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.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

My KishimotoDi Experience (Part 1--Intro and Principles)

Higa Seitoku
KishimotoDi is the name given by students at the Bugeikan to the system of Shuri-Te (Sui-Di, in the Okinawan dialect) that was passed down from Tode Sakugawa by Bushi Tachimura, who taught it to Kishimoto Soko, who taught it to Higa Seitoku, the founder of the Bugeikan. Although it shares a common ancestor with the systems we now call (Shorin-Ryu) "karate," the system is quite unique. Those who have been studying karate for a while, and have researched its history, will recognize many of the concepts taught in KishimotoDi as ones written about by Okinawan masters in the early 1900's. Over time, many of the features of those concepts fell by the wayside in most karate systems, as they slowly evolved into more of a sport/physical education/character development focus. This means that those of us who have been training in karate for a while have a LOT of habits and muscle memory to struggle against when learning KishimotoDi.

A segment of Tachimura no Naihanchi, featuring sinking and twisting

Some of the most obvious features of KishimotoDi are its sinking and twisting actions. These days, karateka are taught to drive their techniques with their hips. That method of generating power isn't wrong, but it also isn't what KishimotoDi does. Instead, they make use of a principle that Motobu Choki alluded to when he said "Twisting to the left or right in Naifunchin (Naihanchi) stance will give you the stance used in a real confrontation. Twisting ones way of thinking about Naifuanchin (Naihanchi) left and right, the various meanings in each movement of the kata will also become clear." Instead of driving techniques with the hip, they twist their body at the waist, and use their core strength, body weight, and their attacker's momentum to power their techniques. They also drop, both to avoid attacks and to perform certain applications.

The three primary fighting principles of KishimotoDi are "issun hazureru" (avoid by an inch), "kobo ittai" (attack and defense at the same time), and "taigi iichi" (body and technique simultaneously). The phrase, "avoid by an inch," explains precisely how they move around an attack--if you move too much, you can't reach the opponent to finish them, and if you don't move enough, your attacker wins. When being attacked, they move just out of line enough to avoid the attack, and then enter in. Attacks are generally divided into four sections--inside-over, inside-under, outside-over, and outside-under. All KishimotoDi material that I have seen, so far, avoids the attack by moving to one of these areas. The phrase "attack and defense at the same time" refers to what they do once they have received an attack. By using both arms, or by using techniques that cut off their opponent's movement, they are able to both defend against an attack and counter it at the same time. "Body and technique simultaneously" refers to their method of generating power--the sinking and twisting--and is a reminder that power comes from the body, not just the body part that is being utilized.