|[ olvasnivaló » Ura & Omote - 1998 April ]|
However, groups that focus on fighting without balancing it out with sensible philosophies and ethics and values risk degenerating into a very dangerous mindset. A person who works so hard at being a fighter risks being confined to the mindset of a fighter. If you can imagine someone who views life as a series of fights that are either won or lost, you can understand where I'm heading with this. We need more than just fighting skills.
Once upon a time, there was a group of people, a caste in a society, the Warrior Caste. This group loved to win. They loved to fight and to improve their methods of fighting. They reached a point where, if no fights, no battles, no wars were occurring, they would go out and start fights or create conflicts out of petty incidents merely to do something. Fighting was their purpose in life, and if they weren't fighting, they were drifting through life without purpose.
There are two groups that can fit in this description. One is from the science fiction show Babylon 5, and refers to a society called the Minbari. In turn, this society was partly based on another society, feudal Japan. The caste, of course, are known to us as the samurai, and during the Tokugawa period, the warriors either had to change into something else, continue fighting, or go underground. Later, in the Meiji era, the fighters were faced with the permanent extinction of their caste.
One of the things I admire about Stephen K. Hayes' To-Shin Do program is the inclusion of values, ethics, mind sciences, and philosophies that make it more than just fighting. Fighting is not "in style" these days, and hasn't been in style since the Old West in America. Specializing in fighting, therefore, can lead to a serious problem regarding skill building and opportunity. One learns all these fantastically destructive skills for what seems like no reason.
Part of the problem in other areas of the Internet and in the martial arts in general are groups that focus so heavily on fighting, on being members of that fighting caste, that they lose sight of the skills of personal development and self-development. Learning how to fight and learning how to damage, maim, or kill without learning why or why not is a risky proposition at best. Some of the more aggressive personalities on those forums are fighters with fighter mentalities. Others are cowards who would like to fancy themselves as fighters, and delude themselves into thinking they're great fighters... legends in their own minds, in a way.
Why are we different? Those of us here who truly focus on the big picture, on the goals we've set, namely helping ourselves, our friends, and our communities, have learned to take the skills of destructive power and the strategies of winning and learned to make them effective in other areas and specialties. A fighter may not be needed all the time, but a priest, a confidante, or a friend will never find themselves out of work.
Please don't misunderstand me- fighting skill is vital to self-protection and protection of others, but developing fighting skill ONLY has a terrible price. Given a choice between being an outstanding fighter and a lousy human being (such as a drunk, an abusive spouse, or a paranoid lunatic) or being a good fighter and a great human being, I'll choose the second, because I've lived the life of the first, even though it was a short period of time (3 years), and let me assure you that it's a terrible, sad, and very lonely existence.
I had an instructor once who was a fighter with a fighter's mentality. He was also a prison guard, and had some of the most self-destructive views I've ever seen in a human being. He was an alcoholic who preached politics to the kids' class, talking about how the President of the United States was a pot-smoking, dodge drafting, no good (insert expletives here)- to a class of 6-8 year old children.
It's better to be an okay fighter and a great person, because you'll have more friends, and in this day and age, the more true friends you have, the better off you are. It's also a much happier lifestyle.
One of the best ways to achieve these attributes, is by practicing the San Shin no Kata. This collection of techniques is said to be a special gift to Masaaki Hatsumi, from his teacher Toshitsugu Takamatsu. Hatsumi has said that the San Shin is a way to practice the basic attacking pattern by yourself. In addition these are the basics of how to use weapons. This was said to be one of Takamatsu's secrets.
Unfortunately, most people don't practice the San Shin in a way to reap it's full benefits. One reason for this is that maybe they just haven't been shown how to do it, or maybe (probably) because done correctly it's HARD! If done correctly, after a short while, you'll be breathing hard, and the muscles in your legs and lower back, will start to burn.
So, what are some of the problems that I see when people practice the San Shin? Well in no particular order the most common ones are:
So what then is my prescription for a "Ninja Body"?
These are the lessons that my experience has shown me to proper perfomance of the San Shin no Kata:
Question, what do we hit with? Answer the spine! That is actually what does the hitting shuto, keri, whatever, are an extension of the hitting spine. The power comes up from the earth. Grows from the earth you could say....
So, Chi no kata... From shizen no kamae, swing the hips around in a circle, and form Shoshin no kamae. The movement starts with a gripping of the earth with your toes. From there pull, and while keeping your head level (remember no bobbing!) Move your hips forward, and step out to a distance no farther than the length of your inseam. If you step farther, let your rear leg slide to keep the distance.
