20th May 2019

Week commencing 20.05.19 

Part 1

So training has resumed in full swing, all there is on the horizon is an adult grading in a couple of weeks time - Thursday 13th June. Spring has arrived in full effect, everything is shot through with green renewal, the intensity of the landscape is remarkable and we should all feel invigorated. 

Your blogness missed a session this week as it is half term for schools and this enabled us to make a visit North to see one of our children who is studying there and living literally around the corner from where they were born and grew up. 

My wife and I spent 15 years in Manchester, our children lived half their childhood there, and for me there was another significant experience worthy of mention. 

When I finally arose from the couch after a dozen or so years of hiatus, resembling a variety of potato known as ‘Lazarus Spudulica’, I headed off to the local swimming pool and gym in South Manchester, in time for an advertised session in the space where I had previously noticed a few people in ‘gi’s’ emerging from the artificial warmth one evening. 

There was the usual spectrum of ‘Kareteka’ ambling in to the dojo, all shapes, shades, sizes and ages, but try as I might I could not see anyone wearing a black belt and thus resembling a Sensei. Apart from those wearing a gi or part of a gi, there were simply a couple of pensioners in long coats shuffling in, presumably for a swim or something like.

I didn't yet have a gi but I was already in my tracksuit waiting to line up, when suddenly, one of the silver haired pensioners that I had presumed was going for a swim, adopted the ‘yoi’ or ‘ready’ stance and called out ‘line up’. The transformation was astonishing. The shuffling shape in a raincoat was suddenly in front of us, steely blue eyes scanning the room, crisp white gi, tattered white black belt, both of which wrapped up a body I soon realised was like aged teak wood. His eyes reached mine and I felt as though he was reading a resume of me - ‘ah, couch potato, wants to get into shape, lets give him a chance……..’. And thats how it began.

Part 2  Jitte or “Ten Hands”

Upon returning from The North, I came straight to Thursday’s session, and what a session it was! The kata Sensei chose to focus upon was Jitte or “Ten Hands” suggesting dexterity or broad range of applications (bunkai).

This kata begins with the same characteristic kamae of the left hand covering the right, which apparently has roots in ancient Chinese boxing. It teaches techniques for defence against multiple attacks even with weapons and includes 24 movements usually over 60 seconds.

For Bunkai, Sensei began with an attacker using Kazame (jab punch) followed by gyaku (counterpunch) in a left right combination. The defender has left side forward but unusually blocks with a sort of hooking ache uke with right hand to catch the left jab, followed by another similar movement with left to catch the gyaku. This reflects the cross hands of the first and second movement but also echoes the basic ‘sandan’ kata, yet ultimately it probably has roots in the Chinese systems mentioned earlier. Next the defender grips and pulls attackers giyaku arm, puts pressure on their left shoulder with right hand, sweeps a small circle around with left leg, and this takes the attacker down quite wonderfully every time!!

The second bunkai refers to the triple stamp with raised arms sequence. The defender adopts kiba dachi with left side leading with both arms raised, and the left arm forming a sort of high soto uke to block an incoming strike. by repeating the movement with the other side of body, the defender then brings a downward elbow strike while using the stamp to position their foot behind the attackers leg, before using the elbow strike arm to put pressure on the shoulder and execute a sweep and finish.

Saturday’s session carried some of the elements of Jitte into close quarters, which became interesting from a teaching point of view. We all need to remember that close quarter combat rarely involves kicking. This is where the fists and elbows reign and the only kicks are ones like in Tekki Shodan, delivered to the inside of the attackers knee.

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