Monday, February 29, 2016

The Medial Thigh

I imagine these photos were from Doctor Harper, for us to use. It is reasonable to share them here.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

It is just a Side Block


You must remember this,

A block is still a block,

A strike is just a strike

The fundamental things apply as time goes by.


When a new student starts with me, they are shown the side block, which is explained as a deflection of a strike. That continues to be the case as their kyu studies continue.


I just do Isshinryu karate. I am not doing tournament focused karate, I am not teaching exercise, I am not teaching self defense, Just karate. Where I have been living now 32 years, Derry, NH is as relatively a quiet place to live IMO about as dangerous as Okinawa was say 100 years ago, meaning not very.


Of course in this world that can change anywhere in an instant. Bad things do happen here too, but the program is geared to the average danger which might be anticipated. A different place, a different time, a different mixture of focus would be taught.


Up to Sho Dan what I am interested in, in the student, is building their basic ability. Which is more difficult than many assume.


The ability to deliver a side block, consistently, becomes a more difficult challenge than many understand. A simple example most often occurs at brown belt. Learning a kata, is much more than remembering the movements. There they learn one of our longest teachings, Kusanku kata.


Once they have learned the sequence of the movements, practice begins. Because of the length of the kata, most often the student, begins to back off their blocks. Performing them too light to make them work. Their mind is most often focused on trying to remember the form, to get through the exercise of the form. Attention is given to the more percussive appearing techniques, kicks and strikes, with less attention given to the blocks. I believe it is because at that point they know the blocks.


I normally tell, the student, that they appear to be developing brownbelt-itis*. A disease that often begins at brown belt, though it can occur earlier ot later in training. Of course I am using humor to make a point. In these cases, what is most important that each movement is performed with appropriate power.


* Brownbelt-itis has many symptoms. It is not a singular event


This also occurs to the mid kata the student knows when they are studying more advanced kata. Then they begin to practice just to get through them.


What we are looking for, is the black belt candidate can keep their focus on each movement in each kata. Without any letting up of technique execution.


This is more difficult than most realize, Looking at the application potential of the movement is less important than the actual execution, that can underly those applications. All things being equal, the ShoDan has developed the focus to impart the focus into each movement of their studies, then there is the basic texture to work with into the study of the movement application.


There are numerous ways to use a movement. One is not better than another. They are situational choices at best. Blocks as initially taught as deflection are real.


It just is that things are not necessarily what they seem.


We begin with a review of what they have been training.


I.                  The use of the Side Block for deflection .Reviewing the forward then backward execution of the movement. We review advantages and disadvantages of using the deflection.


Ia.  Then we begin to see what various Force Enhancers use can allow us to do,

1.    Shifting to an angle from the attack. Requiring less force to make the deflection work. By moving away from a direct response it creates more time to do so.

2.    How touching the blocking arm with the other hand, involves more of the bodies alignment creating more power behind the block.

3.    How use of the knee release, allowing the center of the body to descend, also creates more power for the technique.

4.    Use of the crossing of the hands before the block, to have the other hand parry the attack, prior to the block.

5.    Use of the crossing hand to strike into the shoulder eliminating a need to block..

6.    Use of the crossing of the hands before the block, to have the other hand parry the attack, prior to the block.


7.    Use of the crossing of the hands before the block as a method to generate more power.

8.    Use of the crossing of the hands before the block, to have the other hand parry the attack, prior to the block.

9.    Use of the crossing of the hands before the block, to have the other hand parry the attack, prior to the block. Then takc that parring hand, close the fist, and return it to chamber.

a.     That hand then slices across the face during the returning movement.

b.    That hand then slices across the ribs during the returning movement.

c.     That hand then slices into a strike with their other hand, while it returns to the arm.

d.    These potentials are not exclusive. They can be combined with other force enhancers for greater potential. They also may be used with the other range of movement potentials.


II.               Next would be the use of the Side Block to draw the attacker into you.


This motion use brings the attacker closer to allow you to attack them easier. It is often described as using the block in a sucking manner.


The blocking arm circles out then back to accomplish this use.


