Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A New Rank in a New Shorinji Kan Curriculum

If you follow my blog regularly, you know that this fall I got back into training in Shorinji Kan Jiu-jitsu under Jonathan Jamnik Sensei at his dojo in Vancouver. I had trained with him and with Kevin Eugene Sensei at the BCIT dojo in Burnaby over a year ago, having double graded and earned my orange belt. I ended up taking a break from it for a little while I focused on my own dojo, but decided to get back into it with a goal of developing my throwing skills more since Shorinji Kan places a heavier emphasis on throwing than we do in Can-ryu.

There was a big change when I came back though. A new curriculum had been developed with the addition of Henka-waza (transitions) and Kaeshi-waza (counters) as applied to throws, joint locks and ground work.

With all the changes, I was glad there was no talk of double-grading again. At first it seemed like there so just so much more to learn on the curriculum, I wondered if I would even learn it all in time for the November grading. The additions affected all my previous kyu levels as well as the one I was grading for, and I was expected to know them all. But as I spent more time playing with the new additions, I realized it wasn't so overwhelming after all. The so-called "additions" weren't all that "additional". The transition and counter training techniques were more a way of teaching how to flow between the different moves so that students don't get stuck on one way of getting the job done, so to speak. When trained correctly, it helps students adapt to the changing circumstances that are likely to occur in a real physical encounter.

The key to training transitions and counters correctly is to maintain proper intention, which can be tricky at times. If training a transition, you have to go in for the initial move, whether it's a throw or joint lock, with the intention of completing it. If you only go in for the initial move half-committed, holding to the goal of the final transitory move in mind, you miss the point. The transition is only meant to be used if the first move fails.

As an uke, it's a good idea to let your tori follow through with the first move on occasion, as well as performing the appropriate counter for the purpose of transition practice. This helps "keep it real." As for counter training, uke should always try to throw tori for real so they develop the necessary movement skills to do a proper counter. Of course, when first learning a counter, it's a good idea to go more slowly, while still committing to the throw.

As for the test, all went relatively smoothly and I passed. As always, there were a number of things I would have liked to do better. I certainly wish I hasn't lost my balance while performing a ko-uchi-gari and fallen butt first onto my uke's chest with all my weight :(. Thankfully, my uke was a strapping fellow weighing in at over 200 lbs, so he could handle the unexpected blow. But when all is said and done, I accomplished my goal of improving my throwing skills, and certainly the transition and counter training played an important part of that. I look forward to working on those skills further as I continue with my progression as a martial artist.


Anonymous said...

Nice, guess you're a bit jealous of Chris' double black belt, aren't you? (lol) Congrats on the new belt, it's cool you're exploring a new style and step outside of your comfort level. One day I'd like to train in another JJ style myself, I wouldn't pick a modern style though as I know of a very traditional dojo with high quality instruction in various koryu JJ and ninpo styles. There's also a dojo here in town that teaches Niten Ichi Ryu or the swordschool founded by Myamoto Musashi: swordplay is not exactly a useful skill of course but it's the essence of the Japanese martial arts and it would certainly be interesting to explore traditional weapon arts.

I thought 'henka' meant 'variation' in Japanese so basically the same technique with a slight twist to it, in our school we call combinations renraku-waza and counters kaeshi-waza. Combining techniques and counters are the heart of JJ and especially for the higher belts they are a must if you want to transcend mere technical ability and flawless style in movement. Throwing is practiced in our dojo but not exactly a speciality: my sensei prefers striking and locking and I'm very much in agreement with him but of course a basic level should be attained with throws and they are a requisite for the federal exam. As to the counters you mentioned: could you elaborate on that? Is it similar to the judo way of countering throws with throws or not?



Lori O'Connell said...


Thanks for the congrats. :) Yes, it is similar to Judo counters. One simple example is starting in with an o-soto-gari, then if uke steps back a certain way, you can transition into ko-soto-gari.

As for "henka waza" the term is in fact used also to mean changing your approach mid-technique (http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=Ezf&rlz=1R1RNFA_en___CA347&defl=en&q=define:henka+waza&sa=X&ei=GCrsTNmpGI3CsAPvh5GwDw&ved=0CBQQkAE).

Anonymous said...

Funny story, luckily you have such a small frame... Strange form of atemi by the way, I do wonder what that would translate to in Japanese. You should patent the intellectual rights to the 'butt-strike' though, a.k.a the Lori-strike. 'In this style of JJ we hold to the principle of maximum efficiency and adaptibility by using every part of our body, even the rear end if need be', lol.


Lori O'Connell said...

Everyone's been getting a great laugh over the story. You gotta have a sense of humour about yourself. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hey, what did you expect? Still, it's commendable you'd write about that little embarassing incident (we all had them at some point) instead of conveniently ignoring it, it shows you have self-confidence and a positive, yet slightly ironic and playful attitude about yourself. Your personality (which is of course reflected in your writing) is the main reason why I still read your blog, so far it hasn't gotten dull... Keep up the good work.


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Mark said...

I must say I'm really enjoy the changes and related challenges, that come with absorbing, adopting, and ultimately teaching a re-invigorated syllabus.

Congrats again, Lori! Glad to see you're now a mean, green, Shorinji-Kan machine.

I'm sure it's only a matter of time until you and your 'sidekick' are both DOUBLE DANS!

Lori O'Connell said...

Thanks Mark! Hope you'll come visit us in Vancouver again soon. :)