T H E O N LY M A G A Z I N E D E D I C A T E D T O A L L K A R A T E K A
KARATE Vol. Vol. 21 21 No. No. 9 9 June June 2008 2008
Chris Denwood and The E.S.K.K. Utilising Forearms in Karate James Steadman Holy Karateka Batman!
Adaptable Karate The 3 Technical Stages The 3 Technical Stages of Kata Analysis
Championships Visit the Traditional Karate magazine website at www.karatemag.co.uk
By Ray Barrow
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S STEADMAN (1ST THIS IS AN UPDATE ON KARATE INTERNATIONAL JAME HAS JUST CELEBRATED DAN). JAMES TRAINS AT MY DOJO EVERY WEEK AND HE LAST FEW YEARS AND HIS 18TH BIRTHDAY. HE’S WON MANY TITLES OVER THE ACE, STEVEN BRAME AND TRAINS WITH SQUAD COACHES DEAN INCE, GREG WALL MYSELF AT THE DAGENHAM HONBU. Remind me when it was you joined the Roding Karate Club. JAMES STEADMAN: I joined on my 5th birthday - February 1995 - with you at The Ted Ball Memorial Hall in Dagenham. At first this frightened the life out of me because I was painfully shy - but you helped by calling me ‘Batman’. I remember how you could never remember the names of everyone in your classes so you made up nick names for them, and mine was Batman). Why did you want to take up karate? JAMES STEADMAN: Like I said, I was shy - but inside my own house, I wanted to become a Power Ranger (the Red One) and save the world! How old were you when you won your first big competition? JAMES STEADMAN: My first major win was The England International at age 10. I remember I had to wait until 10pm to stand on the podium to receive my medal! How old were you when you received your England badge? JAMES STEADMAN: My first selection was for the Commonwealth in New Zealand during August 2005. I was just 15 then. I made it through the selection without dropping a single point. It was then I found out that I’d have to pay for myself as well as take a guardian with me! The cost for me alone was £2,000! So I had a chat with Wayne Otto and decided not to attend, and try instead for the Europeans in Serbia & Montenegro during February 2006. Then I’d be 16-years-old and hopefully funded!
I lost to the eventual winner in the semi-final and this was hard to take. But you’ve got to motivate yourself for the fight off for 3rd place. Wow! What a feeling you get from standing on that podium and having that medal put round your neck. It’s priceless! How about last year’s fights? How did you do? JAMES STEADMAN: It all began well during January when I was re-selected for the Europeans in Izmir, Turkey. That was the second major event to face. The first was the British International. That went well and I won the gold medal in my division. Next came the Europeans. My first fight was going well until I blocked a kick with my thumb. I remember trying to pull my shattered thumb back into alignment and how funny that seemed at the time. Mo - the England Physio - told Ticky that I would not be able to carry on, but Ticky asked him whether he was sure - because I was still smiling! Anyway, I decided to carry on (because you don’t know if you will ever get another chance to compete at this level) and reached the semi-finals before running out of steam and losing to the eventual winner. The doctors back in England told me I wouldn’t be able to fight for the rest of the year, but I went ahead anyway and fought in the London Youth games during June. It felt good winning again!
For the rest of that year I trained like I’d never trained before. I had just one goal. It’s amazing what 3 lions on your chest can do for you! Final selections were held on February 4th in Sheffield and it was probably one of the proudest days of my life when I heard my name called. I was going to represent my country and this was still a week before my 16th birthday! So how did you do at the Europeans JAMES STEADMAN: It was a big eye-opener! We did a week’s pre-training at Bisham Abbey and it was there I celebrated my 16th birthday. Serbia & Montenegro was weird - we had armed guards every time we came out of the hotel! I was probably the fittest I’d ever been but I don’t think I was mentally prepared for what was coming. I remember how I soaked up the atmosphere of the first day of competition. Then the realisation that I was fighting hit me. You may be the best in your own country and only face a few rivals. But at an international - every round is like fighting the final of the nationals because you are facing the best a country has got! Nothing drains you like that! WWW.KARATEMAG.CO.UK TRADITIONAL KARATE 107
After that I took part in and won all the regional championships with my age and weight categories. I rounded off by winning the Senior British and Senior British international. I was selected for the World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, but was defeated in the quarter finals. Which was the hardest challenge after breaking your thumb? JAMES STEADMAN: The Youth Games posed the hardest challenge - not least of which was because I ended up facing my brother Robert in the final. It’s fair to say he had the audience’s support behind him because he’s a quality fighter and not at all fazed by his older brother’s reputation. He gave me a scare - sure - but the day was mine! So how is your brother doing presently on the circuit JAMES STEADMAN: Robert has so much ability but he’s too laidback so people tend to under- rate him. He’s won some big titles and he’s beaten some of the current England cadets - so watch out when he turns 16 (and that’s soon!). He and I spar quite a bit. I find him to be an unorthodox fighter - and he’s a good sparring partner!
