Marcus Hinschberger

Author Archives: Marcus Hinschberger

Shotokan Myth #3 Silent Kiai

Kiai

When we think of Ki-ai what do you think?   If you are an old guy or a gal like me you remember that funny sound Bruce Lee made.  An amusing story from the past involves the men’s after shave called Hai Karate.  If you remember this then you must be at least 50 years old.  This product was advertised on TV in the 60’s and possibly in the 70’s.  Here is what the announcer said: ANNOUNCER: “Hai Karate aftershave is so powerful; it drives women right out of their minds. That’s why we have to put instructions on self-defense in every package. Hai Karate, the brisk splash-on aftershave that smoothes, sooths, and cools. Hai Karate, aftershave, cologne, and gift sets. Hai Karate, be careful how you use it.” Then there is a skit with a guy who has to fight off the girls who would try to grab him after using this aftershave.  Some of my friends must have believed that I needed this because for several years, each Christmas I would receive numerous bottles.  I really appreciated their genuine interest to help me out but I had to toss most of them because I could not use them up if I had lived to 100 years old.  Besides I did not like the smell.  I knew the aftershave would surely drive the girls wild or rather; it would have surely driven them away. I also have a very memorable incident with ki-ai which I would like to share.  I started karate 46 years ago (1963) in Kobe Japan.  Thanks to the following experience in my very first class I still clearly remember that wonderful day.  I can vividly picture this senpai, Tanaka (not the famous JKA sensei) in front of me.  He stood a little over 5 foot but he was a towering figure to us.  He slowly stepped up to the new students (me included of course).  We were brand new, excited and were dying to learn those deadly techniques.  He said very nicely, “You boys (no girls dared to join as it was thought to be too rough, but that was exactly the reason why I joined) have to learn how to say Osu.”  As the readers know, Osu is a very convenient word in Japanese that can be used for meaning “yes”, “no”, “maybe”, “I will try”, “right”, “sure‘ or whatever.  It could mean almost anything and, we were always happy to use it as we could sound like a tough karate guy.  So, we all said “OSU”!  The senpai then said “What?  I can’t hear you!”  So we repeated with a louder voice but that still did not please him.  He then said “you guys just don’t have spirit”.  “You are going to learn how to Ki-ai today and you will learn to show your spirit.”  Then, he gave a real LOUD Ki-ai which pierced through our bodies and sent shivers down our spines.  Then he smiled and said “OK boys you will Ki-ai without stopping until I return.”  We thought he would return in a few minutes but he did not come back until the end of the class, 2 hours later.  We were yelling “Ya” or “Tou” or whatever the Ki-ai we thought cool (we didn’t know Bruce Lee yet).  The senpai’s word was the command (plus he was looking at us from the other side of the dojo) so none of us would stop.  After 30 minutes or so we started to cough and lose our voice.  At the end we could hardly make any sound at all.  We left the dojo very quietly that day.  Incidentally, all the brand new students except one did not come back after the first day.  That was his way to separate the normal people from the crazy one (me).  My voice was gone for several days but I showed up at training the very next day.  I could only whisper on the following day and my mother did not seem to mind as the house was quiet for a change.  Thankfully the senpai did not ask me to Ki-ai on the second day but my training did not get any easier either.  He now told me to stay in Kiba dachi for 2 hours.  He kept on saying, “Lower! “.  When my legs gave out and I fell down, I guess I was too “low” so he said “Get up”.  It went on like that (very simple exercise but very looooong) and I am sure you can guess how the rest of the Japanese way of training or breaking in the new student went on.  I am still not sure if that senpai really knew what he was doing or if he was simply too lazy to figure out a more sophisticated training. OK, you’ve heard enough funny stories about Ki-ai.  Now more serious stuff… There are many articles on Ki-ai and most of the authors stressed the importance of doing Ki-ai and how to do it.  Some explained the meaning of Ki-ai and the others showed the relationship to breathing.  If that is the case, then you will ask why I am writing this used up and uncontroversial subject.  Well I am one of those people who do not like to take things for granted.  So today I want to take up the challenge and ask “Is ki-ai really important?” and “Is ki-ai necessary in karate training?”  You might say, “You must be crazy to challenge these things.”  Maybe the readers are correct and I may fumble nicely with this subject.  But I think it is a good exercise to investigate instead of just believing something because many instructors and the “experts” say it is so. (read more...)     Shihan Yokota has published numerous articles and books:

Winners of the All Japan Karate Championship KATA PT. V

Years 1998 to 2004 MALE/FEMALE KATA Division
Year # DIVISION 1st 2nd 3rd
1998 41ST MEN / WOMEN HASHIGUCHI YUJI / FUJIWARA MIYOKO IZUMIYA SEIZO / GUNJI MIYO TANIYAMA TAKUYA / NAKATA TERUMI
1999 42ND MEN / WOMEN TANIYAMA TAKUYA / FUJIWARA MIYOKO IZUMIYA SEIZO / OSHIMA HITOMI TAKAHASHI SATOSHI / NAKATA TERUMI
2000 43RD MEN / WOMEN TANIYAMA TAKUYA / NAKATA TERUMI IZUMIYA SEIZO / GUNJI MIYO SHIINA KATSUTOSHI / OSHIMA HITOMI
2001 44TH MEN / WOMEN SHIINA KATSUTOSHI / NAKATA TERUMI TANIYAMA TAKUYA / HIRAYAMA YUKO TAKAHASHI SATOSHI / AZUMA CHIHARU
2002 45TH MEN / WOMEN TANIYAMA TAKUYA / NAKATA TERUMI SHIINA KATSUTOSHI / HIRAYAMA YUKO KOBAYASHI KUNIO / OSHIMA HITOMI
2003 46TH MEN / WOMEN TANIYAMA TAKUYA / NAKATA TERUMI KOBAYASHI KUNIO / OSHIMA KAORU UBUKATA KOJI / ARAGAKI MISAKO
2004 47TH MEN / WOMEN SHIINA KATSUTOSHI / NAKATA TERUMI KOBAYASHI KUNIO / ARAGAKI MISAKO TANIYAMA TAKUYA / HIRAYAMA YUKO

Downloadable Kata Posters at KarateCoaching

Did you know that as a KarateCoaching member you can download our Karate Kata poster series. These posters are the perfect handouts for your kids classes. Sign up at KarateCoaching.com and you will find them in the instructor corner. We offer all Shotokan Heian Kata as downloads. Those downloads are great tools for any Karate instructor.  KarateCoaching is the world's biggest and most unique Karate database with many karate tips, ideas, information and tools that you need as a student, instructor or athlete. Heian Kata Poster Series

Shotokan Myth #2 Hangetsu – A missing link to Naha-te Karate

In the #47 issue (May ’96) of Shotokan Karate Magazine, late Steve Cattle wrote an article on this kata, Hangetsu. It was a needed and educational article. The title was “Hangetsu the neglected kata” where he pointed out that this kata was most unpopular.  He claimed, “I feel it is a very neglected kata, generally because of the difficulty in performing the turns, the stance and its lack of beauty”.  He concluded that the biggest reason why this kata is unpopular to the difficulty of turns and its stance, Hangetsu dachi.  “The difficulty is in the turn, which is why I think it is neglected in competition as well as the actual stance difficulty”.   I agree with most of his claims but I am afraid he has missed some key points.  If you investigate the origin of this kata, you will discover the hidden history and the deep mysteries behind this unique kata. Even though Shuri-te and Naha-te do not share the same kata, Hangetsu (Seisan/Seishan) is one exception.  This kata is found in almost all styles including Wado, Shito, Goju, Uechi, Shorin, Ryuei, etc.  I will attempt to put the facts together and make necessary comparisons to come up with the answers to many questions.  By sharing those findings, I hope the readers will come to a new appreciation and understanding when he/she performs this unique and valuable kata. There is another article that is definitely worth reading is found in the issue #49 (Nov ‘96). The title is “Inside Tension Stances” and the sub title, “Sanchin-dachi, Neko-ashi-dachi, Hangetsu-dachi” by John Cheetham, the chief editor of this magazine. It is a 3 page article explaining whata those inside tension stances are and how they are constructed. It touches the subject that is not frequently touched and I recommend all Shotokan practitioners to read it if they have not. Unfortunately, the detailed information of Hangetsu dachi and it s very uniqueness were not mentioned or described in this article. However, I can not blame the author at all. He probably has a set of all karate textbooks such as Dynamic Karate, Karate-do Kyohan and Best Karate, but he can find only the steps of Hangetsu kata and not much else. In fact, we can find very little information on how to do this kata properly or on the details of Hangetsu dachi. The author wrote, “ – hangetsu dachi is described in most books and by most instructors as a longer version of sanchin dachi with all the same points as sanchin.” That is how it skips the detailed description of Hangetsu dachi.  I will attempt to bring out the hidden facts from the history and the comparison of this kata with the other Ryuha (styles) to fill the gap in this article. (read more...)     Shihan Yokota has published numerous articles and books:

