Friday, September 26, 2014

Heading in the Right Direction

So very long ago, a jiu-jitsu master started taking karate in Japan. These were the early days of karate in Japan, as it had recently been imported from Okinawa. He was one of the fasted promoted to black belt ever. His understanding of martial technique, science, and the importance of skill was unsurpassed.

Soon, the head karate instructor, Gichin Funakoshi, advised the jiu-jitsu master to go to Okinawa and study with Funakoshi's instructors. And so he did.

Hironori Ohtsuka, eventually founded Wado-Ryu - one of the four original styles of karate. In doing so, he departed from many practices the other schools. He also incorporated many more training drills than other styles - and drills above and beyond the kata performed elsewhere. At the time, the drills were novel: the latest and greatest way to get students ready for self defense.

As time passed, and knowledge increased, and availability of information eventually went global, these training drills came to look old-fashioned. Indeed, there are few Wado practitioners today who will argue vehemently the self-defense worthiness of these drills. Most admit they are done simply for the sake of tradition.

Tradition for tradition's sake is perfectly fine. For those of us who prefer to stay current, and have our skills be practical and applicable today, we must adopt new training methods.

In his book Wado Ryu Karate, Ohtsuka listed only nine kata as being necessary. Pinan I - V, Kushanku, Naihanchi, Seishan, and Chinto. There are other kata adopted into Wado, but they are more for tournament use or individual study than for anything else. This minimalist approach is what is needed in a modern Wado Ryu school. It is also the same mindset needed for self defense drills, etc.

We know that karate can be extremely useful for MMA and self defense (when properly trained). So why shouldn't modern training methods reflect that?

That said, five new Ippon Kumite (one-step sparring) and five new Goshinjitsu (self defense) have been developed. None involve more than three techniques. All of the techniques are basic, and essential. When combined with proper instruction on balance, weight shift, body shifting (taisabaki), distance (ma-ai), these techniques will give the student excellent self defense ability.

More to come...

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