Sunday, December 1, 2013
I did some video recording last Saturday, and finally got a few clips edited and uploaded to share. The first is an application for the one-legged turn (a jump, in some styles) in Kusanku/Kanku. The technique is a throw found in Okinawa Shima (a grappling sport in Okinawa that descended from tegumi) and Sambo. This video simply shows the throw in isolation, without setups or distracting strikes, and I set my partner down lightly to avoid injury, so the landing doesn't match the kata like it would if I slammed him. This throw works quite well if you have the grappling experience to apply it, but could be difficult for those without grappling experience, particularly if they are trying to overcome a size disadvantage.
The second video is for the kata Wansu/Enpi, where you sink into a horse stance and execute a low block, then shift into a front stance and punch. In the version I learned, the punch is done as a keiko-ken-tsuki (Phoenix eye fist punch), and I carried that over into this application. I demonstrate it as a defense against a shirt grab with a punch to the head, although it can be done from the grab before a punch is thrown, and if you sink into the arm enough you can actually turn them enough to prevent the punch. It's hard to see in the video, but I aim my keiko-ken-tsuki for the brachial plexus or vagus nerve, depending on what is available to me. There are other target options, of course, and your strike could be a regular punch, or a palm strike, or any number of other types of strikes. The deflection of the punch across the centerline can be difficult, and you really need to have done muchimi-di (sticky hands) training to feel comfortable with it, as it works best if you stick to the punch early.
The last video isn't a kata application, exactly--it is a quick explanation of a "side-step" uchi-mata (inner thigh throw) performed in conjunction with a shoulder lock (which can be found in Naihanchi kata). The "side-step" uchi-mata is one that I was taught by my judo sensei in Mesa, AZ as a way to throw people that lean forward to keep their hips away from you in an attempt to prevent you from throwing them. As it turns out, this works quite well in karate, where many of our tuidi joint locks bend our opponent over at the waist. In this demonstration, I let go of the lock and allow my partner to flip with the throw for safety.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
November 23rd came and went without me participating in my second MMA fight, and as disappointed as I am, I know (begrudgingly) that it was the right decision. I am still dealing with a sinus and inner-ear infection after over a month of treatment, and it has seriously impacted my fitness level and ability to train. The advice from my doctor, Sensei, and training partners was to wait until I was healthy and able to train at 100%, so that's what I decided to do. Unfortunately, that does mean that I will not be able to fight this year, which will mean I'll have to pay for my medical exams again. At this point, that puts my second MMA fight on an indefinite hold, since I can't justify spending that much money right now.
Instead, I will now be focusing on preparing for my Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt) test, which will be scheduled for sometime next summer. Shodan tests are notoriously difficult, and intended to not only confirm that you know all the necessary material, but that you have developed a strong spirit through your training. I have not attended a Shodan test under my current instructor, but I have assisted with a Shodan test at my previous dojo, so I have a general idea of how vigorous and difficult it will be. Generally, these tests are several hours long (4 to 8 hours, typically), not including written tests and demonstrating fitness requirements, and you have to demonstrate everything you are supposed to know and be able to explain it, in detail. In addition, there is sparring intended to push you until you want to throw up and give up. I have a lot of material to cover, and a long way to go on improving my fitness, so I'll be starting now.
|Taketaba (Cane Bundle)|
|Tetsutaba (Iron Bundle)|
Over the past couple of months, my Sensei has been trying to make his kata oyo bunkai (analysis and application) more readily available. I put together the short video above to highlight a few of his applications for our Passai Dai kata, which is a form handed down from Bushi Matsumura, to Tawada Shinboku, to Tawada Shinho, to Tawada Shinjo, to Chibana Chosin. Since then, I've been spreading it around the internet, and it has gotten some positive attention--even getting good feedback from the likes of Iain Abernethy and Chris Denwood. Sensei also had an opportunity to demonstrate and teach some of his application at the Winterhaven Shorinkan Camp this year, and I heard that it went very well. It sounds like he will be getting more opportunities to teach seminars, which is great for him, and for our dojo!
