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5) Karate Training with Akamine Sensei - Okinawa 2019

Week 2
Classes continue, and the kids have been coming every day to practice with me. After kihon, we'd do kata, then maybe some kobudo. So far I've gone along for Pinan shodan, Pinan nidan, and Passai sho. I've followed along with Naihanchi and Chinto but don't feel too comfortable with them yet.

クラスが続けている。普段は週に二回だけだけど、子供達も毎日一緒に稽古をしにくる。必ず基本から始め、そして型と古武道。今までピンアン初段と二段とパッサイ小がちょっとできるようになった。ナイハンチもチントーも少しやっているけどまだまだだ。

Paraphrased nuggets of wisdom:
“If you have a bad practice or habit, your form will not correct itself; rather you will perfect doing it the wrong way. Your certainty in your mistake will also grow stronger. So we practice kihon, to make sure we're doing things correctly, no matter how long we practice, we return to kihon, to our posture. It needs to be polished over years of practice, so you can't possibly mess it up.”

黄金言葉:
もし悪い癖があると、時間が経つと自分で直るわけにはいけない。完璧に間違いをやる。その間違いにも自信を持つようになる。だから、毎日基本を練習して、間違っていないように頑張っていく。何十年やっても基本に戻る。ちゃんとした基本だと、間違いになるまい。

Sensei extended his arm. Block this, he said, put your power into it. When I brought my arm to his, he pressed me down and pulled me off balance. That's because you aren't using your tanden; you aren't putting your koshi into it. When your body is in sync, your power moves through your whole body; If your stance is off, if you’re not properly utilizing your hips and lower back, you'll be weak no matter how strong you look. Try again. I rooted myself and flexed my core, and although I couldn't match his strength I could hold my stance against his. This is what he meant by the unseen power in kata; you can go through the movements, but the real practice is in learning to use your body as a conduit for the energy.

先生は手を伸ばした。受けて力を入れてと指示した。そうすると、先生が腕を下げて僕のバランスが崩れた。「丹田入れていないからと叱ってくれた。腰を使って、体を一体化して。どんなに強くても姿勢や立ち方がおかしいとバランスが取りにくい。もう一回。」またやって、腹筋を使って、受けが大分強くなった。あ、前に言った通り、型に隠れた力だとわかった。型の動きやってもいいけど、基本の目的は体を力のエネルギーの導管にする能力を学ぶのだ。

I realized that this is one reason why Paul said he had abandoned all his other styles and their kata when he committed to training in the Hozonkai; not all styles teach how to effectively use power in this subtle way; and it becomes easy to practice in the wrong way, which is detrimental to your development. You can dabble, and see what the other styles offer, but knowing that most of their newer stances were developed because they didn't know or couldn't stand correctly, that all these extra layers of movement aren't being used to generate additional power, but to mask the lack of power delivery. It kind of takes the wind out of the neko-ashi dachi of matsubayashi-ryu or the mahanmi of wado-ryu. Why ARE your heels raised? Why ARE your hips turned out and disjointed?

ポールさんのことを考えて、取材で保存会に入ってから、松村正統以外の稽古を辞めたと言われた。こんな繊細な教えが珍しいから、間違ったやり方をやり続けることが多い。他の流派試しても構わないけど、新系のスタンスの発達が分からなかったからだ。ちょっと猫足を怪しく思っちゃって、「何で踵があげている?何でそんなに足が開くの?」と疑問してしまう。

Do you feel particularly powerful blocking or striking when your power isn't being transferred? Or does it just look cool? Is there substance to the style? “There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just different from what we do,” is often heard in the Akamine Dojo.

ちゃんとしないと強いと感じる?かっこよくするだけか実用的に使われるか。「間違っているわけないけど、私たちは違うように考える。」そう言う格言はよく赤嶺道場で聞かれる。

Wednesday was raining and I noticed a flat tire on my bike. Took the monorail and walked from Shuri castle. Sensei gave permission to train in street clothes, thankfully. Despite being on foot, I was a sweaty mess when I got to the dojo, thanks to the 4km walk down from the castle. My shins would regret that for days to come.

