Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sanchin Boogie

Q) What has made you drop your focused breathing and slow speed in Sanchin? 


About 25 years of focused study on the issue.


It began the first year I was a new sho-dan. I had received the last of my Isshinryu instruction for life when Charles Murray returned to the USAF for a career.   Training on my own and teaching youth left me time to look into other interests and I began to study Yang Tai Chi Chaun with Ernest Rothrock.

I very quickly encountered a conflict between my tai chi training and my Sanchin, and there was nobody I could turn to  that could advise me what to do as I was not going to stop either Isshinryu or Tai Chi. After deep introspection on my training I started to continue to practice but de-emphasize Sanchin and continue my Yang studies.

Add to that then I took the advantage to train with many other great practitioners of different arts. The truth is there is not necessarily an advantage in any one approach to training as long as the person has been properly instructed. I fully believe  Sanchin and/or Chinkuchi is a great training alternative, but I fully believe Isshinryu without chinkuchi or deep Sanchin training is a great alternative too, and there are incredible MA’s I’ve worked with who do not pursue Sanchin. IMO the key isn’t that there’s just one approach that works, just that there are different, often diametrically opposed approaches that  with  supreme work function fully.

When I eventually met Harill Sensei at his kata application clinics and heard a very small bit about what he did with Sanchin, I realized he was truly on to a great level of study, but I also realized I could never touch it. There is a vast difference between clinic study and true training. Harrill Sensei’s offering had to be based on years of non-stop work something impossible for me.

I had made my choices at that time, just as I never tried to teach myself Chinkuchi from Charles example. But where you don’t have one thing, your studies may yield better answers.

In my self study I eventually had Uechi students join my program. In my experience Uechi students cross the divide of other studies into Isshinryu than the other programs I’ve had chance to work with.

My years of study at that point made me start to learn how efficient alignment and motion were incredibly important in usage. Those students shared their Uechi  Sanchin and Uechi Sesan with me, and in the Uechi Seisan I found an incredible energy release in the study. It made me more aware to work to neutralize  a Uechi attack, they use serious tools.  (BTW relatively speaking New England has a strong contingent of Uechi practitioners).  Course that’s just a theoretical basis for study.

It took me 10 years before the day I decided to change my Sanchin practice, to full speed and natural breathing. The day I did I was struck how more improved Sanchin was practiced that way and very quickly came to my own decision how I would teach it from that point forward.

I had also had decades of friends outside of Isshinryu continually tell me Sanchin was not for fighting.  I never accepted that if only for the logical reason that a technique is a technique, but after I began practicing full speed I started to realize how unique Sanchin could be to destroy an attack.

I’ll put it this way, my students are not terribly happy when I start using Sanchin answers to their attacks.  Several are on this group, perhaps Marc Fryberg will volunteer to attack me for all of you <GRIN>.  Of course I’m being cagy and not describing what I do….

Look I’m only right for what I do in my dojo. If I could train with John Kerker for a decade I’d jump at that chance, but it’s not in the cards, so what I do is what I do.

The logic of my program is my program, something I work to share with my students.

2) I understand your statement: "I believe it is deceptive to watch one performance on youtube and be sure that is the norm the performer is working towards, but I will spend some time this weekend looking at this." However, I find it peculiar that someone would show me something 'they don't like'.

Perhaps they may 'mask' what they are doing as not to let out their Dojo's 'proprietary' methods, but I'd be surprised someone would put something out on youtube that they weren't proud of at that level.

I’m not saying anyone (whether I agree with their performance or not) on YouTube is not trying their hardest. It’s more that a performance does not necessarily show where that performance is on the scale of their art. It that the peak, is it just a point in the traning.

I accept many do not share much of their arts (nor do I mine for that matter).

There are many senior Okinawan instructors that I do not feel are holding back. Let me use the Okinawan seniors in Uechi as one example. They show the core of their art because of their skill, and perhaps a form of intimidation in that what they show is how they will take you apart.

