Saturday 8 June 2024

Variations from adaptability

 I was asked “what is the Japanese terminology for the oi-zuki with intentionally high shoulder?”

Tanaka Masahiko Sensei from the book 'Hasha'.

 
That’s a good question as it points to a larger picture of karate; that is, 基本技 (kihon-waza) and 自由技 (jiyu-waza). To begin with, OI-ZUKI is OI-ZUKI, unless you use the alternative term of 'Jun-zuki', which is equally acceptable.

 

It is important to understand that the classical form ‘kihon-waza’ are the base of the freestyle ‘jiyu-waza’; however, by themselves will not make one’s karate ‘reliably effective’ in reality, that is, outside the dojo—for self- defense.

 

One must work on the classical techniques as a basis, “a foundation”, then work them ‘as you will use them’ in an actual altercation—the ADAPTABLE ‘freestyle waza’. Besides all the physical training and technical attributes, the ‘classical kihon’, also provide a baseline for variations/adaptability. ‘Variation’ via ‘instantaneous adaptability’ in budo/bujutsu is a key point, as one’s techniques—in reality—must automatically change according to the circumstances.

 

Returning to the question about oi-zuki above, in the classical ‘baseline’ kihon (like other linear ‘tsuki’) the shoulder is relaxed and down, in addition to many other points that ‘make the classical form correct’. However, in application, from this ‘baseline’ version, adaptations are made. Certainly, the tsuki arms shoulder can be raised to protect the head from being hit and/or change the angle/trajectory of the blow.

 

This is no different than raising up on the ball of the foot in freestyle, as opposed to being tightly restricted in the classical version. It’s comparable to a 100-meter sprinter training with some form of resistance. Of course there are numerous other variations, but think this example is enough to clarify what I’m coveying here.

 

The freestyle version of all the waza in karate is for one thing: ‘to make it work’ and to do so optimally in that particular moment. If one is limited to classical form, their karate may work but there will be a huge question of its reliability. Effective adaptability, which is autonomous and optimal in any given moment, is an imperative aspect of karate as a form of 武術 (Bujutsu).

 

To conclude, throwing a “tsuki”, oi-zuki or otherwise with high shoulder, is an important adaptation. Such methods which ‘break the classical rules’ can be used for superior defense and unpredictable attacks. Such technical variations must be practiced by senior grades to develop adaptability and, in doing so, better utilizing the classical kihon, kata and yakusoku-kumite.

 

押忍

アンドレ  バーテル

The 'classical kihon' oi-zuki/jun-zuki.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Friday 7 June 2024

Asai Sensei would have been 89 years old today

 Today Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei would have been 89 years old. After teaching, and before self-training, I reflected during a walk around the remains of Funai Castle, here in central Oita City.


My thoughts are with the Asai family today, and all others who continue to practice Asai Sensei's Karate here in Japan, and around the world. I'll conclude this post with some photos I took as I walked around Funai-Jo.


Life is short and unpredictable. Accordingly, we need to make the most of our ultra small time here. Following our dreams is scary, but then we can have no regrets. Clearly, Asai Sensei did that with his life.


      押忍!!!





© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Thursday 6 June 2024

The 'core kihon' is at the heart of karate excellence

Migi tobi yoko-geri (Mt, Cook, New Zealand), circa 2004.

One thing I've quickly learned, from when I first came here to Japan in 1993, is that "to do a high jumping technique and other such impressionable actions" is VERY EASY compared to the core fundamentals; that is, techniques like oi-zuki, age-uke, mae-geri, etcetera...


While techniques like the tobi yoko-geri above have their place in certain (but rare) applications, and certainly for physical practice (for younger practitioners), if taught to a competent gymnast, they would be mastered (form-wise) quickly, easily and spectacularly. 


However, teach the same gymnast, say an oi-zuki, and they will need as much training as anyone else to perfect it. I have personally witnessed this first-hand a few times (and let's not get into the aspects of making such a waza functional through kumite and impact training).


So, if you can't do such movements like high kicks, and so forth... Just remember, they are not very important for technical excellence nor for oyo (application), which run hand-in-hand (in Budo/Bujutsu Shotokan Karate).


