Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Body, The Mind and the Spirit


Isshinryu means everything to me, then again everything I have studied means everything to me too. Now at the time of my life I am forced to think about everything more becomes clearer in my mind.


When I think of Isshinryu I see it as a combination of Body, Mind and Spirit. Of course the same might be said about any art. But it means most to me as Isshinryu.


The Body


We all begin here, We build our art capabilities into our body. Years of work doing so at our beginning. We never get past it, for after we build our skills we continue to refine them, and then train to maintain those abilities we developed. The one constant is Age affects us all in time, Each of us differently, but changes occur none the less.


Some of those changes are our individual reaction to disease, some are affected by our previous life styles. Some due to other factors, but everyone is affected in their own way.


I believe the kobudo kata of Isshinryu serve as a force enhancer after decades of study to fight against the onset of age effects. Not stopping them but using the skills developed over time to build skills to suprement the other skills, and delaying age’s onslaught.


Face it, there is infinitesimal likelihood those weapons will ever be used as originally designed. But serving as long term study force enhancers is another ability.


The Mind


A more subtle part of your studies. Without the correct development of the body you do not have something to work with. But there is so much more involved.


At first the Mind takes whatever is shared by your instructor and uses it. All start there.

Then there are different paths, different paradigms, of what Isshinryu is. Time gives more chance to accumulate experiences on how your knowledge of Isshinryu can be used.


There is not one answer. Even seemingly divergent answers can yield success. But the knowledge must be developed.


Moving from your instructor, to accepting your own responsibility to grow your art to greater levels of understanding.


The Spirt


The last part of the triumvirate of Isshinryu is the Spirit.


This cannot be taught. Your instructor(s) can only create an environment for you to grow it yourself. Over time your belief in your body and your knowledge about Isshinryu must grow stronger. The Spirit or Belief in Yourself is the key to make the other pieces work.


Without self belief, no matter what time you have put into your body development, no matter how deep your knowledge of what you can do,  the other pieces are not enough.


You need your Spirit to drive your art. To make it truly yours.


And when the Body, the Mind and the Spirit work together, you have really achieved what your art can do.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Too Priceless Not to Save

It don't mean a thing unless you are wearing the right suit.

This came from some magazine I saw long ago.
It seems as if the form came from a Bruce Tenger book on Kung Fu.
Hardly a credible source.
But it is worth hanging on to,
in case you run into a kung fu stylist
if only to remind them of what proper dress is for the kung fu stylist..
Ok I am having a bit of fun,
but this is funny.

Kyan No Patsai

From the Book of Passai kata

Eagle Claw in Action

Laoshi Ernest Rothrock at work.

Monday, September 10, 2018

A Dynamic Drill from Tjimande



One day many years ago while I was visiting Tris Sutrisno and training with him I learned a short drill, what he called Tjimande Juru one, for his students.


It was not too complex and I remembered it, then I returned to Derry and showed it to my students. But when we practiced it as shown, it was tearing up our arms, until we turned it into something else.


Not wanting to do that, I made the decision to change the defensive portion of the drill to become simple slap checks. Allowing us to focus on the offensive portion of the drill.


Of course that was wrong, as the reason the defensive movements hurts so much is that they were not defensive movements, rather intended to be offensive replies to the offense used.


Both sides of the drill were intended to tear up the other.


Later I learned a few more of them, and each time the same principle was used.


I am only going to talk about the opening section of that juru.


Now that opening for the drill was:


Attacker left cat stance forward, hands up before you.


            1. Lead hand strike towards opponent head.

            2. Rear hand strike towards opponent head.

            3. Lead hand uppercut to the opponent, to their body..

            4. Rear hand hook strike towards the opponents head.


The timing was a very rapid flow 1-2-3-4 set of movements tearing into an opponent.


What I originally thought of as a defense for those movements was,


Defender  (in reality equally an offensive set of movements) left cat stance forward, hands up before you.


