Karate Thoughts Blog


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1650+ Posts... and Counting

Book Donation Completed!

Our donation to the Hawaii Karate Museum Collection at the Hamilton Library of the University of Hawaii is completed! Over 1,000 books and over 1,000 journals, plus many multimedia items (video, DVDs, film) were formally turned over to the UH.

After the donation, my wife and I took a nice trip to Arizona and California. Actually, I am still recovering from the several months of preparation work that was required for the donation. There is still some work to do on our side, but now the University can begin the lengthy indexing process.

We will continue to acquire and donate books and materials to the collection. If you have any Karate or martial arts books that you would like to include in the collection, please contact me:

Charles C. Goodin
Hawaii Karate Museum
98-211 Pali Momi Street, Suite 640
Aiea, Hawaii 96701 USA

e-mail: goodin@hawaii.rr.com

We will continue to list all books and donors at our Rare Karate Book Collection website.

Once the books are indexed (an expensive process since so many books are in Japanese), books in the collection will qualify for inter-library loans, both in the United States and internationally. This means that Karate researchers and enthusiasts around the world will have access to some of the rarest Karate materials.

Thank you very much to everyone around the world who has donated Karate books to the Hawaii Karate Museum and supported our efforts. My efforts on the project go back about 12 years. But the donors of the books have had them from in their private collections from the 1930s, and even earlier.

I am greatly relieved and grateful that such a substantial collection is now safe at the University of Hawaii where Karate researchers and enthusiasts can access and appreciate it.

Karate is a great art... worthy of study at the university level and in our daily lives.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

One Movement -- One Hundred Movements

Last week, I showed our class how to generate more speed and power in a particular movement of Naihanchi Shodan. I was very happy to see that about 75% of the class could "catch" this way of moving.

But that was just one movement. So I tried to show the class how the same principle could be applied to another movement in the same kata, and to other movements in Naihanchi Nidan and Sandan.

The point is that learning a single movement (actually how to generate more speed and power in a particular movement) is good. But it is limited to that movement.

A hardworking and bright student will not be content with this. He will examine all the movements in all the kata he knows to see if the same principle can apply to any of them. Without exception, he will find that a single principle will apply to many movements. Thus the saying "one movement -- one hundred movements."

As an instructor, my job is to show that single movement (principle) and to show the student how to examine other movements to see if the same principle applies. But it is the student's job to actually review his movements -- to do the hard work. That is not my job. It would be wrong for me to say, "here is the principle and here are all the movements in all the kata to which this principle also applies." If I did that, I would make shallow students who can only learn what they are taught.

What I want are students who can take a little piece and figure out the whole.

Of course, the students will have to understand their kata well enough to be able to do this. At first, the job is for the student to simply memorize and duplicate the movements of the kata. It is a matter of being able to repeat what the instructor does. But when the student knows the kata pretty well, it is time for this movement template or form to "come alive." This is when the instructor can teach "one movement" that will enable the student to improve "one hundred movements," perhaps even more.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

"Serious Karate Man"

Sometimes I will ask a senior about a Karate instructor I am about to meet or might have recently heard about. Two statements mean a lot.

The first is that the instructor is "serious." This means that he actually practices Karate and does so in a serious manner. His Karate book is written is sweat. This instructor is someone to be taken seriously.

The second statement is that the instructor is "sincere." This means that the instructor actually practices Karate as part of his daily life. His Karate training is not simply a physical thing.

It is possible for an instructor to be serious but not sincere or sincere but not serious. The first would be shallow and potentially dangerous. The second would be weak.

When I hear that an instructor is both serious and sincere, that is really something! He is someone I look forward to meeting!

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Attention To Details

At class the other night I mentioned what I thought distinguished Karate schools in Okinawa from Karate schools overseas, including here in Hawaii. But when I thought about it, that was an improper comparison. I should have framed the discussion in terms of what distinguishes a good Karate school from a poor Karate school, wherever it may be located. Location or country is not relevant.

So what is it? What is the distinguishing factor? The answer is attention to details.

In a good Karate school, the emphasis is on attention to details. Each movement must be correct. Each part of each movement must be correct. Each movement builds upon the ones that came before it and is a strong foundation for the movements that will come after it.

The reason I thought about Okinawa is because dojo in Okinawa, generally, are known for attention to details. The emphasis is not on learning many techniques quickly or learning many kata -- the emphasis is on the fine points. As such, the students learn slowly in terms of the number of techniques and kata they learn over a period of time -- but they learn very well.

However, I'm sure that this is not true of all dojo in Okinawa, Japan or wherever. I'm sure that you can find dojo in Okinawa and Japan that rush the curriculum.

Here in the United States, I would say that we do tend to rush the curriculum. Here, if there are 10 things to learn, we want to learn them right away. If there are 50 kata in the curriculum, we want to know them all.

In our system, we practice 18 kata (with an emphasis on 15 or so). In some schools, I know that shodan are expected to learn all of these kata. However, in Okinawa I understand that the more advanced kata are reserved for students of the sandan level.

My point is that a student who knows 18 kata and has trained for 3 or 5 years cannot be expected to understand the kata was well as a student who has trained for 10 or 15 years. He might "know" the 18 kata (in a shallow sense) but he will not really "know" them (in a deep sense).

I feel that it would be better for the shodan to learn fewer kata but to learn them very well. Then it will be easy to him to learn the more advanced kata. Have you ever noticed that a student who learns too many kata too quickly tends to move like a beginner, even when performing an advanced kata? This is generally true even as he advances in rank.

But if the expectation in the dojo is that a shodan will know all the kata, then that is what a student will try his best to do. The expectation is wrong. You cannot blame the student for striving to meet expectations.

Ranking can aggravate the situation. So can tournaments.

The emphasis in a good school -- wherever it may be located in the world -- must be on attention to details. Each and every movement must be correct -- especially the basic movements. If a student punches wrong, think about how many times this funamental error will be repeated in the kata. One wrong movement could be multiplied dozens of times!

By the same token, one right movement can be multiplied dozens of times.

Wrong is wrong and right is right. Students should be encouraged to work on getting each and every movement right -- not on bulk (the sheer number of techniques and kata).

When I observe a student performing Naihanchi Shodan, I first look at his footwork. You can observe this with the very first step -- if it is correct, all the steps will probably be correct and if it is wrong, all the steps will probably be wrong. And as an instructor, it is my responsibility to correct it (if it is wrong).

As instructors, we have to set the expectations in the dojo. I feel that we would do well to encourage students to pay attention to details. And when they get it, we should reward them by celebrating and saying, "So, so so!"

Here is a story. Two Karate fighters were going to have full contact match. On the back of the first fighter's gi was embroidered the number 1,000 -- the number of techniques and kata he had "mastered." On the gi of the second fighter was embroidered the lowly number 1.

The match began and the second fighter promptly punched the first on the nose and knocked him out.

You can guess what the number 1 stood for (a good punch to the nose).

Pay attention to the details.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin