“Forceless Force is Forceful”, An interview with Shinzato Katsuhiko Sensei, May 2019

Here is Shinzato Katsuhiko Sensei’s translation of the article from Okinawa Times, May 2019

“Forceless Force is Forceful”

This phrase sounds contradictory, but I sensed its existence as I experienced physical contact with Mr. Katsuhiko Shinzato, who is a head of Okinawa Karate-Do Shorin-ryu Kishaba Juku. Without any forceful impact on my hand I was easily off-balanced and fell down when he made a soft touch against my attacking hand. He seemed to keep his whole body relaxed when confronting me. It is a very novel method that he has been developing based on the body mechanics in Naihanchi kata since he was in his 60s.

It is said that Naihanchi has the dual purposes: one is to build the body by tensing and hardening muscles, the other is to foster a pliable body by relaxing muscles. The latter is what Kishaba Juku utilizes so Naihanchi is performed with relaxed muscles from beginning to end. As a result, each of the motions of Naihanchi looks rather flowing and elastic.

A muscular body is built with flexor muscles. A fluid body is fostered by extensor muscles. No matter how hard you try to develop muscles, they will decline with age. On the contrary, when you gain a body of flexibility along with its bony structure, you can be an active practitioner for a lifetime. This is the main reason why Kishaba Juku focuses on practicing all of Kata with extensor muscles.

Kishaba Juku has adopted three ways of training: (1) they train themselves by tensing joints and muscles as seen in most of karate dojo, (2) they practice with Naihanchi stance (relaxed hip joints) by activating extensor muscles, and (3) they practice the same Naihanchi stance employing a soft touch to contact targets.

They call them respectively:

(1) Hard contact method,

(2) Light contact method, and

 (3) Soft contact method.

Above all, when you advance to the 3rd stage, you will be able surpass a larger or more muscular opponent with the relaxed power that you gain. It is a unique method that prevents an opponent from reacting immediately regardless of his physical strength.

The strength of relaxed body can be likened to a model of anti-earthquake architecture which is called a ‘tensegrity.’ Due to the stability and flexibility of the relaxed body, you can excel against any opponent in the physical actions and techniques of both defense and offense. All in all, a relaxed body may appear powerless, but it actually generates more vital power than that of a solid and rigid body.

Mr. Shinzato was born in 1939. He entered University of the Ryukyus in 1957 and began to practice karate at a karate club on the campus. After graduation, he became an English teacher in Junior high school in Naha. He was granted a special scholarship from American administration in Okinawa to study at Indiana University in 1964. After returning to Okinawa, he resumed karate at the headquarter of The World Shorin-ryu Karate-do Federation whose president was Master Shoshin Nagamine in 1967. He left the organization in 1981 and continued further training under Chokei Kishaba, who was the most efficient among practitioners. “Okinawa Karate-do Shorin-ryu Kishaba Juku” was established in honor of Kishaba sensei in 1998. Mr. Shinzato has now been a head of the Kishaba Juku since the year of 2000, when Kishaba sensei passed away.

Kishaba sensei was quite skeptical of the traditional discipline of Okinawa karate, which is kata-centered training and puts excessive emphasis on body toughening. His main goal was how to be skillful and efficient in the usage of his body and the manipulation of techniques in order to bring kata alive and to be practical in a kumite match. Mr. Shinzato has been doing further research and practice such that he was able to develop a new approach to karate, that is, the Soft contact method, which he is convinced is capable of cultivating unknown potentials of the human body regardless of age or sex.

Mr. Shinzato became 80 this past February. Practicing karate is a part of his daily life. Whenever he practices alone or with his students or karate visitors from outside of Okinawa, he always enjoys finding something new of body mechanics so that he cannot stop training.

Regarding kata performance and physical discipline, Okinawa Karate is considered to be sufficiently preserved and handed down from generation to generation. What about an aspect of skills of karate as an art of self- defense? Mr. Shinzato seems to strive to explore practical and useful method of making the well-built body active and brisk in a desperate situation. He is pursuing a legitimate art which is acceptable to different kind of martial arts.

Source: Okinawa Times, May 2019  

Adult Rank Advancement, September 2018

Rank advancement was conducted for our adult class on September 15, 2018. After a rigorous and challenging test, Bob and Jennifer Lazzarini were promoted to 3rd Kyu, Brown Belt in Shorin Ryu karate.