Book announcement: Re-print of Karate Do Kyohan by Gichin Funakoshi

I am very proud to announce that KarateCoaching has access to the new re-print of Master Funokoshi's original book Karate Do Kyohan. KarateCoaching is working in cooperation with Tokon Martial Arts to fulfill your orders immediately. We can only highlight what a treasure this book in its full print is (not the shortened version that was published in the past) but we also need to mention that copies are limited so we highly recommend to place your order immediately as long as stock is still available. Please order through the website of our partner Tokon.com  
Karate Do Kyohan – Master Text for the Way of the Empty-Hand Written by Master Gichin Funakoshi – The complete original 1935 Japanese Edition Translated into English with all of the original photos and artwork 8.5” x 11” Format – Softcover Edition
This classic Shotokan Karate Master Text has been printed for the explicit purpose of providing an exact reproduction of the complete original 1935 Japanese publication, preserving a historically accurate archive replica in the English language, that now can be experienced and enjoyed by all who can appreciate its significance. This legacy, as is the true goal of Karate Do, is meant to be experienced with mind, body, and Spirit. Master Funakoshi's message is transmitted in these pages through philosophical thought, physical and mental practice methods, and most importantly, with manifest image. Each photograph of Master Funakoshi not only demonstrates the exact form and method of each technique, but is also an archetypal key to the spiritual path he followed and exemplified. This book is a comprehensive guide for the study of karate and is credited as the foundation document of the modern day karate movement. Inner strength and personal character development are stressed through an active daily regimen of physical exercise and martial technique. Kara-te Do Kyohan is Master Funakoshi's gift to mankind. An informed study will reveal that his focus in life was to share his knowledge and the benefits he acquired and experienced through a life of conscious self-discipline rooted in the principles of Karate Do. Gichen Funakoshi (1868-1957) was born in Shuri, Okinawa and, as a boy, began training with Yasutsune Azato (Shuri-te) and Yasutsune Itosu (Naha-te). Through many years of diligent practice these two styles were blended and became what is known today as Shotokan Karate.   A Look inside: picture51 copy   vpofb1 copy        

