By Michael Clarke
By Garry Lever
By Barrett & Lever
By Mark Bishop
The Shinken Dojo 真 剣 道 場
|Ryusyokai Okinawa Goju Ryu Karate 琉 翔 会 沖 縄 空 手
Ilfracombe - North Devon - England 英 国
Web Sites of Interest
on ALL Writings &
contained within this
Okinawan Karate teachers generally are not always to keen to
openly demonstrate Kata applications (Bunkai/Imi/Oyo), except
maybe within the privacy of their own Dojo, or inside that family
relationship as I tend to speak of it. There are many valid reasons
for this, and on the whole I tend to agree with them.
The video footage put up below, together with the excellent wise
words of advice and guidance on Karate Kata and Applications,
are spoken by my Ryusyokai Sempai, as in Hidenobu Tamaki
Sensei. As to be able to truly understand the Kata of Okinawan
Karate, an essential component is to be able draw out the lessons
that are inherent, to the point of achieving maximum effectiveness.
To just mimic or show nice or good form alone is useless.
Where at times many Karate Ka these days lack practise and talk too much, use baffling science, lengthy applications or fancy
techniques that will never work. Even though this footage shows very little of Tamaki Sensei really, and just like all video footage, it is
never like the feeling of actually being in the Dojo with him. Having spent many hours in the company of Tamaki Sensei, and often
finding myself on the receiving end of his Karate techniques, as far as directness and effectiveness goes he really is uncompromising.
|"I practice Kata every day, and it is important to know how to apply the techniques"
"Kata applications mean so much and relentless repetitions gives you the automatic responses, which is the very
meaning of Kata practice"
"Some techniques seen within Kata do look so impractical, and it can be hard to see how you can fight in this or that
kind of posture"
"The practising of Kata does not mean that you will have immediate effectiveness in combat, learning how to apply
Kata is its real meaning"
"As our teacher always insists, practise Kata movements accurately"
"Simply doing Kata means nothing, if you practise wrongly then you will never improve"
"When you practise Kata always keep in mind quickness and precision, use proper breathing, and use short brisk
bursts of movement"
"Too many Karate Ka just mimic the Kata movements"
"Your Karate won't improve without understanding or analysing Kata"
"Search always for better or the best interpretations of Kata applications"
By Hidenobu Tamaki Sensei
|"Karate the Okinawa way" Blog posts by Glyn Jones
|"Advice on Kata by Hidenobu Tamaki Sensei"
|"Karate is about the Training, but many Forget"
虎穴に入らずんば虎子を得ず Koketsu ni irazunba koji wo ezu.
The Japanese saying "If you do not enter the tigers cave, you will not catch its cub"
This quote can be interpreted in a number of ways, with bravery and being honest with yourself at the forefront of its meaning.
Fundamentally it is saying that anything of value in life will only come through effort, personal sacrifice, patience and perseverance. Or
in contrast, things that come easy in life are usually cheap, meaningless and worthless, no matter how they are wrapped up or made
out to be otherwise. Or as another saying goes "Good things come to those who wait".
As genuine Karate Ka, trying to achieve a balance and understanding between time spent wisely and personal sacrifice, can be
difficult, but it is a must. We've all seen the supposed Karate Sensei of whatever Dan with 20 years experience behind him. Yes! There
is respect for putting the time and effort in. But, time in to what is the key. As there really been improvement, personal development,
and a deeper understanding or progress made along the way over these many years? Or, after the initial years of learning as a
student, did the black in the belt stagnate their mind set and training, or even inflate the ego as they continually ride along on a wave
that past a long time ago.
"The Karate that you do and the standards that you set, can only be seen today, your Karate of the past, is long
gone and dead".
There is a culture in this modern world that money can buy us anything or even success, and everyone seems to want things now or
even yesterday. The good thing with Budo and Authentic Karate is that money counts for nothing, and only time and quality guidance
will gain you experience and deep understanding... Yes! Effort, personal sacrifice, patience and perseverance over time, combined
with sincerity and a good Sensei and Dojo counts for everything.
Once I agree to teach students Karate, the first thing that I try and do is end any thoughts of setting time scales to their Karate training.
Just like when individuals join a Dojo in Okinawa, it is with the intention of training for life. There are no thoughts or concerns of how
long it will take to achieve a black belt, or how long before one will get to learn Kururunfa Kata, or even the three years to 3rd Dan and
four years to 4th Dan set time silliness, or even thoughts of teaching others. As a serious and genuine Karate Ka, when you think in
time scales you really have missed the point, and it will always hinder your progress in the art. Goal setting to overcome personal
battles is though an important factor in Budo, the same as are valued or achievable rewards, so please don't mix them up.
