Monday, December 6, 2010

Ichi gan ...

I began teaching in October at the Apohaqui Karate Club.  It's located in the Apohaqui Elementary School, for those of you who are interested.  Now, I'm only 2nd Kyu, but my students are all 10th Kyu, and if I can't convey the basics by now, then I'll be in for a real treat when I test for my 1st Kyu in January.

So, anyways, I was doing a bit of research into the exact meaning of the concept Ichi-gan, ni-ashi, san-tan, shi-riki so that I could introduce those concepts to my students. Now, I know what you're saying. "But Terry-san, everyone knows the meaning of those words! They are drilled into our heads from day one!". Well, yes they are, but the message being delivered is not the same, and I would like to have a clearer understanding of what it is I am teaching my students.

My Sensei (actually, every Sensei in KV Karate) teaches the following:
  • Ichi Gan - "Eyes First". You must look before performing the technique.
  • Ni Ashi- "Two, Feet". You must have a solid foundation.
  • San Tan - "Three, Focus of Power". Tighten the Pyramidalis muscle.
  • Shi Riki - " Four, Technique". Perform the action required.
The theme of the above is pretty simple; it is all focused around delivering a technique. "Look. Get in your stance. Tighten the Pyramidalis muscle. Deliver the technique.". Let's expand on the definitions a little bit, shall we?

Ichi Gan - "See Your Opponent"
Noma Hasashi explains in "The Kendo Reader" (found here) that "The eyes should always be directed towards the opponent so that his face occupies the centre of vision while at the same time remaining aware of the opponent in his entirety.".  I especially like the next sentence: "In the same way as looking at a distant mountain, one must view the opponent with a long focus and be aware at a single glance of his whole aspect, from head to foot.". Basically, this boils down to the simple adage: "Don't just look. See.".

Ni Ashi - "Foundation and Footwork"
Having a proper stance allows you to deliver the technique with maximum power and stability. Understanding footwork will allow you to transition efficiently into your stance so that you can deliver the technique. It's not just about "having a good stance". You have to get into your stance first.

San Tan - "Focus"
Not just focus of power, but focus of mind. While doing a bit of reading, I found a site that defined this as "guts and determination", and it makes sense. By tightening the muscles two inches below your navel, you are focusing your power and strength. This area, coincidentally enough, is where your "Chi" power originates from.

Shi Riki - "Technique"
Performing the technique correctly is not enough. You must direct the focused power and strength through your arms (or legs) and deliver them with power and force, BUT, the power and force comes immediately before the impact. Muscles must be relaxed in order to deliver the technique with speed.

So there they are. My expanded definitions on the "Ichi-gan, ni-ashi, san-tan, shi-riki" concept. While researching this a bit, I noticed that most martial arts styles refer to more focused definition; either the physical (look), or the metaphysical (see). I believe we need to teach the broader definitions above in Karate. Begin with the simple explanations, and as the student advances through the Kyu belts, expand on them. I know I have a better understanding of things just from the brief bit of research I did on this.  I see a few things differently, and classes this week will have a refreshing new tone to them.

Ichi gan people. Ichi gan.


No comments:

Post a Comment