Thursday, 26 February 2015

Farewell Party

Some of the attendees at the party
A farewell party was held at the Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan Dojo on Wednesday, February 25. Aragaki Kancho and his family kindly provided splendid catering for dojo students old and new.  Many "old faces" turned up, and there were members from Japan, China and Europe, revealing the far-reaching impact of the dojo's teaching over both time and geography. A wonderful if poignant time was had by all. The final days of training are February 27 for adult classes, and February 28 for kids.  

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Last Days of The Dojo

The Dojo is now less than two weeks from closing - a very sad and poignant time for all who have trained there, as we share many happy memories.  The Ryushinkan organization will continue, hopefully under the supervision of Aragaki Kancho and other top instructors.  In the meantime, we must continue to train hard and not forget the basics!

Those wishing to participate or join in various sessions and classes that will be held from March 2015, please let me know at yoyogiryushinkan@gmail, I can inform you of the schedules and locations.  I look forward to seeing everybody in the future!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Gojuryu-style Push-ups 2

This video shows the previously featured exercise performed smoothly and explains the breathing, though at Ryushinkan, the sharp exhalations are usually only performed twice: when facing forward in the plank position, and at the end when arching the back and facing the ceiling.  

Gojuryu-style Push-ups 1

This exercise is a basic part of gojuryu training, combining stretching, breathing and push-ups. Similar to some yoga moves, it should be done smoothly and vigorously. Start with the hands and feet flat on the floor, arching the body into an inverted V-shape. Then bring the head down through the arms into the "plank" position. After strengthening the neck with head movements, return to the inverted V, then drop into the final back-stretch with face pointing upwards.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Karate, Bodhidarma and Right Breathing

The Origin of Shaolin King Fu is attributed in part to the founder of Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism, the Indian Monk Bodhidharma, who spent nine years at a Shao Lin temple in the Songshan Mountains of China sometime around 520 AD. Martial arts existed in China long before then – there are references in the Spring and Autumn Annals, composed between 800–500 B.C., to “hard” and “soft” fighting techniques.  However, after nine years of meditation facing the wall of a cave located nearby, and concerned by the physical state of some of the monks, the Bodhidharma set forth a series of exercises to be practiced by monks to strengthen both mind and body, and introduced a set of physical exercises consisting of (in Japanese)  the Ekkinkyo and Senzuikyo.

The Ekkinkyo are a series of exercises and breathing techniques to enable one's body to withstand the long hours of meditation and other severe forms of training, while the Senzuikyo shows how monks should develop their mental and spiritual strength.  From these exercises an additional method, or kata, was developed known as the Shih Pa Lohan Shu (the "Eighteen Hands of the Lohan").

These breathing exercises came to be held in very high regard in Okinawa by many of the great karate masters, and have played a key role in the development of karate training. Morio Higaonna refers to them as “the most fundamental precepts of present day karate-do.”  Gichin Funakoshi, who initially popularized karate on mainland Japan in the 1920s, is quoted in his “Introduction to Karatedo" as saying: “By strengthening the body through the method described in the Ekkin sutra, one can acquire the prowess of the Deva kings. Polishing the mind through the Senzui sutra develops the strength of will to pursue the spiritual path.”

The power of correct breathing, and the importance of traditional techniques to develop it, cannot be underestimated in karate training.