Rusty Tikko

Rusty Tikko 2

I purchased my first pair of Shureido tikko (手甲) way back in 1995 when I was training with Minowa sensei and Yoshimura sensei (as an aside, I don’t think Shureido sells them anymore, but I’m not completely sure). Like anything new, they were shinny with not a scratch on them, but over the years they’ve become a little worse for wear and have rusted quite a bit. So, this past week I decided I had better get off my as!@ and do something about that. (more…)

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Know your weapon

The weaponry of Ryukyu Kobudo
The weaponry of Ryukyu Kobudo

The older I get the more I love Ryukyu Kobudo. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy my Karate-do practice, but not nearly as much as Kobudo. There is a wonderful depth and breadth to the art of Kobudo that I seem to appreciate more than Karate-do. It’s something that I can see myself practicing well into my old age. But, oddly enough, Kobudo is not any easy art to commit to and it is IMHO a much more unforgiving mistress compared to Karate-do. You see, in Ryukyu Kobudo, if you make a mistake you get hurt…seriously.


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Shoshin Nagamine & Understanding Kata

In Shoshin Nagamine’s Essence of Okinawan Karatedo he states that the, “intermediate movements (fighting postures) are integrated into kata as links between paired units of basic movements.” The fighting postures that he lists include among others: ryu no shita no kamae (dragon-tongue posture), sagurite no kamae (searching-hand posture), suirakan no kamae (drunkard posture). What do these postures  mean and why did Nagamine list only a limited set of them? (more…)

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Taira Shinken’s Dysfunctional Family

Taira Shinken (1898 - 1970)
Taira Shinken (1898 – 1970)

At one time in the history of the Ryukyu Kobudo Preservation and Promotion Society (Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokan or RKHSK), the students of Taira Shinken, including Akamine, Inoue, Minowa, Nakamoto, Kinjo, and Nagaishi, all worked together to perpetuate their teacher’s legacy. Yet within a decade after Taira’s death, each student went his separate way.


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Why bother with Kakie?


Many Okinawa Karate-do styles use ‘kakie’ which is sometimes translated into English as ‘sticking hands’ or ‘push hands’. These terms capture the meaning adequately since ‘kakie’ is typically written in katakana (カキエ); one of the phonetic scripts of Japanese usually reserved for foreign words. However, occasionally it is written in kanji using ‘kake(ru) (掛) and a(u) (合) which implies negotiating an attack from an opponent. As such, ‘kakie’ is an exercise that teaches important principles of respective Karate-do traditions such as sticking, bridging, and unbalancing. These I would classify as ‘primary’ practices of ‘kakie’, but there are also secondary practices which sometimes we forgot such as improved stamina as well as reaction time and balance.


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Minowa Katsuhiko sensei
Minowa sensei trying to teach me the intricacies of Jodan Kamae

The other day I was looking at some old video I had taken way back in 2001 of Minowa sensei correcting my bo technique. In the video I was performing Yonegawa no kon (米川の棍), the left-handed bo kata developed by Chinen Sanda (1852 – 1925), and he wasn’t happy with how I was positioning my arms (jodan kamae) before doing an overhead strike (jodan uchi). My right elbow sagged too much, my wrist was bent, my left arm was too low and bo was not inline with my shoulder… in other words, everything was wrong. However, Minowa sensei patiently corrected each and every mistake I had made with a smile and a bit of laughter along the way. He also went into great detail explaining the reasons why the technique had to be done that way (1). Not once did he ever bark at me or loose his temper, even though he had every right too; I was his student and I should have been performing the technique better than I was.


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Daito Ryu – Common Principles

Takeda Sokaku DaitoryuI thought I would post the following comments on Budo principles from Kondo Katsuyuki sensei, a well-known Daito-ryu Aikijutsu teacher. Although he is addressing Daito-ryu, I feel his ideas and principles are applicable to Karate-do as well.

Daito-ryu Akijujutsu – Hiden Mokuroku Series Part 1
Ikkajo Tachiai by Katsuyuki Kondo

Basic Principles

1. Rei Courtesy: In old days, words such as burei (disrespectful) and shitsurei (inexcusable behavior) were used. One who lacks rei, that is one who was disrespectful would be risking his own life. For example, in the old days one was sure to put his sword on his right side when he was invited into a room and sit down. If he put his sword on his left side he could draw it at any time. It was disrespectful to put his sword on his left side. That meant being shitsurei or engaging in impolite behavior. With your sword on your left, you can draw it at any time and this shows you have an intention to fight the other person. Ihave heard that once a person was attacked and cut and died because his sword was on his left side and he happened to touch it by mistake. Therefore this kind of disrespectful behavior could endanger ones life. (more…)

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There are no shortcuts

Dalai Lama no short cuts
His holiness the Dalai Lama

A lot of people are asking me to tell them the quickest way to enlightenment, and what they really want to know is what is the cheapest way!

Dalai Lama
Shambhala Sun, November 2006

I teach a very small group of students, about five or so. This is virtually identical to how I trained in Japan. From time to time I get phone calls or people dropping by unannounced inquiring about training. Few ever make it on to the actual dojo floor and even fewer last more than a month for those who manage to get on the floor. (more…)

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