Young and Old

Sun, 27 Jan 2008 12:00:03

by Richard Conceicao

Hello Everyone

Happy New Year to you all. I am still alive and well, and quite amazed at how close I am to a retirement age. Does anyone remember when you were not supposed to not trust anyone over 30? Although everyone assures me that I am just “middle age”, after my next birthday rolls up quite soon, this will only make sense if I live to be 114. I don’t see that happening. Even if it did however, to quote Gershwin in Porgy and Bess–”but who’d call that livin when no gal would give in to no mans got 900 years”. Oh well.

I attended the Talium TKD banquet/ awards ceremony yesterday (thanks J, J, & lil’ j). Master Cho, like everybody, started out small, and thankfully grew. Yesterdays event had over 700 attendees. That is amazing and a testament to his teaching and vision. There were demonstrations from the various schools demonstration teams that were quite entertaining. It appears that breaking balloons is superior than having pieces of wood flying around into the spectators faces and food. They also have the added pop for effect. The only downsides appear to be the teams get dizzy trying to blow them up, and half of them don’t make it to the demo, as you can hear them popping all over the place.

The teams demonstrated the athleticism and showmanship that has come to characterize modern TKD. I think that remains the reason it has become so popular. Honestly, in my prime (if I ever had one) if I ever tried to pull off some of the stuff they did, I wouldn’t be here to talk about it. Yet it also brought home to me how many things have changed in this art since I started it 30 some odd years ago.

In Okinawa: Aka chan Karate— Baby karate.
Ko-jin Karate— Old man karate

These terms are not meant to be as insultingly arrogant as they might sound. By “baby karate” they mean an art that is based on strength, momentum, speed, and flexibility. All are characteristic of the capacities of young men and women. This is seen in 99% of the karate practiced around the world. There are professionals in this category. All the movies you have seen fit this category.  Yesterdays demo teams demonstrated this.  I guess that was where I started but soon realized that it was not enough for me.

Ko-jin Karate. So, what’s left if we take out all the qualities of youth mentioned above. Well for me, this is where the interesting stuff starts to show up. Now we start looking at structure, balance, weight control, accuracy, and more. The list goes on and on. Those of you who were interested in acupuncture in martial arts, in the physiology of the human body and how it is wired will look here.

Did you know that there are actual attack strategies that keep one of your arms constantly busy because they know your body will forget about your other arm? Of course, the forgotten arm is going to be the one that gets nailed. Did you know that when your arm crosses the centerline of your body it gets weaker? Better be sure where your high block ends. How about letting your rear foot drag to far outward, that will cause your high block to  collapse. As I said, the list goes on and on. Knowing this stuff gives you your edge. It is why we always hear stories of the old Chinese man who knocks younger guys around without appearing to breath hard.

The problem with all of this? It takes years of practice and study, and more importantly, none of it is obvious. You can’t see it even when you are looking right at it.

When I was a kid I played a lot of handball. I remember playing this old Italian guy. I was running around the court like a madman. I doubt that he moved more than two feet in any direction. I lost of course, I didn’t have a chance. I was up against old man Karate.

Richard

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