Sunday, May 04, 2014

April - Tonfa and Pinan Month

This year, like last year, we are going to try to dedicate each month to focus our training on some specific things. For April we picked Tonfa and the 5 Pinan Kata.

Tonfa is something we usually neglect in our training, so it was good to spend a whole month on it.  In our kata syllabus, we train in 2 different Tonfa kata: The original one I learned years ago from Sensei Harless, which we call "Tonfa 1", and another, more dynamic one I also learned from Sensei Harless, which we call, appropriately, "Tonfa 2".  These kata probably have official names, but I don't know what they are.

For warm-ups we focused on using the tonfa to supplement our normal stretching, loosening, blocking, striking, kicking routine.  I think it was a good addition.

Tonfa 1 introduces the swinging movements inherent in the use of tonfa. Tonfa 2 takes the swinging movements to higher level and adds very dynamic movement and footwork.

It had actually been a long time since I had practiced the Tonfa 2 kata, so I had to break out some old video footage to make sure I could remember it well enough to teach it.  No worries, though.  We've got it down now, so we'll just have to keep training on it so we don't forget it.  In addition to the two tonfa kata, we also practiced some Tonfa vs. Bo kumite.  It's good to practice weapon vs. weapon to get a feel for the distance and power required for actual usage.  It is an exercise that requires a lot of control so no one gets hurt, but it's very valuable.

We also practiced the 5 Pinan kata extensively in April.  We are currently focusing very heavily on maintaining relaxation throughout each kata, and only making tension at the part where the technique connects. Also, we're working on keeping our elbows connected to our koshi, throwing the technique off the hip, maintaining a 50/50-modified naihanchi stance throughout the kata, and dropping slightly as the technique occurs.  It's a lot of stuff to work on, but worth the exploration!

We worked on numerous applications for the Pinan kata including basic block and strike techniques, some grappling and throwing ideas, and defense against knife and stick weapons.

In May we will be focusing on Nunchaku and Naihanchi.  Check back later for an update!