When new students then ask me questions like "How long before I am assessed for my first belt"? The answer is simple "There is
no set time scale between grades, you will grade when I feel that you are ready " ! Or maybe even... "Can I buy myself a badge
for my Gi next week Sensei"? "You don't have to buy a Gi badge, I will give you one for free!" But... "Only when I feel that you
have earned the right to wear it as a Dojo member". I don't tell them but this is usually around 6 months. The same if asked about
the learning of new training drills, sequences or even Kata that are not already known to them. All only happens when I decide or feel
that they are ready, as for time scales? As their teacher I have no idea when this will be, so of course as a student they surely don't.
This week three of my students had their names added to my Dojo Kanban, as you can see by the above photograph. Justifiably
deserved and well earned, as they have all trained for around a year now. Did they ever ask when their names would be added? No!
Did I ever ask my Sensei in Okinawa when my name would be added to his Dojo Kanban in Okinawa? No! But both happened in time...
When you have put the time and effort in, and the time is right, you may just be surprised by what may be achieved, or what personal
battles may be overcome in your Karate.
Monday 15th June 2015
|"Entering the Tigers Cage"
"Karate is about the Training, but many Forget". I remember Brian Hinchliffe Sensei saying this statement many years ago,
and at the time it meant very little to me, I'd always trained regularly so why should it matter to me? However, over the years I've seen it
to be more and more true. There are of course many Karate Ka out there who train hard, consistently and regularly. But, there are also
many who ride along on the wave of attractions that modern day Karate seems to offer people. What is true though is this, a
compromising or false type of Karate would never have been heard of on Okinawa, the birth place of Karate, so anything less is pure
imitation or dilution.
The thing that I can say with 100% honesty is just like was always the case on Okinawa, Karate for me personally has always been
about the training and the personal challenges that this brings along the way.
I do my best Karate when I am training, which most often than not is quietly and alone in my home Dojo. Yes! Admittedly I much prefer it
when I am training under my Sensei or my Sempai in Okinawa, but over the years I've learned to try to understand the teachings of my
Sensei, absorb them, and go away and practise, as I'm more than mature enough not to be dishonest with either myself or my Sensei.
So even though I continually work on various aspects of my Karate alone, I also work hard when training with partners, the same when
I'm working with students too. It's a simple formula really isn't it! Yes! Just train and practise regularly.
Some may say or feel that I do my best Karate when I'm teaching or passing on the Art, but NO! This is not true or the case. Am I any
good at teaching Karate? That is for others to answer not me. Do I enjoy teaching Karate? To answer truthfully, Yes and kind of No!!! I
won't teach idiots or thugs that is for sure! Training in Karate and teaching Karate is not the same thing, but again many also forget.
What I do tend to do is try to train as I teach my students. So why do I teach Karate? You may ask. Well... Genuine teachers of Karate
generally teach the Art for two reasons.
1; Having students around builds a strong Dojo and creates a good training environment and atmosphere, but more importantly, it
surrounds you with likeminded positive people, and it also produces training partners of worth. As even though Karate can be practised
alone, there are many elements that do require quality training partners also. All reminds me of the saying "If you live a good life
and be a nice person, you will attract and become surrounded by nice people also, and be happy"
2; Teaching the true art of Karate keeps it all alive, as without the transmission process of passing on the teachings of Authentic
Okinawan Karate with honest intentions, the art would and will eventually die off. Sadly and like it or not, but this is a fact, especially so
with there being so many poor and misinterpreted teachings out there that pass themselves off as Karate or its Sensei. Teaching good
Karate also allows for individualism and progression, which can be refreshing if the experience and understanding is there too, as long
as all stays within the parameters of a kind of acceptable frame work, the art will still be passed on to the next generation intact and in a
good state..... So a feeling of giving something back, enjoyment and satisfaction also comes from teaching genuine and sincere
Just like any serious or genuine Karate Ka I prefer to be training, so as a regularly practising and training Karate Ka, do I really need to
have lots and lots of students doing as they please, with wishy washy standards being set or not there at all? No I don't, and it's not
personal! I'm just too busy training, be it alone or with the handful of students that I share my Karate with.
(Sunday 21st June 2015)
|This picture was taken on one of our early Saturday
Morning training sessions that I used to attend as a
student, it was held in a local park, with the weather
being no excuse for not attending.
(I'm at the rear on the right).
I do wonder how many students these days would
endure such basic hardships of having dirty feet and a
dirty gi on a weekly basis?