Winners of the All Japan Karate Championship KATA PT. IV

Years 1988 to 1997 MALE/FEMALE KATA Division
Year # DIVISION 1st 2nd 3rd
1988 31ST MEN / WOMEN HASHIGUCHI YUJI / MIMURA YUKI IMURA TAKENORI / NAKAMURA YOKO KAGAWA MASAO / KONO KEIKO
1989 32ND MEN / WOMEN AIHARA TOMOYUKI / MIMURA YUKI HASHIGUCHI YUJI / NAKAMURA YOKO KAGAWA MASAO / KONO KEIKO
1990 33RD MEN / WOMEN AIHARA TOMOYUKI / MIMURA YUKI HASHIGUCHI YUJI / NAKAMURA YOKO IMURA TAKENORI / AKIYAMA MIWA
1991 34TH MEN / WOMEN AIHARA TOMOYUKI / MIMURA YUKI IMURA TAKENORI NAKAMURA YOKO HASHIGUCHI YUJI / GUNJI MIYO
1992 35TH MEN / WOMEN IMURA TAKENORI / NAKAMURA YOKO HASHIGUCHI YUJI / KONO KEIKO AIHARA TOMOYUKI / GUNJI MIYO
1993 36TH MEN / WOMEN IMURA TAKENORI / NAKAMURA YOKO AIHARA TOMOYUKI / GUNJI MIYO HASHIGUCHI YUJI / AKIYAMA MIWA
1994 37TH MEN / WOMEN IMURA TAKENORI / NAKAMURA YOKO HASHIGUCHI YUJI / GUNJI MIYO AIHARA TOMOYUKI / OSHIMA KAORU
1995 38TH MEN / WOMEN IMURA TAKENORI / NAKAMURA YOKO HASHIGUCHI YUJI / GUNJI MIYO AIHARA TOMOYUKI / NAKATA TERUMI
1996 39TH MEN / WOMEN IMURA TAKENORI / NAKAMURA YOKO HASHIGUCHI YUJI / GUNJI MIYO AIHARA TOMOYUKI / NAKATA TERUMI
1997 40TH MEN / WOMEN IZUMIYA SEIZO / GUNJI MIYO HASHIGUCHI YUJI / NAKATA TERUMI TERASHIMA HISASHI / OSHIMA HITOMI

Shotokan Myth #1 Hikite

A good hikite is necessary to make a powerful punch.

Hikite is a Japanese word consisting of 引 “hiki” meaning pull or draw and 手“te”, a hand. When I started karate training in 60’s, my first instruction was given by a senpai and he showed me how to do chudan zuki from a natural stance.  I never forget him, Kato senpai.  He was barely 5 foot tall but was as fast as a lightening (as I remember him doing Enpi).   Anyway, Kato senpai said “Put your left hand out and set your right fist at your right hip. OK that is where you start a punch.   Now, draw your left fist to your hips very quickly and at the same time you punch with your right fist, like this.”  He showed me the impressive chudan seiken zuki several times in front of me.  Though it looked quite simple and easy to imitate, I found the turning of a punching fist was difficult and so was drawing the other fist to the hip (hikite).  He explained “You need to pay more attention to your hikite than to the punching fist.  The faster and stronger you draw your hikite so will your punch become”.  As it was my first day at karate training, his statement made a big impact in my head. A few months later, when I learned a kihon kumite of 5 attack (Gohon kumite), I had a problem with hikite again.  As we all know after the fifth block the defender needs to throw a counter punch.  As a defender, I kept my blocking hand out (rising block, down block, etc) as I delivered a counter punch.  My senpai said “No! No! No!  You need to do your hikite as you counter punch.  Your punch will be much stronger with a strong hikite”.  I thought I did a good counter punch but, no hikite was a big mistake which I had to correct.  To be honest, it was difficult not only because the coordination of two arms but more so because I was afraid to lower my block hand from jodan age (rising block) as the opponent’s fist was near my head.   I feared that his fist might hit my face but I later found the opponent was nice enough to hold his fist above my head. I suspect this kind of experience described above is very common for most of the people when they start karate training.  I must emphasize that the correction and change forced by that senpai were right thing to do and I would have done the same thing in the same situation.  In punching with a hikite two arms move to the opposite directions simultaneously.  This process must become as natural as two feet move in harmony while you are walking.  If you drag one foot behind and try to walk with only one foot, it will not be a smooth walk and the movement is not natural.  Walking mechanism is very natural to us and hikite mechanism can also be natural to karate-ka after a year of practice.  After it becomes a part of your natural move, no one thinks too deeply about it and you will have a powerful punch accompanied by a good hikite.  Here one has mastered a karate technique.  This is great.  We are all happy.  Now I can almost hear you say, “Well then, what is the problem?” (read more..)     Shihan Yokota has published numerous articles and books:

