Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Move - Adhesion

 
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After a variety of martial experiences in addition to Isshinryu, mainly in Thi Chi, various Northern Chinese Arts, Indonesian Tjimande and Shotokan and Aikido, you begin to recognize like movement in various arts.

 

One day long ago I saw an article in the former magazine. They did resemble some techniques I had studies. One of them was new, but I understood what it was doing, so I tried it, and it worked. Rather than dig out that magazine at this time, I will describe it in my own words.

 

For the drill, the attacker is stepping in with the left foot and attacking with the left hand

 

You pivot away spinning on the ball of your left foot and your right back foot pushing away. Ending with a left foot forward cat stance.

 

Raise your left hand and place the back of your left hand lightly atop their striking arm.

 

You are working the external line of defense, outside their attack.

 

Your left hand lightly lays atop their striking arm , bent wrist palm up.

 

Adhere to their strike and with the pressure of your wrist guide them further forward. Then lightly press down once they have moved their arm through that space you previously occupied.

 

Then that left arm presses down, adhering to their striking arm, and they lean forward following the downward arm.

 

Maintaining Cat stance, lightly place your right before their temple, light pressing across the edge of their eyes. Against that slight pressure (do not use much force) their natural inclination is to move their head away.

 

Next flow your right hand forward until your palm lightly presses against their forehead. This increases their need to turn their head. As their head continues to turn, your right hand then lies across their left temple and presses backwards.

 

This rotational pressure of adhesion spins them on their axis and out of control.

 

Continue spinning them until their neck, bent backwards, rests against your left arm, which has risen to catch them.

 

At this point, using very slight pressure, you have guided them to a place they do now want to be, where you have the option of many choices.

 

1.    Simply let to and they fall, backwards, to the ground.

2.    You might drop your right elbow into their neck.

 

Of course you can do anything, it is not my purpose to catalog the options you may make.

 

On the occasion you meet someone who has been trained to not move there head away from a pressure against the eye area, and instead the turn into the pressure.

 

Move your right hand to the same area on the other side of their face. In the case of starting with the right, you would flow your hand immediately to their left side of their head.

 

Then do the same thing as before, press into their eyes lightly, and rotate their head counter-clockwise. Turn their head till it faces the floor. Then apply descending

pressure against their back with your left hand. This causes them to drop headfirst to the floor.

 

In any case use adhesion rather than more forceful movement.
 
Obviously this is not a technique for beginners, It is most dangerous and applying more than the slightest force could do severe damage. You only need to apply enough force to move the attacker into your desired position. Applying more force turns this into something else. a dangerous situation.
 
In this the beginner would shift into more power because of lack of trust in the movement. For that matter, this might be the case with black belts unfamiliar with these movements.

 
 
 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Intent


 
A long time ago I learned a real lesson about intent.

 

I was judging at a tournament by George Dillman at the Field House where he held them. They were large events, and of course they were not fair, no competition ever was. They were an opportunity to compete.

 

This time I was a corner judge in the teen fighting division. This time a young woman entered the division. I don’t know why. Frequently there were less events for teens, for far fewer choose to fight. But apparently there was just one division for teen kumite. And she decided to compete.

 

Now one girl among the boys seems unfair on the surface. But knowing the young women coming from some programs, it was less unlikely than many think.

 

Then this teen was extremely attractive. Which I suspect she was well aware of.

 

For as the day progressed, she fought and won fight after fight.

 

She was a clean fighter, but the look on the young men’s faces was priceless. It showed they did not want to hit her, rather ask her out on a date.

 

That she was skilled was certain. But that she was a woman was a presence too.

 

Her skill advanced her to the semi-final round. Which was a good clean fight. Many of those she had defeated were shouting for her to win.

 

She did and so advanced to the final round.

 

There she met someone who also wanted to win. More importantly he did not want to ask her out on a date.

 

That he won the fight is not the story. The better prepared individual should win the fight.

 

Rather intent is part of the story. She was there to fight, and fight she did to her best. Which in my mind is the lesson.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Getting Shermanized


 

 

A year after meeting Sherman, Garry Gerossie was going to host Sherman again for a kata clinic. I volunteered to let Garry use the Boys and Girls Club of Derry for the clinic. While I had now seen Sherman I still had no idea of the depth of what he had.

 

That Saturday Garry brought him down to the school, and while chatting with him before the clinic, he asked me what I would like to see.

