Monday, 5 September 2011

History - a big part in training

History…ZZZzzz… I hope I have not lost you yet! History is something that as a child most people take no interest in. I remember when I was a child turning up to class and the Sensei wanting to tell us about the farmers in Okinawa, the Samurai and how people lived and all I wanted to do was either fight or throw brightly sparkled Nunchaku around! 
As you get older, rounder and greyer you start to realise there is more to any martial art than beating each other up to a pulp and getting up the next morning! Your bodies can't withstand the type of punishment that they used to, so you are left with a gap in your training. This is when history becomes a big part in my training.
My late father used to spend hours looking at websites, reading books, speaking to people and I never used to understand why as a child but now I truly do understand the interesting part that it plays. I like most people started my training in one of the empty hand styles and as you progress through the system your hunger to learn something new and interesting grows so I turned my hand to Kobudo. Because I had learned my empty hand training in Karate, it made sense to follow my training down the same path, and I decided to learn how to use the tools that farmers would have used to also defend themselves with.
Again at first the only interest I had was learning new katas, learning how to fight with the weapons and when the next grade was but as a child you are blinded and don’t understand why sometimes you are doing something. Since then I have gone back and started to find out why the farmers ended up using the tools that they did for weapons, and why they never had weapons in the first place. My training took a turn from all physical to lots of theory and it is something I try to pass on to others in my classes and courses I teach.
So what is Kobudo? To find out now anyone can punch it into there computer search engine and find a list as long as your arm full of people's explanations but back in the day when I was watching cartoons and looking forward to PE in school we could only find out from asking other people or reading books. 
What I was taught is Kobudo was an art that the farmers of Okinawa studied which incorporated their tools to protect themselves, as the Satsuma Samurai clan banned any weapons to be carried, the roots were similar to that of Karate so the strikes are similar. I'm of an open mind so before everyone emails in with theIr stories of how it came from China, or a wandering Ninja Turtle I like to say that there could be many different places this could have originated, just like other styles history is sometimes clouded, but this is what as a student I was taught. The weapons used again would have all been tools. The Bo being a water carrying device, Nunchaku being a horses muzzle etc… but I will go through these in more details.
Are the people who taught us always right? No I think is the answer but what is important is as martial artists is that we are willing to change the way we train and if that means being open minded and wiling to do some research into what we were told as students then it can only make us better and more knowledgeable martial artists and in turn pass on the correct information to future students.
Questions are the best way to learn, ask questions but make sure the answers you get are correct, understandable and have a reason behind them. This is all about walking down a new path of training; this path does not need any gloves or swords, just a pen and paper, and an open mind.

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