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. 22 22 No. No. 07 07 June June 2009 2009
Kumite From Start to Street
Chris Denwood Examining The Basic Straight Punch
Ticky Donovan A Night of Celebration For a Karate Legend Visit the Traditional Karate magazine website at www.karatemag.co.uk
Ticky Donovan The Man Who did his bit! A Night of Celebration for one of the karate Worlds Living Legends. “Thank you to Joe Long and Paul Alderson for arranging and giving me one of the best nights of my life and thank you to everyone who attended for making it one of the most memorable nights of my life. When I first walked into the room and saw it jammed pack I just got so emotional I could have just cried with joy. I would like to thank all those who stood up and gave speeches. Where do I start naming people who were there? Please excuse me but I cannot, for fear of missing any body out. I hope you will all understand as every body there where so important to me and the Great times and memories I have had. I would like to thank my children who where so supportive to me leading up to the evening as I was so nervous, Mireille, Karine, Patrick, and James. The only thing I regret about the evening was; A) it had to end and B) it went so fast some of the night seems just a blur!” - Best Wishes, Ticky. That was the response from the man of the moment as he reflected on the wonderful commemorative evening that celebrated his extraordinary and distinguished career as a bona fide Karate legend. Joe Long and Paul Alderson of Fighters Inc have put on many memorable events and showcases but few were as personal or heartfelt as the evening they had planned for a man they consider a close friend and
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unique Karateka. As a result the planning was meticulous and resulted in a true celebration of the life and times of Ticky Donovan, complete with food, This is Your Life style overview, guest speakers and music and merriment, courtesy of TJ, who rocked Ticky with splendid renditions of classics from his favourite Swing artists. Commemorative events can be sombre affairs but this event was defi-
nitely a celebration as Ticky was very much alive and well and the feted guest of honour. As he was announced and entered the room he received a heartfelt and sustained standing ovation that clearly touched him. With everyone seated they were serenaded by TJ and wined and dined, Ticky holding court on the central table. The retrospective of Ticky’s life began once everybody was relaxed and comfortable with Mr Michael Dinsdale and Mr Mick Billman passing on regards from the The World Karate Federation, The European Karate Federation and the English Karate Federation, culminating with the presentation of a gold watch to Ticky on behalf of the BKF, a gesture that truly left Ticky speechless. It seemed fitting, however, as very few British martial artists have had such an enduring impact on their art or sport as Ticky Donovan OBE. A passionate, patriotic man, he has guided English Karate teams and numerous individuals to the very top at world level as both fighter and coach, with an unprecedented 5 successive World title wins between the years 1982 to1990. It is ironic then, that a man now so syn-
onymous with Karate originally found it ‘slow’ when compared to his first love, boxing, when he was a youngster. A fact emphasised by a specially designed collage of photos presented by Fighters Inc with the help of Tyrone Whyte that included a photo of a young Ticky in boxing attire and not a gi! Ticky started Karate aged eighteen in 1965 at Tatsuo Suzuki’s Clapham Common club. Ticky was ready to quit after his first lesson but changed his mind after seeing a dynamic demonstration from the legendary Tatsuo Suzuki himself and from that point on was hooked. Mr Tatsuo Suzuki was lined up as the first guest speaker but unfortunately a minor accident the day earlier prevented him from attending but his club secretary Allie Reigate translated and manfully read a handwritten letter from Mister Suzuki, in which the veteran Karate Legend praised Ticky’s passion and spirit, before presenting him with a personally signed book. Ticky stayed with Wado Ryu for over three years and was working on the newspapers when he started training. Karate lessons were expensive at the time-5 shillings-but
Len Palmer helped Ticky get around this, the youngster training free if he collected the dojo fees. When Mister Suzuki and Len Palmer unfortunately parted company both men wanted him to stay with them and Ticky’s loyalties were split as Mr Suzuki was a great instructor and Len Palmer had helped Ticky in various ways. Ticky stayed with Len but did not forget Mr Suzuki and the fundamentals he was taught. When Mr Kanazawa came over the group switched to Shotokan and at this point Ticky trained with Mr Kanazawa and Mr Enoeda but fate was to play a hand again as Mr Kanazawa went to Germany and Mr Enoeda to Liverpool. To make matters worse, Ticky broke a bone in his hand at the selections for the European Championships and decided to give up completely as he had an offer of door work in the West End from Billy Walker. After six months out of the dojo Ticky got ‘the bug’ once more and the nearest Karate club to him was Steve Arneil’s Kyokushinkai dojo in Stratford, where a lot of his friends trained. Ticky found the atmosphere electric, changed to Kyokushinkai and