III.           Then the use of the Side Block as a force to Down the Opponent.


The motion of the Side Block can be done to generate a downward force. Then applying that sort of Side Block to a strike can force the opponent downward. During the movement of striking the opponent is temporarily unbalanced. This sort of force can work against their unbalance.


   IIIa.  A subset of this motion use, is to use the elbow of the side block as a descending strike into the attackers body.


IV.           The use of the Side Block as a striking force into the opponent.

a.     Use of the Side Block as a strike into the face.

b.    Use of the Side Block as a way to strike into the shoulder joint.

c.     The use of the Side Block as a strike into their body.

d.    Any such use also allows use of the Force Multipliers with that strike.


V.              The use of the Side Block as a way to open an attack to allow a following circular strike.

         We have a striking practice referred to as Jing Do. Where the block is the initial deflection, and the movement continues to become a circular movement that ends up as a strike into the side of the opponents chest.

    VI.  Other possibilities:

              a. Use of the side block entering under a leg and then using the 
              side block for a projection. Throwing the opponent down.
             b. Enter the strike from outside moving forward, Use the cross
              initial movement of the blocking arm, to parry their strike
              down from above, grasp their wrist/hand then use the motion
              of the block to turn it into an outer wrist throw. Also a
              projection downward.

While the range is shown to the ShoDan, it is not expected that they will be able to do all of this overnight. Rather their training program is geared to allow them to develop the various uses.


Nor is this an exclusive list. Rather an opening movement into the larger lifetime study. Any one of which an conclude an attack. The study only allows you options for the situations you may face.


It's still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die

The world will always remember karate as time goes by
Young Lee showing the standard which the ShoDan should be moving towards to begin the larger study.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

A response from Robert Smith

At one time I had written to Robert Smith about a form of breathing I was being shown in kata study. This was his response.
It did not address my issue but I treasure receiving this from him.
Mr. Smith was one of the original people who studied the Chinese Arts  after WWII and wrote about them. He also co-authored, with Don Draeger, the book Asian Fighting Arts.

Kata, Bunkai & Calligraphy

Going through my files, I just discovered this discussion. I believe it is worth sharing.
This goes back a ways on the Cyberdojo on YahooGroups. From 2001 to be exact. But it still is relevant.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Transmision of Karate and Harry Potter

I am thinking this evening about whether instructors held information back from students in the past. Now I haven’t been to Okinawa nor do I have any secret information.


This came about because I have been re-watching a Harry Potter movie, the one where he found an older book on Advanced Potions for class, which had tons of old notes in it. And when Harry followed those instructions he made all the preparation of potions work, exceedingly well. Yes it is fiction. But it also serves to make a point.


The way alchemy was being taught was more about following directions, which did not necessarily work well. Which the school know quite well. Any student to succeed had to do their own research, over and over, till they got it right. And the rest were left clueless that what they were taught was only a piece of the picture.


In that fictional world the point was that apparently the students were not given the correct instructions, because the society did not really want them all to be competent at mixing magical potions.


Of course if the student actually did that extra work, then they would believe in their personal notes and develop subtle skills in their art.


Now return to karate. There are analogous points that can be made.


1.    There is a case that this was how karate was taught in the past, and thus it would be how it was taught in the present. A case was this is how it was taught to me. Where some material may have waited 20 ot more years.

a.     Till the student was sufficiently skilled.

b.    Where the student proved they were in it for the long haul

2.    Much may not have been taught until the student was actually deep enough into the study. The time, the place, the actual need 

3.    And of course there may well have been other reasons.\


On the other hand the instructors I have trained with in various arts, who were deepest into their own application studies, they proved to be a different story.


Tristan Sutrisno, in his fathers study of Shotokan, Aikido and Indonesian Tjimande were very much into application of the arts. So much so he would not stop sharing  them with his students and friends. Literally born into the tradition, he only saw the art as the continual practice of the applications. My short 10 years partial study, has yielded enough practice for a lifetime of study.


Then, Sherman Harrill, who started alongside my original study, spent 40 years working and sharing potential in Isshinryu movement. Again I only trained with him at clinics over 10 short years. He was constrained at those clinics at individuals without the full training in his classes, but he exuberantly demonstrated potential application after application. That said he shared some 800 application potentials for our 8 kata. Since that time I have met his Senior student, John Kerker, and trained with him a few hours over the years. That experience showed me what was missing in those clinics. The training practices, etc. which could not be shared at a 8 hour clinic. In any case, the study of application potential is just the first step. Then properly preparing the body, drills such as decades on makiwara, etc. were needed. Only then were application realization possible.


