Could you describe for us what the four Japanese sensei did in their
Certainly, but before I do I have to say that their demonstration of free
style sparring was totally amazing and quite unbelievable. So fast, so
agile, so powerful and so precise. There was no bouncing up and down or
forward and backward moves as they paired up ready to attack or defend.
Instead, they both just stood there, silently facing one another in, what
seemed to be an almost, deep, meditative state of deep concentration with a
kind of 'taut, pent up' energy that you could literally feel. Like two cats
that are about to fight each other, both totally bound up in the other's
slightest move or gesture. Very slowly and at about an inch at a time, one
of the sensei would edge just a bit forward or just a bit backward until,
as if some invisible line had been crossed and then 'Wham!!!' the attack
would suddenly take place, as if out of nowhere. What dynamic moves these
were. Imagine an elastic band that has been stretched back as far as it
could possibly be pulled with absolutely no movement at this point. When
the band is released, it snaps forward at an incredible rate. Their attacks
and defences were just like that. One second they were standing motionless
and, the next, they would just shoot forward backward or to the side,
covering about a meter in an instant. Awe inspiring.
Yes, awe inspiring. So who paired up with who? Did
they demonstrate any basic techniques or do any kata?
What about breaking wood, was that performed?
I remember Kanazawa sensei and Shirai Sensei
doing freestyle and it was staggeringly fast. The athletic agility of the
two of them was just incredible with punches, kicks and strikes going off
all over the place. Like two, wild cats. During these exchanges, Shirai Sensei performed a front kick which Kanazawa
sensei avoided by jumping in a kind of semi circular manner. At the exact
moment his feet touched the floor from that jump, he performed a left
Yoko-Geri-Kekomi (side thrust kick) to Shirai senseis mid section.
Kanazawa sensei's kick was so fast; it looked like a piston shooting out of
a secret compartment. Truly amazing.
Who else performed free style?
I remember seeing Kanazawa sensei and Enoeda
sensei pairing up and giving an equally, fast, dynamic and deadly display
of free style. Truly breathtaking with Enoeda sensei's
Oi-Zukis (stepping punch), Mae-Geris (front kick)
and Mawashi-Geris (roundhouse kick) hurtling
forward at Kanazawa sensei, with all the power of a massive steam train
going at full speed. In all the displays of free style, Kase
sensei acted as the referee.
What else was demonstrated by these four JKA sensei?
Kase sensei demonstrated the applications of Heian Yondan (Fourth basic
formal exercise) with Enoeda sensei. As he got to
the last Morote -Uke
(augmented forearm block) and moved from Kokutsu-Dachi
(back stance) to Zenkutsu-Dachi (front stance)
grabbing Enoeda sensei's head in the process, Kase sensei jumped up into the air and performed Hitsui-Tobi-Geri (flying knee
attack) instead of the usual Hitsui -Geri (knee
kick). I also remember seeing Kase sensei perform
a kata which, I think was Chinte.
When he performed the kiai, a very strange thing
happened to me because it seemed as if, one minute I was there, watching
his display and then, after his kiai, I felt like
I was waking up from a deep sleep. I looked around me and tried to figure
out where I was, and what was going on. It took about ten seconds to get my
orientation back but I have to say that it was a very strange experience.
You mentioned tamishiwara (wood breaking)
Nick, who performed this?
Kanazawa sensei broke four pieces of wood with Gyaku-Zuki
(reverse punch) to the front followed by Ushiro-geri
(back kick) behind, then at ninety degrees he performed Mawashi-Geri
(roundhouse kick) and then after he turned to the opposite side he
performed Shuto-Uchi (knife hand strike). The
whole procedure was over in about four seconds. I can't remember whether he
performed this at the Kensington or the Hornsey Town Hall demonstration
which took place on 24th April 1965 but, what I do remember especially
about the Hornsey Town Hall demonstration was Shirai
sensei performing tamishiwara. In his
combination, he broke the first two pieces with ease but when he performed jodan Mae-Geri (front snap kick head height) to the
last piece, it didn't break but instead, his kick lifted those who were
holding the wood, very slightly off the floor. So he tried again with an
extra person supporting the first two who held the wood. It still wouldn't
break. He tried once more and it finally broke. The audience was ecstatic
and applauded and whistled loudly. However, when Shirai
sensei bowed and went back behind the curtains, he sank into a kind of half
sitting position and put his head in his hands and angrily muttered some
words in Japanese. The other sensei rallied round and seemed to be
consoling him. When he threw the piece of wood down that had been so hard
to break I noticed that it had a massive knot running through it. As
disappointing as this had been, it certainly proved to everyone watching
that there was no 'trick' involved in the wood breaking demonstration.