Friday, September 19, 2008

Sparrows vs Swallows, fire in the hole!

Today, you will learn about the importance of the sparrow in Shotokan karate!

Friday night's class was dominated by four sets of Ji-yu-(suhon)-kumite partner training, starting off quite simply and building into full KWF Kurobi kihon kumite, and then winding down to simpler derivations. It had our heads spinning, and Ohtsuka Sensei's head nearly knocked off!

Basic kihon last night fed straight into the kihon and ji-yu (suhon) kumite that followed.
Actually we practiced discrete parts of these movements to get used to them again and to give newcomers a chance. Now I know that that team KWF SA has been practicing these moves!

a) kihon jodan oi-zuki, gyaku-zuki, soto-uke spin uraken, whiplash return uraken zenshin
Points to focus on here:
1. Perfect kihon in oi-zuki, gyaku-hanmi
2. Soto-uke has to be strong and the kime has to be momentary, good enough to make sure the block is effective
3. BUT the soto-uke also has to be in the correct line to enable the body to achieve the dynamic spin for execution of the powerful uraken
4. Twist DOWN onto a solid base for the first spin uraken - spinning kushin!
YS explained it as a vortex spinning down
5. Explode UP when spinning back for the final spin uraken- spinning shinshuku!

b) jodan age-uke, kihon gyaku-zuki, jodan uchi-uke, spin uraken, whiplash uraken
Points to focus on here
1. Of course, maximum hanmi supporting the age-uke
2. Explosion of the rear leg and gyaku-hanmi on the gyaku-zuki
3. Forget the jodan uchi-uke at your peril!

Basic vs Kushin Kihon Kumite
Set 1:
The first set of kumite was relatively easy developing from kihon to ji-yu sanbon kumite using a subset of the above, i.e. jodan oi-zuki, kushin tsukaenagra soto-uke gyaku-zuki. Correspondingly, uke blocks age-uke with the opposite hand, counterattacks with gyaku-zuki.

Set 2:
Kogeki: kihon jodan oi-zuki, gyaku-zuki, soto-uke spin uraken, whiplash return uraken zenshin
Ukemi: (rather obviously...) kihon jodan oi-zuki, gyaku-zuki, soto-uke spin uraken, whiplash return uraken zenshin

The trick with both sets was to develop starting off slowly in kihon-type kumite, then build up speed, distance and power. But the point is THINK! What are you DOING with each technique, and WHY.

Set 3:
Simple and beautiful:
a) Kogeki: oi-zuki, gyaku-zuki
b) Ukemi: age-uke, soto-uke, spin uraken

Set 4:
Spinning counterattack to kicking: this one really relies on the skill of the aite because if he or she is not in control, then serious injury will result.
a) Kogeki: maegeri
b) Ukemi: harau, spin uraken.
Note: this is also tricky on the distance. This seems particularly hard to contemplate because you are using spin and timing (exotically, aiki, if you believe in that) to deflect or harness the missile like thrust of the maegeri and knock your opponent or detabilize your aite so you can clock him/ her with a devistating uraken.

1. Sensei Marius asked about knee direction in shinshuku, which elicited the classic YS explaination, which I will explain another time.
2. There was also a discussion on tanden and go-tai-ichi for Bryan Sensei, which I will also go into later.

Kata: Enpi
Again, the focus was on kushin-shinshuku, with YS getting Senseis Bryan and Ohtsuka to mirror off each other, followed by kushin-shinshuku for Enpi. For YS, the kushin-shinshuku is the defining characteristic of Enpi and the one that must be done with the most power and beauty of all the moves. YS: "You are supposed to move with the grace and power and sudden change of direction of the flying tsubame (swallow). But you know what your movements are like? They are like the flying suzume....Paul san, what is suzume in English?"

"It's sparrow."

"You are all doing Enpi like a sparrow," he said.

The role of the Sparrow in Shotokan
This did, however, lead to an interesting discussion of the sparrow in Shotokan Karate.
YS: "So, everyone, do you know when you see the sparrow in Karate?"
No Sensei
YS: "You know, when a hetaskuso (unskilled person) tries to do maegeri, and he wobbles and flutters his little wings like this."

Following that he took us all off to Ju Ju where he treated us to a sumptuous Kankoku (Korean) BBQ.

Thank you and good night.

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