JAMES STEADMAN: Fitness is important to be able to compete at a high level. I begin the day with a run because this gets the brain working. As a 6th former I’m lucky because I get to use the school gym for work-outs most days. I follow this with a karate training session during the evening. Believe me - it’s hard to balance education, training and your social life! Who has influenced you most in your karate career? JAMES STEADMAN: The list is long! Starting at the beginning: Greg Wallace for making me the fighter I am today. Then thanks to club coaches Dean Ince and Steve Brame; regional coaches Tyrone Whyte, Paul Simmons and Molly Samuels; England set-up Willie Thomas, Wayne Otto, Ticky Donavan, Greg Francis and Juliette Toney (a lady I have a lot of time for!). And you, of course, Ray! I must also say a big ‘Thank You!’ to my family and my club because without your support, I wouldn’t be where I am today! I know you help Greg Wallace at his club in Barking. Has that made you think of running your own club? JAMES STEADMAN: It’s been great teaching with Greg. He transformed me from the shy kid I was to the person I am now. He thinks it’s time for me to take the responsibility of my own clubs but I will still carry on teaching with Greg.
What are your plans for this year? JAMES STEADMAN: This is a big year for me! I’m taking my Alevels and choosing my university to study sports science, so I’ll have to put the tournament circuit on hold. I can’t afford the time needed for travel and neither can I afford to lose time from school. But I’m keeping up my training and sparring sessions. Maybe I can devote a little more time to my basics and go for my second dan in the next few years. What’s your training regime?
I feel the time is now right to start teaching on my own. I have so many ideas that I want to try! I know what karate means and what it has done for me. It would be great to pass this on to others! How many injuries have you collected through competing? JAMES STEADMAN: So far I’ve collected a broken foot, a broken wrist, a broken thumb and a hernia! I put off the hernia operation so I could fight for England in the Europeans. Not content with that, I went on to win the Nationals and the Scottish before getting myself booked in for the op. Apart from that, I suffered a perforated ear drum and I’ve lost count how many times my nose has been broken! But I’ve always carried on training - or finished the fight! Do you have a favourite technique? JAMES STEADMAN: I don’t have a favourite technique! I use any technique that works for me, so you could say I’m a jack of all trades - and a master of none! Thanks for your time James and good luck at your new club. JAMES STEADMAN: Thanks - it was a pleasure!
ACHIEVEMENT RECORD. 4x English International Champion 7x British International Champion (junior and senior) 4x British Champion 4x National Champion 2x BASKA Grand Champion 3x London Youth Games Champion 2x Venice Cup 2x All-England Wado Champion Scottish Open Champion Irish Open German Open 3rd place Europeans And medals in many national and international competitions since the age of 9
Adaptable Karate part 1 T h e t h re e t e c h n i c a l s t a g e s o f k a t a a n a l y s i s “Every part of every movement in every kata holds a valuable lesson in the development of pragmatic combat for self-protection and more. Each of these lessons need to be learned, then understood and then expanded positively with the open questioning attitude of ‘what if’? Only then can we experience the traditional forms fully and come to enjoy a shining glimpse of the true potential they hold.” It’s commonly agreed that the phenomena of kata was a way of recording the most effective fighting principles of a particular style, system, strategy or individual and the huge increase in the understanding of effective bunkai (analysis) over the past few years has certainly helped to provide strong evidence in support of this idea. When I’m teaching bunkai during a seminar or lesson, participants often come up to me and ask why sometimes my applications bear very little resemblance to the actual technique(s) performed in the kata. I may for example demonstrate a particular application and state that it’s from Chinto kata, even though there may be no such similar looking technique performed within the form itself. It becomes obvious to me that a number of participants seem somewhat let down by this because they believe that what I’m teaching is blatantly dissimilar to
- By Chris Denwood
the movements of the form. However, when I explain the method of my madness, most come to agree with my idea and are then able to see the ‘concealed’ relationship between the form and function of the application for themselves.
Japanese words of, omote, henka and ura. Let’s first look at each of the three stages, then gain an appreciation of how each can be applied and see how all three can be brought together to form a comprehensive strategy for deciphering karate kata.
