I am often asked what the most effective and necessary piece of training equipment that a student could buy to improve their Karate. Often I hear some say “kicking pads” or “heavy bags” and of course the more traditional “Geta” or “Makiwara”…but for me the most important piece of training equipment you can purchase is the training log. Its by far the most effective piece of training equipment and the cheapest.
Lets face is, Impact gear is great for testing the power of your technique and also training in case you need to use Karate against an attacker. I am always saying that the only thing worse than hitting someone and “nothing happens” is when you hit someone and shock yourself. So second runner up would be a Makiwara or striking bag/pads. But the training log is the most important thing you can buy.
A good training log can be purchased at any store, it can be in a binder, on its own or as an actual log. Heck you can do it on line if you have electronic equipment like my blackberry. But the most important thing is to keep it near you right after your class and review it often. I have probably 100 text book size training logs at home and normally once a month I bring one up from my office and read over things that I did in seminars, classes and even on my own while training.
A good training log will be hand written, use drawing, be in your own words and will be added to right after a class. It will have a detail of things you learned and things you did not understand and need to work on. It will have sketches of body movement and things you did in class to train the basic movements. It will have things like how you felt after a work out and often my notes will include things that are critical of my own body and ability like “DAMN I NEED TO STRETCH MORE” or “TWO LEFT FEET WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE, I HAD THREE AND STILL COULD NOT KICK”. But I also put things like “WOW, SENSEI MADE ME MOVE LIKE WATER, IT WAS SO NICE” or “DAMN ROUND KICK FELT FLUID AND FAST”. No matter what I try to A) comment on the feel of the work out. B) list what we did and C) wrote down follow up on things I think I need to work on.
I even log my home work outs, ideas on Kihon waza, physics ideas that I play with in work outs and have written in the margins when I get a “light bulb” moment and figure something out that Dingman Sensei or any of the masters I have trained under have tried to get thru my thick skull!
The true charm of training logs is two fold. First it keeps you thinking about training, you can work on things at home and not have to sit down and say “What the heck is on the agenda for today’s training?” and the second one happens years down the road when you are reading work out logs from Seminars and training that happened 5,10,15 or 20 years ago. The oldest training log that I have….I stared it in 1996. I started it after Dingman Sensei suggested that I take notes to remember what we were being taught by Yaguchi Sensei. He was talking to older students, and I was around 14-15 at the but I felt it was a great idea to start as well.
My suggestion to everyone is that you go out, get a five subject note book, the smaller ones, Rip out the five separations and start taking notes at each of your classes. It will help with your short home work outs, as well as serving as an instant reference to the things you want to work on before and between testing. Keep in mind that if you are a visual person you can have a lot of drawings in the books.
Most of all enjoy your training and remind yourself by making good notes and reminding yourself what you did in class. And go back and read them when you get a chance.