I was recently named as SA Shibucho (head instructor) for Kudo. This is a great honour, but what does this mean for Sobukan? In the past have not pursued nor accepted other opportunities to represent organisations due to my desire to retain control over teaching what my students need to learn. Representing Kudo does not affect my ability to provide you with optimal learning, but actually enhances it through association with some great martial artists in Australia, Japan and the rest of the world.
I see Kudo and Koryu Uchinadi Kenpo Jutsu (KU) as both sides to the same coin. Kudo and KU are two martial arts that both teach all of the ‘hard’ aspects of martial arts, including punches, kicks, knees, elbows, head-butts, throws, sweeps, takedowns, ground grappling and ground striking, choking and other locks and submissions. So why do both? KU focuses on the ‘kata’ and give us great drills to practice skills, whereas Kudo specialises in ‘kumite’, giving a great opportunity to challenge yourself and apply your learning against a resisting opponent. It also gives interested students an opportunity to pursue competitions – we will hold several competitions next year, and possibly a mini interclub competition later this year. Children do a combination of Kudo and KU in the same class, while adults are given the choice in separate classes, in order to accommodate for injuries, age, needs, preferences etc.
So where does our jujutsu fit into all this? If we consider the self-defence spectrum as on the rough diagram below, our hard arts fulfil the first 80% of our self-defence capabilities (defending ourselves through the use of violence), through various stages of the use of force spectrum. Jujutsu allows us to practice for the more sophisticated and moral objective to protect our attacker as well as ourselves.
Hurt and defend Protect and defend
Kudo Koryu Uchinadi Jujutsu
特技を磨くとは自分を磨くことだ。Tokugi o migaku to wa jibun o migaku koto da.
自分を磨くとは自信を磨くことだ。Jibun o migaku to wa jishin o migaku koto da.
Developing (lit. polishing) a special technique is developing yourself.
Developing yourself is to develop self-confidence.
While not strictly a ‘kotowaza’ these words come courtesy of Kyokushin founder Mas Oyama ‘Sosai’, who trained extensively in Shotokan and Goju-ryu karate-do and Judo before establishing the world’s largest karate organisation to follow a single man’s teachings. While Oyama used these words in relation to martial arts, they are not exclusive to the pursuit of budo. Legendary sword master Miyamoto Musashi taught that to be come great at one thing is to become great at all things. As you learn how to achieve, you build self-esteem and confidence.
When I was younger, I lacked confidence academically and chose not to go to university. However, after a few years I began to study Japanese. I passed the top-level Japanese test after just two years study – an achievement that I was very proud of. I started wondering whether I had under-estimated my abilities and started studying university subjects on-line. When I did OK, I decided to leave Japan to enter an Australian university. My newly found confidence, and knowledge of goal-setting methodology meant that I was able to graduate from a 3-year bachelor degree in just one year, and with a high distinction average. Each of these achievements convinced me to set my expectations on myself higher, and I have since made significant achievements since, including winning an Australia Day Award for my work.
How does this relate to martial arts? When I started as a child, achieving a black-belt seemed impossible – especially for someone with absolutely no natural ability. I was a most unco-ordinated child, but I never gave up. The belt hierarchy allowed me to divide the lofty goal of black-belt into realistically achievable parts. A yellow-belt didn’t seem too hard. And if I can get my yellow, then an orange-belt shouldn’t seem too unrealistic? I considered what I needed to do in order to achieve these smaller goals, breaking them into monthly, weekly and daily tasks. It took 8 years, but I finally passed my black-belt test. Since then I have passed 11 black-belt dan gradings, and I am planning to achieve at least 3 more before I see what the next life holds. I have been able to apply the same methodology and commitment other aspects of my life, and my life has been the richer as a result. I believe that this aspect of budo is every bit as important to teach children as self-defence tactics. The kicking, punching, throwing and wrestling is not the goal nor the lesson, but simply the vehicle.
This is one of the first judo throws you learn. It is in the first set Gokyo – the 5 sets of 8 techniques that make up most of the Judo syllabus. In true judo fashion, the technique name describes the action – it literally means ‘sweep the leg sticking out’.
This sweep is usually used either moving forward or backward. If the thrower (tori) is moving forward, time the sweep so that you catch the front ankle just as the opponent (uke) is about to step backwards. Try to get behind the heel and sweep in the direction of the toes, while dropping the uke’s weight with your hand on the same side.
This technique can be used to surprise an attacker advancing with punches, or attacking with knees from the clinch. You can sweep an opponent after blocking a straight kick or after having your own mae geri blocked – as long as your foot lands on the outside of the opponent’s. Deashibarai is often used to procure a reaction – and set up other throws or strikes.