Saturday, January 13, 2018

Collision With Reality

A very long time ago in school, the problem was asked.
“If two trains both traveling as  20 MPH collide,
what is the resulting force of the collision?”
The answer was they met as if going 40 MPH.
Long into my own study of kata application potential
One evening I was working with Dr. Paul Harper in class.
A new idea had come to me and I wanted to test it out.
So I asked Paul to attack me, with a standard stepping lead hand strike,
Knowing enough to use slow motion.
I just stepped forward into the attack,
Just performing the movement from some kata
(which one long forgotten at this time).
My defense from that kata movement was applied too quickly,
Even at slow motion.
I just blasted Paul in the face.
And his reply was not a happy one.
So I apologized, not realizing what occurred.
Then I promised I would go much slower the next time
And we should attempt it again.
Paul attacked again,
And I moved slower with my response.
Of course the answer nailed him again.
The move involved is not the lesson I am talking about.
The key component is that both of us were closing on one another.
That made the kata response being done, happen much more suddenly.
And in my experience I repeated this
with any number of various kata movements.
When two bodies are moving together things happen very quickly.
Too quick to for any possible defense to be mounted.
The speed of the closing movement
A Force Enhancer.
One which I have found is rarely discussed.
Thus at closing speed,
Many movements produce impressive results.
 Kata as if two trains are colliding.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Last night I did not want to go to sleep, when that occurs I always try at looking at one of the martial studies I have undertaken and attempt to see it a different way.


Last Night I thought about the Mawashi Uke (block) from Sanchin, which is also a Mawashi Uchi (strike) or the older name Tora Guchi (Tiger’s Mouth).

There are many different ways to view the movement.


I had seen it performed, but it was probably not shown to me formally until I learnt Sanchin Kata, which was the last Isshinryu empty hand kata I was shown.



Memory can be a fickle thing, but I believe I had seen an illustration similar to this one in an early karate text by Mas Oyama. It of course shows is own performance of that movement.


The following illustration is closer to the actual version I was shown.


Sanchin, was to me, only a requirement back in those days.


The form came from the version Miyagi Chojun crafted for his students in Goju from the earlier Higaonna Kanryu version (who was his original instructor).


Both versions end with several performances of Mawashi Uke.


Over the years I saw many variant versions of the movement, learning several types from various friends.


Along the way I discovered a variation that appeals to my own studies.


1. The back of the left open hand performs a light parry against an incoming strike.

2. The back of the right hand slides up on the underside of that left parry and when it touches the incoming arm, turns itself over to move that arm further aside., drawing itself back to your side moving the attacker along with that movement.

2.a. As that is occurring the right open hand  rolls down to the hip (fingers held down)

3.Then both hands slide forward in a high low strike pattern.


For quite some time I just focused on the potential of the two palms striking out at the finish of the movement as a strike into the head or neck, and the lower palm as a strike into the lower ribs of the body.



Along the way I began using a variation of the Goju kata Saifa for my students studies, and worked on that kata’s application potential for its movements. And I just used those ending movements just that way.

In time I became aware of an Indonesian variation of that movement.

Where the movements were more compressed, focusing on the parrying and then crossing of the arms to disrupt a striking when delivering a shock into the elbow area. A shock that could disrupt the arm, force someone to the floor, hyper-extend the elbow, or even break their arm under optimal circumstances. And a very quick execution of the movement, focusing on the core actions.


To be honest that appealed to me a great deal.


So I eventually began closer inspection of the Mawashi Uke/Uchi/Tora Guchi

Application Potential defensively and offensively.


And over the years many potentials came to me and where worked out.


One example would be a use to down your opponent.



1. Your left arm parries the original strike.

2.A your right open hand slides up your left arm, the hand rolls over and then slides down the arm to apply pressure to their wrist, the hand must takc care not to grab their arm, just to apply pressure with your palm into their arm at the end. This process is done while the application of pressure against their arm is to roll it over.

3. As your right hand is doing that, your left open hand presses into their arms triceps. The pressure generated from both hands forms a lever with their arm, and in turn the left press becomes a fulcrum for their arm.

This pressure causes their center of gravity to shift towards where your left arm is pressing into their arm.

4. This applied pressure becomes an arm bar to force them over unto the ground.


Another example of this potential is as follow.


1. Your left arm parries the original strike.

2.A your right open hand slides up your left arm, the hand rolls over and then presses the arm down and away from the attackers center.

3, As this occurs your right hand reaches out and slices with the open hand into their neck

4. Your left hand grabs their right wrist, The same time your right open hand rolls behind their neck. Causing them to spin on their own center like a top.

5. Your left hand spins their grabbed wrist out and away, increasing their spinning motion.

6. Continue that spinning motion until they are at your feet on the floor.


So last night I had another thought, a variation based on the generic movement of the arms.