trained in the style for nearly four years, taking his second Dan with the great Mas Oyama.. The legend that is Steve Arneil paid tribute to Ticky on the night, eloquently reminiscing on their time together with the now famous England squad, putting their achievements in perspective and reminding everyone of the impact Ticky has had within the Karate world. Mr Arneil’s appearance and speech was a genuine highlight for Ticky who mentioned that he was truly honoured and delighted to see Steve sat there when he entered the room. “I was very honoured and privileged to be invited to Ticky’s party celebrating his retirement. I thought it was a fantastic turnout to show Ticky our respect for his work over the years and it was a great evening. I was also pleased to meet many faces I hadn’t seen for many years but most of all it was great to see Ticky once more and it must have been a wonderful surprise for him to see everyone there. The evening brought back all the great memories that money just can’t buy and I would like to wish Ticky all the best in the future and I’m sure that he will
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always be involved with Karate in some capacity even if it is simply enjoying himself at a tournament or taking part as a high level member. Good luck Ticky and congratulations on a wonderful night that truly celebrated your career!” - Steve Arneil. The Kyokushinkai years were a great time for Ticky but unfortunately splits came so Ticky decided the time was right to leave and open his own Dojo, a dojo that saw the beginning of the now famous Ishinryu’ style. Ticky remembers that he wanted a name that meant “open mind’ but when translated it came out as “empty head” and the idea was quickly scrapped. Meeting a Japanese Judoka on holiday he got this big translation book out and came up with the name Ishinryu that meant “everybody with one heart” Ticky asked if there was any Ishinryu in Japan and he said no, and Ishinryu
was born. At first Ticky simply saw it as a club name but, inspired by the suggestion of the late Mr. Kimura, a famous Shukokai instructor, later as a style integrating all that he had learnt from previous instructors. The clubs and style quickly spread with Peter Dennis going to Basildon, Will Verner opening in East Ham and Tyrone Whyte opening in Stratford. Administration in the early days of Ishinryu was taken care of by Fred Kidd, a well-respected friend of Ticky’s who previously trained with him in Kyokushinkai. Fred’s son Simon was able to witness the magic of Ishinryu from a young age and on behalf his late father Fred and himself, he gave a memorable and heartfelt speech, putting into words his admiration for a man he came to consider as his mentor and friend. “I have been in the very privileged position of knowing Ticky since a very young age, when I used to go with my late father and watch him compete. I started training under Ticky in the early 70’s and eventually went on to teach for him at the Barking dojo. During my career I was further coached by Ticky in both the Ishinryu and the National teams. Ticky has always been a great inspiration in my life and is very much responsible for my success today. My father always had the utmost respect for Ticky and told me that if I was to make a successful career of Karate then I should learn form him. This event is, as I am sure everyone will agree, a very successful evening, with so many people from years gone by in attendance and all with the common sentiment of how Ticky being presented his award by Wayne Otto
this man had been so influential in all our lives. I would like to wish Ticky all the success for the future and I am sure I speak for everyone when I say that he will be sorely missed on the National team.” - Simon Kidd. He may be remembered as a great fighter and an even greater coach but he didn’t exactly set the World alight in his first tournament. Ticky’s first ever fight was a loss when his opponent hit him with a low roundhouse kick and he was told to sit down because his opponent had won! History shows us that things did get better and Ticky went from Southern Area Champion to three times British Champion in 73, 74 and 75. Ticky had contact with Dominic Valera at the time and he had this list of how many times he’d won the French Championships. This inspired Ticky who knew this was the way he wanted to go and after winning the British title twice he was determined to make it a hat trick. When Ticky did win the third time he fought Tyrone Whyte who was one of his students and it was then that it was time to make space for the others and the next year Tyrone did win. At this juncture in the story it seemed apt that Tyrone, now famous in his own right, gave the next speech, peppered with anecdotes and tales of Ticky’s relentless desire to get the best out of his fighters...whether they liked it or