Sunday, May 2, 2010

Karate Seminar

Today, I had the honor of emceeing and doing some translation at a karate seminar and martial arts demonstration. Not having any real experience with karate, and having been away from the martial arts for decades, it was a bit of a linguistic challenge, but a wonderful experience. I wanted to put on a dougi right then and there.

Master Hasegawa is a karate master, highly decorated in kata competitions, with many honors in kumite as well. There were no flashy techniques, no high kicks, no weapons, no death touch, and no overly philosophical treatises on ki development - just intense focus, balance, and power coupled with a sense of humor, respect, and humility. To the untrained eye, there would be almost nothing "exciting" about his kata, but even a novice could not help but notice that everything is seamless, everything is rooted, everything is coordinated, everything is powerful and precise. Yes, "a punch is just a punch, and a kick is just a kick", but a punch and kick that has been honed everyday for decades is different.

Watching a master, you realize how limiting and ultimately irrelevant the gross oversimplifications "hard" and "soft" are when discussing traditional martial arts performed at a high level.

I had some time to discuss stances with Master Hasegawa and it was quite a treat. When a master such as he performs kata, there will be zero "leakages", but in practice many different stances and foot placements will be drilled. A basic punch to the solar plexus will be practiced with a horse stance, a normal stance, feet together, feet pigeon-toed, feet duck-footed, and every variation in-between.

As you might expect with an Asian master working with Americans, a lot of time was spent working with students who were excessively tense. There's probably a lesson to be learned in all of this for the kettlebell readers around here, but I'm a little too tired right now to piss anyone off. 

1 comment:

michaelchasetx said...

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." ~ Bruce Lee