January 31st, 2004 Littleton MA
The seminar was Scheduled to run from 2:30 to 5:30, and was filled to capacity.The topic of the first half of the seminar was Self defense, and the second half was the bo. Fumio Demura is a legend in the Karate community with 57 years experience, and he literally ‘wrote the book’ on the bo.
Although the first section of the seminar was listed as ’empty hand self defense’ it might have also been equally well presented as ‘fundamentals of Shito-ryu’ as Shihan Demura started from the ground up. The seminar began with step through punches at our partner’s face, trying to get within a quarter inch, and then a bit of a game of chicken, with both partners punching at the same time. This put an immediate emphasis on maiai / distancing. Shihan Demura was able to convey an intensity that was infectious, without losing his air of friendliness. The seminar built on this intensity as we progressed through some ‘old school’ karate defenses. These self defense techniques might be described as ‘kihon’ as I found them to be excellent examples of shito ryu karate, but I found them to be more what I considered a ‘karate technnique’ than a self defense technique. Some may feel that this is a distinction without a difference.
I found the bo staff section to be particularly compelling. Demura Shihan brought a smoothness and elegant economy to the bo that I hadn’t seen in the Japanese / Okinawan Kobudo idiom. Most practitioners that I have seen to this point perform the kobudo forms in a choppy manner, but this was certainly not the case with Demura Sensei. We began with an exercise similar to that at the beginning of the first section of the seminar. Each participant performed a downward strike attempting to get as close as possible without actually contacting their partner. He continued to guide us through some drills, bunkai, and even his entire basic bo kata. The smoothness and elegance were remarkable, and there were some amazing, subtle details that really enhanced the functionality of the bo kata (shushi no kon sho) that I knew going in. I was delighted when he went over that form for those of us who had it as ‘an extra at the end.’
It was a great experience, one I would be delighted to repeat. I would recommend this seminar to Karate stylists, kempo/kenpo stylists wishing to see what karate is supposed to look like at its highest levels by an extraordinarily gifted practitioner and Tae Kwon do stylists who wish to visit their roots. RBSD stylists, military combatives exponents and MMA folks would likely not enjoy this aspect of the arts.