Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Little Wisdom from the Past

Iji nu unjirawa ti hiki-      When you are angry, never use ti (karate).

Ti nu unjirawa iji hiki-      If you use ti (karate), never be angry.

1991 attended a cliinic on kobudo with Kise Sensei

Fusei Kise, All Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo Federation

Greg Lazarus, Dover Kenshin Kan Karate, Dover, NH

 07/27/1991  notes I made attending a clinic of Kobudo of Shorin Ryu Kenshin Kan

 Back in 1991 I attended a kobudo clinic with Kise Fusei where a basic bo, sai and kama kata were taught. I’ve located my notes and am attaching them.  This is what I got from that clinic. These are not current practices.


Sai Kata (not named)


  1. Both Sai in the right hand
  2. Rei
  3. Open up with a double outward block, then a double low block
  4. RFF (45 degrees) Right Bone Block
  5. LFF (45 degrees) Left Bone Block
  6. RFF (0 degrees) Right overhead strike (from left parry to right down strike) – bone block
  7. LFF (0)  degrees Left overhead strike – bone block)
  8. RFF (0 degrees) Right overhead strike – bone block
  9. remain RFF – Right down block then right side block (bone block)
  10. turn 180 to rear or 6 o’clock (LFF) left overhead strike – bone block
  11. turn 90 to the right (or 9 o’clock) (RFF) right side bone block
  12. remain RFF – left then right punch
  13. turn 180 to the left (or 3 o’clock) (LFF)  left side bone block
  14. remain LFF – right then left punch
  15. turn 90 to the right  (or 6 o’clock) (RFF) right overhead strike – bone block
  16. LFF Left punch – left overhead strike – bone block
  17. RFF Right punch – right overhead strike – bone block
  18. Turn 180 to left (12 o’clock) LFF – left overhead strike – bone block
  19. turn 90 to right ( 3 o’clock) RFF Right side block – bone block
  20. Step RFF Right Side block – bone block
  21. RFF Left then Right Punch
  22. Turn 180 to left (9 o’clock) left side block – bone block
  23. LFF Right then left punch
  24. Turn 90 to right (12 o’clock) right overhead strike
  25. RFB left turn 45 degrees from 0, left open side block
  26. Slide to left, right sai spears out then in
  27. RFF (0 degrees) – Right overhead strike
  28. both sai to right hand – close
  29. Rei


Questions I don’t remember the answer too.

What is a bone block? An open strike to the bone of the opponents arm or a closed strike against the bone?  Looking these notes over I believe this was my way of expressing opening the sai and striking out with it.

Bo Kata (not Named)


  1. Open Stance – Bo parallel across the legs
  2. RF steps together – left hand up for a right side block,  then the left hand slides down to the side
  3. Rei  - Left hand up – double side block
  4. RFF Right down strike
  5. Left then right double side strike
  6. RFF 90 degrees to the right – right double side block
  7. RFF 90 degrees to the left – (now to the front) right down strike
  8. LFF Pull back then twisting jab forward (lock it out)
  9. RFF pull back then twisting jab forward
  10. LFF Pull back then twisting jab forward (lock it out)
  11. LFB left then right double under strikes
  12. no stance change right double side block
  13. Skip back (RFF) right double side block
  14. RFF – Right down strike
  15. LFF – pull back – twisting jab forward
  16. RFF – pull back – twisting jab forward
  17. LFF – pull back – twisting jab forward
  18. LRB – drop to left knee – left side down strike
  19. Change to back (rear) – drop to right knee right side down strike
  20. Stand up (facing back) LFF Left double slide block
  21. Turn 180 to the front – RFF right double side block
  22. Turn 180 to the rear – LFF left side down strike then
  23. RFF Right face jab
  24. Shift to horse stance – left down jab
  25. Remain in horse stance – bo left circle ¾ clockwise (parry) the jab, slide up to front
  26. Turn 90 right – RFF Right side double side block
  27. (remain RFF) Right down strike (then circle 360 degrees clockwise)
  28. (remain RFF) Right jab to face
  29. Shift to horse stance – left down jab
  30. (remain in horse stance) – left circle ¾ clockwise then left jab
  31. (remain in horse stance) facing front – double high block
  32. RFF Right down strike
  33. (remain RFF) Right double side block
  34. (remain RFF) Right down strike
  35. RFB ( natural stance) right double side block
  36. Rei
  37. RF out to horse stance (bo lies across thighs).

