I visited Leyn Burrows' dojo last night.
I thought you might interested in some of my observations.
It was a non-traditional class. He did his warmups by performing
half katas. That is, he did the first half of every kata,
except Sanchin. Then he did the second half of every kata.
As soon as he started the second half I
understood what and why he did it that way. It provoked
memories of me being complacent and not being in the moment,
at times, when I did my kata. And I’m sure that's
just what he wanted to happen, putting a different spin
on the same old dance. It was an ingenious method of camouflaging
repetition while maintaining curriculum. And as Bruce the
6th Dan commented, Mushin means empty mind not no mind.
It really forced a thought process attempting to remember
were to pickup from the first half and also perform the
second half of the katas as the subject kata.
Leyn implemented two other exercises that
had multiple lessons in them. He demonstrated how to work
a heavy bag, again without becoming rote or mechanical.
He did this by gathering his energy (psyching himself up)
and then attacking the bag with a lead kick (didn’t
matter what kind, front round house or side) and then unleashing
a barrage of 10 straight, hook and uppercut punches. The
punches weren’t necessarily hard but they were fast
And that’s were another lesson was
presented. The energy of the punches was initiated from
the floor. This method kept the punches from becoming windup
strikes where the arm gets disconnected from the body. When
the energy of the punch originates from Sanchin from the
floor through the legs through the lats through the deltoids
the punch delivers more power with less effort.
Another lesson, also in the disconnect/connect
theme, was the pelvic tilt. Once you lean forward, to throw
the punch, you break Sanchin. Now we’ve all heard
that and we know that, but what does it really mean? It
means you lose connection with the floor; thereby losing
the energy that you would’ve drawn from the floor.
And only your upper body generates the power (we knew that).
He said to bring into play the pelvic tilt with every strike.
Think about having sex, thrusting your pelvis with every
Now these were a couple of minor lessons
(major for me) that he wanted to present. But the major
one was the removal of the robotics during the attack of
the heavy bag. He accomplished this by spending himself.
That is he did a series of progressive attacks, always leading
with a kick; but increasing the number of punches from ten
to fifteen to twenty, with intervals of gathering his energy
(psyching) between each attack. The speed with which he
punched the bag was unbelievable.
Another minor lesson he presented was how
to increase the power of a punch without losing connection
(reaching back with the arm). He did this by turning the
opposite hip toward the target. This caused his upper body
to turn away from the target, and allowed him to keep his
arms in Sanchin, but placing his punching hand further from
the target, thus generating a more powerful strike.
From all this came a conclusion, Uechi is
in-fighting (where have we heard that before?). That’s
why you need to keep your arms up and in Sanchin, maintaining
the connection. You keep your arms up while being inside,
because it allows good protection and quick striking ability
without the loss of energy.
The class’ theme was bag work. Because
in his next exercise he brought out two arm length bags
and proceeded to have Bruce throw combination punches. There
were multiple lessons in this exercise. The first lesson
didn’t occur to me until after the session and Leyn
began explaining what needed to be done to attack the bags
properly and get something out of the exercise. He said
there is a series of ways to hold the bags: straight up
and stationary, circular – moving the bags straight
up in front with a circular motion, moving the bags from
straight up in front to straight up holding them out on
opposites sides, and finally random positioning sort of
like the way we hold a hand bag up then removing it before
it can be hit.
I finally have a feeling of how to employ
the tools (heavy bags and arm and hand bags) of karate.
But the major lesson was to develop a rhythm while attacking
the bag, in any of its held presentations, a rhythm that
would replace the mechanical/robotic movements with free
flowing/instinctive movements. The exercise develops increased
sight reaction or a perceived anticipation of the target
presentation. You move from the mechanical jab and drag
step movements to the Mushin infested rhythmic movements.
He didn’t care about miss hits, just as long as you
developed a rhythm with your foot movements and combinations.