In sum, the depth of the core KIHON has no short cuts, and separates the beginners, the intermediate, the advanced and the elite practitioners of karate. Understanding this highlights that Karate-Do is LIFETIME budo: as the most important waza are the most seemingly simple and don't require athleticism.


Again, techniques such as the jumps in the various kata, and other gymnastic waza certainly have their place. But their importance is less than the base tachikata, unsoku and kihon-waza. Yes! The 'core kihon' is at the heart of karate excellence. OSU! - AB

Hidari shuto sokumen jodan uchimawashi uchi (Meikyo Nidan Kata).

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Wednesday 5 June 2024

Keep moving forward!!! Don't look back (too much)!!!

I was recently given this photo. I was New Zealand National Champion a number of times in both Shotokan National Championships (JKA/JKS/IJKA) and All Styles (KANZ) -- KATA AND KUMITE. I think this photo is from 1993 or 1994. 

Young and dumb, but full of ambition (embarrassed now, looking at this photo, but good to share) I think that openly sharing weakness is good. Certainly, we are all weak and have weaknesses. On a positive and productive note, 1993 was my first-year training here in Japan (innocently training with both factions of the JKA) and getting in trouble with Abe Keigo Sensei for doing so. My favorite instructors of course were Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei, Osaka Yoshiharu Sensei and Tanaka Masahiko Sensei. Also, Naito Sensei and Katayama Hitoshi Sensei (Asai Sensei's 'English Secretary) made my time in Japan, in the 90s, very comfortable, because of their excellent English).

Next month I am 48 years old, and August of this year marks my 43rd year in Karate, and 31 years since I really started my Budo Karate journey. The years mean nothing, the hours training, and quality of training each day, are the defining points.

I am so very thankful for my mentors. A big bow of gratitude.


© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Monday 3 June 2024

松江市 (Matsue Shi)

When going around Japan I usually do not share publicly, especially when my wife and daughter accompany me; however, besides being in Hiroshima and Fukuoka again, for the first time I went to SHIMANE-KEN (Matsue-Shi). So, I thought to share a few photos. 

OSU!! - André
National Treasure: Matsue-Jo (one the 'Big 5' castles here in Japan).

Since coming to Japan 31 years ago for the first time, this was my first time to see the NIHON KAI (the Sea of Japan).





 Kanmon Bridge: our connection to Honshu.


© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Friday 31 May 2024

PART ONE: 観空小 (Kanku Sho) Overview

 
観空小 

(カンクウショウ)

 KANKUSHO

 This article will look at Kanku Sho Kata from a general and shallow perspective, mere movement and BUNKAI (basic/shallow 'analysis'). I will do this in both JAPANESE and ENGLISH. Accordingly, I'll follow up with a 'part two article' later, featuring OYO (actual 'application') and some deeper points of this kata. The reason for this first article is to clarify the 'external form' taught traditionally. The second article will therefore provide some depth.


[特徴]

[Characteristics]


観空大と同様の敵を仮想しての技の編成であるが、棒の受けと反撃に特徴がある。 上段の棒受け、掴み捻って押し込む。さらに脛を払う棒攻撃に、膝をかい込み高く 飛び上がり、一回転して反撃をかわす。最後も三日月蹴りから一回転して伏せて攻 撃をかわし、鋭い中段突きで仕留めて終わる。松濤館流の中で最も敏速果敢な形と いわれる。

 

This Kata constitutes the techniques, assuming the same enemy as for Kanku Dai, but this kata has special offense and defense characteristics using the staff. In this waza, the practitioner grabs the staff from Jodan and twists and pushes it back. When the attacker tries to hit the shin with the staff, they jump high, bending the knees and fend off the attack by rotating the body once. Later the karateka executes a crescent kick and fends off the attack by rotating the body once and crouching on the floor. To conclude the practitioners executes a quick middle level thrust to the opponent. Kanku Sho is said to be the most quick and courageous kata in Shotokan-Ryu.


FOOTNOTE: This is the official JKA and JKF EXPLANATION (not mine, nor Asai Tetsuhiko Shihan's).