not! “I started training under Ticky from a yellow belt having been recommended to train with him by Steve Arneil, my first Instructor. From day one, his disciplined, inspirational and motivational approach won me over I wanted to be as good as him. I watched him perform Tobi Yoko Geri and practised until I could do it too. I won the British because I watched him win three. Sadly the British were not held after, so I could not follow his lead. At my first Europeans that I shared the team title with him and he then planted the seed in my head to win my first European individual Title. The standards that I have in karate I got from him..... a truly Diamond Geezer!” - Tyrone White. From there, Ticky secured his place on the British team and in British Karate history, as a member
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of the team that won the World Championships in 1976, a defining moment that saw them defeat Japan in the final. It was a moment that Ticky will never forget but it was tinged with the fact that the team that won in ‘76 never fought as a team again. Many look back on those glory years with great nostalgia and mention how much harder Karate was ‘back in the day’ but Ticky has his own unique take on a time that people often say was stronger and harder, whereas he believes “we just didn’t have the control!” Although Karate was hard and strong then, Ticky stresses that the competitors are complete athletes now, fighting in a different World. The World may have changed but Ticky adapted and continued with World Championship success, this time as coach, with wins in 82, 84, 86, 88, and 90, an unprecedented record that has yet to be beaten. Ironically it was a job he almost didn’t take as Roy Stanhope took over from Steve Arneil as manager and Ticky looked to continue fighting in the team. When Roy said that he wasn’t staying as manager, Ticky was the next in line for the job and Roy told him to seize the opportunity, advice that Ticky acknowledges he is indebted to Roy for. The advice proved good for the team too, as Ticky put together an unbeatable winning streak that saw Great Britain the envy of the World, forged through his fierce patriotism and consistent desire to win. One of the longest standing members of Ishinryu and the British Karate Team Ian Cole has witnessed Ticky as a coach firsthand throughout the golden years and his speech was the funniest of the night as Ian regaled everyone with hilarious stories of life on the road as an England fighter under Ticky. His speech may have been “belly laugh funny” but it was also underpinned by genuine warmth and affection for his long term coach. Karate is indebted to Ticky and his immense contribution to the art was recognised in 1991 when he received the OBE, an honour that he not only richly deserved but was immensely proud of. At the time Mervin Etienne put into perspective just what an achievement the award was, pointing out that Ticky received the OBE by winning the World Championships five times in succes-
sion and yet Graham Taylor received the CBE for steering the England football team to the quarter-finals. The face of Karate may have changed, the rules may have changed but Ticky has been a constant and weathered the changes, guiding the 1996 squad to 5 gold medals and top position overall. Ticky is at his most passionate, however, when it comes to the England team as an entity and the idea of ‘the team’ winning was always closest to his own heart as he believed that if we won the team event then the whole country was World Champions. Ticky explained this belief to his squad numerous times, the notion that when you win as an individual, then it’s your “thing” but when the team wins, everybody wins and everyone in Karate in England can say, “Don’t you know we’re the World Champions?” One person who knows Ticky’s philosophies better than most is a man who has won too many world titles to mention, the man who has assisted the England Squad alongside Ticky, and the man who now has the task to carry the England Team into the future, the new England Coach Wayne Otto OBE. Wayne gave the final speech of the evening, a speech full of unreserved praise and admiration but it was his final words that received the most applause and brought a twinkle to Ticky’s eyes as he reminded Ticky that when Karate finally becomes an Olympic sport he fully expects Ticky to stand alongside him one last time, a sentiment echoed by everyone in the room. “I remember a conversation Ticky and I had, it was just after a championship that I had just won. I was about 26 years old and I already had a few World titles in the bag. He said to me, “Wayne you’ve won some good titles and you’re fighting really well, but you haven’t reached your best yet.” “What do you mean?” I said. He then said to me “You’re best won’t come until you’re into your thirties, just wait and see”. Well to cut a long story short, I experienced the best fighting of my career in that period, I was fighting so much and so well it was like having ESP. This evening is a great opportunity to celebrate and honour a great coach and a dear friend.” - Wayne Otto, OBE.
