Last night began the fourth summer of advanced ranks training at Mr. Hawkey’s home deep in the woods in Hopewell. As class goes on, I hope to provide more insight as to what we’re learning.
When black belts first started attending classes in 2008, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. He was in the process of transforming a space adjacent garage into something of a cottage for when his children came back home – though at the time, the walls weren’t finished, there was no air conditioning and the only martial arts-related equipment in the room were two very smooth blue mats taped together and a rig for a punching bag and speed bag.
Now, as advanced ranks began to join us last summer, the room is air conditioned and finished.. There’s a bathroom, a kitchenette and some more furniture. The old fireplace is adorned with foam on its edges to protect us from potentially falling into it. The mats still appear to be in pristine condition, like he’s ordered another set.
Mr. Hawkey also enjoys landscaping, eager to show us new projects he’s working on. Last summer he was redoing his backyard and even had Justin and I moving blocks for him before we started class. I didn’t get to see the finished product last night, so maybe next time.
In a way, Mr. Hawkey’s home projects are telling of martial arts practice. When he teaches class at his place, we refine techniques and build on the knowledge we have, similar to how he’s turned a building with four walls and a roof into a weekend getaway.
We worked undo chikara last night with reference to Wansu. Undo chikara stands for moving forces, outlined in the Pinnacle of Okinawan Karate, and they are different ways to look at your techniques. Instead of just blocking and striking, we’ll be taking a look at ways to apply pressure, joint locks, throws, knockouts and more in order to effectively dispose of “the attacker.” (I put this in quotes not because I think it’s a joke, but because “the attacker” seems to be the invisible other person in the room with us when we visualize what’s happening.)
As students, generally colored belts, we work the same interpretation over and over again. This allows us to get a decent grasp on the basics.
However, as we advance into the deeper colored belts and black belts, we need to know our kata inside and out. And that’s where this advanced class comes in. But in order to do some of these modified techniques and apply extensions on the kata, we must have a solid grasp of Wansu’s basic tenets. For example, last night, Mr. Hawkey was showing us the axes the hips must rotate around to get the proper thrust and action. Once we get a firm understanding of how our hips move, then we can understand what kind of damage we can cause.
There is so much attention to detail with regard to where your body is against “the attacker’s.” How are you moving? Where is (s)he going? Why would you want to use a one-finger punch instead of a regular punch? Why do we use stances anyway?
This goes to show that before we ever get to the advanced techniques, we need to get the basics down first before we add to them.
Just like building a cottage in the woods.