The essence of Martial Arts training is to pass along the information to those willing to learn. The essence of learning karate is repetition of the basic techniques. The essence of the basic technique is learning and understanding the correct principle. The essence of understanding principle is application.
Learning, understanding and teaching is the essence of Shu-Ha-Ri
Shu-Ha-Ri is a way of thinking about how you learn a technique. The idea is that a person passes through three stages of gaining knowledge:
Shu: In this beginning stage the student follows the teachings of one master precisely. He concentrates on how to do the task, without worrying too much about the underlying theory. If there are multiple variations on how to do the task, he concentrates on just the one way his master teaches him.
Ha: At this point the student begins to branch out. With the basic practices working he now starts to learn the underlying principles and theory behind the technique. He also starts learning from other masters and integrates that learning into his practice.
Ri: Now the student isn't learning from other people, but from his own practice. He creates his own approaches and adapts what he's learned to his own particular circumstances.
As a Rokudan 6th Degree Black Belt in traditional karate it is most important to have received adequate instructions from your instructors in all aspects of karate training.
I believe there are addition steps and process that must take place on a continuous basis in order to achieve the highest levels of Shu Ha Rai.
1. Learning, understanding and processing what you have learned.
2. Learning how to teach and understanding how to teach.
3. Knowing and also understanding that you as a senior karate ka still
need to train and be under instruction from a more experienced and
higher ranking karate ka.
4. I believe all of the above mentioned should become the most
important part of your karate development at this level.
At the 6th Dan level I believe you should have a thorough understanding of how the basic principles work in kihon kata and kumite. You should be able to develop training drills and provide oral and written notes to help students understand the process. You should also be able to teach and have your students understand these ideals at the beginner intermediate and advanced levels.
In addition to my Shotokan training I also am ranked at the 4th Dan level in Goju Ryu Karate Do, under the instruction of Hanshi Belfour Wright. Because of my training in Goju Ryu and the system that Hanshi Wrights teaches. I have come to the conclusion when initially teaching a beginner student basic blocks and strikes, most of them seem to learn a pattern grouping of techniques easier than teaching single technique first. After these beginner students learn the grouped pattern of blocks fist kihon szuke and blocks first kihon Uke. It was easier for them to refine the individual techniques when done as a single technique. I have taken the concept and used it for elbow striking techniques. First kihon Empi.
I have also developed training drills for specific principles in kihon, Kata and Kumite. In kihon when teaching Hanmi half body position which is usually the first apart of Kaiten Koshi hip rotation. I have found it more beneficial for beginner and intermediate students to understand and preform kaiten koshi hip rotation when learning how to get into the correct hanmi position. The exercise I use is called Hanmi Drill 1, 2 and 3.
The next kihon drill is called Kaiten Koshi Technique Principle Application Drill 1 used to teach the mechanic of hip rotation.
In Kata I have developed shortened versions of the five Heian katas called Heian Kata Ometes 1 through 5. These Heian Kata Ometes are used to work both sides of the body and also to help students see the core fighting principles and applications of each kata.
For Kumite I have developed three drills to help with three core principles of kumite. The first one is Kumite Drill 0-1-2-3-3-2-1-0 used for distance and movement. This drill uses the Goju principle of staying directly in front of your opponent when fighting and the use of Sanchin Dachi. The second drill is Block Counter Grab Take Down Drill 1. This drill uses the principles of open hand blocks and Iki Jitsu usually associated with Goju. This drill also teaches the students to remember to use more than just block and counter when doing kumite.
Ready Stance drill 1 with Reverse Punch is the last kumite drill I developed for the principle of timing and seeing the opening in-between movement.
In conclusion this is my understanding of Shu Ha Ri as taught to me by my current instructors Hanshi Ricardo Johns and Hanshi Belfour Wright and my very first instructor Kyoshi Allen Phillips. This lesson was also taught to me by several other Sanseis I have learned from over the years by Master Reinard Jackson, Hanshi John Farrell and Hanshi Ronnie Burges. I have also learned what the meaning of Shu Ha Ri means from all my students.
Jeff R. Ghee, Shihan
Ikiru Shotokan Karate Do
Corpus Christi Downtown Karate
Society Of Harmonious Fist
Dai Ichi Shotokan Karate Do Int.