In my own case I’ve only shared my students kata to show a point of their passage. To show the steps a sho-dan should pass through. To show what the pressure of competition provides on their performance at the stage they re in. Or at most a clean performance but not necessarily their peak. And why should I show their peak, it’s their surprise after all.

But then I’m not trying to recruit anyone, but to provide examples for useful discussion.

I have learned one lesson, you won’t casually see me demonstrating there, a rule I’m going to bend one time as soon I plan on perhaps sharing my wansu NO tonfa exercise. Not to showcase me, I’m old, tool heavy and slow, but to show a solid way to develop good Tonfa technique.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Thyroid Reflex


The Thyroid Reflex by Valerie Voner, C.R.T.

The thyroid is another endocrine gland. This gland has two lobes and is found nestled in the base of the neck, just below the voice box, with a lobe on either side of the windpipe. The thyroid is shaped like a butterfly; each wing is on one side of the body.




Okay, the reflex we are going to use is the gag reflex. Now many people know about this reflex so the knowledge of its existence is definitely not earth shattering or some kind of secret. However, with a bit of knowledge here we can make this point a lot more effective for you AND teach you some principles that apply to many other points.

Okay, the gag reflex point is located on the middle of the lower, anterior neck, just above the sternal notch.

Now some people will be hesitant thinking that this area is weak and that you are going to damage the throat by pushing here, but let me assure you that while pressing here will feel uncomfortable, you are not going to damage the neck at this location. That is because underneath the point are rings of thick cartilage.

In order for this to work, though, you HAVE to press quickly. If you press slowly, then the person can resist because the gag reflex, which is part of the breathing system, is only stimulated externally by sudden changes in stimulation (See Advanced Pressure Points: The System of Pressure Points for more on the 5 different systems – available in’s E-store) I suggest that you press with one supported finger in the middle of the neck at this location.

If you have done this correctly you will see the person back up quickly. How far he backs up is in direct proportion to how hard and how fast you push. It is possible to have him launch himself into the wall behind him with all his muscles.

In order to get even more effect, this time I want you to run your fingers on the bone edge of the top part of the sternal notch (hard) so that you are rubbing bone as you press the gag reflex. The bone part is the level 1 pressure point stimulation and the sharp pain will take away any resistance he may have had from your finger or thumb entering this area. Done correctly you should see an enhanced effect.

This is a classic example of how I use pressure points. I frequently use a combination of such points knowing full well that if the level 1 pressure point doesn’t work, then the level 3 will. If both points work, then I am even better off as my opponent is not.

Here are some typical types of Reflex pressure points:

1 - Cardiac Points: they drop the blood pressure. (No, they don’t stop the heart).

2 - Light force knockout points (vascular and RAS stimulation – see The Complete Book of Light Force Knockouts for more on this subject -- available in’s E-store).

3 - Breathing Points (points that cause a dramatic decrease in the ability to breathe).

4 - Balance disruption points.

5 - Brain protection points (points that cause hard-wired reaction designed to protect the brain and have nothing to do with pain).

Just a step back – the simplest of Ghost Techniques

 I just thought of a practice from quite a while ago. It has a bearing on the Ghost Techniques I learned from Ernest Rothrock, but I believe this was shown prior to that time.


It comes from one of my earliest sessions training with Tristan Sutrisno back in 1980.


He was working on a range of defenses against a strike.


Among those we did, were just stepping back from the strike. Moving slightly beyond the focus of the attack, then launching the counter-attack.


Next when the attack came, we just weaved back from the focus of the attack, just bobbing back away from the attack, not stepping away

Then launched a quicker counter-attack.


In hindsight this was recognizing that the attack was focused on where you were, and then a slight difference placed yourself away from the attack.


It is based on the knowledge that people often attack knowing where you are. And because they know where you are, attack on automatic. So if you remove yourself from there, even slightly, their attack becomes an opening to exploit.


