Category Archives: Martial Arts

Jack Slack’s Ringcraft: The Art Of The Fighting Stance Martial Arts 12 APR 2015

Don’t be fooled: Mixed martial arts is a world of rebels, moralists, spiritualists, historians, eccentrics, and nerds – men and women dedicated to mastering the fine art of fighting. Fightland is VICE’s take on this ever-evolving culture—exploring the international influences that make up the world of MMA.

In the first episode of the Jack Slack’s Ringcraft series, Jack Slack examines the most basic but under-appreciated element of the fight game: the offensively and defensively imperative stance.

I’ve gone through a number of stances myself over the course of all the different styles I’ve partaken in over the years, and so far I am probably most fond of Funakoshi Karate’s kamae stance as an effective opening fighting stance.

intense muay thai fighter marie choi striking a pad during training

Related Link: |

Basic Monkey-Fighting Combinations Martial Arts 21 FEB 2013

tie hou quan kung fu school logoThe following combos are monkey-style training combos. The aim of these sets is to teach students to think of combining monkey-fighting elements into a coherent attack pattern. The first four combos are the basic fighting combinations taught.

1. Hook/Punch Combination

Cover with your left hand, blocking the opponent’s view.
Step out to the right of them and hook to their head using your right fist.
Step forward with the right foot and deliver a Stone-Monkey Punch with your left fist.

2. Hook/Elbow/Kick Combination

Cover with your left hand, blocking the opponent’s view.
Step out to the right of them and hook to their head using your right fist.
Step in and strike the dazed opponent in the head using a close left elbow strike.
Complete the movement by performing a low roundhouse kick to the opponent’s upper-thigh/knee using your right leg.

3. Block/Push-Kick Combination

Perform a Dai Shin block using your right hand to draw away the attacker’s right-handed punch.
Swing your right leg round and in one movement, push the attacker away from you. Although this is a kick, the primary goal of this movement is to force the opponent away from you. To achieve this, imagine the point of impact of the kick to be far behind the opponent’s body. This will lead to a pushing effect when delivering the kick.

4. Block/Arm-Takedown Combination

Perform a Dai Shin block using your right hand to draw away the attacker’s right-handed punch.
As you pull the attacker’s arm past you, pulling him off balance, step over his upper body. This will force him down to the ground, with you standing over him.

As the attacker is forced to the ground, you adjust your grip on his punching hand and apply an arm-bar hold. By hyper-extending the elbow and applying the correct pushing down motion you should dislocate the attacker’s shoulder.

Tamashii Daiko: Japanese Taiko Drumming in Somerset West Martial Arts 30 DEC 2012

I first came into contact with the wonderful and thoroughly entertaining Tamashii Daiko group through a mutual link via our karate dojo, and thought it worthwhile to promote if you’re looking to pick up on something new in the Helderberg region. Taiko is the Art of Japanese drumming and not very well known in South Africa. It is one of the Martial Arts and has its roots in the ancient arts of Japan, with more than 2000 years of history.


Taiko has been used for many reasons and for many occasions, notably in Temples to honour the gods, during wartime to motivate the troops, to put up the boundaries of a village with the sounds of the drum and, of course, to highlight the many Japanese celebrations and festivals. And while the original traditions remain, like other Japanese arts Taiko has also evolved into more modern forms.

Modern Taiko finds a place in both formal and informal entertainment. It is popular both for players as well as audiences. In practising the way of Taiko, one learns to combine concentration, focus, discipline, teamwork and self-control with the ability to learn methodically. As a bonus, it is a great physical workout and is also loads of fun.

Practising Taiko is not just playing a drum. As with all Japanese art forms, it is also a spiritual Way that is reached through continual practice. Indeed, you only discover the most amazing part of Taiko when you reach your limits and pass beyond them.

Since 2009 Taiko has found fertile grounds here in South Africa. Especially in the Western Cape, in Somerset West, Tamashii Daiko is enjoying increasing interest.

Ursula Coenen, the leader of Tamashii Daiko studied Taiko in Germany and Japan. When she retired to South Africa in 2008, she wanted to join a Taiko group, but because there were no Taiko Groups in SA, she went ahead and founded the Taiko Group Tamashii Daiko.

The name Tamashii means Soul, and so far, Tamashii Daiko appears to be the first and only Taiko Group in South Africa.

For more information or simply to get in touch, visit their website at

Continue reading

Bo Exhibition Attack by Nakamoto Mamoru Martial Arts 13 JUN 2012

Kobudo, literally “Old Martial Arts”, is the term used these days for the old Okinawan traditional weaponry training.