As this is happening, your rear hand drops into shitanken. Now here is the tricky part... All happening at once, as the same unit, your front knee starts to bend, as your spine hits down to a 45 degree angle (you should feel this in the upper thigh hip, and back NOT THE KNEE!) And the Shitanken swings up, as the other hand pulls back to a Boshiken on the hip causing the hips to turn slightly. There! Are you in a straight line from front hand fingertips to rear leg heal? The line should be at 45 degrees, front knee over toes, and the weight should be held by the upper thigh, hip, and back. This action and posture is the foundation on which all of your future training will be built.
Hatsumi has said that our kamae should become water, and we should "feel" as though our limbs are submerged in water. The lessons of Sui no kata, are flow, adaptability, and the idea of floating in water. People who have a background in Qi Gong will recognize the idea of floating in a pool of qi. This points to the advanced concepts "hidden" in the san shin.
Ok, Sui no kata, assume shoshin no kamae. Breath in, and start jodan uke. As you start the uke, if you keep alignment, you will notice that at a certain point your spine moves, and that that starts your hips moving, as your hips move you have to step to keep alignment. So...STEP! :-) Every move should should be in a link like a whip, one move starts the other... A flow.
Now, the step should land at the exact time the uke lands, as the uke hits your front foot should slide back a little to start your forward motion. Pull with the front foot (your toes point at ukes centerline) and rock your hips forward while keeping your jodan uke on his arm (or where it "would" be if doing alone...)
Bring rear hand up and omote shuto. Remember to hit with the spine, and you should be in the end position of chi no kata.
Start in Shoshin no kamae, and begin Sui no kata. Everything is the same except when you start to rock forward you bring the rear hand up to the front shoulder, as you do so you turn your rear hip and shoulder to point a little past centerline in the direction of your jodan uke.
What this should feel like is this.... Imagine that your rear hand and hip / shoulder is fire. Your uke punches on center line, and your jodan uke knocks their hand off centerline creating a space between centerline, and their punch. This space is like opening a door, and by opening the door you create a back draft. This sucks you in through the opening. As you get sucked in you contract, and then expand, and overcome them. Hit with ura shuto, and end in the position of chi no kata.
Fu no kata... Start in Shoshin no kamae. Everything is the same as in Sui no kata at first except you respond with gedan uke. Continue as in sui no kata, until you start to rock over your knee...As you do so you will hit with Boshiken, and end in the position of Chi no kata. The real "trick" in this kata is timing! At first it is VERY hard to do it right, and takes lots of practice. When the gedan uke is done right, your ukes leg will pull his hips, and that will cause his spine to lean back some. At that point you can see very clearly the path of the Boshiken.
It is like a missile going up a launching pad. Right into Jinchu BAM! Be careful! When done right, the uke almost always lands on their head!
It is best to just say Ku. The ku used here is from the Buddhist vocabulary. Buddhists believe that everything is Ku. In other words all things are dependent and can't exist on there own. There is no one thing that is out there all by it's self.
No matter what you find, if you look closer, you see it's dependence, and therefore it's Ku. Buddhism teaches that there are three schools of dependence. They are as follows:
So if you look, you see that a pencil has to have, for us to consider it a pencil... A"pencil shape" lead, maybe an eraser etc. But, is a pencil an eraser? Or is it lead? Or even a "pencil shape"? Where is the pencil???? Which brings us to the last school...
What if you meet this jungle man, and seen his gumbie, and said, HA! That's not what that is for...That's a pencil! You don't stab things with it, you write with it. Sure you can stab things, but that's not what it's for...The jungle man looks at you like your nuts and says....A pencil!?!? It's a Gumbie!!! Ok....maybe you can write with it, but that's not what its for!!! So I ask you, where is the pencil?......
Ku no kata...Start in Shizen no kamae. Start gedan uke as you drop back. The gedan uke, and step should land at the same time. Before the movement is completed, your rear hand flies up and forward out of nowhere...Like out of the earth...You expand, and as part of that expansion you kick Zenpo Geri.
So the earth gives us our foundation, the water teaches us to adapt, the fire is the character of our strikes, the wind is how we move, and the qi or ki that makes our taijutsu alive. And Ku is just that... Its all of the lessons, but none of them in particular. So I ask you...Where is Ku no kata? Where is henka? Where are you?!??!??? Kyojutsu desu neh! gambatte kudasai!!!
See you in May.