Thursday, January 31, 2013

Naihanchi Shodan Analysis: (Basic to Intermediate)

This video is meant to be an instructional video and all techniques are performed slowly and typically with a distinct staccato rhythm. This is merely a teaching/learning device. It should go without saying that once proficiency has been achieved, these techniques are to be performed very quickly and smoothly.

Part 1 examines how highly functional bunkai can be extracted from Naihanchi Shodan by applying 2 very simple “rules”. The first “rule” allows you to determine what each hand is doing in each technique. Rule 2 explains how the directionality in the kata relates to “tenshin” or “body rotation”.

Part one also teaches a basic but important "tenshin" drill and illustrates how these basic bunkai “rules” unite the kata, the "tenshin" drill, and the functional bunkai.

Part 2 Begins to examine intermediate level bunkai principles by moving beyond “single waza” bunkai into such important topics as kata combination bunkai and how the kata systematically teaches how to effectively deal with an opponent’s attempts to counter your techniques. The kata is highly proactive in this regard using the natural defensive reaction of the opponent to quickly establish control.

It also teaches a version of the earlier tenshin drill done with a partner to help develop trapping skills and instincts.

The bunkai in this video emphasize simple trapping and striking techniques although a few Tuidi (joint locking) techniques are shown during the course of the video

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sanchin Basic Analysis 三戦基本分解

This is just my personal take on applications for Sanchin. I also do a bunch of variations on these techniques in response to multiple punches but I figured it was best to start with single attack bunkai before exploring more complex principles in the kata.

These bunkai are simple applications and follow the motions of the kata very closely. They are pretty much "what you see is what you get" applications. This is appropriate given that Sanchin is itself a kihon-kata. I'll get around to posting the slightly more complex bunkai and combinations from Sanchin dealing with multiple punches (and the like) sometime in the future.

Techniques are intentionally performed in a staccato 1-2-3 rhythm to facilitate learning. Once they are learned it is a very simple matter to do the techniques in one smooth continuous motion.

 Sorry about my bad performance and form. It is the best I can do post GBS.

Some of you may be wondering why it took me so long to start posting new material on my YouTube Channel?

As many people know, I got my butt kicked by Guillain Barre Syndrome (aka "French Polio" or "Landry's paralysis"). The loss of muscle mass and physical coordination has been fairly pronounced. The diminished level of physical activity has not done my waistline any favors (neither did turning 40 for that matter). ;-)

I have recovered much of my strength and coordination, but I am still pretty self-conscious about my clumsy hands and plodding footwork. I'm not real happy about the weight gain either.

This has made me very reluctant to complete my planned bunkai video projects. I have promised several people videos on Naihanchi trapping, Sanchin Bunaki, and a short clip showing three Okinawan "sensitivity drills" (my favorite three).

I've recovered enough physical ability to try recording a few things but I have to warn you that you will not be impressed...

However, further procrastination won't provide much incentive to work on regaining my previous skills. So, I am now filming new material for the channel.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Ufugusuku Legacy

This article on Uni Ufugusuku and his descendants attempts to explore the major impact that the Ufugusuku family has had on Ryukyu martial arts. This is only the first part. Check back soon for more.
Ufugusuku Kenyu rescuing princess Momoto Fumiagari

One of the earliest of Okinawa's famous martial arts masters was Ufugusuku Kenyu [大城賢雄]. He was better known as Uni Ufugusuku [鬼大城] or "Ufugusuku the Ogre", a moniker he received because of his imposing stature (reportedly he was almost 6' tall). He was a 15th century scholar-aristocrat (descended of Okinawan royalty) and was the personal attendant/protector of  Momoto Fumiagari [百度踏揚] the daughter of the King Sho Taikyu [尚泰久]. He was a master of Kenjutsu [剣術] and Bojutsu [棒術] as well as the ancillary (grappling based) unarmed fighting method of the period (the forerunner of Ti [手]).

Ufugusuku nu Mun [大城の紋]: Symbol of the Ufugusuku family

I suppose some folks will be surprised by the mention of Kenjutsu. However, it is important to understand that during this period Okinawan martial arts were essentially Japanese based. Japanese martial arts entered Okinawa via a large influx of members of the Minamoto [源] and the Taira [平氏] clans as a result of the Genpei Gassen [源平合戦] (1180–1185). It is beyond the scope this article, but it is worth mentioning that Okinawan royalty is closely associated with the Minamoto clan and that Taira is still a very common name on Okinawa. Japanese weapons, bujutsu, and military strategy became closely associated with Okinawan royalty and the Aji [按司].

Or to be more accurate, it is because of these weapons, martial skills, and strategies that these families were able to seize power and become kings and lords in the first place.

 Uni Ufugusuku traveled with Momoto Fumiagari to Katsuren-gusuku [勝連城] when she married Amawari [阿麻和利] the Aji of that castle. Amawari was famous for his ambition and king Sho Taikyu sought to use a family bond to decrease the chance that Amawari would attempt to depose him.
The ruins of Katsuren-gusuku
Still somewhat concerned that the power-hungry Amawari could possibly attempt a coup d'état, king Sho Taikyu turned to his father-in-law Gosamaru [護佐丸] who was an extremely powerful Aji and had Gosamaru build the Naka-gusuku [中城] fortress.
The ruins of Naka-gusuku fortress
Naka-gusuku was built directly between Katsuren-gusuku and Sui-gusuku [首里城] and would allow Gosamaru's forces to intervene if Amawari ever attempted to march on the capital to seize Sui-gusuku (and thus the Ryukyu kingdom) for himself.

Sui-gusuku (Shuri Castle)
However, Amawari was clever enough to quickly remove the obstacle imposed by Gosamaru and the forces of Naka-gusuku. He somehow managed to convince king Sho Taikyu that it was really Gosamaru who was plotting against him. So the combined forces of Amawari and Sho Taikyu attacked Naka-gusuku. Gosamaru committed seppuku [切腹] which in my personal opinion confirms his loyalty to his son-in-law the King.

Now, with his primary obstacle removed, Amawari turned his attention towards his real objective; stealing the throne of his father-in-law king Sho Taikyu. Princess Momoto Fumiagari (along with her loyal attendant/protector Uni Ufugusuku) was able to learn of her husband's plot and, with the aid of Uni Ufugusuku, was able to escape Katsuren-gusuku and warn her father of the impending attack. Uni Ufugusuku lead the forces of Sho Taikyu in the successful military campaign against Amawari. Uni Ufugusuku used his katana [] to personally execute Amawari. Ufugusuku's sword continued to be passed down as a cultural treasure into the 20th century. However, during the Battle of Okinawa Ufugusuku's katana was lost, stolen, or destroyed...

Sign mentioning Ufugusuku's martial arts mastery in front of the ruins of Chibana-gusuku

In recognition of his martial skill and loyalty to the king, Uni Ufugusuku was given Chibana-gusuku [知花城] (which he restored). Ufugusuku Kenyu married princess Momoto Fumiagari who had fallen in love with him after he rescued her from her power-obsessed husband Amawari and saved her father from violent overthrow.

Tomb of Uni Ufugusuku
Tomb of Momoto Fumiagari (Uni Ufugusuku's wife)
 Learn how modern martial arts masters like Mabuni Kenwa [摩文仁賢和], Hokama Tetsuhiro [外間利弘], Oyata Seiyu   [親田清勇], Oshiro Tetsuhiro [大城利弘 ] and others are linked to the ancient Ufugusuku Legacy