Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Injuries, Illness, Disability and Aging Considerations

Back in 1983 one evening I showed up to train with Charles Murray and I had some leg injury making it impossible to perform the jumping front kick of Chinto Kata. Charles told me to instead use a stepping side kick, a technique, one step down, when injured.

Now Dr. Harper F.A.C.S.,who was with my program for years made it plain than only someone with a head injury should ever seek out my opinion for medical advice, instead needing competent advice. This is correct for I am not medically trained.

But I would like to address how to address training within competent medical advice.

First, consider the injury limiting oneself. There is still much that works after injury. Should it be jumping techniques, by taking them one step down say using a stepping front kick instead of a jumping one there still is much that can be worked until recovery of the injury. Or it the ankle injury prohibits spinning to perform Chinto kata’s spinning low block, you might always turn the left (the opposite direction for the Isshinryu Chinto kata, and low block. Perhaps knee injury or simple aging are makes dropping to the floor problematic or impossible, you might do the technique standing up instead. Techniques can always be taken a step back or replaced with another.

When movement in impossible you can still practice forms in your mind, and use the breathing patterns. Useful for better oxygenation on your back, from personal experience while in Cancer treatment.

Making technique variations for a form still allows you to work on he other techniques. And that is enough to work with whether the condition is temporary or permanent..

One of my students in Isshinryu and Tai Chi developed what became a life ending genetic condition. He lost control of almost all functions. However, as destabo;ozomg as that was we still were able to practice Tai Chi while seated. He was unable to pick up a glass of water without spilling it but I showed him how to flow to the glass with Tai Chi and return with it and he did. When even that proved difficult at the end we could practice the Tai Chi breathing patterns. It didn’t save his life, but enabled him to retain a quality to life that he wished for, being able to keep practicing.

Currently I face this myself. The Myasthenia Gravis I have developed affects my balance and energy often making things very difficult. So I do the best I can. My Tai Chi is still practiced but it goes quite badly for by balance make the turns very difficult, so I do the best I can, just not a very good one. My karate does better, the simpler forms are often the best. It is very challenging but my applications work quite we.. though my control where I hit Mike in the head is often less.

We have to live our art in our times.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Motobu Choki Self Defense Techniques

Being an Isshinryu practitioner, having the chance to see and practice Motobu Choki’s self defense drills and understand the shape they my have held on Shimabuku Tatsuo’s developing Isshinryu Karate is special. His son has preserved much of his father’s art for us.

Motobu no Naihanchi Shodan may well be the source of Isshinryu Karate Nihanchi kata as we too begin to the left.

Starting to the left as in the 1932 “Watashi no Karate-jitsu

Motobu also taught this version, Nihanchi ShoDan with Motobu Chosei

starting to the right this time.

There also is Motobu-ryu Naihanchi Nidan by Motobu Chosei

Which is not found in Isshinryu but is important in the self defense techniques.

I have been unable to locate the version of Patsai (Passai) used by Motobu, but this version from one of Kyan’s students may help us see the influence on Isshinryu SunNuSu (Sunsu) Kata.

The kata PASSAI (Tomari, Oyadomari, Kyan version) performed at the Okinawa Kenritsu Budokan in front of Joen Nakazato sensei (R.I.P.) in 2009, by one of his most senior students

From these kata practices came the influence of the self defense techniques.

Motobu Chosei performing Motobu Choki 12 Self Defense technique

interspaced with photos from Motobu Choki’s 1926 book “Okinwanan Kempo Karate-jitsu

after the techniques are shown there is a 2nd performance of the techniques.

Notice the attacker often uses two strikes, both of which must be dealt with.

Note no. 4 uses the backfist and press similar to our multiple striking drill (hint)

Note no. 8 is similar to the use of the technique in SunNuSu kata (or a Passai technique application)

This has been cross checked against the Patrick McCarthy translation "Motobu Choki Karate My Art".
Thank you to those who have preserved and shared these video’s with us.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Advancing Studies in Kata

 The advancing study of Kata in Bushi No Te Isshinryu offers advancing training tools for our use.  One of them offers some enjoyable training, promotes use of our senses, prepares students for demonstrations, teaches consistent breathing regulation for the newer student, pushes the advancing student, and provides a framework for advanced challenges.

This in a method for using partner kata practice.

For the newer student Kata Sho is done with a partner in opposite directions. They being their rei facing each other with their right shoulders facing each other. Then as they practice the kata they move in opposite directions past each other. At first slowly to avoid collisions. They have to use their sight and hearing to know where each other is located. This drill becomes an enjoyable confidence builder and helps them not to always do the kata in one direction. The same can be done with kata Annaku.

