The Spring Gasshuku was a great weekend of training in Goju ryu. The term Gasshuku is usually interpreted as a training camp. It also means boarding house and lodging together. The usually accepted idea is that we are training together “under one roof”. We spend time training but social as well. We eat and drink after training and generally get to know each other, perhaps even meeting each others families.
The weekend of training began with some preparation exercises then we began with Sanchin… Sanchin is where it all begins, the framework for the remainder of our development. We worked to refine Kata, doing each multiple times in various cadences and directions. This has the opportunity to become confusing but it serves to keep us present. We worked countless drills to further our understanding of the concepts contained within the deep style. Some of these drills were basics, meant to build our ability to do deeper bunkai (analysis of our kata). We then worked on basic bunkai of many of our kata in a couple ways, kihon and rensoku (continuous). We then went deeper into the oyo rensoku, or Taira Sensei’s versions of kata bunkai. This is often confusing and is ever changing. However he shows us the road map and gives us the tools to unpack the information that is contained with in the kata. Ganbatte kudasai!
Originally posted January 5 2016
A few weeks ago I attended an in-service on sports performance with a very prestigious method that is used by many collegiate and professional sports teams, special forces and professional emergency response organizations and Rehabilitation agencies. Self described “as a leader in applied research and innovation to advance human performance”. This short in service was specific to the warm ups.
We were running through various exercises that were thoroughly studied to provide optimal preparation for maximum sports performance. As we worked through this set of exercises my Physical Therapist co-workers, many of whom were collegiate athletes, noticed how it seems like I do these exercises all the time, which is great since they were very similar to some of the yoga exercises and Junbi undo techniques we employ in the dojo.
Today I am writing about Junbi Undo, one of the cornerstones of Goju Ryu. Created by Miyagi Chojun Sensei after extensive research with medical professionals into the workings of the human body, the junbi undo of Goju-Ryu are more than a warm up but a way of instilling martial movement and building a robust body of good health.
The exercises contained within junbi undo not only loosen the joints they promote mobility and martial movement. Relating specifically to Karate technique, the various methods gradually raise the heart rate, promote circulation, regulate the breathing, massage the internal organs, and boost the immune system. Body-weight exercises designed to improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles and spirit of the practitioner. Breathing exercises introduce the concept of hakkei and how to issue power using the entire body and breath. Also contained within the exercises are elements of Kiko (Qigong), the harvesting and circulation of energy in the human body. Many of the movements transfer directly into Kata demonstrating the link.
My definition of Self-defense has been to protect (my/our-self) from anything that would cause us harm. In modern days it may be complications from inactivity. Regular practice of Junbi Undo helps to ensure we remain active, mentally alert, and energetic throughout the span of our lives.
The cat may be out of the bag as we started last night, but our focus for January will be Junbi undo, Preparing the body for our Karate practice. That is not to say we will not practice other things, but we will be paying special attention to Junbi undo and Sanchin as this is the foundation.
On a related note our Yoga class is on for tonight if you are looking less to instill Martial Movement but still like the ideas of promoting mobility, increasing circulation, boosting immune function and stabilizing joints with body-weight exercises. Additionally we will work to connect with breath and calm focus the mind. We will also begin some dedicated time for supplemental exercises, with implements to help with strength.
Looking forward to a great 2016!
Originally posted March 10 2017
Today I am writing with regards to sparing. It is the most common question people ask when they call, “do you spar?” My response for years has been no. I usually talk about the drills we do and how they develop skills and reactions. I find it seems like it usually falls on deaf ears. That is OK, this is why we interview each other. If that is what you want this is not your school. If you want to learn an authentic Okinawan Martial Art (or two) the way they have been done traditionally this is the school for you.
As a student in the past we did jiu kumete or free sparing. We would spend about 1/4 of our class time on this exercise. When I was going to classes 4 and 5 times a week this amounted to several hours each week. I learned several things including that I could block and take an incredible amount of punishment. I often hated it, I hated that we were not learning martial arts in my opinion. We were not gaining an understanding of the concepts in the gifts we had been given of the katas thoughtfully crafted and carefully handed down. It is this experience that brought me back to Okinawan style Goju Ryu and informed the response above. Goju Ryu is a practical art developed by people whose lives depended on fighting or at least being prepared. Kata are packages to transmit information, our job is to unpack the concepts they transmitted and develop them for use.
Here is an article Mr. Hagen shared on the subject.