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 Post subject: Standing Tall
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 1998 5:27 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 181
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
This question has driven me slightly nuts (the three kids completed the job) for some time. Why, if the gedan barai is performed in a low stance in kata, is it used standing tall in the kumite and bunkai drills? Oh, and what the heck, why, if the gedan barai is a two handed block in the kata, are most people only using only one arm in kumite and bunkai drills?

Personally, I find the gedan barai is not terribly effective from an up right position against a strong leg technique. However, when done in a low stance, like the kata, the block's strength and effectiveness increases. Further, I don't find the block works well when one is backing up, yet many experienced Uechi ka practice the block regularly while backing up. Where in the kata is the block applied while backing up? I this another secret technique I'm missing out on, or is my chi just out of harmony with my planets which are clearly out of sinc with my bio rythms...?
Peace.
Robb in Sacramento


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 Post subject: Standing Tall
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 1998 3:41 pm 
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Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
Robb

Here's something that might help.

To heck with any one bunkai you may have been taught. They have frozen a thought in time. It is a mere shapshot of a moving image. Consider that any movement in a kata MIGHT be:

* an uke (block)

* an uchi (strike)

* a tsuki (thrust)

* an ate (toss or throw)

While Dillman and company are (like Bruce Lee and his classical mess) into making controversial statements so that they can get attention, he has a strong, defendable thesis when he states that there are no blocks in kata. His point is merely that every "uke" can be thought of as an attack on a vulnerable point, even if it is simply zapping the radial nerve of the arm that is thrusting towards you.

The more I know karate, the less I am impressed with many of the "applications" that were taught me in Uechi ryu. However, I do realize that people need to start somewhere. Very few get to a point where they are thinking of movements beyond the block/attack mode. So maybe the information has been out there all along for those who thought long enough about it.

Remember, Robb, that the gedan barai is done after you do the double roundhouse boshiken, which many consider to be a takedown. Now if you have just dropped someone, wouldn't it make sense that you want to continue the action with your center of gravity rather low? This is one line of thought that may open your mind up to the many possibilities. Perhaps if you can think of it as an attack to a person you just dropped, then it may make more sense to apply such a technique in a low stance.


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 Post subject: Standing Tall
PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 1998 6:18 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 181
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
J.D. & Bill:

Thanks for the feedback. I am still troubled though by teaching a low block from a standing position. I am even more troubled by the notion that kata is kata and bunkai is bunkai. I have also heard this expressed as kata is kata and sparring is sparring. Well, so if I only want to learn to fight I should bag the kata and just spar? This seems a bit unfullfilling. Why do kata at all if it has no application in either bunkai, a sample of its application (which is a bit like saying playing an instrument has no relation to music--OK J.D. I am not talking about when I play an instrument, in which case any nexus to music is coincidental, but rather when someone who has studied an instrument undertakes playing) or kumite. How could a bunkai not have a connection to the kata?

You know, we could cut down on work out time if we just scrapped the kata. Let's put the techniques to music and do the Uechi workout video.

While the recent issue of BlackBelt, a magazine of high editorial standards, questions the history of kata, if one is to believe it is at the foundation of modern karate, it would seem valuable to question why a technique is applied in a particular stance in a particular kata.

As to stepping back, I will leave it to those who study the mat arts, specifically Aikido, to explain why I never see them move directly backward as some would have us do in bunkai and kumite. Could it be that in actual application moving straight back is generally an invitation to end up on one's butt? Oh well, as I said, this whole subject has just been making me nuts. Peace.
Robb in Sacramento.


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 Post subject: Standing Tall
PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 1998 6:42 am 
Kata is kata and application is application yada yada yada. In my opinion kata contains principles. From these principles we can derive application. When looking at a move in a kata we should ask ourselves what is the essence of the move. The principles will be found in the essence. Kata moves should never be justified by applications, however, the principles can be demonstrated by application. We cannot say that I do the move this way because if a kick is coming in and then a punch you must move this way to stop them. We can say that I do the kata this way because it causes me to use good body mechanics to go from here to there and therefore I could use them like so, and like so, and if I stand higher like so, and if my attacker is taller like so, and if I change it a little like so, and so on.