This is the basic principle behind the idea of Ghost Techniques.


Recent reading of comments about the use of karate by Kyan Chotoku and Motobu Choki I note a common related theme. You must understand the opponent’s attack and exploit what is presented to you.


Mutsu Mizuho in Karate Kenpo, published in 1933, clearly shows a sequence of evasive techniques showing the same principle in action.


Within my own Isshinryu studies with Sherman Harrill, the same concept was exploited.


Against a punch, step back with one foot, just away from their focus. More importantly as they just miss you, you can counter strike without taking a step, as they are in your range of focus.


There is nothing new under the sun, just continued awareness gained by seeking what works.


So just stepping back is an alternative.

Toudi-jutsu no Kenkyu - Intriguing Prior Practices

Returning to Itoman Seijin’s book Toudi-jutsu no Kenkyu it gives us a clearer glimpse at the environmental concernn of earlier training.

Some ideas not often discussed today.

How to Train Elbow Strikes
Elbow strikes can be trained in the same manner as the closed fist by using the makiwara.

Single & Double Leg Kicks
There are two kinds of double kicks, simultaneous and combination. In the former, the feet are brought together as you jump up and then you kick. In a combination kick, after the first kick is delivered a second kick is launched to a separate target.

Flying Steps
Flying steps refer to techniques performed while in the air.

Types of flying steps

Flying Cut

Flying In & Flying Back

Triangle Flying
This technique involves jumping or leaping to three points. That is, you use the footing from a wall, tree stump or the ground to deliver a kick, move to an advantageous position, or move to safe distance using three technique is used to leap over a barrier or obstacle, or to run and leap up to strike down on an opponent.

There are three main ways of screaming against an opponent, a direct scream, a counter scream, or a controlling scream. The first two types of screams rely upon the use of the energy generated by the inhalation and exhalation of the breath. The former is used when you initiate your attack to unite your mind and body with the intent of striking down your opponent. The later is used when your opponent has screamed at you and you explosively retaliate with your own. These kinds of screams or yells must be delivered not only with the entire body, but need to be delivered with an intent that has depth, breadth, and power. They must also have the strength to strike at and pierce an opponent’s mind and tower over him. A controlling scream is used to show your opponent and those around him that you will be victorious, that you and your attacks will overcome him.

Strange Voices
Strange voices refer to mimicking the sounds of animals such as the monkey, crane and tiger to create an opening in the opponent. It is a means of mesmerizing the opponent with the voice.

Sickle Reap
The sickle reap resembles the motion of cutting grass with a sickle where you use your ankles to reap the legs from under an opponent.

A translation available by the efforts of Mario McKenna through Lulu press.


Thursday, October 22, 2015


Shisa (シーサー Shīsā?, Okinawan: shiisaa) is a traditional Ryukyuan decoration, often in pairs, resembling a cross between a lion and a dog, from Okinawan mythology. People place pairs of shisa on their rooftops or flanking the gates to their houses. Shisa are wards, believed to protect from some evils. When in pairs, the left shisa traditionally has a closed mouth, the right one an open mouth.[1] The open mouth wards off evil spirits, and the closed mouth keeps good spirits in.

From the Edo period, they started to be called "guardian dogs" in general in mainland Japan.[2] Gender is variously assigned to the shisa. Some Okinawans believe the male has his mouth closed to keep bad out of the home, while the female has her mouth open to share goodness.[3] Others believe the female has her mouth closed to "keep in the good", while the male has his mouth open to "scare away the bad".[4] (Compare this to the distinction between male and female guardian lions in Chinese culture.) (from Wikipedia)
They even made their way into Godzilla films.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ole' Hairy Eyeball

Where else would the topic of conversation go from teaching youth to eyeball attacks?


