Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Chandler Gilbert Mesa & Tempe Martial Artists train with Sai - Okinawa Karate Weapon

Dai Shihan Neal Adam (6th dan) trains with sai to counter
bo attack.

Classes in Sai, an Okinawan martial arts weapon, are taught at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Phoenix, Tempe. The classes are part of the traditional martial arts curriculum taught to all students of Seiyo Shorin-Ryu by Grandmaster Soke Hausel.

After months of training with the classical Okinawa weapon known as sai on Thursday evenings, six members of the Arizona School of Traditional Karate on the border of Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa tested in expertise of kihon (basics), kata (forms), bunkai (self-defense) and kumite (sparring) with sai and were certified in the weapon. These Arizona Sai Martial Arts Classes are taught to traditional karate students. This was followed by presentation of diplomas by Grandmaster Hausel, on May 9th, 2013. Sai was one of the first weapons learned by Soke Hausel, who has been teaching the Okinawan weapon for more than 4 decades.

“You don’t pick your teeth with sai – you pick your attacker’s teeth, feet, hands or anything else that presents itself” – Soke Hausel

The six members from various parts of the East Valley of Phoenix included Sensei Bill Borea, Senpai Patrick Scofield, Adam Bialek, Amanda Nemec, Ryan Nemec and Alexis Pillow. All demonstrated expertise in the ancient Okinawan weapon. More than 2 dozen members trained with the weapon from Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe. Nearly all of the students noted this was one of their favorite weapons but one of the more difficult to learn. Learning the sai is part of the Shorin-Ryu karate curriculum and in the past, Soke Hausel taught students and faculty at the University of Utah, University New Mexico and University of Wyoming the traditions and use of this ancient weapon. Unlike many other martial arts schools in Arizona, students at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa learn more than a dozen traditional martial arts weapons as part of the basic karate program.

Karate and Kobudo can be likened to tires of a bicycle. Both are needed to make the bike move.

The sai is one of several Okinawan weapons, or converted Okinawan farming implements that are taught for self-defense and for historical purposes in Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo. Students from the Arizona School of Traditional Karate had to learn four of six sai forms (kata) including all applications (bunkai) along with use of the weapon against staffs, swords, night sticks and knives. This meant that they had to learn as many as four dozen self-defense applications.

"Personally, I love the sai", explained Grandmaster Hausel. "This was one of the first weapons along with nunchaku I learned more than 40 years ago.  Those who certify in this Okinawan weapon, must become proficient in its use". "The simpler the techniques (bunkai) the better - this is because the weapon, like the nunchaku, sometimes has a mind of its own and tends to get caught in the gi (karate uniform)."

Hall-of-Fame martial artist and Who's Who in Martial Arts, Grandmaster Hausel, poses with Okinawan
sai at the Arizona Hombu dojo in Mesa, Arizona. 

Attacking with bo.  Ryan Nemec's bo strike is blocked with juji uke (cross block) using sai.
Sensei Bill Borea uses sai to block attack during kobudo certification
Training with sai can get a little 'sticky'. All edges of the sai are used in self-defense - here Adam Bialek defends
Sensei Scofield attacks with bo while Senpai Harden defends with sai.