水曜日は雨に加えて自転車がパンクしたから、モノレールを首里城まで乗って、道場まで40分くらいで足で4キロ歩いてきた。ほぼ全部下り坂だから、脛がきっと痛くなると思った。先生が洋服で稽古してもいいと許してくれてよかったなぁ。

Kids Nukite.jpg


We did passai dai and I asked sensei about the 270 degree step. I don’t often do that turn to my blindside, but usually we’d pull the feet together to increase the inertia of the turn, so I wanted to observe his method. First he asked me to give it a try. Remembered his words, I turned on the balls of my feet. "Yes! you can't do it on your heels, you won't have control, but first it helps to turn your pivoting leg's foot and knee inwards slightly, then slide your other leg behind the pivot leg before the pirouette, then just as you complete the turn, your foot slides back into a full natural stance, now square and 270 degrees from where you started. It all comes from kihon, and is a form of sabaki (body movement/shuffling). Always move toes first, always keep your center. When the movement becomes comfortable you can move quickly and efficiently without compromising your balance.

パッサイ大を打ってみて、270度の回転について。そんな動きはあまりしないけど、回る時は足を合わせば早くなるかもしれない。やってみーと言われた。そうそう、母指球を中心にして動くよ。素人は大体踵で回るけどそうするとコントロールが取れない。最初は右足を中側へ少し曲げて、左足を右足の後ろまで滑って、回るとまた自然体に戻って、次の動きの準備はもう出来た。こう言う体捌きが基本から学ぶものだ。必ず足の指先で動く。中心もバランスも守って。練習すると自然的にバランスも崩れず動けるはずだ。

Here's another thing that's interesting, Sensei pulled out a new set of Tonfa. See how this tonfa has a “sharp” square edge to it? Foreigners like it like this, they think it looks cool, and maybe it can do more damage to your enemy... but if can also hurt you, and it limits what you can do. He pulled out an older looking set. “See how the body is just as round as the handle? it's because in addition to all these striking surfaces, you can also grab the body and swing it like so, or even use the handle to hook around the arm, leg or neck.” These additional moves are made more difficult by the 90 degree angles on the newer tonfa. He then gave me a bo staff and had Shuya show me how to swing it. Bring your hands to your ears as you swing and you won't hurt yourself, Sensei advised. It's the same for bo staff as it is for tonfa and nunchaku. Just like how we always crossed our arms on our way to a block.

先生はトンファーを見せてくれた。「これは現代のデザイン、ハンドルが付いている部分が四角い。かっこいいから外国の方はこれが好きだ。相手を傷つけられるけど、自分にも危ないし、できる技が少なくなる。」古いトンファを手に取った。「見て、これは全体的丸いよ、全部ハンドルとなっているから、できることが増える。長い部分を持てば、ハンドルで打てるし、相手の腕か足か首が引っ掛けられる。」四角いのデザインではこう言う技が難しい。棒をくれて、しゅーゆ君の真似をさせてもらった。ヌンチャクでもトンファーでも棒でも同じように体を動く。手が耳から振ると自分にあたらないはずだ。

Sensei had me practice Pinan 1 and 2, then Passai Sho, Passai Dai, Chinto and Naihanchi 1 and 2 with the kids. I felt out of my element, like staring into a chasm, with Soken sensei's words echoing throughout. "The answers are all in the kata." Despite wanting eagerly to learn all the kata at once I understood how each one builds on one another, introducing new concepts while encapsulating the old, with kihon throughout, turning everything new into kihon. The new moves and applications themselves churn the bunkai of the previous kata, providing new insight into what those movements can mean. Knowing the bunkai makes the kata performance itself more meaningful. Pinan is basic movement in every direction with basic moves protecting your center, and linking movement together. Naihanchi is rooted, lateral movement. Passai introduces new angles and techniques for the hands, and also gentle kamae; the last moves sweeping away uneven ground with your toes, and clearing away foliage gently with your hands. Chinto introduces a leaping kick and standing leg balances where you not only hook your foot behind your standing leg, but also pivot on that leg like a spinning flamingo. And so on.



