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Guest Post: Kamae

This Guest Post is by my friend and senior, Sensei Pat Nakata. Nakata Sensei is the head of the Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate Association in Hawaii. He was a student of Chosin (Choshin) Chibana in Shorin-Ryu, and also studied Ryukyu Kobudo under Sensei Fumio Nagaishi. When he was a young man, he studied Wado-Ryu Karate under Sensei Walter Nishioka.

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Kamae

Chibana Chosin Sensei said, "There is no kamae in a Karate kata, except for the beginning and end of the kata. Everything else is transition and application." This concept of no kamae is not unique to the Chosin Chibana Shorin-ryu Karate, other schools advocate a simliar concept.

Kamae most often is a guard or a ready position (dead, no movement). Chibana Sensei, also, meant that no kamae was no cocking. Example; anytime one drew the hand back for blocking, striking, or punching this was a kamae (cocking).

Some schools consider the finish position of each technique in a kata a kamae (pose). Example; in Shotokan, many times an instructor will call a "gedan barai no kamae" (low sweeping block postion) or in Wado-Ryu, the instructor will call a "jyunzuki no kamae" (a same side [with the front foot] or corresponding punch position).

To repeat, there is no kamae in a Karate Kata. Every minute movement has a meaning and application. There is no posing (set position/posture), because after completing a technique there is an immediate transition into the next technique (the transition may also be the technique in itself). Cocking will stop the flow of the technique, and thus, stop the transition.

The flow and the tempo should be smooth, with no holding of your breath, exhaling or inhaling. This is done with a natural breathing rhythm (iki no hyoshi), leaving no room (space) for kamae.

This is the reason why Chibana Sensei said, "we do not take stances, but rather the 'foot work' ends up in a position that is moving the body weight (or hara) for the transmission of the technique." With this reasoning, Chibana Sensei used the term "ashi" (stepping) more than "dachi" (stance).

Besides breaking the flow, kamae will telegraph your intentions. In the ultimate level of kata practice, there is no kamae, because we are always flowing while timing an opponent.

Pat Nakata