Friday, 27 November 2009

Martial Arts requires Application AND Beauty

I have just read a blog post by Mario McKenna (Okinawa Karatedo and Kobudo) which was both inspiring and refreshing to read. It was titled Yo-no-Bi which, as Mario explained, means 'application' and 'beauty'. When applied to martial arts it means practicality should be balanced by aesthetics. In other words martial arts is not just about fighting and learning in the fastest, most practical way but must also give regard to the efficacy, fluency and beauty of the techniques.

For some martial art practitioners the point of training is purely to get better at fighting and the more pragmatic the chosen art the better. Some of these people think that kata is a waste of time and is just flowery nonsense. The problem with reducing a martial art to its 'practical bones' is that in the end what ultimately counts is brute strength. The big, strong guy is likely to win whatever his technique is like. Purely practical fighting arts may offer a fast-track way to learn some self-defence but the practitioner will ultimately lack the higher skills and understanding that will make techniques dependent on skill rather than brute strength.

In his post Mario describes 'aesthetics' as those things that perfect distance, timing, composure, balance and other similar concepts. These things can be learnt through kata and then, when they are applied to self-defence, enable techniques to be executed exactly, fluently and effortlessly - no brute strength required!

Of course to transfer skills learnt through kata to self-defense takes time, experience and patience. It is not the fast track route. However, it is ultimately the best route to highly skilled (and beautiful) technique.

Thank you Mario for your excellent post.

Bookmark and Share

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

When is a hip not a hip? - When it's a koshi!

Every martial artist comes to understand the importance of 'hips' in the execution of punches, kicks and throws. It is drilled into us virtually every training session: 'rotate the hips!', or 'make your belt swing!'.

However, when I 'rotate' my 'hips' I do not experience the required effects. I do not 'transmit' the power from my legs to my upper body. In fact 'rotating' my 'hips' seems to have a negative effect on my technique - it seems to cut my body in two, severing the connection between my legs and my upper body? It often unbalances me, particularly when I turn direction during a kata. I have been told that my torso sometimes looks 'wobbly' and that I sometimes 'over rotate' the hips.

This may just be a coordination problem - but on the whole I am well coordinated so I'm not sure that's the problem. It may be that I lack strength in the hip region - that's a possibility. The other possibility is that I have misinterpreted what is meant by a 'hip twist'.

When I watch others execute techniques with 'hip twist' I am sometimes a little puzzled by what exactly it is they are twisting - they may be turning or thrusting the lower torso region, but 'twisting' or 'rotating' the hips? Not in my interpretation of 'twisting the hips'. However, they are doing it correctly and I am doing it wrong - so my interpretation must be wrong. Watch this video of Kagawa sensei executing a gyaku zuki:

The movement he generates in his torso involves a unified rotation of his body from just below the chest to the middle of his thighs - this was not what I interpret as hips!

Then I read something in a book called Traditions by David Lowry. In this book there is a short chapter called 'Move from the hips'. He recounts an incident in his class one day when he was encouraging his students to 'move from your hips'. After the class a group of female students approached and told him that his concept of 'hips' was not only a Japanese-influenced one but also a male one!

Women generally consider the hips to specifically be the area right around the widest part of the buttocks. Whereas for men the hips include all the buttocks and the waist as well. However, for the Japanese hips (koshi) means a wider area still, one that includes every part of the trunk from the bottom of the buttocks right up into the abdomen.

After I read this a light turned on! I have been considering my hips from a female perspective, rather than a male or Japanese perspective. I've been twisting my hips like I'm dancing to Chubby Checker! No wonder I am unstable and not transmitting power correctly. I might have guessed I'd need to think like a man on this one.

David Lowry puts forwards 2 maxims for how the koshi should be used in martial arts:

1. All movement must originate with the hips, i.e the hips must precede all action. The koshi must be kept firm and tight whereas the limbs can be left relaxed. Maintaining a firm koshi takes the 'slack' out of the stance and permits movement without a wasted 'wind up' first. Moving the hips first unifies the body allowing all other muscles to work in harmony.

2. Power must be delivered through the hips directly to the target. For example, when doing an oi-zuki (stepping through punch), from the starting stance, right through the step to the punch, the koshi should be exactly the same height from the floor. The hips move in a straight, horizontal line so that no power is lost or misdirected.