 

 

As I had suggested that no youth attend the training, I just had my adults, many of whom were then black belts, and there were a number of other schools of Isshinryu and Shorin ryu there, Friends of Garry or Sherman .

 

I decided to go for it. “Could we see the applications for Chinto kata, Kusanku kata and Sunsu Kata?

 

I remember Sherman looking at me with what I saw as a funny look, then he replied “  Sure, we can give that a try.”

 

Sherman began with the first movements of Chinto kata. About 3 hours later he was still working those first movement.

 

As it was time for a lunch break, he exclaimed “Now after lunch let us look at the 2nd move.”

 

During the lunch break, he explained to me “Most people get lost in the first clinic or so with me”. I understood what he meant.

 

The remainder of the clinic he did range through Chinto, Kusanku and Sunsu kata. It was an experience.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Teaching Styles

 

When I was a beginner Mr. Lewis often had other Dans lead the class, through the warm-ups, or drills. When he did lead he would knock off 50 pushups on his knuckles as if they were nothing. He could round kick a heavy bag harder than I could hit it with a baseball bat. He spent most of that time in his office, observing what was going on , on the floor.

 

I recently put things together, and recall asking Sensei wasn’t this how you described Shimabuku Sensei teaching? Sitting at the side, taking a sip. Of his tea..occasionally coming out on the floor to make a correction, or to  show someone a new piece of kata, and letting a senior student (American of Okinawan as the case was).

Charles experienced much the same when he trained on Okinawa. Most of the time Shimabuku Sensei remained on the side. And he was being taught by Shinso or perhaps others. Of course much of the time he was there was just practicing time.

I suspect this was how some of the Okinawan instructors taught.  A friend in Shorinji Ryu experienced the same. The senior instructor staying on the sidelines watching and making corrections.

 

This is somewhat in difference from the instructor led classes we seem to expect. When I began teaching, and for most of my career, I too led each class. It seemed the right way to train youth, and then I did the same with adults. It is also fun to see the instructors you trained grow and develop new drills for the kids, often based on the other shared experiences we had over the years.

 

Since the onset of my difficulties these past 5 years, I shifted into more of the observer role, letting my students take on more of the instructor roles. There is a lot to be said for Shimabuku Sensei’s approach. When you are sitting and watching you can actually see who is working hard, see where corrections need to be made, observe what is going on to suggest to the instructors what might be a good suggestion to teach.

 

Sitting quietly, observing, is a teaching style.

 

In turn this leads back to Chinese instructors. Training with Ernie Rothrock he explained that some instructors in Chinese styles would do the same. Many times you would see the senior instructor taking a nap on some chairs at the side of the school. Letting others doing the instruction. 

 

Years later a Tom Chan, a Chinese American student of mine, took me to visit a Kung Fu school he heard about in Boston. When we entered the class, and people were training, the senior instructor was curled up on stools at the side of the school.  Just as Ernie described to me.

 

Now I have also trained with many good instructors, who also led each class on the floor. I suspect one method is not superior to the other, I think on the whole you pattern your style of instruction based more on what your instructor did.

 

I began teaching long before I was qualified, where I was more recently a student myself, having been a dan less than a year. Seeing things more from the point of class as something to work out in. It’s just in time you learn there are a variety of options available. Even within the same system.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Reflection on my Art


There comes a time when you must talk about many things, this blog for one.

 

Long ago Mario McKenna suggested I start a blog. I took his advice, as a place I could share some of my studies with my students. There is a lot of my martial studies that is not part of my classes and some day they might have an interest in them, or perhaps their students.

 

I realized the world could access this, I don’t believe in secrets, or rather I don’t share openly various studies, and I understand someone looking isn’t the same as someone being trained. If they can find value here, anyone is welcome to the little I have seen.

 

Today I would note that over 165,000 have visited my site (blogger retains the numbers automatically, not the details), from all over the world. Welcome.

 

I am not looking for students or followers.As I teach for free that limited my ability to travel, In turn I was fortunate to meet those I did train with.

 

A student to me involves very long process. Perhaps 20 or more years of study. At some point of time everyone ends the training relationship. For me the average time for Dan study is about 15 years after reaching their Dan. The process of developing a student takes about 5 years for adults, and 7 to 9 years for the young, by which time they have become adults. I have students at the 30 year mark and still have studies to keep them busy.   

