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Hojo undo

Okinawan Goju Ryu Hojo Undo (Supplementary Exercises)

Kanryo Higashionna’s advice for using supplementary equipment in Karate (From Shoshin Nagamine Sensei’s book Tales of Okinawa’s Great Masters)

The following training advice has been passed down from Higashionna Kanryo:

  1. The results of one’s efforts are cumulative: never rush or show off.
  2. Train in accordance with your ability
  3. Repeat each exercise until exhaustion and build intensity gradually.

Nigiri Gami (Clay Gripping Jars)

The Makiwara (punching board)

The chi-shi, also known as chikaraishi, consists of a concrete weight attached to an end of a wooden handle (similar to a lollipop).Chi-shi training is extremely vital to Okinawa Karate-Doh Goju Ryu. It should be used side by side with the practice of Sanchin and Tensho Kata. Correct use of the chi-shi will improve muscle tone, strength in the fingers, hands, arms and chest (amongst many other parts of the body), however these are only the external benefits. The ligaments and cartilage of the wrist, elbows and shoulder joints will also benefit from this form of training.

Kami (Jar) In Okinawa they have many types of jars. There are jars for sake there are jars for money; there are jars for water etc. Each jar can have a different shape. In Sanchin Kata we do a technique called double nukite (spearhand) strike. When you are doing this technique you can visualise your arms around a kami (jar), like what is demonstrated in this picture

Makiage Kigu: the training with this hojo undo equipment helps in the development and strengthening of the grip and wrist. The practice with makiage kigu is also a good supplemental exercise to develop the forearms.

Nigiri Gami

hojo-undo-nigiri-gami

Makiwara

hojo-undo-makiwara

Chi Ishi

hojo-undo-chi-ishi

Kami

hojo-undo-kami

Makiage Kigu

hojo-undo-makiage-kigu

Kongoken

hojo-undo-kongoken-01

Goju-Ryu katas

Gekisai Dai Ichi – 撃砕第一

Rip and Tear I or Turning Disadvantage into Advantage Ikata-gekisai-dai-ichi

This kata was developed and introduced in the 1940’s by Miyagi Chojun O’Sensei. It’s intention was to popularize Karate-Doh to the general public and help establish a curriculum for school children. It contains powerful, basic movements that are quite easy to interpret and learn, however many of the techniques have multiple applications. Most the movements are done with a closed fist and with full power.

Gekisai Dai Ni – 撃砕第二

kata-gekisai-dai-niRip and Tear II or Turning Disadvantage into Advantage II

The format of this kata is very similar to Gekisai dai Ichi, however some advanced techniques and timing are included. Kake uke (open hand hooking block), mawashi uke (circular block) and neko ashi dachi (cat foot stance) are the additional techniques in the kata. In Gekisai dai Ichi full power and speed was utilized however, in Gekisai dai Ni the concept of ‘muchimi’ (a heavy, sticking but flowing action) is introduced in the kake and mawashi uke’s. ‘Muchimi’ requires stances with a lower centre of gravity, hence neko ashi dachi!

Sanchin Ichi – 三戦一 (Miyagi Sanchin)

kata-sanchin-ichiSanchin Ichi translates as “3 Battles One” or “3 Conflicts One”. This kata was developed by Miyagi Chojun O’Sensei because he perceived Sanchin Ni, the original Sanchin kata he learned from Higaonna Sensei, was too long for beginners. As stated above, Sanchin Ni was determined to be too difficult for beginners to perform, therefore Sanchin Ichi was developed, leaving Sanchin Ni to be taught at a brown and black belt level. Brown and Black belts should do their own personal training using Sanchin Ichi and Sanchin Ni. Sanchin Ichi has all the same movements as Sanchin Ni but is shorter and no turns hence making it a little easier.

The Sanchin kata are the basis of the Goju-Ryu Karate system. All other kata are based on the Sanchin forms. The principals of the Goju-Ryu Karate are all encompassed within these kata. The Grand Masters in Okinawa have explained that in the olden days Goju-Ryu or Nata-te karateka would learn the Sanchin Kata and only one other Kata, based on that persons body type, therefore you would only two katas. Today we are very lucky to be able to learn the whole system, however we must remember Sanchin Kata was and still is an very important kata.

Saifa – 砕破

kata-saifaCrush and Tear or Smash and Tear

Saifa kata introduces tai sabaki (body evasion) and open handed palm-heel blocks and strikes (haito uchi). It mixes swift, light stances (neko ashi dachi & sagi ashi dachi) with solid, grounding stances (shiko dachi). Saifa contains a vast number of techniques like hammer fist strike (tettsui uchi), back fist (ura uchi), morote tsuki (double fist punch), ashi barai (foot sweep), haito uchi (ridge hand strike) etc, etc.

