Monday, July 20, 2015

Gamaku and Nuhchn

More related Okinawan terms


Gamaku the side / front of the waist

 Gamakuis the side and front sections of the waist.

Gamaku muscles are important when doing Okinawan martial arts and classical dance.

To protect yourself keep your fists in front of Gamaku.

Extensive training in Gamaku is found in groups like Kashiba Juku

 I was told by Ernest Rothrock that the chambered fists in the Chinese Arts was to protect those areas at the side of the body. This neatly ties to this topic.


Shimabuku Shinso and Charles Murray

Yet another work is Nuhchn, Peirce, go through.


In English, a punch is made with the closed fist.

In Japanese, “tsuki” is forward thrusting or stabbing movement.

In Uchinaaguchi, “nunchun” means piercing or hitting through the target.


This helps make the training Charles Murray from Shimabuku Shinso  on the spear hand striking more understandable. Here is the story behind that training.




Chinkuchi and Naraasun

Another term Chinkuchi in the “Uchinaanchu nu Tuudi tu Tegua” the “Okinawan Karate and Kobudo Handbook” prepared by the University of the Ryukyus  which is used within Isshinryu karate.
Chinkuchi defined as combined power of muscle, tendon and bone.
ちん chin (筋肉 muscle)  + くんち kunchi (体力 stamina) = ちんくんち chinkunchi
Use the combined power of your muscles, bones, and tendons together.
When a bird flies long distances, it relies not only on the wing muscles, but on a
combination of muscle, tendon and bone working together. This is called
Hand techniques also use chinkunchi  briefly at the point of contact.
IMO, this seems related to Shishee   and Atifa which I have previously made posts about, 

Yet another concept worth thinking about, how things have changed is
Naraasun  defined as let you learn
In olden times, it was said that things were learned by oneself than taught.
Look with your eyes, listen with your ears.
An interesting contrast to the comments of in  Hokuma Sensei’s ‘Eight Important Precepts of Quanfa’.  From the Bubishi. (1)
The eyes do not miss even the slightest  change / the ear listens in all directions.
He comments “those who would strive to master the martial arts never slack off, nor do they ever provide openings ffor an opponent to attack. They strive to improve the workings of their own eyes and ears, and make efforts at gaining an ability to make quick decisions based on movement and sound. In other words, they train to be able to “read” the opponent.
It is interesting the Okinawans used this to learn when they were being instructed. Assuming the student was developing these abilities. Thus it became the students responsibility to take the initiative to learn when being instructed.
Different from assuming the instructor was responsible to teach this. Of course it also relates back to the term Haabeeruu in a sense too.
There is much to be learned from this book.
(1)            From Joe Swift’s book “The Essence of Naha-te” page 51.
Further references:
          Mario McKenna

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Shishee and Haabeeruu

Several other terms in the “Uchinaanchu nu Tuudi tu Tegua” the “Okinawan Karate and Kobudo Handbook” prepared by the University of the Ryukyus  got me thinking.


First when I look at Shishee   which is defined as the “posture, attitude culmination of energy


When blocking or striking, use your entire body’


Shishee is putting in power from the hips, waist and breath at the same time.


 This resembles the concept of Energy Point alignment from my tai chi training. By placing all the appropriate energy points in the correct alignment the power of a technique is enhanced.



This is the same for tai chi or karate, By example holding a shoulder back makes a punch weaker.



This has offensive meaning, as well as defensive meaning. If you learn to recognize where the opponent is out of alignment with their posture, you can recognize where they are weaker to attack. Likewise offensively this is a force enhancer.



Yet another term caught my eye. That of Haabeeruu orButterfly.

Do not maintain power all the time, but be soft and change easily like the butterfly.



Okinawa saysDo not maintain power all the time, but be soft and change easily like the butterfly. In this way, you can adapt quickly to your opponent.


I am reminded from the lines in  Hokuma Sensei’s ‘Eight Important Precepts of Quanfa’.  From the Bubishi. (1) Where he writes:

Habbeeru  means Butterfly

‘ The Way of Inhaling and Exhaling is Hardness and Softness.”