Ticky with Ian Cole
There will always come a time when even the most dedicated and passionate coach will decide to call it a day and relinquish the job he has cherished for so long. Ticky himself said that “when it’s time to retire I want to be able to go and say that’s it, I’ve done my bit.” The final speaker of a memorable celebration was called to the podium- a World Champion, A Winner, a Legend but above all else a dedicated Karateka with passion, patriotism and heart. Another spontaneous standing ovation followed as Ticky, brimming with emotion delivered a humble and moving speech, genuinely overwhelmed by the sea of faces before him. It was a tribute evening that Joe Long of Fighters Inc was understandably proud of“I first walked into Ticky’s dojo at the age of seven and was amazed by his passion. This evening summed up how many lives and careers have been touched in the same way. Ian Cole said to me that, of all the event’s I’ve organised (and there’s been a few!) this one meant the most to a number of people and I’m proud of that fact.” - Joe Long. The final official act of a touching and memorable ceremony was a special presentation made to Ticky by Wayne Otto on behalf of Joe Long, Paul Alderson and Fighters Inc in celebration of an incredible career. Then it was party time with Ticky in constant demand for photographs as TJ got the place swinging once more and guests danced the night away, culminating, aptly enough with ‘My Way’. It was the icing on the cake of a perfect evening within the intimate surroundings of the Loughton Academy as the Karate community paid fitting tribute to a true Karate hero, a man who did his bit - Ticky Donovan OBE. WWW.COMBATMAG.CO.UK COMBAT 101
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RESPECTING WHAT IS OLD; CREATING WHAT IS NEW With Chris Denwood
Examining the Basic Straight Punch (Part 1)
In my column so far, I’ve spent some time discussing a selection of the main foundations of traditional karate. Over the next few months, I intend to build on these a little further by concentrating solely on only one single motion, which I will analyse from a variety of angles in the hope of demonstrating the sheer adaptability of karate and the idea that even one technique, if studied deeply enough, presents a real opportunity to learn and extract many generic principles. Quite often, the best way to tackle something complex is to start working on something comparatively simpler. The basic straight punch found in karate is often the very first technique taught to new students and although on the surface it appears to be quite simplistic in nature, it actual-
Gichin Funakoshi practicing straight thrust as a strike against the makiwara. Notice that hikite (pulling hand) is being utilised to create the popular ‘double limb action’ seen as a major feature throughout the art..
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ly holds many subtle aspects for analysis that help to bring out much more generic learning. As traditional pragmatists, we should always think about prioritising our training in accordance with ‘understanding’ and ‘malleability’, rather than just ‘blind repetition’. In other words, if you don’t have a good reason for doing something, then why do it ? Real learning comes from asking questions and then proactively searching for the answers! Let’s start though by first addressing a point of debate; one which I expect to receive from the onset. The open analysis I’ll be conducting is often a very useful exercise to perform when carrying out any form of reverse engineering in karate, but it must also be remembered that it is just that - an exercise. Even though the theory of bunkai states that there may be more than one use for a particular motion, we should not be too naive to believe that every movement originally had a multitude of applications, for a wide range scenarios. It is quite obvious that the basic straight punch found in karate, is (and was) a technique used to develop the mechanics of a straight line strike, but I wonder, what else do these body mechanics help to build? In my view, we should always be open to explore the boundaries of
our understanding and it is this strategy of ‘expanded thinking’ that has always proved a great help to me when analysing the mechanics and core workings of the art. The straight punch is usually referred to in most styles as ‘chokuzuki’. However, if you look at the Japanese characters that make up the label more closely, you’ll begin to see the real intention of this most fundamental of techniques. The word ‘choku’ can be defined as ‘straight or direct’ and ‘zuki’ comes from the word ‘tsuki’, which means ‘thrust, lunge or stab’. So in reality, the name ‘choku-zuki’ does in no way refer to a punch at all. Instead, it refers to a motion with intent - a direct thrusting movement.. It is not uncommon for the martial arts to label techniques so openly.. The ancient Chinese arts like Tai Chi Chuan for example quite often refer to movements by their shape or distinguishing features. And if you refer to the classic karate text, the Bubishi, you’ll find pictures and descriptions of many historic techniques having somewhat eloquent names that often bear no relationship to their actual intended application(s). Some of these movements still appear in our art to this day and are almost identical, albeit with more modern labels.