 

I have never been good, at best average, But I have had a string of great instructors who continue to influence me. My core is Isshinryu, and always will be. Exactly as I was shown it (of course I can’t recall is there were changes over the years? Perhaps a few.)  And many other studies from very skilled friends. As all of them shared with my students, I have done my best to share some of those studies to provide my students depth of what others of skill do too. I never shared a form that I hadn’t spent at least 5 years working on myself.

 

My students have far exceeded my abilities, For their interests they have run marathons, studied the arts of their homelands, Cycled across  the nation, run tri-marathons in their 40s and 50s all within 15 seconds of each race, as well an no other major outside interests. A diverse group of interests.

 

The most important thing I learned was how to be a quick study. Beginning with Charles training me at a pace of a kata a month, to other instructors shoveling forms into me I learned how to learn. Then I learned to decide what was important to retain. Forms and principles there. I became a real study in retention and taking notes of everything.

 

At the same time I developed an interest in everything, which sort of complimented my own studies of arts. In time I learned a real lesson you can’t do everything no matter how much you try. So you set things aside. Having learned that there was value from the trying, value and understanding.

 

In the long run you learn a great deal from your student. What they can do, the principles they learn,  a new perspective on things. The best things is seeing them develop as instructors using principles they studied from you in new ways. And doing it well.

 

The saddest thing is how much is not discussed about the past. How many books have not been read. How little was learned. There is so much that has been saved and is never discussed. I hope some of these posts inspire more work.

 

While my studies have been my interest, they are not my classes which are my art. There is too much to study and too little time to accomplish what can be done in class. I only hope these studies I have suggested spawn other’s interests.

 

 

 

 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Isshinryu - The Final Frontier


Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man (and not excluding women) has gone before.

 

 

I always liked that and as I like Patrick McCarthy’s one definition a karate as Infinite Hands – as in the empty as infinite hands of  the universe, it seems appropriate to use it here.

 

I was conditioned from my earliest training to think for myself. When Charles began my training for Sho-dan he constantly reinforced the idea I must think for myself. I have ever since tried to live up to the ideal he spoke to me and shared it with my students, who in turn have lived up to it often questioning me, making me work to give them answers.

 

I was fortunate to have wise friends in Isshinryu and many other arts. Much wiser than I was, to have shared so much with me.

 

I came to see kyu training as preparing one for the ongoing study. As Sho-Dan training as entering the larger study looking at some of the umderlying principles, as Dan studies into the infinite choices one must choose.

 

By way of an example let us take one technique and consider it a Dan study. A basic one at that.

 

An Open Hand Drill – use of the knife hand strike

 

From the original Upper Body Chart

 

LFF Left Open Low Block, Right Knife Hand
also from Kata SunNuSu and Kyan Patsai Kata

 

Attacker RFF, Right punch to the face

 

1.    Step forward with your left and chamber your left open hand towards your right ear.

a.      This becomes a parrying strike to the punch moving it away from your centerline.

b.    Then use your left knife hand to strike into their lower abdomen continuing the motion of the arm.

c.     Next continue with you right knife hand strike to their neck over their arm.

2.    Step forward with your left and chamber your left open hand towards your right ear.

a.      This becomes a light adhering parrying strike to the punch moving it away from your centerline.

b.    Continue to use the left hand to move their arm down and use the knife hand strike to move their arm down.

c.     Next continue with you right knife hand strike to their neck over their arm, with a rolling motion

3.    Step forward with your left and chamber your left open hand towards your right ear.

a.      This becomes a light adhering parrying strike to the punch moving it away from your centerline.

b.    Continue to use the left hand to move their arm down and use the knife hand strike to move their arm down.

c.     Using the right foot crescent step behind their front foot.

d.    Next continue with you right knife hand strike to their neck over their arm, with a rolling motion causing them to fall.

4.    Step forward with your left and chamber your left open hand towards your right ear.

a.      This becomes a light adhering parrying strike to the punch moving it away from your centerline.

b.    Continue to use the left hand to move their arm down and use the left knife hand strike to move their arm down away from their center.

c.     Next strike to their right side of their body with your right knife hand.

5.    Step forward with your left and chamber your left open hand towards your right ear.

a.      This becomes a light adhering parrying strike to the punch moving it away from your centerline.

b.    Continue to use the left hand to move their arm down and use the knife hand strike to move their arm down away from their center.

c.     Next strike to their right side of their body with your rolling right knife hand strike.