Kata Seisan offers another choice, have the students begin with their backs facing inside a large circle. Then they try and do Seisan kata all in different directions. Again they are engaging their senses more fully. Kata Seiuchin offers this too.

For kata Seiuchin I often place the students in a diamond shaped or triangle pattern, As the form moves in new ways the points offer a new challenge to lead that section. Then make frequent changes to each students location. This is a very solid way to teach each one the tempo of the form. Yes, it will eventually be replaced in advancing training but first they learn how to use their senses to keep together.

Nihanchi kata offers another option, performing the kata in a stack formation. The one in front leads then moves to the back and the 2nd person in now in front.

For Wansu kata, we return to facing each other, this time each directly before the other. Caution must be used for the throwing movement not to link hands. The partners arms must not be locked with yours or disaster occurs. You will find this is more tricky to make this work.
Chinto offers a more advanced challenge for the brown belt. To both keep together and to move in opposite directions on a 45 degree angle. Their senses become more fully engaged. An example of this is with Michael Cassidy and Young Lee perform the kata.
These are a few examples of this training. The possibilities are not exhausted. But with the first 10 – 15 years of training this is a useful practice. Later it becomes more engaging for the advancing black belt practice can be to try and change the pace or the speed in black belt practice and see if the rest can follow. It can also be used to duel the test and see if you can confound the others.

Yes, this is not the ‘goal’ of training but a way to engage other senses in our training. We must train the eye to see all sides and the ear to hear in all directions.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Observations on Isshinryu Kobudo

I am only speaking from my own understanding of Isshinryu Kobudo based on my 40 years of experience, My training came from Charles Murray and his time with Mr. Lewis and on Okinawa at Agena with Master Shimabuku and Shinso. I had the kata taught to me at a frantic pace. almost akin to our seniors on Okinawa.  Then I was alone training myself. The versions I was taught resembled what others at tournaments were doing but there were differences and I kept to the way I was shown.

There were no references available to me for years and perhaps my memory is faulty but I was challenged regularly by one of my seniors Reese Rigby as to my knowledge of what I was taught and he shared some performance details behind the techniques too. But the most powerful tool I had was competition against some of the strongest competitors in the US those days and powerful instructors working with me in their own arts too. I most often competed with Chantan Yara No Sai and Shi Shi No Kon No Dai, strong tools.

Nothing I was taught led me to believe the kobudo kata were more than training tools. No instructor ever claimed they were for self defense. When I developed students to train in them I worked out my own schedule for training. I would not teach them until after black belt for I felt there was too much to accomplish on the empty hand training to seriously devote to the kobudo.

But I felt weapons training was useful to prepare the brown belt. I choose to have them begin with the Bando training I had received. (first from Mr. Murray later reinforced by Mr. Rigby and one summer at the Bando summer camp in 1983. Not because it was less serious but because, for the short stick form I teach it was a practical hand held defensive technique for solid defensive traditions as well as a starter training for more serious studies later. Also every hand held object could function as a stick from our studies. Not to be confused with stick systems for stick fighting purposes.

Bushi NO Te practice of Bando Staff with Mike Cassidy

and the ½ of the Hidden Stick with Young Lee

Then I focus on the training at a far different pace than I was taught. Instead of weeks month of initial instruction was involved and then at a very gradual pace depending on the students needs and capabilities.

Most frequently beginning with Tokomeni No Kon along with further work on the Bando staff and the full short stick study.

Next would be Chantan Yara No Sai (the beginning sai study as I received it) and Urashie No Bo.

Kusanku Sai would be taught depending on the students needs. Also taught would be my personal study of Tonfa based on kata Wansu.

Advanced students would study Shi Shi No Kon No Dai and my tonfa study on Chia Fa by the film of Shimabuku Sensei (I retain that name solely not to confuse it with the Hama Higa No Tonfa form of others).

What I came to realize after 25 years of work was the Isshinryu Kobudo had a definite use by design. It was power training for empty hand development. Decades of hard Kobudo training develop muscles and fibers and neuro-musci;ar responses that compliment empty hand development. Say several decades of strong sai low blocks enhance your ability to grab an attackers hand and pull it down with identical force as the sai strikes. The use of bo, sai and tonfa combine to enhance our Isshinryu technique and the way the forms are constructed is an advantage, a force multiplier so to speak. The only other training that could compliment our studies would be the makiwara, when possible in the individual’s practice,.

Thus the mechanics of Bushi No Te Isshinryu Kobudo are not trying to imitate other weapons study. Those studies are worthy but outside of our studyl.

At the instructor level a study of Sutrisno family tanto and kama is available for finer motor control development. The bladed weapons are most serious studies.