FEBRUARY 23, 1998
This week the technique is a re-cap
of the use of various training methods i.e. kata, kumite, makiwara, bunkai, tanden-kumite
(body-conditioning) and the use of kumite as a part of our training. I feel the
misconception of kumite is due to the complicated nature of the physical exchange and body
contact between practitioners using deadly physical force in karate practice. All the
thoughts and principles expressed in this post have always been part of our training
methods. We need only to reflect on our own experiences in karate classes from day one. It
is impossible to do everything in every class, however we do review and reiterate all
aspects of kata and kumite throughout our training. This is most important and must be
considered by the Shihan, instructors and students.
I thank Hodes Sensei for his thoughts
on the importance of kata over kumite, which were well researched. This letter is intended
to complement and further that concept. I certainly appreciate Hodes Sensei's views as I
appreciate the views of each Shihan and Director of the Dojo and Clubs of Shorin-Ryu
Karate USA under the direction of Hanshi Ueshiro.
Kata, as we all know, is the most
important aspect of karate training. Kumite, is second to kata practice and is also an
integral part of karate training, primarily through the use of yakusoku kumite, bunkai,
tanden kumite and also "one step sparring" as described in part in last week's
technique bulletin. The final form of kumite - jyu kumite - is a relatively minor feature
training. We rarely spend time during class, for instance, practicing jyu kumite.
The primary use of jyu kumite is as
part of the belt promotion for the higher ranks, especially for Dan ranks. This rule that
Dan level promotion include jyu kumite is directly from Grand Master Ansei Ueshiro and has
been in effect since 1962. I, myself initiated the jyu kumite at the last promotion in NYC
as we always do at ALL of our dan-level tests.
Master Shoshin Nagamine also
expressed his thoughts on the utility of jyu kumite on page 29 of The Essence of Okinawan
Karate-do" under the heading "RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STUDY": "3.
Study and practice kumite (formalized and free-fighting not primarily for tournament
purposes, but to acquire ma-ai, to develop the martial art sense of reading the opponent's
movements, and to develop kiai and stamina, which cannot be fully attained through the
practice of kata alone."
I, Kyoshi Scaglione, practice this
and have been doing this
regularly in the classes I conduct. However not predominantly and always using the
techniques from Shorin-Ryu Karate (kata) in kumite practice.
Also, on page 247 is:
"Karate must be studied as a martial art with due stress on the practice of kumite as
a life-or-death match but not for tournament purposes. As I have always asserted, kata and
kumite are to karate as mother and father are to children. Both must be fully studied and
practiced with due consideration given to maintaining a properly balanced relationship
The contact with another in kumite
practice is invaluable training. The skills one has learned are tested through kumite in
the unique mutual relationship established between one's self and the opponent. Testing
one's self against another, not with the intention of harming the other or showing off
one's skills for tournament purposes, but with the intention of committing one's whole
being to the situation, makes kumite a marvelous learning experience. As in kata,
self-development is the essence of kumite."
I feel this is imperative and
re-state, from technique bulletin of 2/16, that there exist accepted and recognized kumite
variations within our training regimens and it is the responsibility of the Shihan
concerned for this instruction in each dojo.
Further, because Master Nagamine's
dictates on page 29 under "RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STUDY" about all aspects of
karate training are so critical, I have copied them below: "The following are
important recommendations and mottoes under which karate-do should be learned and
1. Develop karate-do on the basis of
its history and tradition.
2. Study and practice kata strictly
and correctly. (In order to focus all possible strength into each movement of the kata,
constant repetition is required. The body must be thoroughly trained, and this takes many
years. Even after many years, kata practice is never finished, for there is always
something new to be learned about executing a movement.)
3. Study and practice kumite
(formalized and free-fighting), not primarily for tournament purposes, but to acquire
ma-ai, to develop the martial art sense of reading the opponent's movements, and to
develop kiai and stamina, which cannot be fully attained through the practice of kata
4. Fully utilize such methods as
rope-skipping, exercise with bar bells, dumbbells, chishi (an ancient form of dumbbell),
sashi (iron hand-grip), etc., to develop the muscles and physical power.
5. Study the use of makiwara form
every possible angle in order to develop atemi, concentrated destructive power. This force
manifested in such demonstrations as the breaking of boards, tiles, or bricks with the
hands and feet.
6. Include zazen (Zen training in a
sitting position) in karate practice for further mind training and understanding of the
essence of karate-do and Zen as one."
#1 is mandatory as described in the
three mandatory texts, the above mentioned by Master Nagamine, the red and green book.
#2 Kata comprises 60% or more of
every training session. Also as detailed in the technique bulletin of 12/28/97.
#3 Various forms of kumite are
practiced and many are restated in the 2/16/98 technique bulletin.
#4 All the equipment mentioned is and
was always a part of each dojo. Today there are more sophisticated modern equipment i.e.
Nautilus, Med-Ex type equipment, etc. We may enhance our muscular or physical power
development outside of the dojo (at the student's discretion).
#5 Makiwara is always encouraged, and
explained in part in the technique bulletin of 11/1/97. Board & brick breaking are
part of EVERY test and part of every formal karate demonstration.
#6 We sit seiza (a form of zazen)
before and after every formal class (karate practice).
I list the above mentioned point of
views in order to clarify the principles outlined in our system as evidenced by our past
years of training, class participation and testings.
The principles are not new, are
clearly spelled out in all three books: Okinawan Karate-do, Shorin-Ryu Q & A Book and
Building Warrior Spirit.