In Japan, they have a concept called Giri (duty, sense of duty, honor, decency, courtesy)
Giri is an invisible thread, a bond that connects important parts of our lives. This could be the relationship between teacher and student, or the relationship between two friends, or the relationship between wife and husband, etc.
Giri is always two-way, which means that the relationship between the parties goes both ways. Giri is mutual trust, loyalty, and commitment to each other.
Trust, loyalty and commitment are also the code for one’s further development within Karate-Do. Once you have chosen a club, and the club has chosen you, the mutual commitment will start.
You should be loyal and trust your instructor. Only when this is present, the basis for immersion within Karate will be possible. This opens the way for Karate as a sport to become a way of life. Your instructor now has the opportunity to lead you to a deeper understanding of the many aspects of Karate. You will eventually develop as a whole human being both mentally and physically.
After practicing Karate for many years, it becomes a part of one’s life. Thus, Karate is no longer a physical sports discipline, as it was at the beginning. Karate becomes a lifestyle as time goes by. It’s like a drug! You will become addicted to it.
Many factors have influenced my Karate before it evolved into a lifestyle. In the following, I will give my opinion on lifestyle Karate.
What is the lifestyle in Karate?
You often hear the term “Do” in connection with Karate and other styles (Judo, Aikido, Kendo, etc.).
“Do” means way, and this is where I think the main emphasis should be placed when talking about Karate and other martial arts.
By following the way “do” over many years, where loyalty and trust in the instructor and the style of Karate that has been chosen, the opportunity for lifestyle Karate will begin to open up. Furthermore, “do” also means “the way to reach the goal”.
What is the goal in Karate?
The long-term goal is to gain a deeper understanding of the many aspects of Karate, resulting in a fusion between the physical and the mental side, so that one can develop as a whole human being.
Now and then, I get this question from a student: “Which part of the foot should we use as a pivoting point when we turn?” “Should we pivot on the heel or the ball of the foot?”
Before I come up with my opinion, and what I do, there is just one topic we need to get around, namely the center of gravity, which of course has an impact on the balance, and therefore how we move. Balance and center of gravity are essential when turning.
In short, you have to move your center of gravity to maintain balance.
You might not think about it; when you are walking, your center of gravity is changing every time you take a step forward. You also have to change the center of gravity when you crawl out of bed in the morning, or when you get up from a chair.
The example with the chair is good. When you get up from the chair, you will move your upper body forward and possibly move your feet backward. Without doing that, it is not possible to get up from the chair.
(If you can, I would like to see a movie about it! It would be fun).
Back to the question! What I do depends on the situation; therefore, I use the heel, the ball, or the center of the foot while turning. That way I can turn best while maintaining my good balance.
What I did! I chose to film myself while performing Kata. Subsequently, I reviewed my recordings. I saw them at normal speed, slow motion, and frame by frame. And guess what! I use every part of the foot, be it the heel, ball, or the center of the foot for turning.
Sometimes I start by turning on the heel, to subsequently finishing the turn on the ball of the foot. To me, it feels natural, and therefore it should be this way for me.
To keep the balance, I have to use the whole foot, since my center of gravity is shifting, whether I need to turn on the heel, the ball, or the center of the foot does not matter.
This is an example from Pinan Sandan starting from Nukite Chudan, following up with the backward turn.
Picture 1, 2 and 3, turning on the heel.
In picture 4, the whole foot is on the ground, and the ball of the foot takes over in pictures 5 and 6.
I would like to know how YOU turn in connection with Kata, do you use the heel, ball, or the center of the foot. Maybe you can post a video or some images.
After all, there is no wrong or right way to turn, or is it?
The Naihanchi Kata is a very old Kata, which can be found in many different styles and variations. The special thing about this Kata is the movement in a straight line (sideways). This has led many Karateka incorrectly to believe that the Kata is for fighting with the back against a wall.
In Japan this Kata is known as Tekki, (Horse riding/stance; Iron Horse), a name change made by Funakoshi upon introduction of the Kata on mainland Japan.
It is said, that the Naihanchi was the first Kata taught to the student before the creation and use of the Pinan Kata.
Itosu, the teacher of Funakoshi, is reported to have learned the Kata from Sokon Matsumura (1796-1893), who learned it from a Chinese man living in Tomari.
The sideways movement can be used to outbalance your opponent; it is also used for takedown technique. The Naihanchi Kata is for effective close range fighting against an opponent in front of you.
Itosu Anko created the Pinan Kata for use in the Okinawan Elementary School around 1900.
The creation of the Pinan Kata was to make the introduction to Karate easier for children and beginners. It also made it easier to learn the more advanced Kata later on.
The name Pinan was an obvious choice, since Itosu was an expert on the Chinese classics, and as such, he would certainly be proud of the Chinese roots in his martial arts.
According to Funakoshi, the Okinawans thought about Chinese things to be fashionable. However, the attitude of the Japanese was different at that time Karate where introduced to mainland Japan. Gichin Funakoshi therefore changed the name to Heian, to make the Kata more edible for mainland Japan.
Nowadays, it does not matter if you call them Heian or Pinan. However, Heian will somehow be associated with the mainland Japan, and Pinan with Okinawa.
Heian can translate into
Peace and tranquility
Nevertheless, there is nothing tranquil or peaceful about the Heian/Pinan Kata. The techniques are used to hit, kick and punch our opponent. Some techniques can be used to dislocate the neck, joint locks etc.
Pinan can translate into
Safe from harm
Be protected from danger
This name probably says more about the meaning. The name “Pinan”, chosen by Itosu, is related to their purpose and combative function.
