living

The frill of a chase,

Riding in the wind,

surfing down a mountain,

whispering to a giant,

Picking fruits,

Life is the nectar of the gods

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Braving the dragons eye

The eye of the dragon grows brighter,

With each passing day,

Towards the day of destiny,

The hunger strikes,

Nerves tingle with excess energy,

The flames of the phoenix still linger in the scars of your back,

As you continue to look forward,

You pick yourself up time and time again,

Steadying yourself,

Readying yourself,

For when you stand alone and look deep into the dragns eye,

Will you run away?

Will your fear overcome you?

Will you remain broken?

Or will you stand tall and proud,

And embrace your destiny,

With the flesh burning forming a mark,

Of your potential,

Of your destiny

Blackbelt/Brownbelt Goju Ryu course

It is always special when you are taught under Shihan and a privilege when you get to go to one of his high grade courses, you feel like you soaked a huge wealth of martial knowledge that will take you months or years to fully digest and to integrate with your own martial art journey.

The courses focus was seiunchin and focus is the key word. We practiced the kata several times aiming to get everyone in sync with one another. We worked on where our focus should be, thinking about application whilst doing kata, looking before we strike, playing a little with the katas tempo exaggerating key moments to focus the mind.

We made it more snapper at one instance and at another far more Sanchin and gentle and Ju like but equally as dangerous.

Shihan has an amazing way of bringing the kata to life, not just a string of techniques, principles or a series of movements, but a living breathing organism that just makes the kata so much better, you could feel electricity in the room when everyone’s seiunchin evolved, it made you think oh my god this is how kata should feel like all the time.

We then looked at a section of seiunchin that a lot of people have a weakness in the kata, where you drive the hip at an angle to deliver a powerful uppercut. We focused a lot of time on this sequence with Shihan explaining about short range shock power. It was at this moment that a light ball clicked in my head, he was describing the short range power that I learnt in China through White Crane, the only difference was that my leg starts of in the air.

The way I like to think of it is like a gunshot as if you pulled a trigger (I never have but I have a very powerful imagination.) it’s not about speed it’s about the right muscles firing the right body structure at the right time, it’s a state of mind, BANG and you explode into it. Too much thinking and you can’t achieve it.

After we worked on this then we practiced this section of the kata in randory, then we use the gun principle to hit pads, reacting before you think, focusing less on chambering but always having your hands in guard and just react.

After this we went through the main kata and for the last section of the course he wanted us to practice principles of tensho. To do this he had to teach the lower grades tensho. I will deviate slightly off topic this was like the best Christmas present, I’ve always wanted to learn tensho ever since I first saw it when I started Goju ryu, when I first really appreciated the karate kid films, when I went to china and saw Tensho like movements within the second and third forms of white crane, when you watch Wing Chun form. I’m surprised I didn’t bounce off the walls! It’s like learning Sanchin all over again, I understand the principles and can only do the basic form but my mind-body connection doesn’t understand the deeper seated principles of  tensho, that will takes many years.

Well back to the topic, after this Shihan showed us how the principles of tensho were useful in sudden confrontation and he ended up looking like a kung fu master from the movies, with hardly any effort of stepping to the side and using tensho’s relaxed movements to get his attacker into a vulnerable position. We tried it with multiplies which was very fun, it was very aikido like and surprising how effective the moves could be. Sometimes I would get stuck because this is a new form of defending and it will take years to master, but when it worked it felt freaking awesome.

 

Sandan Course – Sanchin Punch

You can always tell how good a course is when months later you are still practicing its principles on your punch bag, and this course was especially awesome. The underlying feature was the three mechanisms that Tim and Caz (Bristol’s newest Sandans) use when striking an opponent.  What they refer to as the Sanchin punch. It was really interesting when they showed how they generate so much power just from body mechanics and structure, with a combination of the three principles that derive from Sanchin.

The first one is the simple spear, where you punch through the pad, but rather than just focusing on the punch, your focus is on pulling the other arm back with force which seems to drive your shoulders and hips more into the punch therefore generating power.

The second mechanism they use was the circular hip punch, rather than punching through the pad, you use your whole core to pivot providing more weight to the punch enabling you to deliver power without using tensing your muscles.

The third mechanism was the corkscrew punch , drawing yourself from the ground and using the structure from the hip to the punch. It appears deceptively less powerful than the other two seem but you can generate power at a far shorter distance than the others.

When we combined all the principles together there was a considerable difference in our power output with minimal effort. This in itself is very useful for a fighter, not having to rely on their physical power to give power to the punch it means that your punches can be faster and use less energy. It shows that when you use the principles of Sanchin that you don’t need to muscle your way in. The Sanchin punch relies on technique giving a small person the ability to generate a lot of power though their body structure.

Videoing each punch was very useful as it shows us how each principle works, and what we need to work on to make them far more effective. Mix in watching how the Nidan’s adopted it to how they fight on the pads, surprise Kumite with the London lot, ale and the ingenious of a collapsible donkey toy it made for a very special course.