Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stepping in, and Stepping Up to Hanmi

Well, the recovery from the Fuji gasshuku (a sort of rain-a-beer-athon with occasional views of lake Kawaguchi through the fog and lightening bolts, but no sign of Fuji at all)... 

Yesterday was a national holiday so Bryan Sensei, Yoda, Makita, Hayashi, Shirakawa and Yuko and I crept into the Shirokanedai Dojo for a "secret" practice- the contents of which will remain secret until
a) I can find the time to write it up
b) Somebody buys me a pint to write about it.

Actually it was 50/50 whether Isaka Sensei would have been in there doing his own training: if he was he would have laughed and welcomed us in to do things with tetsugeta and rubber tubes...

Saturday Practice:
This was more of the same as on Friday but it was appallingly humid which meant that we were slipping and sliding all over the place, especially during Kumite.

Ji-yu (Nanbon) Kumite
As per last session but YS made the point again- when we practice this, the critical thing at distance is forget your opponent, remember your Kihon and timing. If your Kihon and timing is correct, everything will start falling into place, including that age-uke which will prevent your aite giving you a mouth full of blood, a trip to the dentist, or chopsticks up the nose to straighten it out again!

With close quarters timing, the essential part of mai requires intelligence and skill on behalf of both sides of the Kumite equation. If the kogeki side is too far, then the shinshuku-kushin from the aite is going to miss. Too close and aite might as well sen no sen! But the correct distance forces the adequate block and counter.

But at the same time the correct mai forces correct kihon kushin and shinshuku from the aite. I think this is the real test of Kihon (Nan)bon and Jiyu (Nan)bon Kumite. If the kushin isn't far enough back and down, the aite isn't going to be able to counter with gyaku-zuki. In ji-yu fighting the appropriate response in KWF karate would naturally be chudan spinning uraken, but as we were practicing kushin-shinshuku under the pressure of a full (even if yakusoku) oi-zuki, then...do it right! Right!

A Merry Dance- Jion
Today's practice was distinguished by some real back and forward stuff, culminating in easy stages to "ichi"
....jiyu-kamae to oi-zuki-kushin-gyakuzuki, leap back pivoting on rear leg to age-uke and step in oi-zuki. The instant you finished one, it's at "ni" and the instant you finish that you are already at "san." I could see YS clearly enjoying this. When people were staggering, time to switch sides!

Jion with Extreme Hanmi
I love Jion. It's just the sort of kata someone thick set like me can look good at, you know the stomping etc. Delusions of grandeur until I see myself on tape. Argh!!!! Just for that sake, I have to do Bassai Dai, which requires the performer to be both rapier as well as a battering ram. Fat chance I have. Thus it is my tokui kata until something is found that is even more of a challenge for me (like Bassai Sho).

Ready- Steady- GO!
Let me ask you a question. What is this hanmi stuff about anyway? I enjoy my dancing about in pajamas and I don't want any strange Japanese telling me what to do! Besides, we've got a picture of Funakoshi Gichin on our wall, so this must be the real thing. 

We are of the belief that as sports karate is now the dominant force in the Karate Universe Jion is one of the kata of last stand, a sort of third and final fallback trench as the hoards of "phat-phatting" "shuut-pooting" sports karate robots overwhelm our position...in support of hami and shomen in Jion. I think one of the elements of huge power and beauty of Jion comes in the age-uke- gyaku-zuki, age-uke gyaku-zuki and age-uke oi-zuki sequence, but this just seems to have become a "speed and power" sequence to be banged through. The result is asinine mediocrity at best. When combined with the shoot-phatting, it makes for an experience that stimulates the tear ducts. We also believe in holding hanmi all the way through until the front foot is a good 40 cm beyond the hips in the turn sequences for the later oi-zukis.

There's no other way perform a great Jion.

By the way, I was brought up in Catford, not Lewisham. And what happened to Ladywell Baths? I still have the scars of three verruca plantaris picked up there.


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