Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Explanation of Kata Sho

Kata Sho



Back around 1980 I was looking for a better way to present Isshinryu to new youth students.  This was long before the internet and magazines were the primary way to learn about other martial systems.


I was on my own, there were not others in Isshinryu nearby around my area


Somewhere I saw somebody doing Fyugata Sho, a form created by Nagamie Shoshon in the 1930s. I liked the choices of turns used in the kata. It struck me an interesting way to introduce new students to Isshinryu.


It was not difficult to learn and I did so. I then started altering the form to use Isshinyu technique. Slowly I introduced it to my students at the Scranton Boys Club as an alternate study, learning how it fit Isshinryu students.  It lived up to my expectations.


I changed the low blocks and the method of striking to Isshinryu technique.


At that time I was beginning students with Seisan kata, as I had been taught. It occurred to me using a form like Fyugata Sho might be an easier way to help the new student understand what kata was, making it easier to teach Seisan kata later.


I was not changing Isshinryu but was willing to look at new ways to prepare students to understand the system. I was also in no rush to have them learn the system. Preferring to have them spend more time doing so, for I had noticed that the more time they spent studying the stronger their Isshinryu was.


Beginning in 1985, starting my program in Derry, NH at the Boys and Girls Club I changed my program and began with Fyugata Sho renamed Kata Sho because youth are known to play with names.





Among many attributes of this form it is useful for developing students stances strength.


It also, when done as a class exercise, a great way to get the beginners training with advanced students.


Then it is tool for developing other attributes of training.

Among the potentials:


1. It can be done with minimal technique, the smallest motions possible to use, Helping the student to think about what they are doing and not just performing it automatically.

2. It can be done with different timings allowing the student experience what timing does to their technique.

3. It is possible to replace the strikes in the form with multiple striking movements to develop those skills.


Sho with 3 count multiple striking



          4. Another use is that of partner drills. I am showing the most basic level of execution. The purpose is of course what they can do with this in say 10 years.




There are variations with multiple striking, varied speeds, advanced timing version, version for close order drill and increasing power version, This continues to be a useful tool at dan level.
And Fyugata Sho kata is done on Okinawa.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Then and Now

Tom Lewis and Charles Murray
my instructors in Isshinryu Karate


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Goju Seisan Toe Heel Kick Application

The Goju Seisan Kata has a front kick.
Its application is a bit more.
Here is Hiagonna Morio demonstrating that application.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

225,253 and Still Going

Scout and I

Today my blog hit 225,000 views, that is a quarter of a million.


That fact does humble me. And I have made 980 posts here.


On the advice of Mario McKenna, I started it back on August 9th, 2008. Just as a way to share my passion with my students and perhaps their students in the future. I had spent 40 years in study on the arts in many ways, and I didn’t want them to have to re-invent the wheel so to speak.


40 years reading and watching so many things. I used to have thousands of martial arts magazines. Kept some material and heaved the rest. Likewise over a thousand books, So perhaps some of it could be saved for their future reference.


Much of the blog is a way to explain the history of my studies for them, or to explain many details of our training.


It was not meant for outsiders, but I believe knowledge is more useful if shared. I have allowed others to see this, I have refrained from using it to generate money.


If any enjoy and can use what I have saved and write, then they deserve access to it.


I use the blog to look and think, I do not criticize others. If I am not interested in their art(s) then I do not write about them.


The world is a big place. Oft times there are many answers that work and are at the same time diametrically opposed to each other. Knowledge is not always what you think it is.


I selected the name for the blog as follows from my first post.





Isshin as focused concentration goes hand in hand with Zanshin as global concentration.

The more we focus in great detail on the small, the more we focus in great detail on the large, together define our limits, moment by moment.
I practice/research/study/teach my private Isshinryu practice of
Bushi No Te Isshinryu these past 35 years.

