Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shaolin 5 Animal and 8 Method Boxiing

Shaolin 5 Animal and 8 Method Boxiing

There are times we should seek beyond our comfort zone.

This is one of the best and most interesting Chinese Systems of study I’ve seen.

This is a very well known Shaolin form called FIVE SHAPES EIGHT METHODS by which is meant Five Animals. A good, long form of the Shaolin family with the animals clearly shown mixed with explosive power.

This form of Shaolin The Jin Gang or Vajra dates from at least the Mid-Ming over 400 years ago when Shaolin was in one of its strongest modes. The Vajra Fist claims to have been formed at the beginning of Yuan Dynasty which would put it over 1000 years ago. At the end of the Mind Shaolin went through a typical "boiling down" period where movements were reorganized and forms restructed. Tthis set combining 5 Animals: Dragon( mind), Tiger ( bone), leopard ( explosive power), snake ( ch'i) and Crane (spirit) inter-relates to the classic 8 Methods: Internal Gong, External Gong, mental refinement, fist skills, leg & footwork, body, grappling, and qi accumulation

It is within the technique range of our karate studies. No, I have not pursued it but wish I could. I am pleased that I can offer it for you to think about. The video’ on Youtube offer much detail about the form and it’s function.


Monday, November 26, 2012

The Study of the Techniques of China Hand Techniques by Itoman Seijin

Just in time for the holidays and you if you care about the original Okinawan art of Toudi, We now have a translation of book Toudi-jutsu no Kenkyu or The Study of the Techniques of China Hand Techniques by Itoman Seijin  from the 1934 publication. You have the chance to get a detailed description of Toudi-jitsu and then to compare it to your current art to see the differences.

Mario McKenna describes the book this way. 

The Study of China Hand Techniques is unique in the literature of Okinawa Karatedo. It is the first book of its era to provide not only an outline of the history, and philosophy of Toudi (Karate) but also provides detailed instruction on a broad range of techniques and their application including striking, kicking, locking, throwing, and choking.”
I have read it and the detailed description of Toudi –Jutsu is very interesting. We are fortunate that McKenna Sensei spent the time on this for our use. The book can be ordered at

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Drill Called Kihon NiDan

This is another of the drills from Tristan Sutrisno's teachings. Where the Kihon ShoDan  and drill focuses on hand techniques the Kihon NiDan drill focuses on the lower body and kicking techniques. This is also a part of Dan training at Bushi No Te Isshinryu.

           The first series of kick are while moving towards 12 o’clock

a.       Left lead roundhouse to the middle
b.      Left lead roundhouse to the head
c.       Right front punch
d.      Right front kick, then put the foot down
e.       Pivoting counter-clockwise on the right foot end up in a horse stance with a right side knife hand strike
f.       Pivot on the left into ‘Kusanku” kake dachi with the kusanku parry and strike using both empty hands
g.      Throw a right roundhouse kick to 12 o’clock. Then put the foot down
h.      Pivoting counter-clockwise on the right foot till the left foot is in front as your right open hand parries down to your right side (to 3 o’clock).
i.        Right low side kick to the right side, then put the right foot down to the side to form a horse stance, your chest facing 12 o’clock.
j.        Right multiple strike mid level open hand parry to the right side
k.      Left foot steps over and right mid level side kick to the right as you throw a left hook punch to your right side (as in Nijushiho kata).
l.        Put your right foot down, still in horse stance your chest facing 12 o’clock
m.    Left multiple strike mid level open hand parry to the left side
n.      Right foot steps over and left mid level side kick to the left, as you throw a right hook punch to your left side (as in Nijushiho kata).
o.      Put your foot down, still in horse stance your chest facing 12 o’clock
p.      Draw your left foot in alongside your right (your right hand stays in the hook punch position.