Kata teaches principles and proper body mechanics. The first move in Kanshiwa: turn ,block, punch. Teaches us how to step off line, perform a strong block and a strong punch. However, as our skills progress there is no reason why, in application, these three principles should not take place together in one movement without chambering the strike. No need to change how the kata is performed because the essence of the movement leads us to that application if we choose to follow it.

If a movement from the kata is not working as you think it should in an application -- check your body mechanics, if it still won't work may be it wasn't intent to or you need to leave it for a while.

The kumites and bunkais are merely one aspect and level of training. Even those can be taken to higher heights if you choose to.

Rick


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 Post subject: Standing Tall
PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 1998 7:22 pm 
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Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
I tend to agree what Rick says, but I think his position about kata teaching principles is a fact of UECHI kata.

For those who have practiced many martial disciplines, you will know that there are many approaches to designing a kata. In the case of the author of sanchin, that person probably thought "Let me break everything that I do down to the most fundamental elements of movement, and let me put all those fundamental elements in one form." In other karate systems you see cases where the author probably said "Let me think of all the possible ways to defend against a double-armed grab", or "Let me design a kata that shows all the possible ways that I can apply an arm-lowering movement."

Given that the Uechi system started with only three forms, you can pretty much bet on the approach that the author(s) took when designing the system. The Big Three (tm) are simple, short, and to the point. They pretty much work on principles. As such, you have to choose SOME stance to do a particular upper body movement. Since we need to teach stances and steps with the upper body movements and since we need to teach people how to use them all together (an important lesson in itself), it makes sense that you might end up with an "odd" match of upper and lower body motions. So what!

A good judo player pretty much uses two or three moves, and learns to throw them in any possible situation. The same can be said of a movement in a kata. You need to start SOMEWHERE in the kata. But don't let a particular combination of body movements throw you. There are many, many applications that I have in my personal arsenal that are pieces and parts and syntheses of parts of movements in the kata. I think it's incredibly important to unfreeze the individual aspects or elements of movements in kata and begin to create your own personal kata soup.

Listen to a good jazz piece some time. Generally it starts with a very recognizable, listenable, and well-defined theme. Then in the body of the piece they take elements of the theme and ad lib. And in the end they come back to the original theme to give closure to the process. I think this is the way karate should be practiced. A lifetime of karate training is multiple cylces of practice that always come back to the basics for closure and validation.

[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 12-22-98).]


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 Post subject: Standing Tall
PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 1998 8:33 pm 
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J.D.-san,

Concerning moving in or backing up - a woman with "machisma" has to take her upper body into consideration when executing various blocking techniques for kicks! Moving straight in or standing ground can be dangerous (or at least painful) - better to move in and to the side to attempt to gain control without getting tangled up or worse... What works for youse guys is often not quite as effective for a woman... technique and body position must be adapted to body shape of course.

Bill-san,

Really liked your last post - I've always thought jazz related well to karate - kind of like if we start in sanchin we can end there as well; gaining much and losing nothing in the long run... it's the journey not the destination perhaps...

Kata - kumite - bunkai? An endless debate. Goes with who your sensei was and his sensei (excuse me - his/her sensei) and how they did their kata vs. how you do yours etc. etc. as nauseum. As I see it, the student gravitates to the teacher he/she needs - hard, soft, gentle, firm, heavy sparring, heavy kata etc. Is one more right than the other? For that individual student, YES. For another? NO. Kata being kata and kumite being kumite - it's all the same thing if the ESSENCE and core principles remain true to the spirit of Uechi-ryu. I do not profess to have a good understanding of these principles - but I'm working on it. When someone moves to a place I consider not to be consistent with my current understanding of the essence of my style, I move on. Otherwise - another kumite technique, another version of bunkai is yet another of the infinite applications an individual may draw from the kata - for ME now folks, for ME. Anyway, just my two cents.

