Sunday, July 3, 2016

Disability is not a reason not to work on your art


I am an Isshinryu karate-ka. I am also much disabled.


1. I have little balance and falling is much a concern.

2. My disability has affected my strength, leaving me weaker.

3. My facial muscles being weaker make speech difficult.

4. Small motor control is difficult, my writing in unreadable.

5. My large movement control is more difficult to maintain.

6. Movement closer to my center is still construable.


Falling in a major concern. Two years ago I took a tumble off my front steps and broke 3 ribs. Which was a painful experience. Last year I fell and as a result needed brain surgery to relieve a subdural hemotoma. When I walk, and I do so daily outside 1 to 3 miles, I use a walker for safety.


In addition to my walking I practice some kata daily to preserve as much motor control as  I can. I have eliminated the kicks in the kata.


I also work on my Yang Tai Chi Chaun Long Form. I have been doing so the past 35 years. The form is more complex than karate with its turning movements.  It took me a year to work out what modifications were necessary for what I can do. Instead of the more complex turning and stepping I use swaying to perform many of the movements. Daily I practice the first of the six rows of techniques. Less frequently I work on the remainder. My practice also incorporates the Yang Sword form. While more difficult I do work at it.




These days my main concern is how to reestablish martial potential in my practice. I have not stopped training, but there is little martial potential in what I do.


My Sanchin practice, which I had chosen long ago to focus on the destructive potential of the form, Remains much the same, but weaker.


The main problem is what can I do to strike with more authority.


What I have chosen to do is utilize a pair of wooden rods with string attached so it might be slipped on my middle finger so as not to drop them Alternatively the rods can be griped in the hand using that string as a surface to grasp.


I am not concerned to use an Okinawan name for them, as they are for personal practice, not something I have gotten from an Okinawan practice.
Though I was inspired by several Okinawan practices. Most specifically that of Shinyu Gushi and his Mee No Jiffa Kata.   As seen at .  While he is a Uechi practitioner, this kata is of a Kusanku variation origin.
There is some interesting back story for this too.
If you read Ernie Estrada’s interview with Hohen Soken at
Interview With Hohan Soken: The Last Of The Great Old Time Karate Warriors – Part 1
Interview by Ernie Estrada
The following is mentioned.
The hairstyle for men in Okinawa (as well as Japan) prior to the modern era was to tie long hair in a knot on top of the head and secure it with a single hairpin, as shown here, or with two hairpins pushed through the topknot from different angles. The two hairpin option is probably what Soken used for kusanku (kanku) kata practice since one could be held in each hand. In the begining of the kata the hands are raised overhead, a move which could be modified into a grab of the hairpins. Hairpins also differed. Men of the noble class wore special hairpins in their Samurai-style topknot to signify their social position as shown in this drawing. Made of metal or bone, hairpins were pointed on one end and had a round flat end or wire configuration that would hold the pin in place. Sometime after Japan formally annexed Okinawa, the Meiji authorities outlawed the wearing of topknots (as an old style warrior symbol) and thus hairpins were no longer used
This might have been the basis for the idea of doing a version of Kusanku kata with a hairpin, later Jiffa. Then again that might have been the inspiration later for Shimabuku Tatsuo using Kusanku kata for a Sai kata.
But I digress in the sake of various historical relevancy.
I already have several studies that lend themselves to using short sticks. The Bando form “the Hidden Stick” and the Tanto drills I practice. But I am concerned that as individual techniques they are fine, there are aspects of those practices that do not fit my current needs.
Of course the short sticks work with all karate technique. Just using them with the Isshinryu Upperbody Basics would be a solution. But I want more, to utilize the energy movement from my Isshinryu beyond the individual techniques.
My choice is to utilize the kata I have been practicing the longest, kata Seisan. I work on revising what I am doing the goal is to make it more effective for me.
This is not  what I am currently doing, but is a previous version. Part of the evolution of my practice.
I have also been doing a version of Naifanchi kata with the sticks. I employ stepping alongside the other foot and then stepping out instead of cross stepping which is very difficult. I like the swinging motion of the arms with the stick in my hands.
I have no intention of using other kata with this practice. I feel this is sufficient for my needs.
I continue to practice all the kata as best I can, in addition, as there are too many application studies there too.
The bottom line, our karate practice must be to make our defensive use of karate effective. Striking with the sticks in my hand is an effective force enhancer to retain power in my strikes.
I remain a martial artist.

PS Am I happy where I am at? No, but I keep working forward.

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