I was a yellow belt down in Salisbury, Md. and one night out of the blue Mr. Lewis began talking about sticking fingers in eyeballs. A best I remember it he said:


Someone recently asked me why Isshinryu doesn’t have finger strikes to the eyeballs like Kung Fu does? My answer is very simple. You can train for years in forms with eyeball finger strikes, but when push comes to shove if you don’t have what it takes to stick your fingers into somebody’s eyes, all that practice won’t do you any good. On the other hand you don’t have to practice finger strikes into the eyes at all, but if that’s what it takes and if you have what it takes you’ll do it without the practice.”


Now in Salisbury that was a true statement, because everyone in class was either hard or trying very hard to become hard and I don’t think there was a person there who would have hesitated one instant to use a finger strike into the eyes if that was necessary.


But the training there was specialized. If somebody wasn’t hard or really willing to undergo a significant starting point experiencing pain, they didn’t stay with the class.


Taking people who don’t have the instinct to stick their fingers into someone’s eyes, for whatever reason and building them towards developing that focus is a very different sort of training.


About 17 years ago a young woman joined our adult program because several of her friends (Uechi Brown Belts) decided to train with us.  Back then I often had a student try and spar their first night, just to see what natural instincts they had or didn’t have. Nothing really threatening, just a little tag. 


But when I asked her to try and spar she literally broke down and I spent maybe an hour trying to calm her down. She was literally incapable of being able to strike anyone, for any reason. Over the next several years she progressed strongly into green belt training, and was really enjoying herself till work caused her to move on. She did learn to spar, but only defensively. She did learn to block and parry, but she could not strike back. But her kata and technique, including striking the bag was fine, she was also really getting involved in the training, yet she just would not allow herself to hit a person for any reason.


One way to run a program is to eliminate those who aren’t the ‘right stuff’, and that’s fine for some programs. Another way is to work with everyone and try and help them develop the ‘right stuff’. Some may do so, some may not, but in life who do you think needs it more?


Teaching kids is a very fret full business. Not running classes or working with their individual potentials. Rather it’s living with the question of how much is too much, and how much isn’t enough.


Like most of the big questions in the arts, there are no simple answers. You can Sanchin and Not Sanchin and be a great karate-ka. You can use body hardening or not use body hardening and be a great karate-ka. Most often what appear diametrically opposite methods of training can yield similar results.


But how much do you share of the adult world with kids. Too little and they might pay the price. Too much and under some circumstances somebody else might?


Where and what you do is mostly a product of where you live, how much the student trains, what their parents are willing to permit, and how successful your program of instruction is towards building that students potential.


Some areas are more frequently violent, other areas are far less.

Take Derry, NH.

A quiet peace-full place. Green, more rural for a town of its size in many places.



Of course I’ve had a SWAT team running an operation in my front yard one night years ago.  Pam Smart, the teacher who had her husband murdered, lived in Derry.  It has murders and rapes and other unfriendly activities. Several weeks ago a rapist was leading the police and helicopters through our end of town through the woods till he was caught in Salem, NH. A number of years ago someone machine gunned down town officials in a town hall north of here.


No not safe, no place is safe. But still relatively safer than many cities and towns around the country. For example I don’t recall any regular instance of a mugging taking place, within the past 20 years.


If you teach kids karate in Derry, the parent’s aren’t enrolling them in karate class for self defense. I think they see karate as another youth passage art, like baseball or ballet. And partially because the town school system has a Zero Tolerance Policy towards school violence. So a child attacked in school who defends themselves will be suspended too. Sounds dumb but on the whole it does work.


My son is a good kid, always has been. He’s tough, played soccer goalie many years, was a little league catcher. He can dig in the dirt and take it and keep going. But he would listen to his teachers, and when kids were picking on him on the school bus, years ago, he would not fight back. He could have blasted them, and I was more than willing to let him do so. But it wasn’t in his nature, because he really wasn’t being threatened. Just hassled.


My students start as young as 7, and with only two classes a week, most are not there every class.  I have to pick and choose what is appropriate for their training.


