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Archived Articles

October 2009 Articles

Beyond Black Belt

By Joel Bonomelli - Black Belt Cobra Martial Arts
Edited by Sensei

One unfortunate but inevitable fact in Martial Arts training is that a white belt class of 30 students, will eventually dwindle to only a few by black belt. Currently at Black-Green (Probation Black Level 2) I am noticing another trend; that many who receive the title of black belt view it as the end of their learning, their journey, and as such give up Martial Arts and leave.

One of the biggest misconceptions held by many students and the public, is that obtaining black belt (first 'degree') represents being an expert. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whilst training for black belt is very demanding and the attainment of a black belt IS significant, black belt status really only indicates the completion of basic training and graduation to a new beginning. The term 'degree' is derived from the Japanese word 'dan' which can be translated to 'grade' or 'level', hence in martial arts we have various degrees of black belt.

First level black belts are also known as Shodans; sho meaning beginning. Reaching this first, beginning rank means you have achieved proficiency in the basics and are prepared to really start learning, where learning means a lot more than just techniques. Thus a new shodan becomes a beginner again.

One way to envision Cobra Martial Arts is to parallel it to academic learning. Leading up to black belt we are given the basic principles and techniques of the art, similar to primary school. As we progress to 1st and 2nd degree black belt, it is like the period of high school in that we have a greater responsibility in our learning and development. We are no longer 'spoon fed' and we begin to expand on the basics, rediscovering them in a new light, seeing connections between them, and simplifying and refining them. By 3rd and 4th degree it can be seen as university education; we are wholly responsible for our learning and encouraged to think for ourselves, yet we are still guided and taught. We question, we analyze, and we further expand our skills. At 5th degree and beyond we become masters of our art. We have the understanding and ability to teach ourselves based on applying the basic principles we had learned during our earlier training, such as the principles of balance, centre of gravity, stability, mobility, centre line, timing and body mechanics. Much of this is not explained to us directly as it would rob us of the full experience and feel them for ourselves to truly understand many principles.

As a postgraduate researcher is always adding to their field, so to does the master to their art. This is evident by Sensei. He still trains and learns from his older, higher ranked masters. He travels the world experiencing new techniques and expands the art of Cobra Martial Arts in doing so. One example is his skill and proficiency in Filipino Eskrima/Stick & Knife, such that he has been able to develop a separate Filipino Eskrima (Kali / Arnis) syllabus within Cobra Martial Arts.

So what was the point of this article? To those on their way to black belt it is to reinforce that there is so much to be gained on the journey there. When you attain your black belt ranking it is a major achievement. For those who have already made it there and are continuing on, this was to enlighten and remind you of the path that you are already traveling and to wish you the best of luck in your journey of the Martial Arts.

Conquering Kokoda

By Kate Moulton - Cobra Martial Arts student

In July this year Louise Webster (also Cobra Martial Arts student) and I embarked on a journey our soldiers made back in 1942. A journey that not only took strength and determination but one that took courage and team work, traits that have been instilled in us by our training at Cobra Martial Arts & Fitness Centres over the past year and a half.

Thanks to Cobra Martial Arts we were at a fitness level that allowed us to trek the 9 solid days, 96km, 6000ft of inclines and 6000ft of declines, maybe not with ease, but definitely with ability to push through our pain barriers, both physically and mentally.

The above picture is of us with the last remaining Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel. At 103 years of age he can still recall the four and a half years he spent helping our Aussie troops fight the Japanese on the Kokoda track. These men with the fuzzy wuzzy hair are true heros. Thank you.

Louise and I would like to also thank Sensei and all our trainers at Cobra Martial Arts & Fitness Centres for the roles they played knowingly or not in getting us ready both mentally and physically for the trip of a life time. THANK YOU.

Product Review: Skipping ("Jump") Rope

The humble skipping rope is easily the cheapest, lightest and most convenient fitness device available to us and skipping is one of the most effective fat-burning exercises. Skipping (also known as 'jump rope') can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour. That means that by skipping for only 20 minutes, you can burn up to 330 calories which is about the same number of calories as contained in a Double Cheeseburger!

Skipping is not only a fast fat burner, but it is great for agility, footwork, shoulder endurance (so we can hold our guard up stronger and longer), posture, balance, reflexes and coordination. These are things vital to be a great martial artist! It is also an all-over body workout for strengthening and toning, with strong focus on calves, deltoids, arms and the abdominal area. It is no wonder that martial artists and boxers include skipping in their training programs!

So while skipping can be frustrating in the beginning, once you get the hang of it, you'll quickly start reaping the benefits. The best way to get rid of the frustration of missing beats and preventing boredom is to make sure you mix up the routine. Different jumps can include a single bounce, a double bounce, a jog step, knees up, cross-overs, sprints and the Boxer's shuffle. By changing the jump every 30 seconds or so, you'll be more likely to stay in a rhythm by avoiding muscle fatigue in a certain area.

Cobra Martial Arts & Fitness Centres equipment supplies stores stock skipping ropes of a variety of lengths and weights, starting from only $14.95 each. Ropes include basic PVC, ball bearing swivel and the heavier Muay Thai thick Kickboxing skipping rope for maximal development! Check them out now in our Online Shop.