I practice/research/study and at times teach yang long fist tai chi chaun these past 30 years. (note it is now longer alas)

My practice was formed by
Tom Lewis' Isshinryu; by Charles Murray's Isshinryu; by Ernest Rothrock's arts of Yang and Wu Tai Chi Chaun, Pai Lum, Sil Lum, Tai Tong Long and of course his Faan Tzi Ying Jow Pai; by Tristan Sutrisno's Shotokan, Aikido, Tjimande and Kobudo, by a close encounter with Sherman Harrill's study of Isshinryu; and of course many times many friends sharings.

My life is defined by my family, supported by
Marueen my wife and my children Victor Michael and Caryn Alyssa.

And of course the drive that makes me practice tai chi on my driveway at -20 degrees f., drive through ice storms and blizzards to train, practice at midnight, in pouring rain, in dense fog, to scream at my french dictionary as I've translated books from the French for my friends and otherwise find incredible texture and depth from my efforts.

I hope I can share my thoughts on the very small and the very large, my isshin as well as my zanshin
, my concentration on my art, my life.


Okinawan Bone Breaking


Another find in my files

Kokekitae by George Mattson

I just noticed this gem in my files.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Dangerous Moves

Of course finger tip thrusts to the throat, and technique making the neck revolve are dangerous. That does not mean they can be used with care.
Originally kata were never used for application studies. Things have changed greatly since those days.
I first heard of ‘bunkai’ from a Shotokan instructor. Who schooled me in his training. Of course his use of the term, form his fathers studies in Japan in the 1930s was a very different paradigm from what is used today, He also shared his fathers aikido studies and family tjimande training in part. Not that I was an expert but he did a serious job showing what was possible from his teachings.
In the aikido studies there were flowing thrusts into the throat as stop hits, to make the opponent cease forward momentum, an opening for the aikido to follow. I once used it on a skilled beginner. I invited him to attack me with his spinning jumping crescent kick which he had been playing on his friends who were novice beginners. I explained that I had been showing the principle that night that could readily defeat him. He took the challenge and came at me with that combination. I just moved into  his attack, and used the fingertip flowinsertion into his throat.
I did not hurt him but he went flying backwards 20 feet to end up slamming into the wall.
Had I chosen to use a karate thrusting nukite, the result could have been quite difficult, but I and my students learn the difference.
Now working the neck is dangerous. For one thing I have a whole study of neck choking/restraint techniques. Those from karate and those from the aikido studies. Many of the aikido technique studies I use end with the neck being immobilized. It is just a question of degree, if it was to be more.
Even more efficient are the indonisian answers I have from tjimande. Care must be used for training. But that does not mean we have to go soft. Rather we need to recognize how we are applying the technique.
I do not teach such things to beginners. Such studies only begin after Sho Dan, as beginners have more important things to learn.
That some movements are dangerous is part of the arts we study.
Knowing when and how to teach them is part of the art involved.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Move for the day:


Among my greatest interest is finding new application potential for movement inspired by Karate Kata.


Of course theoretically only one movement is all anyone needs, and the skill to sell it. But the potential of kata movement is almost limitless, where your choices make the potential actuality or not.


Unfortunately there are times I feel people don’t get it. There is much more involved than just knowing a kata, for that matter. Among which there are:


          1. Conditioning to make your technique more effective.

                   Subsidiary drills like:

                             a. forearm and body strike conditioning

                             b, extensive makiwara conditioning

                             c. utilization of subsidiary strength conditioning

2. Learning how to enter an attack and control the use of its surrounding spaces. Moving through those spaces to enter the opponents attack and to conclude it.

          3. The time to gain control over those Kata movements. 

          4. Basic kata movement applications.

          5.More complex Kata movement applications, often ‘unrealistic’

          6. Kata application movement applications, often felt too numerous to be effective. Among them are applications which down the opponent, use of kata movement to grapple with the opponent and those which specifically strike vital points in the application.

7. Movement applications inspired by the kata movement, but not restricted to the movement in the form

8. Use of the Kobudo Kata training for strength enhancement as a Force Enhancer.

9 Movement towards the goal that any movement you choose to use striking anywhere on the opponents body will down them every time.


And of course there are other factors to consider.


