Thursday, January 28, 2016

Arizona Traditional Martial Arts

Sensei Alexis applies bunkai (pragmatic self-defense) found in Naihanchi shodan kata and 
in Pinan Yondan kata to Janet during self-defense training at the Arizona Hombu dojo in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa.
Rich applies bunkai to Ryan from the
Okinawan Useisan kata (known as 
gojushiho in Japanese)
When training in martial arts, one hopes to learn to tie their obi (belt) while learning humility, self-respect, respect for others, and self-defense. Much like a Christian Church, traditional martial arts schools teach students to be ethical, honest and concerned for others as they walk the path of the 'way'. Martial arts are not associated with any particular religion, although one can see the influence of Buddhism and even Shinto in a dojo (karate school) and in many parts of North and South America and Europe, one can find evidence of the influence of Christianity.  And in parts of the Middle East, there is some Christian, Jewish and Muslim influence. In India, the original source of martial arts, there is influence of the various religions in that region. This is all because many of the goals in martial arts match many goals in non-violent religions.

There are many aspects of traditional martial arts that one can continue to learn their entire life. There is no end to learning in the martial arts. Thus, the more one trains in a martial art, the more one begins to see various applications of kata and technique. Karate employs forms know as kata. The more a person trains in kata, the more they begin to see hidden techniques that were unknown to them during their previous year of training. Kata also teaches proper breathing, movement, balance and with the assistance of a qualified instructor, it will also teach speed, power and focus. Then after the movements in a kata are mastered, each part of the kata can be broken down into bunkai (self-defense applications) and each part can have many different applications that include the obvious, the not so obvious and then the hidden. It takes understanding and creativity to truly master bunkai, because one must learn to react without thinking, react with lightning fast speed, learn to react with maximum power, remain in balance, have proper distance, and understand the many different modifications.

And there is more than one karate kata. In some Okinawan dojo, it may take 3 years of study to master a single kata and its bunkai. And when this is accomplished, you are not done with the kata, you must continue to practice kata and its bunkai the rest of your life. Now imagine that you have a lifetime to do this for 30 kata.

Then, we have kobudo - a different Okinawan art with all of its kata and bunkai (but they are very similar to karate kata). Then there is Toide. And how about jujutsu, iaido, kenjutsu, sojutsu, hojojutsu, aikido, judo, ninjutsu, etc, etc. All of a sudden, you need several lifetimes to master traditional martial arts. But it is a rare dojo that has the expertise to introduce you to all of these martial arts. Most will only introduce you to one martial art.

Martial Arts students at the Arizona Hombu Dojo focus on kata and the obvious and hidden self-defense applications in kata. The Arizona martial arts classes at the hombu dojo include traditional karate, kobudo, iaido, jujutsu, sojutsu, naginatajutsu and other Japanese and Okinawan martial arts including self-defense classes.

The head master of the Arizona Hombu Dojo, Grandmaster Hausel, has trained in more than a dozen Okinawan - Japanese martial arts for over 50 years - sounds like a lot, but he is only beginning to learn the martial arts. So when people learn martial arts at this Arizona school, they won't have time to get bored. And when it comes to breaking rocks, he is also a well-known  geologist who teaches students a little about rocks before they have the opportunity to break a rockBREAKING ROCKS? ARE YOU CRAZY?  Yes breaking rocks with their bare hands.

The traditional Okinawan martial arts of karate, kobudo, and toide teach self-improvement and self-defense. The traditional martial arts were originally taught to Okinawan royal body guards and had to be devastating to protect Okinawan royalty. And it was not until the mid-20th century, after karate was introduced to Japan, did the Japanese develop sport karate as opposed to the classical Okinawa traditional martial arts. Thus today, we have Okinawa martial arts (traditional) and Japanese karate and judo (sport). A few traditional Okinawa martial arts schools take part in tournaments, most do not as these are considered to produce bad form and inappropriate manners - so at the Arizona Hombu dojo, students who train in Arizona Martial Arts will learn self-defense, history, philosophy but they will not be subjected to tournaments - as this is not traditional (remember the 1984 Karate Kid movie and the difference between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Ryu?).

Gavin applies bunkai from Naihanchi sandan kata to John
Traditional Okinawa martial arts taught in Arizona at the Arizona hombu dojo focus on self-defense applications from kata. These are taught to develop hip rotation (chinkuchi) to increase striking power, focus (kime) and for vital point strikes (tien hsueh). 

Soke Hausel explains hidden techniques in Rohai nidan (Meikyo kata) during
clinic at the Arizona Hombu dojo for students from Arizona and Utah.
As students progress and understand kata imi (the meaning of kata) they progressively are taught other kuden (secrets) of martial arts that include hitotsuki hitogeri (one strike knock downs), kote kitae (extreme body hardening) and trusted students may be taught okurasu goroshi (dim mak). Thus one of the primary differences in traditional vs. sport martial arts is the focus on the understanding of kata and how to use this understanding in self-defense.
Scott applies grappling technique to Sensei Ryan
from Naihanchi shodan kata at the Arizona Hombu dojo.

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