Friday, 28 November 2014

Senior Open Tournament

The 21st Tokyo Senior Open Karate Tournament will be held on Sunday, November 30 at the Shinjuku Cosmic Sports Center, a short walk from Takadanobaba station and across Toyama Park (3-1-2 Okubo, Shinjuku-ku). Categories include kata and kumite, with different divisions according to age.  Members of the Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan Dojo will be participating, as will some of our friends from dojos in China and elsewhere.  

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Kamae 3 - Mugamae

Following from Musashi Miyamoto's words in "The Lesson of Stance/No Stance," we see the ultimate and ideal kamae in karate is the mugamae, or "No Posture."

As Morio Higaonna Sensei writes in his “Traditional Karatedo – Okinawa Goju Ryu:”

“In the ultimate posture known as mugamae (literally “no posture”), tension should be released from the shoulders, with the arms hanging relaxed at the sides; breathing is under conscious control; and all power is concentrated in the tandenMugamae is considered the ideal kamae because in one’s relaxed and unconcentrated state an opponent cannot focus upon one’s intent or readiness.” 

Friday, 7 November 2014

Kamae 2 - Other Forms

Other forms of kamae, or “Combative Posture,” include neko ashi no kamae and morote chudan sanchin no kamae (pictured top left and below right respectively). The many and various forms of kamae are combinations of stances and low, middle or high hand positions, with the hands closed or open, and so on, depending on the situation as well as on the individual’s physique. 

However, kamae should not be thought of as static poses. Rather, they should be taken up momentarily, allowing for speedy and fluid movement to the next stance, posture or technique.  Placing too much emphasis on assuming the kamae would give an opponent time enough to launch an effective attack. Therefore, the essence of the kamae is more important than the form; that is to say, the key is to be in a readied state of mind.

One is reminded here of the "The Lesson of Stance/No Stance" from Miyamoto Musashi's classic "The Book of Five Rings" (the quote here from the translation by William Scott Wilson): 

"What is called Stance/No Stance means that there is no stance that you should take with your sword at all. However, as I place this within the Five Stances, there is a stance here. (e.g. According to the moment, if you want to lower your sword a little from the Upper Stance, it will become a Middle Stance.) This is the principle in which there is a stance and there is no stance."

A similar principle  holds for kamae in karate.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Kamae 1 - Yoi

Kamae is the state and posture of readiness adopted before, during and after (see zanshin) the execution of techniques, be it in combat or kata.  There are various readiness postures that combine different stances and hand positions. The basic kamae is in musubi dachi, with the left hand placed on top of the right hand, palms down and covering the groin area.

Note: To correctly execute the yoi hand position, turn the palm of the right hand up and place the first knuckle of the middle finger over the center of the left palm. Then bring the hands into contact and turn both simultaneously inwards so that the palms are facing down. This will attain a symmetry and balance of hands and, therefore, posture. 

(And remember to tuck your thumbs in - I couldn't when the photos were taken due to injury!) 

This basic kamae musubidachi, created by Miyagi Chojun Sensei after years of study, is designed to enable one to move quickly into any defensive or attacking action.  Concentration is placed on tensing the muscles in the lower abdomen (seika tanden) while relaxing those in the shoulders, the focus of the mind remaining clear and unattached.