Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Talking to a Wall

I love karate, and martial arts, in general, so I tend to talk about it a lot--particularly with other martial artists. Sometimes, though, it's like talking to a brick wall. There are some martial artists out there who simply refuse to believe that karate could be any different than what they have learned. They have built up a wall between themselves and the wider world of karate, and when you try to tell them what it looks like on your side of the wall, they will argue until they are blue in the face that your side of the wall can't possibly look different than their side.
This is a very disheartening and frustrating type of conversation. As much as I hate to make generalizations about styles, I have certainly noticed that it tends to be practitioners of Japanese styles that put up these walls. Don't get me wrong, I've come across Okinawan stylists that put up walls, and I've met some Japanese stylists that don't. I also still respect their passion and dedication to their training, but to understand karate, I believe that you really need to research its history and try to be open to other interpretations of the art than your own.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My KishimotoDi Experience (Part 3--Keikogi and Kamae)

Me in KishimotoDi Uniform
Before he left Phoenix, Ulf Karlsson Sensei gifted me a keikogi (training uniform) for KishimotoDi. This uniform consists of a kendo uwagi (jacket) embroidered with the kanji for KishimotoDi, and a black, Okinawan-style, narrow-legged hakama called a no-bakama (field hakama). The older style no-bakama do not have a reinforced back plate, but this modern reproduction does, and is meant to be worn with a belt. Since I have no rank in KishimotoDi, I decided I should wear a white belt when I train with the uniform on.

Uwagi with "KishimotoDi" embroidered on the left side of the chest

In addition to the other techniques and methods I have mentioned in my previous posts, I wanted to mention the three primary kamae (postures) of KishimotoDi. They are really basics that I could have covered earlier, but I needed to take photos of them. Below are my (rather poor) depictions of them:

Tekko-Gamae (Iron Turtle Posture)
Sagurite-Gamae (Searching Hands Posture)
Hotate-Gamae (Standing Sail Posture)

These three postures are key to the applications of KishimotoDi kata, and can be found in Naihanchi, Passai, and Kusanku, respectively.

Monday, April 7, 2014

My KishimotoDi Experience (Part 2--Kata)

KishimotoDi has a total of four kata; Naihanchi, Nidanbu, Passai, and Kusanku. The foundation of the system is Naihanchi, which is  not unusual for karate that comes from Shuri-Te/SuiDi. All of the other kata build on the material and methods in Naihanchi, so unless you get good at Naihanchi and its applications, the other kata won't make sense. I find this cohesiveness to be unique, as most karate systems claim that a kata is their foundation (Naihanchi, Sanchin, or Seisan, typically) but you don't usually see the methods carried over from their foundation kata to their other kata. In KishimotoDi, on the other hand, you can see and feel the methods that are carried over.

Tachimura no Naihanchi teaches the footwork, stances, and power generation necessary to make the applications for its movements work. The other kata contain other methods of entry and dealing with attacks, but any follow-up techniques go right back to Naihanchi. In the video, above, you can see me practicing Karlsson Sensei's "Walk the Line" drill, which is used to develop smoothness in application by defending against one attacker after another while continuing to walk along a line. All three of the techniques I used were KishimotoDi applications for Naihanchi, although I didn't do them nearly as well or as smoothly as Karlsson Sensei does.