1. Your left arm parries the original strike.

2.A your right open hand slides up your left arm, the hand rolls over and then presses the arm down and away from the attackers center.

3. As that occurs the left hand folds the arm at the elbow, to the inside of the right arm motion, Then it unfolds striking out

  3a. A backfist strike to the side of the head.

  3b. A backhand strike into the side of the neck, at the space were the back of the hand fit.

  3c. A backhand descending strike over the eye orbit of the head.

4. Possible continuations:

  4a The tight hand pulls back and then deliveres a spearhand strike with the fingertips into the throat straight on.

  4b. The right hand pulls back then delivers a thumb side of the spearhand strike into the side of their  throat.

  4c. The right hand pulls back then delivers a fore finger strike with that side of the sprearhand into the side of the throat.

  4d. The right hand pulls back then delivers a bent two knuckle strike with that as the striking area of the spearhand into the side of the throat.


A different version involves tbis motion but uses a small hand held stick as the striking area.


There are certainly other potential uses, and I have only focused on the use of the hands with a forward stepping motion. The motion of stepping in this pattern is yet another potential for another time.


Having done this, I nod off to sleep.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming

It was the 1980s. Karate in the NE began thinking about what was in Karate that they had not been shown.


Perhaps Oyata Seryu was a first cause, or George Dillman was such a force.

In Boston a Chinese Instructor who also had a Phd in Engineering background noticed what was happening, Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming.


Both noticed and felt he could make a contribution to that occurring.


In addition to his own students classes, he also was a student of many Chinese arts. Applying his Engineering Logic to a question he must have posed to himself, and began another facet of his live, One that would eventually lead to a publishing and seminar business for himself.


He realized that within many Chinese arts there was a grappling tradition, one called Chin Na. And realized that it had something to offer those karate people wanting to learn more about the potential of karate, and of course they would pay for it.


Thus began an entire series of books about Chin Na, and eventually viderseries about those books, And then in time on to many other things.


I remember showing one of those books to an instructor I was working with in his own family study of Shotokan, Aikido and Tjimande.I remember how amazed he was looking at that book and showing he had almost the same techniques in his art. Remarking that it was as if his dad had written the book.


At the same time I was also in other studies I was doing in a variety of Northern Chinese tradigions (Sil Lum, Tai Tong Long, Faaz Tzi Ying Jow Pai) and knew of what Chin Na they contained.


What Dr Yang accomplished was to take the Chin Na he had, and restructure what was presented logically. A way others could look and learn those potentials and perhaps find ways to relate some of it back to their karate.


When I moved to NH, I first met him at a clinic where he was a member, one a friend had invited me and my wife to attend.


When the active part of his demonstration was taking place, my wife was working with my friend.


And he was experiencing some difficulty with the movement, having trouble applying it on my wife.


Dr. Yang was walking around helping people and saw my friends problems.

He started to help show what he was doing wrong and asked my wife to perform the lock on him,


Now he had interesting hands, for one thing his wrists were very red, from continual practice and teaching I am sure.


So Maureen applied the lock being worked. Of course she had plenty of prior practice on the movement from my other instructors over the years.


Maureen applied the wrist lock, precisely.

Dr. Yang felt the application, and immediately went to the floor from the lock.


The look on his face was priceless of course.


Somewhat later my friend enter an nine month agreement with Dr.Yang to host several 9 month weekly seminars, one on Chin Na, one on Yang Tai Chi.

I was working and the timing was inconvenient for me, but my wife thought they might be interesting, so she signed up for them


The first night she went there, the second she entered my friend’s dojo, Dr Yang remarked “Oh no, she is here!” :-)


There began months of pain.

For when I returned home from work, and my wife was back from the seminar, she used me for her practice dummy, again and again.


I can attest how painful each of those Chin Na techniques are on the receiving end. Fingers, Hands, Weists and on. All of them work.



So in addition to his own schools, he continued his outside sharing program, more detained analysis of Chin Na as well as other books.


Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming
The interesting thing is that in addition to his many books he shared his arts on video, many of there are available on You Tube.
Here are several suggestions.
Shaolin Chin Na
          An early example of how he structures Chin Na instruction
Tai Chi Chin Na


Saturday, January 6, 2018

With every breath you take

With every breath you take

It is ever so much more than just saying “The Manner of Breathing is Either Hard of Soft”.


When I was a beginner there was no special attention paid to the manner we took a breath in our karate. I suppose the easiest words were we used Natural Breathing in performing our basics and kata. I have no better way to describe those days.


