Monday, November 30, 2015

Memories of Scranton

At  the Scranton Boys Club, probably in 1984

 Ron Hinds It was the Boys Club in Scranton PA on Ash St. I remember Roy and Jared trained with us and your wife did also. The people I remember in the pic were James and Cory Donovan, Brian conway and John Krevitz between you and me. My memory is bad ...I can't believe I can remember them. I hope you are doing well.

Victor Donald Smith Ron, now I place it, this was outside of the Club. Thank you for the identifications. I'm still moving along and still teaching 27 years now at the Derry Boys and Girls Club. After maybe a thousand or two students they all blur together. I still enjoy sharing the art. Have a great Christmas for me!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Jintai Kyusho - Vital Points

Browsing the interned, I came up with several explanations which are interesting.

Jintai Kyusho – Vital Point Striking


1) Suture (Tendo) – top of head. Causes death.

2) Frontal Fontanel (Tento) – Top front of head. Causes death.

3) Temple (Kasumi) – Side of head, behind eyes. Causes unconsciousness (and death from severe blow).

4) Circumorbital (Seidon) – Upper & lower parts of eye socket. Causes loss of consciousness.

5) Eyeball (Gansei) – Loss od consciousness and severe permanent damage to eyeball.

6) Glabella (Uto) – base of nose between the eyes. Loss of consciousness and possible francure of nose bone.

7) Intermaxillary suture (Jinchu) – point between upper lip and nose. Loss of consciousness.

8) Centre Lower Jaw (Gekon) – just below lower lip. Causes unconsciousness and possible jaw fracture.

9) Lower Jaw base (Mikazuki) – tip of lower jaw. Causes loss of consciousness and possible jaw fracture.

10) Indent below ears and rear of jaw  (dokko) – loss of consciousness and possible jaw fracture.

11) Mid jaw bone – (both sides) causes loss of consciousness and possible jaw fracture.

Neck & Throat

1) Rear Neck (Keichu) – Third intervertebral space (base of neck). Loss of consciousness and possible neck fracture.

2) Carotid Artery & Nerve (Matsukaze). Front/side of neck (both sides) – Loss of consciousness and possible neck fracture.

3) Supraclavicular Fossa (Murasame) – Front/side of throat (both sides) – Loss of consciousness and possible collar bone fracture.

4) Adams Apple – Causes death due to crushed windpipe & neck fracture.

5) Suprasternal Notch (Hitchu) – soft part of throat, just between collar bones. Causes death due to crushed windpipe or at least severe pain.

Torso (Front)

1) Sternal Angle (Tanchu) – Central sternum. Severe blow casues death by fracture and severe trauma to heart. Less severe blow can cause unconsciousness.

2) Xiphoid Process (Kyosen) – lowest part of sternum bone. Causes death with severe blow, affecting the heart. Less severe blow causes loss of consciousness and affects internal organs

3) Solar Plexus (Suigetsu) –  just below the sternum bone. Causes loss of consciousness. Affects internal organs such as liver & stomach.

4) Just Below Nipples (Ganka) – Between 5th & 6th ribs on either side. Causes loss of consciousness due to trauma to lungs (stoppage of breathing).

5) Right Abdomen (migi denko) – seventh intercostal space. Severe trauma to liver and lungs leading to loss of consciousness.

6) Left Abdomen (hidari denko) – Loss of consciousness due to effect on stomach & spleen. Effects on the heart & lungs which in severe cases can lead to death.

7) Lower Frontal Adomen (Tanden) – About one inch below umbilical. Loss of consciousness caused  by trauma to small intestine, bladder and major abdominal blood vessels.

8) Testes (Kinteki) – Loss of consciousness & death in severe cases.

Torso, Side & Rear

1) Subaxilliary Region (Kyoei) – side of chest (both sides) about half way down the rib cage. Causes loss of consciousness and failure of lung function, circulation then death with a severe blow.

2) Scapular Ridge (Hayauchi) – two points either side of spinal column, between shoulder blades. Causes trauma to lung functin and spinal cord, resulting in loss of consciousness with severe trauma.