 In Quanfa (Kempo). Inhaling represents a soft pliable strength whereas Exhaling represents a hard strength. The harmonization of the hard with the pliable is the essence of Karate, indeed all martial arts. Karate contains both Yin and Yang. Proper breathing methods help to achieve the desirable balance between hard and soft, promote a strong and healthy body, amd a fierce and martial spirit.


Technique will occur in absence of conscious thought /the feet must advance and retreat, meet and separate. “


“ In the act of advancing (attacking) and retreating (defending) with the hands and feet must search for openings in the opponent’s defense in order to exploit them. This includes using deception to lure the opponent in, create openings and defeat him. These precepts also explain the importance or breaking te opponent’s balance as well as controlling the combative engagement distance.”


(1)            From Joe Swift’s book “The Essence of Naha-te” page 50.

"Uchinaanchu nu Tuudi tu Tegua” and 'Atifa"

I was reading the “Uchinaanchu nu Tuudi tu Tegua” the “Okinawan Karate and Kobudo Handbook” prepared by the University of the Ryukyus  and was most intrigued at the definition given for the term ‘Atifa’.


Atifa is the principle of transferring energy to one's opponent.


It is staying relaxed, then briefly tensing at the point of contact creates a damaging shockwave that travels through the target.


Atifa may be applied using weapon or empty hand techniques.


This is how Tom Lewis described the proper manner of striking when I was a beginner. Then 25 years later this was the manner Sherman Harrill described too.


Actually there are several striking methods. One creating that ‘shockwave’ and one that is just striking with a hard, tight fist.


The strikes at the opening of Seisan kata, SunNuSu kata and Sanchin Kata are good examples of the use of Atifa for striking. Sherman had a way of striking that the shockwave rose up through the body and was felt into the throat. 


They are delivered with a loose fist formation that tightens on the impact to a tight fist and then relaxes after impact on the way out. This strike causes compression into the body that also strikes on the way our after the strike. Done so there would be the initial impact into the body, then a second impact created by the torso returning after the strike. That secondary shock wave is the one that travels up into the throat.


An example of the other strikes with the hard, compact fist would be is Seisan kata where after the side block you deliver two hard strikes to the body then a kick and a strike. These are hard, damaging strikes.


The method of striking hard or soft .so to speak, both hurt.


This brings up a distinction of the manner which a strike creates shockwaves for different effects on the body. Depending on the manner they are delivered one strike might travel through the body into the kidneys, delivered another way that same strike causes the opponents face to move closer.


Likewise open hand strikes into the armpit cause one leg to buckle, yet another direction for the strike causes a different leg to buckle, yet another direction the force enters the torso,


The manner of striking also affects what a ‘block’ can do. It can redirect a blow, pull the striker closes to the defender, or cause an attacker to go down. Which does not describe the ways those strikes can be director into the torso with different use.


Other examples are use of descending knuckle strikes into the chest delivering downward shockwaves.


The main training tool teaching how to strike with the loose fist that tightens on impact and then returns to the loose fist after the strike is the Makiwara.


 This is not an initial study, it comes after skill develops. Nor does it explain every strike or the development required.


Rather it is a reminder of what we have felt, Sharing that strike.

Thanks to Tom Lewis Sensei for sharing this,
Thanks to Sherman Harrill Sensei for sharing the pain that instructs;
Thanks to the University of the Ryukyu's for sharing these concepts.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Initial Notes

Back in 1980 I began taking notes of training I was getting from many people. In time that expanded my understanding of what I was seeing and my studies became more intensive.  Here are those initial notes.



This set of drills is more difficult than they look, because when learning them both hemispheres of the brain are involved, making it easy to get mixed up. However when acclimated to them, speed improves. They also have interesting applications.


1.     Left Foot  Forward  Left Low Block

          Right Punch

          Left Low Block


2.     Left Foot Forward Left Outside Block

Right Punch

Left Outside Block


3.     Left Foot Forward Left High Block

Right Punch

Left High Block


4.     Left Foot forward Left High Block

Left Inside Block

Right Low Block


5.     Left Foot Forward Right High Punch

Left Middle Punch

Right Low Punch


6.      # 5  and # 6 together


LFF L. High Block

L Inside Block

L Low Block

R High Punch

L Middle Punch

R Low Punch


7.     Left Foot  Forward Left Rising Empi

L Descending Empi

Shift to Left (Or Cat) Stance

Left Rear Empi


8 .Right Foot Forward Right Inside Shuto To Neck

     Right Outside Shoto To Neck

     Right Ridge Hand to Neck

     Right Hand Circles Back and then Spear Hank to Neck



On Sutrino Bunkai for Hangetsu (the Shotokan version of Seisan kata)


1.     Left side block, Right Punch to


Left SideBlock – Left Rising Forearm (Wrist) Strike

Right Punch – Right Backfist strike to the chest.


