Tuesday, December 25, 2012

About DO and JUTSU arts

I have heard repeatedly over the past few years people who believe that the JUTSU types of Martial arts are superior to the DO types, when it comes to actual usability in a real fight.

Such people will pretend for example, that Jujutsu is superior to Judo in an actual confrontation in the street, because the dangerous moves of Jujutsu were remove from Judo so it could be safely practiced in competition.

This is a fallacy. You may debate for hours what is the best car in the world, but if I have to go to town now, the best car in the world is my car. In case of a confrontation, the best martial art in the world is the one you know - IF YOU MASTER IT - because the is the only one you have...

One day a guy called and asked me if I taught Kendo or Kenjutsu. When I told him we practiced both at our dojo, he explained - at length - that he was only interested in Kenjutsu, because Kendo was a modern - therefore worthless - version of Kenjutsu. So I asked him where he had practiced before and he acknowledged the fact he never had, but had read a lot about the subject. I invited me to come to the dojo for a try.

Interestingly enough this guy never showed up for class ...


This is a very interesting video - it shows the Sensei demonstrating fast action Kendo. He is wearing no Bogu and his opponent attacks Men repeatedly. Watch the speed of his action, I don't think his opponent was able to touch him but once, the rest of the time, he hit his Do, Kote or Men, (*) or a combination of these. Obviously, these guys enjoyed this greatly, and I myself really enjoyed watching them. 

Some experts will say that this would not have been practiced by real samurai, that because the Shinai is longer than a real Katana, and that is has no curvature, too much practice with the Shinai would create bad habits that would kill you on the battle field. And there is some truth to this. It is said that Yamaoka Tesshu liked to practice with very short swords for this reason. 

It is also said that when Miyamoto Musashi had to fight the famous Sasaki Kojiro who was using a very long sword (the drying pole) he carved an even longer Boken out of an oar and beat him with it.

Watch carefully this video and ask yourself honestly, would you really feel comfortable with your real sword fighting this little yellow devil armed with a wooden Boken

The best Martial Art is the one you master.

Merry Christmas to all

Terminology :  

Do, Kote and Men are approved targets in Kendo : they are the sides and front of the abdomen, the wrists, and the top of the head. 
A Bogu is the armour used in Kendo to spar.
A Shinai is the flexible bamboo sword used in the Kendo video.
A Boken is a wooden sword the size of a real Katana sword, also used in Kendo and Kenjutsu Training.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Practice Sheet

To really improve a waza (or technique), it is better to practice it at least 10 times in a row. This allows to pay more attention to details, how to move a foot at the beginning in order to raise faster, how to shift weight, open hips or not... This can only be achieved by repeating the move again and again, and by paying great attention to the actual feelings in the joints and muscles...

At the Dojo, the students generally practice each waza 3 or 4 times to allow the instructor to correct them, and then get to another one. It is their job, back home, to practice again and again, to try to adjust the move based on the instructor's remarks, so it becomes a sort of second nature.

It is difficult to remember from one week to the other what we practice. As each one of us has preferred moves, and moves we don't particularly like for different reasons, it is very easy to practice certain moves a lot, and forget some others.This should be avoided.

I created this Practice Sheet to record one's practice. It is easy to use. Whenever you practice one waza 10 times, you draw a small line on the row in front of it. It is an easy way to visualize your training.

In this example, I recorded 70 Seiza Mae, 30 Seiza Migi, 30 Seiza Hidari, 30 Seiza Ushiro and 50 Yaegaki Omote

This document is public. Feel free to download it and use it to help your practice.

The waza I listed are the ones we practice at the Yoshukai Dojo in Dothan, Alabama, USA. As you probably practice other waza, you can modify this document to fit your needs. 

Have fun, Train hard.