3) Space between 5th & 6th Thoracic Vertebrae (Kassatsu) –  Central spine, just below No. 2 (Hayauchi). Severe blow affects spinal cord, heart, aorta and lungs. Death with a severe blow.

4) Lumbar Region (Ushiro Denko) – 4 points just to the side of the 9th and 11th thoracic vertebrae. Points near 11th vertebrae most effective for attack, causing severe trauma to kidneys and associated blood vessels.

5) Cocx (Bitei) – Causes loss of concsiousness due to trauma to spinal column.

Arms, Shoulders & Hands

1) Top of Bicep Muscle – located where upper bicep tendons attach to arm. Moderate blow will cause severe pain and loss of motor control.

2) Upper arm, Dorsal surface (Wanjun) – point between biceps and triceps, mid upper arm. Moderate  to severe blow causes loss of consciousness (trauma to ulnar & median nerves). Causes neck & chest pain and loss of motor control.

3) Elbow, Lateral Surface (Hijizume) – neck & chest pain casuing loss of motor control & loss of consciousness.

4) Lower Arm – Point about 3 inches down from inner elbow. Sharp blow causes severe pain and loss of motor control.

5) Lower (Inner) Arm – Point about 3 inches up from wrist, along inner edge of bone. Moderate blow will cause severe pain and loss of motor control.

 6) Wrist, Dorsal Surface (Soto shakutaku) – Space between ends of radius and ulna bones in lower arm. Causes loss of motor control and unconsciousness.

7) Wrist, Inside (Uchi Shakutaku) – causes chest and throat pain and can also cause loss of motor control and unconsciousness.

8) Hand, Back (Shuko) –

a) Point between index finger & thumb.

b) Point between 2nd & ring finger

c) Any of the bones on the back of the hand.

Causes pain in chest and throat, loss of motor control and unconsciousness.

Legs & Feet

1) Inguinal Region (Yako) – Top of leg & groin area (both sides). Causes severe hip & abdoment pain, loss of motor function and unconsciousness.

2) Gluteal Fold (Ushiro Inazuma) – rear of leg, just below each buttock. Severe pain in abdomen and hip areas due to trauma to sciatic nerve. Also loss of motor control and unconsciousness.

3) Thigh, mid to lower, lateral part (Fukuto) – causes severe pain, muscle cramping in thigh, pain in lower abdomen and loss of leg motor function.

4) Fibula, Middle (Kokutsu) – central lower leg on the front of leg. Causes severe pain (fibular nerve) and loss of posture.

5) Soleus Muscle, lower part (Kusanagi) – lower part of calf muscle. Trauma to the tibial artery and nerve, also producing pain in abdominal and hip regions. Causes loss of motor function.

6) Lower Inside of Fibia – causes severe leg pain.

7) Medial Malleolus (uchikurobushi) – Point just below the ankle bone. Causes trauma to tibial artery, pain in the hip area leading to loss of motor function.

8) Instep (Kori) – Point is on top of foot between temdons of big toe and 2nd toe. Causes pain in leg, hip & abdomen, with loss of motor function.

9) Foot, top of (Soin) – Point on lateral side of foot, about 3 inches behind and central of small and 4th toes. Causes pain and loss of consciousness.



Hichu – This pressure point is located in the center of the lowest part of the Neck, in the hollow 

Shofu – In the lateral aspect of the neck, in the posterior border of the Sternocleidomastoideus posterosuperior on both sides of the center of the neck. 

Tento – One half inch directly above the middle of the anterior hairline.

Dokko-Dokko is a hollow spot behind the ear lobe

Uto – One half inch above Eye Bridge, between the eyes.

Jinchu – A little above midpoint of the philtrum, just under the nostrils.

Mikazuki – Above the Adam’s apple, in the depression of the upper border of the hyoid bone.

Kote – On the inner crease of the elbow (find the center of the crease, and move inward toward the body one half cun.)

Yun Chuan – On the sole of the foot just forward of center.

Yako – Four cun (inches) above the medial epicedial of the femur, between m. vastus medialis and m. Sartorius. One inch below the center of the inner thigh.

Bitei – Inwards or upwards or a combination of the two angles.

