Kouketsu Dojo Blog



The Three Powers of Karate

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The Three Powers of Karate

There is nothing mystical or mysterious about the three kinds of martial power – ‘jins’ or energy-flows – that are used in Chinese, Japanese and Okinawan martial arts.  All three are useful in the dynamics of combat. All three are accessible to us.

Some claim that karate relies on only one kind of power, and that tai chi and other internal styles use another.

Hard and soft, internal and external, are valid distinctions, and you have to start somewhere. But as you train you find that practical combative styles include both internal and external training, introducing a spectrum of “hard,” “hard-soft” and “soft” energy transmission techniques.

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Gojuryu

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By Gary Lever

10/4/2010

Many of my posts relate to the need to preserve an area of training, to prevent the art of Goju Ryu Karatedo dying out. This is a real danger. The art has changed, the people practising it have changed, society has changed, and the culture has changed. This is true not only in the West, but also in the birthplaces of all classical martial arts. The documentary 'Needle through brick' accurately sums up the problems faced by teachers of classical systems in a world which is uninterested.

People beginning martial arts these days are more likely to be drawn to them due to the popularity of the UFC or Jason Bourne films than stories relating to the transformation of a persons character through the pursuit of training. It appears to me that the main attraction of the martial arts these days is the fight, the win, the trophy, the prestige, the respect, the reputation, the opportunity to make money.

Our world is completely different to the one which Miyagi Chojun sensei lived in. I wonder what he would make of it? What has led to the popularity of MMA based training, or the modern systems such as Krav Maga, Systema, or reality based systems emphasizing 'combat proven' techniques 'effective' in the urban combat environment?

I wonder what would happen if I were to paint my dojo in camouflage colours with a couple of flaming skulls as decor, replace the dogi with combat trousers and a T-Shirt with some sort of 'beatdown corps' logo, change the bowing to hi-fives and man hugs, and replace the name Goju Ryu with a title more befitting the target audience of my newly invented modern art? I could advertise a 6 week introductory course at an extortionate rate, and play on the fact that my system is combat proven and then grossly exaggerate my job to tell everyone I'm involved in personal security and have provided protection for the royal family. I could tell everyone that despite my young age I've had plenty of 'real' fights and dealt with multiple armed opponents, been attacked with knives and guns, and risk my life on a regular basis to ensure that my system is 'battle ready'. I could advertise my new system telling everyone that it is a 'close quarter fighting method designed to eliminate the opponent as quickly as possible by using only the most lethal techniques'. I could teach elbows, knees, eye gouges, joint locks, chokes, strangles, grappling. I could devise two man training methods to condition the body for combat. I could rediscover 'old' training methods such as Indian clubs and Kettlebells and create exercises to develop 'whole body power' and combat specific strength. I could devise a method whereby my disciples could practise their two-person killing techniques at home by removing the attacker and drilling the technique in a solo form, like shadow boxing, as visualisation training. I could make up sets of such solo forms, linking them together to form longer sequences and then name them something like 'smashing a head part one' or 'ripping a limb (big version)'. People could then learn these sequences to practise a number of 'killing moves' in their own personal training so that when faced with a partner or opponent, the movements are already well rehearsed and combat ready.

I think I could earn a fortune from this idea.........

If you disagree and think I'm wrong or exaggerating, type in some of this nonsense into a search engine and see what pops up. See how much they charge, and see how many people are interested in buying into such things.

Incase I have been too cryptic in my description, the above system I have invented is of course Goju Ryu, just 'advertised' in a different way. To make it more appealing I chose to do away with a few things, or maybe just not advertise the stuff that makes me sound soft. Despite this, my new system is clearly not Goju Ryu Karatedo is it?

If you have answered no, what then makes it Goju Ryu Karatedo? What seperates this art from the more progressive modern systems? Do these things make it better or worse? Is it even worth preserving?

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Control your Life!

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When you find yourself in a room surrounded by your enemies, you should tell yourself, “I am not locked in here with you, you are locked in here with me!” This is the kind of mindset you should have if you want to succeed in life. Get rid of that victim mentality. Bruce Lee

Never allow yourself to fall victim to a victim mentality. You are in control of your life, period. No matter what situation you may find yourself in, maintain control over yourself and your mind. There is a huge difference between seeing yourself locked in a room with your enemies and seeing your enemies locked inside a room with you. The first causes you to feel like a victim; the second gives you a feeling of power and control.

