Monday 16 October 2023

Instant Adaptation of Waza

One extreme weakness amongst the majority of contemporary karateka is “…the inability to ‘instantly adapt waza’—so they are optimally effective”. This was a point that Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei highlighted to me and his other close deshi; furthermore, and accordingly, an area that I prioritize in my own keiko and teaching. 

This and the following stills are from two recent YouTube uploads. Watching these, you can see the instant adaption of waza in a competitive context. If you want, please comment your observations on the videos in these regards. Also, any questions. Osu!

So what exactly is this ability? Quite simply, rather than having many techniques, it is understanding the waza of karatedo as fluid adaptations. I want to stress here that this is ‘physical understanding’ via ‘proper practice.


For example, when launching say, a jodan gyaku-zuki it might change into jodan yumi-zuki; likewise for example, a mae-geri might invert inward or outward to turn into another ‘waza’ etcetera.


As you can see from these simple examples, “instant variations of the standard and core kihon—in both Jiyu-Kumite and Self-defense—is the start point of real mastery of Karate”. Having good external form, speed, and power is not enough. It is not mastery, as these aspects alone cannot result in optimally reliable technique (in free for all situations).


Real fighting, and even tournament matches, require one’s ability to instantly and fluidly adjust angles, distancing and targeting. As I stated earlier, I stress this in my self-training and teaching, otherwise I would be cheating myself, and those who I teach. I'd never do that, so I look with great distaste to 'instructors' that do. One American comes primarily to mind. Lots of talk, but useless in a real fight or kumite match. 


One of the missions of IKS is to teach budo/bujutsu karate properly as handed down to me directly from Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei and other masters here in Japan. Therefore, ‘forging this ability is a prerequisite”.


In fact, “…the inability to ‘instantly adapt waza’—so they are optimally effective” means that one is merely doing ‘karate movement’: not budo/bujutsu karate.


I have seen a lot of instructors online who teach this empty karate (actually, 'totally empty', and not in a positive context), giving long winded explanations (as stated earlier). Many people lap this up, and some even consider such individuals as ‘better than the best Japanese masters”. This highlights that their karate is actually empty as they do not understand what real karate is. Consequently, their karate journey has no solid direction, nor can excellence be achieved. There is a term 'Mac-Dojo', sadly there also 'Mac-Shoto'. Both are ineffective, irrespective of any poetic discourse. I don't care if people don't wake up to these charlatans. however, we cannot allow such people to further decay budo/bujutsu karate. And, in our case, especially our wonderful Shotokan tradition.  

I always say to my students here in Japan and around the world, and those who attend my seminars: "Physically test everything you are taught, explanations in budo mean nothing without true effectiveness in a freestyle context". 


In sum, do not trust demonstrations and words only, truth can be only demonstrated via jiyu-kumite against non-complacent opponents and impact training and capacity. Or, in the unfortunate situation of needing to use karate in actual self-defense. These situations, where anything can and will happen, the techniques of karate must fluidity and instantly be adaptable so the opponent can be disabled as quickly as possible. "To be, or not to be, that is the question". Indeed, this point underpins the notion of kime and ichigeki-hissatsu, which together defines what true karate—“real karate”—actually is.



アンドレ  バーテル

In the office, doing some International Karate Shotokan 'admin', October 2023.

 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

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