Archive for “January, 2016”

Bu, Ken, Ju

Bu

In Asia, since ancient times the spear has been the symbol of the warrior. Rendered into calligraphy in ideographic form, the spear is a basis for many kanji. It is the root for bu, the prefix used in a number of words concerned, not surprisingly, with things of a martial nature. There is bugei (martial skills), bushi (the feudal class of warrior gentility), and buke (an ancestral warrior family).

It would seem logical that the character for the spear alone would be sufficient to connote military. But, in making up the kanji for bu, the brushstrokes for spear are accompanied by additional strokes that mean “suppressing a revolt. ” The whole character for military, then, actually refers to “quelling an uprising by use of the polearm. ”

Smothering insurrections has been the purview of the military throughout civilization. Nowhere more than in Japan has it been the task of the warrior caste to enforce order. In the best of times, these military efforts restored peace and promoted culture in Japan. In the worst, they reinforced cruel oppression and crushed the spirit of the land. And so the bushi, the only well-armed class of old Japan, were both heroes to the people as well as tools of tyrants.

The spear used in the Japanese martial arts, the yari, is not a projectile weapon. It was wielded on the battlefield like a polearm. The yari’s tip is pointed for thrusting, but the blade typically is long and edged on both sides. The yari could be used to slash either right or left. So it is apt that the yari, a weapon to cut in opposing directions, would form the basis of so many words dealing with the martial. Just as he may today, the warrior in feudal Japanese society could cut both ways: for good or for evil.Ken

To test a sword crafted by the master smith Muramasa, its owner held the blade’s edge against the current in a stream. A leaf floated by; it touched the blade, and by the force of the current alone, it was sliced cleanly. The test was considered an ultimate trial of a sword’s quality-until someone thought to try it with a sword made by Muramasa’s master, the great Masamune. The Masamune sword was thrust into the stream, and another leaf swept toward it. Then, miraculously, the course of the leaf changed. It floated around the deadly edge, sailing on intact, as if the Masamune sword possessed a beneficent power beyond that for simply causing destruction.

The sword, or ken, along with the jewel and the mirror, is one of the three sacred treasures associated with Japan’s mythic creation. The crafting of the ken, too, is veiled in a ritual of mysticism. The swordsmith, even today, works at his forge attired in the white garments of the Shinto priest. Accompanied by apprentices wielding long-handled hammers, he chants and bangs a rhythm on the anvil, as a bar of molten iron glows and is then smashed into fiery sparks. Quenched, refined, the metal is flattened and folded again and again to make thousands of laminations. The process takes place before a Shinto altar and other consecrated trappings adorning the smithy, and it includes steps both religious and technical known only to the smith. The product is a weapon to inspire a kind of worshipful awe, as did Masamune’s blade. The ken exists in a dimension between the substantive and the fantastic.

The kanji for ken has a simple radical, two strokes representing the long blade of the sword, and another component that means “a combining.” A combining of what? Perhaps of the fire and prayer and pounding of steel that produce the sword. A combination of its edge, hard and keen as a diamond razor, and its spine, sturdy and flexible to absorb the shock of cutting. The “combining” in the kanji could refer to the sword’s incarnation as an object of beauty and as a brutal tool for cleaving a human neatly at any angle. Or could it be the combining of the reality and the legend that, like the test of the ken of Masamune and Muramasa, have long characterized the dual nature of the Japanese sword?

Ju

In springtimes long ago, the sages of China were given to celebrating the season by sipping rare teas, composing verse, and dining on fresh bamboo shoots. The emergence of takenoko, as young bamboo is called in Japanese, is a remarkable phenomenon throughout Asia in the spring. Pushing up with vigor, green sprouts of bamboo can pierce concrete if it lies between them and the sun. They grow with such force that they can actually be heard in the act: a rustling sound of renewal in the quiet spring night.

