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神人武館体系 - 第一部:手対空手

The Shinjinbukan System − Part 1: Ti vs. Karate

Introduction       Section 1       Section 2        Section 3       Section 4

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These articles are based on accounts of my training under Onaga Yoshimitsu Kaichō.  Jimmy Mora

Through the years, I have tried to understand Ti's principles and applications.  And I have asked myself repeatedly, how to answer the basic question: What is Ti?  To begin to understand Ti, must first experience a few drills, you must feel it the difference between a simple technique with Ti and without Ti.  Only then, it is possible to learn and have a dialogue on common ground, and share ideas during training.  In many books and all over the Internet, you will find notes about Okinawa Ti or Okinawa Te.  However, those authors do not answer the fundamental questions:

What is Ti?
Is Ti a technique?
Is Ti part of Kata?
Is Ti a secret Bunkai (practical application)?

Ti   is all that and much more.  Ti cannot be described or learned from words, photos or videos.   A teacher must touch a student's arms, or the part of the body that is being used, in order to show the feel, and to demonstrate the endless number of lines with each technique and body movement.   Through years of training, Ti is incorporated into all aspects of Karate: breathing & muscle control, speed control, body movements, etc. 

Karate styles and most Martial Arts focus on the study of static positions or points.   In other words, moving from position 1 to position 2 during any technique.  Onaga Sensei calls this approach: Ten  - the study of points.  The problem with this approach to martial arts is that all movents look, feel and become "robotic", unattractive and uneffective.  In Ti, those static positions or points are only an illusion.  Ti is focused on the study of the infinite number of lines created by all human body movement.  Onaga Sensei calls this approach: Sen  - the study of lines

A lot of martial artists focus thousands of hours in the study of Katas (Forms).  This is one of the most misunderstood training tools in martial arts.  Most styles have a kata for each level: green belt, brown belt, 1st degree black belt, etc.  Therefore the technique, movement and body mechanics used on each kata remain the same until the student dies!!  For example, Dai Ichi Kihon Gata's quality and body mechanics evolves from green belt, to Sho Dan to Go Dan.  Or soto uke, outside block, used by a San Kyū, brown belt, should be totally different from a Go Dan.  I have seen Onaga Sensei teach martial artists from all styles on how to incorporate Ti into their art.  Onaga Sensei calls this adding salt to their food, because Onaga Sensei's Ti becomes the salt.  It has always been an amazing sight to witness his teaching approach, by solving their problems with katas, techniques and other applications. 

The word Ti  , in the Okinawan dialect is pronounced more like Tchi.  The word Ti means "hand" in English or "Te" in Japanese.  But the true meaning of Ti is "wisdom" 知恵  (Chie in Japanese).  Also, the word Ti, has nothing to do, and must not be confused with   (pronounced Chi in Chinese or Ki in Japanese), which means energy, and relates to the study of mystical energy forces that are used in some martial arts, meditation and/or healing arts. 

Nowadays, many Karate historians and teachers mention Okinawa Ti in their books. But how many really understand Ti?  On the other hand, Onaga Sensei is not a historian, but a real Ti Master who learned from decades of hard training and intense research; and who understands the real life applications of Ti.  He has been able to preserve this ancient art and to develop new applications for future generations.  Shōrin Ryū Karate as taught by Master Onaga Yoshimitsu is part of a more complex Martial Arts System: Ti.  Shōrin Ryū, like all Karate styles is limited by virtue of being just that: a style.  Okinawa Ti originated hundred of years before all Karate styles existed in the Ryūkyū Islands. 

For my teacher, Onaga Sensei, Ti is not a martial arts style, but the beginning and the end of all Karate.  Therefore learning Ti is to learn to use the "kagi"   (key), to open the door to understanding all martial arts.  Ti is the hidden key that opens the door inside Karate.  And through the study of Ti, an infinite number of applications are derived from one single technique.  Therefore, Ti is a process of thinking & application that allows improvization into any real situattion.  The development of this process is the legacy of Master Onaga Yoshimitsu and the Shinjinbukan School.

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Shinjinbukan.com is a free resource sponsored by the Shinjinbukan Foundation. The statements on this site represent my own personal understanding of Onaga Yoshimitsu Kaichō's teachings. Therefore, I do not claim to speak on his behalf. As one more of his students, I am eager to share his living and oral traditions. Jimmy Mora

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