Monday, January 5, 2015

Okinawan & Japanese Martial Arts Weapons Classes in Mesa Arizona in 2015

Soke Hausel demonstrates tonfa

As the New Year begins in Arizona's Phoenix valley in 2015, the sounds of weapons clanging and whipping through the air can be heard when driving by the intersection of Baseline and MacDonald Roads not far from Walmart. The swoosh of nunchaku and samurai swords (katana), the thud of bo against tonfa, the distinctive clang of steel against steel can be heard in the air as Okinawan martial artists train each week.

Where are these sounds emanating from? Sounds like they are coming from the northeast corner of the intersection where a non-distinct sign 'KARATE' marks the Arizona Hombu (aka Arizona School of Traditional Karate). Each week, adults and families carry in their weapons and karate uniforms, yell "kiai" during training exercises in Karate, Self-Defense and Martial Arts weapons and learn a practical self-defense art while getting in shape and keeping their weigh manageable.

Since 2006, Arizona-ites known as zonies, have been learning from Hall-of-Fame martial artist, Soke Hausel, a notable person in Gilbert.  The Japanese title of soke denotes a world head, or grandmaster of martial arts, and Soke Hausel moved his hombu (world headquarters) martial arts organization from the University of Wyoming in Laramie to Mesa Arizona in 2006 after teaching at the university for 3 decades.  Some of the many traditional martial arts weapons taught at the school include bo, tonfa, kama, nunchaku, sai, kuboton, hanbo, kibo, nitanbo, manrikigusari, kuwa, katana, naginata, hojojutsu, jujutsu and yari.

Scott blocks kama attack by Sensei Harden using
Okinawan nitanbo in Mesa, Arizona
Soke Hausel cleans samurai sword blade (katana) after slicing pumpkin
in Gilbert, Arizona
2015 began with Zonies learning to use a farming implement. The tool, known as kama in Japanese, is the Okinawan version of a sickle. Unlike US farmers who may use one to cut weeds, Okinawans use two - one to block with, the other to cut with. Or, if you are like Soke Hausel, he had to remove some cactus from his yard and found these were perfect tools for the job.

At the end 2014, students finished learning a kata known as gama shodan and were working on all of the applications in the kata. Katas are forms that contain many self-defense applications that assist martial artists in learning how to use the weapon and how to develop power and blinding speed.

In 2015, the Arizona Hombu students will learn more kata with their kama. They are scheduled to learn gama nidan and gama sandan katas and their self-defense applications before moving on to another weapon known as sansetsukon (three piece nunchaku). These same students are also learning to use a yari in a martial art known as sojutsu. The yard is an Okinawan spear.

In 2015, the Arizona students will continue training in sojutsu before moving on to iaido. Iaido is the art of fast-draw samurai sword.

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