Now that I know that my hips is not just my hips and that this whole koshi region should be kept tense; that movement should precede all action and deliver power directly to the target, the above video of Kagawa sensei makes a lot more sense to me now.

I think I now have enough understanding of this hip twist thing to start training in a different way , then, may be I will stop wobbling and unbalancing myself!

If you are an instructor and you are teaching your students about hip rotation please make sure they know exactly what you mean by 'hips' - it could save a lot of confusion!

Reference: Traditions, Essays on the Japanese Martial Arts and Ways, Dave Lowry 2002. Tuttle publishing.

Bookmark and Share

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Karate Party

My karate club held an early Xmas party on Saturday in a small, local brewery. Yes, that's right, we had a p---up in a brewery! Adults only of course.

This is the second year running we've held our xmas party at this venue. Lucky for us the brewery (The Sheffield Brewery Co. Ltd) is part owned by one of our club members so we are always made to feel welcome. The bash included a pie and pea supper, beer on tap (wine for non-beer drinkers - not sure what tee-totallers had!) as well as a tour of the brewery, which is quite fascinating when you've no idea how beer is brewed - it's quite a scientific process really. Of course an evening like this is not complete without the proverbial pub quiz, with prizes - packets of crisps and pork scratchings of course!

The above picture shows my instructor Steve Hegarty pulling a pint with the owners of the brewery - he doesn't do all that training just to throw punches! The guy in the middle at the back is Pete - one of our karate members.

This is the karate girls! Katrine, Lucy and me


As you can see the brewery is an interesting building - that's a beer cask in the background.

More guests

Instructor Steve with our assistant instructor Paul Seamer

The Sheffield Brewery Company brews 10 beers currently and supplies both local and national pubs. It can be booked out for private parties, see it's website for more details: The Sheffield Brewery Company.

Bookmark and Share

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Does the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition apply to Martial Arts?

As a former Nurse Tutor I am interested in the ways in which people learn, particularly the way they learn skills. As an educationalist I was particularly impressed by the work of an American nurse researcher who studied skill acquisition amongst nurses for a phD thesis and culminated in an important book called From novice to expert: Excellence and power in clinical nursing practice.[Benner, P. (1984). Menlo Park: Addison-Wesley, pp. 13-34.].

This work was based on the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition [Dreyfus, S.E & Dreyfus, H.L (1980)]. In their model they state:

"In acquiring a skill by means of instruction and experience, the student
normally passes through five developmental stages which we designate novice,
competence, proficiency, expertise and mastery. We argue, based on analysis
of careful descriptions of skill acquisition, that as the student becomes
skilled, he depends less on abstract principles and more on concrete
Benner renamed these 5 stages as: Novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient and expert. As I am more familiar with Benner's work I will use her stages. The criteria for each stage remain the same as in Dreyfus's work.

I no longer work in Nurse Education but have started thinking about the model in relation to training in martial arts. Is it applicable to learning a martial art? The model has been applied to many different areas of training including nursing, flying, engineering, playing chess and learning languages. The model is applicable to any skill that ultimately requires the use of tacit knowledge and intuition. Tacit knowledge is that knowledge that can only be transmitted through training and personal experience. It cannot be told or written down. You just 'know it' or 'feel it' but can't explain how or why. The concepts of mushin, zanshin and kime come to mind here.

I think the model is entirely applicable to martial arts. Here is the model and how I think it applies to martial arts. The martial arts descriptors (in red) are my own analysis and opinion and have in no way been properly researched or tested. You may not agree with my analysis so please feel free to comment and give me your analysis.

The 5 stages:
1. Novice:
A novice has no previous experience of the situations in which they are expected to perform and relies on taught rules to help them perform. Rules are not prioritised and apply equally so a novice's response to a situation is limited and inflexible. No discretionary judgement is applied.

Martial arts application: The novice will learn the basic techniques of their art - various kicks, punches, stances, locks throws etc according to the 'rules' - correct arm, hand, foot positions; correct weight distribution etc. They will have no sense of how these techniques could be applied to a self-defence or 'sport' situation. They could not select an appropriate technique to a given attack unless directed what to do. (Probably applicable to white - orange belts depending on natural ability and speed of learning)

2. Advanced beginner: Advanced beginners are those who can demonstrate marginally acceptable performance, those who have coped with enough real situations to note, or to have pointed out to them by a mentor, the recurring meaningful situational components. These components require prior experience in actual situations for recognition. Principles to guide actions begin to be formulated. The principles are based on experience.

