The courses focus was seiunchin and focus is the key word. We practiced the kata several times aiming to get everyone in sync with one another. We worked on where our focus should be, thinking about application whilst doing kata, looking before we strike, playing a little with the katas tempo exaggerating key moments to focus the mind.
We made it more snapper at one instance and at another far more Sanchin and gentle and Ju like but equally as dangerous.
Shihan has an amazing way of bringing the kata to life, not just a string of techniques, principles or a series of movements, but a living breathing organism that just makes the kata so much better, you could feel electricity in the room when everyone’s seiunchin evolved, it made you think oh my god this is how kata should feel like all the time.
We then looked at a section of seiunchin that a lot of people have a weakness in the kata, where you drive the hip at an angle to deliver a powerful uppercut. We focused a lot of time on this sequence with Shihan explaining about short range shock power. It was at this moment that a light ball clicked in my head, he was describing the short range power that I learnt in China through White Crane, the only difference was that my leg starts of in the air.
The way I like to think of it is like a gunshot as if you pulled a trigger (I never have but I have a very powerful imagination.) it’s not about speed it’s about the right muscles firing the right body structure at the right time, it’s a state of mind, BANG and you explode into it. Too much thinking and you can’t achieve it.
After we worked on this then we practiced this section of the kata in randory, then we use the gun principle to hit pads, reacting before you think, focusing less on chambering but always having your hands in guard and just react.
After this we went through the main kata and for the last section of the course he wanted us to practice principles of tensho. To do this he had to teach the lower grades tensho. I will deviate slightly off topic this was like the best Christmas present, I’ve always wanted to learn tensho ever since I first saw it when I started Goju ryu, when I first really appreciated the karate kid films, when I went to china and saw Tensho like movements within the second and third forms of white crane, when you watch Wing Chun form. I’m surprised I didn’t bounce off the walls! It’s like learning Sanchin all over again, I understand the principles and can only do the basic form but my mind-body connection doesn’t understand the deeper seated principles of tensho, that will takes many years.
Well back to the topic, after this Shihan showed us how the principles of tensho were useful in sudden confrontation and he ended up looking like a kung fu master from the movies, with hardly any effort of stepping to the side and using tensho’s relaxed movements to get his attacker into a vulnerable position. We tried it with multiplies which was very fun, it was very aikido like and surprising how effective the moves could be. Sometimes I would get stuck because this is a new form of defending and it will take years to master, but when it worked it felt freaking awesome.
By Dan Solomon
Shodan - Ho