Monday, January 02, 2012

Kime and the Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai December 2011 Training Session

The Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai held their last session of the year on December 11, 2011, coming together to study the Gekisai Ni(dan), Chinto/Gankaku, Jiin, and Maezato no Tekko kata. This was followed by an open discussion of “one-step attack” range and the walk-in, as well as kime (focus). The last portion of this article will focus (pardon the pun) on the discussion of kime.

Senbukan Dojo and Kyokushin Karate started off the first round of kata with their performance of Gekisai Nidan/Ni. As discussed in previous write-ups, this kata series was originally devised in an attempt to create a universal kata for use in demonstration and training on Okinawa, but it did not catch on with many schools.

The next kata performed was Chinto, which according to popular legend, is derived from the Chinese martial artist/sailor Chinto. The Okinawan king’s bodyguard, “Bushi” Matsumura Sokon was originally sent to detain this individual, but they befriended each other and the kata is a representation of the fighting techniques that Chinto taught Matsumura Sokon. As such, it is generally accepted to be originally a Shuri-te kata and was continued on by Itosu Anko with minor modifications.

Minakami Dojo, Hikari Dojo, and Zentokukai performed their similar Tomari-te versions of Chinto. These renditions are easily identifiable by the beginning move switching left off to a 45 degree angle rather than starting straight on. Many old school historians believe this version was introduced to the Tomari schools by Yabu Kentsu, a student of Matsumura Sokon and Itosu Anko. Nowadays, it is more commonly referred to as the Tomari Chinto, Kyan (Chotoku) Chinto, or the Tomari Kyan Chinto.

OSKA, IKL, Kenshukan Dojo, and Island Ki then performed their versions of the Itosu Chinto. Shotokan karate refers to Chinto as Gankaku, which means “crane on a rock.” Shotokan founder Funakoshi Gichin renamed most of his kata for political reasons, as he did not want them to sound Chinese. The new names were written in kanji, but the names of the original Okinawan Shuri-te and Tomari-te kata were written in katakana due to the oral tradition of most early karate. One of the differences between the Shuri-te and Tomari-te versions of the kata was a signature “take-off” move. Interestingly enough, the Tomari-te versions perform this movement closer to the original Matsumura Sokon manner, with both hands coming out to the side, and back to the center. The Itosu version brings the fists down to the hips (with elbows out to the side) and the take-off occurs first with one side, then the other. This key difference is also noted in the Matsumura and Itosu versions of Gojushiho.

The last two kata were Jiin performed by Aikenkai Shotokan and Maezato no Tekko by Ryukyu Kobudo. This “pairing” was chosen because Taira Shinken (whose mother’s name is Maezato) is believed to have used the Jiin Kata to create the tekko kata. I have heard this stated before, but it really sank in when I saw Sasano Sensei perform Jiin before we did Maezato no Tekko, and I could observe the similarities. Jiin itself is considered a Tomari-te kata, but like the related Jion and Jutte kata, were primarily popularized via students of Itosu Anko. As for the tekko, it can be made from brass (iron) knuckles (knuckle dusters), modified stirrups (abumi), or horseshoes (chimagu). It is most likely to have been directly imported from China as knuckle dusters, however. Once the first round was completed, everyone performed the same kata once more, allowing for questions when they were completed.

A discussion was first brought up on the notion of a “one-step attack” range. For a write-up on this concept, please see my post from a year ago. Suffice it to say, we broke off into pairs and practiced first identifying this range, then having someone cross that range into striking distance. It was interesting to observe the varying natural tendencies of all present, depending on their various training methodologies and approaches to fighting.

Following this, there was a discussion on the concept of kime (focus) stemming from a question on whether kime can be more or less effective depending on how short or long it is. Simply stated, kime is explosive power generated by timing the movement of the body and striking limb in order to lock down all the muscles, ligaments, tendons, etc. as contact and penetration occurs. This is to ensure all power is generated into the target with minimal recoil or loss of power in different directions. An explosive exhale is integral to coordinating this locking of the body.

With the above definition in mind, it is important to focus on the notion of correct and coordinated timing. While explosiveness indicates that the entirety of kime must occur over a very short time, dare I say instantaneously, it must first occur at the right time or it will not occur at all. If it is attempted early before contact, the technique will be “muscled” and lack true penetrating power since it ends up as a “push” suffering from deceleration and misdirection of force. If tightening of the body happens “late”, power is also diminished via recoil back into the body or via cushioning of the blow as the striking surface decelerates and/or pulls away from the target. In other words, if an attempt at kime is early or late, it will suffer from a lack of power for largely the same reasons. Therefore kime can not be slow, fast, short, long, or incorrect... it either is, or it isn’t. Nakata Sensei often uses the seemingly frustrating statement “kime is kime is kime.” Sometimes maybe that is the best way to describe it!

After the conclusion, refreshments were provided by Lee Sensei, Ishii-Chang Sensei, Nakata Sensei, and Grant Kawasaki (Hanapa’a Sushi) and everyone enjoyed themselves talking story.

Performing the Kata (in order):
Gekisai Nidan - Senbukan Dojo - Alan Lee Sensei and Ryan Okata
Gekisai Ni - Kyokushin Karate - Dean Harada Sensei (representing Herbert Ishida Sensei)
Chinto - Minakami Dojo - Sean Roberts Sensei
Chinto - Hikari Dojo - Charles Goodin Sensei
Chinto - Zentokukai - Angel Lemus Sensei
Chinto - OSKA - Alan Yokota, Grant Kawasaki, and John Oberle
Chinto - International Karate League - Stephen Lodge (representing Walter Nishioka Sensei)
Chinto - Kenshukan Karate Kobudo Association - Ralph Sakauye and Shawna Carino (representing James Miyaji Sensei)
Gankaku - Island Ki dojo - Taylour Chang and Frank Lopes (Round 1) and Hisae Ishii-Chang Sensei (Round 2)
Jiin - Aikenkai Shotokan - George Sasano Sensei
Maezato no Tekko - Ryukyu Kobudo - Alan Yokota (representing Fumio Nagaishi Sensei), Roy Rivera, Stephen Lodge, and John Oberle

Rodney Shimabukuro Sensei

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