In response to a number of requests, I thought it would be a good idea to write a short article about the generic, but critical ‘three-stage’ approach to generating applications from kata, which will hopefully answer most of the questions related to this issue. Before I go any further though, I have to point out that this approach to bunkai is simply my own personal interpretation of what I believe to be true. It works very well for me and for many others who hold the same or similar views. Nevertheless, please take my words in the way in which they’re intended - with an open mind and in a fashion that does not go in any way towards degrading the views or opinion of others, especially those who may no doubt be more highly skilled and experienced than you or me. This is not an approach that’s been invented recently, but something that has always been there and becomes apparent only through the complete, combative study of traditional forms. The method is classified and structured through the
One thing that you’ll notice straight away is that at no point have I begun to categorise either the initial learning, the ongoing perfection of the kata movements or other important training strategies such as drilling the applications in different environments or testing them against ‘un-compliancy’. Even though these aspects are both useful and vital to the complete study of kata (and should therefore never be disregarded), I feel that they are not strictly part of the bunkai phase of learning. The three stages of analysing kata as detailed below deal only with how an individual would correctly interpret the movements contained within the form in a technical way. Rather than clouding matters, I think that like an umbrella, the training methods used to accentuate your findings and make them more functional should be considered to be overarching and ongoing ‘necessary additions’ to be used in conjunction throughout, rather than being discrete stand-alone components along the way.
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So, after the initial learning of the movements within a particular form, the karate-ka is usually then ready to start his or her study of the applications contained within. Of course, the general term for this analysis is called bunkai, with applications or interpretations being referred to as ohyo. Since this is only a relatively concise article; rather than focus on a whole kata, let’s briefly analyse a series of commonly taught movements from the pinan (heian) kata series of Anko Itosu and see how they can be interpreted using each of the three stages. Please bear in mind though that for the sake of this article we are only dealing with a single application from the opening sequence of Pinan Godan (from Wado Ryu) as demonstrated in pictures 1 to 4. All movements of the kata of course, have many. Pic 4
The first stage: Omote _ To begin to understand the movements from the kata, we need to first appreciate the ‘ground rules’ on which these apply and probably more importantly, what would constitute a bad or impractical application. Examples of these rules would include aligning the movement as a response against the typical real street attack, rather than the educated attack of another combat expert (i.e. head high kicks and long-range gyakuzuki’s are out), or making sure that from the onset, the application gains almost immediate advantage over your antagonist and maintains this throughout (i.e. from conception to completion). I could go on and on about the rules associated with pragmatic bunkai, but I’m assuming that with the substantial material already covering this subject Pic 5
readily available, you will be at the very least appreciative of the idea. From this initial foundation, we can then construct an application using the first stage of omote. The word omote can be defined as ‘outside’ or ‘front’ and represents what can be seen in a movement readily and easily. Unfortunately, this is usually the end of the road for many who study bunkai but in actual fact, it outlines only the first part of your kata analysis. For kata to be useful in the realm of selfprotection, they need to (and of course do) have a very practical meaning. For something to be practically useful, it needs to be adaptable. Why? Simply because combat itself is never certain and the nature of fighting should always consider the potential for change. That said though, within Pic 6
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the omote stage of analysis, we tend to briefly embrace that luxury of a pre-defined sequence and look at what the movements of the form physically provide us with as they are presented. A typical application at the stage of omote can be seen in pictures 5 to 11, which show a release from a wrist grab, counter, seize and choke. There are a couple of points to highlight here. Firstly, you’ll notice that both upper limbs are being used in a positive way. Secondly, that the application uses the stances as transitional movements as opposed to static or stationary postures. These are both important points to consider in the analysis of kata movements and it’s vital to emphasise that fact that all practical and efficiency aspects (not only these) should be used Pic 10
where possible during even this first stage of bunkai. Applications that have no practical use or do not provide a meaning for all significant movements should not really be considered at any stage; not even at omote. The second stage: Henka _ Henka means ‘change’ or ‘transform’ and represents the next level of kata bunkai. It is based on the idea that the many slight differences that can be seen in the same kata throughout a number of styles are simply nothing more than variations on a theme. We also know that during the modernisation process of shuri-te, Anko Itosu made slight alterations to a number of the traditional forms in order to make them easier to learn. It’s also thought that a number of the original hand weapon Pic 11
