I was lucky to attend my first Bujutsu or Japanese martial arts workshop held at Namma Crossfit by Sensei Vinayak Shetty. I was apprehensive about what to expect and frankly I consider myself more the “peace not war” kind of person. But unlike mixed martial arts or boxing, Japanese martial art has a draw to it and I was curious to see what it was all about or maybe the Kung Fu movies I had seen growing up must have played a role.
After the workshop, I got talking to Vinayak and in true Japanese “Budo” style he kindly agreed to answer a few questions. This is what he had to say
Tell us a little bit about you?
Growing up, I was fascinated by martial arts and when in high school, decided I must join a martial art school and learn some actual skills and develop my physical strength. This was 20 years ago and as far as I was concerned, a pre-internet era here in Bangalore. So sometimes after school I would take my bicycle and go around our neighborhood and check out some of the schools that I knew existed, to suss out the options. When I witnessed the Kyokushin Karate training session I was sold by its intensity. Being a full contact martial art it has a very visible and tangible power that is alluring to me. It has had a profound impact on my life needless to say and given me many great experiences in some beautiful corners of the world which otherwise I probably would never have had access to.
Vinayak is a black belt in Kyokushin Karate and has spent time studying Judo, Aikido and western boxing. He has trained in Japan and dueled in different countries all over the world. He wants to further his own training and train individuals who are interested in martial arts.
Whats is Kyokushin Karate?
Kyokushin karate was founded by martial arts guru, Mas Oyama. ( read more here) He developed the style after decades of training in a multitude of disciplines and dedicated his life towards the single minded pursuit of architecting a fighting style that was simple , direct and extremely powerful. A style where one strike would suffice to end the conflict. This is synonomous with the Japanese phrase ‘ichigeki hissatsu’. At a deeper level it aims to give a person the strength to slay his weaknesses (think seven deadly sins) with a single strike. ( Read more about Kyokushin)
In the build up to developing Kyokushin, Oyama “sosai” (what his students respectfully referred to him as) put himself through extreme hardship, subjecting himself to brutal solitary training in the mountains for over two years, upto 18 hours a days. During this period he read many philosophical books including ‘Book of five rings’ by Musashi Miyamoto and would spend many hours in meditation, even under buffeting, icy waterfalls. He was able to ultimately achieve perfect reconciliation between mind, body and spirit and surpass normal human limitations. The spirit of Kyokushin is derived from this sort of never give up attitude when your limits are breached. Kyokushin Karate stems from ‘Osu no seishin’ or spirit of ‘osu’ which literally translates as ‘pushing through adversity’ and being able to come out on top. At the same time, to experience progress and see results, one needs patience and consistent efforts. Oyama Sosai used to say ‘ishi no ue ni sannen’ which translates as ‘three years on a rock’. Without you realizing, through sincere training, over time you will build a sustainable and strong body and mind. This is an important message for everyone I believe.
A bit of what happened at the workshop
The introductory workshop was spread over two hours and we worked on certain aspects of body awareness in terms of strong and weak points of the body. We spent about fifteen minutes limbering up the body in preparation for the ensuing training. We then did all the basic hand and leg striking techniques in a sequence with enthusiastic participation and ‘kiai’ shouts from everyone. We tried to demonstrate the importance of ‘Ma Ai‘ or distance in fighting and the concept of upsetting the opponent’s body balance or ‘kuzushi’ with some live sparring. We finished up with ‘kokyu ho’ which is predominantly practiced in Aikido, a breath based exercise followed by a cool down stretch. I believe everybody trained with a strong spirit, deep involvement and focus.
Vinayak also taught us how different parts of our body can be used as weapons to create very serious damage! He is planning another workshop soon watch my page for more updates about it or contact him directly for the same. Highly recommended for people of all ages.
What is the significance of ‘Budo’ – or the “Japanese approach” to life? ( on Budo)
Martial arts has a certain ‘zen’ appeal. An often used and abused word, Zen simply refers to focus or ‘dhyana’ as we are familiar with, in our country. Zen in my very limited experience is all about doing or action rather than being limited to a thought process. Zen monks aspire to be in a ‘zen’ state of mind through the day. Whether it is their tea ceremony or sitting with the back straight in meditation (zazen), writing calligraphy or practicing any martial art etc.
My approach to martial arts today is largely influenced by my exposure to Aikido and its founder Morihei Ueshiba (O’Sensei) philosophy that struck a chord with me. Through martial art practice we are simply trying to reconcile our personal energy with universal energy. There is a focus on the body being a channel of universal energy and regular practice allows us to be in good shape and enjoy smooth energy flow through our system, enabling a good quality of life. It is a way of life and enables us to connect with nature and strives to promote a feeling of harmony. Though we seek to avoid confrontation, in times of danger, martial art training facilitates increased awareness, presence of mind and self-defense. So in many ways, in todays world it is increasingly relevant.
Tell us your favorite karate move and what do you think we should do when attacked?
Well, a favorite Karate move! I like the Kyokushin karate roundhouse kicks. I don’t think there is a particular favorite or increasingly relevant move, but to answer your question, I believe the key is to be aware and try to remain calm when you sense danger. It isn’t usually a ‘fair fight’ on the street and the opponent is potentially desperate with nothing to lose. If you’re cornered and running away is not an option, attack vulnerable points swiftly and with intention, preferably more than one weak point attacked almost
simultaneously will stun the aggressor and instill fear not to chase after you. Never stay cemented to the same spot and try to raise an alarm and run away from the danger as far as possible. Do not try to neutralize the threat or bring the aggressor to justice as typically you have a lot more to lose by hanging around.
Whether we choose to use martial arts to survive the daily crime in our country or follow their minimalist Budo principles. I definitely recommend attending a workshop to learn more about this ancient art of war. It can give you powerful insights into the lost values of discipline, respect, order, commitment and a intense relief from superficiality.
For classes or workshops contact Vinayak: firstname.lastname@example.org