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Karate, Way of the Empty Hand 3:4

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And the fighter is very securely balanced. There are two ways of breathing in Sanchin kata. One is directly from the nose down into the lower abdomen. The other is done with a feeling that the air travels up around the back of the head, down the spine, and up into the lower abdomen where it is wound up like a spring. Both of these are done harmonising the breathing with the movements. Hands out... turn to the side. You must bend your knees and tighten your buttocks. Draw your chin in. Breathing in through your nose, follow the breath in a big circle down your spine and then up into your abdomen and wind it up there. So to perform the kata correctly, you must adopt the proper stance by lowering the chin and shoulders, turning the elbows and knees inwards tensing the buttocks and abdomen, and glueing the feet to the floor. If you also use the right breathing you can perform Sanchin correctly. Press the feet hard into the floor and turn them outwards. The big toes should be kept in line and glued to the floor. Bend your knees a little. Tighten your thighs and your buttocks. We slap to see if all the muscles have been tightened or not. If you slap the thigh and the knee buckles, the muscles were not tight. The other reason is for mental training. Uehara-san has been practising Sanchin for many years. The prolonged muscular tension has developed his strength. The combination of this tension with the special breathing and the harmonised pattern of movements has generated a deep inner concentration. Exercises like these must be practised with great caution. If bad habits are allowed to develop, then the powerful tension in the chest can cause internal injury. If you hit a partly inflated ball, your hand would sink into it, whereas your hand would bounce off a fully inflated ball. In the same way, if the muscles of the performer are fully tightened the hands of the slapper will sting and fly off the performer's shoulders. This is a training for your mind as well as your muscles. When you stroke the performer's body, it is not only to correct his posture, but also to help him improve. It gives him confidence that he is performing well. Kamimura-san is one of Higaonna-sensei's most senior students. He can reach such a deep state of meditation, that he doesn't appear to even notice the fierce slaps. Karate is my life. It is my subject of study. It is like a cloud - with nothing substantial to grab hold of. I challenge karate by practising every day and I attempt to grasp something from it, though for the most part, I don't come away with very much. Karate is a product of Okinawa's island culture, which is more than a 1000 years old. It was a peasant community until Chinese and Japanese visits in the 8th and 9th centuries. The inhabitants gradually formed three rival kingdoms on the island. Okinawa was unified in 1429 by King Shō Hashi. The walls of his palace and the royal tombs have been rebuilt. After he disarmed the noblemen, a court of astonishing splendour grew up around him. The Ryūkyū islands, of which Okinawa is part, became a rich trading nation, the Venice of the far east. Since trade was oficially banned between Japan and China, they acted as the middlemen between them. They took their culture from the many countries they traded with, but always adapted it, making it their own. The great turtleback tombs that are placed on hillsides all over the island came from the Chinese. The response of the working people of the island to being disarmed was to develop a fighting system based on using their tools as weapons. Fishermen developed combat skills using turtle shells as shields and fish spears as short swords, adopting the techniques of karate. Like the warriors, they also maintained it as a secret, concealed art. Master Higaonna's research into karate includes a study of these weapons systems. In karate, we use striking techniques, do you have them in your school? No, ever since olden times, we have had no word for striking. Farmers learnt to use threshing flails, horse bridles, and even these grindstone handles as weapons. These are particularly useful for defence against the sword, as the forearm can be used to block the sword strokes, and thus penetrate the swordsman's defence. What about the fingers? Do you twist the weapon? The moment you are attacked, you just push forward. Even the small Japanese rice harvesting sickles have a special kata designed to make them effective weapons. Each tool has been studied so that its special qualities of attack and defence are used. All the objects of everyday life were adapted by the peasants. On the other hand, the nobles always fought without weapons, maintaining the art of the empty hands. Out of the wreckage of war, other parts of the Okinawan culture survive. Their music, strongly influenced by Indonesian styles, and their skill in weaving and dying silk come together in the ancient court dances. This is a woman practising a man's dance. Is there hard and soft in dancing as in karate? Yes, there is hard and soft. Putting strength into that movement is like in karate, just like this. Dance master Miyagi-sensei studied the same style of karate, Gōjū-ryū, as Master Higaonna, until he reached 4th Dan black belt status. He was learning to dance at the same time. And at this point, when he was nearly 40, he decided to dedicate the rest of his life to teaching dance. With 15 years of karate training behind him, Miyagi-sensei is deeply aware of the similarities between the two arts. He stresses that it is not just the movements that are the same. The actual way of performing the movements is also the same. The feet must move diagonally, then be firmly planted on the floor. The arms flow out gracefully, but are checked by tensing the muscles. In karate we call that the "one-finger fist" We have the same techniques in dance. It's just the same. Why do they grab their sleeves when doing that? That's just to make the form more beautiful.

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 59 seconds
Country: Brazil
Language: English
Views: 74
Posted by: halfleaf on Apr 24, 2010

Karate, Way of the Empty Hand 3:4

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