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formations were changed to the commonly used fist. This seems to make sense because many of the Chinese forms that pre-date karate heavily use open hand movements, whereby the more modern interpretations of the forms tend to focus more on closed fist techniques. The Naha-te kata of Sanchin is a typical example of this (since both ‘closed’ and ‘open’ versions of this kata are practiced). There’s nothing to suggest that these small changes went as far to degrade the kata in any way, it just illustrates the human urge to adapt according to a particular purpose, approach or preference. The second stage of henka allows the practitioner to become more open minded and accept the possible slight variations to the movement in order to see other options Pic 12
that may not have been considered at first. It also takes into account the fact that the movements in the form represent the heart of the application and therefore in many cases do not reference initial strikes, finishers or other subtleties that may have been either purposefully omitted (on the basis that these are common strategies throughout combat), or as a result of the ‘aesthetic’ modernisation of the form itself. To give some examples of how the idea of henka can be applied to your analysis, please consider the variations shown in pictures 12 to 18 from the same part of Pinan Godan kata as previously described above. Here we can see the initial attack being made ‘less formal’ as a response to an attempted groin seize and the additional use of accentuating strikes before attempting to escape the wrist grip as per the kata. In addition, the second movement of the form (chudan gyakuzuki - mid-level reverse punch) is shown in slightly different ways (pictures 16 to 18), by considering the possibility of ‘what if’? Here, the outline of the form is being maintained, however the weapon formation (i.e. fist, grab or open hand strike etc), the height (i.e. gedan, chudan or jodan etc) and the intention (i.e. as a strike, lock, or throw etc) are being questioned. This allows us to become more adaptive in our analysis and instead of a limited number of ‘direct applications’; we can now start to appreciate the fact that the intention of the kata movement could be used against a variety of situations.
are still only left with what I call a ‘box of tricks’. For instance, collecting ten thousand applications is of no use if you can’t appreciate and malleably use the common principles on which these techniques rest. Equating to principles is by far the most useful way to train because it is the techniques themselves that are a product of the principles you’ve learned. This is where the third and final stage of technically analysing kata comes in. So far I’ve suggested that kata should be a process of learning, rather than a single entity in itself and I’ve begun to explain the classical three-stage method of technically analysing the forms. In the second and final part of this article, I intend to look at third stage of ura and discuss how we can Pic 15
align our training towards the historical truth that each single kata represents a complete fighting system or style in its own right. If we can equate our learning in this specific way, then even the complete understanding only a couple of forms can easily be enough ‘food for thought’ to last us a whole lifetime! Chris Denwood is the Chief Instructor of the Eikoku Satori Karate-Do Kyokai and a senior instructor with the British KarateDo Chojinkai. For more information about his particular approach to karate or to enquire about upcoming seminars etc, please contact the E.S.K.K on 07801 531 914 or visit www.eskk.co.uk where you can join their mailing list, read similar articles and download useful media. Pic 16
Applying the stage of henka to your study will greatly increase your understanding of not only the form, but of the truths that surround the general process of karate training. In other words, it allows you to appreciate how the practical aspects are ‘stitched’ together in the art. Henka still has its limitations though, because you WWW.KARATEMAG.CO.UK TRADITIONAL KARATE 113
. .K .K .S E e h t & Utilising the forearms in Karate a Ltd’ By Jonathan Roll. All pictures supplied by ‘Sovereign Medi It’s that time of year again when the days are getting longer; the sun begins to shine brighter and the ‘promise’ of summer draws ever closer. Ideally, we should all be outside enjoying the weather whilst it lasts but instead, on a sunny Saturday morning in Cumbria, I find myself donning my dogi once more and heading down to a local Church Hall in Egremont for an eagerly awaited seminar on the use and application of the forearms in karate. Why? Well it’s simple really. This day marks the first E.S.K.K seminar
of 2008 and I wouldn’t miss it for the world! When practicing martial arts or any hobby for that matter, there’s always a risk of becoming too overwhelmed by the amount of information you’d like to take in. For me, the advantage of seminars is that they give you a chance to examine concepts that you may either have never considered before or been far too busy with other aspects to examine in any depth. It was with this in mind that I entered the dojo on Saturday April 19th, ready for whatever useful lessons were in store for me.