Gichin Funakoshi and his son Yoshitaka “Gigo” Funakoshi, are said to be the creator of the Taikyoku Katas around 1940. Some claims that Shigeru Egami and Hironishi Genshin also where involved in the creation.
Taikyoku can translate into
First Cause or First Course
Taiji; in the Chinese language
Personally, I prefer to use the word “Universal” for the translation of Taikyoku.
So far, I have seen six different Taikyoku Kata, but Gichin Funakoshi mentions only three of them in the book Karate-do Kyohan. These are Taikyoku Shodan, Nidan and Sandan. Even others claim that there where ten Katas from the beginning!
Why create new simple Katas?
Itosu have already done the job by creating the Heian/Pinan Katas for introduction in the Okinawan School around 1900. Those Katas where already simplified.
Therefore, the big question is!
Are the Taikyoku Katas necessary?
My opinion, yes, the basic idea with the Kata is useful, if the basic meaning was to have Kata with variable techniques! Kind of Kihon Kata, or even more simplified Kata for Children.
My way of using the Kata may be different from others. First of all, I use the Kata to teach the pattern to beginners, that makes it easier to learn the Heian/Pinan Kata later on. I also use Taikyoku to teach new students the basic techniques, e.g. Age-uke, Ushi-uke, Gedan-uke, Mae-geri … The basic Kata is also good for practicing combinations of techniques. This, in my opinion, is the way the Taikyoku Kata should be used. The Taikyoku are experimental Katas! You can change the techniques just as you wish.
Of course, it is always a good idea to have basic Taikyoku Kata with predetermined techniques.
Other Kihon Kata used by Shorin-Ryu Denmark are Gekisai Dai Ichi and Gekisai Dai Ni.
Our five basic Taikyoku Kata and Gekisai Kata can be seen here.
Do you have an opinion about the Taikyoku Kata? Let me hear it!
Only a few karate masters have had as much influence on karate development as Itosu Ankō (Itosu Yasutsune), he was born in Gibo Village (Shuri, Okinawa) in 1831.
Itosu Ankō was the teacher of Choyu Motobu, Choki Motobu, Gichin Funakoshi, Kenwa Mabuni, Chōshin Chibana, Chojun Miyagi and many more. There is no doubt that he has left a huge footprint on Karate and its history. All of these are facts that no one will dispute, but what does Itosu Ankō look like?
In a 2006 released article in the Okinawa times, it was reported the discovery of a photograph of Itosu Ankō (1831-1915). Since then, this photograph has been used widely as the photograph of Itosu Ankō.
Later on more photos where found.
New study and research
A new review and research of the photograph shows, that the picture isn’t Itosu Ankō, as first assumed.
However, if the photo does not show Itosu Ankō, then who is the mysterious person with the big and powerful mustache?
Researchers has now found out, that the powerful mustache is sitting on the face of Miyake Sango!
Miyake Sango is a Shizoku (descendant of a samurai) from Miyazaki prefecture. Born in 1847. He served as a fencing instructor of the Okinawa police while also teaching fencing at the Okinawa Prefecture Normal School and the Okinawa Prefecture Junior High School.
New photograph of Itosu Ankō?
On September 12, the Okinawa Prefecture Karate promotion division unveiled a new special exhibition inside the Okinawa Karate Kaikan’s special exhibit room.
A new hypothesis on the Itosu Ankō photo where presented.
A brief summary of the OKIC article shows the discovery of a new photograph, where Itosu Ankō is present.
According to the history of Okinawa Prefectural Middle School, karate instruction with Itosu Ankō as karate professor started from January 1905. There is thus a possibility that he appears in a graduation photo after the 17th graduation ceremony of March 1905.
Now take a closer look at the photograph. There are 2 older persons present, possibly Miyake Sango (marked with 1) and the person to the right that now is assumed to be Itosu Ankō (marked with 2).
Now the big question!
Is this the face of Ankō Itosu?
If it turns out that the new photo is Itosu Ankō, then there are certainly some books to rewrite.
Tsumasaki-geri is a kick with the tip of the toes. Some would argue that this is the right way to kick (the old way of Okinawan kicking), compared to our ordinary Mae-geri, where we generally kick with Koshi.
Personally, I do not think there is a new or old way of kicking. Nowadays, Mae-geri, where kicking with Koshi, is the preferred way to kick. Most of all, to protect our toes so they do not break. We are simply not trained to kick with the tip of the toes.
Of course, both methods are fully usable, and if you prefer to kick with the toe tips, it might be a good idea to make a small fist with your toes. In that way, you will achieve better stability, and the possibility of broken toes is lesser.
Take a look at the picture from Greek Pankration, which was introduced about 648 BC in the 33rd Olympiad. The use of Koshi.
To achieve full power of a punch, it is essential that both arm cooperate, that is usual what you will hear in the Dojo. One arm (fist) is thrown out, while the other arm is pulled in to the side of the body (Hikite). Both arms perform the same movement, understood in the sense that, if the right arm comes out in a straight line, then the left must be retracted in a straight line. If the movement is circular to the right then it is also circular to the left.
But !!!! You will often hear that Hikite is for generating a powerful punch only. However, this is not quite right. Hikite is much more than just a hand pulled back to the side of the body for generating a powerful punch.
If somebody attacks you, it will be normal to take up your arms to protect yourself; it is a question of reflex.
I think that Hikite function already starts here. Hikite first task is to block (reflex). If possible, you will grab the opponents arm (or something else) and pull back, that is the use of Hikite. The opposite arm (fist) is offensive and attacks.
Hikite is not just for block and grab. It also acts as a control arm where you try to control the opponent’s arm and movements.