Sipping Ti

Joel Reeves writes about Okinawa, martial arts and health. He has trained for over thirty years, including periods living in Japan and on the island, where he is the private student of Higa Kiyohiko of the Bugeikan in Shuri. Currently living in the UK he works as a professional Shiatsu Therapist and is available for one to one and group workshops in Ryukyuan bujutsu.

Tachimura Kusanku – Karate Kata

sakugawa no kon

The aim of kata is to transcend kata.

This week I’ve mostly focussed my personal training around one form in particular. Tachimura Kusanku. There’s something in the movements I’m really ‘feeling’ right now and it’s getting to that stage when whole sections of the form are ‘opening up’ to reveal a subtle inner depth. It’s both absorbing and nourishing on a personal level.

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ANNOUNCEMENT: Okinawa Day 2016


An open message to all UK based Okinawan Karate groups:

The date for OKINAWA DAY 2016 has been confirmed for Saturday 25th June at Spitalfields Marketplace in London E1.

Okinawa Day is a great event to showcase Okinawan culture in all its expressions including music, dance and of course, karate.

This year the Organising Committee has asked that I coordinate the Karate performances for the day and I would like to extend an invite to any groups interested in supporting this event.

I will be exploring alternative ideas to the usual ‘3 straight performances’ of recent years and working to a theme that will showcase the best of Okinawan martial arts here in the UK.

If you are a group practicing a legitimate Okinawan Karate style and interested in participating please initiate contact by emailing me at: with the subject heading: [Okinawa Day 2016]

Thank you,

High kicks in Okinawan karate?

Miyagi teaching - kicks

“Does your style teach any high kicks?” This question came up in conversation last night, and the simple answer is “Yes, but not many.”

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Spring & reflections on why some karate teachers close their doors


“I really enjoy training with you. It’s like my teacher is an outlaw.”

At first I thought he said ‘in-law’, as if I were some kind of relation or extended family member, but the comment didn’t really make sense. Then I realised he’d said ‘outlaw’.

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Maai – Understanding timing and distance in martial arts

maai in martial arts - your opponent's intent is like ripples in a pond

In martial arts the concept of maai is often explained a little like ‘controlling the striking distance’ in relation to two opponents. But it means so much more than this.

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Mokuso: “Karate begins and ends with gratitude”


Very often we hear the phrase “karate-do begins and ends with curtesy”, which, in the West, has largely come to mean ‘start and finish with a bow’. But I’d like to pass on something that my teacher Higa Kiyohiko impressed upon me, which I feel goes far beyond simply ‘paying respect, for respects’ sake’. It’s this, “At the Bugeikan, training begins and ends with gratitude.”

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Okinawa Ti kata?

shuri-te sanchin karate kata

“In its purest form Okinawa Ti has no kata. Not in the sense that karate has anyway.”

However as ‘Ti’ was blended with Chinese Boxing, to create karate there are traces of its techniques and strategies within some of the oldest karate kata still around. Particularly those of the Shuri-te line of influence.

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The two hands of Okinawa Ti

two hands of ti

“Most people assume that empty-hand combat comes before weaponry training. When in fact, the opposite is true.”

Ti, like karate, advocates using any part of the body as an effective weapon for self-defence. But the origins of Ti actually stem from its weaponry practice and are, in a sense, a direct extension of weapons usage, both in physical form and strategy.

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SippingTi – The returning wave

SippingTi: Joel Reeves author of The Karate-ka
“A personal blog is a reflection of the individual who keeps it.”

SippingTi first started as a means to enable trainees of my London dojo to follow my journey in Okinawa, where I was eager to pursue my training in Ti (Te) under a reclusive teacher who had long stopped teaching publicly.

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