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This is not the first seminar taught by Chris Denwood that I’ve attended and I’ll tell you now - it certainly isn’t going to be the last! The structure followed much the same pattern as those in previous seminars and this suited me just fine. Chris has a very analytical approach to karate and this is demonstrated throughout the logical way to which he always structures and manages his subject matter - in this case, the use of the forearms in combat. Regular readers of Combat magazine may recognise this topic from a recently published article written by Chris
entitled “A poor craftsman will always blames his tools”. It was because of the large number of requests (and no doubt my constant nagging) that Chris decided to teach a seminar in order to supplement this particular piece. We began the day by examining the strengths and weaknesses associated with the forearm to better understand this most versatile tool, before looking at how we can condition the limb in preparation for its use in combat. Chris spent some time discussing the concept of ‘overload’ and how the human body can improve over time in response to applying a positive and progressive stimulus of physical stress. The series of ballistic and frictional conditioning drills we practiced encompassed all parts of the forearm and gave all attendees a method of gradually training the arms so as not to incur injury. This section also included the use of some traditional equipment; bamboo bundles and an ingenious two-man drill that reproduces some of the conditioning methods of the Okinawan ‘tan’ (like a stone barbell) with just a simple brush shank and your partner providing the necessary resistance. It was with great surprise that lunch was announced after this (we’d managed a full 2 hours already just on conditioning?). Time does indeed fly when you’re having fun! After lunch, the afternoon was split into two sections and looked at exploiting the strengths and weaknesses of the forearm. The first half of the session covered numerous practical applications from the traditional kata including strikes, bars, chokes, joint attacks etc. The key to all these movements was the need to stay adaptable and this was emphasised by Chris repeatedly. The spirit of karate is such that if one technique doesn’t work you should simply blend into the next one - several good examples of this followed. It was amazing to see that despite the fact the techniques shown were changing all the time, the concepts behind them all remained the same and furthermore, Chris still remarkably managed to apply the forearm throughout!
The second half of the afternoon was spent looking at the weaknesses associated with the forearm and how this area could be exploited to give you an advantage in a confrontation. There was definitely a vast range provided here as the applications shown varied in both swiftness and severity, from simple restraints to others that were far more ‘serious’. It was a real an eye opener to see how the same ‘easy to grasp’ concepts could be applied and adapted in so many ways. This is Chris’ typical way of teaching – he always starts off with a simple movement or concept and progresses this further in stages. He always says it’s like building a fine house – get the foundations right initially and then great structures can easily be placed on top! Again it was slightly shocking when Chris announced that time was up and we had to bow out. Before we did though, he answered a few interesting questions and quickly gave a demonstration of some tactile drills (kakie) that unfortunately, we didn’t have time to cover during the seminar. However, even this brief two minute explanation opened a whole series of new doors for me. I suspect I’m not the only one hoping for future seminar to cover these in more depth! The pace at which the concepts and techniques were covered throughout the day was perfect. Chris’ approach was such that everyone managed to get something positive from the seminar regardless of technical ability and without ‘swamping’ anyone with too much information at once. For me, the day was fantastic and if you ever get the chance to attend one of Chris’ seminars in the future then I couldn’t recommend it more! As the various karate ka from clubs all around Cumbria bowed out and left the dojo, it was pleasing to hear how much everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day. However, what really made me smile were the last minute discussions around those principles we’d just covered, because for those people and myself, the seed had well and truly been sown for a completely new chapter of knowledge - may there be many more to come! WWW.KARATEMAG.CO.UK TRADITIONAL KARATE 115
Federation of English Karate Organisations International In direct membership to the World Karate Confederation and English Traditional Karate Body
Federation of English Karate Organisations In direct membership to the English Karate Governing Body
Federation of Martial Arts In direct membership to the F.E.K.O Int’l Criminal Records Bureau registered for Disclosure including outside groups. NSPCC endorsed Child Protection policy document A Federation of over 70 Karate Associations plus other Martial Arts Groups (16,000 members)
If you are a 3rd dan or above with a group of at least 100 members then join a truly democratic long established organisation but still retain your independence. Each Association has a representative on the Federation Council to form the Federation policy. You decide on the future direction of Karate within the Federation. You elect annually the Executive Committee for the day to day running of the Federation. Smaller groups also catered for. No interference in running your own group - Freedom to conduct your own gradings - All grades recognised - Dan grades registered, recognised and certificated - All your training premises covered for £5,000,000 public liability - Full insurance cover for all registered members - Instructor/Coaching/Assessor qualifications - To be able to work within the law we have CRB Disclosure - NSPCC endorsed Child Protection policy document - National/International Refereeing courses and qualifications Junior & Senior National/International - National Children’s Championships - National Senior Championships - Plus local championships with member groups etc
Federation of Martial Arts. Many karate groups also train in other Martial Arts including Kick boxing, the FMA offers the above benefits to those members with membership to FEKO Int’l or direct membership to the FMA for non Karate groups For further information contact Alan Carruthers FEKO Secretary 198 Meadow Road, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 1JR Tel/Fax 0115 9250167 E-mail email@example.com Web site www.feko.co.uk
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Putting Kata Back at the Heart of Karate By Bill Burgar author of Five Years, One Kata
n part 1 we introduced some of the concepts and thought processes involved in bunkai (the analysis of kata). In Part 2 we looked at the oyo (the application of the movement). In part 2 we noted that, however good a technique may be, it can still easily go wrong and we need a plan B - actually we need quite a few plan B’s to cope with all of the likely scenarios that may happen. In this third part we look at the variations (called henka in Japanese). Please refer to the previous two articles to refresh your memory of both the kata movement and the primary application for that movement. In order to understand what may happen to take us off the primary application and into a variation it is important to think about what the opponent is trying to achieve with his action, and hence what he may do to achieve that. In this case the opponent is trying to control you by intimidation. He puffs his chest up, rises up on his toes and gets closer to try to look bigger and more intimidating with the intention of making you back down. If you have tried to back down and leave and he persists, it is not unreasonable for you to believe that he is seeking a chance for a sucker punch.
