Keiko Hajime 2020

L’8 gennaio si è svolto il Keiko Hajime per il 2020 della Scuola di Karate-Dō. In realtà la settimana precedente c’era stata già un’occasione di pratica, ma è nostra consuetudine organizzare una lezione simbolica ed evocativa alla prima occorrenza di pratica dopo la festa dell’Epifania.

Al termine della pratica ho sintetizzato sulla lavagna i temi trattati (praticamente, è una lezione decisamente piena di pratica!):

20200114_161420

Il nostro dōjō ha shomen rivolto a Nord: quindi rivolti verso il Kamiza abbiamo evocato, con 108 tecniche (108…per ricordarvi il significato https://bushingojuryu.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/108-e-che-lanno-abbia-inizio/ ) l’Inverno, elemento Acqua, ricercando la purezza della tecnica.

Est, Joseki, 108 tecniche, la Primavera, il Legno, la Virtù / la Carità.

Sud, Shimoza, 108 tecniche, l’Estate, il Fuoco, l’Intelletto / L’Etichetta.

Ovest, Shimoseki, 108 tecniche, l’Autunno, il Metallo, la Moralità.

Infine rivolti verso il Centro, Embujō, Sanchin, 13 volte (13 è un numero simbolico per augurare una buona salute), il Presente, la Terra, la Verità / l’Onestà.

 

© 2020, Roberto Ugolini

 

 

 

 

 

What is the Tradition of Okinawa Traditional Karate?

(Extract from 8th Okinawa Traditional Karate Ceremony booklet)

Karate originated in Okinawa and has now spread around the world. It is an intangible cultural treasure for Okinawa and the Okinawan people take pride in their island being the birthplace of karate. Okinawan Traditional Karate has been passed down from generation to generation, from teacher to student, and from parent to child, without changing its essence.

There are two essential elements in the teaching of traditional karate. The first is technical instruction through physical training and the second is oral trasmission throug instructions and dialogue.

Without oral trasmission kata becomes an empty form without essence. Kata training becomes a real self defense system through the teachings that are passed on via oral trasmission.

The teacher shows the form and movements of kata to the student and through physical training, the student begins to understand the form, movement and proper breathing. The teacher enhances understanding by providing additional details by words, correcting student’s form, and trasmitting the finer details and essence.

Student listen to their teacher’s words and practice repeatedly for years striving to achieve the essence of this art. Along with technique, the mind and spirit of the student becomes one with the teacher.

Immagine1

Traditional karate has been passed down from the teacher’s heart to the student’s heart.

This is how true and traditional karate has been passed down from generation to generation.

© 2019, Roberto Ugolini

 

Chōjun Miyagi and Gōjū Ryū’s “news”

The exhibition room of Okinawa Karate Kaikan is currently dedicated to Chōjun Miyagi as well as the history and characteristics of Gōjū-ryū.

And we can find very interesting “news”… here the list of more relevant ones in my opinion.

1928:  a copy of an article of Kyoto Imperial University Newspaper (November 1, 1928) about a karate (tode) training session. There also two photos in the article, one of a group training session (all in morote chudan no kamae, sanchin training?), and the other of Chōjun Miyagi in neko ashi dachi / yama uke (like at the end of seiyunchin kata). I never saw these two photos before.. This article is really important because is a written document about the first trip of Chōjun Miyagi in mainland Japan. In the same period there was the meeting with Gichin Funakoshi and Yasuhiro Konishi (see photo below).

miyagifunakoshikonishiazama

1930: copies of three articles about Jin’an Shinzato performance in November 1930 during “The 10th Anniversary Festival of the Establishment of Meiji Jingu”. The event included a martial art kata exhibition and karate was performed together judo and kendo on November 3 and 4 at Tokyo Metropolitan Hibiya Public Hall. The articles was published by “Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun” (Nov. 5, 1930), by “Okinawa Asahi Shimbun” (Nov. 11, 1930) and “Hawaii Hochi” (October 16, 1930).

1935: during the tug-of-war held in 1935, Chōjun Miyagi carried out the very important duty “Kanuchibo“, ie helding the Kanuchibo pole that joined the “female rope” with ” the “male rope”. There’s a photo in the exhibition about that matter which is more detailed and enlarged than the known one (see below), where the pole is displayed in almost the full lenght.

tugofwar

1936: of the trip of Chōjun Miyagi in Shangai, we have the commemorative plaque signed by Miyagi and others. There is also a photo displayed at the exhibition with Miyagi seated during a dinner, very similar to the one taken in 1940 at Kyoto (see below), but with a lady in front, together with men in military uniform and jacket – tie.

dinner

1940: do you remember my article about the Gōjū-ryū‘s video? You can find it at THE Goju-Ryu video

In the article I stated: “According to Okinawan Prefectural Museum, the photographer, Manshichi Sakamoto, took many pictures during the film and Chōjun Miyagi was in one of the pictures “performing shime on Kotaro Kohama at the Teacher’s College” (as reported in Morio Higaonna’s book). To have more information about the pictures, I wrote to Akiyoshi Sakamoto: he answered me that at the beginning of 2005 they gave all the plates to Japan Folk Craft Museum.