2.     Double Open Hand Block  to

Left Bent Wrist, Right Shuto into


Left Bent Wrist, Right Shuto then

 Then right best wrist Left Shuto

(Doubling the Technique)



Against High, Middle, or Low strikes

          Use a circular left open hand block that turns in a wrist throw (also while turning away.) the attacker can be controlled the same way if not fast enough.

The left open hand closes on their fist, grabbing the palm pad of the and(or the thumb) and then rotates their wrist counter clockwise.


A Strike (Punch) turns into a Shuto immediately (either left or right)

A roundhouse kick (circular) to deflect a leg grab.


Application for the opening of Heian Ni Dan (Pinan Sho Dan)

1.     Double  block to punch to the head.

a.     Left hand deflect

b.    Right  Hand grab

c.      Left reverse face deflect


2.     Double (cross) to break the arm punching




Double Shuto’s


1.     Left is deflecting the shuto of the attacker.

2.     Right Shuto to strike knec,

3.     Then Right strikes to knee – Wheel Throw


1.     Left back zenkateu dachi, left hand block

2.     Shift left from zenkatsu dachi,

3.     Right hand shuto to neck (circular outside throw)


Left low block, Right reverse Punch- Right High Block – Right Hgh Block,

Left lunge punch (practice combination)
That which cannot be named

First Capture Escapes


1.     Sword on shoulder

a.     Right foot back (drop down) between the attackers legs, left leg siczzors

b.     Right foot back (drop down) between the attackers legs, right foot out, roll to left left toot in front, right leg over, scizzors

2.     Sword Straight at back

a.     Drop to tight side on left of body, left leg in front of attacker

b.     Right let in back and scizzor down, and bring the attacker’s feet up to hold.

3.     Sword back of head

a.     Pivot  180 degrees right, bight hand on attackers arm

                                                             i.      Left hand to their shoulder. Left foot sweeps down and control.                     

                b . Pivot 180 degrees right with a left high block

                          ii . Right hand over the attacker elhow and use aikido # 10   



Against Overhead attack


1.     Shift left (allowing the strike to miss)

The left hand snakes over and wraps around the neck, circle and rotating the head counter-clockwise.

Then switch the hand position over, allowing you to rotate the attacker’s arm away from the attacker’s body, the right hand switches to the elbow for the takedown


Stone Techniques


1.     Crouch on the right knee, legs up- and shift left

a.     Left hand circles the attackers head and grabs the jaw to rotate the head counter-clockwise.

b.     Then the right hand jams to the throat as a sword

2.     Double crouch

a.      Right foot forward (deep)

b.     Left hand to throat,

c.      Right hand to the attackers knee.  Dump, and choke with a press.



Two Person Tree Technique


1.     Both grab the attackers arm (the lead hand late sides down to grab the wrist)

2.     With the left grab the shoulder

3.     1 defender grabs the shoulders and the oter grabs the neck

4.     Both do a back sweep down with a wrist press control and/or  with a choke to mask the face.

Moving Techniques


1.     Right empi, right outside grab, right spearhand to throat.

2.     Right empi, right outside hammerfist, ritht hand outside grab and twist neck.

3.     Right rising empi, Right augmented empi (to side) left foot step behind (takedown)

4.     Right Hi Block, right side empi, left foot step behind.

5.     Right outside block, right hammerfist, right grab and twist

6.     Right outside block, right hammerfist, right grab and twist

7.     Right outside block, Right outside grab and right punch

8.     Right punch, Right backfist, and palm strike down, right wrist strikes, right snake strike

9.     Right inside block, right empi, left foot step behind

10.          Right bend wrist block, right low punch to throat, right grab and twist