Following the ongoing debate and controversy over the Internet surrounding the practical purpose of Hikite (pulling hand), I thought I would offer my own take, which doesn't suggest any specific application per se, but instead covers what is in my opinion, a far more essential understanding of this concept in action.
For me, in order for the physical expression of karate to become both holistically effective and integrated, we must look at the classical kata choreography according to its most essential elements. Regardless of any particular combative purpose (which due to lack of historical evidence is always going to be a product of reverse engineering based on informed opinion), the expression of universal principles that govern karate are entirely dependent on how we move as a human being. That is really our only constant.
If you practice or teach karate as a means of self-defence, then I think it's crucial that you make a conscious effort to explore common traditional practices for aspects that are counter-productive to this goal. I'm not saying that we should eliminate these altogether (as they may provide other values), but it's important I feel that we are proactively mindful of where they may contextually sit.
One of the issues with traditional karate practice in terms of training for self-defence is that of environment. In reality, the application of any self-defence effort will involve interaction with either a real or potential violent threat to the safety of you, a friend or loved one. And the environment by which this interaction takes place may be totally unpredictable and critical to the outcome. Furthermore, that environment is likely to be in direct contrast to that of the dojo.
Here's an excerpt from My Book on the application of Naihanchi Kata for self-defence that discusses environmental considerations...
The notion of stances in karate has always intrigued me.
The shape of these distinct postures are what most people tend to hold in their mind when they think about karate, with their very silhouette becoming a feature on logos, club badges, websites and advertisements all over the world. However from a practical standpoint, nothing could be more problematic than losing the ability to move freely and becoming consistently malleable to the situation at hand.
Thus, the stark difference between the inherent staccato rhythm of classical kata performance and the vital requirement of total fluidity for their combative application is for me thought-provoking. What is it about the synergy of these two contrasting qualities that when combined together, provides us (the karate-ka) with greater value than the sum of its parts?
I am finally happy to announce that after a great deal of work on my side and plenty of kind patience on your side, Vol.2 of my Naihanchi book series is available to pre-order now...
To celebrate it's launch, the first 100 orders will receive a special limited edition (at no extra cost) that will be individually numbered, signed and certified!
Due to a number priorities in my life over the past few years, the publication of this volume has taken much longer than expected, but I hope that readers will find the finished product well worth the wait.
Here's a summary of what's in the book...
In this thought-provoking publication, Chris Denwood presents his approach to traditional karate through the choreography of one of its most important classical forms. Heavily illustrated and rich in content, volume two of this book series focuses on the exploration of Naihanchi (Tekki) Kata for civilian self-protection.
Chapters detail contextual aims and subsequent considerations, the generation of a core game-plan, plus associated application framework. The methodology of the kata is presented as a logical and flowing lesson plan, integrating key conceptual strategies and essential tactics. This instalment also covers a number of supporting methods by which to deeply analyse classical karate kata in order to get the most from your pragmatic study.
With over 300 pages and hundreds of photographs, I've added the chapter listing below to show the range of comprehensive topics covered in Volume Two. It is scheduled to be released in June, where all pre-orders will be fulfilled and shipped to recipients.
Remember - be one of the first 100 to receive a special collector's edition!
Thanks so much for everyone's support - it's always greatly appreciated!
A few month's ago, my friend Warren Graham from the US sent me a copy of his new book, Eye of the Storm. I have known Warren since we met on Okinawa back in 2010 - a trip that was to hugely influence both of our lives. I deeply regret not spending more time with Warren during that stay and it was only really after our return from Okinawa that we started swapping messages. An incredibly interesting guy, Warren is also a very accomplished martial artist and one of the top professionals in his field as a sought after security, safety and customer service consultant. I'm certain that our paths will cross again in the future and it is my pleasure to write a little about what I found to be very inspiring read.
This book is about helping readers explore whatever may be keeping them from being happy and fulfilled. Warren draws from his own personal experience to lay bare some of the trauma he's endured in his early life, highlighting the challenges he's had to face and overcome along the way. Not an easy subject to write about, but one that he's made a sterling job of. He also shares stories from his martial arts training with some of the greats, including the likes of Joe Lewis and Ted Wong. He even devotes a chapter to that influential trip to Okinawa in 2010.
What really strikes me about this book is that it is genuine, honest and straight from the heart. It touches on subjects that may sometimes be hard to face and provides insight into how one may break free from what Warren calls, 'personal tyranny'. It shows how the energy caused by the negative aspects of our lives may be channelled and converted into a positive force for growth.
It is obvious that Warren holds a real passion to share what he has learned so that others may benefit and use his experience to help enrich their own lives. The fact that I already know Warren and can vouch for his character made this book even more enjoyable for me. And those who don't know Warren will feel as if they do after reading it.
All in all, I honestly think that this short but incredibly stimulating book may well have the capacity to change lives.