Thursday, September 20, 2012
Friday, September 14, 2012
Monday, April 30, 2012
This is the main reason that Kanku-sho is a popular tournament kata, giving the contestant the opportunity to show off an impressive high spinning jump, with an ushiro-geri in mid-air, and often to applause and whoops from the spectators.
In actual practice, according to Nakayama, the jump should not be a high one. It is really a fairly level spin (though the left foot does leave the floor) into a sudden drop to the ground, thrusting the left leg out into ushiro-geri before landing. A jumping spin in Shotokan represents a throw.
It is a very hard move to master. The points I am trying to incorporate include hitting the mikazuki-geri against the open hand directly behind me (ie. not moving the open hand further round once I start turning), getting the ushiro thrust out, and landing with my hands and feet in the right position. Not to mention then springing up into the low gedan shuto-uke! My worst fault is not controlling the aftermath of the mikazuki, which often carries my ushiro leg round too far on landing.
It is important to note that in Kanku-sho, in ryote-fuse, the left extended leg is positioned on the ball of the foot, different from Kanku-dai where the foot is sideways on and flat on the ground.
The old version of the kata (Kushanku-sho) didn't have this move as a jump, it is a spin with the foot planted resolutely on terra firma. Some people say that the jump was included by westerners purely to bring more glamour to competition karate, but as we know from Mitsusuke Harada, he described seeing Kanku-sho in the 1940s complete with the Shotokan jump. I think this points to it being a development by Yoshitaka Funakoshi, and here is a quite impressive photo of him doing the tobi ushiro-geri from Kanku-sho …
The application that I'm demonstrating for this technique is to step away from a close-quarter grab or punch, while parrying with the haishu-uke. With the open hand I grab the assailant's arm and twist it slightly so my mikazuki-geri strikes hard against the locked elbow joint. Keeping hold of the arm I then turn quickly into ushiro-geri, thrusting my heel into my attacker's mid-section at close-range.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Friday, April 13, 2012
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Monday, April 9, 2012
Sunday, April 8, 2012
My belief is that kata is not a performance for others, which is why I'm not interested in competition karate (and I'm not saying there is no skill in competition kata - of course there is). I'm not fanatical about ending on exactly the same spot on which I started the kata, and I don't consider my kata a failure if I put in an extra shuffle into an attacking technique, or if I occasionally target a nukite at the throat rather than the solar plexus.
What matters is how it feels to me as I fight along the embusen. I use the word 'fight' here quite deliberately. When I do a kata, it is a fight. I am delivering fighting techniques in order to practice them in movement, but I also take on a serious martial attitude and try to put 100% into every technique. I 'see' the enemy, I imagine the move against an invisible force. The fight is internal.
I said that I don't necessarily do every technique perfectly, but I do attempt to. That is also part of the fight - overcoming my physical failings to try and execute the moves with precision as best as I can. Technical perfection is not the be-all and end-all of kata, but you shouldn't use that as an excuse for bad technique. You know when you've missed the mark, or when you've 'phoned it in', and when you do, the only loser is yourself.
Still, we've all seen those YouTube comments where the writer criticises the performance (and it becomes a performance as soon as it is for the benefit of a viewer, even if unintended) because a fist is an inch too high, or the move appears to lack kime, and I think the majority of those comments show a lack of understanding of what kata is really about. They are interested only in show, and kata is not show.
Many of these comments are from students of one style criticising another style that they don't understand, or are totally ignorant about. Just look at the comments under almost any Shotokai kata ...
"... it's like a poor japanese imitation of tai chi, except tai chi would whup your ass... go learn a real style"
"umm but wheres the impact?"
"His limbs are a bit flimsy, more hard work on overall basics, speed and Kimi, and it will be there."
"Is this a joke?..."
"... no kime! this is a power kata not a dance?"
"looks like shotokan ... but with no effort, my 9 year old does it like that"
All these commenters are showing, in my opinion, is their ignorance of another style and, probably, a bit of self-delusion about their own ability too!
It's nice to see a showy kata, but it's a diversion. Kata is all about making yourself better.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Friday, March 16, 2012
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
It is widely accepted that Kanku-sho (originally Kushanku-sho) was created by Anko Itosu, inspired by and complementing Kushanku (Kanku-dai). As to when he did this, it is not known. Did he implement a big revision of the kata, including the creation of the Pinan series, all in one go, or did his deep study of karate see him develop Kusanku-sho and Bassai-sho, for instance, much earlier - or even later? The Pinan (Shotokan's Heian kata) were introduced into the Okinawan school system in the early 1900s, but the period of their actual development is not known.
Sensei Kanazawa mentions that Kanku-sho was preserved by Choshin Chibana, one of Itosu's top students and the main founder of modern Shorin Ryu (Kobayashi). I'm not sure this can be strictly true. For one thing, the kata appears in other lineages that come from Itosu that don't include Chibana. There is also a story that Chibana did not learn Kusanku (dai) until after the Second World War, it being taught to him by his student Katsuya Miyahira (who also learned karate from another of Itosu's disciples, Anbun Tokuda). Although by no means impossible, if true, it would seem odd that he knew Kushanku-sho but not Kushanku-dai.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Friday, March 9, 2012
"I have given it [the] name Kan-ku, sky-gazing, since at the beginning of the kata, there is a movement of your hands coming together with you looking up at the sky through them."
From Karate-do Nyumon:
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Update: Having decided to continue the blog beyond my Kanku-sho research, I have changed the name to Karate Kagami, You can see my Kanku-sho research codified into an article here.