Sunday, October 23, 2016

Chinto, Nihanchi, Tai Chi Chaun and Kyoshi


I recall the earlier stories of Chinto.

Of course there is the legend of the shipwrecked Chinese sailor, Chinto, who used his art to negate the attempts of Matsumura to capture him. Whether this kata came from his teachings or not, I can see how the use of the turning movement within Chinto Kata is a powerful weapon in its own right.

My original instructor simply taught the kata. Another of my instructors
told me it was designed to fight opponents on a narrow path or a bridge. He
even explained how Ninja were jumping at me out of trees and that Chinto was used to grab and down them.

My instructors used to place two bo in the floor to simulate the bridge for
individual practice of Chinto.


There are many today who wish to discredit the stories. Instead its only the
strike or the throw which matter.

I grant you, I don't practice Chinto to defend myself on a narrow bridge.
But I have always found a way to use those stories to good merit.

Training outdoors, especially in the summer, has been part of my practice for the last 20 years. While living in Scranton, I used McDade park outside of Moosic for summer training. There was a narrow bridge over a culvert which I and my students used to practice Chinto.

Working the kata to keep yourself on the center of the bridge involves a
greater control during the turns. If you were fighting on the bridge and you
allow yourself to move away from the center, you make it easier to be driven off of that bridge.

It makes you consider each technique of Chinto most carefully, and make
appropriate adjustments to keep centered with each movement. This is often
akin to the adjustments made to apply a kata's technique against various
attacks. I've found the internal awareness this practice develops helps in
the study of Chinto application.

Here in New Hampshire, I use a narrow path between two rows of bushes for the same practice. Yesterday morning, my class was running Chinto between those bushes trying to keep in the center of that narrow path. Kind of makes me think I might start a new story about Chinto being designed to fight opponents in a narrow hallway.

But before we began Chinto practice, I was using Ninahchi to prepare everyone for Chinto practice.

Earlier Paris Janos of Kashiba Juku was so kind as to remind me of a quote from Motobu Choki that I had previously used. "Twisting to the left or the right from Niafaunchin stance will give you the stance used in a real
confrontation.. Twisting ones way of thinking about Niafuanchin left and right, the various meanings in each movement of the kata will also become clear.
" <<from a private translation by Joe Swift.>>

That was 'lightbulb' time. Not in the sense I now knew applications of
Nihanchi, but rather I saw how Nihanchi's movement from side to side prepares one for Chinto's movement. So much of the Nihanchi stories as to its being a very important source of technique for much of other karate, made sense to me.

First I saw Nihanchi's strikes from side to side as a tool to make the
turning movement in Chinto stronger. I've long realized how shorter kata are important tools to develop technique. But this triggered new thinking for
me. Some of you are fortunate to have an instructor guide you through these
processes. Unfortunately, most of the time I have to work though them myself.

Hearing how some spend a great deal of time on Nihanchi now made more
fundamental sense. That night I began to see how Nihanchi can strengthen so much of our practice. We were working some of our Aikido drills, and in every case, Nihanchi movement could be found within them. In every case Nihanchi practice could make those drills better.

At this moment I can see many uses of Nihanchi to strengthen the advanced
techniques in our practice.

So a prior Saturday morning we were working Nihanchi and then onto Chinto on the narrow path.

I believe it was the combination of Nihanchi loosening my waist as I was
driving strikes from side to side, and then performing Chinto in the confined
area of the path, but as I watched my friends run through their own Chinto
kata, I began to circle my waist, hips or kyoshi as I would do with some of
my tai chi chaun drills, and work on the opening of my Isshinryu Chinto, or
perhaps more accruately a variation thereof.

In my left foot forward cat stance I would roll my waist/hips/kyoshi back to
the right (clockwise), and then complete the circle clockwise while rolling
my right hip back forward. This variation of my tai chi drills helps me
activate my chi, and the more I did it the stronger I felt is presence.

I have no words to explain this. My Chi is a fact in my martial arts
training. I feel it, I know it is there, and know when I can use it. I
can't show it or prove it. Thats ok its mine.

After a number of cycles I began to work a variation of my Chinto opening
hand techniques with my waist..

1. Right hip rolls back, left open hand parries inward (fingers up) -
   this is a horizontal parry into my centerline.
2. Right hip rolls front, right back hand parries outward (fingers up) -
   this is a horizontal parry into my centerline
3. Right hip rolls back, left open hand parries inward (finers up)
4. Left foot steps forward right foot drags behind into a new cat stance
        closer to the opponent. While this happens the right hand circles down
            in a right lower palm strike (fingers down) (3. and 4. are done t
5. The left palm turns over (outward) (where this would be a left
         backfist strike in my Chinto, I felt the outer palm strike felt much
       stronger). As this happens, once again the right hip circles back.

For the first four moves 1, 2 and 3 an 4 both hands begin circling in a
horizontal circle inward toward my centerline.

This seemed very powerful, so I decided to test this. I had John Dinger step
in and throw a right punch. My right hip rolled back and my left hand flowed back deflecting that punch to my right. Then my hip rolled forward and my right open back hand parry continued to keep their strike from my center. With both hand now circling, my lower body slipped in as my left parried and my right palm struck towards his abdomen. Finally with my right hip rolling away I ended with a soft outer left palm strike towards John's head.

As my group isn't young, I tried to be most careful not to damage John.

I found, working softly and trying not to strike hard I almost took his head

Now I wasn't trying to strike him, I was just going with the flow and trying
a soft execution of a new application for me.

Chagrin set aside, and still trying to understand this application I asked
John to strike me agian, promising to go softly.

Once more I went through my cycle and trying ever so carefully to be soft I
once again most carefully alomst took his head off.

Sometime apologies aren't enough. It struck me this is when my students beg me not to try Tai Chi in Karate class or the reverse. Of course all I was
doing was Chinto, wasn't I?

It took me a few moments to realize that when I sliped into the attack I was
vastly shortening the range of my left strike. This is very powerful, for if
my opponent slips back to avoid the lower right palm strike,they are still
within the range of a most powerful left outer palm. Made more powerful by the hip rolling away at the same time.

Quite an interesting morning.

As I write this I hear the evening showers. Starts reminding me of when I
taught a camp clinic on Kusanku as a night fighting kata one summer at
midnight in pouring rain. The applications were most interesting as your
opponent was slamming into the water and the mud. But then that would be as
story and everyone knows there's no truth to stories such as Kusanku was
designed for night fighting.


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