Friday, November 14, 2008

Kusshin into Kaiten: The Yahara Reaper

Well sorry for the delay in filing things- we have been busy working on the KWF World Cup in Norway next year!

This is for Otto.

Over the last few weeks we have been having fairly standard sessions working on getting our Kusshin deeper and stronger. The stronger the compression, the more explosive the power! Well the theory is understood by practically everyone in the dojo, but if you have very modest abilities like me, it takes hundreds and hundreds of repetitions over the weeks just to get used to the basic idea and then hundreds and hundreds to get into the swing of things, and then, as YS says, about 10,000 repetitions to get great at it. Add an extra zero for me!

Before anything else, congratulations to Bryan Dukas Sensei for being made Captain of the SA team at the WKF. And good luck to Jody on Sunday.

UPDATE: Jody fought well, but of course you knew the other guy was going to win as soon as Jody scored the first point and the judge gave the point, and every other point, to the opponent. The audience was also mystified by the decision against a certain competitor in the first round in favor of a competitor who couldn't actually do Jion. Nice sound effects though!

Still, the WKF was interesting and many of the competitors were wonderful athletes. But it is so far removed from Karate as to be unrecognizable. I suppose really it's the thin edge of the wedge. IS once told Yuko he felt terribly responsible for the degeneration of Karate because his generation of the JKA introduced the "bouncing" kamae, which has, through the KWF metastasized into some sort of amphetamine psychosis Saint Vitus's dance ;-(

Anway, it's no problem for KWF members outside the Honbu to compete the the WKF, as long as they leave that Karate outside when they enter the Dojo ;-)

And now for some Budo Karate
Yesterday's session was a real humdinger, with us having a go at the bag as well as each other and combining Kusshin with Kaiten Waza (spinning uraken), a KWF "trademark"

YS Theory behind Kaiten Waza
In full acknowledgement of the fact, YS love of Kaiten Waza comes directly from Asai Sensei. Andre Bertel is a source of great online info on this. Asai Sensei really made the point about using the body, particularly the snap of the joints in creative ways.

YS philosophy is similar, but the emphasis is on circular movements based on Kusshin from the hips, using centrifugal force generated from spin Kussin, through the hips, up the back and through the shoulders into the fist to great whiplash from the whole body. The point is that if you hit someone with spinning uraken, you don't hit the head, you take it off!

Yesterday, after Kihon, we went through the following steps.

1. Kusshin to gyakuzuki: make sure to start from very deep stance: 50 reps each side, rest, more reps
2. Slide back into Kussin and then gyakuzuki: again about the same reps but no blocks
3. Kusshin plus block (this time age-uke) into gyakuzuki
NOTE: typical 3rd-1st kyu syllabus for Jiyu-Ippon Kumite is age-soto-gedan-uchi-soto against kicks
4. Kusshin back into block, then gyaku-zuki, then Kusshin into explosive kizami-zuki.

Kusshin-Lauching Kizami-zuki
This really is a joy to do when you get it right, but can I? Hopeless! The thing is that it really tests if you are compressing and ready. After the gyaku-zuki you immediately forward compress again and then WHAM (or you like, BAM?!) launch forward like a missile for kizamu-zuki. If you haven't tried this before, this is the classic "finishing blow" concept- those of you who have seen YS using kizami-zuki know it puts people down.

Kusshin Kaiten Waza: Triple Wham!
The cliche is once you have ridden a bike, you never forget. Unfortunately if you are like me, you need constant practice or you get rusty. So to warm up, we marched up and down the dojo with spinning uraken, then the spin back and then the final spin uraken- triple trouble.

The essential thing with the first spinning uraken from zenkutsu-dachi is to make sure you spin down. Imagine yourself spinning down a plughole- if you aren't at least 15 cm lower when you execute the first spinning uraken, you are kidding yourself about your spinning Kusshin.

That's because the more you compress, the more you are absolutely dying to release the energy for the "counterspin" 2nd uraken- this is what gives Yahara Karate the "bangBANG!!" effect.

