Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thirteen Fist Method

I've often been somewhat tempted to call what I practice Seisan Kenpo, instead of karate. It's pretty clear that I don't agree with most of the training methodology of karate overall. Mainly the study of many kata over the in depth study of just a few. Rather than having additive qualities, studying many kata in my opinion has a dilutive effect on ability. There is an argument that one can freeze because they don't know what to do and that one can freeze because they know too many ways to do something. I believe through practice and study that a single kata is a complete system. If one knows more than a few, the number of techniques one can study becomes rather hard to handle. I'm a big fan of the concept of "one and a thousand." One principle that leads to many different variations, but all one needs to know is the principle. I'm getting off topic.

I feel like there is enough precedent for name changing that I could do this with some confidence. Patrick McCarthy calls his stuff Kenpo, though it's old-school karate. Gichin Funakoshi himself changed the names of the kata, because he felt they were not relevant enough to keep, though this has strong political and cultural influences behind it. One could also argue that karate itself is the study of many kata and not just one kata. I know there are those that consider it essential that one be familiar with all the kata of karate to be a complete karateka. I also just like the sound of it. Seisan Kenpo or translated the Thirteen Fist Method, which sounds like a forbidden kung fu style, though 13 is a lucky number in many eastern cultures meaning something to the affect of infinite growth.

There's a few reasons why I most likely will not do this. First, I don't want to be the Grand Poo Bah of my own martial art. I am not the creator of Seisan merely a student of it, and I don't hold to the idea that one needs an instructor to practice karate. In a purely Zen slant of practice, one only needs a kata and some time and off they go to quiet their mind. I don't much like the idea of paying for that. It's almost like a tax on prayer. For practical application, I feel one needs at least a partner and preferably a group of people, so they are exposed to different training environments and tactics, but a dedicated partner is all they need. The second reason is Ed Parker's American Kenpo Karate. I've seen a few of his videos and like his personal presentation of it, but I don't much care for the offspring of his system. It's just a little too much fancy hand movement without a lot of depth. Fast hands don't make a martial artist. It helps, but it's not the defining characteristic. Third, my chief ambition is to influence karate. I want to make it acceptable for those who want to break free from the ritualism and caste structure of the dojo to practice and be acknowledged for their abilities and not the belt around their waist. Sadly if you don't have lineage, study, practice and logic counts for very little.

I'm not trying to destroy traditional karate. I believe that there are some good things about that kind of structure. I only wish to promote a freer interpretation of karate. If I have to change the name to do it I will, but I'm pretty sure people would just say "did you make that up?"