I wrote two times to Japan Folk Craft Museum to have more information about the video and the photos but, unfortunately, I hadn’t receive any answer.”

And the news is…. there the photos! Other than the sanchin shime on Kotato Kohama they displayed:

  • a smiling Chōjun Miyagi looking at the scene with other operators (you can find a portion of this photo in the brochure of the exhibition);

miyagiexhibition

  • two more photos of Chōjun Miyagi during sanchin shime;

shime

  • Chōjun Miyagi supervising the group training of seiyunchin kata;
  • a student in kuri uke during kururunfa kata;
  • a student in neko ashi dachi / tora guchi during kururunfa kata;
  • two students in kururunfa bunkai;
  • a student during tensho kata;
  • a student during tan exercise.

To conclude: a terrific exhibition with a lot of material about Chōjun Miyagi and Gōjū-ryū. My hope is that in the future will be available a catalog of the exhibition to have materials to research about…

 

© 2019, Roberto Ugolini

About Okinawa Karate Gishiki (Ceremony)

Sometimes things and facts that happened seems unrelated, but..

In february, 8th IOGKF World Budosai (IOGKF 40th Anniversary Event) changed name in 8th Okinawa Traditional Karate Gishiki (Ceremony). Ceremony, mmm, interesting…

In July, I saw a movie Born Bone Born, centered on “bone washing,” the Okinawan ritual of washing the bones of the deceased four years after their entombment. Okinawan ritual, mmm, interesting…

In July, Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper reported the news “The Committee for Okinawa Karate UNESCO Listing was recently formed with the goal of getting Okinawa Karate registered as an intangible cultural asset with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).” Okinawa Karate and UNESCO, mmm, interesting…

(Extract from 8th Okinawa Traditional Karate Ceremony booklet)

The Okinawan people have worshiped our ancestors as guardians and have passed down their traditions and rich culture from generation to generation. We show our respect and appreciation to our ancestors through GISHIKI – traditional ceremonies or rituals and these ceremonies are an important part of our lives.

Okinawan Traditional Karate is a martial art, but it is much more than that. It has played an important role in traditional ceremonies in Okinawan culture. Throughout history there have been demonstrations of karate and kata as part of significant events.

There is no precedent for UNESCO registration in other Japanese martial arts such as Judo or Kendo. We believe that it will be very difficult for traditional karate to register under the UNESCO heritage if we apply in the same manner as other Japanese martial arts have done.

We need a new and different approach. We think that is better to go to register traditional karate as GISHIKI or “traditional ceremony”.

Okinawa Traditional Karate exemplifies the supreme techniques and spirit acquired through years of training. When the great masters perform the kata, the audience can sense timelessness and authenticity through the performance. This is the essential difference between traditional karate and sport or competion karate.

The Ryukyu Kingdom ruled Okinawa up until the 19th century and as part of their ceremonies included demonstrations of Okinawan martial arts. As recently as 2018, when the Japanese Emperor came to Okinawa, the Okinawa Government organized a special ceremony focusing the masters’ demonstration at hte Karate Kaikan.

Is is difficult to know where to draw the line between traditional and other styles thar have evolved over time. But we also believe that is vert meaningful for Okinawan people to discuss this issue more openly toward the UNESCO registration.

Kobayashi Ryu, Shorin Ryu, Goju Ryu, and Uechi Ryu are the four major schools of karate that are widely recognized as traditional Okinawan karate styles. All these styles have a rich history and are a part of special ceremonies in Okinawa and Japan.

In conclusion, we would like to use the term GISHIKI for the events that are recognized by these four major styles from now on. By using GISHIKI we clarify which styles are aiming to register for the UNESCO world heritage designation and differentiate our authentic traditional karate from sport karate and continue the tradition of the Ryu Kyu Kingdom started centuries ago.

© 2019, Roberto Ugolini

Shodan, nidan, sandan…

Shodan, la cintura nera primo dan, può essere un primo obiettivo del praticante

dan-kanji

. La traduzione di dan è, letteralmente, “scolpire gradini su per la montagna”, e rende bene l’idea dell’ascesa, tecnica, spirituale e morale del praticante. Ma rende anche bene l’idea che è solo un primo obiettivo: così come lo scalatore, arrivato alla vetta, scopre nuovi panorami, nuove vette, nuovi obiettivi, così il praticante, arrivato alla cintura nera, deve proseguire il suo percorso, consapevole della strada già percorsa ma con l’obiettivo del costante miglioramento.

Jigoro Kano, fondatore del judō, ha graduato shodan i suoi allievi per la prima volta nel 1883. Gichin Funakoshi, fondatore dello stile Shotokan, è stato il primo maestro di karate ad adottare la graduazione dan, nel 1924.