This idea of referring to shape or motion is often paralleled in karate (in both old and modern styles). For instance, it is known that Gichin Funakoshi altered the names of kata so that they could be better accepted by the Japanese society and thus provide karate with more chance of popularity. As a result, ‘Chinto’ became known as ‘Gankaku’, which means ‘Crane on a Rock’ and represents the unique one-legged posture found within the form. Similarly, ‘Naihanchi’ became ‘Tekki’, or ‘Iron Horse Riding/Knight’ (from the words ‘tetsu’ and ‘kiba’ or ‘kishi’), representing the singular strong stance from the kata. As another well-known example, just look at the word ‘Uke’ commonly referred to as ‘block’ in most styles. The pragmatic applications possible for these so-called blocking movements show that this definition is not accurate. ‘Uke’ is in reality a word that means to ‘receive’ or ‘defend’ and you only need to look to an art such as aikido, where this label is given to the person who is ‘receiving’ the technique being applied. There is no doubt that a deeper study of the labelling found in karate will open the flood gates of possibility and suggest that many modern interpretations are concealing a much more adaptive strategy, waiting to be uncovered and applied. There are usually two theories spoken as to why techniques have been historically labelled in these ways. The first is that by equating to a particular shape or to shroud the true applications of movements with very visual names meant that their potency and combat effectiveness could be hidden from prying eyes, yet still these labels could be referred to and exchanged in training by those who thoroughly understood the art. The second theory is more related to the spread of karate into and beyond the Japanese mainland is suggests that the labels for techniques were Pic 2
Pictures 1 to 5: The technique of choku zuki (straight thrust) performed in uchi wa dachi (inner circular stance). This movement alone contains many of the core teachings of karate.
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Federation of English Karate Organisations International In direct membership to the World Karate Confederation and English Traditional Karate Body
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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
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given in order to allow the art to fall towards the modern long-range ‘punch, kick & block’ system we see all over the world today. Of course, any of these presumptions may or may not contain elements of fact, but I also think that there’s another theory that runs alongside these, that gives some positive credit to the past masters for their competence, ingenuity and insight. This third theory advocates that the names for certain techniques were given not only to protect the true potency of the applications from inquisitive inexperience or those who practice for modern objectives other than self-protection, but were cleverly chosen to also quietly suggest to those who were willing and devoted enough in training that there is far more to the movement than what is seen at first glance. Some people would call this realisation ‘okuden’ or ‘esoteric/hidden teachings’, but I think it’s much simpler than that. I think the modern naming of techniques had more to do with the fact that the past masters, although appreciating that for karate to survive it must spread in a responsible way, still wanted to make sure that the effectiveness of the movements were maintained and always readily available through a combination of subtle teachings and these intelligently assigned labels. Don’t forget that the masters we aspire to, spent their whole lives practicing karate. They would not only have loathed to see their art quickly fade into insignificance through the inevitable development of modern society, but at the same time, they still had to protect against the possibility that true potency of what they were devoted to could be lost forever. Nowadays and as a result of their ingenuity, karate is enjoyed by people all over the world for both its modern development and also its traditional pragmatic heritage. In my book, I call that a job well done! Many styles practice choku-zuki in slightly different ways, but usually the overarching principles are still the same. Throughout the next few months, I’ll naturally be referring to the method I personally use in my own dojo. Start with one hand in front with the other pulled back to the hip (as in Pic.1). Next, initiate a
small forward movement of the hip with a slight pull back of the pulling hand (as in Pic.2) almost unnoticeable. This acts to set the hip off slightly before the limb and causes a subtle stretch across the body, causing a reflex and recoil effect. Straightaway, release the punching limb towards the target and sharply pull back the other hand, keeping the elbows tight to the body to ensure the strongest structural position (Pic.3 and 4). The hips should still be leading the limb. Finally (as in Pic.5), sharply twist the hands over at the last instant, snapping the hip back to neutrall, causing a ‘whipping effect’, releasing energy outwards from the fist and into the target. This relaxed, heavy whipping motion is often seen as a trademark of the shuri-te lineage of karate. By understanding ‘choku-zuki’ as