Kinteki – The midpoint of the upper boarder of the Superior pubic ligament

Teko – On the dorsum of the hand, between the thumb and the 1st metacarpal bones, dors. Inter osseous m.,1st

Myojyo – Classic martial arts on inch below the belly button. Acupuncture places it at 1.5 cun from navel.

Sonu – The general location of this area is stomach and large intestine

Tendo – Found at the top of the skull, 2 cun (inch) posterior to the midpoint of the anterior hairline.

Kasumi – Sphenoid or temple, in the depression about one inch posterior to the midpoint between the lateral eyebrow and the outer canthus.

Mimi – Whole of the Ear

Seidon – Yuyao, middle of the eyebrow with the eye looking forward, the point is under the pupil, between the eyeball and the infraorbital ridge.

Genkon – In the depression in the center of the Mentolabial groove.

Keichu – Center of the back of the neck, between the third and fourth Cervical vertebrae.

Muyo bone – Inside edge of the tibia, seven cun above the tip of the medial malleolus, on the medial aspect near the medial border of the tibia.

Fukuto – Fukuto, is located on the midline of the lateral aspect of the thigh, about seven cun above the transverse popliteal crease.

Uchi Kuro Bushi – In the depression of the lower border of the medial malleolus or one cun (inch) below the medial malleolus. Just below and slightly to the front of the knobby protruding of bone on the in side of the ankle of the right leg.

Koori – Gap between the first and second toe on the foot surface of the web.

Gaishoho – One half inch above, on the Pericardium meridian, on the palm side of the arm about two and a half inches above the wrist, between the Radius and the ulna bones.

Shen Men – Out side of the back of the foot, behind outer ankle.


Chia Fa tonfa


Chia fa is a topic near and dear to me.


The form was not part of what I studied from Charles Murray. It was not a part of the Tom Lewis tradition when he studied with Sense, as it was not taught on Okinawa in his days. Nor did Charles study it on Okinawa  when he studied there as a black belt.


It was 1978, Charles had returned from a visit to his parents and had trained in Salisbury, Md. And in Dover Delaware. He had been working on acquiring Urashie and Shi Shi bo. Mr. Lewis had leant Charles his movie of Shimabuku Sensei to help him remember the katas.


In those days that was unique. There was no internet. No YouTube nor many other resources. Most karate was as your instructor(s) shared it with you.


It was 1978, and I was a brown belt. One day Charles came to me with the movie and a movie editor (hand turned). He told me to teach myself the tonfa from the movie and that he then expected me to share it with him.


This was both a curse and a blessing. My training was what my instructor shared with me. In that I was content. I knew there were variety of Kata versions with the IKC, but not that I was interested in knowing other ways. Those I practiced were enough. Charles and I noted what was varied from my own studies. But he insisted I should keep doing those kata I had, the was I was shown them and do those kata to come, the way he taught them. I was not into comparitative kata study, ever, so I listed to him.


Of course the first thing I did was watch the entire Armstrong video. There were many differences in the kata I knew. I just accepted that there were differences, and didn’t make to change how I was taught. As I didn’t associate with others in Isshinryu (Mostly they were out of the range I could travel, more than any other reason) I did not know what others were doing. I just accepted there was variety.


Then I got down to the task at hand. Trying to learn the tonfa kata as shown by Shimabuku Sensei. Over and over I watched that tape. Over and over I tried to do those moves. I did get something. I am not sure what, To this day I cannot view that video. Saw it too many times.


Charles was content with what I showed. And I taught him what I knew. Before long he was doing it better than I. So I kept at it.


When Mr. Mitchum was giving clinics the day of my Black Belt testing, Charles had me demonstrate it for everybody. I remember Mitchum Sensei telling us it was not taught in his days on Okinawa.


Later I taught what I knew to other of my Seniors.


Then I practiced. Never had further instruction on the tonfa. Though Karl Hovey once saw me warming up for a tournament and made some suggestions. Practiced for decades. Gained some skill and realized that it had value. For one thing the use of the tonfa conditioned the fist to close on it to stop its spins, tightening the hand for the fist.


Finally the internet arrived. And around 1990 I discovered that the term Chia Fa was used to deride individuals who didn’t know better.


Now I am a simple man. It was called Chia Fa on the movie. It was all I ever called it. Decades of work. If it is not the form, if it is not the correct form. If it was less than perfect. I could care less.