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Any contact you make with him is likely to be rebuffed. So, for example, if you place your hand on his chest to keep him back, he is likely to try to remove your hand, push through it or grab it. The primary application deals with him pushing through your arm in an attempt to have you move backwards. The henka (the variations) deal with him trying to remove your arm or grabbing it. They also deal with variations that can come about part-way through the technique. Let’s say he pushes your arm aside - you are keyed up ready to pre-empt and have a mind set of striking his chin. If he pushes your arm aside it will be hard to change your mind set, so in this henka we simply go ahead anyway with no severe detriment to the technique (see Photo sequence 1). Now let’s imagine that even though your punch lands and you kick his leg, you haven’t done enough to make him lose his balance as intended and he is still upright. Now it is time to switch techniques to something else; in this example taking his head to lead his body down (Photos 1c, 1d and 1e). (Please note that using the head to lead the body can be very dangerous and should only be done slowly under qualified supervision. You could / should substitute twisting the shoulders as a viable alternative.) Now let’s picture the opponent grabbing your arm. As you feel that happening you need to switch to an entirely different technique which should be from another part of your kata. (Photos 2a through to 2f). The list of henka for each move can become extensive and this is where it is important to be able to switch to other techniques in your arsenal as appropriate as in the Photo sequence 2. In order to build your list of henka for each technique you just need to ask yourself, “What could he do now?”. In my
book, Five Years, One Kata, I cover the henka for each move of the kata and show how you can use similar analysis to find your own techniques in your own kata. In this three part series of articles we have touched upon the bunkai (analysis) of the kata movement, its primary application and the associated henka. If you are interested in what kata are for and want to know how to unlock their secrets it is
important to examine them carefully. This is easier to do if you approach it in a structured way. It is very gratifying to see that increasing numbers of karateka are now choosing to undertake in-depth study of their kata. About the author: Bill Burgar has been studying karate since 1979 and wrote the highly acclaimed book Five Years, One Kata which is available via his blog at www.MartialArtsPublishing.com
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The Way Of Sanchin Kata By Kris Wilder
Part 8 - Arm
his is the eighth of several articles investigating Sanchin Kata, its origin and application to traditional karate. This material consists of excerpts of various sections from the book The Way of Sanchin Kata: The Application of Power by Kris Wilder. The goal of these articles is to illustrate some of the methods of training Sanchin Kata and making the knowledge of the past masters relevant and meaningful for modern karateka. The Striking Arm When pulling the arm back into chamber in preparation for punching (chudan zuki) a person should keep the following in mind: Never lift the shoulder under the chambered fist. This is true in all forms, not just Sanchin. The arm should move back into chamber with little bending of the elbow; pulling with the bicep is incorrect as it decreases the angle between the forearm and the bicep and usually lifts the shoulder. Moving the shoulder is an immediate tip to an opponent that you are moving. Test It A drill to explore this is to take a partner and without sharing with them your intentions, face each other. Ask them to strike you in the chest from chamber, a “loaded punch” in traditional karate. It is rare that you will find a person that does not twitch their shoulder backward in an effort to gain momentum. When they twitch backward, reach out and touch them in the chest. Simply put, when you see them prepare to punch by pulling their shoulder backward, you take advantage of it by moving, closing on your opponent. The second aspect of this drill it to reveal what it is you are doing and looking for, and switch places, with you now as the attacker. This time however let your arm hang loosely at your waist and ask your partner to touch your chest the moment they see your shoulder move. You will soon see that even the slightest twitch is enough to trigger a response. So the tactic of never lifting your shoulder can be proven empirically to be a path to more speed on your part and a twofold increase it is in speed. This increase in speed comes from the better use of your own architecture creating a faster
