24 Jun

Strength: Who’s doing the heavy lifting?

Tou'on-ryu, hojo undo, strength, Goju-ryu, Uechi-ryu, Karate-do, Kobudo, Dojo, Lessons, Vancouver, BC

Chiishi

Strength and conditioning have always been a part of Okinawa Karate-do, especially those styles classified as “Nahate” such as Goju-ryu, Uechi-ryu, and Tou’on-ryu. I’m sure you have seen many old photos of younger Karateka doing their “strongman” pose showing off their level of muscular development and low body fat. Read More

15 Jun

Karate & Injury

Karate Injury

Photo from Blitz Magazine

How many Karateka have you met that have some kind of injury? Sore arms, sore back, bruises, wonky shoulder, bad knees, the list of injuries that Karateka can sustain seems endless. Karate-do students tend to be a stoic bunch so they clench their teeth and get down to practice; rarely saying anything about what’s ailing them. Sure their injuries for the most part are not life-threatening or debilitating, but they can and often do interfere with the quality of their practice. It seems injuries happen to all Karateka at one point or another in their training . Yet it is ironic that the very thing that they love could potentially be hurting them. Read More

10 Jun

Zen

Zen circle
One thing that I realized when I moved to Japan is that Japanese (and to a somewhat lesser extent Okinawa) culture is at times very rigid. There is a right way or “kata” for doing almost any activity – not just martial arts, but sado, ikebana and many other cultural arts (for a wonderful overview of the function of kata in Japanese society, read Kata: The Key to Understanding and Dealing with the Japanese by Boye Lafayette De Mente). Heck I’m sure there is a correct kata for baking cupcakes. The skill required and the attention to detail to perform these kata are phenomenal – almost bordering on obsessive-compulsive, but we’ll get to that later.
03 Jun

A Single Attack – Karate-do in WWII

Kuken - Asahi Shimbun

Documentation of the Japanese Army using Karate-do as a form of hand-to-hand combat training during WWII is uncommon. I have read accounts in books as well as interviews of instructors saying that it was used with the most famous being Egami Shigeru and Funakoshi Yoshitaka teaching Karate-do at the Nakano Academy. However, I’ve never found much direct evidence; until now (1).

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30 May

Co-opting Japanese Koryu traditions in Ryukyu Kobudo

Inoue Motokatsu

There are some schools of Ryukyu Kobudo on the Japanese mainland which have adopted Japanese Classical Martial Arts, or Koryu, traditions. such as the dojo, training garb, etiquette, etc and have stripped away some or all of the Okinawan elements; including the body mechanics. The two most notable men who have adopted Koryu elements into their Kobudo are Inoue Motokatsu’s Ryukyu Kobujutsu Hozon Shinko Kai and Arakawa Busen’s Sokan-ryu. Interestingly, both men were students of Taira Shinken.

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27 May

Is the Traditional Dojo Dying?

Kanzaki Shigekazu: Soke of Tou'n-ryu, Traditional, Dojo, Vancouver, BC, Karate, Kobudo

Kanzaki Shigekazu

Attracting, keeping and training students to a traditional dojo can be a challenge. People come, they watch, and they may even try a class, but they rarely stick it out. It seems that people aren’t interested in traditional martial arts. It may have something to do with the lifestyle of modern men and women – little free time, mentally and physically drained from work, etc. Perhaps it is because teachers stick to an old style training curriculum. However, on reflection I think that is only half of the equation. The other half of the equation is the teacher and speaking for myself, I don’t think I’m a very good one. Read More