It served a function in my development. It brought its own skills in execution.  I had followed what my instructor wished. I was not looking for other’s approval, or what they did.


I did start watching what others were doing. It was all over the place. There was much variety, and I had no way to know who to believe. I didn’t belong to any approved group, to follow their way.


I just do Isshinryu. My Isshinryu is what was shared with me. Plain and simple.


If what I do with Tonfa doesn’t please some, I am not doing it to share with anyone but my own students. And in the end, they will likewise make their own choices about what they have been shown.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Meridians

No self respecting blog can do without a series of charts on the Meridians. These came from a text on the Korean art of Hwrang Do. If we are going to have Medirians, might as well be distinct ones.


Of course I don’t read or speak Korean, nor do I use meridian theory.


I believe the late Sherman Harrill said it best. He related that he trained so that the impact of his strike would put anyone down, every time.


Seems a reasonable goal to me.



Obi - Wazza

Isshinryu Obi-Waza, now that’s something I haven ‘t heard of in almost 40 years.


First, as such, they were not part of my instruction from Mr, Lewis or Mr. Murray.


The only time I’ve seen mention of them was in a Black Belt issue in 1974 about Steve Armstrong. There was a side-bar article mentioning obi-waza and he was photographed performing a grab and strike on his son,


 That next year I met him, I was a yellow belt, at the Sunnyside Garden “Tournament for a Master” in  1975, it would be our only meeting. I remembered that article and asked him about the Isshinryu Obi-Waza, but he said he didn’t remember the article.


He then proceeded to demonstrate how the obi held between two hands could be used to parry a strike and then wrap around an attackers neck to throw them to the ground.


Nothing is found on the internet. That of course dosen’t mean it is not a collection of real techniques. Just that it hasn’t been shared as such.


I did find one reference on inter net The San Francisco Isshinryu Karate Community describes the movement from Wansu kata as “Wansu also introduces the “Obi Waza” where the opponent is pulled by the belt with your left hand at the same time you are side stepping and punching with your right hand.”


A while ago, a friend, Tim Schutte, suggested these possibr answers:


Like Victor, I haven't heard the term 'obi-waza' in a long time.

There are four techniques in kata that could be obi-waza.

1. The first is in the beginning section of Seiunchin, where, after blocking a punch with a kakie-uke, the defender grabs his attacker and pulls him into an inverted nukite.

2. In the very beginning of Chinto, after the jodan juji-uke, the defender deflects the overhead attack to the side, then thrusts into the attacker's midsection with a right inverted nukite, then grabs the obi (or maybe the floating ribs) and strikes with a left back-fist or hammer-fist.

3. In Kusanku, after the flying crescent kick, kneeling avoidances and chudan-uke, two punches combination, one turns, performs a left open-hand sweeping block downward, thrusts underneath it with a right inverted nukite, grabs the obi and spins.

4. In Sunsu, after the elbow combinations, one turns, performs a left open-hand sweeping block--this time horizontally--followed by an inverted nukite, grab, and a 360-degree spin to throw the opponent to the ground.

Certainly reasonable suggestions.

My search goes back more than a few years, so I began again today.

The term Obi wazza had no  matches. The closest I could find was the

Judo Obi-otoshi 
Obi Otoshi (帯落?) is one of the preserved throwing techniques, or Habukareta Waza, of Judo. the 1895 Gokyo no Waza lists. A related technique with the same name is also on the Shinyo no Maki list of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu[1] It is categorized as a hand technique, Te-waza.

More research and study is called for.


Friday, November 27, 2015

How many forms are enough?

I guess I have been training now over 40 years. I wrote this a while ago but it still has merit.