Martial arts application: The advanced beginner demonstrates acceptable performance of basic techniques and can start to apply them, with support and supervision, in pre-arranged sparring situations. He/she will have experience of a range of simulated attack techniques (strikes, strangles, wrist grabs, head locks etc) and be able to analyse the situation and select and perform an appropriate defence technique. Will be able to perform some kata in an acceptable way and be starting to analyse kata for applications. Will be starting to recognise principles of techniques. (Probably applicable from Green - purple belt)

3.Competent: Competence, typified by two or three years experience, develops when one begins to see his or her actions in terms of long-range goals or plans of which he or she is consciously aware. For the competent performer, a plan establishes a perspective, and the plan is based on considerable conscious, abstract, analytic contemplation of the problem. The conscious, deliberate planning that is characteristic of this skill level helps achieve efficiency and organization. The competent performer lacks the speed and flexibility of the proficient one but does have a feeling of mastery and the ability to cope with and manage many contingencies The competent performer does not yet have enough experience to recognize a situation in terms of an overall picture or in terms of which aspects are most salient, most important.

Martial arts application: The competent person is starting to become aware of the length of the 'journey' they have embarked on and starts to set themselves achievable goals and start taking more responsibility for their own learning in terms of working out what is is they want to get out of their training. Performs techniques with greater accuracy, strength and spirit. Can string techniques together in a reasonably fluid manner. Can analyse more complex attack situations and identify appropriate defence techniques without help. Starting to see bunkai applications in kata independently. Can 'free spar' competently using a range of techniques but has to think and plan every technique. Still uses rules to guide performance. (Probably applicable for brown/1st dan black belts.)

4. Proficient: The proficient performer perceives situations as wholes rather than in terms of chopped up parts or aspects, and performance is guided by maxims. Proficient performers understand a situation as a whole because they perceive its meaning in terms of long-term goals. The proficient performer learns from experience what typical events to expect in a given situation and how plans need to be modified in response to these events. The proficient performer can now recognize when the expected normal picture does not materialize. This holistic understanding improves the proficient performer's decision making - able to recognize the important aspects in a situation. He/she uses maxims as guides which reflect what would appear to the competent or novice performer as unintelligible nuances of the situation; they can mean one thing at one time and quite another thing later. Once one has a deep understanding of the situation overall, however, the maxim provides direction as to what must be taken into account.

Martial arts applications: The proficient person is able to 'read' a situation accurately (whether it be a real or simulated attack), decide what the priorities are and plan quickly how to deal with it. Techniques are performed fluidly, accurately and speedily. He/she feels greater 'ownership' of kata and is developing a greater understanding of the meanings within them. He/she has a more intuitive feel for distance and timing and is starting to understand and apply broader concepts such as kime (focus), mushin('empty mind') and zanchin (total awareness). (Probably applicable to mid dan grades)

5. Expert: The expert performer no longer relies on an analytic principle (rules, guidelines, maxims) to connect her or his understanding of the situation to an appropriate action. He/she now has an enormous background of experience and an intuitive grasp of each situation and zeroes in on the accurate region of the problem without wasteful consideration of a large range of unfruitful alternatives. The expert operates from a deep understanding of the total situation. They know what to do because "it feels right". The performer is no longer aware of features and rules and his/her performance becomes fluid and flexible and highly proficient. Intuition underpinned by tacit knowledge replaces direct analysis, though analysis continues to be used in novel situations or when events do not turn out as expected.

Martial arts application: The expert martial artist has truly internalised the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of their art so that they are completely in tune, allowing effortless and free-flowing movements together with a tacit understanding of the higher ideals of martial arts and how to achieve them. He/she has an intuitive grasp of every attack/defence situation and knows instinctively how to deal with them. He/she has moved to a position of calmness, truth and peace. (Probably applies to: only true masters)

As far as I know the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition has not been applied to martial arts before but has been applied to other sports, notably skiing and American football. My intention has only been to explore how this model may fit martial arts training and does not represent actual research into appropriate descriptors for each stage.

Where would I put myself in this model? For karate I think I am just entering the 'Competent' stage and expect to be there for a while. In kobudo I am definitely still a 'Novice'. Where do you think you are?

