Wednesday, 18 May 2011

...and this is where you start sweat!

Crumpling a sodden, stiff japanese-cut gi into the washing machine for the third time in a week can bring it home to you how much karate can take over every aspect of your life. The last time I wore these karate-tinted goggles through which to view the world it was 1990 and I was training the sharp, steep slope to my Shodan grading.

Now, 21 years on, I find myself practicing shuto in front of all reflective surfaces, looking down to see how parallel my feet are when cooking, and having to wear my dojo-time knee-braces under my suit at work. Why? Because this Saturday is England team selection and Sunday is Aiwakai Nationals - who the hell thought up that timetable?

To add to the pressure and due to a problem with numbers, I'm now filling in a place in the pairs kata so having to re-adjust timing and height positions to compromise with my new partner for Godan, bassai and wanshu.

If my brain or knees explode in the next couple of days, hey, it was nice knowing you.

shimpai shinaide waratte ne!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Nth Degree...or the Roy Walker problem.

From Hartlepool to Derby. It's now just a month until the Aiwakai National Championships and I've got two categories to compete in; Veterans and Individual Senior. With Bassai looking passable and Wanshu a good second I just need to work on the mandatory Pinan kata, which this time is Yodan. This which gives me a chance to disect the techniques that differ between Shoto and Wado and try to tidy up what is probably one of my more average katas.

Having attended a few of the Wadokai England training days (and with the hope of selection one day) I'm repeatedly told "what you're doing; it's good, but it's not right". There's no point(s) doing a perfectly executed jodan yokogeri if what's called for is a chudan maegeri, one of the more noticeable divergences in the fourth of the basic pattern katas.

I was taught that Yondan (in Wado Yodan) begins with the step out into backstance and with the hands in a "fishtail" to the side before rising slowly into the first move (Hidari Haishu Haiwan Uke). The key to this technique was the deceleration of the hands, performed with tension, almost like Seishan. In Wado, this move is fast and hard, and the arms don't drop into any prep before the first move. In Shotokan there is no shuffle or step before the second block, just a hip twist. In Wado, the feet move a "correction" distance, found in many kata that ensures the embusen is exactly symmetrical.

In shoto, we step forward from here into the X block (Gedan Juji Uke). In Wado the right foot steps up, hands to hips facing forward and then steps out with the left leg to make the X block and these first few changes are enough to trip me up and make my kata significantly weaker than someone of the same grade who has trained exlcusively in Wado. As with most kata in Wado there are both back-stance and cat-stances, where in Shoto you would usually see only the back-stance. Remembering to shorten my stance and perform only a single soto-uke rather than a double is another issue (this one is a real point of contention and the foot that kicks is the back foot, where all of the weight is placed which seems impractical), along with the final two moves being not Shutos, but kake-ukes.

This is from a book given to me by my sensei in 1988 to help me practice between classes - (note the high side kicks with uraken - not gedan barai and the double blocks)

For now all I can do is practice, practice, practice and hope that the N in my YoNdan can be erased over time.

Click the karateka to see the Wado Yodan performed correctly.