Kama Kata (not named)


“Z” strike – side block then down strike then cross cut to back then down cut


  1. Both kama in right hand hand – open stance then close stance
  2. Swing hand up over head, move left kama to left hand
  3. double hand down strike (to shoulder)
  4. RFB – left high block
  5. RFF – “Z” (left side, right down strike ,right cross strike, right low strike
  6. LFF – “Z” (right side, left down strike ,left cross strike, left low strike
  7. RFF – Right hi block
  8. turn 180 to left (LFF) left high block then right neck strike (simultaneously)
  9. look 90 degrees to the right (right crane stance) right open low cut
  10. RFF (90 degrees to the right) cross cut – “Z”
  11. Turn 180 left – left high block right neck strike (simultaneously)
  12. Look 90 right – (right crane stance) right open low block
  13. LFF (180) left high block
  14. RFF Right Punch – Right “Z”
  15. LFF Left Punch – Left “Z”
  16. RFF – Right high block
  17. Turn 180 LFF (to 12 o’clock) Left high block – right neck strike
  18. Look 90 right – right crane stance – right open low block
  19. RFF 90 right – right cross cut “Z”
  20. Turn 180 left (LFF) left high block – right neck strike
  21. Look 90 right Right crane stance – right open low block
  22. Turn 90 right – RFF – right cross cut then right open down cut
  23. RFB – hands open “X” high block – double down 45 strikes
  24. RFF Cross outside strikes – Reverse – double outer side strikes
  25. (remain RFF) Right down cut – right down strike
  26. Both Kama are moved to right hand
  27. Rei

I believe the kama are held in open position throughout the kata performance.

A sampling of Kise Sensei's skills
Back in the 1991 I attended a seminar with Kise Sensei, we were told then the police to stop teaching kama. The kama was a common household gardening implement on Okinawa used everywhere. Many of the kids would carry them to school to use in the fields cutting crops after classes were done for the day. Apparently they were having problems with youth using them on each other, and thought this might help the situation.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Robert Frost Blueberries

I live about a ½ mile down Berry Road from the Robert Frost farm in Derry, New Hampshire.
When he lived in Derry and taught at the local Pinkerton Academy, he also farmed and wrote many of his Poems.  In fact I have about 100 blueberry bushes on my property, each year yielding a huge crop for friends who wish to pick them.

Seems that I should share one of his poems as this is the season where the berries are ripening, about a month they will be ready. While mine are cultivated they abound in the forest of New Hampshire, just smaller berries, which taste as good.