Seiunchin – 制引戦

kata-seiunchinTo Travel Far and Conquer or To Attack and Pull into Battle

Seiyunchin is a long and strength-sapping kata. It contains pulling and gripping techniques, throws, hidden techniques and requires a strong upper and lower body, good breath control and lots of stamina. There are NO kicks in this kata!! This kata is most performed at tournaments throughout the world. The techniques are well suited for practical, close-in fighting.

Sanchin Dai Ni – 三戦第二

Higashionna Sanchin

Sanchin Ni translates as “3 Battles Two” or “3 Conflicts Two”.  This has many meanings.  First it refers to the struggle to control the body under physical fatigue.  With fatigue the mind begins to lose focus and thus the spirit begins to diminsh as well.  Therefore Sanchin develops discipline, determination, focus, perserverance and other mental attributes.   The Chinese refer to this as Shen (spirit), Shin (mind) and Li (body).  Another possible interpretation refers to the “Three Burners” of the body as decribed in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
One of two “heishu ” Kata of Goju-Ryu, Sanchin is probably the most misunderstood Kata in all of Karate.  In contrast, it is probably the single most valuable training exercise in Goju-Ryu.  Like the other Kata of Goju-Ryu, Sanchin (Samm Chien in Chinese) can be found in several Chinese arts, particulary the southern styles including four styles of Crane Boxing, Dragon Boxing, Tiger Boxing, Lion Boxing, Dog or Ground Boxing and Monk Fist.  Sanchin has such aspects as deep, diaphramatic breathing found in many internal arts as well as external attributes like mechanical alignment and muscular strength.  Because many martial artists have little or no understanding of the true history and nature of the Chinese arts from which Okinawan Goju-Ryu has its roots, Sanchin has become little more than an isometric form performed with dangerous tension and improper breathing techniques.

The original Sanchin that Higaonna Sensei learned from RuRuKo (1852-1930) was performed with open hands and with less emphasis on muscle contraction and “energetic” breathing.   With the changes brought about by Emperor Meiji (Meiji Restoration Period 1888-1912), Higaonna Sensei changed the open hands to closed fists as the martial meaning was no longer emphasized.  Later Miyagi Sensei would again alter the Kata in pattern alone which is Sanchin.

Shisochin – 四向戦

kata-shisouchinFour Direction Battle

Again like seiunchin kata, close range techniques are used throughout this kata. Rapid whipping techniques are blended in with those requiring ‘muchimi’. Joint locks and breaks are a feature of Shisochin kata. You can see the Chinese influence in this kata as there are only four (4) closed hand techniques in this kata with all the rest open hand techniques. Hanshi Miyazato would do Shisochin Kata quite often at demonstrations. Much practice is required to master this kata especially to get the focus Hanshi Miyazato had.

Sanseru – 三十六手

kata-sanseruThirty Six Hands

The techniques in this kata seem basic, direct and hard, however there are some unique and advanced, close-in techniques. Joint and knee locks and kicks, low front kicks while moving forward and blocking after turning are techniques that require lots of practice. Slow movements evolve into fast, explosive ones. A feature of this kata is use of koken  (top of wrist) at the end of the kata. This last movement (morote koken uke in shikodachi) is an often misunderstood movement with an array of close-in applications.

Sepai – 十八手

kata-sepaiEighteen Hands

Circular, whipping movements and body evasion (taisabaki), dropping your body to rise up and push your opponent off balance and faints are all found within this kata. There are, as in ALL the other kata, many hidden techniques and movements. Certain hand techniques require a unique use of certain part of the hand eg, performing the gedan furi uchi after swiveling 90 degrees requires the hand to be shaped like it would when one knocks on a door.

Kururunfa – 久留頓破

kata-kururunfaForever Crushing and Breaking

Again the use of taisabaki, joint locking and breaking techniques are prominent within this quick and fast kata. Many open handed techniques could either be interpreted as a joint lock or a block, and depending on the circumstances could be used as both. The use of the hips to aid some hand techniques enhances both the power and effect of the technique.

Sesan – 十三手

kata-sesanThirteen Hands

The opening three Sanchin dachi steps with the morote chudan uke (double middle level block) and chudan gyaku tsuki (reverse stomach punch) appears to be similar to that as in Sanseru kata, BUT, in performance and application they are NOT! This is a powerful, fighting kata with many superb close-in fighting techniques.

Suparinpei – 壱百零八

One Hundred and Eight Hands

The longest of all the Goju Ryu kata, Suparinpei is said to contain all the techniques from all the Goju Ryu kata. Quick blocking and simultaneous striking are found all over this kata. Just like in a fight, you have to pace yourself and your breathing to end off this kata strongly. This kata is also known by it’s original name, Pichurin.

Tensho – 転掌

kata-tenshoRevolution of the Wrist or Revolution of the Heavens or Turning Hands

Tensho kata was created by Miyagi Chojun O’Sensei. Tensho literally means ‘turning hands’. This is the ‘JU’ (softness) of Goju and Miyagi O’Sensei developed this kata from the ‘Rokkishu’ kata of the Fukian White Crane System. The hand movements and breathing require a high level of co-ordination.

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  honoured!

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.