These and others I have trained with were so into the full practice of the art, that they could not teach what they were doing with the practice.


IMVHO, this seems to be the standard with those I have trained with that do. Their art or practice could not be hidden under a barrel.


Which of course does not imply what Okinawan experience was of is. And these practices do not imply they are a better way, just a different experience, perhaps.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Tao of Pooh

The Tao of Pooh


A long time ago, when I was in college, I first learned of karate from my roommate who was training with Okazaki Sensei at Temple. While he showed me some so he could practice with me, I did not study it.


My own interest at that time grew into linguistic philosophy, and an outgrowth of those studies Chinese Taoism. Lao Tzu, Chang Tzu, the I Ching and so on. Not that I was Taoist, but I did quite a bit of reading on it. Of course years later I did study tai chi and grew to appreciate those studies over the years a bit more.


And Isshinryu’s founder, Shimabuku Tatsuo, himself did use the I Ching, in his role as a fortuneteller. So a bit of me understands this as well.


Taoism is a very old Chinese tradition. Older than Chan Buddhism (in Japan which became Zen Buddhism). There is no simple way to express that which cannot be expressed.


However this text, The Tao of Pooh, does at least use humor of Pooh to make a start at the topic.


Should you ever have an interest, perhaps this could be a humble start.




“Do you really want to be happy? You can begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you've got.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


 “The surest way to become Tense, Awkward, and Confused is to develop a mind that tries too hard - one that thinks too much.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


 “Lots of people talk to animals...Not very many listen though...that's the problem.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“Things just happen in the right way, at the right time. At least when you let them, when you work with circumstances instead of saying, 'This isn't supposed to be happening this way,' and trying harder to make it happen some other way.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully.
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever."
"And he has Brain."
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain."
There was a long silence.
"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh



“You'd be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“We don't need to shift our responsibilities onto the shoulders of some deified Spiritual Superman, or sit around and wait for Fate to come knocking at the door. We simply need to believe in the power that's within us, and use it. When we do that, and stop imitating others and competing against them, things begin to work for us.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“How can you get very far,
If you don't know who you are?
How can you do what you ought,
If you don't know what you've got?
And if you don't know which to do
Of all the things in front of you,
Then what you'll have when you are through
Is just a mess without a clue
Of all the best that can come true
If you know What and Which and Who.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“Wisdom, Happiness, and Courage are not waiting somewhere out beyond sight at the end of a straight line; they're part of a continuous cycle that begins right here. They're not only the ending, but the beginning as well.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“You can't save time. You can only spend it, but you can spend it wisely or foolishly.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“If people were superior to animals, they'd take good care of them," said Pooh.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“The Christmas presents once opened are Not So Much Fun as they were while we were in the process of examining, lifting, shaking, thinking about, and opening them. Three hundred sixty-five days later, we try again and find that the same thing has happened. Each time the goal is reached, it becomes Not So Much Fun, and we're off to reach the next one, then the next one, then the next.

That doesn't mean that the goals we have don't count. They do, mostly because they cause us to go through the process and it's the process that makes us wise, happy, or whatever. If we do things in the wrong sort of way, it makes us miserable, angry, confused, and things like that. The goal has to be right for us, and it has to be beneficial, in order to ensure a beneficial process. But aside from that, it's really the process that's important.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“The wise know their limitations; the foolish do not.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“A clever mind is not a heart. Knowledge doesn't really care, wisdom does.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“A way of life that keeps saying 'Around the next corner, above the next step,' works against the natural order of things and makes it so difficult to be happy and good.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“The play-it-safe pessimists of the world never accomplish much of anything, because they don't look clearly and objectively at situations, they don't recognize or believe in their own abilities to overcome even the smallest amount of risk.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature, and with the natural laws operating around us, we reach the level of Wu Wei. Then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort. Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes. Mistakes are made–or imagined–by man, the creature with the overloaded Brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard.