Me once upon a time in 1984.
How Many Kata Are Enough?
The question has been raised, “So, what about the folks who claim to know 50, 60 and even up to 100 forms?  Even for the die-hard kata  aficionados, I see no need to try and learn so many forms and I believe it is a waste of precious time to do so. Especially when there are other important aspects of training that demand attention.”
Which of course raises the point, one person’s honey is another person’s poison.
Some systems use kata (or forms), some don’t.  As far as I see it nobody is so definitive in their reason either side that the opposing point of view really listens. Likewise I see that individuals who use Kata in their training who are successful and there are those who don’t use kata at all who are likewise successful.
Styles of arts do follow trends, and what is trendy today may be outmoded thinking to the commonality in 20 years, from a point of view. But your guess is as good as mine what those trends will be. And there will always be those who don’t pay attention to the common herd either.
So, what I propose is a discussion, solely on how many Kata are enough?  If you disbelieve Kata’s worth, that is entirely a different discussion and feel free to start that thread yourself.
By discussing Kata I’m specifically referring to the Okinawan and Japanese arts derived from Okinawan arts.  Or even the Chinese (and other) arts which may have or did (depending on your point of view) influenced the development of the Okinawan arts.  I consider the Japanese systems which developed an equal partner, for the original instructors were Okinawan’s, too.
From my vantage point, most of the Traditional to Modern systems (1900-1960 or so) were developed from individuals who trained with a number of instructors. On occasion they kept to one instructors teachings, other times they incorporated all of all of their instructors teachings, or some of the same.
These range in systems such as Ueichi-Ryu which traditionally had three forms (with 5 additional forms developed in the modern era), Shorin systems with differing numbers of forms, Goju’s development of 8 empty hand kata, Isshinryu’s 8 empty hand kata, up to Shotokan’s original 15 or eventual +25, and Shito Ryu’s development of at least 50 kata.
In addition there are those karate systems which have included kobudo in their training syllabus, expanding the number of kata involved.
This is a very high level analysis on the issue. Reference to works like John Sells ‘Unante’, among other works can provide more accurate details. E-Budo members Like Harry Cook are literally experts in the development of Shotokan and may choose to offer greater insight into their development.
But it is safe to say there was no clear consensus as to what the ‘right’ answer of how many kata, should be.
And even when there was an answer, such as Funakoshi Ginchin’s offering of 15 kata in his “Karate-Do Koyhan”, he was still involved in his systems further development of additional forms, too.
In the traditional groups, if you were/are/or will be a student, it rarely is a question of choice. You do what your instructor tells you. Or you don’t.
From what I’ve read, students moved between instructors on Okinawa, similar to today. There were likely many reasons, but disagreement with the course curriculum is as likely a reason as many others.
With so much diversity at Karate’s source of development, how many are enough is likely a very old discussion, and each individual who became an instructor made their own peace with that issue.
It is safe to say the number of forms doesn’t make a systems worth. But it is also safe to say the number of forms doesn’t detract from a systems capabilities either.
Kata served many different needs. A textbook of technique (where there were no textbooks), a tool to increase a students capabilities, and an efficient means of developing fighting skills.
But consider many may have studied more than their system contained. Likewise individuals such as Mabuni, trying his best to incorporate the entire Okinawan experience in his system, found an answer from changing ideas an modifying kata to instead creating his own kata with those ideas he developed.
Or consider that Taira Shinken may have known over 200 weapons forms, as well as created many of his own.  Nobody claims that he passed along his entire knowledge, but he did create several strong lines of students in Okinawa and Japan from what he did teach.
Other instructors with fewer forms had reputations of changing their forms as time passed. And if the form has many different versions, a case can be made that each is a different kata, regardless of the shared root.
In fact Okinawa’s kata development often seems to be flowering from shared roots. Consider the 16 or so documented Okinawan Passai Kata, and other kata can make the same claims. Is each different or not?
Is the answer they were giants in those days, and we must not try to walk in their shoes?
There is no simple answer.  Today information is shared where once it was held close. Instructors open their doors to outsiders, freely. Books, and video tapes also offer new information sources.
To most persuasively answer the question, it seems that those who have trained in dozens of forms may have pertinent thoughts.
Now look towards the Chinese systems. I’ve seen accounts of the forms being taught at the Shaolin Temple which were in such number that nobody could learn but a fraction of them. Many of the systems which arose from Shaolin origins, often have more than 100 forms in their curriculum. And in those traditions the forms are considerably longer than their Okinawan counterpart kata.