Then at yellow belt, I was part of the Yellow Belt Demonstration team performing Kata Seiunchin. Lewis Sensei drilled us intensely to perform the kata using a mixture of intense hard  breathing with slow powerful movements and lighter natural breathing with quicker movements in the form. So intense was that training, I have only done it that way ever since, never receiving other instruction.


When I trained with Charles Murray I know he did it differently, but he told me to keep to the way I was originally shown, and I always did. For Sanchin, the last empty hand kata I was shown in Isshinryu, I learned it with intense breathing and movement throughout. I am not sure perhaps it was called Sanchin breathing.


Then on my own for decades, I just kept to the way I was trained, with special terms added.


Along the way I read Mas Oyama’s books, where he referred to Ibuki breathing and thought that described closely the breathing in Seiunchin kata. So I could have adopted that name for my own use, but did not teach it. At that time in the early 1980s I was yet to realize that there was a difference between what was done for karate on Okinawa, and something slightly different for karate in Japan.


1979 I began my study of Yang Tai Chi Chaun, and spent the next two years completing study of the form and the sword form. At the same time I was teaching Isshinryu and continuing my practice. Along with the Tai Chi form, there were many subsidiary practices that were part of the study. The form was practiced slowly and a major component of slowing down was breathing. I had to learn to time each movement to a specific breath. There is much more involved than these few words, but that is for another time.


I was not interested in Tai Chi for self defense, as I had Isshinryu, and my instructor was not pushing the Tai Chi application studies, probably as he was far deeper into his own Kung Fu studies. So what we concentration was the correct form practice. That covers a lot on it’s own.\


As time progressed my breathing with my Tai Chi started me becoming more aware of my breathing with my karate..  I began to understand that breathing occurred on an inter technique basis and an intra technique basis.


Not to make things too difficult here are some simple definitions:


Inter technique – this occurs as a technique is executed, Such as expelling air when striking.


Intra technique – this occurs as you move between techniques. Such as inhalation when stepping between strikes.


Now with that out of the way when you begin to understand those distinctions, eventually you realize that a technique is variable, and when to inhale and when to exhale can be done in different patterns.


For example, let us use a movement section from Seisan kata (also found in any advanced Okinawan kata too).


The section begins with  a left step for ward as you execute a left outside block,

Followed by a right strike, a left strike, a right front kick and another right strike.


You should be comfortable with that sequence.


1. The section begins with  a left step for ward as you execute a left outside block (as you inhale),  Followed by a right strike (as you exhale), (then you might inhale) a left strike,  (again exhaling) , (Another inhalation) a right front kick (with exhalation) and  (yes, another inhale) another right strike.(completed when exhaling.


Now you could do it that way, but probably you don’t


There can be many different breathing and striking patterns.


What I consider most efficient is that you address the entire sequence as a single technique.


2 A different answer might be this.


The section begins with  a left step for ward ( you inhale as you step as you execute a left outside block, Followed by a right strike, a left strike, a right front kick and another right strike (all on one continuous exhalation).


The single continuous exhalation allows smoother continuous execution of the section as almost a single technique, Multiple strikes, one after another and another, to overload the opponents ability to defend against all of them. One at least likely to penetrate their defenses.



Of course there are other possibilities, but I am only explain the underlying principle after all.


This is not kyu study, where basic constancy is the goal. Rather Dan study into application potential.


While any kata can be used for this study, I find it particularly useful to use a most basic one,  our version of Fyugata Sho (Kata Sho) for these initial black belt studies.


You can define a movement of as many different moves readily, and explore the  relationship to breathing more readily. Then taking the results of your study, you can then choose to explore the results you prefer with any of your other kata.


Moving always towards any opponent (even me) never knowing where you are, Maximum Unpredictability.


There is ever so much more for another time, this is enough to remember and think on.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Yamaguchi did it

For the New Year there is a tradition in Japan to stand under a waterfall.

Yamaguchi did it, and so did these guys

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Unique Force was Upon the Land

Often something get displaced in the mists of time.

I believe this has been one of them. Jhoon Rhee one of America’s founding fathers of Tae Kwon Do is such an individual.
He taught a very large group of schools in the Baltimore and Washington DC area. Among his other accomplishments he created the first form rubber safety gear that was to become the upcoming world wide standard.
He had many accomplished students in Fighting and Forms. He even had a role in a Tae Kwon Do Movie, “When Tae Kwon Do Strikes”.
I believe it is one of the more unique endings I have seen. This is a clip of the closing fights.
But I believe one of the things he attempted has been lost in time.
He had the idea to mesh forms with classical music.
Some examples:
Beethoven Form
Theme of Exodus
And here is Jhoon Rhee doing the form Chosang. The name means Ancestors and he created it to honor America’s founding fathers.
I believe this is worth remembering his driving force was on the face of American Martial Arts.