The energy of all young shoots in the plant world is extraordinary, especially so considering their delicacy. The slightest breeze can bend new growth. With nothing more than a bit of twine and bamboo poles as guides, the Japanese gardener can train the young boughs of a pine in fantastic shapes. Tender plant shoots can be trained, bent, and swayed, but so long as they are alive, they cannot be stopped. They are, for all their tenderness, indomitable.

The character for spear rests atop that for tree to create the kanji for ju. The etymological implication is that the growth of the tree has the power of a spear thrust. Ju–and this is the familiar prefix of judo and jujutsu–refers to the forces of pliancy. Ju is flexible strength, gentle potency. It is tenacity of a sort that embraces malleability. It bends to endure. Ju is durably soft; it receives in order to resist.

In a sense, ju is the process of turning to an aggressor the other cheek–only to use the movement of the turn to effect his defeat. The bugeisha who seeks to implement ju cannot settle for the brute stroke of the sledge. He needs the sensitive probe of the surgeon’s scalpel. Ju requires a connection to the opponent, physical at the beginner’s level, more mental at the expert’s, to palpate for strengths and weaknesses. Once discovered, ju can be applied to adapt to both these, the physical and the mental. To establish this connection in the dynamic action of conflict, the muscles and mind of the bugeisha flex and conform to ever-changing circumstances. Like the bamboo’s spring growth, the ju of the bugeisha is always yielding yet as unstoppable as the season itself.

Thanks for your kind words

Thank you all for your kind words and well wishes for our new daughter, Carrie Victoria.  We should be back in a more normal routine soon and we also will bring her into the dojo for you all to meet her.

Sensei Fred Lohse will be coming to the dojo September 17 – 19.  I would like as many of our Black belts to be on the floor as possible.  Friday night he will be teaching a white crane form (Goju Ryu’s roots are from the white crane system) which I would like you all to learn.  Along with new karate and kobudo drills (solo and partner)

  • Oct 15 – EMAC Black at Eastwind Dojo (all requirements need to be in to Sensei Lowry by set 24)
  • Oct 16 – EMAC gasshuku seminar and tournament at Tudor Hall. starts 8:45am – 4:00pm.

Hello Eastwind Black Belts,

We hope you are having a great Summer of 2010. I know some of you are having a very busy summer. Just do your best to get into class. We are still continuing having the brown and black belt classes thought out the summer. Hope to see you there. Also we have the Saifa Rensoku kumite / Oyo (application) seminar coming up in Napanee this weekend. I hope some of out black belts can attend.

We appreciate each and everyone of you and would not be able to many things in the dojo with out your help, thank you.

We will need your help in the near future when we have our 4th child. Probably for a week to 10 days we will need you people to open the dojo and cover classes while we are welcoming our new baby into the world.

After that Sensei Laura will be taking a short break from teaching and I will teach the 6:00 o clock class and of course my usual classes.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you in advance.

Sensei

 

Something to think about

Training in budo is the study of reality of life and death and the pursuit of spiritual strength with which to face that reality. The value of training is to experience the essence of reality and break down the barriers of judgment and desire. These barriers separate one from communication and the achievement of spiritual confidence. One must always practice koki, or self-challenge through the practice of shugyo, or daily training to improve quality of his or her chosen art. This is done through seishi-o choetsu, or “transcending life and death.” True budo knows no defeat. Never defeated means never fighting!

Lessons from Hanshi Chuck Merriman

Hanshi Merriman,  9th degree Black Belt,  attended EMAC’s National Black Belt Grading and Gasshuku, Oct. 23-24, 2009. The event was hosted by Sensei Brian Lowry,  Chief Instructor, Napanee Karate Club & President,  EMAC Canada. Merriman Sensei observed the National Black Belt grading, and was impressed with the spirit of the students. He taught seminars to Dan ranks, and  shared his lifetime experience in the Martial Arts. As the highest ranking person in North America in Jundokan Goju-Ryu, we are greatly  honored!

