A true understanding of karate
is to found by returning to classical forms.
Unlike modern karate, it is they which
hold the key to ancient knowledge. Modern
karate, as taught in both West and East,
focuses on the basic block/punch/kick
with its supposedly obvious explanations.
What then constitutes the art of karate?
The implication in the name "art" is
that it is hidden. In modern times we
have always been told that techniques
always go in sequence but this is not
necessarily so. For example, a sequence
of any four moves is open to several
interpretations - not just one. To illustrate
the point, lets look at it with an open
Instead of a block, perhaps it is the
end part of a grab either by yourself
or an opponent. would that not then potentially
change the explanation of both the preceding
and following moves? To illustrate the
point further, could a punch actually
be a grab or lock/stretch; alternatively
could it perhaps be a pull (with the
reverse hand) and strike?
The expression "A form has no form" is
something I constantly wrestled with
and only know understand. With the broader
interpretation I can now look at the
form, irrespectively of style and see
so many techniques being performed there
- not just the obvious and basic ones.
The way it is performed also shows the
different levels of understanding reached
by the person performing it.
As we seek greater understanding of
kata, so emphasis has now shifted to
pressure points. But again, these are
only one aspect of the whole art.
Karate which relies upon the power of
the block, punch and kick is karate for
the young, so how might a person, say
of 60 years of age, defend themselves
against a 20 year old? As we grow older,
so our bodies and mental attitudes change,
so training, then, has to be modified
accordingly. If this modification cannot
be made, then the older person quits.
Yet it is the duty of the martial artist
to train a whole lifetime, all the while
improving like like wine. the only way
this modification can be achieved, then,
is through classical karate, where hidden
between the forms are the real moves.
So let's open our minds to encompass
all possibilities. When I began karate,
I remember the pride I had as I performed
high kicks. Little did I realize that
one day I would relegate such achievements
to the realms of sport. Now I have come
to realize that karate is like a multifaceted
gem, with aspects such as health, sport,
self defense and social interaction.
Lets treasure karate in all its aspects
and use it according to our individual
needs and abilities.
Bunkai is the
interpretation of the uses of the movement
of the techniques in the kata. Many
operate from the angle of block, kick
and punch. This is operating the kata
at the base or primary level. The other
extreme is that all the kata techniques
are knockouts, both are correct but that
is not what Karate is about. Look at
all the history of Karate and the other
pugilistic arts, the masters are all
old and cannot operate from the angle
of power and speed. Karate is a complete
art in itself if one knows how to decipher
the forms. Locks, throws, punches, kicks
and pressure point techniques are all
present. Only with proper understanding
of the whole picture can the art be appreciated.
Most of the modern systems of Karate have in them the Heian/pinan
Katas .These were abridged from the Kata Kushanku, by Master Itosu
.Techniques were toned down and watered down for the elementary
school system. What is not known by many Karate people is that RoRoKu
(Kushanku) and his top student taught many of the Okinawan masters
that came over to Fuchou province in China, White Crane (Hakusuru).
Not only White Crane but female White Crane, Ro Roku.
This was told to me by my colleague Charles Wee. We are all students
of Master Yek Sing Ong based in New Zealand.
Master Yek's teacher for 30 years was Master Huang Shyan Shen. He
was the top student of Ro Roku and also the top student of the famous
Taichi master Cheng Man Ching. For years he kept the earlier part
of his life in check for reasons of his own. What does all this
have to do with Karate? I believe, from my understanding, that Karate
is a "soft