            1. Left hand strikes with edge of the hand across your body.

            2. Left hand strikes with edge of hand turning into the 2nd strike.

            3. Right hand strikes with edge of hand downward into their rising uppercut.

            4. Left hand strikes with inside edge of hand into the inside of their hook punch.


So each side was trying to destroy the other if they did not encounter a counter.


And as I did not understand that what I changed the 2nd side of the juru into was using light touches of the palm as parries to the strikes.

Over time I came to understand what was really happening in the original version.


The reason the original practice hurt so much is that was what those strikes were intended to do. Striking into the forearm as it is striking where the forearm does not have much protection is very painful. Likewise striking down into the forearm of a rising uppercut strike is also extremely painful. Finally the inner open hand srike into the uppercut was also very painful.


There was a real lesson about the fine use of pain here.



But things often have many possible uses, even in changed forms.


We saw the opportunity to use this section as an offensive striking drill for our youth, Not planning on showing them the 2nd offensive side of the drill. That sequence does have its uses to overload an attacker at the same time. I liked the learning how to tear into an opponent for youth as a 1-2-3-4 attack.


So we modified the 2 person sequence to have the ‘defensive’ side just use palm parries/



Defender  left cat stance forward, hands up before you.


            1. Left hand parries with palm of the hand across your body.

            2. Left hand parries by rotating the palm of the lead hand turning into the 2nd strike.

            3. Right hand parries with palm of hand downward into their rising uppercut.

            4. Left hand parries with palm of hand turning into the inside of their hook punch.



Of course this is different from the original


This is what the youth version looks like.


Opening to Juru One Mike and Devin

By way of comparison this is what the complete version (as we did it) looks like.


Complete Juru One Mike and Young


Again a bit different from what I was originally shown. However as I was not schooled in it that happens over the decades..



There are multiple lessons here.


About how being shown something is not the same as being schooled in it.

How other valid uses can be made of even part of something.

And, how there is always more to learn.





I have written about the few Juru’s I was shown:

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Use of Aikido in Bushi No Te Isshinryu


The Aikido I taught was passed to me by Tris Sutrisno, as was expressed through his father’s art. Technically it is not Aikido as expressed within Aikido tradition.


Aikido as developed by Usheiba Morihito basically is a series of techniques that lead to locking an opponent or leading the opponent to projection.


Usheiba developed his Aikido over his studies in many martial arts, foremost among them Daito Ryu Aiki Jutsu.


Daito Ryu Aiki Jutsu, itself an extremely complex Japanese tradition, consists of a huge number of techniques. Usheiba Sensei only utilized a small subset of Daito Ryu Aiki Jutsu in his Aikido, but those techniques have unlimited ways they can be used. Aikido is not a lesser art, just a different art.


To clarify some of what Daito Ryu is I offer an example;



In the Sutrisno family Shotokan, Aikido drills are introduced at Kyu level training, Each drill is a combination of an Aikido lock or projection against an attack, leading to a takedown and controlling lock or a projection. Various karate techniques can also be utilized in making those things happen. I understood the complete set was 20 techniques, but only 12 were studied at the kyu level. There are also many other later aikido studies.


I learned them and in turn utilized them for my students, the first 8 at kyu level, the remainder as dan studies.


Trying to understand the structure that the Sutrisno family Shotokan developed, I believe these drills were far more than introduction to Aikido techniques. Of course they are and they are fine drills in and of themserves, but I see them as much more.


In the Sutrisno family Shotokan, bunkai of kata is not a kyu study. Application potential is not withheld from students, rather it is not studied at that time. Instead more stress is focused on developing skill in technique, skill to be used when bunkai is later studied.


These Aikido drills are more to teach what a complete technique is. To take the opponent to the floor and incapacitate them or to use the aikido to project them to the ground. And the larger skills to be later used in application study is how to enter the space around an attack, and then use that space to conclude the attack.


Skill useful for later application study.


We use these drills in Aikido much the same way for our students.


Each a fine ending method on their own, they are also solid building blocks for later studies.




Over the years I have written much about Aikido in my blog. For those interested or to jog the memories in my lineage I offer these links below: