A Ligo Dojo Technical Committee? Saturday 6 AM, April 27

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Ligo Dojo Technical Committee Members practicing kata with Sai.

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Application of Sai vs. Boken (wooden sword).

Some good advice here for all Ligo Dojo students. Please read. You’ll note that I’m discussing a particular group, but the advice applies to everyone, and there’s come critical advice here within. Read below.

This morning was our 4th Saturday, 6 AM, seeing what we can do to form a Ligo Dojo Technical Committee class. A fancy term, but all it means is forming a contact group that moves a step beyond and takes the technical aspect of the training to a new level. We started with five adults, and now have four. The expectation is that we meet once a week for 2 hours for a year, that students never miss a class, and that it’s always a 3rd class per week, i.e. that they’re always present in at least 2 regular classes per week, so that they can help raise the standard in the regular classes by example. In theory, any adult students that can make that commitment are welcome to join. More on that below, because there are a couple strict requirements. This group plans to go to Japan next year for the instructors seminar with Kancho Royama. Continue reading

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Bunkai : The Marriage of Kata and Kumite – Kyokushin-kan Instructor’s Seminars – Concept #3 Part 2

(This author thought it would be beneficial to the Kyokushin-kan community to summarize, to the best of my ability, some content of Kancho Royama’s Internatinoal Instructors’ Seminars, held every year in Japan. Although I do have the dual advantage of having attended more of Kancho’s seminars than any other American, and of having acted as Japanese-English interpreter for those seminars in many cases, the reader should understand that, still, I can only do the best I can to explain concepts presented by Kancho and other high-level instructors in Japan. I do have the advantage of having been there, but my level of understanding in karate is only just what it is, and I can only explain what Kancho and others explain, through the lens of my own limited understanding. Yet to assist the development of Kyokushin-kan in the West, I will do the best I can.)

In part 1 of my discussion on Bunkai (see Instructors’ Seminars in Japan tab above), I suggested that Bunkai, “application,” is a formal class of karate exercise in which the practitioner studies, with an simulated attacker, the meaning of the individual (and sometimes combined) movements that go together to make up Kata. In that sense, we can think of Bunkai as the marriage of Kata and Kumite, as shown in the picture below. Separate this diagram to where there are two separate circles, one for Kata and one for Kumite, thus eliminating Bunkai where the two meet, and you have the model for karate training that has lost its way, training in which Kumite is merely fighting, and Kata is nothing but a dance.

Capture

This discussion takes us straight to the heart of an earlier discussion posted here (see Our Moment in History on the Kyokushin Beginners’ Guide tab), in which I discussed the evolution and devolution of Kyokushin. Here I mentioned how Kyokushin was always evolving during Mas Oyama’s lifetime, and that to take Kyokushin as a snapshot of exactly what it was at the time you learned it many years ago from Mas Oyama (for example) is destructive to the art because Kyokushin’s greatness derived from its evolution. AND , likewise, the times that Kyokushin fell short (sending Kyokushin fighters prematurely into K-1 kickboxing rings, for example), those shortcomings derived, in some cases, from Kyokushin’s “devolution,” or situations in which Kyokushin lost some of what it once had (albeit sometimes in the name of gaining something else). Continue reading

Fight to be First : Excerpt #5 from A Kyokushin Beginner’s Guide, Coming Soon

(I have previously shared here 4 excerpts from my forthcoming book’s Introduction. The body of the book, however, is made up of 116 one, two, or thee page essays, all describing the ideal attitude to have while practicing karate. All of it is kind of “no duh, of course it’s that way” for the Japanese student, but unless you’ve taught karate in the west, you might be surprised how hard it is to convince the beginning Western karate student how they’re supposed to come in the dojo engaged, rather than passively waiting for karate to fall on them from above. I think you’ll be able to see as you read this first one of the 116 essays. I recently spoke with Annie Gottlieb, my editor for this project, she’s 110 pages in and still loving it. We’re hoping that this is the missing link. Americans, Westerners perhaps, who read this book, will at least understand what’s expected of them as the BEGIN their training in Budo karate.)

1.      Fight to be First

This is the central attitude of training in the Budo karate dojo. You might hear it referred to as “having strong spirit.”

It’s not something someone will give you. It’s the attitude that even the whitebelt must endeavor to BRING to the dojo from his/her first week of training. It is a requirement of participation, not something you’ll get over time by waiting for it to come. Ask yourself: What’s the best way to ensure I’m not last? Continue reading

Kyokushin-kan Instructor’s Seminars – Concept #3 Part 1 – Bunkai : Kyokushin’s Missing Link

Kyokushin-kan's Kaneko Shihan and Ishizawa Shihan performing the Bunkai for the final motion of Pinan sono 5.