KATA OVERVIEW:


                           結び立

REI: Musubi dachi

 

用意                     八字立 両拳大腿前                      

YOI: Hachiji dachi, Ryo ken daitai mae

 

 

1挙動           右へ寄足           右後屈立           左中段諸手受

Migi e yori ashi, Migi kokutsu dachi, Hidari chudan morote uke

 

 

2挙動           左へ寄足           右後屈立           右中段諸手受

Hidari e yori ashi, Hidari kokutsu dachi, Migi chudan morote uke

 

 

3挙動           右後屈立           左中段諸手受

Migi kokutsu dachi, Hidari chudan morote uke

 

4挙動           右前屈立           右中段追突       右前腕ひねり

Migi zenkutsu dachi, Migi chudan oi zuki, Migi zenwan hineri

 

 

5挙動           左前屈立           左中段追突       左前腕ひねり

Hidari zenkutsu dachi, Hidari chudan oi zuki, Hidari zenwan hineri

 

6挙動           右前屈立           右中段追突 (気合)        

Migi zenkutsu dachi, Migi chudan oi zuki (KIAI)

 

 

7挙動           左脚前屈           右掌中段つかみ受        左掌右手首上添え手

Hidari ashi zenkutsu, Usho chudan tsukami uke, Sasho migi tekubi ue soete

 

8挙動           左脚立 両手引寄せ       右中段前蹴蹴上

Hidari ashi dachi, Ryo te hikiyose, Migi chudan mae geri keage

 

 

9挙動           右足前交叉立  右裏拳縦回し打                             左拳左腰

Migi ashi mae kosa dachi, Migi uraken tatemawashi uchi, Saken hidari koshi

 

 

10挙動         右前屈立           右中段内受      

Migi zenkutsu dachi, Migi chudan uchi uke

 

11挙動         右前屈立           左中段逆突      

Migi zenkutsu dachi, Hidari chudan gyaku zuki

 

12挙動         右前屈立           右拳中段突       左拳左腰          

Migi zenkutsu dachi, Uken chudan zuki, Saken hidari koshi

 

 

13挙動         右後屈立           右中段内受       左下段受

Migi kokutsu dachi, Migi uchi uke, Hidari gedan uke

 

 

14挙動         左足前レの字立                             左表拳振りおろし打   右拳右腰

Hidari ashi mae renoji dachi, Hidari omoteken furi oroshi uchi, Uken migi koshi

 

 

15挙動         左脚前屈           右掌中段つかみ受        左掌右手首上添え手

Hidari ashi zenkutsu, Usho chudan tsukami uke, Sasho migi tekubi ue soete

 

 

16挙動         左脚立 両手引寄せ       右中段前蹴蹴上

Hidari ashi dachi, Ryo te hikiyose, Migi chudan mae geri keage

 

 

17挙動         右足前交叉立  右裏拳縦回し打                             左拳左腰

Migi ashi mae kosa dachi, Migi uraken tatemawashi uchi, Saken hidari koshi

 

 

18挙動         右前屈立           右中段内受      

Migi zenkutsu dachi, Migi chudan uchi uke

 

19挙動         右前屈立           左中段逆突      

Migi zenkutsu dachi, Hidari chudan gyaku zuki

 

20挙動         右前屈立           右拳中段突       左拳左腰          

Migi zenkutsu dachi, Uken chudan zuki, Saken hidari koshi

 

 

21挙動         右後屈立           右中段内受       左下段受

Migi kokutsu dachi, Migi uchi uke, Hidari gedan uke

 

 

22挙動         左足前レの字立                             左表拳振りおろし打   右拳右腰

Hidari ashi mae renoji dachi, Hidari omoteken furi oroshi uchi, Uken migi koshi

 

 

23挙動 右後屈立    右側面上段内受                             左側面下段受

Migi kokutsu dachi, Migi sokumen jodan uchi uke, Hidari sokumen gedan uke

 

 

24挙動         両拳右腰構       左ヘ寄足           騎馬立 左側面中段諸手突

Ryo ken migi koshi gamae, Hidari e yori ashi, Kiba dachi, Hidari sokumen sokumen chudan morote zuki

 

 

25挙動 左後屈立    左側面上段内受                             右側面下段受

Hidari kokutsu dachi, Hidari sokumen jodan uchi uke, Migi sokumen gedan uke

 

 

