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Guest Post: Kamae-Gamae

This Guest Post is by Halford E. Jones, a frequent reader of this blog, and the donor of the Halford E. Jones Filipino Martial Arts Collection at the Hawaii Karate Museum.

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Dear Charles,

Your recent blog (No Fixed Positions) prompts me to take perhaps a different viewpoint from that presented on your blogs concerning kamae. While I fully understand and appreciate your thoughts and those of Pat Nakata (Guest Post: Kamae) and those of others, I think that historically there is a reason for such postures or poses or stances, etc. Namely, that in times past, with books and scrolls perhaps not as prevalent at might have been wished, the emulation of such by learners was important.

My thoughts on all this are prompted by the various statures and stone carvings found in various cultures of martial activities, and some of which are either Hindu or Buddhist in orientation. Namely that by a study of such and assuming such positions one could learn some things. Granted there were not ways to capture such things on film or DVD then to show motions, but these things, the kamae, are, as you have all pointed out, ways to 'capture the transitions', etc.

Although there is no need to point this out to you or others, but the late Mas Oyama presented a whole series of kamae in one of his massive books, which I have, and also some of the possible uses and applications of such.

There is also another aspect to all this: namely, that the holding of such postures and poses are a type of 'yoga' and accustoming the body to develop along certain ways and need not interfere exactly in actual fights or movements in kata, etc. In others words, I think that in countries where heat and cold are rather harsh at times, the holding of such postures is a form of body training and discipline, not merely a way to fight or whatever.

Going back to yoga and various 'styles', schools, etc. that exist, aside from the trendy ones that are on nearly every street corner now, the ancients took hundreds if not thousands of years to perfect such things and, in most cases, when possible, left detailed descriptions of what would occur in the body on such things,which, unfortunately many moderns do not realize or even know about, more concerned with achieving physical perfection and doing exercise, etc. and not knowing what the full results will be by a lifelong practice.

Naturally, static positions are not the end all, be all, but they are, nevertheless, important to perhaps make certain that angles and body can be employed in certain situations more efficiently than merely making rapid, non-concentrated gestures and motions. Thanks for your time and keep up the good work.

Yours in martial arts,

Halford E. Jones