Kyokushin-kan’s Kaneko Shihan and Ishizawa Shihan performing the Bunkai for the final motion of Pinan sono 5.

Bunkai – Kyokushin’s Missing Link

(This author thought it would be beneficial to the Kyokushin-kan community to summarize, to the best of my ability, some content of Kancho Royama’s Internatinoal Instructors’ Seminars, held every year in Japan. Although I do have the dual advantage of having attended more of Kancho’s seminars than any other American, and of having acted as Japanese-English interpreter for those seminars in many cases, the reader should understand that, still, I can only do the best I can to explain concepts presented by Kancho and other high-level instructors in Japan. I do have the advantage of having been there, but my level of understanding in karate is only just what it is, and I can only explain what Kancho and others explain, through the lens of my own limited understanding. Yet to assist the development of Kyokushin-kan in the West, I will do the best I can.)

Bunkai means “application” in Japanese. It refers to a type of training, usually performed as formal one-step kumite, in which the practitioner studies the application of the individual movements performed duruing kata by applying them as defenses against the simulated attacks of a training partner . The practice of bunkai is a long-missing-from-Kyokushin, but vital, link between kata and kumite. For most the first 20 years of this author’s Kyokushin experience, I never practiced bunkai. Even in two years of training every day at Mas Oyama’s world headquarters dojo in Japan, we didn’t practice bunkai, certainly not in any way that compares to what is not being stressed at the cutting-edge of training within Kyokushin-kan. Yet knowing what I know now, I sure wish that we had. Continue reading

Runaway Spirit and Divergent Trends, A Kyokushin’s Beginner’s Guide by Nathan Ligo, excerpt #4.

Fuji Yusuke at Kyokushin-kan's 1st World Tournament in Moscow.

Fuji Yusuke at Kyokushin-kan’s 1st World Tournament in Moscow, 2005.

(Here is a 4th excerpt from the introduction to my forthcoming book, A Kyokushin’s Beginner’s Guide: Replicating Mas Oyama’s Budo Karate in the Western Dojo. To read the earlier posts, click on the “Kyokushin Beginner’s Guide” tab above.)

Runaway Spirit and Divergent Trends 

Strong spirit or powerful attitudes (such as those described within) in the closed environment of the dojo will run away and become the norm if the majority adopts them. That means that if enough people set off on the right path, it will be next to effortless for newcomers to fall into place. If all their role models are behaving correctly, after all, newcomers will have no doubt as to how they’re supposed to behave. The adoption of powerful attitude, in this case, happens automatically.

This is where any dojo’s karate should be. This is where every instructor should endeavor to bring his/her dojo. Negative trends in the majority, can also, of course run away and become the norm. I’ve watched this occur in various eras of my own dojos’ development. It’s critical that every student carries his/her own weight and understands what his/her role is supposed to be. Hence, I’ve written this book to offer you all a leg up, a gentle nudge in the right direction. Continue reading

Nathan Ligo fighting with Japan Champion Masuda Akira in 1991

We chose the order of opponents for Masuda’s 100-man kumite by lots. I drew number 7. By the time he’d fought 60 90-second fights that day, he was pretty spent. Here, right at the beginning, he was just getting warmed up. This fight did a lot to build my confidence because I stood up to a Japan champion for some time . . . before he won by TKO, his famous chudan mawashi geri that completely collapsed my lungs. I was 20 years old. It was 1991.

Our Moment in History by Nathan Ligo : Excerpt #3 from A Kyokushin Beginner’s Guide

Our Moment in History : For the Kyokushin Instructor

(The following is a 3rd excerpt from my forthcoming book, A Kyokushin Beginner’s Guide, Replicating Mas Oyama’s Budo Karate in the Western Dojo. Although this essay, Our Moment in History, was originally part of the introduction, I finally moved it to an Appendix when my Introduction become larger than I wanted it to be. Click on the Kyokushin Beginner’s Guide tab above and you can read two prior excerpts from my Introduction. The manuscript is currently with the editor. My hope is that readers will be able to order their published copies on Amazon by the end of June.)

It’s 2013 and it’s been 19 years since the death of our founder, Mas Oyama.

From one massive organization governing all, Kyokushin has evolved into a style of karate that may be taken up by anyone. Large swaths of it are still governed by international organizations that battle for prominence, just as small swaths of it are likewise governed by smaller organizations. The independent dojo, in the West, has come to be. For all of these entities, however, big or small, the question that we all struggle to answer is whether to preserve that which we witnessed of Kyokushin during Mas Oyama’s lifetime, or whether to allow it to evolve. Which elements should we fight to keep unchanged, and which ones would Mas Oyama, himself, have allowed to change with the times? Continue reading