EMAC SEMINAR – OCT. 24, 2009

Notes from the Merriman Sensei’s Black/Brown Belt Seminar and all-Belt Seminar taken by Richard E. Welsman, Sandan, Napanee Karate Club

ON TRAINING METHODS

  • Eiichi Miyazato Sensei did not train everyone the same way. He looked at the individual’s own size and abilities and trained them accordingly.
  • The application of technique will vary from one person to the next. As instructors we should not insist that only what works well for us should be the only way for the student to apply the technique.
  • Goju grows. Don’t change the kata but develop new ways to use the kata
  • Bunkai is the product of personal research. It is not static. It varies according to the person. Kata should be analysed and then utilized.
  • Kata is not about learning a routine. Professional dancers can learn it in a few minutes. For them it is just a dance. Learning kata is about internalizing what is learned and doing that takes a long time.
  • The cycle for the student is DEPENDENCE to SEMI-INDEPENDENT to INDEPENDENCE. (Shu Ha Ri)
  • It is a mistake to rely on physical strength because it will some day be lost.  Life is a circle. When we come into the world we have no teeth and are bald and we finish the same way.
  • Train in the technique because it will work for all ages
  • There is a limit to how long physical strength alone will work
  • There are two kinds of strength; a muscular strength, and Ki, an inner strength. It is the latter strength that will endure.
  • When training with a partner under the supervision of an instructor do not talk even to discuss what one or the other is doing.
  • There is only one instructor and he will speak. If you are talking you are not listening. If you are talking when you practice you are not focusing on what you are doing.

If one is having problems with the drill seek the instructor’s assistance. The student is learning and cannot correct another. 

THE PURPOSE OF GOJU RYU

  • Be as hard as the world makes you, be as soft as the world will allow
  • Okinawans are the kindest and most gentle people in the world. They can be that way because they are strong people
  • Okinawan Goju Ryu  is not about blocking and punching, but about developing character.
  • Japanese Goju is designed for competition. Okinawan Goju is designed for self-defence.
  • Free sparring is not used at the Jundokan but I don’t think karate would survive in the United States without  sparring.

ABOUT PERSONAL COMMITMENT

  • If a student quits I will not have him back. If he comes to me and asks for a break from training I will give it to him.
  • Everyone has a choice to commit themselves to training on a regular basis in whatever way they can arrange it.
  • Plan your training. Continuity is the key.
  • Personal research should be a priority because everyone can use their training differently.

HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN INFORMATION AND MISINFORMATION

Look for what is commonly held opinion among good instructors and authors.

To be polite Okinawans will respond to misinformation by saying ˜That is a nice story’.

Added notes from Brian Lowry:

Thank you Richard Welsman for taking the time and effort to put this together. It was gratifying to hear Merriman Sensei speaking about so many of the things I have believed in and taught.

  • Patience
  • Continuity of Training
  • Inner Strength (Ki)  grows as physical strength dims
  • Kata remains the same, while understanding grows
  • Make good decisions, and stick with them
  • Kindness should be part of your being.

Kwan Dao

By Donald Hamby

Shrouded by its elegance of design and graceful sweeping curves the Kwan Dao (quandao), also known as the Green-Dragon or the Crescent-Moon broadsword, is a deceptively ominous force. This imposing weapon commands respect and admiration for its majestic appearance and highly effective design. It is made up of a long curving blade used for slicing and chopping that tapers up to a sharp pointed end used for stabbing and thrusting. The backside of the blade has a sharp upturned hook toward the base which is used for catching and trapping an opponents weapon. Between the hook and the pointed tip are several saw teeth which are also very sharp. Even the innocuous looking red tassel attached through a hole near the end of the hook serves as a distraction to an opponent. The blade is firmly attached to a long wooden staff with a metal cap at the opposite end. This cap sometimes has sharp thorny protrusions and a pointed tip for piercing the ground to assist in blocking sweeps. From top to bottom – every line, every curve, every frill – every element of its composition has a purpose. The Kwan Dao is power concealed in elegance.

