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Elbows! Elbows! Elbows!

I just posted a guest post for my good friend, Angel Lemus, entitled Elbow Exercise in the Form of a Karate Kata.

If you know me, I get excited when I find old Karate photos from the 1920s and 1930s, or a rare old book or weapon. It is very rare for me to be interested in something new.

Angel's "new" kata has really grabbed my attention. (I put "new" in quotes because the formulation may be "new" but the techniques are quite old.)

For one thing, I love elbows. I am only 5 feet, 7 1/2 inches tall. It is to my advantage to be close to the attacker. At that range, elbows and knees are my best defense (or offense). I have always paid special attention to elbow techniques in the kata I practice.

So I am interested in the subject of Angel's kata -- elbows.

But there are so many kata out there. In my school, we practice 18 kata, but really only emphasize 15. I do not like to practice too many kata.

But when was the last time someone you knew developed a new kata and then made it freely available to the public, without asking for anything in return? Angel did not name the kata after himself. He just developed it and was generous with it. By doing so, he subjected himself to fans and critics alike. That takes guts if you ask me.

I am a little older than Angel, but consider him to be my senior in Karate. He is one of a very few people I would call a "Karate genius", particularly of my generation.

He is an artist, in addition to being a gifted martial artist. His film and DVD creation skills are amazing, as was his work with Bugeisha, a great journal.

Angel traces his Karate primarily to the legendary Chotoku Kyan. I'm sure that Kyan Sensei valued elbow techniques as well given his short height and slight stature. Angel has also trained with Sensei Toshihiro Oshiro. As such, his background and mine are intertwined as my early training in Matsubayashi-Ryu was derived, in part, from Kyan Sensei, and my Sensei, Katsuhiko Shinzato, also learned from the same Sensei as Oshiro Sensei. Angel also has practiced Tai Chi in depth. When I started Karate, we also practiced Tai Chi. My Karate teacher taught both arts.

But I am not a fan of Angel's work just because he is my friend and our backgrounds overlap. I am a fan because he truly promotes the art of Karate in a professional, artistic, and humble way -- for love of the art, not money.

Now if I can only remember his kata!


Charles C. Goodin