Saturday, November 29, 2008
When I came back from Korea to France, in 1989, Sensei Rolland Hernaez allowed me to open a Dojo to teach Nihon Tai Jitsu.
The first year, I had 5 students. 2 of these stayed with me until I moved to the United States. They later placed 5 and 6 at the National Championship in their category.
One of them, Mathieu, a tall skinny guy, was a little shy to start with. Little by little he developed a very friendly and happy attitude as well as great throwing abilities! Mathieu was raised by a single Mom. It was uncommon in our remote part of Picardie, and sometimes he had been picked on because of that.
At the end of 1992, during Christmas Dinner, Mathieu’s mother came to thank me for what I had done for him.
Thinking that she was making reference to his ability in Martial Arts, I told her that it was my job, I had just helped the kid train hard and develop his skills.
No, she told me, you do not understand. When Mathieu started training with you, he was going in the wrong direction. Without a father at home, he was hanging around with the wrong kind of boys, and was aiming at troubles. I had no clue how to handle him. You put him back on the right track. Without you, he would probably be in jail today. I was touched, and thankful to her for having told me that.
Sensei Hiroyuki Koda – who came to the United states in 1969 sent by Grandmaster Yamamoto - used to say :
“We are the results of the influence of our parents, our friends, and our teachers.”
I had not realized the beneficial influence I had had on Mathieu. As instructors we can have a serious influence in the lives of our students, let’s be aware of this, and use it for their own good.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Zen and Martial Arts : A short History of Yoshukai Karate
“Zen” simply means meditation. In Sanskrit the word is "dhyana”. Dhyana and Zen appear to be unrelated words, but in fact they are similarly pronounced. Whenever a heavily voiced "D" precedes the "Y", as in “Did You”, the sounds are usually combined and pronounced as a "J". We say, "Di'ja go?." Ed-u-cate becomes "ejucate." Acad-i-an becomes "Cajun." Sanskrit's Dhyana (meditation) became "Jen" – written Chan in Chinese and pronounced Zen in Japanese.
The priests of Shao Lin Monastery in
Bodhidharma designed a set of martial exercises designed to strengthen their minds and bodies. This was the beginning of the Shaolin Kung Fu (Shorin Ji Kempo in Japanese) style of boxing.
Bodhidharma's teachings became the basis for the majority of Chinese martial arts.
Or so legend has it.
“Tode” (Chinese Hand) was the indigenous form of fighting developed in
Te developed primarily in three Okinawan cities: Shuri,
The first public demonstration of Karate in
In 1922, Dr. Jano Kano, founder of the Japanese art of Judo, invited Funakoshi to demonstrate at the famous Kodokan Dojo and to remain in
The sponsorship of Dr Kano was instrumental in establishing a base for karate in
The Chinese character “To”- Chinese - used to write “Tode” – Chinese Hand - could also be pronounced 'Kara'. Around 1935 a meeting of Okinawan masters decided to replace this character by another one, also pronounced “Kara” but meaning “Empty”. This is how Karate which originally meant Chinese Hand, came to mean Empty Hand.
This was later changed to Karate-do by Gichin Funakoshi. The Do in karate-do means 'way' or 'path', and is indicative of the discipline and philosophy of Karate with moral and spiritual connotations.
Chito Ryu and Yoshukai
Chinen Tsuyoshi, later to be known by the name Chitose was born in
Chitose began his study of Karate at the age of seven (1905) under Aragaki Seisho, Higashionna Kanryo One fellow student would become Miyagi Chojun the founder of modern Goju Ryu
Funakoshi Gichin Sensei was also Chitose Sensei’s primary school teacher.
In 1922 he was accepted as a student at the
He opened his first dojo in
In 1951, Yamamoto Mamoru began training in Karate under Sensei Chitose.
From 1958 to 1960, Yamamoto Mamoru, the head student of Sensei Chitose, won the All Japan Karate Championships.
