Joel Reeves writes about Okinawa, Martial Arts and Health. With over thirty years experience he has lived and trained in Japan and Okinawa where he is a private student of Higa Kiyohiko at the Bugeikan dojo in Shuri. Author of 'The Karate-ka – A search for the old to understand the new' he currently lives in the UK and works as a Shiatsu Therapist specialising in injuries and stress related illness.
Last Sunday a trio of us gathered to begin rehearsing the traditional Okinawan dance ‘Kajadefu’. Sherry Sugita, Minami Gima and myself, first met at the annual London Okinawa Day celebrations and the idea of collaborating dance, music and martial arts was enthusiastically agreed by all.
I was pleasantly surprised today to find a comment on one of my Youtube videos from someone who inspired me to travel to Japan and train in karate. The comment was left a little over a month ago but as I rarely check in on Youtube it was discovered a little late!
In 1962 C.W. Nicol travelled to Japan and began training in karate…
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.
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.”
“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.
“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.