All of which are required for maximum effectiveness. It is still possible to not use some of them and reach effectiveness, depending on the mix of other training choices employed.


The most important thing is long term regular training is involved. Training effectiveness in a shorter time frame is less optimal.


Let me suggest some favorite application studies. While I never met an application I didn’t like, there are right up there, until my next favorite movement.


Move for the day:


Monday –


Variation of the movement for Mawashi Uke (inspired by studies with Tristan Sutrisno)


1. The opponent punches/strikes/grabs with their forward hand as the step forward with their right foot.
2. Step forward with your right foot (interior line of defense) as your right hand parries their right arm to your outside.
3. As that occurs your left hand slides up your right arm in a haito strike to their arm. Then it rolls over and slides down to their wrist to grab it.
4. while that occurs your right nukite circles back and out into their throat.
5. They fall down, go boom.


Something to that effect. The same motion has many uses interior or exterior ling of defense. Moving forward with either foot. stationary, or retreating.





Variation of the movement in the Wansu Dump (inspired by Sherman Harrill). This position is a kamae where you draw back from an opponent as if inviting them to attack. The left open hand is held high above the head, the right open hand is at the hip.


          1. Against a right grab or strike


                   a.  Step back with the right foot into a cat stance, the left

          hand is used to parry the grab/strike, the right hand is used to

          strike up into the  opponents abdomen. The rising force of the

          strike making to rise away from the force of the palm strike.


b.  Begin to rotate your torso 180 degrees to the left. Your left hand presses downward against their grabbing/striking arm,        at the same time your right hand rises and lightly strikes

into the side of their neck and presses in  and down as you

rotate counter-clockwise. The motion between both your

hands begins to force the opponent down toward the ground


The opponents center of gravity has shifted between your two hands unbalancing them


c.  As the opponent starts to go down, complete your torso rotation, then complete the resulting throw by stepping back with the left foot.  Drop to your right knee and ride down the opponent to finish them on the floor.


2. Alternatively against a left grab or strike


                   a.  Step back with the right foot into a cat stance , the left                             hand is used to parry the grab/strike, the right hand is used to

strike up into the  side opponents abdomen. The rising force

of the strike making to rise away from the force of the palm



b.  Begin to rotate your torso 180 degrees to the left. Your left hand presses downward against their grabbing/striking arm,        at the same time your right hand rises and lightly strikes

into the lest arms triceps muscle, presses in  and down as you

rotate counter-clockwise. The motion between both your

hands begins to force the opponent down toward the ground


The opponents center of gravity has shifted between your two hands unbalancing them


c.  As the opponent starts to go down, complete your torso rotation, then complete the resulting throw by stepping back with the left foot.  Drop to your right knee and ride down the opponent to finish them on the floor.


          Right of left strike makes no difference.




Utilization of part of a movement from Chinto kata, then use the example provided from Tris Sutrisno for the movement. When you grab the attacking arm the opponents center of gravity moves to that grabbing location, allowing easier takedowns. (related to some of the tjimande takedows we study)


Here I am performing the takedown


This is Tris Sutrisno performing a Tjimande version of the movement




Then there is our 9thAikido drill. It can also be derived from kata Chinto.

Young Lee demonstrating the movement in slower motion





Then I might select a movement I first saw the first time I met Garry Gerossie. He was a student of Sherman Harrill. I later saw this being done by Sherman and John Kerker. It comes from the forward stepping movement of the 2nd row of Seisan Kata.


The opponent is stepping in with a right strike,


          1. You step forward with your right foot.

                   a.  The left hand sweeps the grab/strike down

                   b.  As you step forward your right hand as a palm strike

                   sweeps up and slides into their abdomen creating a rising

                   force lifting them upward

                   c.  Then your right hand continues to rise and the open hand

                   finish by striking into their neck as a reverse ridge hand

                   strike. This takes their rising motion and continues the


                   d.   The right hand after that strike turns over and as a shuto

                   strikes into their neck a 2nd time, this time with a downward

                   force. This causes them to begin to sink.

e.  After the strike the left arm rises up under their striking arm as the right arm pulls back over their striking arm

                   f. Pull both arm back into an “X”, creating pressure against

                   their arm causing their center of gravity to shift to that


                   g. Step back with your left foot and you turn to your right.

