I have not written anything for months due to a combination of illness and, well, the state of the world. But as I’m coming back to the land of the living, and writing projects that were crudely interrupted by covid-19 are once more gaining momentum, it feels right to write something for pleasure once again.
I’ve been practicing karate for about eight years now and obviously covid-19 has put a bit of a spanner in the works. Lockdown has made training together almost impossible. That said, the great Gishin Funakoshi once compared karate to boiling water: if you don’t keep heating it, it will cool. And while things are still a long way from going back to normal, I certainly don’t want to lose my passion for martial arts.
If only because they tend to lighten my mood and keep me physically in good shape. Something I need during winter at the best of times and this year more than ever before. So I’ve been looking around on Youtube for good karate content – I learn better from videos than from books, although there are plenty of great examples of the latter. I’m listing my favourite finds here for my own and everyone’s benefit. Even if you’ve never practiced a martial art before, they might introduce you to a new hobby, and who knows, maybe even a passion that will last you a lifetime.
Also known as The Karate Nerd, Enkamp creates a wide range of content on the history of karate, as well as instructional videos. His infectious enthusiasm helped me a lot when I first tried to get my own karate passion back to boiling point. If you’re a novice who thinks karate is all seriousness and no fun, go here to get your mind changed.
Very short (but brutal!) workout videos, extensive but accessible content on karate history, jargon, and peculiarities. Its creator also offers classes via Zoom, which I haven’t tried, but could be a good option for those craving personalized feedback.
Longer (but no less brutal) workout videos suitable for novices and advanced karateka alike. Go here if you just want to work yourself into a sweat with no chatter or banter. Solid workouts that do the job.
Fun training ideas, tips and tricks. No frills, minimal banter, just show up and be prepared to leave the mat VERY tired.
Perhaps better suited to the more advanced practitioner, this channel offers some fantastic bunkai videos that have really changed my perspective on some familiar kata.
Very small channel created by a Ryu Rei karate dojo. I stumbled upon their work as I am trying to learn a Ryu Rei kata. I particularly like their videos on kobudo (weapons) which are suitable for complete beginners like me.
History and karate culture, how to recognize a McDojo, how to compare different martial arts styles… Hours of fun and interesting content that will give you ample ammunition for discussions with your martial arts-minded friends.
How to-videos aimed at Shotokan karate practitioners (like me). Great when you’re trying to learn new techniques or kata or when you just want to refresh your memory.
Workout videos you can try at home, even if your space is limited. Slightly slower pace than some other channels listed here, so good for beginners or those nursing an injury.
For the drill and technique nerds. Lots of ideas, suggestions, and things I can’t wait to try out when I’m allowed to train with willing victims again. I mean friends.
While none of these channels can replace training in an actual dojo under the watchful eye of an experienced sensei, they are certainly better than nothing. At least they can help to keep your skills up to speed, keep you motivated, and in good physical shape. I particularly like the shorter videos: I can fit one into even the busiest day, even when I’m tired, and I always come out feeling better. Plus, working through one short video often makes me want to do more. I can’t wait to get back into a more conventional dojo setting, but until then I’m happily making do with what I have.