Side view of acute angle of elbow, shoulder, and fist
Side view of correct angle of elbow, shoulder, and fist
action and also because you have learned to detect intention in your attacker. You are more effective because you give no indication, or forewarning, of your intentions and your attacker likely does. Compression Compression of the arm is important to gaining an explosive strike. By pulling the elbow back and reducing the distance between the forearm and bicep, one gives away their intentions because the shoulder is inclined to lift. By keeping the angle between the forearm and the bicep as close as possible to the original angle from the chest block, the humerus (upper arm bone) rotates in the shoulder socket without lifting the shoulder. Once the fist on that arm reaches its chamber it creates a sense of compression. Pulling the arm and fist back to chamber with power slows down motion and is not necessary. Pulling back with power also activates the shoulder area, in this instance, the group of muscles including the deltoid and trapezius, lifting the shoulder blade (scapula) on the back. There are many chambers for the karate fist. The most desirable chamber for Sanchin Kata is the placement of the fist at the ninth and tenth ribs and resting in front of the first floating rib. Placing the fist higher lifts the shoulder. To compensate for this high placement of the fist and to keep the shoulder low, the elbow is dropped low. This position, which is not recommended, keeps the humerus in a vertical position and places the forearm in a weak incline acceding position. Neither of these solutions is superior to keeping the fist in the floating rib position. About the author Kris Wilder started practicing the martial arts at the age of fifteen. Over the years, he has earned black belt rankings in three styles, Goju-Ryu karate, Tae Kwon Do and Judo, in which he has competed in senior national and international tournaments. He has had the opportunity to train under skilled instructors, including Olympic athletes, state champions, national champions, and gifted martial artists who take their lineage directly from the founders of their systems. Kris has trained and taught across the United States, in France, Canada and Okinawa. He is the author of “Lessons from the Dojo Floor.” (Xlibris 2003), co-author of the “The Way of Kata: A Comprehensive Guide to Deciphering Martial Application,” (YMAA 2005) and author of “Way of Sanchin Kata: The Application of Power.” (YMAA 2007). “The Way to Black Belt: A Comprehensive Guide to Rock Solid Results” (YMAA 2007), co-authored with Lawrence Kane, is scheduled for a November 2007 release. He can be reached at: Kwilder@quidnunc.net
Side view of acute angle of elbow, shoulder, and fist, chamber too high
Side view of correct placement of fist on ribs nine and ten
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Ponds Forge Sheffield. Photos courtesy of DE Photos So what does it take to hold a successful competition? Suitable venue, good organisation, quality referees, appropriate categories to encourage large participation, minimum grade to ensure high standard and spectator support amongst other things... Well the first EKF English National Karate Championships had it all; Ponds Forge was the chosen venue for the National Championships. Its central location, accessibility, amenities and history of hosting many national events made it ideal. Pete Allen has years of experience hosting many former national championships as well as his own AMA regional, national and international championships so the organisation of the event was in good hands. Out of 55 registered referees, 46 had attended these championships that were overseen by the EKF Chief Referee Terry Pottage. The categories were divided by gender, age and weight and with 75 unique categories to ensure competitiveness, all competitors were catered for. To encourage the very best standards competing, there was a minimum 3 rd Kyu grade entry requirement in place for the older children and seniors and still 585 competitors registered to compete from 43 competing associations, all showing tremendous support for the EKF. At the end of the day, itâ€™s the associations that make up the EKF, these championships were for them and to give something back, the entry fees for spectators had been waived allowing many more families and friends to attend and support their competitors. What more could you ask for?