Japanese resident Nakamoto Mamoru is a several times over World Champion in Kobudo and is shown here demonstrating an efficient attack with a standard 6ft Bo staff, against a kitted out makiwara (padded target).

Needless to say, the amount of damage he can inflict with nothing more than a stick is rather impressive!

(You see, Donatello wasn’t completely useless with that great big old stick of his! :P)

A Karate Hiatus for Craig Martial Arts | My Life | Personal Musings 15 MAY 2012

Unfortunately for me, I had foreseen the start of what would eventually be sure to come, and as it so happens, last week I was finally forced to send out this particular e-mail to my Gordon’s Bay Funakoshi Karate International South Africa sensei, Birgitt Smit:

Hi Sensei Birgitt and Gert

Unfortunately, as much as it pains me to do so, I need to step back from karate for the foreseeable future, as the time constraints brought about by Chantelle’s evening shift work, her Cookies and Cakes venture and of course looking after young Jessica are simply making it impossible to grab any free time whatsoever in order to attend karate classes.

Please know that I greatly enjoyed my time training and learning under the two of you (I’ve been with you guys since February 2009 – didn’t realise it had been so long already!), and will most certainly miss training with my Gordon’s Bay karate family.

Hopefully things ease up in the future, perhaps when Chantelle falls pregnant and needs to stay home again, then can I revive my karate career, but for now there just doesn’t seem to be any alternative other than going on a karate hiatus for now.

My apologies on taking so long to write this e-mail to you, but it has been a difficult decision to make – though I believe in the end, the correct one. At the end of the day, I need to make the necessary sacrifices that are in the best interest of my family.

Thank you both for the time and effort that you put in for the people who choose to train with you, and best of luck for the future.

Kind regards,

And that is that. Once again I have fallen short in earning my black belt in any form of martial art that I have tried my hand at, meaning that it remains one of those elusive achievements which always seems to fall just short of my grasp.

craig lotter karate grading brown belt

Stopping karate for now is sad and unfortunate (I’m going to miss the physical exertion, the camaraderie of the karate family and of course the constant learning and challenging of oneself), but like I said in the e-mail, a man has to do what a man has to do – and in this case someone has to be at home to look after Jessie while Mommy is busy with work…

Punching Bag Martial Arts | My Life 04 APR 2012

Despite the fact that I love the people I train with here at the Gordon’s Bay Funakoshi Karate dojo, the one thing that I do lament is the lack of bag training, understandable due to the space restriction, class size, and low-cost nature of the operation, but lamentable nevertheless.

So finally I’ve decided to do something about this.

I went out and bought my very own, extra large punching bag.

Heading out to Somerset Mall one day during lunch (early searches on Gumtree and OLX had proved fruitless), I made a whirlwind tour of Sportsman’s Warehouse, Somerset Sports, Mr Price Sport, and Game – going into the hunt pretty much blind, but knowing just how much I was willing to spend.

As luck would have it, the last place I thought I would actually find something, never mind buy something (because they are usually the most expensive out of the lot), actually had what I was looking for – and even better yet, they were running a special, meaning that for an over-sized extra large bag, I could save R100 and pick it up for a cool R400 instead of the usual 500 bucks!

After much deliberation between the one available at Game and the one in Sportsman’s Warehouse (the other two shops had proved a bust), I opted to take the special and proceeded to grab a sturdy, bright red Headstart punching bag, carry it over to the tills, hand over my wad of cash (or swipe my credit card if you will), before bundling it into my little Getz and racing off back home before my lunch break finally ran out.

With a little ingenuity, help of a ladder and an old white karate belt, I proceeded to attach my heavy punching back to our driveway shade cover, before proceeding to happily beat and kick the crap out of the taunting red bag, in the process making sure that the new strain on the structure won’t bring down the carport on top of me – which of course wouldn’t be cool at all. (Or in other words, wifey would kill me!)

There is a bit of noise, but it seems to be alright and holding strong, meaning that from here on out, every time I walk in and out of my house, I can first work up a bit of a sweat and get rid of any frustrations which might be lingering around me! :)

(Oh, and it turns out that Chantelle is quite fond of giving it a good kick or a punch every time she comes in as well. Must be a lot of stress over at the guest house then…)

First Beach Training Session of 2012 Martial Arts | My Life 16 FEB 2012

Saturday the 4th of February marked the first Funakoshi Karate International South Africa beach training session for the year, and as it turned out, we got a lucky break in that the gale force wind that had been pumping through Gordon’s Bay for the last couple of days, and indeed, the entire morning of the beach training day, all of a sudden halted completely, leaving a breathless, sunny and hot afternoon, the perfect conditions for the 30 or so karateka that descended upon Gordon’s Bay main beach in front of Sunset Spur to partake in a special hour long beach training session.

