Monday, January 27, 2014

Give the GIFT that Keeps on KICKING

The holidays are upon us. What will you give your wife, fiancee, girlfriend, sister or mother for the holidays or for her birthday? Candy? Flowers? Can she use those for self-defense? Possibly - guess it depends on how hard that candy is and if you are giving her roses. Why not also sign her up for traditional karate - a gift that keeps on kicking.

Color pencil sketch of White Crane Gung Fu by Soke
Traditional karate is indigenous to Okinawa. It may at first look a little like sport karate - but it's not. Sport karate is the ugly duckling offshoot of traditional karate that was created sometime in the mid-20th century by the Japanese. And then there is MMA. It has nothing to do with karate or martial arts.

Traditional karate, or we can just use the term 'karate', was modified from Chinese Gung Fu centuries ago and tweaked for Okinawan royalty and their bodyguards and introduced to some Okinawan peasants. So effective for self-defense, it was kept secret from the rest of the world until the 20th century. One of the principal forms of karate was modified from Shaolin White Crane Gung-Fu, and was developed by a female Chinese martial artist who watched the movements of the white crane.

The Shorin-Ryu karate (in Japanese, this means Shaolin style of karate) modified from the gung fu includes many aesthetically pleasing movements that when understood, provide the performer with many devastating self-defense techniques that includes strikes, pressure point applications, blocks, kicks, body hardening, restraints, throws, chokes and meditation. It also teaches balance, meditation, proper breathing and is an art form - similar to dance - that so happens to contain hundreds of self-defense applications. Karate-do (the way of karate) contains many kata (forms). These forms appear similar to traditional Okinawan dances, and they are taught to look like Okinawan dance, but they are different in that they are a living encyclopedia of self-defense applications. After you learn kata, you can train in the form by yourself and it becomes self-training - teaching muscle memory, balance and focus.

The traditional karate from Okinawa taught respect, focus and power and was designed for self-defense. It is a combat martial art and not sport. When introduced to the Japanese population in the early 20th century, it was watered downed and excluded kobudo (martial arts weapons) and lost part of its effectiveness particularly after the Japanese developed a new form of karate known as sport karate. Some of the effectiveness was diminished with Sport Karate which focused on free sparring and developed techniques to score points rather than to defend oneself.

Soke demonstrating White Crane
(hakutsuru) karate at Chinese New
Year celebration at the University of
There are only a few martial arts schools in the Phoenix Valley that teach traditional martial arts. One is the Arizona School of Traditional Karate (aka Arizona Hombu) located at the border of Mesa and Gilbert. This dojo (martial arts school) is home to 16-time Hall-of-Fame inductee and former professor of martial arts at the University of Wyoming. Soke taught martial arts (karate, kobudo, jujutsu, samurai arts, self-defense, women's self-defense, and martial arts history) for 30 years at UW before moving to Gilbert Arizona and setting up a training center in Mesa Arizona. Over three decades, hundreds of students (nearly 40% female) trained in the traditional martial arts at the university. You can read about some on the Seiyo Shorin-Ryu Karate website. Some of his female martial artists turned out to be some of his better martial arts black belts. At first, many of the female martial artists were reluctant to learn kobudo, others looked forward to kobudo. Kobudo is the martial arts of weapons and after all of the female martial artists discovered how interesting kobudo was, they were all excited to train in this art. After all, karate and kobudo are like the wheels on a bicycle - you need the both. Kobudo is an extension of karate. All of the weapons require the same stances, arm and leg movements, and there are many different kinds of weapons. If you like gardening, you will like kobudo. Kobudo uses the same tools!
Our Japanese Samurai - Sensei Paula defends herself from an attack by her husband
Sensei Bill. Sensei Paula is using kuwa (garden hoe) during kobudo training. Other
common kobudo weapons include rake, bo (6-foot staff), hanbo (half-staff), tonfa
(side-handle baton that was once a rice grinder handle), sai (forks), nunchaku,
kuboton (stick) and more.

According to history, King Shoshin from Okinawa outlawed weapons in 1480 AD. This was a concern for all Okinawans as they knew they would be invaded without a standing army - and they were sometime later - by the Japanese. As a result, the focused on kobudo - using their farming and fishing implements for self-defense tools.

Soke Hausel focuses on teaching adults and has taught karate, kobudo, jujutsu, samurai arts, self-defense, martial arts history and philosophy to hundreds of women over the past 5 decades. He has certifications in two dozen martial arts, is the highest ranked practitioner of Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo (Seiyo Kai), and also an artist, author, astronomer, geologist and public speaker. In recent years, he has taught many self-defense clinics to men and women teaching them to use their elbows, knees, hands, car keys, magazines, belts and even Duck Commander duck calls for self-defense.

So, the next time your wife, girl friend, daughter, sister or mother is working late at night, shopping at Walmart for your food and clothes, wouldn't be nice if she could defend herself. She may have a gun, but can she get to it when grabbed from behind? She would probably get a real KICK (or a mugger) out of training in karate with her friends and other adults (and families). We have been teaching karate, martial arts, self-defense classes and clinics for more than nearly 5 decades and we hope to see you soon.

Soke Hausel teaching White Crane Karate to students, staff, faculty and the community during a martial arts clinic
at the University of Wyoming in 2010.

Yudansha (black belts) Dr. Florence Teule and Sensei Lenny Martin training
in White Crane karate at the University of Wyoming 2010 clinic.

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