L E S B O R D E N . C O M
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5-30-07 Leyn Burrows Karate

I had a one on one workout with Leyn Burrows last night; how cool is that? It was a little different than the previous workouts as I had expressed my desire a couple of weeks ago to use the workouts to prepare for next year’s Godan test. When I told them, Leyn and Bruce, I knew immediately that I had stuck my foot in my mouth because I hadn't decided completely to commit to that goal. I had set the goal, but I was going to sleep walk into it as I had done with Yondan; just attending classes, going through the motions, seeing my friends, talking about guns, having Margaritas after, etc. Certainly not working on the side to perfect technique and developing the master mind set it takes to achieve Godan. Nancy's the best, she never fails to present the lesson at the proper time, when you're ready to accept and understand it. It's eerie, she didn't know I would luck up and find someone, while working on the road, who might help me figure out that my karate needed a lot of work. But she did know that I wasn't ready for promotion to a level, that I just found out, requires one to show that he understands Uechi, from its basic fundamentals through its advanced applications. And without destroying my puffed up karate ego, she said see you next year. Even after a couple of workouts with Leyn and Bruce, I still wanted to do it the way I thought it should be done, even though I was starting to see that my stuff looked amateurish.

The light started going on (not like the on/off switch but more like the dimmer switch), when Leyn began to correct some of my basic techniques, starting with Sanchin arms. He showed me that the bend in the elbow, and the locking of the arms in that position, would provide the defensive stability that was necessary during the offensive striking with either hand or either foot. To get to this position he had me stand in Closed Gate. Closed Gate, with the hands clenched away from your chin, provides the best Sanchin arm position for any body type. After opening the hands, keeping the arm bend angle of Closed Gate, and placing them into the offensive (palms up) or defensive (palms down) positions (hands bent outside of the body and elbows down and in next to the body), he said would be the correct Sanchin position for any body type.

The light continued to brighten when Leyn explained the tuck under position. He said not bringing your back foot up into Sanchin, after stepping off or turning or any directional movement that you could only strike with the hands using upper body strength. The lats and other lower body muscles would not be brought into play. He told me this to emphasize that to achieve Godan, the candidate would have to show mastery of standing or moving technique. He said, and this was the key lesson: "form is separate from application.” That statement initiated a ton of explanation and philosophy. We talked about:

The advanced Kata
The full circle of Uechi
Becoming a Master at Godan

And he was able to tie all the subjects together.

Do you remember learning how to step off after performing "doubles" in Sanchin prior to and during the Wauki block? It was after we learned the Sanchin full turn and Sanchin pivot. Do you know that's the same Wauki block that's at the end of Seirui? I know you do, just making a point. Leyn said that it's your decision to make the Kata advanced. It's not an advanced Kata because it was learned when you achieved a higher rank. He demonstrated and discussed how the Kyu rank Kata and the Dan rank Kata go from beginner's Kata (when you first learn them) to advanced kata (when you have performed them more times than you can remember). You don't do the Wauki block at the end of Seirui the same way that you do it in Sanchin; because you're still in the beginner's learning stage with Seirui. But, because you've been perfecting Sanchin, it's becoming an advanced Kata. And this applies to all Kata. The moves that come out of Kanshiwa, Kanchu and Seichin are the same as those used in Seisan, Seirui, Konchin, and SanSeirui; that have been modified a number of times in the earlier Kata to get them to be the most productive and efficient techniques, to get them to an advanced level.

That brings us to the full circle of Uechi subject. Leyn suggested that I return to practicing the intermediate Kata and figure out how to practice them differently than the slow, medium and fast methods that we sometimes employ. Leyn suggested doing Kata with a focus on breathing. (Take your breath between each technique.) Or, speak the technique out loud after performing it during the Kata. (This is contrary to a teacher led Kata using a count. Confusing at first, but it develops Mushin by showing the brain that it's not in control.) There are other methods such as stringing like techniques in combinations, and focusing on specific parts of the body during the Kata to master those parts, etc. Develop your own ways to practice Kata that will help you master the forms. Because it was recommended to him to go back and break down the beginning Kata after he had learned the so called advanced Kata, he was able to see that the early Kata had beginning, intermediate, and advanced learning periods in all of them. And, he was able to take the step off Wauki block of the advanced Sanchin and use it in his Seirui. Yes, that would be a double slide at the end of Seirui; the first slide or step off on the circle block and the second slide on the Bushkin push. Thus, you have the full circle of Uechi. Tie-ins such as that renew Uechi for me. It's almost breathtaking.

And finally becoming a Master at Godan; Leyn said that Godan is the last test of when you demonstrate that you've mastered the physical techniques of Uechi. And the focus of this lesson was the legs. Keeping the legs under you was stated more times than I can remember. We did all the Kata up through Seirui, together, then just me. Leyn identified every time my legs weren't under me. And, he provided acceptable corrections; but ones that need a lot of practice. It's going to take awhile.

I applaud the new Godans (and above - Paul), because Nancy could see that they've mastered or are in the process of mastering the Uechi techniques. And she's always been the best at seeing everything, and everyone, uncannily at the same time. I again salute Nancy’s Masters. Your level of achievement is inspirational. I look forward to someday joining you. I left a lot of detail out of some of the discussion that I hope won’t take away from its description.

There was a reason to achieve Shodan – Black Belt. There was a reason to achieve Sandan – SanSeirui and a completion of the Uechi Martial Arts system. There’s a reason to achieve Godan – Uechi Master.

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