Sunday, June 13, 2010

Seminar with Inoue Kyoichi, Day 2

Yesterday I forgot to relate a story Kancho told about this Karate master. He met this man who told him how kamae is very important to him as it was to Gozo Shioda. In fact, Gozo Shioda did a series of video tapes about Aikido, and the producers asked him to teach the most important technique for the last tape. Shioda then agreed, and for the entire tape all he did was expounded on Kamae. Going back to this karate master, he said when he was younger but still a senior yudansha, he went to China to train under this exceptional master. This master agreed to teach him, and made him stand in a horse stance. He then circled the karate man once and left the room, returning an hour later. Class over he said. This went on for an entire year. At first the karate man grew bored doing this training, after a few days he thought of quitting. But after several months, he felt something changing in him. After the year was over, he felt he understood the importance of this kamae stance. The teacher then said, ok now I teach you how to move. So for the next year, the man trained how to move forwards, backwards and sideways. The karate man stayed for three years learning very very basic things, but in the end he felt his Karate improved tremendously.

There is a key and various levels of understanding for everything that we do in our lives. Particularly in traditional martial arts, where what is seen generally hides a deeper meaning.

Today, Kancho stressed Kihon Dosa again. This time he had us train in a kata like progression. From migi hanmi and reversed it to hidari hanmi. In aikikai we don't have this taiso in kata form, not all of it anyway. But the principles remain the same. I especially liked when he asked us to close our eyes to do the entire sequence. Doing it this way requires us to retain our balance from feel alone as well as moving to the appropriate angles correctly. Any wrong movement will lead us to clash to our neighbours or make us lose balance. Sensei too have expounded the value of training in the dark. Even in my Silat training we use to train in the dark sometimes. Of course, when mistakes means a finger in the throat or worst an eye, we tend to be very sensitive to incoming attacks. This element of unknown and danger allows our minds to be free and not be constraint by set forms and responses.

After this we did very simple exercises. One of which was kaiten irimi movement to avoid a shomen. Because Yoshinkan kamae has the lead foot slanted outwards, moving into the kaiten irimi step is very natural. Still we must get the timing just right if we are to obtain kuzushi of uke. Next we adjusted this for tsuki. Here Kancho showed a slight irimi from the lead foot before doing the kaiten irimi from the back foot. It is similar to our half step in feeling and maybe in execution. What's important and similar to us is that we do not avoid the attack but move positively and accepting it.

After this we did shomen ate. This shomen ate came after the first kaiten irimi movement and when uke comes to attack again, having the same feeling as kaiten irimi, we proceed to deliver shomen ate. The way we do it is to attack the chest and irimi up into the chin. This exercise is best when you have full understanding of extending ki. Also you do this immediately upon uke's attack, such that it is not telegraph. In fact uke will perceive your shomen ate as very fast an unavoidable. Incorrect extension or timing will allow uke to see your movement and connect his attack first. Shoving the chin should not be the intention as well. Nage's who do this inevitability move their fist in a linear fashion. Whereas this movement actually orginates from our center (to the Yoshinkan, it originates from the movement of feet and fingers in unity). It is also circular in fashion, since it leads uke's energy from chu tanden upwards, and you cut his chushin. We have a similar move in silat, which I like to demonstrate from time to time. Attacking our attackers using it allows us to bring them down with out effort. The strike hits the chest. My teacher calls it 'pinjam tenaga' or borrowing opponent's energy. In a way that's true, because shomen ate should not be a force generated by us, rather it should be a natural movement that guides uke's energy back to himself so he will fall.

After class, Sensei Joe Thambu kindly introduced me to Kancho so that I can relate my story about Hakim sensei. I asked Kancho to show me. Kancho obliged by showing me the awase with uke's arm that guides his shoulder into the forward movement. Whilst this is a better version than attacking the elbow that locks uke and forces him to take ukemi to avoid an elbow break, it was not the one that sensei described to me where uke fell on the spot. I suspect Kancho did not demonstrate that for fear I am unable to take the ukemi. Certainly, I felt when he rotated the shoulder up and down, the ability for nage to bring uke's head down on the spot is there... I'm not sure whether I should have pursued this to my satisfaction, but seeing that I'm a guest and the majority of the participants were Yoshinkan boys, I thought it best not to overstay my welcome.

All in all, it was refreshing to train in the Yoshinkan way. The house of building the spirit certainly has deep meaning within it. Having a very senior teacher making real effort to develop the basics for his students really shows how important it is. Despite the fact that he knows its a boring subject for most, especially for the beginning student who is impatient to 'graduate' from basic movements. This seminar is different then the clinic he did in PD last year in that most of the participants were Sensei Ramlan's students. Whereas in PD, the participants were international and very mixed, thus Kancho showed a lot of aiki waza. Nevertheless, for the uninitiated Aiki waza brings excitement to the crowd, here Kancho has shown his emphasis is still the basic stemming from Kihon Dosa. The secret is here, he repeated often enough. We can only hope that someone was listening and can understand what he's trying to say.

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