Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Visit by Paul Coleman

The Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan Dojo was delighted to receive a visit this Monday from UK karate teacher Paul Coleman.  Paul is chief instructor at the Oxford Karate Academy, and he and his companions dropped by to pay their respects to Aragaki Kancho on their way back from the JFK Goju-Kai Championships in Sendai and the Seiwakai Seminar in Akita Prefecture. Paul trained at the Yoyogi dojo back in the 1980s and currently holds the rank of 7th Dan in Goju-Kai karate. A BBC Oxford news feature showing Paul in action and explaining his philosophy can be found here. Aragaki Kancho commended Paul as an excellent teacher of karate.  We wish him and his companions well and a safe journey back to England. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Way of the Warrior

From 1967, Higaonna Morio was chief instructor at the Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan.  Here is a BBC documentary from 1982 on Gojuryu Karate featuring Higaonna Sensei.  From 20:25 to 24:22, he explains in some detail about the breathing techniques used in Sanchin kata, as well as how to correctly check and guide someone who is performing the kata. All in all, there is much to learned from studying this video repeatedly.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

More on "Shiboru"

In Monday's class, Aragaki Kancho, the head of the dojo, taught us how to execute the mawashi uke block used, for example, at the end of the kata Gekisai Dai Ni.  One part of it consists of a kake uke, or "hooking block," where the hooking arm is then twisted by rotating the forearm and pulling the elbow down into the side of the body. Aragaki Kancho said that the correct term in karate is "shiboru" or "wringing" - as in wringing out a wet cloth or towel.  The pectoralis major muscles are tensed at all times, as, of course, is the tanden. The block is executed while "dropping" into nekoashidachi, so the pulling or throwing down of one's opponent uses the entire weight of the body and not just the arms.

This is definitely an oral tradition!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Kiai (気合)

Kiai (気合) (pronounced "key-eye") is a compound of ki () or Qi, meaning energy or life-force, and au (), meaning harmony. In Japanese martial arts it commonly refers to a sharp shout made during the execution of a technique. Most kata feature several points where such a kiai shout is performed simultaneously with the technique. There are no specifically designated sounds, though Japanese dojos generally use single, elongated syllables beginning with a vowel. .

Although sometimes described as a kind of “battle cry,” kiai in daily Japanese also refers more widely to "fighting spirit," "giving one's all," "getting psyched up" and other such states of motivation, determination and commitment, in any field, not just martial arts or competitive sports. 

Kiai can be used to focus energy, startle an opponent, and even intimidate. The physical aspects of a kiai are often thought to teach a student proper breathing technique when executing an attack.  Correctly executed, that is to say by simultaneously and rapidly contracting the abdominal and other core muscles, kiai can also protect the lower body, shield internal organs, and provide solid abdominal support for striking techniques. Mental imagery is used to teach the practitioner to imagine starting a kiai in the tanden; as with breathing, it should start in the diaphragm, not the throat.

Donn Draeger, in his 1973 book on Classical Budo wrote:
“A well-made kiai produces a characteristic sound that makes the ears ring: it seems to come from a source deep within the trainee, and not merely to be caused by the vibration of his vocal cords. The tonal fidelity of the kiai is much like the unforgettable, deep-seated rumble of a lion at bay. The kiai indicates the degree of integration of mind and body in the execution of a technique. It is an unfailing source of information for the master, who thereby knows the trainee’s level of achievement.”

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Kneeling in Seiza

Kneeling in the seiza position is done at the beginning and end of all training sessions, and is also the correct and respectful way to sit when watching or observing activity in a dojo for extended periods.  However, as with all aspects of training, it is important to have the right attitude of readiness or kamae as you kneel. 

When going down and arising, make sure the toes are curled under the feet against the ground, so that one can quickly spring up or even execute a maegeri front kick from the kneeling position. While fully kneeling, the big toes are often crossed. 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

More Dojo Etiquette

Here are some further aspects of etiquette to be observed when training at the dojo.
  1. Remove all items of outer clothing (hats, mufflers, scarfs, gloves, hoods) before entering the dojo.
  2. Always shout "Onegaishimasu" upon entering.
  3. Having entered and removed your shoes, put down your bag and other items and bow to the Shinto altar at the front of the dojo.
  4. Remove earrings, rings and other accessories or cover with tape or a band-aid if this is not possible.
  5. Having changed into your dogi, kneel in seiza and bow to the altar again.
  6. Go up to and greet everyone in the dojo, preferably in order of seniority, by bowing and saying "Onegaishimasu." 
  7. Keep your dogi and other equipment in good, clean and presentable condition.
  8. Bow before and after using makiwara and other equipment.
  9. When watching or listening to someone explain or execute a technique, do so with an interested and respectful attitude.
  10. Repeat 5 and 6 at the end of training, but this time saying "Arigatou Gozaimashita."

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Goju-Kai All-Japan Karatedo Championships

The 40th JFK Goju-Kai All-Japan Karatedo Championships are scheduled to be held on July 26 and 27. The event will take place at the Sendai Gymnasium, an indoor sporting arena located in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. On July 24 and 25, the JFK Goju-Kai will hold a seminar especially for karateka from outside Japan, with black belt testing taking place on July 25. The seminar and testing will also be held at the Sendai Gymnasium. 

Prior to that is the JFK Goju-Kai Seiwakai Seminar in Japan that takes place every year in Omagari in Akita Prefecture. The dates for that are July 16-18 and July 20-22. Here is a video from last year's Seiwakai seminar.