Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Karate does not work"

Many people argue that Kata are not applicable for self-defence.

They are wrong.

True, it is not always easy to see what a certain kata move is about and how it could be used for actual self-defence.

However, like it or not, the fact that you cannot figure it out does not mean that it cannot be done. It just means that you are not able to do it...

Traditional kata were transmitted to us by Masters - some of them with actual combat experience - for several generations. If you don't believe there was actual fighting knowledge codified in these exercises, that is your loss, for you are missing a huge amount of knowledge and experience.

I am not speaking here of fancy kata designed by modern self-proclaimed masters for the sole goal purpose of winning kata competition with fancy moves that are more efficient to move air around than for fighting purpose.

I was teaching 2 weeks ago a class about the use of Seisan Kata for self-defence. One of the student, a young and dedicated female high school student told me their school self-defence  instructor had told them:  

"Karate does not work - if somebody attacks you, get on your back on the ground and kick them away from you."

Ever heard something that stupid ?

I asked the student what her instructor would say if there were several attackers. She told me she had asked her, but she had not been able to answer. 

Now here we have someone who obviously knows nothing about Karate and is being critical of it, but who also does not understand anything to actual self-defence - life and death situations, and actual fighting, and has the guts to give some of the stupidest advise to a potential victim

This is the kind of comment is stupid, it is also irresponsible. To tell a young woman that when she is being attacked she should get to the ground with her legs in the air is borderline criminal. For this is probably where the rapist wants her anyway.

The ability to defend yourself depends of a few factors : physical fitness, technical ability, and willingness to do so.

Karate (and other martial arts) will teach you the technical ability and the willingness to do so. Your physical fitness is your job. If you are serious about your study of Karate, you will have to be fit anyway. 

Do not listen to self appointed experts. Train hard, kata, and their self-defence applications - and sparring if at all possible full contact. The ability to actually strike and to receive strikes, will greatly help you not freeze under attack.

Keep High Spirit

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rainy Night in Fukakusa

Drifting pitifully in the whirlwind of birth and death,
As if wandering in a dream,
In the midst of illusion I awaken to the true path;
There is one more matter I must not neglect,
But I need not bother now,
As I listen to the sound of the evening rain
Falling on the roof of my temple retreat
In the deep grass of Fukakusa.

Eihei Dōgen (1200 - 1253)

Fukakusa was the name of a secluded village to the south of medieval Kyoto. It literally means "deep grass".


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Metsuke - where to look at the end of a kata

Metsuke - Where do you put your eyes during practice ? Do you focus toward your opponent's eyes, at his hands, his chest, or do you stay unfocused on the whole background ? 

The answer to these questions is "YES"... No kidding - but we will get to this later. 

For today lets get in to the devilish details...

Where do you focus your eyes at the end of a kata ? 

Your eyes should be looking down in the direction of the last fallen opponent.

Now you need to retreat back to the place you started from. You still need to display a certain level of Zanshin. So where do you look ? 

From our last class at the Dothan Dojo with Patty Heath Sensei this is what I gathered : 

  • For all regular MJER kata (Shoden, Chuden, Okuden sets) you should keep looking slightly down until you are back where you started. Then when your Right hand leaves your tsuka, your eyes look up (Horizontally)

  • For Batto-Ho Shoden & Okuden : keep your eyes down until your back foot gets level with the front one - after noto. Then, raise your eyes.

Please note that only your eyes are moving, not your head which should always stay vertical. Do not let your head lean up or down, only your eyeballs should move.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Secret of Kendo

Once upon a time, a very proud young samurai visited a famous Kendo Master and asked him : 

"What is the secret of your Art?"

The Master quietly grabbed his shinai, twirled it above his head and strongly whacked the young man on the top of his head. 

Surely he received satori!

 In "Zen and Martial Arts" by Taisen Desshimaru

Don't you love these old Masters...