This site, KARATEbyJesse.com, acts as platform for ideas and articles written by me, Jesse Enkamp; self-entitled Karate Nerd™, best-selling martial arts author, serial entrepreneur, national team member, international instructor, autodidact, stoic and carrot cake aficionado.
I write mainly about things related to Karate, Kobudo, Okinawa (or Japan in general), kata, bunkai, kumite and other topics related to Karate. Sometimes I throw in a little psychology, MMA, philosophy, history, culture, anatomy, Japanese stuff and other knowledge. Oh, and I like shooting popular videos too!
Okay, that was some short and sweet info.
Now, if you really want to read a whole lot of name dropping (people tell me it’s important) and in-depth information about my training and such, keep reading. Thanks – see you around!
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The style of Karate that I practise is not easy to describe with one “name” like Goju-ryu, Wado-ryu, Shito-ryu or Shotokan.
Therefore, I will simply give you a brief historical explanation:
The style was founded by a Japanese man named Inoue Motokatsu (1918-1993). He was born to a wealthy family in Japan, being the grandson of the former prime minister, and was thus exposed to the martial arts from a very young age. He studied many things, including Wada-ha Koga-ryu Ninjutsu, Ryukyu Kobujutsu, Aikido, Sumo and Karate
Inoue’s primary teacher in Karate was Konishi Yasuhiro, who was a direct student of Funakoshi Gichin, Mabuni Kenwa, Motobu Choki and Miyagi Chojun, among others. This means that my “style” has very many kata, resembling an old-style mix of Shotokan-ryu, Shito-ryu and Goju-ryu.
This is because they were taught before the modernization of Karate for the sport scene, and thus haven’t been “mutated” like some modern kata you see nowadays - although sometimes (mis)labeled “Classic Karate” or “Traditional Karate”.
The style was named Yuishinkai Karate-jutsu.
This, combined with a nice bunch of old-style Okinawan Karate body mechanics, principles of movements and theories on energy transfer – along with an unhealthy amount of interesting methods and exercises that I’ve picked up along the way – forms the style of Karate that I practise and teach.
Or at least try to…
I started Karate from a very young age and my training has brought me to many countries, either for teaching, training or competing, including places like: France, Switzerland, Latvia, Croatia, Holland, England, Israel, Jordan, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Spain, USA, Germany, Greece, Italy, Estonia, Japan (Shimizu, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Kamakura, Osaka, Tokyo, Okinawa), Belgium, Finland, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Turkey, Scotland and just about every corner of Sweden (where I happen to live).
I might have forgot some…
And sure, travelling is sometimes tough, but it is also a rewarding experience, since the things I’ve seen helps me put other things I see in new perspective, letting me make “connections” some other people might have a hard time making. So to speak.
I mean, hey, the world is round, there is no need to be trapped in a square!
Studying Budo in so many places, and having such a fanatic interest in this field has led me to meet and/or train with some famous (here we go…) people. Some of them include (in no particular order): Nakamoto Masahiro & Mamoru, Nishida Yukio, Konishi Takehiro (Yasuhiro), Isao Irei, Akamine Hiroshi, Hokama Tetsuhiro, Matayoshi Yasushi, Kinjo Akio, Sakumoto Tsuguo, Tomimoto Yuko, Yoshiaki Gakiya, Nakaima Kenji, Shiroma Seihan, Josei Yogi, Kyan Morikazu, Takara Sachiyoshi, Inoue Kisho, Eddie Bravo, Kiyoshi Yamazaki, Ernesto “Mr. Perfect” Hoost, Shimabukuro Zenpo, Higaonna Morio, Nakazato Joen, Antonio Diaz, Higa Minoru, the Japanese national kata team (male and female), Luca Valdesi, Rika Usami and many more.
With some of them I’ve only trained once or twice, but with some for several years. Some I’ve just talked to. Most often in a gi though.
And the best part?
All of them helped me improve.
In more ways than one.
“Seek not to [blindly] follow in the footsteps of the men of old, but rather continue to seek out what they sought.” – Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)
To better understand Karate - especially the part that is nowadays referred to as bunkai-jutsu – I have also had extensive training in various Ju-jutsu. Some of the styles include: Moto-ha Yoshin-ryu, Takenouchi-ryu, Koga-ryu Taijutsu, Kodokan Shin-ryu and Yagyu Shingan-ryu (let’s throw in Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu too while we’re at it, although that was more weapons than empty hand stuff).
I have also had instruction in the Chinese counterpart of seizing and grappling, Qin-Na (Chin-na), along with some Shaolin praying mantis and staff techniques. Nothing spectacular, but pretty interesting.
However, the training doesn’t stop there.
There can be no end to learning.
The style of Kobudo I practise stems from a man named Taira Shinken. If you don’t know who this man is, you should really do your homework.
Briefly, he was a pioneer who travelled the islands and villages around Okinawa (Ryukyu archipelago) and collected many almost extinct weapons kata, to ultimately unify them into a system for “the preservation and promotion of the ancient weapon arts of the Ryukyu islands”.
The system is centered around nine weapons (bo, sai, tonfa, nunchaku, kama, tekko, tinbe/rochin, surujin, eiku) with some extra (secret!) variations, making it around fourteen weapons in total. There are forty-two kata preserved in total for these weapons.
A top disciple of Taira was Inoue Motokatsu, who eventually received the “title” of Menkyo Kaiden, “inheriting” the system. Inoue used the kata he had learnt as a base for his own master plan, devising specific kihon and kumite for every weapon, (something that was non-existent at the time), using the Japanese koryu bujutsu mold, making it a highly complete and easily comprehensible system.
And at the same time incredibly hard to master…
Just like my Karate training, my Kobudo training began at an early age. The younger you start, the smaller is the chance that you’re going to hit yourself in the head, right?
Anyway, just like in my Karate training, I have studied different arts with weapons, including the Filipino, Chinese, Russian, Okinawan and Japanese (mainland) arts. Although they on the surface look different, if you thoroughly study one system you will come to see that they all build on the same concept of distance, timing, control, body movement and so on, and when that is understood; well, you can use whatever you want as a weapon.
Or no weapon.
Because, in the end, the purpose of training with weapons is not to learn how to beat up people with a weapon, it is to learn how to defend aginst a weapon.
Among other things, obviously.
Like Sun Tzu wrote in his “The Art of War” (6th century BC):
“It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”
And that pretty much sums it up.
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