Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai Session: December 9, 2012

On 9 December 2012, the Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai held its most recent study session, examining the Pinan/Heian Sandan and Godan, Kyan Bo no Kata Dai, and Gekisai Sandan and Yondan.

Historical context on the Pinan/Heian kata, the Kyan (Ufuchiku) weapon system, and the Gekisai kata can be found in the previous entry here.

We continued our new format where everyone performed two rounds of their kata, and after the second round, the meanings / applications of the kata movements were explained and demonstrated with a partner move-by-move from start to finish. Following this round, we split into pairs and each school shared one of those meanings for everyone to practice with a partner. 

One of the interesting discussions that took place resulted from a question raised whether everyone felt they should step and/or execute techniques exactly as is practiced in the kata (forms) during an actual fight, or if there is a large degree of variation and modification that should be expected. In my mind, this question deals directly with the often controversial issue of using kata to train for fighting in the first place. I can see the merits of both sides, but I personally lean towards executing the motions as close to the way they are practiced in the kata as possible. For me this boils down to the sports and physical science theory that the mental and physical benefits gained from repetitive physical training are primarily limited to the specific motions practiced, and largely only in the specific manner they are practiced. Simply put, your techniques will be strong if they are executed using the same precise motions and timing as the kata, because that is what you are physically and mentally training yourself to do.

At this point it might be worth mentioning that my general philosophy is rather than have a very large bag of tricks to address the very wide range of situations one can encounter in a fight, I prefer to have various core techniques that are widely applicable without having to modify them. For example, our blocks are structured to be effective regardless if an opponent punches high, medium or low, and with the left hand or the right. Consequently, I also believe that if there are multiple meanings to a certain movement in a kata, the technique has to be executed in the same way for all meanings. An example of this would be towards the end of our Pinan Godan kata, where a “turn and throw” also has the meaning of a block to the front and/or the side. Regardless of the meaning used, the technique is executed in a manner so that all meanings are practical. 

At any rate, it is these kinds of discussions that I find very interesting... even if there are differing views it is certainly very educational to look at some of these core fighting and training principles from multiple angles. Plus, it is very nice to be in a sharing forum where we can disagree without becoming disagreeable!
Once we finished, we all stayed afterwards to talk story and enjoy refreshments. Thank you to everyone as always for the food and drink!

Performing the kata (in order):
  • Pinan Sandan / Pinan Godan - OSKA - Alan Yokota Sensei, Grant Kawasaki (Explanation for Pinan Sandan), Ted Kaneshiro (Explanation for Pinan Godan), John Oberle
  • Heian Sandan / Heian Godan - Minakami Dojo - Sean Roberts Sensei 
  • Heian Sandan / Heian Godan - Island Ki Dojo - Frank Lopes and Loma Lopes (Round 1) and Hisae Ishii-Chang Sensei (Round 2 and Explanations)
  • Pinan Sandan / Pinan Godan - International Karate League - Gary Hiramatsu Sensei (representing Nishioka Sensei and Explanations), Robert Matsushita Sensei and Craig Kobayashi Sensei
  • Pinan Sono San / Pinan Sono Go - Kyokushin Karate - Herb Ishida Sensei (Explanations), Dean Harada Sensei 
  • Kyan Bo no Kata Dai - Ryukyu Kobudo - Alan Yokota Sensei, John Oberle (Explanations)
  • Gekisai Sandan / Gekisai Yondan - Senbukan Dojo - Alan Lee Sensei (Explanations), Kyle Nakasone Sensei, Ryan Okata