今日はピンアン初段と二段、ナイハンチ初段と二段、パッサイ小と大、そしてチントーを全部やってみた。ちょっと圧倒されたけど、祖堅先生の格言が道場で「答えは型にある」と響いていた。全部習いたいと思っても、順番の重視もわかってるから我慢してゆっくりと練習し続けようと思う。分解も分かっていれば、一人でも型の意味がもっと味わえる。ピンアンは四方の単純な動き、そしてナイハンチは立ち方と横移動を紹介する。パッサイは新しい動きと手技、そして最後の作業はバランス
崩れず足で小石を掃いて手で優しく枝を動かす。チントーで新しい蹴りが出て、フラミンゴみたいな立ち方もある。

Friday, a typhoon was blowing in, with sporadic torrential downpours making being outside a bad idea in general. I was willing to risk it on bike, but decided to figure out the bus. I finally found the right stop, which ironically was on the opposite side of the street I thought it would be heading initially in the wrong direction. Either from all the biking or walking or training, I've had pretty unrelenting shin splints… riding that bus, my lower body was thankful for the reprieve.

金曜日は台風のせいであまり外に出たくない状況だった。自転車で行こうと思ったが、結局バスルートを試してみた。やっぱり思った場所の渡ったところのバス停で走れば着ける!自転車のせいか歩きすぎたせいか分からないけど最近すごいシンスプリント(脛骨過労性骨膜炎)で足が痛いからバスに乗ってほっとした。

Sensei has been increasing my exposure, and confided that while they’re all improving their understanding, no one that has come to train with him has fully understood the principles of power and the importance of kihon, and I felt I should be proud of whatever progress I can make, because we’re all only in competition with our current selves. In talking about the various videos of kata online, he mentioned that watching someone perform kata can tell him they learned their moves from watching videos, because he can tell they aren't tightening and relaxing properly. They may have all the moves down, but they aren't really doing the kata correctly, so it’s clear they haven’t had direct instruction. There are things you can't learn from a video; especially since the secrets to Sensei Soken's karate are mostly "hidden," even within their own kata. This isn’t something that can be packaged for mass consumption, the technique can only be polished under a critical eye.

少しずつ先生が僕に打ち明けて、弟子の皆さんが相当上達しているけど完全に基本と力の使い方がまだまだだ。どんなに上達しても、誇りを持ってと言ってくれた。なぜなら私たちは自分に競争しているだけだ。

型の動画について、見て覚えてもいいけど、先生がいないと力の抜き方が分からないからすぐ見える。動画では習えないことが多いから、型を覚えても分からないと、明らかに直接の教えをもらっていないのだ。特に先生の空手には色んな意味が隠されているから、目の前にいい先生がいないと秘密を見逃す。

Sensei explained some of the norms and origins of kata etiquette. When the Toranosama (king of Ryukyu) had the Chinese delegates or royal visitors over, he asked his guard (possibly Bushi Matsumura himself?) to perform some martial arts for his guest (enbu). If the performer had bowed while keeping eye contact, or leapt into a harsh, violent performance, it would have angered the king and his guests. So the Bushi started and ended with a polite bow, avoiding eye contact but maintaining awareness of his surroundings. When he began to perform, his eyes were soft and friendly, and his moves were slow and elegant, but deliberate. This is also "bi," or beauty. This is also defined as symmetry, balance, and beauty of movement with good posture.

ちょっと空手の礼儀を説明してくれた。昔の殿様(琉球の王様)がお客さんに訪問されると、警備員(もしかしてあの「武士」松村なのかな?)にちょっと演武させてあげた。顔を出してお辞儀するか、激しい演武を見せると怒られる。本当の「首」になるかもしれないので、きめを持ちながら優しい目で冷静で優雅に動き始めた。これも「美」だという。
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nice gaijin
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