When you work with Wu Wei, you put the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole. No stress, no struggle. Egotistical Desire tries to force the round peg into the square hole and the square peg into the round hole. Cleverness tries to devise craftier ways of making pegs fit where they don’t belong. Knowledge tries to figure out why round pegs fit into round holes, but not square holes. Wu Wei doesn’t try. It doesn’t think about it. It just does it. And when it does, it doesn’t appear to do much of anything. But Things Get Done.

When you work with Wu Wei, you have no real accidents. Things may get a little Odd at times, but they work out. You don’t have to try very hard to make them work out; you just let them. [...] If you’re in tune with The Way Things Work, then they work the way they need to, no matter what you may think about it at the time. Later on you can look back and say, "Oh, now I understand. That had to happen so that those could happen, and those had to happen in order for this to happen…" Then you realize that even if you’d tried to make it all turn out perfectly, you couldn’t have done better, and if you’d really tried, you would have made a mess of the whole thing.

Using Wu Wei, you go by circumstances and listen to your own intuition. "This isn’t the best time to do this. I’d better go that way." Like that. When you do that sort of thing, people may say you have a Sixth Sense or something. All it really is, though, is being Sensitive to Circumstances. That’s just natural. It’s only strange when you don’t listen.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“To know the way,
we go the way,
we do the way.
The way we do,
the things we do,
it's all there in front of you.
But if you try too hard to see it,
you'll only become confused.
I am me and you are you.
As you can see;
but when you do
the things that you can do,
you will find the way.
The way will follow you.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“But isn't the knowledge that comes from experience more valuable than the knowledge that doesn't? It seems fairly obvious to some of us that a lot of scholars need to go outside and sniff around - walk through the grass, talk to the animals. That sort of thing.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“Now, scholars can be very useful and necessary, in their own dull and unamusing way. They provide a lot of information. It's just that there is Something More, and that Something More is what life is really all about.

Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“Sourness and bitterness come from the interfering and unappreciative mind. Life itself, when understood and utilized for what it is, is sweet. That is the message of The Vinegar Tasters.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“'d be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are. We will let a selection from the writings of Chuang-tse illustrate: Hui-tse said to Chuang-tse, "I have a large tree which no carpenter can cut into lumber. Its branches and trunk are crooked and tough, covered with bumps and depressions. No builder would turn his head to look at it. Your teachings are the same - useless, without value. Therefore, no one pays attention to them."


"You complain that your tree is not valuable as lumber. But you could make use of the shade it provides, rest under its sheltering branches, and stroll beneath it, admiring its character and appearance. Since it would not be endangered by an axe, what could threaten its existence? It is useless to you only because you want to make it into something else and do not use it in its proper way.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

tags: taoism

“The masters of life know the way, for they listen to the voice within them, the voice of wisdom and simplicity, the voice that reasons beyond cleverness and knows beyond knowledge.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“The honey doesn't taste so good once it is being eaten; the goal doesn't mean so much once it is reached; the reward is no so rewarding once it has been given. If we add up all the rewards in our lives, we won't have very much. But if we add up the spaces *between* the rewards, we'll come up with quite a bit. And if we add up the rewards *and* the spaces, then we'll have everything - every minute of the time that we spent.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“The main problem with this great obsession for saving time is very simple: you can't save time. You can only spend it wisely or foolishly. The Bisy Backson has practically no time at all, because he's too busy wasting it by trying to save it. And by trying to save it, he ends up wasting the whole thing.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“When you know and respect your Inner Nature, you know where you belong. You also know where you don't belong.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“Sooner or later, we are bound to discover some things about ourselves that we don't like. But once we see they're there, we can decide what we want to do with them. Do we want to get rid of them completely, change them into other things, or use them in beneficial ways? The last two approaches are often especially Useful, since they avoid head on conflict, and therefore minimize struggle. Also, they allow those transformed characteristics to be added to the list of things we have that help us out.

In a similar manner, instead of struggling to erase what are referred to as negative emotions, we can learn to use them in positive ways. We could describe the principle like this: while pounding on the piano keys may produce noise, removing them doesn't exactly further the creation of music.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


Older article on the 5 Principles of Shito-ryu

No longer sure where I saved this article from, but it is interesting material about Shito-Ryu.