Sunday, August 8, 2010

Koken and Gedan Harau

Well special Sunday night training with Ibusuki Sensei was just great, as we went back to basics, covered Heian Shodan, Nidan and Sandan as taught by Funakoshi Sensei, and revised Hangetsu. We also practiced Koken/Kakuto in Ju-Ippon Kumite.

The interesting thing about yesterday's session was Ibusuki Sensei breaking down some of my inbuilt conceptions about Karate. I won't say they are misconceptions, because the point is that Karate is not a cult to be practiced by robots ossing themselves to stupidity. It's evolved. There are are many copies. Of course I wouldn't want to single anyone out. The other side of the coin is how much of what I learned in the KWF is obviously "correct" (and great!)

In terms of through the looking glass, I do stress that I am only trying to honestly discuss my own lack of knowledge- what might be revelatory to me might me cringingly obvious to others. So apologies in advance.

Basics were the same as standard Ibusuki Sensei kihon (see last week) but 注意点 chui-ten were
a) Remember to cover the crown jewels when kicking maegeri- the course of the knee is always protecting the groin, otherwise, well, the resulting weakness can be a painful lesson. Ibusuki Sensei kicked me so that I just felt enough pain to remember the point. Thank you for that ;-).
b) As any competent instructor will tell you, getting your leg back is critically important, unless you are turning maegeri into oigeri and following through with a tuski, headbutt, elbow smash, whatever. In order to make things interesting, Ibusuki Sensei started trying to catch my leg. Once I'd been dumped on my arse a couple of times, I soon got back the hang of it. Key point- smash in and whip back!

狐拳/ 鶴頭 (koken/ kakuto) "fox fist/ crane head" Ju-Ippon Kumite
This was just great and quite revelatory to me on a number of levels, because (a) it's bloody good and (b) I am astonished how far "standard" Shotokan I learned has come from common sense.

First of all we loosened up breathing and exercising, loosening our shoulders by practicing whipping up and down and hitting each other with fox fist. Ouch! Nick Gardiner sometimes demonstrates this, and whipping is an elemental part of Asai-ryu Shotokan as demonstrated by Andre Bertel Sensei. But it's always quite shocking how much more painful getting hit by, and how much easier and faster it is to whip someone with koken/kakuto than seiken or shuto.

After warming up and getting the hang of what I can only call controlled whipping, we practiced two Ju-Ippon drills used as kuzushi-waza:

a) Uchi-age-koken, whip koken uppercut against face punch
This started off pretty formally as an adaption of age-uke gyakuzuki, except use koken against the jodan-zuki and smash into the chin with koken instead of gyakuzuki. The key point is almost that the move is sen-no-sen... the split second you see the attack you go to smash opponent. If linear isn't working, go in at an angle and use koken-haito and get inside, finish up with elbow smash or headbut.

b) Gedan harau, headbut against stomach attack
This was actually closer to a standard kuzushi-waza that I am sure would have made Enoeda Sensei light up like Christmas! Any attack to stomach is basically whipped away to throw opponent of balance then in and up like a ballistic missile and headbut launching up into the chin. Ibusuki Sensei said to me very politely "please refrain from being nervous and remember to deal with your" which, translated from a very polite and sage 80-year-old gentleman into south London English is ... well...I won't go there!

Commentary: Gendan Harau Part I
I deliberately used the term gedan harau as opposed to gedan barai because Ibusuki Sensei believes that gedan barai is not a block and it is not done in hanmi (more on this later!) At least that's what they used to do in Shotokan until the JKA changed things!

Until the low kyus, for beginners to get the kihon ugoki, gendan barai is fine being taught as a block. But almost as soon as some basic kihon movement is understood, then gendan barai should be used as a harau, and if possible as a kuzushi-waza. Basically you sweep the leg or grab it and then smash forward into your opponent with a rising headbutt or elbow smash, haito, whatever distance and timing in the split second you have works!

Heian Kata
Today was H.1-3 and revising of Hangetsu

H.1: Gedan Harau in Shomen = Taikyoku Shodan
As far as Ibusuki Sensei is concerned, Heian Shodan is Taikyoku Shodan, i.e. there is no hanmi. Secondly, as I was taught originally, the sequence is bang, bang-bang! for the three age-uke (all in shomen) and for the three oizuki.

Same as KWF/ JKA

One point I had forgotten is that the fist fumikomi stamp is preceded by a turn into the stamp. The second is that I have become so enamored with YS JKA version (as in the video) of H.3 that I tend to use snap uraken instead of going over the top.

Gendan Harau
Ibusuki Sensei is adamant that gedan barai if taught as a block to kicks is ineffective. He also says that the switch to hanmi from shomen was brought in by Nakayama Sensei for training purposes. Ibusuki Sensei said that gendan harau is to sweep away or help avoid a leg and it is stupid to try to block it- which is more powerful- an arm or a leg?

Or Pieter Van Wck.

However, teaching it as a block is ok for beginners just to find a rationale for them to use it. However the use of gendan barai is for decisively avoiding or sweeping and going inside an opponent. The other major point is that hanmi is weaker than shomen and creates unnecessary distance. In particular the KWF use of Hanmi is just YS brand and part of his philosophy but would be unrecognizable to Gichin Funakoshi. That's not a criticism of YS, just a fact.

Hangetsu Revision:
1. Avoiding Darth Vader breathing: Ibusuki Sensei said a very little noise is OK in the opening sequence.
2. Weak Stance: again, common sense to the rescue. Ibusuki Sensei pointedly said that Hangetsu datchi is very important to do strongly. He is very very reluctant to criticize others, but he said "Abe-kun's front leg is too much at an angle and easy to kick." I didn't say this folks. Don't shoot the messenger
3. The maigeri, gedan, tsuki and age-uke sequence is a sold bang-bang-bang-bang as taught to Ibsusuki Sensei before the JKA.

OK that's it for today! I think next week's post will be on "Why Shotokan and Not Krav Maga."

Paul & Yuko

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