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3) Karate Training with Akamine Sensei - Okinawa 2019

This article was originally posted to The Matsumura Seito Karate-do Hozonkai Homepage.

September 12, 2019 / Thursday
Well, today is my birthday. I should probably do something to celebrate. Work and train like normal? Sure why not. The ride into the dojo has been getting quicker, I'm down to 30-40 minutes now that I found the right route. Got to the dojo and changed. Kōya, sensei’s tall grandson, was playing around upstairs. I asked about his training, and he'd been doing it for seven years, since he was 5 years old. He's got quite a headstart on me, and what I understand with my head he’s been drilling into his body. The latter seems more valuable when the pressure is on, but I wonder if a young person thinks about the violence that underpins the art we’re learning. It’s hard to tell how differently he’d be teaching if there were other adults or senior students, but considering I’m also a “beginner” in some ways, there’s nothing for me to complain about. I’ve only worn a white belt outside of my home dojo, ego only creates the illusion of a martial artist, so I tell myself to practice humility when you intend to learn, and never stop learning.

今日は誕生日なので、どうやって祝おうかな。普通に仕事して稽古に行こうかな?道場までのライドが早くなっている。やっぱ正しい道を見つけたら30−40分ぐらいかかる。道場に着いて着替えた。一番背の高い弟子で先生の孫、こーやという男の子と話ができた。5歳ごろから空手をやり続けていて、今年12歳になった。僕の三分の一なのに、赤嶺先生の弟子として大分僕より経験があって、若いころからずっと基本で体を鍛えている、と羨ましく思っていた。僕の頭で分かっていることが子供達が体で覚えている。確かに実用的な場合にはその方が役に立つんだろう。特にこの頃、子供たちはあまりリアルに暴力の場合は考える必要がないから。僕以外、弟子の皆さんは13歳以下なので、ちょっと子供の扱いという感じがするけど、実際には僕も初心者の立場から見ているから、文句は言えない。エゴは空手家の幻想だけ作れるのだ。帯の色を問わず、空手の意味は稽古の中にある。何色でも同じ稽古ができるけど、時の流れにつれてその稽古の意味がより深く学べると思う。だから、故郷の道場以外、白帯を身に着ける。

Towards the end of class I asked sensei about his kicks, as all the drills seem to be forward snaps, does that mean they don't do other kicks like mawashi-geri? 全部できるよ, he said, we can do all of that, but it's important to first relax and get the basics down. From a relaxed position you can throw anything, and move however you need. In practice everything moved together, but in training you need to master the basics, and first move your eyes, then feet, then your hands. Grip the floor with your toes like suckers on an octopus’ tentacles.


Now that I think about it, that wasn’t just a general admonishment, but Sensei was pointing out what I wasn’t practicing correctly. So nowadays when I practice, his advice echoes in my head.

蹴りについて質問があった。基本の蹴りが全て前蹴りだったみたいなので、他の蹴りもしますかと聞いてみた。うん、全部できるよ。でもその前は基本と力の抜き方を覚えるべきだと返事してくれた。ちゃんと力を抜くと、何でもできる。実用には体が一緒に動くけど、稽古の時の順番は目、足、そして手が動くはずだ。足の指先がタコの吸盤のように地面を握って力を体を通らせること。今考えると、その教えが一般的だけのじゃなく、僕の弱点を示してくれた。尚、練習中、先生の注意が頭に響いている。

We did Pinan shodan and nidan, and I asked about the first overhead strike in Pinan nidan. "Ah, that's called "tataki," it's a fist with a slight downturn in the wrist, like you're swinging a hammer. You see, the shuto-uke might not be the best for blocking a kick and you might want to be stronger, and use a fist in your block, but you can also use tataki to attack the shin just below the knee, like a low defensive punch. No matter how big and muscular you are, everyone's shin is just bone in the front and is unprotected by muscle; most people don't train this part of their body to temper it against attacks, and it can cause a lot of pain. Sensei demonstrated a kick defense by driving his fist into the top of my shin. It demonstrates his mastery and confidence with such a high-risk movement.