|Sensei Vince Morris demonstrating an application for Naihanchi/Tekki Shodan|
Speaking of seminars, I have been informed that Sensei Vince Morris is planning another seminar in Phoenix early next year. I attended the one he taught last year, and I really enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to attending another one, if I can. Last time, he started off with some of his basics for self defense drilling, and then the rest of class was him asking what kind of material we wanted to cover. I would expect him to do something similar next time, so I'll have to think of scenarios or kata that I would like to have addressed.
In the spirit of cross-training, I am a member of several martial arts related Facebook Groups, and I have been able to learn a great deal through the discussions held there. I have also found some good martial arts friends! One of them, in particular, has been happy to share knowledge with me and discuss history and technique through messages, as well as in the public discussions. This has led to the possibility of getting to do some cross-training together if he comes to the United States (he is from Europe) next year, which is very exciting! He practices a somewhat obscure old Shuri-Te style called KishimotoDi (literally "Kishimoto Hand" in the Okinawan dialect), which was passed down from Bushi Tachimura (a contemporary of the more well-known Bushi Matsumura). You can see this style's version of Naihanchi in the video above.
Most of my updates in this post have been about next year, but this one is actually for the year after. My Sensei is working with his Sensei to arrange for a dojo trip to Okinawa sometime in April of 2015. This would be a week-long trip that would include training at the Shorinkan Honbu dojo, visiting the amazing karate museums, and doing some sight-seeing. I am also trying to work out if there are any other dojo on Okinawa willing to let a group of gaijin karateka train with them so that we can cross-train there, make memories, experience more of the karate culture, and build relationships. A week probably isn't enough time, though, so I may see if there is a way to extend my stay a bit--assuming I end up being able to afford the trip, at all, that is!
Saturday, November 2, 2013
|Eddie Bethea, Kyoshi, Hachidan (8th Degree Black Belt) in Shorin-Ryu (Shorinkan)|
|Kyoshi Eddie Bethea, photograph date unknown|
After the interview, Kyoshi Bethea taught two classes--one for youth students and one for teens and adults. Sensei and I played the roles of assistants during the youth session, helping keep the kids in line and work with each other for the partner drills that took up most of class. I spent a majority of that session with one pair of students due to the fact that one of them has some serious issues with focus and control. Overall, though, the class was engaging and different from what the kids were used to, so it went pretty well. At the end of the class, they got the chance to ask Kyoshi Bethea questions, although few of them made use of the opportunity. I can't say I'm surprised, though--when I was a kid, I wouldn't have wanted to ask questions of someone I was told knows a lot about the thing I know only a little about, for fear of feeling silly.
|The attendees of Kyoshi Bethea's teen/adult class--my sensei and I are at the far right|
The teen/adult session, like the youth session, was pretty much entirely partner drills. We started off with the 7 standard Shorinkan Yakusoku Kumite (promise sparring) drills, and then moved on to the first 5 of Nakazato Minoru's 7 new Yakusoku Kumite drills. Sensei and I went through all 7 before class, so we had a leg up on everyone else, but not by much, and it will take some work to get them committed to memory. Like his father's drills, Nakazato Minoru Sensei's drills follow the same format of starting off with formal block-punch-kick partner work and ending with practical self defense techniques. Unlike his father's drills, though, the practical techniques come directly from kata, which is a great improvement in my opinion! Every now and then, Kyoshi Bethea had us take a break from the Yakusoku Kumite drills to practice various kata applications--mostly from Naihanchi and Kusanku. As always, it was a very educational class! Afterward, we had cake and a potluck to celebrate Cameron's 16th birthday, as well as to socialize with Kyoshi Bethea.
|Cameron, left, with Master Ken from Enter the Dojo|