You now turn and begin kicking towards 6 o’clock

q.      Pivoting on the ball of the left foot, execute a right spinning clockwise head high crescent kick to 6 o’clock, ending in right cat stance.
r.        Jump double front kick to 6 o’clock, ending in right cat stance.
s.       Jumping up from your right leg, execute a jumping spinning (counter-clockwise) right inside crescent kick to 6 o’clock, ending in right cat stance.
t.        Jump side kick to 6 o’clock, ending in horse stance.
u.      Drop right side kick to 6 o’clock
v.      Scissor kick as you roll over to your right on the floor.
w.    Left side kick from the floor.
x.      Rise to your left foot, your right knee on the floor.
y.      Double Jumping left front kick off the floor
z.       Spin to your right to conclude in natural stance.

This drill is a workout.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Drill Called Kihon Shodan

Back in 1980 when I started trainig with Tristan Sutrisno I learned a drill called Kihon Shodan,  Ihis is a very good drill to explode in forward momentum.

1. Ready Stance

2. Left Foot Forward, Left Low Block

3. Right Reverse Punch

4. Right Front Kick (placing the foot down into right front stance)

5. Left then Right Punch

6. Left High Block

7. Right Rising Elbow Strike

8. Rotate your torso (so it faces 3 o’clock) clockwise 90 degrees and reach out with the left hand to 12 o’clock (as to grab an opponents arm), and then throw a left front kick to the front (again 12 o’clock).

9. Land in a side (3 o’clock) facing horse stance (left foot forward) and throw a left cross body hook punch. [note, this is what the Shotokan and Shorin stylists throw in their Nihanchi (Tekki) Sho Dan Kata, where we throw the palm up spear hand.]

10. Your right foot kicks up to the inside of the left leg (as in the opening of Chinto Kata), then place the right foot down in a left front cat stance (facing 12 o’clock). This concludes with a left hand open knife hand block (similar to Kusnaku’s opening 3 techniques).

11. Your left foot steps forward into a deeper front stance (Shotokan’s zenkatsu-dachi) as your left palm presses down and you drive a right spear hand forward (across the back of the left hand).

12. [Now assume somebody grabbed your right arm.] You press your right spear hand down about 6”, somewhat resembling a downward palm press.

13. Pivoting on your left foot, you spin 360 clockwise to end up in a right cat stance, as both your elbows descend in a double knife hand block (the reverse of no. 10).

14. You jump up with a double front kick (left then right)

15. Landing in right Zenkatsu Dachi, (lunging forward) with a double outward knife hand strike.

Mike Cassidy simplified a version  use for youth classes and has made it a regular part of youth training.

1. Ready Stance

2. Left Foot Forward, Left Low Block

3. Right Reverse Punch

4. Right Front Kick (placing the foot down into right front stance)

5. Left then Right Punch

6. Left High Block

7. Right Rising Elbow Strike

8. Rotate your torso (so it faces 3 o’clock) clockwise 90 degrees and reach out with the left hand to 12 o’clock (as to grab an opponents arm), and then throw a left front kick to the front (again 12 o’clock).

9. Land in a side (3 o’clock) facing horse stance (left foot forward) and throw a left cross body hook punch.

10. Shift to Front Stance

11. Jump Front Kick

12. Right Reverse Punch

Classical Fighting Arts and Isshinryu Continued

Jeff Perkins has kindly sent me the book “Okinawan Karate, A Man Called Chanmie - Kyan Chotoku a new point of view – A Story of his youth.” by IREI Hiroshi,. The book he purchased on Okinawa.This book was produced of sale at he Kyan museum.  

The book is not so much about Kyan’s karate but more a historical record of his family and early life. While it does menton his training with his father and other instructors, the most important detail for us was that it mentions Shimabuku Tatsuo, the founder of Isshinryu, became a student at age 24, in 1926, and that Nagamine Shoshin’s book ‘Past Master Book of Karate and Okinawa Sumo” mentions Shimabuku Tatsuo became a student of Kyan Chotoku at the invitation of Nagamine Shoshin his friend , who was a student of Kyan and a friend at Nichu (the High School in Naha).

So we have an Okinawan writing a book to help preserve Kyan’s history, mentioning Shimabuku Tatsuo. Sounds more and more as this being accepted history for Okinawa.

More to help clarify the past.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Isshinryu and Naihanchi Kata - Consider Motobu's Influence

Naifanchi Kata is somewhat a question to understand for its source  in Isshinryu Karate,  its historical origins. Exactly where did Shimabuku Tatso come up with his version?