With part time students, it’s difficult for the newer ones to focus on how to defend against any sort of attack, much less an adult. Because on the whole, most don’t have sufficient physical skills, yet, to do much of anything, including finger strikes.


And my students haven’t been winnowed to be the strongest. They’re boys and girls, strong and weak, focused and vastly un-focused, each one with different needs.


Instead of concentrating on self defense skills, I teach them karate, and try and build general safe awareness. Like:


  1. Never get in a car with anyone, no matter what they tell you.
  2. Don’t hang out outside in the summer evenings, and make sure your parents always know where you are.
  3. Never, never, Never let anyone touch your neck.
  4. If you get in trouble, Scream “FIRE” at the top of your lungs, and don’t stop screaming.
  5. Always tell an adult about what’s happening, and if they don’t believe you tell another one, and still another one till somebody listens.


Of course if it was up to me, I’d like them to call me if something was happening and let me ‘address’ the situation. But that isn’t the wan the world works.


It reminds me of a time about 10 years ago, I had a 9th grade teenage girl join the program, and some of her friends joined then too. After her first class she asked me: “Mr. Smith, what do I do when I’m in a car and some boy starts putting moves on me.”  My response was “First you should consider whether you should have gotten in the car with that boy in the first place. That choice is far more important than understanding how to trash him if he does make a move.”


She was startled, but when I explained most of the men who are going to attack a woman, know them and often know them well in the first place. She began to understand that self defense was more than just knowing how to hit.  [And of course there’s no instant course for beginners that will safely work each time, either.]


[She stayed with us till it was time for University. She reached 2nd brown and was a good student.]


Now the kids that train in karate with me on the whole have parents who are paying attention and watching out for them. And they’ve heard most of this from their family and in school, but I do believe their karate instructor having the same message helps make it sink in.


If I was living in a different area than Derry, I’m sure I would change the mix of thing. Then again if the students were training longer and more frequently the mix would change as a result of that too.


In time finger strikes to the eyes are part of the art, but with how to set the opponents face up before the strike (not to end up like on the 3 stooges). And when students are maybe into 5 or 6 years of training, more serious responses are part of their focus. But then they have more size, more training and body control.


Once you understand you can only do what you can do in the time they have to train with you, you are more able to accept you can’t give them instant answers. So you work step by step towards those answers.


Look when my little sister was 13, and I was a new student, I gave her my ‘Rape a Rapist’ method of rape self defense. Sort of what my wife would do in those circumstances (and my wife can be very nasty).  It is a series of very brutal responses that I would not share with anyone outside of family, and you wouldn’t practice them, for the same reasons Mr. Lewis gave. But I armed her with the options she could have used if she chose.


I would not share them elsewhere, because it could be readily taken the wrong way. That’s part of the issue shaping what you share with your students. If they’ve been training with you a significant time, you can share things that they understand are not shared openly. But with younger kids, you should not share what you can’t totally explain to their parents, what and why you’re teaching them.


And in a town like Derry, you also have a responsibility to contribute to the zero tolerance policy in the schools, and at the same time make the kids understand there are times you forget the rules.


It’s always how much is too much, and how much is too little.


When I was a brown belt, Charlie Murray began a program for kids in his Church Basement.  One night one of the boys came with his shirt torn, his lip cut and a black and blue eye. Charlie asked him what happened. He replied “Reverend, a boy attacked me after school. He was punching and kicking .I could have hit him in the face. I could have kneed him in the face or kicked his legs, but I didn’t do any of that because I’m a good Christian.”  His face beaming as he told us what happened.


So Charlie explained very carefully, being a good Christian didn’t mean you had to let people beat on you.


I would wish none of my students, youth or adult, ever needed their training, in school, in the Marine Corps, in the Court system or in the FBI.  But if they need it I hope their training has been sufficient.


And there’s one more question, what do they have if you don’t spend the time helping them develop?