6.    Step forward with your left and chamber your left open hand towards your right ear.

a.      This becomes a light adhering parrying strike to the punch moving it away from your centerline.

b.    Continue to use the left hand to move their arm down and use the left knife hand strike to move their arm down away from their center.

c.     Use your right foot for a right crescent step behind their front foot.

d.    Next strike to their right side of their body with your rolling right knife hand strike causing them to fall.

 

7.    Step forward with your left and chamber your left open hand towards your right ear.

a.      This becomes a light adhering parrying strike to the punch moving it away from your centerline.

b.    Continue to use the left hand to move their arm down and use the left knife hand strike to move their arm down away from their center.

c.     Use your right foot for a right crescent step behind their rear foot.

d.    Next strike to their right side of their body with your rolling right knife hand strike causing them to fall.

 

 

 

Attacker LFF, Left punch to the face

Attacker RFF, Left punch to the face

Attacker LFF. Right punch to the face

 

Each of the defensive movements work against the varied attacks.

 

An including options like,

 

8. Attacker pivots 45 degrees clockwise on the left foot, spinning the right foot away while with your left open hand towards your right ear.

a. This becomes a parrying strike to the punch moving it away from your centerline.     

b. Then use your left knife hand to strike into their lower abdomen continuing the motion of the arm.

c. Next continue with you right knife hand strike to their neck over their arm.

9. Attacker pivots 45 degrees counter-clockwise on thelr left foot. , spinning the right foot away while with your left open hand towards your right ear.

a. As the do so the inward motion of the left hand parries into    

    their arm       

  b. Then your left knife hand then strikes into their right side as

      you continue the flow of your strike

   c. Use your right foot to step behind their lead leg,

            d, Strike into their neck (or solar plexus)with your right knife       

                hand

 

And so forth, you should get the idea by now. And there is so much more.

 

No matter what the attack, the technique must stop it.

 

Then a step beyond, perhaps using Jing-do principles this time.

 

 

 

10. Step forward with your left and chamber your left open hand towards your right ear.

e.      This becomes a parrying strike to the punch moving it away from your centerline.

f.      Then use your left nukite to strike into their lower abdomen continuing the motion of the arm.

g.     Then the same left flows up and strikes into their solar plexus with a reverse ridge hand strike (haito)

h.    Next continue with you right knife hand shuto strike to their neck over their arm. Striking into the right side of their neck,

i.       Then strike into the left side of their neck with a left knife hand  shuto.

 

 

This is not more an example of what the Dan should be doing. Not cataloging technique possibilities, rather training to make each movement work.  So each move can drop an attacker, to realize the full potential of a technique, and then to move on to another technique.

 

Of course this is not the full study. There is much more training involved for you as student are also always a beginner, each day training your ever changing body anew.

 

Finally, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Defanging a Snake

Perhaps I can introduce an old term, that of defanging a snake. Of course this is my term.

I first saw Sherman Harill do this to show a Shorin Ryu black belt why he didn’t engage in kumite. Although it was a different technique it worked the same way. He struck into the arm so hard that it became numbed and useless.

I have observerd John Kerker do the same many times in different ways.
...
Just Isshinryu and decades of makiwara training.

video
 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What you can’t practice you can’t do.



What you can’t practice you can’t do.

 

These are the wisest words I have ever heard.

 

Talking with one of our Brown Belts tonight I remarked that reaching Sho- Dan just meant that they were now beginners. Before they are potential students. In maybe 20 years they would have begun to understand the depth of their studies.

 

Of course that sounds good. But in practice I back that up with students now in their 30th year of training.

 

Developing the kyu there is a set pattern to training. But every variation is not possible or desirable. Rather conditioning basics and skill development on a range of movement.

 

For the Dan it is a different goal, then to pursue their own study to the depths they can discover. I can but guide them, they have to motivate themselves for the journey.

 

Take kicking.

 

A dan drill set might be moving down the floor throwing a range of kicks.

 

1.    Groin level scoop kicks.

2.    Thigh high front thrust kicks.

3.    Knee high front thrust kicks.

4.    Knee high front snap kicks.

5.    Shin high front thrust kicks.

6.    Shin high front snap kicks.

7.    Ankle high front thrust kicks,

8.    Ankle high front snap kicks.

9.    Toe high front thrust kicks.

10.                       Toe high front snap kick.

11.                       Ankle reaps

12.                       Ankle sweeps

 

 

Really just an example of what responsibility awaits.