26挙動         両拳左腰構   右左ヘ寄足           騎馬立 右側面中段諸手突

Ryo ken hidari koshi gamae, Migi e yori ashi, Kiba dachi, Migi sokumen sokumen chudan morote zuki

 

 

27挙動 左後屈立    両掌上段棒受

Hidari kokutsu dachi, Ryo sho jodan bo uke

 

 

28挙動         寄足                     右足前不動立  棒押込み

Yori ashi, Migi ashi mae fudo dachi, Bo oshikomi

 

 

29挙動 左回転其の場飛び 左後屈立           右手刀中段受

Hidari kaiten sonoba tobi, Hidari kokutsu dachi, Migi shuto chudan uke

 

 

30挙動         右脚立 両拳右腰構       左足裏右膝横 

Migi ashi dachi, Ryoken migi koshi gamae, Hidari ashi ura migi hiza yoko

 

31挙動         右脚立 左裏拳上段横回し打   左足刀横蹴蹴上

Migi ashi dachi, Hidari uraken jodan yokomawashi uchi, Hidari sokuto yoko geri keage

 

 

32挙動         左前屈立           左掌に右前猿臂

Hidari zenkutsu dachi, Sasho ni migi mae enpi

 

 

33挙動         左脚立 両拳左腰構       右足裏左膝横 

Hidari ashi dachi, Ryoken migi hidari gamae, Migi ashi ura hidari hiza yoko

 

 

34挙動         左脚立 右裏拳上段横回し打   右足刀横蹴蹴上

Hidari ashi dachi, Migi uraken jodan yokomawashi uchi, Migi sokuto yoko geri keage

 

 

 

35挙動         右前屈立           右掌に左前猿臂

Migi zenkutsu dachi, Usho ni hidari mae enpi

 

 

 

36挙動         左脚前屈           右掌中段つかみ受        左掌右手首上添え手

Hidari ashi zenkutsu, Usho chudan tsukami uke, Sasho migi tekubi ue soete

 

 

37挙動         左脚立 両手引寄せ       右中段前蹴蹴上

Hidari ashi dachi, Ryo te hikiyose, Migi chudan mae geri keage

 

 

38挙動         右足前交叉立  右裏拳縦回し打                             左拳左腰

Migi ashi mae kosa dachi, Migi uraken tatemawashi uchi, Saken hidari koshi

 

 

39挙動         右前屈立           右中段内受      

Migi zenkutsu dachi, Migi chudan uchi uke

 

40挙動         右前屈立           左中段逆突      

Migi zenkutsu dachi, Hidari chudan gyaku zuki

 

41挙動         右前屈立           右拳中段突       左拳左腰          

Migi zenkutsu dachi, Uken chudan zuki, Saken hidari koshi

 

 

42挙動         右前屈立           左手首後方中段掛受   右拳右腰           左脚立 左掌に右中段三日月蹴              回転飛び                     右脚前屈                           腕立て

Migi zenkutsu dachi, Hidari tekubi koho chudan kake uke, Uken migi koshi, Hidari ashi dachi, Hidari sho ni migi chudan mikazuki geri, Kaiten tobi, Migi ashi zenkutsu, Ude tate

 

 

43挙動         右後屈立 (低め)              左手刀下段受  右手刀胸前構 (低め)   

Migi kokutsu dachi (hikume), Hidari shuto gedan uke, Migi shuto mune mae gamae  (hikume)

 

44挙動         左後屈立           右手刀中段受

Hidari kokutsu dachi, Migi shuto chudan uke

 

 

45挙動         左前屈立           左中段内受

Hidari zenkutsu dachi     Hidari chudan uchi uke

 

 

46挙動         右前屈立           右中段追突

Migi zenkutsu dachi, Migi chudan oi zuki

 

 

47挙動         右前屈立           右中段内受

Migi zenkutsu dachi        Migi chudan uchi uke

 

 

48挙動         左前屈立           左中段追突 (気合)

Hidari zenkutsu dachi     Hidari chudan oi zuki (KIAI)

 

 

直れ                     八字立 両拳大腿前                      

NAORE: Hachiji dachi, Ryo ken daitai mae

 

 


                           結び立

REI: Musubi dachi


 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).