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Reflections on Mutsu Mizuho’s Toudi Kenpo

In 1933 a Japanese karate-ka, originally trained by Funakoshi Ginchin, Mutsu Mizuho published ‘Toudi Kenpo’ or ‘Kenpo Karate’.  A large part of the material in the book reportedly was the result of a trip to Okinawa in 1930.


While the book is currently only available in Japanese it strikes me as one of the most interesting pre-WWII karate texts available. The book is quite large, with much detail on technique and information on his kata studies. But almost 2/5’s of the book is showing the use of karate technique.


Not a single use for a technique, but technique concepts grouped together with variations of technique being shown.  I think it may be one of the largest karate technique studies I’ve seen.


Now I don’t read Japanese, and I have to thank Joe Swift for all the information I’ve related above. But I can see what the drawings suggest and I’d like to share a lesson from 1933 for everyone.  Perhaps that will open a glimpse of older karate usage to consider.


The attack being demonstrated is where the attacker is moving their right foot forward and delivering a right blow. [VS – this could just as readily be an attacker trying to grab with their right hand.


[I would like to note that I don’t believe these demonstrations are complete techniques to finish an attacker, but are more opening techniques to score on them (create pain to allow them to move more readily). Thus they represent more of a demonstration where karate can and should go.]


The opening theme of this section is where the defender steps forward with their own right foot, on the outside of the attackers right foot [An exterior line of defense] and uses a middle level open back hand parry to deflect their strike to the right. After which they:


Alternative 1. It appears to me the defender jumps to replace their feet, right back and left in alongside the attackers right foot. As they do this their right hand turns over, grabs their arm before their elbow. They finish by releasing their right knee, dropping themselves down, and delivering a left reverse punch under their armpit into their ribs.


Alternative 2. It appears to me the defender jumps to replace their feet, right back and left in alongside the attackers right foot. As they do this their right hand turns over, grabs their arm before their elbow. They finish with a left reverse punch to the base of the attacker’s neck.


Alternative 3. It appears they step behind the attacker back, their right hand turns over and slides down to grab their wrist, and their left arm crosses the top of their left shoulder and grabs the right side of their uniform(clothing). Pressing the attackers arm across your chest would bow them as you pull your grabbing left hand back to the rear.  This also permits the side of their jacket/uniform to press into their carotid sinus. There exists a potential to black them out from this control.


Alternative 4.  It appears they step behind the attacker back, their right hand turns over and slides down to grab their wrist, and their left hand grabs their left shoulder. Their right hand is extending their locked arm out to the side as their left shoulder is jerked back, an opening for a takedown.


Alternative 5. It appears they step behind the attacker back, their right hand turns over and slides down to grab their wrist, and their left hand grabs their left ear.  Their right hand is pressed down as their ear is pulled back.


IMO, Mutsu’s demonstration of the range of karate response is greater than any other karate text I can recall.  And he wasn’t Okinawan, yet within 11 years of Fuankoshi first demonstrating his karate in Japan, Mutsu and other Japanese adepts traveling to Japan were suggesting a greater range of martial possibility, including ground work, than many accept was part of the Okinawan arts.


And sadly I do not believe a school continued with Mutsu’s direct tradition in Japan. All we are left with are the books he wrote and the suggestions they call forth.

The work is too extensive to suggest anyone try to obtain a copy in Japanese.  Its real value will come when it is translated into English (and other languages) and made available for general audiences.  Then we can see if his suggestions resonate still.


Related post:


Monday, October 12, 2015

On Fractals

Often I’ve described how I may use fractals of a motion for its own application. I just found this analysis I did back in 6/20/2008 and it seems to calrify this a bit. My previous post regarding fractals is at


This following demonstration by Dr. Yang Jwing Ming (YMAA White Crane and Yang Tai Chi Chaun)  helps make a visual example of fractals in usage. This form appears to be a demonstration form built from the larger Yang form and incorporates the use of his White Crane energy release with the tai chi technique.

The fractal of a motion occurs at 26 seconds you see him deliver an elbow strike and then complete the original technique at second 31. 