The afternoon kicked off with a long set of basics, done in a big circle, before moving on to some fitness training in the form of various running styles between two laid out lines. Some kihon was done, as well as fun group exercises to improve explosive power, before finishing off with a kicking session designed to ensure that by the end of a sweaty afternoon, everyone would have been sufficiently cooled down by the raining sea water and mud!

(Needless to say, plenty of gi washing would have to follow)

After the final bow was done and the karateka dispersed, a group of the senior members then decided to take further advantage of the great weather, not by doing more training, no, but rather by grabbing a refreshing round of beer at the conveniently close by Spur.

Ah, life in sunny old South Africa truly is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? :)

Not actually a video mind you. Just a screenshot of the video. This might have been done entirely to annoy you. Anyway, the actual video is up on Facebook.

Sensei Birgit’s son Wickus Smit went ahead and compiled the photos of the session into this fun little video, which is available on Facebook in case you’re interested in seeing what we got up to, and as always, if you’re keen on finding out more about what we do or perhaps even signing up, feel free to contact Sensei Birgit Smit at

Kyu 2 Brown Belt Achieved! Martial Arts | My Life 11 DEC 2011

Pleasingly, despite my reduced commitment to my Karate training regime, I was allowed to grade the Saturday before last, grading for Brown Kyu 2, in other words Brown two stripes (where I was currently Brown three stripes).

The grading took place on the Saturday morning at the quaint Mondeor Eco-School in Somerset West (just next to Monkey Town on the N2), the same location where I had previously graded for my Purple belt. As per usual time estimates were a fair bit off, but I was in truth pretty thankful for the extended delay before we got to my group, as it gave me a chance to run through my syllabus a few more times, just to make 100% sure that I knew what I was doing!

This was the first grading since my very first grading to Yellow that I was actually nervous of standing and performing my karate on my own in front of Sensei Birgitt and the panel of all the black belts, not feeling confident in terms of what would be required of me – and this was all based squarely on my now rather spotty training schedule that I’m going to have to live with for the next couple of years!

Oh well.

Anyway, by the time my group was finally called up, I was pretty warmed up and had a firm grasp of my syllabus, meaning that the nerves were now calm and it was just a matter of getting on with it. As per usual, I gave it my all, full power and nice and vocal, and despite making a few silly mistakes of which I’m not so happy with myself for making, the grading went pretty okay, meaning that I could proudly accept my new certificate at the end of the ceremony.

So now one more level of Brown to go, before that year long slog to Funakoshi Karate Black – which is after all, my ultimate goal now isn’t it? ;)

My Karate Training Dilemma Martial Arts | My Life 20 OCT 2011

I sit with a bit of a dilemma on my hands with regards to my karate training, and the decision is a big one – should I continue or should I stop?

It’s important to understand why this dilemma has arisen. First, you must understand that I still enjoy practicing my karate and certainly enjoy training, but simply put, the reality of family life has had a big impact on my extramural activities – and this is a cold hard fact.

Last week was a little special – due to circumstances with Chantelle’s work, I was actually able to attend both training sessions for a change, but believe me, this is a pretty rare thing to be able to do.

Chantelle and Andy share the duties as managers of Gordon’s Beach Lodge, and this of course means shift work, covering both morning, evening and weekend shifts. Previously this obviously wasn’t such a big thing because I would simply continue doing my own thing if Chantelle was on duty, but obviously with Jessie around, this has completely changed.

In terms of my training, I am guaranteed at least one late shift a week that falls either on the Monday or Wednesday, meaning that I can now only attend one karate training session a week – which is only a hour long and thus computes to a measly 4 hours of karate a month! (Not to mention all the events I find myself having to withdraw from!)

Needless to say this is not nearly enough in order for me to keep up with the rest of the group, and subsequently I am well behind in my syllabus necessary for the upcoming grading come early December.

And this simply isn’t fair on Sensei Birgitt or the rest of the class as far as I’m concerned.

So now I sit with the question as to whether or not I continue to limp along as I have for the last couple of months, or throw in the towel for now, until Jessica is old enough for me to cart along to the venue, and pick it up later again?

Sigh, I guess I can’t really complain about this though. One knows that there will be a lot of sacrifices which need to be made if you want to bring a child into this world and more importantly, raise them properly! Decisions, decisions, decisions…