Peace,
Lori


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 Post subject: Standing Tall
PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 1998 10:31 pm 
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The whole kata/bunkai discussion is (in my opinion) a crucial one to understanding of martial arts. Your statements, Bill, about forgetting whichever one bunkai you were taught, and that it is 'frozen in time' are right on in my opinion (around now is when I will stop typing "in my opinion"...). Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions about the kata/bunkai thing (even J.D. - yuk,yuk), but I don't think highlighting the difference between kata and bunkai is the same as saying "kata is kata and sparring is sparring." Mostly folks that say this don't appreciate the utility of kata, and mostly this is because they have not practiced bunkai.

Perhaps a definition is in order. In a martial arts context, bunkai means "interpretation." An essential component of traditional Japanese martial arts was the student "creating" bunkai for kata as a demonstration of his comprehension of the underlying principles and applications of the movements. The evolution (or perhaps "de-evolution") of this process to the current understanding of 'bunkai' - such as when an instructor says "let me see your seisan bunkai" and expects something very specific - is documented elsewhere by Mattson Sensei (recall that this was an effort to standardize the meanings of these movments to facilitate group dan tests). What has been lost, however, is the 'deeper understanding' of our kata!

Without going into the details of approaches to creating bunkai (perhaps the subject of a later post?), I think it is crucial to get away from this static interpretation of something so fluid. For those of you who cross train, take some of the movements in your 'other' style, and see where they overlap with uechi kata movments. This process can often give clues to possible meanings of movements in kata. Have someone throw a punch or a kick, grab you in different ways, etc. as you practice your kata movements. If you don't come up with lots of "duds" as you do this (you will know they are duds, as uke will still be holding onto you, or a lump will be coming up somewhere), you are not thinking creatively enough.

Nuff said.

greg


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 Post subject: Standing Tall
PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 1998 7:40 pm 
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Posts: 181
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
J.D.,

Your wisdom is only exceeded by your insight, or that the other way around.

Anyway, what you have not mentioned is that true insight into kata, and karate, is only achieved after years of doing kata with one of the following cranked up at full volume: AC/DC, Van Halen, Bad Company, Almond Bros., or Marshall Tucker. (I know, I shouldn't give these secrets away, but there could be some misquided souls trying to do kata to polka tunes, and it just won't work.) And, now that we know you are a drummer, this explains much about any flaws we may perceive in your mental stability, for as we all know, "We need to forget all about that macho ****, and learn how to play guitar."

Happy Holidays.
Peace.
Robb in Sacramento.


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 Post subject: Standing Tall
PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 1998 4:46 pm 
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Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
...and now that we know that he is a drummer, we also need to be concerned about the ambient temperature so as to keep him well below the flash point.

Hey, if you don't get it, you didn't see the movie. Can't help it if you are socially deprived.

The real technique-o-doom with J.D., then, is to talk about Alanis or some of those other "gifted" bimbos that turn his head. Just make sure you get the kids out of the room first.


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 Post subject: Standing Tall
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 1998 5:12 am 
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Posts: 875
The indomitable JD taken down by "gifted bimbos"? Perhaps, well, just perhaps, Bill Sensei, you are suggesting an inversely proportional relationship to power (read chi) and emotional intelligence? Well I suppose that some other threads might lend supporting evidence to that proposition!

I may have to explore my "bimbo" side to investigate this possibility myself! Maybe I can use it in sparring for my own technique-o-doom!

Peace,
Lori


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 Post subject: Standing Tall
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 1998 5:24 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 181
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
J.D. --

Will we get a percentage when you publish your self help book, "In Search of Your Inner Bimbo" or the "Bimbosteen Prophesy" or the "Zen of Bimbo" ...Wait, shouldn't this be on Lori's forum. I am so confused, almost as confused as I am about doing techniques in a kata one way, and in a bunkai another way. Oh well. I am sure that down blocking from an upright position is a very sound technique, and I encourage anyone I spar with to use it.

Garlic press? Has Steve moved to Gilroy (the garlic Capital of the World)? Where he lives, you could just get him a toy thermometer set a 72 degrees.

Peace.


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