Fu Zhong wen shows the same movement without the focused use of the elbow strike at seconds 25 and 26.

 Fu Zhong wen Yang-style Form Part 1
I just find this a clear visual example of the concept. The use of fractals of a movement may be large or it may be a very small section of the actual movement.     
Of other interest is how Dr. Yang is using his energy release (I believe in Chinese – Fajing) fos his techniques. This is pretty unique at the level he is showing from other’s tai chi studies. It may well be a good example of the White Crane energy release he describes in his writings.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Seminar with John Kerker at Heron’s Budokai in Chicopee, Mass.

2011 Victor and John

Unfortunately I cannot attend this year’s seminar with John Kerker at Heron’s Budokai in Chicopee, Mass. Today. I am sure going to miss his sharing techniques like this.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Opening Seisan Kata

From 1991 we have my earliest explorations into the opening of Seisan Kata. My studies since that time have explored far more potential uses.
Any application is but a potential one until adequate training moves it from Application Potential to Application Realized.

Everything shown is done at an explanation pace.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Mabuni Kenwa on Karate introduced to Japan

Bubishi Puzzle, from 2001



from the Orsuka Tadihiko Ryukyu Bugishi page 14


Perhaps an interesting study can be found looking at one of the 48 Self Defense Techniques from the Bubishi.  The above scan is from a Mabuni Text on the Bubishi for Figure 9. 


In Tom Lewis Sensei’s Isshinryu Kihon practice, Lower Body Chart,  we practice Side kicks on the ground which somewhat resemble the drawings of this Bubishi figure.  One specific variation uses the lower leg to trap the heel and the upper leg to push into the knee area, very close to the above diagram.


To begin let me refer to three different Commentaries on the Bubishi, and in no particular order.



First, Pat McCarthy’s “Bubishi, The Bible of Karate” (Tuttle Publishing).

The Bubishi diagram he shows, neither person has hair (implying a monk perhaps?), The one on the ground is indicated as the Winning technique. The one standing and striking out is indicated as the Losing technique.   Where the shown illustration seems to indicate a double palm strike, in McCarthy’s ‘Bubishi’ the person has grasping (clawed as a Tiger’s) hands.


Page 171.        Winning Technique – Scissors on ground, pretending to fall over.”

                        Losing Technique – Using cymbals


If an attacker tries to grab you with both hands (right), drop to the ground, capture his leg (left) and take him down.”


Second, George Alexander and Ken Penland’sBubishi – Martial Art Spirit” (Yamazato Publishing).

Their Bubishi diagrams are almost identical to those published by Mabuni Kenwa in 1934 in Japan. They are re-drawn and cleaned up (and while strong diagrams they are slightly lesser in detail than the Mabuni direct copies). The biggest difference is the A&P ‘Bubishi’ attack shows a rising left hand (fingers slightly curled) and a different descending right hand (palm forward) with the index finger pointing straight down. I have no problem accepting this is a double palm strike.


Page 122.        Attacker  - Like falling down forward on your hands, this man will win.”

                        Defender – Like swinging a hoe down to ding in the ground, this man will lose.”


“Attacker comes in with both hands overhead and down to cause the opponent to fall down, this man will lose.   Defender drops down forward on his palms and using a scissoring technique on the attacker’s leading leg causing him to fall down, this man will win.”


Third,  R. Habersetzer’s “Encyclopedie des Arts Martiaux, Bubishi, a la Source des Karate-do” (Amphora)


Habersetzer’s drawing is less distinct yet reminiscent of the one I’m showing.  His book isn’t a translation of the Bubishi (directly ) but more a commentary on it. [The following translation by Victor Smith]


Figure 9 : Page 70


If an assailant tries to grab you with two hands, you let go and go to the ground while capturing his foot to make him fall.”


