Back in 1979 shortly after Sho-Dan I was without an Isshinryu instructor, no one was in my area. And as I did my early morning run, I would reflect on the responsibility to continue to improve.
One of the last teaching form Charles Murray was the statement, that your first 20 years your art was a reflection of your instructor(s), after 20 years of work your karate would reflect your own growth and effort.
I was taking that very seriously and began regular tournament within the Region I lived. (the old region 10) regular competition against some great competitors of many styles. In time I got to know the competitors and began to get invitations to go to their schools to train. I did on frequently. In time I learned about their systems, Mostly kata, as Bunkai was not discussed. I also was studying tai chi for personal reasons.Then a variety of Chinese forms in order to become a more knowledgable judge, those studies challenged me a great deal physically. But Ernest worked my thinking much more through an entire series of leading questions he would ask me what things in karate were for.. While many shared a great deal, the applications of karate was never discussed. So I gained insight on Goju, Shorin Ryu, Washin Ryu, Goshin Jitsu and Kempo Goju among other systems. Then again I used to regularily compete against Tris Sutrisno. He was showing me a side of his art you didn’t guess from his tournament performances. Incredible stuff. Along with that, Shotokan from his father’s studies with Funakoshi Ginchin, Aikido (old style) and Indonesian Tjimande. He defined and taught incredible ‘Bunkai” from his fathers studies. In time when his use of the term bunkai became the definition to me, which was very different from how others were using the term. So for a time I was engaged with fierce studies.
However, while I was learning a great deal, I realized Retaining everything was too much of a possibility. Gradually I accumulated many techniques. But none of it was Isshinryu, and over the decades I would learn most what I was learning was within Isshinryu. At that time it was just different, valuable studies.
Also while everyone was very nice to me, None of them actually cared about my Isshinryu. And the more I learned how techniques would work, the more I cared about using that knowledge how to apply their techniques.
So around the later1980s I began to look at the potential for Isshinryu technique. First for one movement, the opening of Seisan Kata. Then uses for the augmented block in Seiunchin kata.
At that point, I started understand how individual movements could be used. I made various studies, naming each for mnemonic memory devices. I soon realized the least likely movements I would ever use, had great potential.
I also started an inquiry what is the fewest movements which could form a system do deal with any attack, Of course the perfect answer is one move studied with such detail that you could make it work. I even worked out some of the principles how to train so that movement could work.
Then a summer camp in a cross organizational group was coming up. Though I was a founding member, at the same time I was very Junior as being an instructor goes. I rarely taught any of my Isshinryu, that was too personal in how I teach it. Very few of the students were there for Isshinryu, and they were my students.. I normally covered outside material to teach. Which was also interesting to those students from other systems.
The other instructors were so skilled. I decided I would use some of my current research and use a few techniques for which I had no applications from my studies. Those techniques with which I was least likely to choose for defense. I decided to have fun creating a simple system, the premise being it would have enough technique to defeat any attack. Then thinking about it the teachings would have a consistent group of principles behind the art. The study would be documented and even have a manual so the founders intentions would be clearly shown. Naming mnemonics would be used to remember the movements, akin to many Chinese systems. Finally I had more fun. As I was the founder there would be no rank in the system, nor would I have a title. And the system would be known as Smith-Te.
My adult students at that time were experienced Uke’s. I used to practice the moves on them. Being sure it worked. I know most of this was beyond the members attending the clinic. But I was having fun.
I only taught this for two years at those seminars. But I found it worked. It also explained my principles I was using mostly for the study of Isshinryu.
At the second clinic there was a young marine there from one of the participating schools. When I demonstrated the use of one movement after which they practiced it. Then the Martine , who was 6’6” of vim and viniger, stated it would not work on him. The techmique was Da Lu from Tai Chi. I was challenged before everyong. So I asked him to attack me, As I stood waiting. When he stepped forward with the punch, I slipt to the outside and grasped his arm with Da Lu reinforcing his forward movement. Then I continued forward with the lead hand. Moving forward into a fingertip strike into his neck. He went recoiling back and ended seated on the floor. If you remember When teaching the technique I called the movement The Snake Retreats, and also showed you that snakes bite.
I do not teach Smith-Te, that was not my purpose. It did show me my principles of study worked. I do use these techniques. Rarely apply these studies to the other systems I studied.. More use them as studies of how to neutralize those systems.
You can have fun while you work. And fum is a worthy practice, too.