In 1961 he opened his own dojo the Yoshukan in
In 1963 Mamoru Yamamoto started his own organization Yoshukai Karate, independent from Dr Chitose’s Chito Ryu.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
- On November 29, 2008 at : Chung's Taekwondo.
4100 AL Highway14, Elmore, AL 36025(Close to ). It should start around 12:15 pm. Montgomery, AL
- On Saturday, December 6, 2008 at : Big Green Drum Dojo 2447
Executive Plaza, Suite5 . It should start by 11:30 a.m. Pensacola, Florida 32504
The instructor will be Patty HEATH, Head instructor of the Big Green Drum Iaijutsu Class.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
That is the finding of a study conducted by Chenchen Wang of the Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston.
Local practitioners of the ancient Chinese art agree...
Read the Full article at : Tai chi combats arthritis, study shows
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Zen meditation is not easy - It is however, the only way into Buddhism. 8 centuries ago, Master DOGEN, founder of Soto Zen, describe in his FUKAN ZAZENGI the basics of Zazen :
For practicing Zen, a quiet room is suitable. Eat and drink moderately. Put aside all involvements and suspend all affairs. Do not think "good" or "bad." Do not judge true or false. Give up the operations of mind, intellect, and consciousness; stop measuring with thoughts, ideas, and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha. How could that be limited to sitting or lying down?
At your sitting place, spread out a thick mat and put a cushion on it. Sit either in the full-lotus or half-lotus position. In the full-lotus position, first place your right foot on your left thigh, then your left foot on your right thigh. In the half-lotus, simply place your left foot on your right thigh. Tie your robes loosely and arrange them neatly. Then place your right hand on your left leg and your left hand on your right palm, thumb-tips lightly touching. Straighten your body and sit upright, leaning neither left nor right, neither forward nor backward. Align your ears with your shoulders and your nose with your navel. Rest the tip of your tongue against the front of the roof of your mouth, with teeth together and lips shut. Always keep your eyes open, and breathe softly through your nose.
Once you have adjusted your posture, take a breath and exhale fully, rock your body right and left, and settle into steady, immovable sitting. Think of not thinking. Not thinking — what kind of thinking is that? Nonthinking. This is the essential art of zazen.This text was written in the 13th century for Japanese people used to sit on the ground and had probably never sat on a chair; the Lotus or half Lotus position were familiar to them.
Most people in the West get interested in Zen after the age of 40. Our bodies may not let us practice in positions (repeated injuries have damaged my knees, and they will absolutely NOT cooperate...). My interest in Martial Arts and Taoist meditation taught me that the most important thing is to keep the Spine erect and as straight as possible - to sit like a tower or pillar.
It is perfectly possible to do so when kneeling in Seiza or sitting on a bench or chair.
Read the full version of FUKAN ZAZENGI
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Last week, Kaicho Yamamoto, 10th degree Black Belt and founder of Yoshukai Karate was in Dothan with his grand Daughter and 3 other Karate Students.
A group of German people was here too who had come to meet him and to join his organization to practice under his umbrella.
We practiced together on Wednesday Night at the Dojo. Sensei Culbreth lined up one student of each nationality : USA, Germany, Japan, and they performed the same kata simultaneously. There were slight diffferences, but basically, these were clearly the same katas.
So here we had, 63 years after the end of the war, American, German, Japanese and French people, enjoying practicing Karate together and each other's company.
Why did we fight in the first place ?
Martial Arts - or Budo - are about much more than fighting. Budō is a compound of the root bu武:ぶ), meaning war or martial; and dō (道:どう), meaning path or way. However, the term "bu" is more accurately rendered as "a means to stop the conflict". This leads to an alternative translation of "Budo" as "a way to solve conflict".
Sunday, November 9, 2008
This kind of bench is used by people who like to sit in a "seiza". In that position, it is important to not overstretch the ankles.
This Bench may be built from one only board. It should not cost more than $15.00 in purchased Material and Hardware.
