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 Post subject: Left Hand Turns
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 6:59 pm 
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Location: Los Angeles,CA USA
And no, I'm not talking about NASCAR.

The majority of turns in the Uechi forms go to the left, counter clockwise, and I was wondering why that might be. By comparison, in Goju Ryu, not all, but a good portion of turns are done in both directions. This seems to be the case for many of the techniques as well. Much of Okinawan karate is semi-ambidextrous. There are forms that move mostly in one directions (counter clockwise), but for the most part the move in both directions and also execute techniques on both sides. The horse stance is a good example, in Goju you see it done on one side then the other, whereas in Uechi its done on one side only (right foot forward). As you go through the forms, you see certain combinations occurring over and over, but only one the one side.

My thoughts on why this is are that the developers of the kata meant to train the techniques on the stronger side, which is the right side for most people, and felt that they would just be too clumsy on the left side. Also, if you look at Chinese forms, like T'aiji for instance, there is a similar lack of ambidexterity. One explanation could be, at least for why there are so many left hand turns, is that the form is working toward building spiraling momentum in a single direction.

I was wondering if anyone here knew of any better explanations for these tendencies, or have heard any of the seniors comment on it.

Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: Left Hand Turns
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 9:43 pm 
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Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
Greetings to Sunny California. Give my best to the Ahti Kaend gang - each and every one of them. That includes those that are known and the one who wishes to remain unmentioned. ;)

It is what it is. I believe some wish to be ambidextrous, and some not. I have a dan ranking in both Uechi and Goju, so know what you mean about the ambidextrous training in Goju. But in Goju that kind of training exists only in the instructional forms, which are all of Okinawan origin. The classical forms - the ones that probably came from Fuzhou - are not ambidextrous.

Gary Khoury has done his share of sparring, and taught classes on sparring. He's a big believer in the non-ambidextrous approach. He teaches that way, and swears by it.

Whatever...

As I often tell people, kata are not story books; they are reference books. They are there for you to pick apart and use as you see fit. The Uechi hojoundo were choreographed off the kata, and the choreographers decided to train people in these techniques off both sides.

Some people - myself included - teach kata the regular way and mirror image way. Now for me, not so much. I prefer taking pieces and parts of the kata out, and training them on both sides.

If you play guitar, you do the fingering on the nondominant side and the picking on the dominant side. If you play piano, bass is on the left and treble is in the right. It is what it is.

I'm Switzerland on this. Whatever people want... I'm not going to argue. But I train both sides. One reason I do is for no other purpose than to train my brain 7 ways to Sunday. It's good for you... like reading a book, learning a new language, or taking a calculus course.

And if I'm lucky, maybe I'll learn how to fight. ;)

- Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Left Hand Turns
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:10 pm 
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NEB wrote:
My thoughts on why this is are that the developers of the kata meant to train the techniques on the stronger side, which is the right side for most people, and felt that they would just be too clumsy on the left side.

On the one hand...

I've had friends who taught English in rural China. One told me that on the first day he got up in the front of the class and wrote his name on the blackboard. Everyone in the class laughed. As it turns out back then (a few decades ago), students in China were made to do everything right-handed. He had written his name up on the blackboard with his left hand.

On the other hand...

If most people are right-handed, then turning left would mean you're practicing turning away from your opponent's strong side. Thus this makes a great 90/10 solution. When in doubt...

- Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Left Hand Turns
PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:21 pm 
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Thanks for the replies...

I have discussed this with my teacher, who also spoke about doing things on both sides as a way of exercising the brain. It is good for you, and it can be an amusing challenge trying to perform a technique on the "other" side for the first time. Personally, for what its worth, I like your approach of taking a piece of a kata out and analyzing it, then doing it on both sides. Also, it may be worth pointing out that Goju Ryu, (at least the schools descending from Yamaguchi, but probably many others) drill kihon and kihon ido quite extensively, which always exercise both sides equally. That might fill in any gaps left out by advanced kata, in terms of training both sides.

One other explanation I have heard is that the Chinese, or whomever originally created the forms in question realized that the human anatomy is not always symmetrical. So some martial art practices (and probably other forms of exercise and movement) should be done on both sides and others not. In the internal martial arts they talk about moving energy through the body, which if not internally symmetrical, would make sense. Also, some techniques are meant for attacking certain internal components of opponent's body, which could be more effective on one side than the other despite outward symmetry.

The observation that you are turning away from the opponent's strong side (90% of the time) is compelling to me as well. It could be that simple. Have you, or anyone reading this thread, heard anything from some of the old masters on this?

Again, thanks for the reply!

P.S. I don't know the Kaend group...not sure they are located in L.A where I am. I have visited Mr. DeDonato on one occasion, but my old work schedule made it difficult to head over there to visit some more. Lame excuses on my part, actually, I enjoyed visiting Mike, and I would like to drop by again and say Hi.

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 Post subject: Re: Left Hand Turns
PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 5:27 pm 
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NEB wrote:
The observation that you are turning away from the opponent's strong side (90% of the time) is compelling to me as well. It could be that simple. Have you, or anyone reading this thread, heard anything from some of the old masters on this?

I picked it up in boxing, where everything stays pretty much one-sided.

Watch two right-handed boxers fight. When they circle each other, is the circle (looking down from the top) clockwise or counterclockwise?

- Bill


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