can be expressed in a positive and pragmatic way towards the art’s original objectives. I’ll also be introducing the concept of hikite (pulling hand) as a major component of this technique and of course, throughout karate in general. Until then, thanks for taking the time to read my words. Chris Denwood is Chief Instructor of the Eikoku Satori Karate-Do Kyokai and also a senior instructor with the British Karate-Do Chojinkai. He is a nationally qualified fitness coach and ‘Extreme Kettlebell Instructor’, also specialising in the use of kettlebells to accentuate the core principles and applications found within the traditional karate forms (kata). His unique approach to karate becoming increasingly popular and is based on revealing an adaptable way of fusing both traditional and pragmatic viewpoints of the art as a means of civilian self-protection, personal growth and positive challenge. For more information or to enquire about upcoming seminars and workshops etc, please contact the E.S.K.K on 07801 531 914 or visit their website at www.eskk.co.uk, where you can also read other articles, download useful media and subscribe to their free newsletter.
Be the change you wish to see in the world a direct thrusting motion, rather than simply a punch, we can start to view the movement in a more open way and uncover its essence even further. Instead of thinking that the technique is there to teach you how to punch, try to consider the movement as a means of training the body in order to effectively and efficiently thrust the upper limbs in a straight line both away from and towards the body or centre mass. This is quite a fundamental movement to master and one, which is not only found in combat arts such as karate, but also in many physical pursuits and sports across the globe. My personal belief is that the ‘choku-zuki’ we perform each session in our kihon (basics) is a very thoroughly researched method of repetitively training a series of correct body mechanics for use in general application. But what general applications am I talking about? Well, this is where things start to get really interesting! Next month, we’ll be looking at a number of basic applications for ‘choku-zuki’ and I’ll be explaining how each element of the movement
Chokki Motobu demonstrating a classical posture from Naihanchi Kata. The name of this form was later changed by Funakoshi to Tekki, or ‘Iron Horseriding/Knight’ representing the straddle stance, which is now performed much deeper in the modern shotokan style.
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Kumite From Start to Street
By Andy O’Brien 5th Dan. Technical Points from Mike O’Brien 8th Dan Chief Instructor of the Karate Union of Wales
Last month I covered Ten No Kata Ura, which was designed by Gichin Funakoshi as an introduction to kumite. The defensive techniques in the kata are more than sufficient to provide any Karateka with all the tools required for the remaining fundamental forms of kumite. As you develop as a karateka, you will naturally practice and perfect these techniques with counters and finishes to suit your own body type and ability. Techniques though, no matter how brilliantly one can execute them, are of little or no use without the most valuable of all martial and human skills;
MENTAL STRENGTH ‘In combat it is absolutely vital that the correct mental attitudes are adopted.’ - Iain Abernethy from his book Bunkai Jutsu At the very core of every aspect of training in Karate Do are philosophies and methods to build an indomitable spirit, and a strong, alert and focused mind. Without these philosophies and methods Karate is just a collection of empty, meaningless and misunderstood techniques. An understanding of Karate Do’s mental philosophies and methods is absolutely vital in order to perform kumite with the correct attitude spirit. Having amazing technique and knowledge is totally pointless if you do not possess the self-belief and confidence that you can make those techniques work for you when it counts; whether it is in the dojo, in a tournament or for real. This exact same self-belief and mental strength, essential for a true understanding of Karate, can also be life enhancing. Instructors have a duty to those entrusted to them to instil all that Karate has to offer and not just technique. 108 COMBAT WWW.COMBATMAG.CO.UK
‘Spirit First, Technique Second’ - Gichin Funakoshi’s Fifth Precept The true spirit of Karate Do can build confident, able, strong-minded, moral human beings that truly understand right from wrong. Human beings who will, when circumstance requires, fight for what is right not because they have the physical ability to do so, but regardless of physical ability. They fight because they know that it’s the right thing to do and they have the strength of mind to prevail. I use ‘fight’ in every sense of the word and not just in terms of violent confrontation. As Iain Abernethy goes on to say; ‘It will not be the most technically competent person that wins the fight but more often than not, it will be the one with the strongest mind’ Following are just some of Karate Do’s mental philosophies and methods: Kiai; a fierce scream emanating from the hara (lower abdomen), kiai is the vocal embodiment of fighting spirit. A correctly performed kiai can distract and terrify an opponent leaving them vulnerable. A strongly performed kiai adds power to a strike and is also an effective means of enabling self-belief and mental strength under stress. Try it in the office when you’re lacking motivation. You’ll get some strange looks but I guarantee you’ll feel better. Or perhaps you should try a mental kiai first!
