Soft Karate Ⅰ


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When I attended the Yasukuni Shrine dedication enbu, in 2007, and performed the Koryu-kata on the stage of the Shrine Noh Theater (Nogakudo) for first time, I heard one of the karateka who watched say, “That's not karate!”

I didn't pay any attention to this because I knew that most people weren’t familiar Todi (Koryu no Ti) at that time.

However, I later found out that the organizer of the enbu, Ueno Kagenori-Sensei, the supreme master (now Soshihan) of Tenshisho-Jigenryu, said to that karateka, “Sensei, his karate is real karate.” I remember that I was happy to learn that "there is someone who understands, even from outside karate."

Shorin-ryu karate Master Katsuhiko Shinzato published a book that explains the theories for the soft-touch techniques of Okinawa karate. Shinzato-Sensei says, “Most of the current Okinawan karate is hard/stiff body (goh-tai) karate. From now on, we have to learn soft-touch karate.”

I frankly expressed my gratitude to Shinzato-Sensei, saying, “Finally, the karate world has someone who understands what I have been striving for.”

I had always believed that the essence of Koryu is the soft-Ti, and Shinzato-Sensei’s understanding gave me a lot of confidence.

Soft Touch
The soft touch technique advocated by Shinzato-Sensei is one where you touch the opponent's body with your hands (shotei or shuto) with little or no pressure, and then sink your waist (inner drop) while keeping the seityusen (centerline). This is also known as datsu-ryoku giho, or relaxed power technique.

At first glance, the techniques seem like the soft ones of aikido, but it is important to understand that behind the soft techniques is a high level of proficiency in goh-tai techniques. Because “go” and “jyu” are two sides of the same coin, what may appear to be a soft technique can instantly turn into a hard, sharp technique, which is a characteristic of Shinzato-Sensei's karate or the Koryu.

There is a slight difference in interpretation between the soft-touch technique and my Jyuho (soft technique method), because my Jyuho incorporates knowledge of the Jigenryu sword method and sumo techniques. For this reason, I refer to it as "Jyuho."

Training in Jyuho
Matowari-te and Nebari-te
Clinging to an opponent's body, coiling around an opponent in a sticky fashion, throwing from a strong waist . . .” These are the words we hear in sumo training or tori-kumi (tournament).

I use the terms "matowari-te" or "nebari-te" to describe the practice of Jyuho. The terms come from sumo.

The Shime no Kata of the Kihon-yonkei is the first basic kata that prepares you to get a feeling for matowari-te
and nebari-te.

Shime no Kata
This technique has already been explained in my video on soft technique, but one thing I would like to add is about the tongue movement that occurs during breathing. The tongue touches and then leaves the area between the upper and lower jaw.

This is called the "switching of the Shoshuten," to use a term that I coined.

Shoshuten is the pathway for the life energy (ch'i) that moves the muscles and works the internal organs. It is a meridian that makes the circuit from the tailbone and sacrum to the spinal column, and then continues over the top of the head (hyakue or baihui) to the tongue, chest and abdomen and finally the ein (or huiyen).

Shoshuten has a yin and yang effect on the autonomic nervous system and hormonal balance in Western medicine.

When the circulation of Shoshuten is facilitated through the switching of the tongue,

the secretion of saliva is increased and the body's sympathetic-parasympathetic nervous system can be switched over, making the entire body more active.

The switching of the tongue is done in unison with the long-short breathing, and the sensation of it is something you have to grasp by yourself.

Henshuho’s tewaza (hand technique)
Henshuho's tewaza is also effective in improving Jyuho's proficiency. These techniques include: age (rising), otoshi (dropping), hire (fin), tenchi (up and down), harai (parrying), sashi (inserting), kake (hanging), sukui (scooping), tori (taking), maki (rolling), mawashi (turning), rasen (spiraling), and so on.

I have already shown some of these techniques in the Hente-jyuho video. The important thing is to understand that Hente-jyuho is one of two sides of the same coin as Hente-goho when you are practicing.

What happens before and after the matowarite and nebarite techniques are touching, stroking, and rubbing without putting on pressure, voice emission from the lower tanden, and proper hip movement.

In this article, I would like to focus on the movement of the hips from Jyuho's perspective.

Classical Physics
The basis of hip movements is “shime-goshi.” The tanden circuit and mitsu-goshi (3D hip movement) were devised from shime-goshi. Both of these — together with shime, shibori, and neri, which are the three elements of the force — form the foundation of techniques, and their principles are based on the classical physics of Newtonian mechanics.


Newtonian mechanics is a kind of kinematics mechanics in which an object is regarded as a mass point whose total mass is concentrated at the center of gravity and has no size, and the properties related to the motion of the mass point are guided by three rules:

① Law of inertia: A point of mass is at rest or in constant velocity linear motion unless a force acts on it.

② Equation of motion: F = am
F: force acting on a point, a = acceleration of a point, m = mass of a point

③ Law of action-reaction: FAB=-FBA or FAB+FBA=0

When there are two quality points A and B and they exert force on each other, the force FAB (action) that quality point A receives from quality point B and the force FBA (reaction) that quality point B receives from quality point A are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.

Quantum Mechanics
As I became more and more proficient at shime-goshi and hiki-goshi, or the sinking and pulling* of the upper and lower hips, the next change I experienced was one that cannot be explained by classical physics.

(*) Awareness of the sacrum and ura-tanden, hereafter referred to as hakama-goshi.
This is the phenomenon of the overlap of the shime-goshi and hiki-goshi and the sizumi and hakama-goshi. In order to explain this phenomenon, I was forced to step into the world of quantum mechanics.

I would like to start by discussing some basic knowledge of quantum mechanics.

A quantum is a small piece of matter or energy that has the properties of both a particle and a wave, and is measured in nano sizes (10-9). Atoms make up matter, and electrons, neutrons, and protons make up atoms. Quantum also includes elementary particles that include photons, neutrinos, quarks, and muons when light is viewed as particles. In this microscopic world, the laws of physics (Newtonian mechanics and electromagnetism) do not apply, and the mysterious laws of "quantum mechanics" are obeyed.

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