The two day event, which took place over the weekend of 5 th and 6 th April 2008 in Sheffield, saw many familiar faces in attendance and there were many new kids on the block too. It was good to see athletes such as Rory Daniels, Alton Brown, Natalie Williams, Sonny Roberts, Craig Burke, Paul Abel and many of the current Senior, Junior and Cadet squad competing and supporting this event. Support also came in the way of sponsors - a first for the national championships? There were two levels of sponsorship on offer for these championships: Tatami sponsors Institute of Sport & Recreation Management (Mark Newey) http://www.isrm.co.uk/ AVA Sports (who also had a stand on site) http://www.avasports.com/ Category sponsors Mike Billman specifically sponsoring the Senior Male Kumite Heavyweight and Senior Female Team Kumite events Heian Ryu Karate Group specifically sponsoring the Senior Female U53kg Kumite event TISKA (Mick Billman / Gursharn Sahota) Chingford Shotokan Karate Club (Mark Durham) Metropolitan Police (Andy Maddocks/ Mick Billman) Ticky Donovan OBE Ishinryu Black Belt Kata event.
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As well as AVA Sports being on site, KachiDo (www.kachido.com) also had a stand with merchandise for sale during the championships. Each category medallist was also given a merchandise voucher by KachiDo, redeemable online or at their stand with AVA Sports supplying a discount voucher too. Also in attendance were official tournament photographers, DE Photos (www.dephotos.co.uk ) who took many photos over the two day event. You can visit their website to browse and order photos through the following web link: http:// www.dephotos.co.uk/emAlbum/cgibin/ pro/emAlbum.cgi?c=show_album;p= Martial%20Arts/English%20Karate/2008 With all this planning in place there was only one thing left to do - let the games begin! The championships themselves commenced with the Team Kata events followed by the 9yrs & Under Kata categories moving upwards through the individual age groups. There were some spectacular Katas performed during the first day’s events and some excellent Kata Bunki routines being displayed by the Team Kata finalists. Ishinryu won the Senior Female Team Kata event with AMA runnersup. The Male equivalent was won by Karate Do International (KDI) with AMA ‘B’ runnersup. The Children’s Female Team event was won by Hanko Ryu with AMA once again coming home second whilst the Children’s Male Team event finally saw AMA collect a team gold with England Karate Kan (EKK) runnersup. As the competition moved to the individual categories the level of competitiveness and tension increased, as did the standard of Kata as the age categories rose. Whilst the older children’s and Cadet Kata events took place, the 9yrs & Under Kumite events commenced. With all six areas running with a mixture of Kata and Kumite between them, there was plenty of action for the spectators to enjoy and keep the referees busy. As the Kata events finished, the remaining Children’s Kumite events took to the Tatami’s. It was a busy, hectic first day but very successful with many parents and spectators remarking on how well it had gone how pleased they were that it hadn’t cost a fortune to watch as with most tournaments within England.
Day two proved even busier than the previous day as the older children, cadets, juniors and seniors turned out in force. The team Kumite events started the days action and with some large entries in many categories the events took a while to start rolling through. The Girls 14 15yrs Team Kumite event was won by EKKA with Kaizen Central in second place. ShindoKai took the honours in the Boys 1415yrs Team event with Ken Yu Kai securing silver. Ken Yu Kai made up for their missed team gold by collecting one in the Male Cadet Team Kumite event beating the AMA ‘A’ team in the final. The Girls Cadet Kumite title went to Kazen Karate Association with AMA once again just missing out on top spot. ShindoKai made it a team double when the Senior Female Kumite team took gold beating Kaizen Central in the final whilst the Senior ShindoKai Male Kumite team just missed out on securing another team gold as the Senior Male team from Toyakwai took the honours in that event. Following the team events the individual Kumite categories got underway. With the Senior Europeans in Estonia around the corner, this was a good opportunity for the seniors to get some tough competition experience under their belt and the majority of the senior squad took full advantage of this opportunity. For the recent Cadet and Junior squads who represented England in the World and European Championships, this was their chance to shine on the domestic stage and demonstrate why they’ve earned their England badges. Out of the 25 strong Junior & Cadet squad that went to Trieste in February, 22 took part in these championships. From those 22, only 2 failed to medal with 13 securing national titles and the remaining 7 all medalling. Seven managed to secure two individual medals resulting in them collecting 13 Gold, 5 Silver and 9 Bronze medals. Had they entered as a squad they would have topped the medal table securing 27 medals between them. Top association of the championships were Toyakwai who collected 10 Gold, 8 Silver and 6 Bronze medals. EKKA with 10 Gold, 3 Silver and 5 Bronze
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came second overall with Ishinryu coming third collecting 8 Gold, 3 Silver and 15 Bronze medals. AMA, who came fourth overall actually accumulated the highest number of medals35, 9 more than Ishinryu who gained 26. These championships had now set the standard and with the British Karate Federation Championships and both EKF Regional Championships coming up there is going to be fierce competition between the athletes to be ranked No.1 in their events.
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