"You ought to have seen what I saw on my way
To the village, through Mortenson's pasture to-day:
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!"
"I don't know what part of the pasture you mean."
"You know where they cut off the woods--let me see--
It was two years ago--or no!--can it be
No longer than that?--and the following fall
The fire ran and burned it all up but the wall."
"Why, there hasn't been time for the bushes to grow.
That's always the way with the blueberries, though:
There may not have been the ghost of a sign
Of them anywhere under the shade of the pine,
But get the pine out of the way, you may burn
The pasture all over until not a fern
Or grass-blade is left, not to mention a stick,
And presto, they're up all around you as thick
And hard to explain as a conjuror's trick."
"It must be on charcoal they fatten their fruit.
I taste in them sometimes the flavour of soot.
And after all really they're ebony skinned:
The blue's but a mist from the breath of the wind,
A tarnish that goes at a touch of the hand,
And less than the tan with which pickers are tanned."
"Does Mortenson know what he has, do you think?"
"He may and not care and so leave the chewink
To gather them for him--you know what he is.
He won't make the fact that they're rightfully his
An excuse for keeping us other folk out."
"I wonder you didn't see Loren about."
"The best of it was that I did. Do you know,
I was just getting through what the field had to show
And over the wall and into the road,
When who should come by, with a democrat-load
Of all the young chattering Lorens alive,
But Loren, the fatherly, out for a drive."
"He saw you, then? What did he do? Did he frown?"
"He just kept nodding his head up and down.
You know how politely he always goes by.
But he thought a big thought--I could tell by his eye--
Which being expressed, might be this in effect:
'I have left those there berries, I shrewdly suspect,
To ripen too long. I am greatly to blame.'"
"He's a thriftier person than some I could name."
"He seems to be thrifty; and hasn't he need,
With the mouths of all those young Lorens to feed?
He has brought them all up on wild berries, they say,
Like birds. They store a great many away.
They eat them the year round, and those they don't eat
They sell in the store and buy shoes for their feet."
"Who cares what they say? It's a nice way to live,
Just taking what Nature is willing to give,
Not forcing her hand with harrow and plow."
"I wish you had seen his perpetual bow--
And the air of the youngsters! Not one of them turned,
And they looked so solemn-absurdly concerned."
"I wish I knew half what the flock of them know
Of where all the berries and other things grow,
Cranberries in bogs and raspberries on top
Of the boulder-strewn mountain, and when they will crop.
I met them one day and each had a flower
Stuck into his berries as fresh as a shower;
Some strange kind--they told me it hadn't a name."
"I've told you how once not long after we came,
I almost provoked poor Loren to mirth
By going to him of all people on earth
To ask if he knew any fruit to be had
For the picking. The rascal, he said he'd be glad
To tell if he knew. But the year had been bad.
There had been some berries--but those were all gone.
He didn't say where they had been. He went on:
'I'm sure--I'm sure'--as polite as could be.
He spoke to his wife in the door, 'Let me see,
Mame, we don't know any good berrying place?'
It was all he could do to keep a straight face.
"If he thinks all the fruit that grows wild is for him,
He'll find he's mistaken. See here, for a whim,
We'll pick in the Mortensons' pasture this year.
We'll go in the morning, that is, if it's clear,
And the sun shines out warm: the vines must be wet.
It's so long since I picked I almost forget
How we used to pick berries: we took one look round,
Then sank out of sight like trolls underground,
And saw nothing more of each other, or heard,
Unless when you said I was keeping a bird
Away from its nest, and I said it was you.
'Well, one of us is.' For complaining it flew
Around and around us. And then for a while
We picked, till I feared you had wandered a mile,
And I thought I had lost you. I lifted a shout
Too loud for the distance you were, it turned out,
For when you made answer, your voice was as low
As talking--you stood up beside me, you know."
"We sha'n't have the place to ourselves to enjoy--
Not likely, when all the young Lorens deploy.
They'll be there to-morrow, or even to-night.
They won't be too friendly--they may be polite--
To people they look on as having no right
To pick where they're picking. But we won't complain.
You ought to have seen how it looked in the rain,
The fruit mixed with water in layers of leaves,

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Bubishi and the Mystery of the Long Thoracic Nerve of Bell

Gusuyo chuu uganabira,

It was Winston Churchill’s quotation, made in a radio broadcast in October 1939:
"I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest."

The topic is different, a Bubishi mystery but it aptly fits the quote. . It, the Bubishi, is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

I realize you may not have looked at the many copies I have. Or perhaps tried to reconcile the different translations. I don’t read ancient Chinese, Japanese, Uchinaguchi, barely passable with French and merely adequate in English. But I wish to look at one mystery regarding today’s Bubishi. That I do not have a clear answer for.
Years Ago with the assistance of Dr. Paul Harper, FACS, my friend, student,physician, while looking at various Bubishi drawings I had collected, he noticed that one of the drawings from the Mabuni Bubishi illustrated a strike to the Long Thoracic nerve of Bell. It was unmistakable to him a physician.

 As most Bubishi volumes seem to include different drawings, and often not the original ones, we noticed they all showed something different. Whether original, intentional misdirection, unintentional copying errors. Or something else I could not answer,  

 But the Mabuni drawing unmistakably showed the strike and the direction used. All the others showed something else. Strikes that would have a different result than striking that nerve.

Brief definition called for:

long tho·rac·ic nerve [TA]

“arises from the fifth, sixth, and seventh cervical nerves (roots of brachial plexus), descends the neck behind the brachial plexus, and is distributed to the serratus anterior muscle; it is somewhat unusual in that it courses on the superficial aspect of the muscle it supplies; its paralysis results in "winged scapula."

Synonym(s): nervus thoracicus longus [TA], Bell respiratory nerve, external respiratory nerve of Bell, posterior thoracic nerve

 the drawing fron Mabuni's selected 48 self defense drawings I assume from the Bubishi he studied

Understanding the Bubushi 48 Self Defense Themes

Returning briefly back to the Bubushi, I (with the assistance of Dr. Paul Harper, Derry New Hanpshire, a Surgeon by profession and Joe Swift, Kanazawa Japan, a translator by profession) would like to look at the issue of drawings found in different versions of the texts. To do this I would like to suggest one of the 48 self defense diagrams.