It can be made with foldable or fixed feet. Fixed feet are a little sturdier, foldable feet makes it easier to move the bench around or take it to places with you.
I have build this one from a Board of beautiful Cedar wood. It smells really good , and does not need to be stained or varnished in anyway.
The Tameshigiri Seminar went very well. Our instructor Joe Byers joined us from Pensacola, Participants were : Nathalie Pugh Stephen and Shihan Travis Page from the Yoshukai Karate Dojo in Auburn, AL. Ron Swihart , aka "Vlad the Impaler" and myself from Dothan. Fred Ray could not attend as he was trying to prevent the nuclear holocaust, and Cody had forgotten that he was to work Saturday all day... He tried to join us on Sunday to finish the mats, but his car would not crank, or something ...
We cut 40 rolls of mats altogether, I used 2 beach matts rolled together for each target.
We mostly cut with Katanas, but also used a Wakizashi and Tanto.
Some cuts were easy, some not so much. Joe was of great help explaining some details of alignment and hips moves.
I believe the first thing to properly cut is to have a good sharp blade designed for this purpose, I am using a Paul Chen Practical XL Katana. This blade costs less than $300, but it is perfect for the job. Nathalie fell in love with it...
Second thing is proper technique. No matter how good the blade is, if the move is wrong, the best blade will scallop the target, and bend...
Third thing is, as usual, relaxation, let the blade do the work...
Shinkens are extremely sharp, and we were very careful to respect basic safety rules, hence we had minimum blood spill during the event and everybody went home intact.
We had a great time, and will probably organize an other session in the Spring, possibly in Auburn...
Friday, November 7, 2008
Quotes from a 2007 Interview of Shimabukuro Sensei in Black Belt Magazine.
You can read the entire document at : Shimabukuro Sensei's Exclusive Interview
What is the biggest misconception about the samurai sword?
Most people are surprised to find out that Japanese swordsmanship is not the same as you see in the movies. The chanbara movies show long fight scenes where samurai fight for minutes. In real combat, a sword fight takes seconds. The blink of an eye is all it takes to end a real battle.
Why is traditional weapons training still an essential part of martial arts?
All traditional Japanese martial arts are based on the principles of combat with a weapon. Everyone’s empty-hand combat system is better understood after one has trained in a traditional weapons system—especially swordsmanship. The precision and etiquette required to master an ancient samurai art like that of the sword leads each of us to a better understanding of strategy in combat and our place in a peaceful society.
What was the most significant moment in your own training?
The moment I realized that setsu-do (discipline) and giri (obligation) were the foundation of living the highest life condition. These two things give [you] the responsibility for—and influence over—your training and your future.
What element of your personal development has been most positively influenced by the martial arts?
I thought karate was a tremendous martial art, but I learned dignity from the training I received in iaido. My introduction to sword training was definitely the most powerful influence on my development as a person. The principles of swordsmanship teach that ideals are more important than money or power.
Any closing thoughts? Culture and history are very important. You cannot [execute] correct swordsmanship without a correct teacher or without a true lineage. If you become like the samurai, you carry the same attitude. Swordsmanship is not like other arts. Other arts were not built around bushido. The sword teaches bushido.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
KAGAMI is the official newsletter of Jikishin-kai International
Here previous issues available :
Kagami 1 : Winter 2006
Kagami 2 : Spring 2006
Kagami 3 : Summer 2006
Kagami 4 : Winter 2007
Kagami 5 : Spring 2007
Kagami 6 : Summer 2007
Kagami 7 : Fall 2007
Kagami 8 : Winter 2008
Kagami 9 : Spring 2008
Kagami 10 : Fall 2008
Joe should be arriving here in Headland this Saturday November 8 at 11:00 a.m. and the seminar will start as soon as we get changed.
The mats have been soaking since yesterday, they are quite wet now...
I'll charge $4.00 per mat. I soaked 40 of them
You should be able to perform 3 sets of cuts per mat, more, if you're accurate...
