screening.

I also have contacts within my professional introducer clients who can assist with virtually every financial service from pensions and investment advice, general commercial insurance, accountancy, HR solutions and a number of others.

If you'd like assistance with your medical insurance needs or a helpful pointer to a trusted contact please feel free to contact me.

Phil Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant
07792 075748