Shotokan Karate Unsu – Cloud Hands

Unsu14×18 Graphite (photographed quality reproduction)

I love the collection of movements which embody the kata, Unsu.  They vary and flow from one technique to another.  It reminds me a lot of our Canadian weather.  In the course of one day we can go from serene clouds to violent winds, thunderstorms, and even tornadoes.

The Chinese’ characters for Unsu mean cloud hands. The character for hands may also refer to technique.   Just like clouds that bring many types of weather, the kata incorporates many types of hand movements and techniques.  It opens with a movement of the hands that depict the parting or separating of clouds and continues to move through a variety of symbolic weather patterns.

Check out this post, The History of Unsu, for more history, a video of M.Nakayama performing Unsu, and application.  Kind of cool!

I thought a drawing of the Unsu kata would make a great cloud study. For those of you who know this kata, I opted not to use the opening movement of the hands, the separating of the clouds. For me, the chicken-head-wrist block (keito-uke) is a signature move of this kata.

The cloud study for the drawing was a lot of fun, but the actual study of the kata has proven to be a little more difficult.  I always enjoy a good challenge; I think I found one.


The Color Charcoal

When I do not have my own photo to draw from I  have to invest some time into researching physical and behavioral traits of the subject I want to draw.  This research and study phase usually turns out to be very enriching, causing me to try different ideas, and trust in my abilities.

That was the case for this particular drawing.  Ravens are actually very amazing creatures.  Most legends depict ravens as messengers of something negative, like bad weather, death, evil, loss, and despair.  In contrast to those legends, the articles that I read painted them to be intelligent, adaptable, problem solvers, playful, and great acrobatic fliers.


In behavior and physical appearance the raven is not like his smaller relative the crow.

I like what Balin says to Bilbo Baggins about ravens in this excerpt from The Hobbit.

“I only wish he was a raven!” said Balin.

“I thought you did not like them! You seemed very shy of them, when we came this way before.”

“Those were crows! And nasty suspicious-looking creatures at that, and rude as well. You must have heard the ugly names they were calling after us. But the ravens are different. There used to be great friendship between them and the people of Thror, and they often brought us secret news, and were rewarded with such bright things as they coveted to hide in their dwellings.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

The Art Piece
19 x 24 Charcoal on Bristol




Adding Perspective

I wasn’t completely satisfied with the Gankaku sketch when I posted it a couple of weeks ago.  I wanted the figure to standout a little more.  Adding more contrast and  atmospheric perspective to the background I think the focus moves to the figure.  Have a look, and see what you think.


Karate Series - 10 x 8 Graphite and Charcoal
Karate Series – 10 x 8 Graphite and Charcoal

Now, on to a new karate sketch.  I can’t wait!  🙂