Chōjun Miyagi, fondatore del Gōjū-ryū Karate-dō, era contrario alle graduazioni dan, e finchè in vita non ha mai graduato nessuno. Il maestro Morio Higaonna racconta un episodio a riguardo: durante un soggiorno a Kyoto il maestro Miyagi fu invitato a cena da alcuni membri del Butokukai e da alcuni allievi delle università giapponesi. Durante la cena uno dei commensali si avvicinò al maestro Miyagi consegnandogli una busta contenente dei soldi e dicendogli “Ippitsu onegai shimasu”, traduzione libera, “ci metta qualche firma sui diplomi di dan”. Il maestro Miyagi rifiutò la busta e fu anche la sua ultima visita a Kyoto.

Ma non era contrario ai titoli in genere, lui stesso fu riconosciuto kyoshi (il secondo livello del livello di maestria) dal Butokukai nel 1937 e raccomandò il suo allievo Jin’an Shinzato per il titolo di renshi (primo livello) nel 1939.

Credo che nella pratica odierna le graduazioni siano importanti, permettono di riconoscere l’impegno del praticante e la qualità di una scuola. Mi piace la nostra tradizione di consegnare la cintura nera shodan al praticante con il solo karategi, senza cintura marrone indosso, per ricordare, per dirla con le parole del maestro Miyagi, di continuare a “praticare duramente con la mente del principiante”.

Cari yudansha, buon cammino nel club dei principianti!

Kikomi and Chinkuchi Kakin

(versione in Italiano al termine di quella inglese)

“Chibana Sensei‘s kata were power-based with kime on pratically all the techniques… My interpretation of Chibana Sensei‘s explanation is that kime is the trasmitting of force from movements of the whole body by instantaneous lock-up of all the muscles and ligaments upon contact, which is impact. Although Chibana Sensei used the term kime, I realized after Chibana  Sensei explained kikomi (kime plus penetration) that all our kime techniques were kikomi. Kikomi is the locking up of the musles and ligaments after the initial contact”.

(Pat Nakata, Classical Fighting Arts, issue #56)

 

Chinkuchi Kakin: this expression is used to describe the tennsion or stabilization of the joints of the body for a firm stance, a powerful punch, or a strong block. For example, when punching or blocking, the joints of the body are momentarily locked for an instant and concentration is focused on the point of contact; the stance is made firm by locking the joints of the lower body – tha ankles, the knees, and the hips – and by gripping the floor with the feet. Thus, a rapid free-flowing movement is suddenly checked for an instant, on striking or blocking, as power is transferred or absorbed, then tension is released immediately in order to prepare for the next movement. Sanchin kata is an example of prolonged chinkuchi kakin – all the joints of the body in a state of constant tension.”

(Higaonna Morio, Traditional Karate-Do – Okinawa Goju-Ryu, Vol. 2)

 

 

(versione in Italiano)

“I kata di Sensei Chibana erano basati sulla potenza, con kime su quasi tutte le tecniche.. La mia interpretazione della spiegazione di Sensei Chibana è che il kime è la trasmissione della forza proveniente dai movimenti di tutto il corpo combinata con la ‘chiusura’ instantanea dei muscoli e dei legamenti nel momento del contatto, all’impatto. Sebbene Sensei Chibana utilizzasse il termine kime, ho compreso, dopo la spiegazione di Sensei Chibana sul kikomi (kime e penetrazione), che tutte le nostre tecniche con kime erano con kikomi. Kikomi è la chiusura dei muscoli e dei legamenti nel momento del contatto iniziale.”

(Pat Nakata, Classical Fighting Arts, issue #56)

 

 

Chinkuchi Kakin: questa espressione è utilizzata per descrivere la tensione o la stabilizzazione delle articolazioni del corpo per una posizione stabile, un pugno potente o una forte parata. Per esempio, colpiamo o blocchiamo, le articolazioni del corpo sono “chiuse” per un istante e la concentrazione è focalizzata sul punto del contatto; la posizione è resa stabile “chiudendo” le articolazione della parte inferiore del corpo – le caviglie, le ginocchia e le anche – ed afferrando il pavimento con i piedi. In questo modo, un movimento fluido e rapido è improvvisamente controllato per un istante, nel colpire o nel bloccare, con la potenza trasferita o assorbita, poi la tensione è rilasciata immediatamente per preparare il movimento successivo. Il kata Sanchin è un esempio di chinkuchi kakin prolungato – tutte le articolazioni del corpo in stato di costante tensione.”

(Higaonna Morio, Traditional Karate-Do – Okinawa Goju-Ryu, Vol. 2)

 

© 2019, Roberto Ugolini

 

Heishu-gata and Kaishu-gata

(Extract from ‘Miscellaneous Thoughts on Karate: Ho Goju Donto’, by Miyagi Chojun, in ‘The Essence of Naha-te’, translated and compiled by Joe Swift)

I think that the relationship between Heishu and Kaishu in Karate-do is the same as relationship between the block script and the cursive script in Chinese calligraphy. Heishu represents the block script, whereas Kaishu is the cursive style. The block script can be described as quiet and calm, while the cursive script is active and dynamic. Therefore, it is obvious which one represents the fundamental techniques of writing. It also clear that we should proceed from the fundamental in an incremental manner.