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Why Karate?

If you are reading this post, then probably you're interested to find what can Karate give to you or to your kids. But there are many sports, which you may also consider instead, such as boxing, kick boxing, muay thai, etc.. So why Karate?

Unfortunately there isn't a simple answer and it all depends on individual. The truth is though, that Karate really has something for everyone.

It's not a sport. It's an art. A Martial art.

As such, Karate opens a door to completely new world, where you are not competing with others, but you rather compete with yourself. Karate gives you opportunity to challenge yourself by achieving perfection in every single move you do,  every stance or even the breath you take. And of course, this is not something you can find only in Karate. There are other martial arts or even sports which can be challenging or interesting in a different way. What makes it different is the combination of Japanese culture, discipline, honour and respect. And I promise, you will experience this in your very first session.

You are 30, 40 or 50+ years old.

Perhaps you might be thinking this is something which you should have done long time ago and you missed your chance. Well, think again. Regardless of your age, you can still find your way in Karate. And if your strength and dexterity are not as good as they were - you can be sure, that they can only get better!

Karate for kids

Throughout the nearly 30yrs we have been running, thousands of children have passed through the dojo. Many are brought by their parents who have a multitude of reasons for bringing them. We pride ourselves in helping to nurture children in fitness, self-defence, discipline, flexibility and self confidence. Some of the children attending today are the grandchildren of students that attended when we first started in 1987. We have produced many champions, but the best compliment we can get is from a parent, who brought a shy child to train and has thanked us for helping their once timid loner, to become a more sociable confident human being.  However, dont expect miracles. Be patient with the progress of your child. They are all different and move at different speeds. As long as they are improving in one way or another we are happy and so should you be.

 

Geksai

Gekisai Dai and Gekisai Sho

Kata Gekisai Ichi and Gekisai Ni were introduced in the 1940's by Sensei Chojun Miyagi founder of Goju Ryu karate. Kvokushin karate refers to these as "Dai" meaning "Major" and "Sho" meaning "Minor". As far as is known, there is no reason why these kata were named Ich and Ni or Dai and Sho.

The name is derived from the characters Geki, meaning attack or conquer, and Sai, meaning fortress or stronghold which literally translates as "covered", "shut" or "closed". Gekisai means "Search and Destroy". The characters also translate as "Conquer and Occupy", "Storm the Fortress" as well as "Attack and Smash".

These kata were intended to make the Martial Arts more accessible for people to learn and the purpose was to teach strong and powerful movement combined with fluidity of motion and the utilization ofvarious techniques. Both Gekisai belong to the so-called Kaisho kata. These types of kata are what you might call 'relaxed', because after each technique (given with maximum tension) there is relaxation. This relaxation allows a swift execution of the next technique. This isin line with the meaning of Goju, which translates as "hard-soft'.

Sanchin

Sanchin

Sanchin kata is derived from the name of the stance that is used in the kata. Historically the name is probably taken from a Chinese style of Martial Arts called "Saam Jin" which is Cantonese for Sanchin or Three Battles. It was passed several times to Okinawa by notable masters including Higaonna, Kanryo, and Aragaki Seisho. The Three Battles are interpreted as the battle to unify the Mind, Body, and Spirit.

Sanchin can be split in 'San' and 'Chin'. 'San' refers to the combined development of the three elements as stated above. It may also refer to the development of the internal organs, the blood circulation, and the nervous system.

Further interpretations refer to the development of the three "Ki" points in the body - the top of the head (tento) — the diaphragm (hara) and the lower abdomen (tanden). 'Chin' means to do battle. There are other interpretations for the name.

Sosai referred to the mind, spirit, and technique. He also mentioned three important principles of mastering kata in his mottoes. These are: "Waza no Kankyu" which is the "tempo" (slow/fast techniques); "Chikara no Kyaku" which is the "points of power" (strength/relaxation of technique); and "Iki no Chosei" which is the "control (regulation) of breathing .