Having trained in the Hung Gar style for more than 20 years with my teacher Master Bucksam Kong, I’ve worked with a wide variety of weapons. I have found that many people shy away from the Kwan Dao because of its intimidating appearance. However, that is what first allured me to it for I believe that nothing worthwhile comes easily. In addition to the self-defense aspects there are also physical fitness benefits offered by the Kwan Dao. Because of its size and weight, it takes strength, coordination, and stamina to perfect the movements required to wield such a weapon. And it has the added benefit of building and toning muscles as you train with it.

Mastery of the Kwan Dao requires diligent dedication to the techniques that evolved from the following 12 basic movements: Hack, Grind, Slice, Upward slash, Stab, Dragging cut, Flipping cut, Block, Overhead block, Tickle, Pick off, and Pierce. Hack an overhead chopping movement Grind push sword forward slightly while rolling the blade Slice round the body horizontal circling movement Upward slash upward slicing movement from bottom to top Stab pushing the sword straight forward Dragging cut drag the sword behind turn around and apply an overhead chop Flipping cut make a slant cut back and forth Overhead block hold sword horizontally overhead with both hands to block a head on attack Block move the sword horizontally from right to left the body to block incoming stabs.

Tickle hold the sword lengthwise make a curve sweep from left to right Pick-off upward sweeping movement with the tail of the sword handle Pierce forcefully move the lower end of the handle downwards to block a sweep

In addition to the 12 basic movements, there are 5 whirling sword movements lending their support to the techniques. They are as follows: Double-arm swirl, Single-arm swirl, Over-head swirl, Over-back swirl, and Over-shoulder swirl. Double-arm swirl hold sword in front of body with both hands and make upward and downward swirl movements Single-arm swirl hold sword with one hand and make swirl movements Over-head swirl Hold sword above the head with both hands and make swirl movements Over-back swirl bend at the waist with both hands on the back swirl sword horizontally Over-shoulder swirl with the center of the sword handle positioned near the neck, swirl around the neck while alternating hands

The Kwan Dao is named for its originator, the legendary hero General Kwan Yu. Upon entering many Gung Fu schools, a statue or painting of General Kwan with a long beard and vivid red face clutching the broadsword, can be seen. Over 1,700 years ago, during the latter part of the Han Dynasty, then a commoner unaware of his destiny for greatness, Kwan Yu came to the aid of a neighbor who was being victimized by corrupt government officials. Kwan was a very large, powerful man with a distinctive red face and made a most formidable adversary. As word of his insurrection spread, he became a hero to his peers as he continued to help those who were being exploited in his quest to uphold justice and to propagate peace and order. He was also gaining a reputation among the nefarious officials who vigorously stalked him in light of their growing abhorrence of him. Much to their chagrin, Kwan’s good deeds did not go unnoticed by the Emperor, himself an honorable man, who elicited his aid in eradicating the wickedness and treason which permeated the infrastructure of the palace, the government, and the army. He successfully weeded out the unsavory elements for the Emperor and was appointed the lofty position of General. He led the Emperor’s army and was renowned for his strength and military genius. General Kwan always stood up for just causes and showed mercy to defenseless opponents, and was highly revered for his wisdom, honesty and compassion. A true legend, to this day he is still highly exalted for his high standards and virtue as he is recognized as the Patron God of Chinese Martial Arts. His likeness is maintained in traditional Shaolin kung fu schools as well as in many government offices in China such as police stations and post offices. He was the epitome of righteousness, loyalty, humbleness and justice.

During his reign as General, he found the need to develop a weapon that could best take advantage of his great size and superior strength. Additionally, since many battles ensued from horseback, the weapon needed the versatility to be effective from atop a horse or on foot against either a horse, the rider, or a foot soldier. His creation, the Kwan Dao, is named after the General who, additionally, was the greatest master of the weapon. The original Kwan Dao weighed between 100-200 pounds. The present-day Kwan Dao weighs between 10-40 pounds and other than its weight, has changed very little throughout the years. Because the manner in which war is now waged has changed so drastically, relying almost exclusively upon high-tech fire-power; the Kwan Dao’s present-day usage is mostly for shows and demonstrations as with most martial arts weapons.

