Karate Handwritten Notes Sharpen the Student

This week a sensei at our dojo celebrated 25 years in karate. She related to us a powerful story about journaling after class. The journey began with her mom taking martial arts training together. They came home after every class and wrote the class details into a spiral note book. A few benefits were apparent at the time, namely the time spent together after class as well as the training and the clarification that comes when you try to recreate an event after the fact with another person.

It turned out that a few years ago as the sensei’s mother was moving, she came across the notebooks and shared them with her daughter. From that notebook we resurrected several drills and we were able to perform them this week to assist in the celebration. Kicking paper is much better than eating cake! The drills were fun and the training was on point for the class.

Today we have activity trackers and phones as well as other electronic recording devices. The best item, in my opinion, is the notebook as our celebrating sensei found out. Studies have shown that hand writing is better than electronic recording. Our minds see the pictures created by the notes we make on the page. It is not the same when we type.

Like me, many of you probably wear activity trackers of some sort. I like my watch for tracking activities, but I know that it does a poor job of remembering what happened in class. That is where a good journal or notebook comes into play.

I have a Garmin watch that records my activity. I am not using the watch to keeping a running journal of my day.

Grant Summit View with Glen

See the watch?

  • At the end of the day it tells me how many, how far and how long.
  • It does not record the sequence of items like in a kata.
  • It does not help me to keep my focus during training as I do not wear it when training.
  • It is a great reminder to get up and take a walk when I sit too much writing a blog!

When I was training for my second degree black belt test, I found that the activity tracker was actually doing more harm than good for me. I had it on at the gym where I was daily practicing kata. During the practice sessions, my hand would hit the wrist with the tracker and I developed a habit that was hard to break of not having my shuto hand glide down my arm to finish a move. One of the other senseis pointed out my move in class and remarked that I was not finishing properly. It took me a while to figure out that my lack of finishing went back to my Garmin watch. Now I practice at the gym without it. Is it time to drop yours during training as well?

I am sure that like me, you are already hearing the ads for back to school. When you are out shopping for school supplies or just out shopping, please consider the purchase of an extra notebook for karate class. Take a look at Sensei Mae’s post on the importance of taking notes.

  • In class we often say that we are likely not to see unique or special drills for years so it should be documented.
  • We have often documented some of the fun drills in our notebooks and were able to teach them to others.
  • When we have an opportunity to share drills we have in our notebooks with others, it is a treat to see students new to the drill taken up with excitement.

Here are some positive reasons to take notes:

  • Overview of day
  • Topic and reminder of lessons learned
  • Record lessons learned and sequences
  • Document fundamental skills

Please let me know how your journal from class is going. Maybe I will see you out shopping for a new notebook for our next class. See you in class soon.