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Japan 2010


Matt receiving instruction from Sakamoto-Sensei.

On Oct. 21, I flew down to Kumamoto to see Sakamoto-Sensei. The first night we went out for supper, enjoyed a few beers and talked about karate. Some of the questions sensei asked me where tough to answer. For example, what is Chito-ryu karate? What is the meaning of this technique? What does that technique teach you? And so on. Our conversation gave me a lot of insight into how he thought about karate.

He talked to me about the three dimensions of technique: the Shuri-te sideways hip action (as used in Naihanchi kata ), the Naha-te front to back to front hip action (Nieiseishi kata), and how those techniques combine to start the fist step towards real todi technique.

The next day he met me at 10 a.m. in front of the hotel. We then walked to the dojo where we would practise. His student Nishizaka-san was there waiting for us. It was good to see him again after seven years.

We started by going through the basics and all the kata. Sakamoto-Sensei said to me, “I must break you and rebuild you, changing your mind and body 180 degrees.”

We worked on Shuri-te technique first. Sakamoto-Sensei said I have to remember the feeling inside, not to worry about hitting and that my whole body has to become loose, except for the tanden. You always focus on the tanden. “Stop locking your knees,” he would say over and over. “You are like a rock. Stop being a rock. Hip back more.” This went on for quite a while and at times I would get the feeling for the technique he was teaching me. We then worked on Naha-te technique, trying again to get the feeling for it inside.

Then we worked on Naihanchi kata. Again my knees would lock. Then Sakamoto-Sensei made a change in my stance and, all of a sudden, my weight felt like it was falling to floor. I could feel my root and my whole body move as one unit as I did Naihanchi, flowing from one technique to the next. Sensei said, “That’s it. That’s shimegoshi. Remember the feeling.” We then worked on rebuilding my Neiseishi kata, and that was the end of that day’s training.


Sakamoto-Sensei goes through Niseishi details with Matt.



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