Then we'll eat. I'm slow- cooking a big ham, and am considering Rice and Tomates Provencales to go with it...
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
A first meditation session will be held on Wednesday November 12, 2008, from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Yoshukai Karate Dojo 1791 Ross Clark Circle, Dothan, AL 36301.
If you would like to join us, please bring a blanket or thick beach towel to sit on.
There will be no fee requested to participate in the group. Donations will be welcomed to help cover the costs of operation (purchases, travels...) However remember that even if you cannot donate anything, you are welcomed; this should not prevent you to come and get a taste of Zen.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Asthma sufferers may be able to better control their breathing and improve their exercise performance with some training in tai chi, new research indicates . . .
Scientists in Thailand enrolled 17 adult patients (average age 57) with persistent asthma in a six-week Tai Chi training program.
The researchers conclude that Tai Chi can help people control asthma and prove to be an effective, non-pharmacologic adjunctive therapy for people with persistent asthma.
The authors are on staff in the department of medicine at Ramathibodi Hospital in Thailand.
Read the entire article at:
Released October 22, 2008
Tai chi is effective in the treatment of pain and physical impairment in people with severe knee osteoarthritis, according to research presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in San Francisco, Calif.Read the full article at : http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/545482/
Source: American College of Rheumatology (ACR)
In their study, one group of people in their 60s with severe knee osteoarthritis performed tai chi for an hour twice a week for 12 weeks while a similar group did the same amount of conventional stretching exercises over the same period.
Those who did Tai Chi experienced greater pain reduction, less depression and improvements in physical function and overall health, researchers led by Dr. Chenchen Wang of Tufts Medical Center in Boston reported at a meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in San Francisco.
(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Peter Cooney)
. . . read entire article at:
In Zen we believe that there is a Buddha -nature that is the essence of the existence of the Universe, and that it is in all things.
In Zen meditation, we strive to uncover that Buddha-nature which is within ourselves.
This is so far the best explanation I could find about Zen, what it is about in belief and practice.
Of course, one could deeply expand on this matter, but it is good to state what it is about without getting lost in complicated rethorics and philosophical explanations. I chose Zen because it is a religion one trains in, just like we train in Karate, Iaido, Tai Chi or other martial arts.
It is quoted from the book "MOKU RAI" or Silent Thunder - the second volume of Matsuoka Roshi's teaching Archives.
Zengaku Soyu Matsuoka Roshi was my instructor's Master. He was born in Japan in 1912 and moved to the US in 1939. He founded the Zen Buddhist temple of Chicago, where he was also instructor of Zazen for the Chicago Judo-Karate School, where he was visited by Mas Oyama, founder of Kyokushinkai Karate.
This book "MOKU-RAI", as well as the first volume, "The Kyosaku", of Matsuoka Roshi's teachings can be ordered through the website of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
I believe that the Tsukikage (Moon Shadow) Katachi - after which this blog is named - was accidentally dropped from the list. I hope it is later reinstated, because it is a beautiful and cool waza very nice to use in a demonstration, so we will keep practicing it.
And the Ukenagashi sono Ni of the Katachi is NOT in Flashing Steel, but is very close to the Okuden Tachiwaza version.
6 Acupuncture meridians flow through the wrist : 3 Yin : Heart, Pericardium and Lungs; and 3 Yang : Stomach, Small and Large Intestine. When you flex your wrist by bringing the pal of the hand toward the elbow, you stretch the Yang Meridians. When you extend your wrist by bringing the back of the hand toward the elbow, you stretch the Yin Meridians.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is said that "Chi follows Blood". This means that when blood or lymph do not circulate, the Chi is stopped and pain arises.
Stretching the wrists before a Tai Chi class loosens the little bones and help a better circulation of fluids - and Chi, through the joint. These exercises are also good to release tension in the forearms of persons suffering of Carpal Tunel Syndrome, or who simply spend lots of times typing on a keyboard.