                   The pressure of the “X” causes then to bend down in a lock.



Saturday -

This one solely is my creation. I was giving a clinic at a local Goju school when this came to me. It is inspired from Seiunchin kata when you grab your right wrist with your left hand and then strike. This application shows close interior use of this strike motion.


The attacker is close and striking with the right then left hand,  a 1 – 2 punch.


          1.  Against their initial right punch you raise both your hands to

          Forming the grabbed fist, That fist formation is used as a wedging

          Motion to deflect their initial strike to the side.

          2.  Against their 2nd strike with the left, after the initial deflection

          Your wedged hands slide to the right and deflect that strike to the    


3.  Then your right foot slides forward and utilizes that Force Enhancer to make the augmented punch a finishing strike into their

Solar plexus.

The entire motion of the hands is a circular one. First circling over for the first block, then circling over and somewhat back into the 2nd block. Finishing with a forward circular motion with the step as you strike.




To conclude the weak I pick another of my favorites. One using the Force Enhancement of the opening to Sanchin Kata where you first step forward. This is the same motion used for the opening of SunNuSu kata. Right of Left a situational choice for interior lines of defense.



Slide the Right Foot Forward in an inward arch into right Sanchin Dachi, at the same time bring both arms up in front of the chest" - precursor to the following morote chudan yoku uke. -- I would add left arm out, right crossed on top.

The first thing this reminds me of is the use of the movement as a stop hit.  Sherman Harrill has a variation of this he's used on me.

1.  As I see it, uke's coming out to punch me with his right hand (or to grab me with his right hand).

     a. I step forward with my right and used the crossed hands to strike

          straight into his solar plexus as he's moving with my left. The

crossing right can also strike into the chest at the same time (a Double hit).

The two hands rotate outward as in the kata.

          i. the left hand  counter-clockwise rotation is timed to rotate

          and help deflect the strike.

          ii. the right hand clockwise rotation is timed to roll the strike

          into their solar plexus, and the upward drive of the strike

          mover its force into the body to rise upward.

The throat can also be a target of opportunity. Especially used in some  Aikido as an Atemi strike into the throat. I cite Mitsugi Saotome's "The  Principles of Aikido" page 56 - 57. Shomenuchi irimi with atemi to the  throat, and with atemi to the solar plexus. Great example. BTW works great, too.


2. As I see it, uke's coming out to punch me with his lef hand (or to grab me with his left hand).

a. The Sanchin opening works the same way.

a. You step out with your right foot into sanchin dachi.

b. You raise your left arm as a deflection to the side, the hand

rotating counter-clockwise to aid in the strike deflection.

c. At the same time your rising right hand strikes into their

kidney with a rising twisting force so that strike moves into    

the opponents body.


Again left punch right punch makes no difference.





For this one I choose to use another technique from Sanchin kata.  I refer you to my blog for this one.




It really makes no difference which movements you use. I have hundreds of them, literally. Of course this is just the beginning.

There are other factors to consider (there are always more of them).


Foremost being time. You have to learn the movement application slow and then against faster and faster attacks. You have to perform the movements at a constant speed. In fact at the same pace you execute the kata. It takes time to create skill with the movement against an attack.


Then the movement must be studied with a variety of attacks to learn which ones are possible to enter with the defensive movement. Of course that is just a name, for defensive movements are also offensive in their own right.


In time the Spirit enters the equation. When your trust to execute the movement becomes certainty. Without use of the Spirit, you will doubt and not succeed.


You have a responsibility for the future. Where one technique is theoretically all you need, it is also not enough.


You have to continue to work on endless possibilities from the kata. The idea is not to be able to choose the correct response for an attack, Rather to build your Spirit about your system of study so no technique takes preference. Rather you can use any of them to enter any attack and succeed.

Too many try to simplify what is required.

There can be different quests as to what training is to do.

This is mine.