EDITORIAL By John Cheetham.
There's a wide and varied choice of articles in this edition which I'm sure you will all enjoy. There are some little gems in sensei Ohta's interview if you read it carefully, especially regarding points like; who creates the atmosphere in the dojo and the culture differences between Japan and the West where training attitude is concerned. It's one of those interviews you need to read a few times.
The kata bunkai debate continues in Bill Burgar's article and also in my piece. My argument basically is that there is nothing wrong with practicing kata both as solo exercises and applying moves from kata as bunkai. This surely is 'traditional training'. However, how can people talk about 'street' self-defence in the same breath as karate-do? It's a different ball game! Street-fighting is not about etiquette, morals or gi's and bare feet! You only have to look at what the professionals do! They 'do not' practice bunkai or kata and 90% of their training is based on 'conditioning' just like a professional boxer! And rightly so!!
I would suggest you read the technical article by Dr. Timothy Hanlon, 'The Paradox of Outside Tension Stances'. Many people can, and indeed do, look O.K. in a stance/posture i.e. zenkutsu dachi - kokutsu dachi - kiba dachi - neko ashi dachi etc: but in all honesty, how many students really understand 'how' these stances/postures work and know 'why' they are so important in the delivery of techniques? And what is supposed to be happening in a physical, dynamic, scientific way with regard to our legs and hips, and the role they play in these movements? Of course all these things add up to trying to make maximum power and effectiveness in each movement and to get total body mass behind each technique. If you are studying and practicing Shotokan as an art, then you are missing out if you don't understand the principles and concepts of the style. This article will explain the 'how' and 'why' (in this case regarding forward stance - zenkutsu dachi) and put you in the picture. It may appear complex at first but the general idea is very simple, it's about how to achieve maximum transmission of power on delivery of technique! In a way, this is the argument that says that 'good form' is so very important and necessary in Shotokan karate. Understanding 'how' and 'why' we use these stances and postures and why we pay such attention to the correct detail and correct posture required for their practice, should be mandatory for Shotokan students. Some people say that Shotokan practitioners are obsessed with having 'good form'. Others say, "Thank goodness for that because if your health and body condition mean anything to you, then trying to develop 'good form' is the best thing you can do! Good posture is a prerequisite for good health and 'good form' also means creating the 'maximum' effect with the 'minimum' effort!"
Brian Woods 6th Dan, (England) a loyal student of Sensei Kato 8th Dan, sadly died of cancer on 14/4/99 aged 58. I knew Brian, a fantastic karateka and a caring, warm human being who loved karate and also loved life to the full. He will be sadly missed by his wife Lisa and his friends and family. OSS! Brian. Editor.