But China with its hundreds of martial traditions, runs the entire range from those systems with vast numbers of forms, to those with just three, or even those with none.
At the same time, the structure of those studies varies very different from those of Okinawa. For example, the student moves through forms, and doesn’t return to them. The forms containing basics aren’t practiced for life, as the basics are repeated over and over in the more advanced forms when you move to them.  A very different set of circumstances than those of Okinawa where they spend a lifetime working on the same few forms.   In fact in those systems it may be only those who are certified instructors know the entire system. [The source of this came from a friend in Northern Eagle Claw (Faan Tzi Ying Jow Pai) with considerable training in many other Northern styles.]
So out of whatever set of circumstances there are individuals who do know considerable number of kata or forms.
Sometimes by design, where the individual sought out such instruction. Sometimes by moving as work dictated and training in the available systems. Sometimes by friends sharing their training, in the days that Traditional Okinawan systems in the USA only did kata, and if you were training with them as a black belt, you were expected to remember whatever they shared with you. And in time the numbers accumulated.
If you can learn 50 or 100 kata, you do. And if you can’t you don’t.
Actually as many of the Okinawan kata share a similar vocabulary of technique, it’s often not as difficult as it sounds. Perhaps you learn 3different Seisan kata, 3 Kusanku Kata, 2 Chinto Kata, and so forth.  Eventually you grasp their differences and only periodic practice keeps them fresh in your memory. So 30 may roll into 90 without great difficulty.  In such cases one might then concentrate on the very advanced forms (complexity and length).
Likely there are schools who have 70 kata workouts, but I don’t see that as the goal of such knowledge.
There are those who are into research into the structure and nature of the Okinawan arts. For them vast kata studies offer great vistas of the different systems.
Then there are those who are Senior Instructors, and wish to create individual curricula for their advanced students. Not to teach out their knowledge, but to build as strong a system of training for that individual as possible. They understand different forms develop different energy and techniques. Then large pools of forms give them choices that not having those forms at hand doesn’t offer.
There are those who wish to develop their students core system to understand how to counter the trends of different schools of training. (Similar to football teams watching game films, or a prize fighter observing the opponents previous fights on film.)  By teaching the students forms from those traditions, they can work on directly countering those systems tendencies. Which of course is just a tool for other studies.
While any finite number of kata have innumerable applications within them, likewise any finite number of kata have a finite number of techniques. Having a vast pool of other kata on tap allows you to explore other movement potential not in the core system.
Then there’s keeping things fresh for a lifetime. With a vast pool of kata, you can periodically have students (or even the instructor for that matter) throw out kata and replace them with new ones. This forces the advancing student to work harder, keep learning and aware, and keep their kata alive. Not just running through the same old kata just one more time.
And of course you may be doing so simply cause Sensei said to do so.
This is not meant to be as total defense for deep kata study. I can make just as sound a case that its not necessary and that I can find everything in Sanchin kata to take apart the rest too.
But I believe its not a matter of what is the right answer. Its just a case of what the answer is for you.
If you can you do, and you don’t need anybody else’s justification for your actions.

If you don’t, you don’t.  If your practices fulfill you then fine.
As for myself, I trained many different places, and nobody ever cared about my other studies, only about what they were teaching me.
They also made a point that ‘You have a Black Belt around your waist. If you’re wearing that, you don’t have the right to say you can’t do something.’
So good or bad, right or wrong I studied whatever I was presented.

I guess I’ve learn close to 200 kata, forms or whatever, but of course I’ve only been training 28 years. Can I run all of them? No, nor do I wish to try. But I can pull most of them up from memory if not in training, or from my notes. And use them to do all of the above.
[BTW among my senior instructors one of them runs about 60-80 forms in his traditions, another has studied multiple hundreds in the Chinese traditions, and yet another, just using the 8 Isshinryu empty hand kata does thousands of applications from those eight forms. I very strongly consider myself a very junior student to their abilities at every level.]

Do I teach them all? No. My core curricula including Isshinryu is about 40 kata, but also in addition I teach the Yang 108 Tai Chi Chaun form and am a student of the Wu Tai Chi Chaun form, for their martial benefits.
BTW, my advanced classes are much more than kata studies. Instead we focus far deeper into the application potential of kata technique and other involved two person drills in various arts.
But as I said, there are those who do, and there are those who don’t.