There are many virtues that have come down through the ages of time. The best of all virtues is knowledge, for knowledge is power, and the understanding of knowledge is the application of power. Learning the Kwan Dao requires discipline and mental fortitude. This however was not a problem for me because I was imbued with these qualities by my parents from childhood. Upon learning the Kwan Dao from my teacher Master Bucksam Kong would demonstrate the intriguing movements of this powerful weapon which amazed me to the point of total emulation. Each morning I would get up and practice the routine I had learned from my sifu, being attentive to the smallest detail. In the beginning it was a trying task. But anyone who wishes to learn the Kwan Dao must be willing to sweat blood, gasp for air and struggle in pain.

After many years of tenacious training and public demonstrations, my sifu was proud to present me on cable television. But most of all I represented the Kwan Dao in the masters division at the 1997 Tat Man Wong tournament and received a standing ovation that would have made General Kwan’s face the brightest of red. May the Kwan Dao live and never die.

I would like to conclude by stating the following Shaolin proverb – He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened. He who conquers others is strong. He who conquers himself is mighty. He who knows contentment is rich. He who keeps on his course with energy has will. He who does not deviate from his proper place will long endure. He who might die but not perish has longevity.

The Kwan Dao (meaning big knife) was developed by a great general named Kwan Yu. He lived during China’s Three Kingdoms period (220-280 AD) and was ambushed and murdered by soldiers of the Wu Kingdom around 220 AD. (inconsistent dates) Because of Kwan Yu’s military prowess and bravery in battle, and righteous deeds, he was deemed the God of War or Wu-ti: Wu meaning military and Ti meaning emperor. Kwan Yu official position was to serve as the vanguard of the empire and to quell internal, as well as, foreign threats. Kwan Yu was so revered that military officials and Gung Fu societies alike formed a religious cult, evoking his name for protection before going into battle. Although Kwan Yu is no longer with us in the physical, his spirit and his legacy still lives in the hearts and minds of the people of China.

Message from Kyoshi Tallack

This is an e-mail I received for Kyoshi Tallack who is the Canadian Representative for the International Division of the Dai Nippon Butokukai in which Sensei Laura, Sensei Mike, the Dojo and some black belts are a member of.  Other black belts may consider becoming a member.  If you are interested please speak to me.

Many of you already do this as it is already is your character and we are very proud of you.

_______________________________________

Dear DNBK Member;

As we enter into this next season of Budo events the question “What is the meaning of DNBK membership?” has been asked again.

The tenets of the Dai Nippon Butokukai include Respect, Compassion, Gratitude, Honour, Integrity, Loyalty and Discipline.

If we are to truly benefit from our involvement in the DNBK we must do more than just give ‘lip-service’ to these ideals.

There are many people who believe they are owed something from others, or that it is their right to ‘take ‘ from their community, their schools or their Dojo and never give back beyond money they pay for Dojo upkeep and expense.

Other people give and give with no respite.

In the last seasons members in Kingston, Oshawa, Fredricton, Charlottetown and Victoria have all contributed time to ongoing programs at Boys and Girls Clubs or initiated new ones.

Diliberto Kyoshi not only offered support to the Boys and Girls programs but also arranged, produced and taught two seminars, outside of his home community, and contributed ALL proceeds to Hamilton Shelter.

The example put forward by Kyoshi Diliberto should serve as an inspiration to all of us.

What will you do to give back?

Volunteer in your community.

Help the less fortunate.

Visit a home for the aged.

Any of these activities speak well for your character, and the lessons learned there from may be life changing as they assist you on your path of understanding true Budo

If you would, please support our DNBK in Canada to allow us to continue to offer service to our communities both through charitable work and in our mission to preserve the tenets and techniques of classical Japanese Martial Arts for future generations.

Gassho,

K.B. Tallack, BA., Kyoshi,

Canadian Representative,

International Division, Dai Nippon Butokukai