Browsing through the Mabuni 1934 text on Seipai Kata the other day with Dr. Harper , (one of my students, originally a San Dan in Goju Ryu) he noticed how the Bubushi diagram on page 151 was showing a finger strike to 'the Long Thoracic Nerve of Bell". He stated that strike as shown would cause a "winged scapula" arching the back for a moment, allowing time for a follow up strike or evasion.

That caused me to review the same diagram in my other Bubushi copies.

In George Armstrong-Ken Penland Bubushi, the same diagram follows the Mabuni diagram, with the Mabuni copy being superior, being drawn by someone who wished to capture specific detail, and perhaps not just make a recognizable copy.

By taking the Armstrong translation if that section and comparing it to Pat McCarthy's 48 translations, I find this as Drawing #40 in McCarthy's Bubushi. But in this instance I see what looks like a spear hand strike to the side and it does not appear (from the drawing) to hit the same area the same way.

>From examination of the Mabuni or Armstrong and Penland Bubushi, you might work up different explanations

My description of these diagrams.

Mabuni Seipai Text Page 151 (This is not available in English)

My description:
Attacker Left Foot Forward Left High Hammerfist Right back hammer fist
Defender A Right inward lead finger strike to the Long Thoracic Nerve of Bell. While left hand lies across the Right Biceps.

Armstrong and Penland Bubushi 48 No 30 page 143
A copy (with slight simplification of technique) of the Mabuni 1934 Bubushi drawing.
My description,
Attacker Left Foot Forward Left High Hammerfist Right back hammer fist
Defender A Right inward lead finger strike to the Long Thoracic Nerve of Bell. While the left hand lies across the Right Biceps.

Armstrong text:

Like the Hungry Tiger mauling its prey, this man will lose
Like a monkey poking with a pin, this man will win

Attacker comes in like a hungry tiger mauling its prey, using Hammerfists to try to overwhelm his opponent, this man will lose.
Defender keeps his Maai (Distance) until the right opportunity is there And then quickly like a monkey poking with a pin, pokes his opponent In the underarm to a vital spot which leads to the heart meridian, this man Will win.

Pat McCarthy Bubushi 48 No 30 Page 182

My description:

Attacker Left Foot Forward Left High block - Right Punch
Defender RFF Right Spear Hand to uke's side line, Left Hand parries back

McCarthy text
 Losing Technique Tiger Mauls its Prey
Winning Technique Monkey threading the needle

By checking a punch or pulling a push and striking a vital point
It is easy to defeat an inexperienced attacker.

I also referenced Tadahiko Otsuka's work on the Bubushi which shows diagrams from two different Bubushi traditions. (Tadahiko's Bubushi research is not available in English)

In Tadahiko's Bubushi Page 200

Both diagrams are similar to Mabuni's but with less detail.

One defender is striking the Long Thoracic Nerve of Bell the other appears to be Striking Further forward on the chest. With the accompanying examples as how to Apply their Strike into the upper chest area. Another difference.
Finding this interesting, with different sources leading to entirely different interpretations of the diagrams in their own right.

Trying to get a wider range as to available Bubushi differences on this technique I discussed this with Joe Swift, who performed the following analysis.

Hi again Victor-san,

Looked at all my Bubishi(s) last night and here's what I got:
McCarthy (1995)
#30 - spear hand

McCarthy (1992)
#30 - single finger strike

#30 - single finger strike (or so it seems to me)

Otsuka (1986)

#30 - bunched finger strike

Otsuka (1998)

#30 - bunched finger strike

#30 - bunched fingers with one extended

Tokashiki (1995)
#30 - pressing the side as you footsweep

Original Miyagi - Higa - Fukuchi lineage Bubishi
#30 - bunched fingers

The explanations (all except for Tokashiki's application) all seem to revolve around striking a single vital point somewhere on the opponent's side...

Bob McMahon on the Cyber Dojo once mentioned he has seen Pat McCarthy's 14 different copies of the Bubushi, and last night also mentioned more are being discovered regularly.

My thought is that this work will present a picture in what is required to fully understand the issues to consider in interpreting the Bubushi to our current practices. Depending on your source, we may well be describing different events

BTW, my personal favorite pictures are those found in Mabuni's work on Seipai.

Prepared with the joint efforts of:

Swift Joe
Smith Victor
Dr. Paul Harper

Back to now.

So where am I. My study still leaves me with questions. It is difficult to accept any version as completely authorative, while each serves a purpose, exactly what that may be is beyond my ken. Welcome to my world.