The third spinning uraken repeats the first, but the scale is supposed to be enormous, as in completely shattering the opponent. Generally speaking the first two uraken are in the ribs (although I have been knocked over with a dead shoulder when hit full power with them- these are great for blocking practice, because once you are committed, it's incumbent on your partner to block correctly) but the third is "Off with his head!"

Not the Grim Reaper: The Yahara Reaper
"You do not understand...I have come to take you away...."
To go through this once again, the first spining urkaken necessites powerful spinning down motion, like winding up a clock spring to maximum, the second, also aiming at the ribs, is unwinding the spring. The third however, is a completely different beast- it's supposed to be huge, and this is where YS hip spin really gets into play, because it's at the head and you sweep through the head. The same principals apply as with the heavy sandbag. We all know that if you aim to hit the surface of the sandbag, your oi-zuki is going to be troublesome to the skin of a rice you aim behind it- in our case you go to punch through the opponent (of course makiwara focus is say 5 cm behind impact).

With your third spinning uraken, you let it go and sweep round an ark that is supposed to be like a scythe....I am christening this the Yahara Reaper.

With the Yahara Reaper, the finish point is very important. With the first two urkan, if you have not already...what is the right word...."discomforted" your opponent, the third one is to bid that person goodnight. The thing is is with Yahara Karate, you should already be ready to attack or defend in an instant so you should land from the spin in a kusshin poise ready to oi-zuki or attack again.

That's because the finish point is actually the start point for the next series of attacks; in this sequence with the sandbag, this is traditionally a huge oi-zuki, then yonhon-zuki, then another massive oi-zuki using kusshin again...and we generally also do the opposite too- the oi-zuki attacks followed by the kusshin-kaiten sequence described.

Randori, Repetition, Bag Work and Partner Training
To get all this going, we went through these step by step-first up and down practicing the first two spins; forwards and backwards; next, when people started getting the hang of this, then adding in the urakan.

So why no uraken from the start? Good question, Paul, I'm glad you asked that. Well, it's because it's easy to kid yourself that you are spinning down and up when you have your furious fist swinging away as a balance. Try to do it without the fist and you will soon find out if you are balanced or not...

....and probably find that you are not.

This brings us to another technical point- the pivot:
When you spin during the first two techniques, ideally your head and hips stay on one line- image the illustration in Best Karate where the is a pole running vertically through the head down to the hips which are portrayed as a cog wheel.

Exactly! ;-)

If you are balanced and pivoting correctly without your uraken, your technique is going to be balanced and effective. In other words, it's easy to "cheat" or rather kid yourself, if you are trying this out for the first few hundred times, using your uraken for "falce" balance.

The next phase is adding adding the third, the Yahara Reaper.
The next is adding urkan
The next is timing- ba-Bang!REAP!

The next is bag work against the heavy sandbag-unfortunately there were too many people and not enough time, so this is something to do for self-practice! We only had four or five people have a go. Of course, the heavy sandbag soon sorts you out.

Partner Training:
This comes in two phases, the first just attacking and blocking, and the second as yakusoku kumite, zenshin and koshin.

Zenshin Yakusoku Kumite:
Zenshin sees the uke block with a uchi-uke, as if blocking a mawashi-geri, then the aite attacks with tsuki, which is blocked by the second spinning uraken; with the aite usually off balance, kogeki unleashes the Yahara Reaper!
In my case Charles had a lot of fun with me, banging away at my ribs because I was too slow. Tsk, tsk, I wish I was his sempai sometimes ;-)
Koshin Yakusoku Kumite:
The defensive application of spinning uraken is just great- but we didn't have time for that on Thursday, unfortunately, but as you can logically realize, it's vs. oi-zuki and gyaku-zuki, with a nice surprise for the attack (the mirthful reaper) at the end.

Warm Down:
Bassai Dai focusing on big scale.

Yoroshiku..."it was the salmon moose" Kallender....

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