With one page of the Bubishi drawing and his translation of the text, the following page shows drawings (and photographs) showing his interpretation as to what the text means.  The top of the page shows a very precise drawing of the leg trap we’ve been discussion.  It is followed by the following text :

Photo 41: If this technique is applied by the side, uke can go up to attack the two legs of  Tori to bring (him)  to fall from his legs scissor: Kani-basami in Judo (‘pinch of the crayfish [crab]’).”

The following photograph demonstrates a flying scizzors takedown, legs around the waist.

Habersetzer then offers the following commentary on this technique.

”The illustrated drawing suggests the counterattack.”


This form is very near that of  [Bubishi figure] 3, but Uke’s body is more turned, hands in support on the front. It is then that one of drawing 8, already represented as possible evolution of the figure 3. Ohtsuka Sensei thinks that it is possible here to be introducing a new variant technique: a lock to the ankle accompanied by a push of the heel under the knee Tori (24), who then is obliged to drop to the rear to escape from the painful grip [of the lock].”


But even more interesting is an actual Chinese interpretation of the Figure 9.


Last year (2000) while doing a clinic on the import of the Bubishi, in Pittsburgh at Ernie Rothrock’s Kung Fu Studio, he clearly went through the entire section of the Bubishi showing all of the techniques as beginners (not to imply that they’re not effective) Eagle Claw techniques. The implication of course is there are dozens of other Chinese systems where you could make the same demonstration.


Anyhow, when he dropped to the floor and applied the lock to the opponent’s leg he didn’t press and push them down, instead once locked, he began to roll over and over, the lock dropping them (away from his body), and as he rolled, he was also rolling them along with him, until he would choose to release them and use a finish off kick.


To my mind that (and many other demonstrations) showed the potential of this drawing may have little to do with one layer of possibilities (those discussed above).

From Kenkji Tokitsu "Historie du Karate-Do"




Thursday, October 1, 2015

Surujin of Okinawa

From "Kama, Tekko, Tinbe and Surujin – Ancient Martial Arts of Ryukyu" by Inoue Motokatsu. This is the 2nd book in the series (the first was Bo, Sai and Tonfa) an English précis of Kobudo from the Japanese 3 volume set.

Sometimes I have no idea how much I've accumulated over the years, or what value I find in a good book. On the average it takes about 5 years before I can see and think about what is in a good book. It doesn't take me 5 years to read it, but value takes time to establish.

I find the introduction of each weapon in the series takes a small group of previous ideas and adds to them. You might find Inoue's comments of interest. From the last section on Surujin.

As the Surujin is rarely discusse I think you will find this interesting. It does parrallel flexible weapons found in Chinese Arts.

Be Careful about the following points in studying this book.

1. Dodge the opponent not by power but by your body and place yourself in the best position.
2. Continue to practice constantly through all your life.
3. Karate and Ryukyu Martial Arts are quite the same originally.
4. Study the spirit which comprises Rei, Zanshin, etc. in the process of studying Bujutsu.
5. You must be able to use weapons, but never depend on them.
6. To teach Bujutsu is easy, but there is nothing except your effort and practice to study it completely.
7. The technique of Bo is a synthetic one. The technique of Sai is one of the Shuto system. The technique of Tonfa is one of Uraken and Elbow strike systems.
8. Nunchaku belongs to the class of Bo and is so called "Portable Bo".
9. Kama is the technique of Kakate and Kurite if Karate. Each weapon of ryukyu Martial Arts is very useful for the way of studying the basic techniques of Karate.
10. Tekko jutsu is all the same as Karate jutsu except the special use of this weapon
11. Tinbe jutsu is the one that defend with "Tinbe" (Shield) and attack with "Rochin" (Short spear) and can be seen everywhere in the world.
12. Surujin is the best weapon for hiding the opponents eyes but it can't be used without the right how to use and enough training.
13. The above said weapons are called `Jyoteiken' which the length and the form is fixed, we usually practice with them, but the final most important purpose is that we can get to the ability which can use "Ranteiken" which is the length and the form is not fixed.