It is said that time is a river flowing to the ocean, and at other times that time is a circle that repeats itself. I find both statements have truth to them.
I also like the definition of Isshin as the term “Concentration”.
Last evening all of those statements became clear to me.
It was an Ending
It was my next to last class, I was working with Andrea, a new junior black belt of my tradition. As a parting gift, in part, I was showing her the opening of Chinto kata. It will be some time before she is shown the rest and I won’t be the one teaching her. But after class it brought back memories of when I was shown that same section.
When I was a student I have memories of a brown belt doing Chinto between to bo placed on the floor to symbolize a bridge.
Then it was August just before I was moving to Scranton Pa because of a new job. Lewis Sensei had just promoted me to green belt, and that last night he showed me the opening of Chinto kata. It was of course bittersweet for I was moving away. In Scranton there was no Isshinryu. I kept up my practice, but to train with people I joined Frank Trojanowicz’s Tang Soo So Moo Duk Kwan program and began that study.
When I got Chinto
The next summer I had a weeks vacation, and we returned to Salisbury for I was on a mission. I visited Salisbury and told Sensei I wanted to study more Chinto. So he showed me some more. The next night I visited another of the IKC clubs and there I studied some more. Then I visited Reese Rigby’s school in Dover and got another section. The following night I went back to Salisbury for the next class, and Sensei showed me the rest. Some how in those 4 days I learned Chinto.
Returning to Scranton, I returned to the Tang Soo study, but continued my own practice of Isshinryu, now including Chinto. That Labor Day I had a phone call from Charlie Murray. It was that he took a church nearby. Not giving him an option I started studying Isshinryu with him. His own version of Chinto was slightly different from the one I studied. He told me to remain the versions I studied in Salisbury, and just learn his versions for the kata that were to follow.
Then I made Black Belt and Charles returned to the USAF. My practice was on my own. I began to teach youth at the Boys Club in Scranton. 2 of them, Roy Blackwell and Michael Toomey, made their own Black Belt ratings. But again after 5 years I had to move for work and that program ended.
Up the Hill, Down the Hill and Over the Bridge
Chinto did become a more interesting practice. The Club would close in the summers, but classes did not stop. I held them at nearby McDade park. There were hills, a bridge over a culvert and plenty of other space to train. We would do Chinto on the hills. Going up and down the hill. It gave a lot of insight to how you could train the kata.
But the most interesting highlight of the park was the bridge that they had over a culvert (which was dry). It was about 6’ wide and provided a great place to practice Chinto. No one was in danger of falling off that bridge, but we used the practice to try and remain on the centerline of the bridge. In part a tribute to the bridge history of Chinto kata.
Relocating to Derry, almost immediately I began the program in the Derry Boys and Girls Club. Shortly thereafter I also began an adult program there. After awhile I was again teaching Chinto Kata.
The guys did Chinto Kata very quickly, It was as if Chinto was an energy pump, allowing you to go faster and faster. Then when I would admonish their speed, I would join in the practice, and it would go even faster. It was work to get everyone, myself included to slow down.
I also had the brown belts do Chinto in opposing directions. This was not for performance, but to engage their sight and hearing in their practice.
. The Eyes Must See All Sides
. The Ear Must Hear in All Directions
This is where Chinto was at the newer 2nd dan Black Belt level in 1992
Now there are other versions of Chinto kata in other styles. Where Isshinryu’s version is descended from the Kyan Chotoke kata, and is done on a 45 degree angle, other styles go straight for their embusen of the form, and there is a Tomari version that goes side to side. But pretty much they have most of the same movements.
Chinto between the Walls
I found for many students that the 45 degree angle made it more difficult to learn the form. What I did was have them face off in the beginning on a 45 degree angle for the rei, and then to do the form straight between the school walls, better to allow them for their alignment of the kata. Then after they had some proficiency they would do the form normally. It has proven to be a successful way to teach the form.
I imagine I saw this in Salisbury, but performing Chinto while blindfolded is a good way to help the student understand the kata. I have even placed two bo on the floor for the performance of the kata, to help them remain in the center while they are doing the form.
Even Chinto between the Blueberries
In the summers, we turned to my back yard for the adult classes. Several unique training methods developed in time.
Outside I had a narrow path between some tall bushes. I used that space to work another story about Chinto Kata. That it represented a combat taking place on a narrow path. The pathway was not quite 2 feet wide.
I would have them attempt the form and they would end up in the bushes unable to complete the form.
Then I would do the form and stay in the middle of the path for the most part. There was one section where you are slightly off the center but the next turn returns you there.
Then I would ask them where I was different so I remained working the center line. I was making continual foot placement adjustments to do it there.
We also did Chinto Kata back in the area my hundred blueberry bushes would grow. Doing the kata between the lines of those bushes on most uneven ground also had lessons for everyone. Foremost understand the ground on which you are working the kata.
The Turns in Chinto Kata
The continual stance adjustments also started me thinking about what they meant. That taught me a great deal about doing the kata within a confined space. And, it lead to other discoveries.
The one thing that is most different about Chinto kata, in all its versions, are the continual use of turns in the form.Then doing the kata in a confined path to remain in the center so as not to be forced from the path, made me think about those turns even more.
I became convinced that the act of turning in Chinto kata, was also an application movement study that I followed. The performance in the tight space was a great tool to become more efficient at those turns.
Even discovery about Chinto when doing Tai Chi
One day at my Tai Chi group (we met for 18 years) an idea occurred to me about a Chinto application. We met on my driveway for the class all year long, from -20 to +115 as it was. I am sure being near that path I practiced Chinto on had something to do with it.
A new use for me of the opening of Chinto kata occurred to me. I grabbed John Dinger after the class and asked him to attack me, for I wanted to work on something. I told him I was going to do this in slow motion.
So he stepped in with a slow punch. I did the section of Chinto kata, and before I knew what had happened I knocked him out in slow motion. I helped him get up off the ground and apologized. I did not understand what had happened. So I requested he attack me again and I would go slower. Again I put him down and I did not understand why.
No, it was not that pressure point nonsense. Sherman Harrill had successfully proven to me the entire body is a pressure point to the well trained.
The long range practice of Chinto bears fruit 10, 20 and 30 years later.
Having students still training after 30 years, I continue to learn what long term practice offers the adept of Isshinryu. It is not as simple as just one level of performance. Seeing them progress in the kata year after year is enough of a reward.
Then several decades later we have Young Lee along and Rabiah doing Chinto
So the circle goes around again.
I learned the first movement of Chinto and I have taught the first movement of Chinto a final time.
Time for another road.