子供達と平安初段と二段を打った。平安二段の「叩き」の突きが気になった。ハンマーをふるように手首を少し曲げて。手刀で蹴りを受けない方がいいので、この叩きが強くなると膝のしたを狙って蹴りを止める。守備の下段突きみたいに、どんなに大きくて強くてもそこの脛骨が筋肉で保護されていないから、鍛えないと弱点になる。先生が僕の蹴りを叩いて示してくれた。こんなにリスキーな受けができて先生の腕が感じた。

At the end of class sensei was telling me that the kids' training is catered to their physical abilities, and the kata are taught in sequence because they build on each other. You can learn them out of sequence but you won't get the full lessons they have to teach. I felt especially foolish for attempting Kushanku the previous day, as in Matsumura Seito it’s the second highest kata in the system (albeit different from the style I performed).

子供達のトレーニングが子供達の体力と能力に合わせて作るように、型の順番も一から決まってると先生が言った。順番が外れると奥の深さが見逃される。クーサンクーが松村正統の上級な型なので、この前和道流のバーションを演武したことに恥ずかしく思い出した。

Sensei reiterated the importance of maintaining your center and not overextending yourself too much. You may make your punch a little longer but you'll lose power and balance. He set me in front of the wall in horse stance, so my extended fists would rest on the wall. When you bring your fists to the center, they ought to float away from the wall, or else you're compromising your balance by either leaning or overextending the shoulder. Straight back, pelvic curled, shoulders pulled back. The moment of impact everything is rigid and powerful, but the next moment you relax and are ready to flow again. Every move is followed by relaxing, which allows your body to flow into the next move.

腰を鍛錬して、腕を伸ばしすぎないようにするのだ。伸ばすと腕がちょっと長くなるけど力を失くす。それより、バランスが崩れやすくなるからやらない方がいいと。先生は私を壁の前に立たせて、壁に当たるまで手を真っ直ぐ伸ばした。肩はそのままで、手をみぞおちの位置に移動して、手がもう壁に当たらないはずだ。背中が真っ直ぐで、腰を入れる。肩をリラックスさせて下げる。そうすると、力が抜きやすくなるから動きも早くなる。そのように突きをゆっくりと打つ。

I capped the day off by visiting the Dojo Bar, which was mercifully tame as it was a Thursday night, and talked with a few people there. There were some nice folks working, and a few German guys from a Shorin-ryu Shidokan seminar having a last beer before returning home in the morning. One had dislocated his shoulder demonstrating a throw… I thought of what Akamine sensei might say about it… probably that a technique that injures the person using it probably should be forgotten. I wished them well.

稽古から帰ると、ちょっと時間あったから道場バーまで歩いてみた。木曜日だったから静かで騒いでなかった。三人のドイツ人が少林流士道館のワークショップの後のビールを飲んでいて、一人の腕がスリングにあった。聞いてみると、かため技を見せようとした時昔の傷が戻ってきたって。早く治るように祈って、赤嶺先生はこんな時どう言うかなと考えた。多分自分に傷付く技は忘れた方が良い…かな。

The bar is covered in signatures from martial artists around the world. James, a British Matsubayashi Shorin-ryu practitioner owns the bar and the dojo across the street, and runs a few rental flats for visiting karateka. He trained under Arakaki sensei, who was a student of Shoshin Nagamine. On loan from Arakaki sensei and encased in heavy glass is Nagamine sensei’s uniform and belt, alongside a series of professional portraits of the elder masters on the island.

バーの壁が空手家のサインだらけだった。ジェームズと言うイギリス人がバーと道の渡ったところの安里道場を経営している。古武道の道具や沖縄の空手のマスターの真影が貼ってあった。ジェームズさんが新垣先生の弟子なので、松林流の始祖の長嶺 将真先生の道着もアートワークのように展示されている。二杯ぐらい飲んでから帰った。明日も稽古だって!

Comments

I wonder if Okinawa still has that "small town" feel to it anymore. I understand that people from all over the world now come to Okinawa to study the Martial Arts.
 

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