Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Bushi No Te Isshinryu follows a different set of standards than many do today. We are only affiliated with Tom Lewis and Charles Murray, Mr. Smith’s original instructors. Our training is in the Isshinryu ststem they taught us, and we do incorporate subsidiary drills manly from Ernest Rothrock and Tristan Sutrisno. These are in the Chinese Arts of Rothrock (Ying Jow Pai. Pai Lum,and other arts) and in the Sutrisno family traditions (Shotokan, Aikido, Tjimande and Kobudo).

There are no kyu grading examinations following the methodology taught by Mr. Lewis. Students are advanced when the instructors feel they are ready for new material. Individual efforts and abilities are recognized when they are ready for new challenges. In time the student learns new rank is a challenging responsibility not a test reward.

The only ‘examination’ is the Sho Dan initiation. Students are always prepared for this, or they would not be ‘tested’. Basically they have to demonstrate they understand everything in which the have been trained. Failure is always possible but to date has not occurred. It normally takes an adult 4 years and a youth 7 to 9 years to prepare for this.

Dan instruction goes far beyond the basic body mechanics covered in Kyu training. Limited applications are taught before at the Kyu levels (but more are demonstrated as skills are developed). The wider range of potentials are covered at the Dan level. Also Kobudo training begins at Dan level, mostly to develop over the decades of training to come to develop advanced empty hand potentials.

Dan training is geared for decades of learning and progressive skill development. We practice what we follow.

Though there is a class structure in the youth training, the basic structure follows the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. No two classes have ever covered the same material . This is to make the class more challenging.

Instructors have 15 years or training before they begin instructor training. Only after the instructor apprenticeship are they qualified in Bushi No Te Issninryu teaching practices. Currently they have a combined 100 years behind their training. (Mr. Smith 40 years, Mr Cassidy 30 years, and Mr. Lee 30 years. In addition to their Isshinryu experiences they have had other training experiences with many qualified instructors. This is how we insure everyone is on the same page and all the instructor’s, while different in approach, understand where the training leads. Even the instructors are continually learning.

There are no fees for instruction, we all have careers that pay for our families. There are no fees for testing (no tests). There are no association fees (no associations), Nothing hidden.

All are welcome to experience our training , but our standards apply to everyone.

We do not maintain we are better for these standards, just that they are what we practice.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sherman Harrill a Giant Presence who is still felt

Yesterday would have been Sherman Harrill’s 72nd birthday. {May11, 1941 ~ November 4. 2002) This was not to be, as he had departed this plane. An Isshinryu practionier he began his training on Okinawa under Shimabuku Tatsuo alongside my original instructor, Tom Lewis, and of course many others.

I am not his student, for I could not have the privilege of training with him on a regular basis, but his methodical approach to Isshinryu study, his joy if pursuing meaning and training, and his unending quest of Isshinryu Karate have altered my own understanding of my art, and he had similar impact on other’s training.

In the brief time I was fortunate to attend clinics with Sherman, and also help Gary Gerossie, one of this student’s host them, I observed him show over 800 possible applications (the count taken from my notes) and this was only a portion of his understanding.

He often would open a clinic showing applications possibilities of the initial movement of one kata, then after 3 hours would reluctantly decide to move on to the next movement. Sherman was inexaustable, after 6 or 8 hours of a clinic he would still be showing applications in the changing room. And he had serious health issues but though as the years passed and they caused him to slow slightly down, he simply kept going on and on.

To share a small piece of his teachings I offer a bit of the following notes from the first clinic I had with Sherman.

This series of techniques formed the opening hour or so of this clinic. They comprise a great variety of techniques underlying his art.

1. Most generally he sets off his defense on an angle when working on a technique. (my observation)

2. Stances

     a. Returning from Okinawa, Harrill Sensei’s Seisan Stance was more like a Sanchin stance. He feels this allows more movement to execute a punch without locking up.

     b. Sanchin Dachi also prevents scoop kicks into the groin, whether front kicks, or heel kicks to the rear.

     c. Nihanchi Stance also protects the groin from kicks. Shimabuku Tatsuo used to test the stance in this way.

3. On the street when you’re grabbed and then hooked punch, counter with an inner circular hook punch of your own.

      a. Using a counter attack roundhouse punch to deflect a roundhouse punch.. Your roundhouse punch travels on the inside (the shorter arc), deflecting and taking the collision energy to strike faster on the inside track.

4. Against a straight punch to your middle, throw a counter straight punch over the top of his punch.

     a. Use of a Reverse Punch to counter a reverse punch by punching right over the attacking punch’s

     forearm. Your forearm performs a wedging deflection during your own strike.

5. Against a hook punch (thrown from a natural stance) followed by a left straight punch, counter with the inside hook punch of your own, and tehen a straight punch over the top of their straight punch (wedging that punch downward).

     a. Against a roundhouse punch followed with a reverse punch, you can use basic tools 1 & 2 to do so in combination.

6. Also against a roundhouse punch, throw a straight punch to the attacking shoulder. You can also punch into the biceps. This punch may rise and then punch down into the shoulder too.

7. Against an attackers right foot stepping forward with a right punch,

     a. step outside their strike, with your left foot.

     b. Your left open hand parry moving clockwise over and guiding their arm down,

     c. Follow with your right open hand slap into their inner elbow,

     d. As their arm bends, roll it over (pulling up with the right hand and down with your left), and then slip  your left arm through the opening to press down against their arm’s triceps.

     e. This forms an arm lock

8. Against an opponents right foot forward right punch, where I’m right foot forward

     a. Throw a left straight punch over his punching arm into his stomach.

9. Against an opponents right foot forward right head punch

     a. Step right foot forward with a right high open hand parry across to the left

     b. Shift to the right front (knee release mechanism) wedging the attack away at the same time.

     c. Fold the right arm into a right horizontal elbow strike

10. Don’t tense while countering.

There was much, much more.

His example has been a source for my own study and an inspiration not to let my current problems slow me down. I miss his presence today, very acutely. For Sherman Harrill remains a bright beacon, whose light still guides those who trained with him.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Sound of Silence

I haven't made any posts recently. I've been concentrating on my physical therapy for fall preventation and my own practice of my art. Remaining silent doesn't mean I've stopped my own studies, just thinking on what makes sense to share.

If anything we should always put our own studies first.