Zanshin; Unwavering and total awareness of your environment, whether it be on the mat, crossing the road, in a pub etc. When involved in kumite or a real combat situation your attention remains on your opponent or threat until he is beaten or the threat no longer exists. Zanshin is the most important element of self-protection. By maintaining zanshin you will be able to identify, avoid or prepare for a danger or threat. Mushin; means a state of ‘no mind’ and refers to a mind that is not cluttered or distracted with unnecessary thoughts. When you first practice kumite your brain will find it difficult to select the correct block followed by a suitable counter. As you gain experience and confidence the techniques begin to flow naturally without thought and you will even begin to read and pre-empt your opponent’s movements without thinking or with ‘no mind’. I like to think that when it comes to my training, I have more or less achieved ‘mushin’. However, I cannot say the same for my daily life as my mind is constantly cluttered and disturbed by distracting thoughts. Usually to do with Karate! Metsuke; ‘Fixing the gaze’ refers to maintaining eye contact when interacting with another person especially in potentially violent confrontations as the eyes can often give much away.
Me no kubari; ‘The eyes in combat’ should constantly scan your environment by using peripheral vision to take in all your opponent’s movements and other potential dangers. Scanning also aids in preventing the tunnel vision that can occur under stress. If you look left, you forget the right. If you look at the opponent’s hand, your mind will think only of his hand. If you look at his foot, your mind will think only of his foot’ - Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings Karate Begins With Courtesy and Ends With Courtesy; Funakoshi’s first and therefore most important precept. It not only refers to the opening and closing bows before
and after performing kata, kumite or kihon techniques. It also reminds us that we as karateka, having the knowledge and ability of violence that we possess, should always show respect, humility and compassion to everyone even our enemies. You should vigorously endeavour to apply these philosophies to your martial arts training and your daily lives.
Gohon Kumite (5 step)
Pics 3, 4 & 7 Technical Tip 2: Attacker steps back and aggressively shouts the level of the first attack, JODAN. Attack 5 times with full intent whilst defender steps backward executing Age Uke. On the final attack the defender delivers a controlled gyaku zuki counter but with full speed, power and with kiai. Rolls are then reversed. Do the same with a chudan level attack using soto uke.
Yoi & Pics 1, 2 & 4 Pics 3, 5 & 7 Technical Tip 1: Start from a close position. Step away, bow and say Oss clearly then return to close position. Metsuke - ‘Fixing the gaze’ should be used now to un-nerve and read your opponent.
When mastered, try altering the timing of the attacks to increase pressure on your opponent or try using different block for each attack.
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Sanbon Kumite (3 step)
Sanbon Kumite - Option 2
Ippon Kumite (1 Step)
Sanbon kumite is an introduction to multiple varied attacks in a controlled and basic form. Additional pressure can be added by altering timing, attacking techniques and defences. Yoi & Pics 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7
Option 2 introduces the use of angles and alternative blocks. As well as timing to increase pressure the final kick can be changed to yoko geri kekome to follow the defender. Pics 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 & 14
By using Ten No Kata Ura and extracting the kick defences provided in sanbon kumite you have all the tools necessary to perform and master ippon kumite.
Next month we will cover jiyu ippon (semi free sparring) and freestyle. We will also begin studying the application of blocking techniques in self- defence
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