Seishan and continuous movment

General discussions on Wado Ryu karate and associated martial arts.
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Seishan and continuous movment

Post by Gusei21 »


A while back Takagi Sensei said to me ‘In the first half of Seishan there is never an end in any movement – the movement is always continuous’.
My initial reaction back then was ‘what is he talking about?’ ‘Of course we pause. Each sequence has a definite beginning and a definite end’. ‘We start by stepping and blocking with our left arm. After the block terminates we then punch with our right hand as we retract the left hand into a lower hikite position.’

No stopping? Another puzzle to solve……

I will attempt to address the ‘why’ of not stopping in this article. The ‘how’ is for another day not to mention I am not sure if my explanation will even make sense without my hands being on you or your hands on me.

Before we go into Seishan let me try this analogy on you.

Go to a wall. Face it. Put your arms on your side with your elbows tucked so you look like you are doing push ups against the wall.
Next push against the wall but when you do this push not from your shoulders or arms but drive from your legs. This part is a bit difficult to explain to people who have been doing seishan incorrectly for years but I will try. When we do the block or punch in Seishan we are not sourcing the power from our arms. We are sourcing them from our core. The power just happens to come out of our arms. Our arms are just a conduit. Our shoulders are just a conduit. It comes from our core (tanden) which is driven by the heads of our femur which in turn is driven by our legs. One leg slightly extends and the other slightly contracts (one leg unbows, the other leg bows) and the force cross bodies so that the right leg drives the left hand and the left leg drives the right hand. This is basic.

So most people will crank their legs rotating the heads of their femur as they bow on one leg and unbow on the other leg. Given that….they keep cranking until they run out of room to crank. You can only rotate clockwise so far…..or counter clockwise so far…..before your muscles stop twisting.

If they want to continue applying power they have stop the crank and then start cranking in the opposite direction. – until they run out of space to crank again…since your leg can rotate only so much before it stops rotating.
And that is how most of the people do Seishan.

Takagi Sensei’s admonition was against this type of movement. The fact that the force applied terminates because the bones can only rotate so much is a weakness from a martial standpoint.

That means you can push only so much before you run out of room and have to hit the reset button to go in the other direction. The moment you hit reset you temporarily turn the power off. You have created a gap in the power. Gap in power = death. (In martial arts context). In Japanese we say that we have created a ‘suki’ – an opening.

So how do we keep moving? Simple. Look at the head of the femur. (The head of the humorous is the same but let’s leave that for now.) The head of the femur is not flat. The head is rounded. It is actually half a sphere – a hemisphere. And because it is a hemisphere it can ‘gimbal’ in the hip socket.

Gimbal is the action the ball in the camera tripod makes as it rotates in the hole. It can turn from 0 to practically 180 degrees. And what happens when the platform with the hole moves? You can go beyond 180…..
The head of the femur can gimbal in the hip socket. Not only can it gimbal … can be trained to do a figure eight. The infinity symbol. The infinity symbol never ends. An object in a figure eight never stops moving yet it can return to the point of origin without the need to reset.

Taking this to its logical conclusion, you can apply continuous force from your tanden by utilizing this convenient property of the hemisphere by doing figure eights with the heads of your femur in your hip socket.

For those that speak my language the legs will continuously be bowing and unbowing as the heads of the femur run figure eight patterns in your hip socket thus generating continuous never ending force out your hand. Done properly there is never a gap in power, never a break in force, never an opportunity for suki.

This is what Takagi Sensei means when he says in the first half of Seishan the movement never stops.

The how? That’s the actual training, the place where the real fun starts.


Apparently I am making no sense to some of you so let me try this out.
If you look at my thighs from the front all you see is both thighs rotating clockwise together then counter clockwise together. It goes one way, then back the other way. BUT if you could look at it from a birds eye view and see how the heads of my femur are rotating you will see it doing figure eights...So the movement almost goes to one end then the head of the femur whips a figure eight and then the thighs start turning in the other direction because the head of the femur looped. Hence figure eight and no stopping.
Bob Nash