Thursday, October 2, 2008

Yet more on Kushin and Introduction to Scott Middleton's Blog

First of all, I have to say some apologies- I am in a crunch period so tonight will be the first Karate I have done in a week, and that will be free practice. And still the bruises haven't gone down!

I've had a very pleasant contact with Scott Middleton 5th Dan WKTO over in Canada about things and I'm very happy to link up with Scott Sensei's Watashi no Karate Michi I think the statement he makes sums up how YS sees his role. As for my writings on the subject, in the case of Hunter S. Thompson's doctor (years before Dr. Gonzo himself went up...and flames) you'll just have to work with what's left.

I do like the way Scott adds background and context to things. One thing that struck me was how he translated ichigo-ichie. YS always describes this as "living your life as if each experience is a once-in-a-lifetime chance." That more or less sums up YS, who is never ever quite relaxed and seems ready to pounce at any given second. But, functionally, in an applied context, I am not going to argue!

Yuko and I were lucky enough to be taught by Richard Amos Sensei (then JKA- Matsuno) and now WKTO. Yuko and I didn't care much for most of the ShotoKan we saw on Manhattan although we were able to train a little bit at Sensei Steve Borkowsky's GreenPoint Shotokan Karate Club , which was very welcoming, like family, and Steve is a great teacher. But I was focused on making my way in New York and Yuko making her films! If Steve Sensei is reading this, I still have my Greenpoint Karate T-Shirt and I still wear it! Anyway, the main point is that we also have very fond memories of training at Sensei Mullin's club on Staten Island and the way that we were welcomed there. Excellent people, excellent training, excellent instruction.

Kushin? What's that like- Cushion?
A la John Lennon..."John, do you make conscious use of onomatopoeia in your writing?" "Automatic pier? Don't know what you are on about, mate."
Scott raised the point that some people may not be familiar with some of the expressions I am using, some of which are standard fare in the KWF but not elsewhere. On a different level, I am reminded once of how I saw a video on YouTube about a guy teaching the Unsu jump, but pronouncing the "un" as in unAmerican (i.e. most of the world?) or undulate or uneducated. This actually did bring tears to our eyes, of both kinds...


So what is Kushin? (屈伸)
Apologies if your browser is not set to read kanji.
Kushin (which should properly be written kusshin) literally means "elasticity" in Japanese: it is made of two kanji:

or Ku = to yield, bend and
or Shin= to expand, stretch, extend, lengthen.

It's a nice concept because while dictionaries translate it as elasticity, the truer concept as applied by KWF YS philosophy and application is of bending and compression and then then BANG explosive stretch expansion of the leg.

This opens up a nice philosophical point about YS and the KWF and genkai-made (to the limit!). Kushin I guess is the extreme KWF form of standard jiku ashi compression and expansion, as Scott Sensei identified.

The real role of kushin comes into play in blocks and gyaku-zuki, and especially shuto-gyakuzuki. No matter how far down and back you think you are going, YS will make you go further...hahaha! And then there is Isaka Sensei waiting in the wings!



Robert S said...

Kussihn is the stable diet of the KWF karate. Without kusshin and tai no shinshuku it is hard to imagine YS's thoughts of your karate. Essentially KWF karate-ka MUST have this concept, and once it is practised and understood jiyu ippon kumite suddenly shows a huge improvement.

The terms are unique perhaps to us, but the concept is not so strange (Tanaka sensei taught it in Calgary 1984). Perhaps YS's karate makes more use of it, and the genkai-made approach is not so strange (doryoku no seishin wo yashinau koto!) Robert the Bruce (try try again) etc. Genkai made is the reaching of the maximum, which in turn improves the potential and effectiveness of the waza.

Good post!

Muhammad said...

Could you please elaborate on Kusshin and tai no shinshuku? Thanks.