Ligo Dojo Blog — 16 December 2013


Here, below, is a video I put together on my latest flight to Japan, made up of just a few seconds of many of our technical committee activities, which I called “What is Kyokushin-kan?” But I realize that that’s not quite an accurate title; a better one would have been “What is the Kyokushin-kan technical material?”

Of the latter, the film is at least a good introduction, as presented by a foreign group trying its best to get what’s being offered in Japan. In reality, of course — and the spiritual/character side of karate set aside — Kyokushin-kan is about mastering fighting like it’s always been. Of course mastering fighting ONLY would offend all of us, because at the foundation of our pursuit of mastery in fighting is also the improvement of character, which, in theory, should keep us from fighting in the real world. The point I want to make here, however, is that this material presented IS Kyokushin-kan in that the technical material is what Kyokushin-kan believes will eventually lead us to a better proficiency in fighting than the other divisions of Kyokushin. Of course we test that fighting through kumite and through tournament fighting, and the absense of that element in this video is why “What is Kyokushin-kan?” is not really a correct title. This is not Kyoushin-kan, but it IS a significant piece of what differentiates it from the other Kyokushin splits, albeit, as said once above, as presented by a foreign group, my own, that’s doing the best it can to follow the correct path.

And let’s please pay close attention to that last point: “The correct path.”

The chairman of Kyokushin-kan Japan’s Technical Committee, Shihan Hiroto Okazaki, sat down with me in Japan last month and watched this entire 12 minute video. I was very relieved that he was clearly pleased. “Thank you for your hard work,” he said. “I hope you can bring this team with you to Japan.” The key point, I want to make however, is that I am 100% sure that he was not complementing our technique. We are simply too new on the path to be all that good at it. These students, 3 out of 4 older than 40 and only began karate recently, are simply too new to be very good. It’s following the correct PATH, however, that Okazaki Shihan was thanking me for, and that’s the point here I wanted to make. It’s not necessary to have mastered the Kyokushin-kan technical material in order to study it (or even teach it!) That’s why we study after all, and everyone — including myself! — has to start somewhere. Yet I am very optimistic and excited about the future because I have a great deal of faith that we, at Ligo Dojo, are on the correct path. As you watch me and my students’ training, therefore, please note that distinction. We are not great, and do not claim to be, but we are doing well, I think, to follow a great path.

Let us remember that in the 70’s the challenge was to get karate students to fight full contact. Now that everyone takes full-contact for granted, however, this forward-thinking trend as presented by Kyoukshin-kan is to improve the technique within the fight in order to return to a truer form of Mas Oyama’s Budo. Full-contact fighting is so commonplace, athletes can do it without fear of injury. If that’s the case, the theory goes, it’s no longer the closest it can be to Budo. There is nothing rare in the modern world about teaching tournament fighting. Fighters learn as much by actually fighting as they do being taught how to fight. This, however, Kyokushin-kan’s technical material and how it is impacting Kyokushin-kan fighters, IS rare, and for those of you who are not yet following, that point is one that I recommend you consider.

Some new material this week:

Here below are 4 video clips. In them I challenge the members of my technical committee team, including 2 very new brown belts and one very new blue belt, to perform 7 consecutive basic kata without having practiced before hand. In the second video clip, you’ll see me doing the same 7, again without having practiced. In the 3rd and 4th video clips, then, we’ll do the exact same challenge again, having 1. discussed the first videos to identify the weak points, and having 2. practiced the routine some first. You will see mistakes here. You will see weaknesses. Remember that I am not claiming greatness for my students, and certainly not for me! I’m only claiming quality training on a correct path.

Please learn from our mistakes, as well as from what we do well. Enjoy, and remember that the important point I’m trying to make this week is PATH, not perfection. We’re not there! But we’re on the right path.

**NOTE: A second round of this same challenge will be added after the holiday, i.e. we haven’t filmed the second round mentioned above. We will not meet for 3 weeks, but after the holiday, we will be to discuss the weaknesses displayed here, practice a few times, and try again for the camera.

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