2021 KORA Research Group Review

2021 Started with the group in lockdown in the UK, with several training trips to Amsterdam and Spain cancelled in early January. The only saving grace is some regular zoom classes with our teacher covering aspects of the Sera curriculum. Slowly as the year progressed, we restarted training on a one-to-one basis and then finally as a small group with carefully managed numbers for safety.

I personally managed to log all my solo and group training this year from June to December, 8,750 minutes of training for that period, which my converter tells me is about 146 hours. That’s considerably less than I had hoped for, but logging training time again proved really helpful for me to keep track of my training progress. I also took notes from each class and teaching session on zoom. This is something positive which I intend to continue and can recommend to any student.

The group class training was broadly divided into Sera curriculum training and then my KORA curriculum of stand up, clinch and ground with some weapons such as knife and impact weapons on the return to total activity. We modified this to one hour of Sera training on Saturday, which followed the Sera zoom class instruction on Tuesday during the latter part of the year. Then one hour of my KORA curriculum. Feedback from students and training partners was excellent on this format, with smaller one-hour lessons working really well.

In addition, I restarted my sword training, trying to break forty years of stick training habits, which has proved to be challenging but rewarding. Going forward, I would teach a new long weapons student essential sword work first and then follow up with stick work. The direct opposite of how I learned. Following a period of enforced isolation in August, I managed to finally start to get the basics of sword right and relax a little more.

I also started ground grappling again, working on my catch/BJJ hybrid for MMA.

Positive outcomes for the year are that we managed to get some group training time together, and we all progressed in each discipline. I can now cross-reference my Sword work with my Sera, Savate module, stand-up boxing, and shoot boxing training really efficiently as a coach.

Formula For Success

A slightly revised and refined formula for success for our KORA method.

Avoid.

Disable.

Kill.

Ideally, we would avoid and go a long way to do that. Failing that, we may disable and, on occasions, kill. Context is so important in combat training, but many martial artists don’t even have a formula that has been a proven success in the past.

Even with a successful formula, you have to act, and the art has to be ingrained into your subconscious to come out. That means daily solo training and regular partner training, which has an alive element of play.

A body, mind and spirit dedicated to a suitable outcome.

Solo Training

I have about a week’s worth of enforced solo training ahead of me, which is not really a problem as I have a lot of solo work to draw from. Today’s session was a mixture of Sera jurus, Karbi Krabong modified for my stick fighting and some sword strokes combined with footwork.

Yes, before anyone emails me, I know that solo training is part of a total training system that includes partner work and free play.

There are many ways to set your mind for solo work; you can imagine you are in a fight with your opponent(s), you can also imagine demonstrating in front of your teacher as if he is present and watching. I have tried both these over the years, with very mixed results.

When I first started out with some long-distance training, my teacher would show me a motion, sometimes on video, and I would perform it on my own in front of a mirror to make sure it looked at least correct regarding the basic motions. Whilst this is a great way to start long-distance learning, it’s my experience that you need to move away from a mirror as soon as you have the basic motion down.

The reason to move away from the mirror is that you need to develop a body feel inside you when performing solo movements. This is the ideal time to get it just right for solo body feel with only gravity and your own body to fight against. Every now and again, I check out the motion in a mirror or video it to review it later, but for the most part, my solo training is just me in a training place, much like a yoga practice.  

The challenge for me is staying in the correct flow state and not daydreaming because it’s easy to drift off as you flow along. I need to be in the room and very present.

Today staying in the room was a struggle. I actually felt like throwing my training sword away at points but persevered and now have that clear mind that you get post solo training.

So be in the room and keep at it until you are happy.  

Logging Flight Time

Throughout the 1970s, 1980’s and 1990’s I logged every martial arts training opportunity and workout session, tracking the total number of minutes each month. At some point in the early 2000s, I gave up, probably because I was no longer competing. I also lost all my training logs during a house move, which means I have lost a few decades of training logs.

There are several reasons it’s helpful to track your flight hours, mainly because it’s almost impossible to track personal training hours unless you have a set regime that you also ways follow. This regime will probably be overseen by another (Coach) who is tracking you. Even during my military service, I was never a full-time martial artist and always had a day job, so it was important to track my time involvement and the results. I probably got the idea to add the number of training minutes into my boxing coach’s notebooks as I had to log hours for my coaching certificate.

This years notebook

Since I started training, I have always kept a notebook to record my personal activity, lessons and outcomes. In the 1970’s it was mostly recording boxing, Judo and sword training; in the 1980’s I added Combatives and Muay Thai, closely followed by FMA, Silat and JKD. The 1990s were mainly about Vale Tudo (now MMA). I always kept up the note-taking but abandoned the minute counting.

In May, I set out a plan for my personal training for the rest of the year and resurrected my flight time logging. I realised I wanted to concentrate on the following for my personal training:

Sera.

Sword.

Grappling.

KORA Stand Up.

I realised that by learning and studying separate disciplines and upkeeping skills in the others, I would have to better use my available free time.

I currently do the following; I log every training opportunity, including private lessons with my teachers, what we covered and use those notes to update my study notes and teaching plans. I record health exercises such as stretching, fitness and weight training, solo training, and equipment work, including hitting the heavy bag. I record by the minute as some of the exercises only take ten minutes, a good example being my daily hip stretch.

Month Minutes
June 865
July1785
August
September
October
November
December
Total2650
The new log

I add up the minutes at the end of each month and record them in an excel sheet. No doubt I could be more detailed and break things down by discipline, but total hours completed works for me. I can always refer back to my notebook to see if I am slaking in my sword training.

At the end of each month, I cross-reference the total hours and then dial down what went well or bad. An excellent example from June was slaking on my solo sword training; my teacher noticed the outcome of this and mentioned it. In July, I added in twenty minutes a day, each day, to practice my basic sword motions. Keeping a daily log triggered me to slot in those twenty minutes of swordplay or double up the next day if I missed a session.

The result is a personal improvement for me and so well worth the ten minutes a day to log flight time.