This mentality doesn’t just happen; it must be cultivated. It comes from confidence and consistently controlling your mind. It is so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like a victim. This victim mentality is how most people go through life. They constantly feel like victims of life instead of taking control of their lives and grasping the power that is there for the taking.

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Even if a man has no natural ability, he can be a warrior.

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The Dojo

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Why the Dojo is Different

 

March 29, 2018John DonohueWhen you walk into a dojo, it’s a truism to say you’ve enter a different world and a special space. But, if it’s a commonplace sentiment, it’s also an important observation. For contemporary Westerners and Americans walking the martial path, our training has implications for our lives. And, from my perspective, the rigorous pursuit of the Martial Way is decidedly contrarian—it bucks many of the trends and expectations of modern consumer culture. Consider:

 

 

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Foresight

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He who lacks foresight and underestimates his enemy will surely be captured by him.

Sun Tzu

Foresight is the ability to think ahead and envision possible future problems or challenges. It is the act of “knowing” something before it actually hits you right between the eyes, and it is vital when dealing with your enemies.

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Warrior Samadhi in Kata

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Warrior Samadhi in Kata

The brilliant beam of a search light sweeps past where this guy is hiding, crouched behind a dumpster.  The light slides down along the wall. For a second the darkness returns. Without a sound he sprints behind the building and disappears. He felt the lapse in his opponent’s perception and got away.

When you face off with an opponent, whether you are stalking slowly or darting in and out, you lock focus on each other. The instant you sense the slightest deflection in your opponent’s awareness you attack. The deflection in his awareness could be as obvious as a glance down to the ground, at your hand or over your shoulder, or it could be much more subtle – but if you can detect it you can exploit it.

If your awareness shifts then there is a momentary breach in your defense. You become vulnerable to attack. Not every opponent is sharp enough to take advantage of it but for an instant the opportunity is there.

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Beginner mind

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Shoshin (初心) is a word from Zen Buddhism meaning "beginner's mind." It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.

 

We never actually stop beginning. We just forget every now and then as we get older and -- if we're not very careful -- more foolish. Perhaps we put on a black belt and start to think we are an expert. Perhaps we start to believe the hype and think we really know something about something. But really, our goal is to cast off trappings (emphasis on trap) like certificates and belts: they are helpful, but once they get in the way of our learning they are devastating. Once they give our egos a foothold, the road-map of rank is going to run us off a cliff.

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Training and never giving up!

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Yamaoka Tesshu (1836-1888)
 
Yamaoka Tesshu’s seigan training has become quite well-known in the English speaking martial arts world thanks to John Stevens’ book, The Sword of No-Sword.
 
Tesshu’s “basic” examination required 1,000 days of consecutive practice, completed by 200 consecutive contests in a single day with other students of the Itto Shoden Muto Ryu.
 
The second level examination consisted of 600 matches over a three-day period. The highest level examination was a seven day ordeal with 1,400 matches.
 
Several of his students left accounts of their experiences. This is one:
 
Yanagita Ganjiro completed the two-hundred-match seigan on the final day of his thousand-day training period. He then practiced five hundred more days in a row and undertook the three-day, six-hundred-match seigan. Blows received from the short, thick Muto Ryu bamboo sword (shinai) were extremely painful. Yanagita recalled: "After the first day my head was full of lumps and my body covered with bruises, but I did not feel weak. On the second day I began to suffer. I thought I would have to give up halfway. I managed to continue and near the end of the day I experienced 'selflessness' - I naturally blended with my opponent and moved in unhindered freedom. Although my spirit was strong my body was weak. My urine was dark red and I had no appetite. Nevertheless, I passed the final day's contests with a clear mind; I felt as if I was floating among the clouds."
            (The Sword of No-Sword, J. Stevens)
 

Tesshu not only viewed swordsmanship as a way of disciplining the mind; he was also a practitioner of Zen and a master of calligraphy. Only his swordsmanship was passed down directly; the ‘spirit’ of his calligraphy was revived, (and is carried on by the Hitsuzendo) but perhaps it is better to say that it was by his example and spirit that he has most influenced modern disciplines.

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Honor your Word!

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A man’s word is his honor. Okinawan Proverb

Your word is your honor. In today’s world there doesn’t seem to be many people who think this way. People will say whatever gets them what they want, whether it is true or false, right or wrong. Most people don’t seem to care about their “word,” but then again, most people do not have a clue what true honor is either. You should think before you speak and you should honor what you say.

Honor consists of multiple parts. It is a complex idea in which intention plays a huge role. Think about the intentions behind your words and your actions. What is the purpose behind your words? Do your words even have a purpose?

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