Monday, July 22, 2013

Kaishugata and Timing Part 2

Kaishugata and Timing Part 2

In part one, I asked three questions... 1. Do you know what the objective of the kata is... What does the name of the kata mean? 2. How can I apply my techniques to meet that objective... Does the execution of my technique do the kata justice? and 3. How can I make the kata mine... Do I understand the objective and understand the bunkai of the kata?

These three questions have been the focus of my training for the past few years when focusing on kata.  While continuing to practice the basics or kihon of my style, I've really needed to look at the bunkai to understand how my kata is developing... and trust me it is not pretty.

In the past few of years, I've had a pretty enjoyable time working on my required katas. I would say they are my favorite within my style.
  1. Sanseiru = San Dan Kata = 3rd Dan Requirement
  2. Shisochin = Yon Dan Kata = 4th Dan Requirement
  3. Seipai = Go Dan Kata = 5th Dan Requirement
These kata are the precursor to the most challenging katas within Goju Ryu, which are, Seisan, Kururunfa, and Suparimpei (Pechurin).  However, these katas above (besides Seiunchin) tested your abilitly to comprehend advanced bunkai in Goju.  Once you are able to break down the katas and understand their purpose it is very enlightening and will help you when you go to execute said katas.

While there are many interpretations of the katas above, I'd like to share some thoughts on them through my experience.  PLEASE REMEMBER... I am not stating that my interpretations are the end all... if my interpretation conflicts with what you are taught on the above said katas... please do take my interpretations with a grain of salt.  We as karateka evolve through our own experiences and I just hope my insight gives you another perspective.  Also... while there are a lot of kata explanations out on the Web... 2 sources I would recommend for the essence of Goju Kata explanation would be 1. The Goju Ryu Bible (green book) issued by JKF Goju Kai and 2. In the event you can not find either two... then Wikipedia and have also a good listing and explanation of the 12 Goju Ryu kata.

Kata Chart

Sanseiru - 36 Hands - 三十六手
To me, this kata represents the ability to limit the mobility of my opponents.  The introduction of "kansetsu geri" is very significant because it is a very devastating attack for having the potential of being able to destroy joints and break bones. However, in order to execute such techinque in this kata requires correct posturing, stance, muscle tension, and the ability to quickly rebound from said technique and change directions.  Unlike Sanchin or Tensho, you'll have to be able to "pop" and "lock" in order for the kansetsu geri to be effective.  Many practitioners like to really show off their kick but most tend to "over thrust" and therefore find themselves in an awkward position when they move to turn.  Biggest problem is that their "jyohanshin" (upper body) and their "kahanshin" (lower body) are not in sync and the flow of the kata suffers from it. (mainly from not being able to properly use their core and their hips)

Shisochin - Four Directions of Conflict - 四向戦
The look of simplicity of this kata makes it the perfect kata to test future instructors to see if they have managed to master basic enbusen and attack angles. This kata heeds no yield to the practitioner.  It gives your instructor all the angle he or she needs to see you as clear as day.  Challenging points where hip rotation and core strength are a key are on both front and back progressions of the ura kake uke and the lower harai uke. Challenge comes from transitioning in zenkutsudachi (leaning forward stance)... where many people end up in kokutsudachi (reverse leaning forward stance) or a zenkutsu that is too long or one that the embusen is way off.  If this happens then the ura kake uke and lower harai uke can not easily progress to the grab and breaking of the arm.  Again, "jyohanshin" and "kahanshin" must be in sync in order for timing to come together.  This is a definite must if you understand the bunkai to this section of the kata. NOTE - One of Miyagi Chojun's favorite kata.

Seipai - 18 Hands - 十八手
My favorite kata. While it was said that this kata was developed in China by masters who wanted to weed out "technique thieves" by developing advanced kata, I can see why because you may easily learn the steps to this kata but may never know the depth of it.  This kata has many favorite techniques of mine, including multiple releases or escapes from being grabbed, not a groin strike but a "love tap" to the testicles, an arm break or submission from a standing position, and a finishing take down move.  However, but as I mentioned before, you would never understand that these techniques are incorporated into this kata without studying the depth and is carefully hidden within the "steps" of this kata. 

This kata focuses on embusen as well.  Without your embusen and the proper flow of kata (will be discussed along with go-rei (counting) in Part 3) it is very hard to get the timing of these techinques.  Again, upper body and lower body must be in sync (start to see the pattern??) in order for the techniques to be viable to ebb and flow.

I was told many times when I was younger that when I practice that "jyukusei ga tarinai" (and even now at times) meaning that I am not practicing with feeling, with intent, or application.  This means that I was only practicing the steps.  I'd be tired and only wanting to complete the kata so that I could go home.  That is when my senseis would push me.  They would come out and force me to think about the kata rather than to just think of the steps and that alone would help me get through the kata. 

***Warning*** I would urge caution if you are to use this methodolgy for your junior students... meaning becareful if you are going to criticize them for only practicing the steps.  They are still coming into their own... most just trying to memorize the steps... unless they are preparing for purple belt, brown belt, or Junior Black Belt... then hence they should start to understand bunkai and be able to execute the kata with intent and application.

With the requests coming through, this post looks like its going to be a continual thread.  In Part 3 I'll focus on counting and try to explain how the flow of katas is hard to teach for some instructors.