Winners of the All Japan Karate Championship KATA PT. III

Years 1978 to 1987 MALE/FEMALE KATA Division
Year # DIVISION 1st 2nd 3rd
1978 21ST MEN / WOMEN OSAKA YOSHIHARU / KAWASHIMA HIROMI YAHARA MIKIO / OSAKA KEIKO NAITO TAKASHI / MORIYA HIROKO
1979 22ND MEN / WOMEN OSAKA YOSHIHARU / KAWASHIMA HIROMI OCHI HIDEO / MORIYA HIROKO ISAKA AKIHITO / HAYAKAWA KEIKO
1980 23RD MEN / WOMEN OSAKA YOSHIHARU / KAWASHIMA HIROMI YAHARA MIKIO / MORIYA HIROKO ISAKA AKIHITO / YAMAMOTO KIKUE
1981 24TH MEN / WOMEN OSAKA YOSHIHARU / KAWASHIMA HIROMI YAHARA MIKIO / MORIYA HIROKO IMURA TAKENORI / HASHIGUCHI YUKO
1982 25TH MEN / WOMEN OSAKA YOSHIHARU / KAWASHIMA HIROMI YAHARA MIKIO / MORIYA HIROKO AIHARA TOMOYUKI / HASHIGUCHI YUKO
1983 26TH MEN / WOMEN OSAKA YOSHIHARU / MORIYA HIROKO YAHARA MIKIO / YAMAMOTO KIKUE FUKAMI AKIRA / EBIHARA FUMIYO
1984 27TH MEN / WOMEN YAHARA MIKIO / NAKAMURA YOKO KAGAWA MASAO / YAMAMOTO KIKUE KOJIMA HIROMI / EBIHARA FUMIYO
1985 28TH MEN / WOMEN KAGAWA MASAO / NAKAMURA YOKO AIHARA TOMOYUKI / YAMAMOTO KIKUE KOJIMA HIROMI / EBIHARA FUMIYO
1986 29TH MEN / WOMEN KAWAWADA MINORU / NAKAMURA YOKO IMURA TAKENORI / TANIZAKI TAKAKO OTA YOSHINOBU / EBIHARA FUMIYO
1987 30TH MEN / WOMEN KAWAWADA MINORU / NAKAMURA YOKO AIHARA TOMOYUKI / MIMURA YUKI HASHIGUCHI YUJI / MARUYAMA HIROMI

Nunchaku, an unique weapon & its benefits to Karate

The nunchaku (ヌンチャクin Japanese and 雙節棍in Chinese) is a traditional weapon of the Kobudo and consists of two sticks connected with a short chain or rope.  I do not believe further introduction of Nunchaku is necessary as it became very popular among us by the Kung Fu movies in 70’s stared by Bruce Lee. Out of a dozen or so different kinds of Okinawan Kobudo weapons such as Nunchaku, Sai and Tonfa, Nunchaku is most popular or known by the public.  Less known factor is that Nunchaku can produce the most dynamic and versatile techniques among the Kobudo weapons due to its construction of having two sticks joined by a chain or a rope. The quick swings and striking motions are very sexy and many people remember the fight scenes of Bruce Lee.  One can spin Tonfa pretty fast but it cannot beat the speed of Nunchaku.  Sai can be a deadly weapon with its sharp end as it can spear through just about any protectors, but the destructive power of Nunchaku at a full impact of said to be over 500kg is far greater than Sai or Tonfa could produce.  Not only it is fast and destructive but also it has another very exciting characteristic; flexibility of two sections. I am not saying Nunchaku is a better weapon than Sai, Tonfa or other Kobudo weapons. Just as one cannot say a certain style of karate is better than another, different weapons have their own particular uses and advantages thus cannot be compared by a simple set of observations.   It is very unfortunate that modern day Shotokan (at least from what I know of) has dropped Kobudo from its regular training.  I do not know the situation regarding this subject in other karate styles such as Shito-ryu, Goju-ryu and Wado-ryu, so I will discuss this subject only referring to Shotokan style organizations.  There was a justifiable reason (at least then) why Kobudo was dropped but I will not go into this historic aspect of karate even though it is a very interesting subject.  What I want to mention here today is that karate definitely lost a very effective and useful training tools when the masters decided to drop Kobudo from its regular syllabus.  I do not think they were aware at that time of the seriousness and the amount of handicap and disadvantage this omission would bring.  Shotokan style now is said to be very linear and lacks circular movements. However, this claim is not true as one can observe the kata like (read more...)     Shihan Yokota has published numerous articles and books:

Teaching Karate Part 2

Part II, Areas of philosophical adaption to teaching karate The next way an instructor can become a better Sensei would be to get someone, anyone to promote him to 8th Dan. No actually that will not make anyone a better teacher. But learning how to create a climate of Mastery might do the trick. Here is one path to Mastery, this presented to the US Olympic Coaches for the USSA at the Center of Excellence in 2012. See if these tenants do not fit nicely with karate. Competence No one continues an activity in which they gain little competence. Every student must have success. Avoid the old myth that the struggle is good for. Teach so the students gain competence, and point it out when they do.   SMART Goal Set S specific, exactly what you want, who, where, when why, why we have written belt requirements. We need to establish a broader curriculum M measurable, you must be able to track or measure progress A action oriented, describe a result R realistic and relevant T time based, done by when, or timed exercise with karate   Control and Choice It is only control and choice that gives a feeling of being in charge of our lives   Optimism – expectancy Learning karate can be frustrating, we must build in a feeling of you can do this.  This is where SMART goals come in. Kata is a good example; kids want to keep learning the next one because they believe they are gaining competence. Kata’s are easy to keep track so they are measureable goals. Kumite is more abstract, so we need drills for kumite to measure our progress.   FLOW, after the seminar at the Center of Excellence I had a discussion with one of the coaches and we added Flow. The mental state in which a person is fully immersed and feeling energized focus. Completely focused motivation. Allow the students to participate in activity in which they do not struggle. Make certain every class has a drill “I can do” make certain in every class every student has some success.   The concept of being in the zone during an athletic performance fits within Csíkszentmihályi's description of the flow experience, and theories and applications of being in the zone and its relationship with athletic competitive advantage are topics studied in the field of sport psychology.   Timothy Gallwey's influential works on the "inner game" of sports such as golf and tennis described the mental coaching and attitudes required to "get in the zone" and fully internalize mastery of the sport.   Roy Palmer suggests that "being in the zone" may also influence movement patterns as better integration of the conscious and subconscious reflex functions improves coordination. Many athletes describe the effortless nature of their performance while achieving personal bests.   MMA champion and Karate master Lyoto Machida uses meditation techniques before fights to attain mushin, a concept that, by his description, is in all respects equal to flow.   The Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, who during qualifying for the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix explained: "I was already on pole, [...] and I just kept going. Suddenly I was nearly two seconds faster than anybody else, including my teammate with the same car. And suddenly I realized that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension. It was like I was in a tunnel." When challenges and skills are simultaneously above average, a broadly positive experience emerges.   Also vital to the flow state is a sense of control, which nevertheless seems simultaneously effortless and masterful. Control and concentration manifest with a transcendence of normal awareness; one aspect of this transcendence is the loss of self-consciousness.   Role Models The kids /students copy everything we do. Including behavior, personal dress and manners. We know that athletes that are internally motivated stay in the game longer and continually improve. So how do we change from external focus to internal focus. We follow some of the suggestions Carol Dweck made in amazing book, “Mindset.”   Target Effort, control progress   Reinforce success; point out when they succeed in their effort   Use Merit and truth, when a kid does something incorrect tells them. Do not say that is good enough   Internalize control give a person a sense of control, you give instruction and then step back. Often we see over coaching you tell them so much what to do that they do not how to perform on their own   Optimism = Strategy can you give a ten year old a strategy, yes, tell them you are a rocket.   Quick Clear    instructions, be sure to be quick and clear, and do not coach too much. Kids do not want to hear all this theory. Tell them simple things, “head up” look forward. Catch them being good or doing it well   Use Fading strategy, give a suggestion and then fade away   Allow small choices, allow a bit of choice in what they do, this gives them competence and independence that is part of their primary drives.   One last thought on this subject, “The task of education is to reach young people to find pleasure in the right things.” Plato   to be continued with Part III, physiological windows of opportunity   Doug Jepperson USA Karate Technical Committee Park City Karate Living at 6,500 feet above the sea. Doug headshot