The kata does not seem to have been taught by Kyan Chotoku. I believe the principle instructor of Shinabuku Tatsuo. However, today, many of Kyan’s students student’s branches use the form, but, as I understand it, their versions of Nihanchi Kata all came from different sources. Obviously those that adopted it felt it is important

Perhaps this is a proof that Motobu Choki was an instructor of Isshinyyu’s founder and the source behind Isshinryu;s version of Nihanchi Kata.

One of the more perplexing issues with this theory  is Motobu Choki, in his early book on Karate, was against the idea of the inward toed stance writing that it was too weak.  Some Isshinryu lineages use this stance,. Just because of those writings its not to say in time his opinion changed. as time passed

That makes it difficult to accept Motobu is the source. I just found this on Youtube and am linking you to it. It is Motobu no  Naihanchi Shodan - Motobu, the son of Motovu Choki.  Note how similar to how Isshinryu Nihanchi Kata begins. I note that on the Japanese video of his father’s art Motobu Chōsei also shows a class with Naihanchi Kata beginning on the right.

I suggest it implies that the direction didn't matter in the Motobu Choki tradition, just the practice of the kata. So perhaps this is sort of proof for Motobu. Sort of makes sense for the kata is covers the same ground no matter which way you start.

So perhaps he was inspired by Motobu's training, and then Shimabutu Tatsuo used his own ideas to re-craft the form.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pleasant Isshinryu

Time flows so quickly. One of the first wide Isshinryu discussion groups was hosted by David Esteeve on the Univ. of Florida listserver. Later it moved to Yahoo Groups. Many of the discussions did not evidence personal control and were often downright bloody. One day I had enough and started my own group to contain the issue, a pleasant place for Isshinryu discussion and there were many who decided to join.

For the group logo I picked the’ Alfred E. Mi zugami’, a gentle jest behind many of the bloody conversations. It was the creation of Matt Carney, and I borrowed it with his permission.

Over the years there have literally been thousands of discussions covering anything the members wished. Rarely have we had to remind people to keep it pleasant. They disciplined themselves on the whole.

The change in social media. And the members advancing knowledge has led to less discussion. Facebook among the changes of the evolving new era. But still it keeps rolling along with its archives being a treasure trove of Isshinryu history.

The groups stated purpose remains true.

The Isshinryu discussion group for pleasant conversation.

No Bad Thoughts will be tolerated. If you have to think them you must keep them to yourself or bye bye.

this group is dedicated to the implausable premise that polite discussion of Isshinryu is not only possible but mandatory!

Prospective members will be receive a request for a brief bio before membership will be reviewed.

The first post stated the group purpose.

Somebody had to attempt the impossible. Creating a discussion group for Isshinryu where NO bad, miserable, disgusting thoughts will be permitted. Instead a simple group where polite, informative uplifting discussion on Isshinryu can exist.

For purposes of this group, everybody is correct. All ranks are correct. Kichero Shimabuku inherited the Isshinryu system from his father as per Okinawan custom. Likewise all other Isshinryu seniors are also correct and any inconstancies between them disappear into

Discussions about Rank are discouraged. All rank is a personal matter between the instructor and their direct students and we will not have the bad taste to discuss something that isn't our business.

Instead truth, justice and the American Way (that being free speech does not exist in the group as per negative discussions) will prevail.

And there is no appeal to the reality I control the delete key

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Classical Fighting Arts and Isshinryu Karate

In a recent Classical Fighting Arts article it questioned whether Shimabuku Tatsuo was a student of Kyan , Motobu and Miyagi. The article was unsigned. One supposes that might be the premise is dubious and keeps the author anomyous. Given the fact that no author of the article was listed, this fact may suggest that the CFA itself was unsure of the articles historical accuracy. About this we can't absolutely know, but it is historically unlike the magazine to publish an article with such unsubstantiated content, or publish one without an author listed. Very strange.

While I am an Isshinryu practicioner, I do not speak for all Isshinryu Karate, rather for myself. I imagine most within Isshinryu Karate would ignore this as unattributed contention. On the other hand, once something is written it has a way of hanging around, and I feel the primary issue of Shimabuku Tatsuo’s instructors worth defending.

