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KARATE ARTICLE 63
Never underestimate an opponent or belittle their skills.
Throughout my many years of Martial Arts (now over 55 years), I have always made a point to teach to those with Physical Handicaps, and also to the Elderly. Here I want to relate a story about one such student. The students name is Serge. We originally met when I was training with a Kyokushin style based Group. The club was very close to my then Home. Due to my existing background, I was quickly raised to Sempai or Senior status (eventually granted a Nidan or Second Degree). Serge was a junior who they had a hard time figuring out how to teach to.
He was born with his Left arm lacking certain muscles and tendons, as well as very little bone density. His left arm was like a soft rubber tube. He had absolutely no control over the arm or hand. Therefore it was sometimes a hindrance when he moved, and of no use to strike or block.
The club had a change in owners, and after a certain amount of time I felt the need to move on. I returned to my Karate roots and found a JKA Shotokan club that I liked. Serge when learning this, followed me there. I guess he felt I knew what I was doing. I started at the bottom as I always have a tendency to do when starting at a new club or organization (just my way). Again I was rapidly advanced. In the course of doing so I felt the need to mentor Serge in his training, as once again the Instructors seemed at a loss of how to work with him. This is one of my first points in all this rambling. I had been exposed to many different arts and teachers and styles. I feel that this exposure to all sorts of arts, permitted me to step out of the Box some styles put you in, to conceive or invent techniques specifically for Serge. Many of my colleagues in specific styles earlier on would have a negative attitude to sampling or trying other styles or Ryu. Some organizations even went so far as to outright ban participating in any activities of other organizations (Such as Tournaments). Whether politically based or otherwise motivated, to my mind this was a really short-sighted policy.
Back to Serge and his training. I worked with Serge to develop his hand-techniques in such a way, that every block was a simultaneous strike, and every strike served as a block when executed. Also worked a great deal with him on his footwork, what is called in Japanese styles Tai-Sabaki (Body-Movement).
So we worked Ashi-Sabaki and Te-Sabaki (Foot Movement combined with Hand-Work). Serge was a diligent and eager student, willing to work hard to improve. His hard work was paying off, and his skills in Kumite became better than before.
The reward came when the club in question (Dojo Central JKA Dojo in Montreal) had an opportunity to incorporate members from another club that was closing and therefore members were seeking another club to train at. The entire membership was invited to train Free with us for a Month to establish whether they enjoyed our training and Instructors.
A Sandan (Third Degree) lined-up with Serge and began Jiyu-Kumite (Free-Sparring). He got the surprise of his life when the Green Belt started scoring on him. He obviously thought he would take it easy on this poor Handicapped fellow, but quickly learned he better watch out for techniques he was not used to. My reward came when I saw the subtle smile Serge had when he was able to score on a Sandan.
The Sandan afterwards being puzzled asked about the techniques and eventually came to me to discuss this stuff.
Serge went on to quickly attain his Brown Belt.
So here is my other point or reason for doing this Article.
Many Clubs or Organizations fearful either of losing the purity of what they do, or because of the attitude if we do not do it here it has no value, close themselves to alternate or different ways of executing or doing a technique. What I showed to Serge was not new, just put together and executed in a different way. It has also always been my belief that any well executed block can also be an attack.
Now some of you out there are going of course all of that is so obvious. Well in some circles and in some organizations this is not so. Once again I point out that being exposed to as many Arts and Styles and Ryu as possible will have a positive effect on all your practices and types of training. While I am at it, I wish to Commend and Congratulate Anthony C. Marquez Sensei for his work with those who are Physically challenged.
Thank You for Your Time
As a Martial Artist Wanted to share a post that I just made for another site/group. Here goes : – Have always found that Throws and Locks and Vital Point Striking were part of the Arts. However over last 150 to 200 years a lot of Diluted practice and teaching has taken place. JKA for example due to the Ban on weapons etc… by American Forces in control of Japan after the War, discontinued Weapons practice to conform and follow American guidelines. Photos of Funakoshi can clearly be seen with him holding weapons in the past. Therefore as time went on many techniques and or applications became either banned or forgotten or simply never learned. Also many only learned partial systems or techniques and could only pass on what they had been shown. Believe it is up to us as Martial Artists to explore and experiment and recreate to further the Arts. Would highly recommend writings of various such as Patrick McCarthy or IRKRS and several others on research of the Arts and various applications etc…. for Kobudo : – Zen Okinawa Kobudo Renmei, Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinko-Kai of Taira Shinken Kobudo Lineage, Ryu Kon Kai Ryu-Kyu Kobudo of the Iha Family, etc…. If you do not include these in your practice, I believe you are missing something essential to make your Art and your techniques complete. Only my Opinion !
Three levels to be found in each and every Kata, Omote (Obvious or for public consumption), Oyo Bunkai which are often ones own personal interpretations, and Okuden (Secret or Hidden Techniques). In addition to this, there is a reason why many Grandmasters have always said it is a lifetime study. It takes many thousands of repetitions to establish autonomous response or instantaneous reaction. Also ones senses learn to slow down the time in which the movements take place and your final finishing move is dictated by what you have been taught. Therefore like your vocabulary or dictionnary, you can enlarge by always adding new stuff. Due to my many years, can demonstrate many Bunkai or responses to any one move, and will fit same according to level of person I am teaching and their physiology. I also know my own physiology leans me toward certain responses as easier and more automatic for me. However as was said in a previous article, first start with a strong foundation and executing basic moves correctly, with balance, power, and precision, everything flows from there.
No Wasted Moves by Paul Dupre
This article is in response to a request from my friend Matt Henderson.
Matt had written an excellent article that I quickly responded to and wrote back about how I felt it was spot on !
Matt was overly generous and said I should write more. So Matt this one is for you !
No Wasted Moves, what do I mean by that title ? Well I mean every Kata that I have learned from the old sources (Katas that were not greatly modified in the 20th Century or from 1940’s on) has no wasted moves. Each move has a purpose, even if it is not immediately obvious. In most cases for Shotokan Kata, often what is seen as a preparatory move, is actually part of a self-defence sequence. Many such moves have jujitsu type sequences or Chin-Na type execution. Breaking down a Kata, move by move and in slow-motion with a partner will often reveal the purpose of many moves.
So never take for granted that the move preceding a block or attack is only a preparation for the final move.
Those with experience and/or having had many seminars with different Instructors/Teachers, knows that there can be several interpretations of a Karate sequence in those same katas. This is not wrong! Obviously some katas may have had an original interpretation of a move by the creator/author, however this was in a specific situation. Nothing says that a different situation cannot need a different application of the same sequence. I wrote in reply to Matt’s article, that I often think of it in terms of language skills. The greater my vocabulary (Number of words I am familiar with and use), the more I can express myself. The more languages I speak the greater the range of my responses.
I often found in the past that Kata were taught strictly as an exact duplicate or copy of XXX Instructors execution, with no deeper meaning attached to it. In other words just do the Kata exactly as you were shown period.
I have found that by exploring Bunkai and various applications of moves from the Kata, it gives a beginner confidence in what he is learning can help him/her defend themselves in almost any situation, and gives a deeper motivation in practicing and perfecting the Kata. No wasted moves also means to me, not just blindly repeating a Kata, but understanding how it can be applied.
Thanks for the motivation Matt my friend !
P.S. I refer anyone interested in this subject matter to consider getting books or contacting the following : – Patrick McCarthy, Koryu Uchinadi, Bruce Clayton and his book on Shotokans Secret, H. Kogel and his books, and Evan Pantazi. See my previous posts excellent deals on DVD’s from Warrener Entertainment by Patrick McCarthy !