lunes, 5 de enero de 2009

Kanku: ¿kata para pelear de noche?

De: Oclu-Paca (Mensaje original) Enviado: 11/12/2005 02:55 p.m.

He aquí interesante información en inglés:

Traditionally been called the "night fighting kata." Recently however, this assumption has been challenged by several prominent martial artists. They maintain that the "night fighting" designation is basically a myth, perpetuated by misinterpretation of the name or techniques. There are several good arguments to support this position, but it is obvious that Kusanku kata does contain techniques well-adapted to fighting at night. While the inclusion of these techniques might be purely a coincidence, I believe it is doubtful the kata is also coincidentally called the "night fighting kata." I suspect that night fighting techniques were intentionally included in Kusanku kata.
It should be noted that not all versions of Kusanku kata are the same, especially with regards to night fighting techniques. Shotokan's version, called Kanku, contains far fewer techniques for fighting at night than Okinawan versions. On the other end of the spectrum is Isshin Ryu's version, which despite being even newer than Kanku kata, contains far more night fighting techniques than the original Okinawan versions. Perhaps, Isshin Ryu's founder Tatsuo Shimabuku expanded on the night fighting tradition of the original kata. Although this is pure speculation, it is rumored that Shimabuku Sensei strongly believed in Kusanku's night fighting techniques. In addition, the tradition of the "night fighting kata" is quite strong in Isshin Ryu Karate.

One thing is certain. The origin of Kusanku is foggy at best. Tradition states that Kusanku was an 18th century Chinese military envoy stationed in Okinawa who taught martial arts to Tode Sakugawa. Some believe Kusanku taught the kata known as Kusanku, but most believe Sakugawa Sensei created the kata and named it in honor of his teacher. Still others believe Kusanku was a culmination of several Chinese officers.

As for the origin of Kusanku kata's night fighting tradition, that is even harder to establish. According to historian and researcher Joe Swift, "no references to night fighting are found in the primary references coming out of Japan and Okinawa" which has led him to conclude that "such interpretations were contrived to fit movements that are not very well understood." His extensive research provides perhaps the best argument against the night fighting tradition. Still, there is the fact that many of the techniques in Kusanku are well-suited, if not specifically designed, for fighting at night.

Fighting at night might seem like a disadvantage, but it usually is not. Unless one suffers from night blindness, the only disadvantage would be knowing less about fighting at night than one's opponent. Obviously, difficulties presented by fighting at night impact everyone equally. Unfortunately, while the average person does not know how to fight at night, most experienced criminals do. This knowledge gives criminals a tremendous advantage over the average person. Luckily, the basics of night fighting are all included in Kusanku kata.

The most important technique for fighting at night is to view the sky. When Gichin Funakoshi created a new name to describe Shotokan's version of Kusanku, he chose Kanku, which actually means "to view the sky." While Kanku kata might contain fewer night fighting techniques than Okinawan versions, its name actually describes the single most important night fighting technique.

Kanku also includes the remnants of the most obvious night fighting technique, dropping to the ground after the crescent kick. Many consider this move, which vaguely looks like the stretched out starting position of a sprinter, to be completely useless. Obviously such individuals have limited experience fighting at night. Others consider it to be a sweeping technique, but it is rarely performed in this manner. Javier Martinez, in his excellent book Isshinryu Kusanku Kata Secrets Revealed, claims this is a "hooking the front and sweeping the back throw" from Chinese Wrestling. While this interpretation of technique is intriguing and effective, this technique also allows one to disappear into the darkness while simultaneously locating opponents.

Even on the darkest night, the sky is lighter than the ground. By dropping low to the ground, opponents are silhouetted against the sky. While some believe the name "to view the sky" comes from the circular opening move, the name is more likely basic instructions for locating opponents at night. Isshin Ryu's version of Kusanku kata contains six instances where the karateka drops down low. Not only does this allow one to locate opponents by viewing the sky, it also effectively allows one to disappear into the darkness.

When Ninjutsu pioneer Stephen Hayes first started training in Japan, he found it impossible to defend against opponents that seemed to be able to see in the dark. Already an experienced martial artist, he became frustrated by opponents he couldn't even see. Eventually, they told him the secret. By lowering his stance, he was able to see his opponents silhouetted against the night sky. It was that simple.

The second most important technique for fighting at night found in Kusanku kata is using exaggerated sweeping movements. This serves two purposes. First, it provides additional protection against strikes. Second, it helps locate opponents by touch. Even if one can see an opponent's silhouette, it might not be possible to see their attack. Hand techniques are typically hidden by the silhouette itself, while kicks are hidden by the darkness of the ground. This makes standard blocking techniques almost useless. Standard blocks rely on precision and timing to intercept the attack. This is impossible if the actual attack cannot be seen. The solution is to modify the blocks to cover a greater area than normal.

By watching the silhouette, it is possible to determine when the attack is coming. Twisting of the torso indicates which hand is attacking and shifting of weight can telegraph movement or a kick. With practice, it is even possible to read the speed and target for many attacks from subtle movements of the silhouette. In fact, learning to read silhouettes in this manner is one of the best ways to develop the ability to read an opponent's intention, regardless of lighting conditions. Still, darkness is going to hide much information that is usually taken for granted when blocking. Exaggerating the blocks provides protection against a wider variety of attacks.

A prominent feature of Kusanku kata is the extensive use of the guard position. While advancing, the karateka sweeps their hands from side to side. Proponents of the night fighting tradition describe this as feeling in the dark for your opponent while listening for sounds like footsteps and breathing. While this is not the ideal way to locate an opponent, unlike viewing the sky, it can be used in complete darkness.

The final night fighting technique, using sound to misdirect your opponent, is found only in Isshin Ryu's version of Kusanku. After assuming a low leaning stance to locate an opponent, the karateka stomps the ground to misdirect the opponent. The opponent assumes the karateka to be standing where the sound originated, but the leaning stance keeps the karateka out of reach. This technique can work like throwing a rock to distract an opponent, but that isn't the real intention. Ultimately, this technique is used to precisely locate an opponent by dictating where they move.

Kusanku contains many techniques that are essential for fighting at night. While many have recently dismissed the "night fighting kata" as pure myth, the techniques themselves reveal the truth.

Eric Moss is a martial arts historian and webmaster of

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