Unfortunately the article is a messy analysis, often using side issues having nothing to do with Isshinryu. It is necessary to ignore them and focus on the primary issue in contention. In that the primary source of Isshinryu technique comes from the technique of Kyan (abet with Shimabuku’s own vision), I will begin there.

The major item is whether Shimabuku trained with Kyan, in the face of many sources that suggest he was. . Okinawa was a small place, and while Isshinryu is a minor system there, we can look at Okinawan sources of information. Consider Hokama Tershuiro, Karate Okinawan karate historian and Master Goju instructor in his book "100 Masters of Okinawan Karate" (translated into English by Joe Swift) ‘references Shimabuku Tatsuo, instructors as Kyan, Miyagi and Motobu . Additionally the founder of modern Okinawan Kobudo instruction, Taira Shinken, also one of Shimabuku’s instructors, listed Shimabuku Tatsuo as a master,instructor in his 1972 book “An Encyclopedia of Okinawan Kobudo”, so we can see some Okinawans felt him credible. But that doesn't make it true, just plausible.

Even more ancedotal evidence comes from a different source, a friend and student of Shorinjyu Ryu, when he heard of the CFA article wrote me that "Nakazato Joen, founder of Shorinji Ryu, held Tatsuo in respect was precisely because he WAS a student of Kyans and despite being many years his junior had always treated Nakazato respectfully when they trained at Kyans house."

In lieu of other evidence when I compare the technique of Shimabuku and what I see in Nakazato Joen’s student’s I see enough similarity to make a clear comparison.. That Shimabuku made changes is unmistakable. Those transformed his prior studies into Isshinryu Karate.

It’s interesting the author didn’t make reference to the recently published ‘Okinawan Karate and Kobudo Encyclopedia’. Hokama Tershuiro, was one of its authors. Although not in English it would be interesting to get the official Okinawan historical record. While not ‘authoritive’ in one sense it would be interesting to hear Okinawa’s official line.

As to his training time with Miyagi and Motobu I likewise can’t say but I feel it remains reasonable. I only continue to see parallel ideas in their students arts.

As the practice of my Isshinryu takes place on the dojo floor, it was never intended to be a history lesson. In lieu of credible sources otherwise I’ll still teach my student’s that the source of Isshinryu depended on Shimabuku’s studies with Kyan, Miyagi and Motobu. But the more important lesson was his Isshinryu was extensively modified from those lessons based on his personal research. That is the most important lesson.

I have analyzed his previous training in The complete Shimabuku Tatsuo articles which can be found at  (They were undertaken with advice from the late Sherman Harrill, a very credible Isshinryu Karate source,  but any errors are my own.)

Isshinryu Karate has moved into many places and has taken many identities. That has been both good and bad, perhaps, though I tend to focus on what I find as good. Relying on old memories about whether or not Shimabuku Sensei, it’s creator had such and such training. It’s very obvious through the creation of Isshinryu Karae that he did.

It is irrelevant what Shorin Ryu or Goju Ryu students think about our art. Although with defference to those arts credibility, I wouldn’t turn to them for advice on Isshinryu Karate.

In any case, Isshinryu isn’t a history lesson, it takes place on the dojo floor. The history is a possible study for the advanced student (say with 30 or more years into their own training), but the art is the essence of the training.

This is true on Okinawa or around the world where there are Isshinryu Karate dojo. A sign of the limited knowledge of the author of the article for Isshinryu Karate is practiced around the world. Yes, much of it is in the USA, for many of the students were originally US Marines. But there has been continual globalization of Isshinryu Karate.

The art of Shimabuku Sensei continued to change as he faced different conditions in his life. Perhaps there is a lesson there to. Perhaps the lesson its to retain our diverse pasts and evolve to meet our individual conditions. Isshinryu may be like water, you can try and grasp it but it escapes our simple grasp. There is no one correct answer and even Okinawa can’t see all of it’s aspects today..

We must continue our studies to develop our art.

By the way I am

Victor Donald Smith