In Goju s Ryu (which is from where Kyokushin addpoted this kata) there are two Sanchin kata: The first one is known as "Miyagi's Sanchin" (or "Sanchin Dai Ichi") whic has no turns so the karateka goes forward and then backwards. The second Sanchin is Higashionna's  Sanchin (or "Sanchin Dai Ni"). This is an older kata and was taught by Higashionna In this kata the karateka always goes forward, but turns 180 degrees twice. Initially it was taught with open as sanchin-Kata still is in some styles, but later it was also revised to closed fists by Miyagi's co-student Juhatsu Kyoda, founder of Toòn-ryu, and adopted by Chojun Miyagi as well.

In chinese training in this form of kata, the hands are not closed into a fist but are kept open. The Chinese styles deem making a fist in this kata restricts the flow of "Chi" or "Ki", whereas in Okinawa and mainland Japan a closed fist is deemed necessary for this kata.

Sanchin is an isometric kata where each motion is performed in a state of complete tension accompanied by powerful, deep breathing. It teaches basic footwork, basic hand techniques and basic blocking techniques.

Pinan

Pinan

The five Pinan kata were said to have been created by Anko Itosu (Funakoshi's instructor) in 1905 in order to simplify instruction to the children he had been teaching in the public schools of Okinawa since 1905. He developed these from the original Chinese kata such as Kushanku and Channan.

Funakoshi renamed these kata "Heian" when he took karate to mainland Japan. Heian is shortened from two words "Heiwa" meaning Peace and "Antei" meaning Stability. The name can translate as Peaceful Mind, Peaceful Safety, and also Peaceful and Calm. Pinan is the Chinese "Pinyin" notation and it also means Peaceful and Calm.

One of the stories surrounding the history of the Pinan kata claims that Itosu learned a kata from a Chinese man living in Okinawa. This kata was called "Chiang Nan". The form became known as "Channan", an Okinawan/Japanese approximation of the Chinese pronunciation. The original form of the Channan kata is lost. Itosu formed five katas from the long Channan Kata which he thought would be easier to learn. The five kata were Pinans Shodan, Nidan, Sandan, Yondan, and Godan. We call these Pinans Ichi, Ni, San, Yon, and Go in Kyokushin.

Pinan Ni was the first kata that was taught in this series but it is reported that Funakoshi changed the order and made the current Pinan Ichi the first kata. In his book Karate do Kyohan states that once the five Heian kata have been mastered one can be confident that he/she is able to defend themselves competently in most situations.

Taikyoku

It is not very clear who devised these three kata, but it is claimed by Gichin Funakoshi that he created them. Other evidence suggest that the three Taikyoku kata were developed by Gichin Funakoshi's son Yoshitaka on instruction from his father and introduced to Shotokan karate by Master Funakoshi. It is also noted that Yoshitaka was probably assisted by grand master Motonobu Hironoshi who was a good friend of Yoshitaka and a key figure in the development of Shotokan karate after the death of Gichin Funakoshi. These kata were said to simplify the principle of the five Heian (Pinan) kata.

In his book "Karate-Do Kyohan — The Master Text" Funakoshi states that the three Taikyoku kata and the "Ten-No kata" (introductory kata to sparring — similar to Kihon Kata) were introduced for beginners. He states that the student who gained proficiency in basic techniques and understands the essence of the Taikyoku kata will appreciate the real meaning of the maxim, "In karate, there is no advantage in the first attack". It is for this reason that he had given these kata the name Taikyoku which he translates as "First Cause" (First Level). The name also translates as "Grand Ultimate View".
Hanshi Arneil calls these kata "Wide View" and in no way is this contradictory or in conflict with the original name. It is merely a further in-depth explanation of the name originally given by Funakoshi. Once a person understands that the first level of anything is the beginning, they will look forward to advancing from that point, and this in turn widens their understanding and comprehension.

There have been several interpretations of the name Taikyoku because the individual words themselves carry more than one meaning. The word "Tai" could translate as Great, and "Kyoku" to study thoroughly, ultimate, best, etc. The characters for Taikyoku read "T 'ai Ch'i" in Chinese.