Traditional Okinawan Karate Classes, Mesa, Arizona
“Karate …. is a life-long marathon which can be won only through self-discipline, hard training, and creative efforts.”
– Sokeshodai Shoshin Nagamine (founder of Matsubayashi-ryu Karate)
BEGINNING TO ADVANCED KARATE
A few Okinawan masters have said karate and kata are the same and cannot be differentiated from each other. But, there are forms of karate known as karate-jutsu, and most of these do not have kata. However, essentially all Shorin-Ryu, Goju-Ryu styles from Okinawa are interpreted as karate-do (do meaning 'way' or 'path' indicating there more to these forms than fighting). The kata found in karate are filled with pragmatic self-defense applications (known as bunkai) that teach balance, power, acceleration, and muscle memory necessary for self-defense.
Shorin-Ryu Karate is one of the original forms of karate developed from Chinese Kung fu (Chuan-Fa) centuries ago. There are varieties of Shorin-Ryu Karate as well as other Okinawan martial arts including Shuri-Te, Naha-Te, Tomari-Te, Shito-Ryu, Goju-Ryu, Shotokan, Tode, Okinawa-Te, Ryukyu Kempo, Uechi-Ryu, Isshin-Ryu, Sudokan, Chito-Ryu, Chubu-Ryu,. We accept members from the above systems & provide rank reciprocity.
Classes begin with a short traditional ceremony, move to stretching, basics (stances, kicks, punches, blocks), and then move on to kata. When you need individual help, we place you one-on-one with a black belt to assist in rapid development. Karate was never intended for sport & we do not take part in tournaments - instead we teach students to be positive & productive, with an ability to defend themselves.
After teaching Karate, Kobudo, Samurai Arts, Jujutsu & Self-Defense in the Physical Education, Kinesiology, Extended Studies, and Club Sports to 50 to >110 students/class at the University of Wyoming for >30 years, Soke Hausel now restricts classes to 25 maximum. Classes are typically 95% adult, and about 40% female.
The late Soke Nagamine from Okinawa stated "Kata is the origin of karate, if there is no kata, there is no karate!" So what is kata? Kata is a living encyclopedia of self-defense techniques tested by past masters. Once you learn kata, you also learn self-defense applications known as bunkai. At this point, kata becomes self-teaching. Karate kata is living Zen, which teaches balance, strength, breathing, body hardening, stances, kicks, blocks, punches, throws, chokes & meditation.
KIHON (Basics). Just like any new discipline, all members start learning basics of karate, and they continue to review basics to stay sharp and to improve their techniques. Thus, as a new student, we teach you how to walk, how to stand in proper stances, how to punch, kick, block, foot sweep, etc.
KATA (Forms). When practiced correctly, kata can build stamina, speed, reflexes, power, focus, muscle memory, respect, and effective self-defense technique in karate practitioners. But kata needs to be monitored by a competent sensei (teacher), otherwise, kata can also do the opposite to a practitioner, if they are not corrected and monitored by their instructor. In a proper dojo, students should constantly be learning about karate and constantly receive positive feedback. Many people have found that their karate training leads to lifelong friendships.
BUNKAI. Bunkai are self-defense applications extracted from kata. Presumably, kata were created to teach muscle memory, power, focus, and speed. If a kata is practiced too slow such as in tai chi, you are likely to defend against an attacker by reacting too slow because of the muscle memory. To defend properly, one needs to practice kata and bunkai with power, speed, focus. It has been said by many sensei:
"the harder you train in a dojo, the less blood you will shed in combat".
To many, kata appears as alien dances, but kata are forms with many self-defense applications - the secret is to understand what the applications are, and practice them weekly (at a minimum).
TAMESHIWARI. Breaking inanimate objects with bare hands, feet, head, etc., has been imprinted in the minds of many people, and to many, karate and breaking are almost the same thing. Actually, the art of tameshiwari is a very minor part of karate. Because our Soke essentially grew up in Kyokushin Kai karate, a style of karate developed by Mas Oyama who focused a lot of energy in breaking rocks, members of Seiyo no Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai also learn to break rocks as part of their training. Soke Hausel is also a geologist, so he already has an affinity for rocks.