Brown Belt, 3rd Kyu Testing, September 2018

 

 

Pictured (Left to Right): Jennifer Lazzarini, Pedro Bernardy, Bob Lazzarini, Bill Northlich, Igor Akkerman, Bob Jinkins, Bob Gorman

 

 

Videos:

 

Home Dojo Remodel Update: October, 2018

Photos of our home dojo taken during and after my trip to Italy when Senpai “Uncle” Bob Gormen and his Project Team worked feverishly over the course of several days.  Their combined efforts resulted in a beautiful Shomen wall adored with cedar panels milled specifically for our dojo.  Although still a work in progress the dojo is once again ready for our use with an exquisite and unique setting that I know you will enjoy.

Thanks to all who have contributed and worked tirelessly since this project began,  particularly those who of you involved with this most recent change:

Bob Gorman

Igor Akkerman

Bob, Jennifer, Noah and Benjamin Lazzarini

George (“Super Contractor”)

Martial Arts Study: Life Preserving and Life Enhancing, Sensei Iain Abernethy

A special podcast by Sensei Iain Abernethy in which he shares his motivation and approach to a lifetime of martial arts study. Much of what he describes echoes my own beliefs. Please listen and share your impressions. Be well, stay strong.

 

Marital Arts as Life-Preserving and Life-Enhancing

 

 

Ten Precepts of Karate: Itosu Anko

SOURCE: http://www.traditionalshotokankarate.co.uk/ten_precepts.html

 

In October of 1908 Anko Itosu realized that it was time for karate to reach beyond the shores of Okinawa to the heart of Japan itself. At this point he wrote his famous letter of Ten Precepts (Tode Jukun) of Karate to draw the attention of both the Ministry of Education as well as the Ministry of War. A translation of that letter:

Ten Precepts of Karate

“Karate did not develop from Buddhism or Confucianism. In the past the Shorin school and the Shorei school were brought to Okinawa from China. Both of these schools have strong points, which I will now mention before there are too many changes:

  1. Karate is not merely practiced for your own benefit: it can be used to protect one’s family or master. It is not intended to be used against a single assailant but instead as a way of avoiding a fight should one be confronted by a villain or ruffian.

  2. The purpose of karate is to make the muscles and bones hard as rock and to use the hands and legs as spears. If children were to begin training in Tang Te (‘China Art’ or ‘China Hand’) while in elementary school, then they will be well suited for military service. Remember the words attributed to the Duke of Wellington after he defeated Napoleon: “The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton” or “our victory today was achieved in our school yards” or “tomorrows victory can come from today’s playgrounds”

  3. Karate cannot be quickly learned. Like a slow moving bull, it eventually travels a thousand miles. If one trains diligently everyday, then in three or four years one will come to understand karate. Those who train in this fashion will discover karate.

  4. In karate, training of the hands and feet are important, so one must be thoroughly trained on the makiwara (striking post). In order to do this, drop your shoulders, open your lungs, take hold of your strength, grip the floor with your feet and sink your energy into your lower abdomen. Practice using each arm one to two hundred times each day.

  5. When one practices the stances of Tang Te, be sure to keep your back straight, lower your shoulders, put strength in your legs, stand firmly and drop your energy into your lower abdomen.

  6. Practice each of the techniques of karate repeatedly, the use of which is passed by word of mouth. Learn the explanations well and decide when and in what manner to apply them when needed. Enter, counter, release is the rule of releasing hand (tori-te).

  7. You must decide if karate is for your health or to aid your duty.

  8. When you train, do so as if on the battlefield. Your eyes should glare, shoulders drop, and body harden. You should always train with intensity and spirit and in this way you will naturally be ready.

  9. One must not over train; this will cause you to lose the energy in your lower abdomen and will be harmful to your body. Your face and eyes will turn red. Train wisely.

  10. In the past masters of karate have enjoyed long lives. Karate aids in developing the bones and muscles. It helps the digestion as well as the circulation. If karate should be introduced beginning in the elementary schools, then we will produce many men each capable of defeating ten assailants. I further believe this can be done by having all students at the Okinawa Teachers College practice Karate. In this way after graduation they can teach at the elementary schools that which they have been taught. I believe this will be a great benefit to our nation and our military. It is my hope you will seriously consider my suggestion.”

Anko Itosu, October 1908

 

Itosu Anko and His Contribution to Okinawan Martial Arts

This article, written by my student Robert Jinkins,  details the history and legacy of this karate innovator.  If not for Itosu Sensei efforts we may have never heard of karate in any form.  Please read Bob’s work and leave any question or comment you may have regarding it.  Thank you.

ITOSU ANKO AND HIS CONTRIBUTION TO OKINAWAN MARTIAL ARTS