11 April, 2014

More karate or martial art phrases

Here are a few more phrases that may be of interest.  I find a great deal of knowledge in the simplicity of short phrases of wisdom.  The brevity adds a measure of abstraction that requires more thought and diving deep into ones experience.

Collection of the karate proverbs written in the Yojijukugo 四字熟語 (four characters) style:1. On Ko Chi Shin 温古知新 - ask old to understand a new2. Hatsuun Jindō 抜雲尋道 - parting the clouds and find the way3. Bun Bu Ryō Dō 文武両道 - literary and martial arts as one4. Kō Un Ryū Sui 行雲流水 - floating clouds, flowing water5. Kisshu Fushin 鬼手佛心 - a demon's hand, a saint's heart6. Seki Ma No Sei 石磨之勢 - the incentive to polish stones 7. Nai Gō Gai Jū 内剛外柔 - hard on the inside and gently outside

I wish I could lay claim to collecting these, but again others have done the hard work.

The way is in training...

What is important in your art

Again I must link to my betters:

The idea here is that we practice martial arts, not martial sports or martial techniques.  Without a sense of beauty, elegance and efficiency then why do we not just focus on brute force and outright death?

Fantastic thoughts abound with this concept.

The way is in training, as always...

01 March, 2014

Inspirational Phrases

It has been a long time since I posted anything.  I just haven't felt the urge, nor do I think that anything I have to say will add to that already out there, or better yet that discovered through training.  If you seek wiser words, please do visit some of the blogs I have mentioned in past articles.

Anyways, here are some interesting phrases and sayings that are relate to karate or martial arts in general.  I found this list on the Shinsokai website.  I hope that people will visit the original to see the full information, but I think just seeing the phrases and trying to understand it from your own context is also informative.

Here are some of the ones I find the most interesting, applicable and immediate relevant to my own attitudes and training.
  • Bunbu ryudo
    • The twofold path of martial and literary arts
  • Onko chisin
    • Study the old to understand the new
  • Shin gi tai
    • Character, technique, body
To wander again, I have been reading Mike Clarke's book Shin Gi Tai, and I have been thinking a lot about the training I do, and the mentality I have about it.  It really forces one to shine a light on the dark parts of one's thoughts, and seek a path through it instead of around it.  This is the toughness of spirit that I wish to instill in myself.  I highly recommend the book for those interested in traditional mindset of the martial arts.

As always, friends, the way is in the training.

24 November, 2013

Ryukyu Martial Arts and other great blogs

For the few that follow my blog, I would like to point out an excellent resource that (if I haven't pointed out yet in a previous blog) I would like everyone to visit and examine.

Ryan Parker Shinshii (Sensei in Okinawan) is a great wealth of information, from conditioning to application of techniques to research and development of bunkai.  The world could do worse to have more like him.  I would greatly recommend following his blog, or looking him up on youtube - he is a rare person who shares his knowledge freely and has a keen mind that cuts through the BS too often associated with the martial arts.

While I am at it, I would like to point out some of my favourite blogs.  Please excuse any repeats from previous posts.  These are ones which I visit and revisit regularly and find something new or important every time.  The world definitely needs more people like this.

As always, yours in training (where you will find the way)...

Kempo Hakku and Chinese Influences

I have been thinking again about the Kempo Hakku found in the Bubishi.  For those who do not know about this document, it is the so-called Bible of Karate.  It contains references to pressure points, philosphy, ethics, forms and useful self defense techniques that can be found in (some of the) kata of differing karate traditions.

I have decided to write a brief post about these 8 Lwas of the Fist Way, and compare some thoughts I have found about Chinese Quan Fa.  Regardless of the actual connection between Karate and Quan Fa, I think this comparison might be interesting and at least useful as a recording of my own thoughts.

First, let's give the 8 Laws of the Fist Way, then some principles that some may be familiar with.

1. Jinshin wa tenchi ni onaji. -The mind is one with heaven and earth.

2. Ketsumyaku wa nichigetsu ni nitari. -The circulatory rhythm of the body is similar to the cycle of the sun and the moon.

3. Ho wa goju wo tondo su. -The way of inhaling and exhaling is both hard and soft.

4. Mi wa toki ni shitagai hen ni ozu. -Act in accordance with time and change.

5. Te wa ku ni ai sunawachi hairu. -Techniques will occur in the absence of conscious thought.

6. Shintai wa hakarite riho su. -The feet must advance and retreat, separate and meet.

7. Me wa shiho wo miru wa yosu. -The eyes do not miss even the slightest change.

8. Mimi wa yoku happo wo kiku. -The ears listen well in all directions

You can find similar translations all over the place.  Perhaps a better translation is found here:

And now, here is an excerpt on the methods and 'secrets' of quan fa from another excellent blog, Be Not Defeated By the Rain:

From another perspective, 「直橫」is a boxing mnemonic, and is one of the most important principles in Southern kung fu, like  swallowing and expelling「吞吐」floating and sinking「浮沉」twisting and turning「擰轉」it describes how to use the body. The martial artist form Lingnam Lee Sai Wing states in his work 《工字伏虎拳拳譜》 states:

"The Art of Boxing is easy to learn and hard to attain its essense, one has to first understand its rules and practice its standards, afterwards one has to train the qi and power and be proficient in receiving the enemy's attacks. Understanding this, one's kung fu increases, from this [basis] one seeks the straight and sideways, swallowing and expelling, forward and retreat, entering and exiting, the secret of the four places, the method of the five gates, the shape of the eight faces, the road of life and death"

One can see from this that straight and sideways is an important wushu concept, and to treat it as standing up or lying on the floor is to distort its original meaning. The literati have always liked to play with words but to deliberately distort an important martial concept is to me unnecessary and seem to be intentionally misleading.

Here is a brief summary of the methods or movements key to Quan Fa:

  • Straight and Sideways
  • Swallowing and Expelling
  • Forward and Retreat
  • Entering and Exiting
  • Four Places
  • Five Gates
  • Eight Faces
  • Floating and Sinking
  • Twisting and Turning

So, I would like to draw attention to the most basic of these, floating/sinking (Heaven and Earth) and spitting/swallowing (I see a clear reference to inhalation and exhalation, aka Goju).  It seems clear to me that these four basic methods of dealing with an attack are found in most, if not all, of karate's kata.  But we also see examples of certain other aspects in some of the forms as well.  Sideways is obvious in Naihanchi, and things such as forward/retreat and enter/exit (either of these two could be linked to Sun and Moon, but more obviously a reference to the feet meeting and retreating from another) as seen all over the place.  Twisting and turning are found in kata from all styles of karate (Taikyuko, Heian, Saifa, Kururunfa come to mind off hand).  What I can't place is the 4 places and 5 gates.  8 faces seems to hint towards the eight basic directions of attack (N, S, E, W, NE, NW, SE, SW) and also the directions in which the ears should listen.  Interesting...

At any rate, it is late, and I have to think more on what all of this means.  I hope to cover my thoughts in more detail in later articles.

As always, the way is in training...