Thursday, September 10, 2009

History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi- Part II

Kenichi's first day at Ryouzanpaku (remember that in the manga he doesn't go to Ryouzanpaku until after his fight with Daimonji) is a brutal one. Since Sakaki Shio, the Karate master, doesn't want a disciple, Akisame, the Jujitsu master, agrees to teach Kenichi martial arts. The training does not quite go as Kenichi imagined, though, as Akisame starts the highschooler off with physical training. The types of training we see before the fight are these:
  • Horse Stance with Gripping Jars (Nigiri Game)- Gripping jars are used for developing the strength of the fingers, wrists, forearms, and well... pretty much the whole damn arm. The jars are either held out it front of the person or to the sides (as we see in the anime). They may be kept at shoulder height or be lifted in a type of lateral raise. A good low cost option for a gripping jar is an empty gallon pickle jar (you will need two of them) and the bonus is you get to eat all the pickles!
  • Running with a Tire- Akisame, the brilliant and sadistic man that he is, makes Kenichi pull a tire to the park while the Jujitsu master sits on it, whipping and yelling at Kenichi to run faster. I recommend just starting with running, but we'll cover that a little later. A rope may be a little rough on your waist, so if you can fashion a harness out of an old weightlifting belt, or if you just have a sled harness, you'll be in good shape. But, when all else fails, tie the rope around your waist.
  • Gripping Jars with Suri Ashi (Sliding/Gliding Step)- This is the same as the first exercise, except you are moving with the gripping jars. Suri Ashi is a type of movement in several martial arts. The jist of the footwork is that the heels are kept slightly raised and the foot is slid across the ground as if there were a piece of paper in between your feet and the ground. Keep the feet facing straight ahead as you move, whether forward or backward. When moving backward, remember to stay on your toes and not to let the heel hit the ground.
  • Partner Assisted Stretching- Later in the second episode of the anime, Apachai (the Muay Thai master) helps Kenichi stretch by placing his feet on the inside of Kenichi's legs and pulling him forward. If you don't have a partner, simply spreading your legs as far as possible and reaching forward will do. If you are going to stretch for an extended period of time on one particular stretch, break it up into sets of 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Miu decides that she is going to help Kenichi win his fight with Daimonji by teaching him a technique... really, it's a way of stepping in Chinese martial arts. When both feet are facing one another, it is called Kou-ho, and when they are facing forward, it is called Hai-ho. The dynamics of the side-stepping skill are simple, but not necessarily easy to master. Standing with your toes facing each other is awkward at first. Miu give a pretty good explanation of how to execute the skill. As the opponent moves in, one foot is slid around the outside of his lead leg (technically, it could be the other side, as well, but it's more effective if you slide around the lead leg, because it gives you the opponent's back) and strike him from behind.

Now comes the move's application in a real situation. In Kenichi's fight with Daimonji, he is dealing with a very strong, but, ultimately, very slow opponent. This works to Kenichi's advantage, because it allows him to work around Daimonji's horribly telegraphed attacks (he might as well be yelling "Reverse Punch!"). It takes Kenichi a moment to get over his fear, but once he does, he is able to use the sidestep manuever effectively against the larger opponent. However, he is unable to damage Daimonji with any strikes. After a bit, Daimonji is visibly tired, having chased the smaller Kenichi around the dojo for several minutes and he trips over Kenichi's foot in the middle of one of the sidesteps. It is at this moment, Kenichi has an "anime moment" and remembers something in his lesson with Miu about the true nature of the sidestep.

Daimonji comes in for a strike, Kenichi slides his foot behind Daimonji's foot and pushes back on the larger boy's neck and arm, careening him to the mat, head first. The match is over as Daimonji is instantly KO'd. Kenichi concedes, though, as he has broken the rules of a Karate match and used a throw to win. His victory does not go unnoticed and one of the other fighters, Tsukuba, wants to test Kenichi's true abilities.

So, even though Kenichi won, he is now stuck with evading Tsukuba for as long as he can. When we return to Ryouzanpaku, we get to see Ma Kensei, the Kung Fu master, training Kenichi with a lunging exercise. The method Ma uses involves Kenichi squatting down onto his heels, staying on the balls of his feet and the extending a foot out, stepping down the ball of his foot and moving his weight to that foot. He then repeats the process, staying low the entire time. It's a very difficult exercise, but, as Ma says, the foundation of the martial arts is the legs.

It proves impossible for Kenichi to evade Tsukuba forever, as he ends up getting into a short scuffle with the Black Belt karateka, which leaves Kenichi beaten up. Kenichi is upset and, when he returns to Ryouzanpaku, Akisame tells him that the next day they will begin to teach Kenichi techniques. May God have mercy on your soul, Shirahama Kenichi.

And that brings us to the end of episode 3. That's all for this post. I'm about to post the Ryouzanpaku's Fundamental Training workout for you guys in just a little bit. Good luck and train hard!
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