Saturday, May 19, 2012

Data Mining and Serendipity to Kobudo’s use for Karate

I always maintain it takes quite a few years to understand the place new information can have in your training. Whether from a good book or from a clinic experience.

I have to classify the vast amount of information I received from Sherman Harrill in that category. While I have definitely found a home for some of his teachings, there is so much it’s easy to loose sight of what we saw with him.

This started from looking at thumb strikes in the previous week, including information others shared on Pleasant Isshinryu.

I started with a clear goal, I remembered a specific type of ridge hand strike taught by Harrill Sensei, or actually two different versions. The first involved touching the thumb with the tip of the middle finger during the strike. The second involved touching the thumb with the tip of the ring finger during the strike. Each had a different sort of impact.  But outside of remembering them they hadn’t been anything I had worked extensively, so I wanted to locate my notes on them.

Not linking them directly to a kata (in my mind) I thought I‘d start with my notes in what I call the principles section.  And then I started to get blown away. It was interesting to see how many of those principles are in my actual practice at this time.  A good example would be how I’m using little knuckle strikes on a regular basis, as a tool to cause great pain.

BTW, I refer to this type of study as data mining (something I do as an analyst to locate specific test subjects for testing in system development), or a search for a specific data stream in a deep source of data.

I also found how much (and how little) I had in my notes. Some of the technique descriptions need more material to make them understandable. They made sense at the time, but I’d have to dig up the video and redo the description to be sure of what I was trying to describe (a project for another lifetime probably as there’s more than enough material there to keep me busy forever).

But the process got so deep, serendipity came into play. To give myself a mental break I grabbed on of the notebooks I put together from old karate magazines and ran across an early article comparing Dillman to Oyata. Several of the Oyata pictures became crystal clear, as different ways to use some of the strikes I had been using too.

So here are a few of the topics I found.

Thumb strikes

1. Specifically Harrill Sensei described a grab defense (I believe against a cross-hand grab) with turn of the wrist to allow a thumb strike into the anatomical snuff box . He also described this as a favorite strike of Shimabuku Sensei.

Technical point: The anatomical snuff box is a depression on the back of the hand, just beneath the thumb, that is formed by two tendons. When snuff was popular, this small compartment could be used as a place to hold the tobacco for snorting.

The two tendons it consists of are the tendons of the muscles extensor pollicis brevis (which is closer to the palm), and extensor pollicis longus. The bodies of these muscles are quite thin, and are in the distal half of the forearm. The radial artery runs on the floor of the anatomical snuff box. The carpal bones, scaphoid and trapezium can be palpated within the snuff box, so can the styloid process of the radius.

Q: Pain in the anatomical snuff box should make you suspicious of what injury?
A: occult fracture in the scaphoid.

2. Oyata Sensei also showed a reverse ridge hand strike into the neck from the front with  a thumb strike. This is the same tumb strike I was previously disucssing with the thumb against the pad of the hand. The angle of which,BTW, is identical to the 2nd row of Seisan kata where you step forward with the lead hand bent wrist block, which can be the thumb strike into the throat (about 1” off of the center line).
Inner Knuckle Strikes.

The first clinic I attended with Harrill Sensei at Garry Gerossie’s group had Harrill Sensei showing how to use the lead finger to slide a strike into the arm with the inner bent knuckles (striking into the radial nerve, and also using a 2 finger guide strike into the median nerve of the arm. This was a stand alone technique, not shoing its kata signifance. The same technique really was the Tai Chi Sword ‘secret sword’ strike and I discussed with Harrill Sensei’s direction how it could be used for the finger strike to the throat KO of Oyata, where you’re actually striking with the bent knuckles, but the observer doesn’t see that.

1.      Reviewing my notes I came to see this is a great way to use stacking both hands for the strike.  Such as in Seisan Kata, the left hand parries and grabs to pull in. The right hand can use the striaght finger strike to guide the bent finger strikes into the arm (to cause pain) and then set up the backfist strike, which really works using the closed fist little knuckle strike into the throat.
2.      That same Oyata article showed him striking to the face of an opponent with the same index finger extended strike (or perhaps extended first 2 fingers). The strike looks like its descending into the sinus cavities, and I’m sure the back of the knuckles are the actual striking area.

And I never did find those two ridge hand strike I was looking for, but more than enough to keep me busy for a while.

Working with the Group on Saturday, I also discovered where I could readily make the strikes work, their efforts caused less pain and  didn’t work as well.

Upon observation what I saw was my strikes were done with a rolling motion into the striking area. They were doing the strikes flat in.  But showing them and getting them to do it are sometimes two different things. So I went to our earlier work on Sai and Kama, and showed them how the weapons are rolled into positinon a strike, and they had to use a similar use of the rolling hand to fit the strike into the point intended for best result.

While I’ve maintained the value of kobudo to assist karate development, I’m finding it interesting how it can be used to assist with these strikes from Harrill Sensei. Seems like another layer of our study.
In fact these techniques best describe how fractal analysis of full movement yeilds results.
Standard Harrill Sensei Disclaimer: “if pressed I’d just blast them”.

Standard use of Isshinryu is superb karate, and if responding in an instant it is what we’re all going to use. But there are times, even when randomly attacked, you have the ability to control which response you will use, these adavanced studies are the sort of techniques you may choose to respond with, if the circumstances permit, because of the response they genrate in the attacker (perhaps to set other things up).

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