One thing to remember with any skill acquisition is that 'time expired' does not equate with 'experience'. Learning from experience is an active not passive process. One maxim we used to share with nurses was: 'You can have ten years experience (active learner) or one years experience repeated ten times (passive learner). Make your experience count.


Bookmark and Share

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Feeling the Pressure

I have two separate gradings coming up on the weekend of the 5th and 6th December. On the Saturday I am grading for 2nd kyu in karate and on the Sunday I am taking my level 1 grading at tonfa at my kobudo club.

This will be my first karate grading with the new syllabus since we joined the SSK in August. It is quite different to the previous style of syllabus with a lot more partner work, including a locking drill, escapes from headlocks and defences from kicks on the ground. I feel I am only just getting to grips with these new aikido and jujitsu techniques that have been added to our karate syllabus. However I do like doing them and find them more useful additions to our self-defence applications.

These extra things are of course in addition to the usual karate kicking and punching combinations, kata, pad work and kumite that I will also be tested on.

Though the karate grading will be quite tough and comprehensive I at least know what to expect and how it will be conducted. I also have a one day course coming up which will focus on the syllabus. I am much more worried about the tonfa grading - this is much more a black box to me. Obviously I know what is on the syllabus but I have no idea how the grading will be conducted or who will be testing me. This is making me much more nervous than I'll be for the karate grading.

My kobudo sensei insists that I am ready for grading and is trying to be reassuring about it but there have been so many different techniques to learn (who would have thought two sticks could be so complicated!) I'm convinced I'll get them mixed up! I'm also concerned that my nerves will mean I don't have full control of the tonfas and my partner will get a bit bashed up. Fortunately my partner will be my husband - so I know he'll forgive me!

I have decided to squeeze an extra training session in tonight. I don't usually go to the Tuesday class because I go to an 'Am Dram' group but I decided to reassess my priorities - I need my tonfa training more than I need my play rehearsal (play's not until April)!

I'm definitely starting to feel the pressure......

Bookmark and Share

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Kime Confusion

When I set out to write this post I was planning to explore the concept of kime. This was a word I have heard banded around a lot but only vaguely understood its meaning. Kime means focus, right? Other definitions of kime I have met during my research include "decisive" and "finish" -as in finishing the technique.

However, focus is the most common definition of kime I have met and here lies the confusion. What do we mean by focus? Paradoxically the meaning of focus appears to be rather nebulous! I have read around the subject quite a lot and some martial artists refer to 'focus' as being the 'target' you are aiming for with a punch i.e. the 'kime point'. If you focus all your energy onto the kime point then you will hit your target hard. Others use the word focus to mean a mental attitude, i.e. you need to 'focus' or concentrate fully on executing the punch. Yet others are using the word focus to mean tensing and then relaxing the muscles in rapid succession just at the precise moment you make contact with the target. However some of these people are referring to the muscles in the punching arm and fist whereas others are referring to the muscles in the 'dantian' region in the lower abdomen. No wonder I'm not quite getting it!

What people seem to agree on though is that kime is necessary to produce maximum power in a strike or kick. However there seems to be some disagreement in how this is achieved. People seem to divide into one of two groups. Those that believe you can describe and analyse a punch using principles of physics such as mass, force and acceleration and those that believe you cannot apply such principles to the execution of the 'perfect' punch. I have read forums in which physicists have declared that you cannot apply equations such as force = mass x acceleration to a human punch because these equations were designed to explain what happens when one inanimate object hits another one, e.g. when a ball of one mass hits a ball of a different mass. Apparently humans don't behave like balls! I am no physicist so I have no idea who to believe.

However, which ever group people fall into I have extracted two principles that everybody seems to agree on to hit the 'perfect' punch:

1. Speed is essential. The faster the punch the harder it will be.

2. The target aimed for should be about 4 or 5 inches behind the actual target. i.e you aim 'through' the target not for the surface of the target. This is related to the first principle because maximum speed is achieved at around 70 - 80% of arm extension (according to physics). This means you need to hit the target before your arm is fully extended otherwise your arm will be decelerating.

Is a boxing punch harder than a karate punch? This is a question often asked and debated about. It seems that the answer lies in what you mean by harder, or rather, what your punch is aiming to achieve. In boxing you may be aiming to knock your opponent clean off their feet or even knock them unconscious. If that is what you mean by harder then clearly a boxing punch is harder than a karate punch. However, in karate you may be aiming for your punch to exert maximum pain and damage to your opponent by sending a shock wave through them or breaking a bone. In this case it is important that they are not knocked off their feet since that dissipates the energy of the punch. In this context a karate punch is 'harder' than a boxing punch.

This boxing versus karate punch debate is relevant because a point of contention in deciding what makes a perfect punch is how long a punch should be in contact with the target. In karate it is taught that the punch should be withdrawn as soon as it makes contact with the target, i.e the muscles must be immediately relaxed. This prevents you from 'pushing' the opponent and dissipating the energy. However in boxing the aim is not to cause maximum damage to the opponent (its a sport after all) so a punch usually has a follow through which necessitates the fist to make contact with the target for longer, dissipating the energy and pushing the opponent backwards. The perfect punch is different depending on whether you are boxing or doing karate. It is like comparing apples with pears.

Many exponents of karate argue that new karateka should not practice punching against a heavy bag but should practice against a strike pad or makiwara post. This is because striking a heavy bag encourages you to 'push' your punches to make the bag move (it looks more impressive). An experienced karateka will know that his punches are more effective if the bag does not move so could probably safely practice against a heavy bag.

Other areas of contention I have found are whether or not one should tighten the fist at the moment of impact. A karateka is taught that the muscles of the arm and shoulder should be relaxed right up until the moment of impact and then the fist twisted and clenched, and the arm muscles tensed on impact before quickly being relaxed and withdrawn. This is what I try to do but I have read some commentators that say clenching the fist adds no extra power to the punch as long as the punch is fast. In fact some say that clenching the fist acts to slow down the punch because it tenses up antagonist muscles that essentially apply the 'brakes' to the punch.

A final area of contention is whether the arm should be straight when delivering the punch. In karate we are encouraged to punch straight with the arm fully extended when hitting the target (but not hyper extended). In boxing the arm will often be bent as a cross punch is delivered. Does it affect the power of the punch? Many karateka argue that a slightly bent arm can deliver the same power as a straight arm. In fact as I said before the maximum speed of the punch is achieved at 70 -80% extension, so perhaps it is preferable for the arm not to be straight?

In this post I have not tried to tell you how to do a perfect punch. How could I, I'm just a student? I have just tried to point out the issues that everybody agrees on and discuss those that people don't agree on - and let's face it, everybody is convinced they are right! You are undoubtedly more an expert on punching that me, so what is your advice - what factors do you believe make the best punch? Help me find my kime.


Bookmark and Share

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Annanku - 'Light from the South'

The kata Annanku (often spelt Ananku or even Annunko) represents a fairly pivotal point in the Shukokai karate style that I am following. It is the first more senior kata learned after the pinan katas (at 4th kyu) and is generally the first kata learned once you move into the senior class. It is also the first kata that starts in a completely different way to the pinan katas, is much longer in duration and introduces some new and more complicated moves. Learning Annanku therefore feels like an important step to students so I wanted to find out more about where this kata had come from.

Annanku means 'Light from the South' or 'Peace from the South'. Its origins are a bit shrouded in mystery. There are two stories of how this kata came to Okinawa - both revolve around the renowned karate master Chotoku Kyan (1870-1945). The first speculates that he either learned the kata from the Taiwanese who visited Okinawa, or brought it back with him following a martial arts exchange visit in 1927. Taiwan is south of Okinawa so perhaps he was taught it as a 'gift' from Taiwan, hence the name.

The second story suggests that Kyan Sensei was actually the creator of this kata or learned it from his father in which case the kata is comparatively modern (Early 20th century) compared to other kata. This theory is based on the fact that the techniques in Annanku kata are pure "Okinawan". There are no known Chinese forms that resemble Annanku. The original Annanku by Kyan Sensei contained techniques from Siesan, Passai and Wanshu kata. Annanku therefore seems to be more a mixture of Tomari-te and Shuri-te, rather than Taiwan/Chinese martial arts.

Kyan Sensei taught three different versions and variations of Annanku after his return to Okinawa from Taiwan in 1927. There are two or three versions being practised today, the matsubayashi ryu form is uniquely different compared to the shito ryu/shukokai version. In fact the Matsubayashi Ryu Ananku was created by Nagamine Sensei as a way to honour Chotoku Kyan.
The kata is characterised by many lunging stances using zenkutsu dachi for both defensive and offensive movements. It also uses many oi zuki punches and uchi uke blocks. It is also unusual in the first few moves forming a 'X' shaped embusen.

Here is a video of the shito-ryu/shukokai version of Annunko:

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Is your house making you fat?

As I was getting ready this morning I was listening to the news on the radio. There was a report that said that scientists are now scaling down their predictions for the rise in obesity for children in Britain since the rate of rise was falling significantly. Scientists attribute this to people taking on board the healthy eating/regular exercise message and being more aware of the obesogenic environment in which they live.

Obesogenic environment. Wow! That's a new one on me. I love new words. Words are what we think with, the greater our vocabulary the clearer our thinking and the more articulate we are in expressing our thoughts. I also like the idea that when we invent new words we also invent new concepts or new ways of looking at something.

Obesogenic basically means 'fat-causing' or 'fat-creating'. I did a quick search on this word and it actually came into existence in 1996 though it has not found its way into mainstream vocabulary.

The concept of living in an environment that can contribute to obesity is an interesting one. We like to think of ourselves as being masters of our environment - shaping it to suit our needs. Over the centuries we have claimed the land as our own, cut down forests, established settlements, built roads and bridges, invented several convenient and fast transport methods, learnt to cultivate and manufacture our own food, developed industry.....the list is endless and it is all to make life better for us. We are indeed masters of our environment!

Except....maybe we are not. Our environment is controlling us - its making us fat and unhealthy. We have become the products of our environment not the controllers of it. It seems to have gotten too big and complicated and now it's taken on a life of its own. We have built 'dormitory' communities that are miles from schools or the workplace, we have out of town shopping malls that are only accessible by car - so we have to drive long distances every day. Our cities are big, crowded and dangerous so we don't walk or cycle too much through them. Our jobs have become sedentary and our leisure pursuits even more so - we sit a lot. We have invented every convenience we can think of to make our lives easier - gadgets to reduce the burden of household chores even machines to heat up pre-prepared food so that we don't have to cook!

Some of us rail against the toxic effects of our environment. We exercise regularly, we try and eat healthily and we try not to poison the environment further - we can't control it as individuals, at least not the wider environment but we can control our local environment, our homes.

I've been thinking about whether my house is an obesogenic environment. The first place to look is the kitchen - are there lots of obesogens lurking in the cupboards and fridge? My family are all cheese lovers so there is a big container with various cheeses in it in the fridge, and, okay, there is a box of small cakes in the cupboard and a few packets of crisps and two boxes of Pringles....but that's it! The rest of the fridge contains low fat yogurts, some ham, lots of fresh vegetables, fruit and salad. I cook a family meal each day and rarely use convenience foods - in fact my freezer doesn't contain a single one at the moment. The freezer is basically filled with bread, frozen veg, meat, fish and seafood. I think there might also be a cheesecake and some ice cream too - but you've got to live a bit!

So I don't think my kitchen is too much of an obesogenic environment. What about the rest of the house? Well, it's on two levels so we have to use stairs a lot! We have converted a garage into a gym so we can exercise at home - and do! We have our fair share of gadgets - televisions, DVD players etc. However, I absolutely refuse to have a TV in the bedrooms or kitchen - just a personal bugbear! I think our house is okay - it's not making us fat.

If I turn my attention to my local community, is that an obesogenic environment? I live in a suburban area a few miles from the city centre and only 1 mile from open countryside. It is an old, well established suburb so it has local facilities such as local shops, post-office, banks etc. I don't use the local shops nearly as much as I could as the nearest supermarket is only about 2.5 miles away. There are local bus routes into town and to my place of work - but I rarely use them, preferring the convenience of my car. I could improve my behaviour on these counts. I could walk to my karate club, it would take about 25 minutes but I don't. In fact the car is the biggest environmental factor controlling my behaviour - it is potentially an 'obesogen'.

Fortunately my love of the car is balanced by my love of physical activity and the countryside. I train in martial arts 3 times a week, do some additional training at home and most weekends we get a decent hike in the countryside. So I think on balance I live fairly symbiotically with my environment.

So, what about your home and local environment? Is your house making you fat? What's your biggest obesogen?


Related Posts with Thumbnails