Thursday, September 21, 2017

Application Potential versus Application Skill Acquisition

It seems a day hardly goes by without somebody challenging ‘bunkai’ for a kata technique. I would like to examine this.


First set aside the term ‘bunkai’ (there is a lot of charged issues behind the term). I would suggest rather a clearer term, that of kata application analysis.


Kata representing a  set of movements. Application analysis the logical way those movements may be used to 1. Insert themselves into an attack (interior line of defense vs. exterior line of defense) or even (interior line of offense vs. exterior line of offense) And each might be done moving towards the attacker, away from the attacker, or various angles around the attacker.


Thus any movement has a large set of possibilities.


Some of them might be useful for helping a beginner remember the movement.

When basic skill in acquired, they may be useful for developing the potentials for those skills.

When advanced skills are acquired they may take on different meanings.


Demonstrations rarely do more than suggest some of the possibilities for applications.


Often others watching those demonstrations may make observations on their potential worth. Ignoring the reality if one has developed the skill to make it work, it does not matter what an outside observer thinks. For demonstrations are just that, a way to provide some education of the movement. Never replacing the full skill development required.


Then there is the other half of the equation. Development of Application Skill  Development. Or the training actually required to develop that application potential. This is the larger part of the puzzle of how an application works. I have never seen a video showing this training. It is beyond the scope of a demonstration.


Which also explains why some felt things were being hidden.


For is one has not developed the skill required to move into this application potential, it is likely not worth the time to show the potential. Time better spent working on developing the skills involved.


Of course it does not take into account one’s WANT’S to know what is out there. But I imagine the instructors of the past did not care on whit about what a student WANT’S, instead caring desperately about what skill a student can develop.


Another thing is that you do not need to know everything. You just have to develop the skill to make what you already know actually work, every time.


So why more than one movement. Life is long, and we need continual challenges to push ourselves forward. Knowledge skill development to keep ourselves fresh.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

So a new day and another choice of a technique.

Another day but cooler weather.

Though that means it still will hit 100f.


So a new day and another choice of a technique.


Just for simplicity I will use a left arm/hand strike towards you.

And the response will be an interior line of defense.


I turn toward the right, step back with the left to facilitate the turn.

Then both arms rise, the left before the right,

Forming a ‘X’ block against the attackers arm,

Both hands facing you.


This ‘block’ is very powerful, no matter how hard they strike

The alignment of the body behind the ‘X’ 

Becomes a force enhancer for the block.


Then the left hand rolls out to move their arm,

 away from your center.


As that occurs the right open hand moves forward past their head,

And then slices back into their neck from the side.

The hand then retreats to your center of your chest.


Finally that right hand strikes out with the yoke of the hand,

Between the thumb and the forefinger.

Allowing after that strike to grab their throat.


This technique uses multiple striking.

A slicing movement into the side of the neck,

Then a strike into the throat.



This is a variation of the ‘Archer’s Block’ from Seiunchin Kata.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Theme – Kicking to the Groin

I believe these photos say it all.


Be the Weapon

The movement is a weapon,
The lack of movement is a weapon,
The act of turning is a weapon,
Spaces between movements are a weapon.

You are the weapon depending how you choose to be.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Funakoshi Ginchin and the Dragon Toe

This is a photograph of Ginchin Funakoshi from one of his early book.


Joe Swift shared a while ago

I'd like to share another little episode from "older Karate", which is often found in the details, which in turn get lost or overlooked easily when using low quality pics from the net. This tidbit is from Funakoshi's original set of Nage-waza, found in his 1925 edition (which is where I took the scan from, yeah).

So here you see the idea of 'locking the motion chain of the body'. It is not an Okinawan idea. In fact it is found anywhere in Western "wrestling" since the first written sources from the 11th century onwards to Chinese Qinna techniques, where (in certain schools) it constitutes one basic principle.

The "dragon toe" may be found in other Kata, think about it. For example, in Seiyunchin, or Seisan.

Now this gets me thinking of the possibilities.


1. Stepping on the foot locks the leg if the strike following drops the opponent to the ground. This step would cause  the leg to become hyper-extended.

Leading to pulled muscles and ligaments and decreasing mobility.


2. Stepping on the foot also locks the individual’s ability to move down.

This can be used as a force enhancer by not allowing their body to move

Away from a strike. By inhibiting their movement away from the strike,

More of the force of the strike is retained in their body.


3. Every step can become a stomp, to break the foot of smash the instep.

This of course greatly inhibits their mobility.


4. The same motion for the crescent step can also be used to step behind the foot, and sweep or reap the opponents leg,  When used with the same pressure of the ‘dragon toe’ this can increase the pressure of the result.


Almost the first lesson I taught began with instruction

 how to perform the Crescent Step.


A fundamental lesson in our system.


This is a lesson about the value contained within that lesson.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Kusanku Kata - The Neck Strike with Parry

Kusanku Kata

The Neck Strike with Parry


Looking at the Usheiba Morhei 1935 Aikido Atemi strikes

It was very clear to see how they fit the Kusanku Kata,

Neck Strike with Parry.


These movements make for a good throwing technique.

But there is a different variation that even uses the kata motion even more.


When you execute the Parry to your head and strike into their neck,

With a strike into the neck with a counter-clockwise motion,

As the pressure of that strike turns their head away,

What you do is press down on the top of their spine,

This forces them downward,


Then as they drop,

You press your knee into their neck,

Forcing a strong pin as you kneel over them.


And of course this does not even begin to describe

All of the options available.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

A Tale of Two Sticks

 Just Plain Old Sticks

I originally saw Gushi Shinyu Of Ueichi Ryu doing kata Mee no Jiffa in a magazine in 2008. It captured my mind, as the movements were so much like what I did in karate without anything in my hands.


I was aware of a variety of Okinawan ways of defense with a variety of items which could be held in the hands, from knuckle dusters, fishing net floats and hairpins.

I have seen their use in Okinawan kobudo referred to with different names. Tichu, Tikko and Jiffa. They may mean different things, of perhaps just different spellings of the same concept, a small hand held stick that may have had its origins in Okinawan Hairpins.
 Tekko Teko, Tikko, Ticchu

My friend Mario McKenna put it this way.
Tikko is a versatile weapon that really needs no independent kata of it's own like Maezato no Tikko that we use in Ryukyu Kobudo. So, using another form like Sesan will undoubtedly work.

The way I learned it from Minowa sensei, you're essentially delivering a vertical fist strike with the Tikko acting as a force multiplier. The only caveat is that the strike is vertical and doesn't use the two primary knuckles for impacting. Because you're using the Tikko, the fist impacts flat onto the target (a big "no no" in Karatedo) . The other point is that the thumb rests on top of the handle of the Tikko to stabilize it.

But having no access to such items I began thinking and developed my own answer. I came up with two sticks to be held in my hands, and with some hemp wound around them for purchase.
One of my students made a set of sticks for our group to use. Ones with two holed drilled in them, and then twine through the holed, the idea was to use them looped over the middle finger. However in practice that was too complicated and it was easier to just hold them with that twine for better purchase.
I did studies with my Senior students using those sticks, we all felt they offered greater striking power. Then in time those studies were set aside for newer studies. The sticks moved to the bottom of my bag.
I was not attempting to re-create anything, rather develop an effective answer for myself. There were things which were much enhanced, and at the same time there were things which were more awkward at first use.
The most obvious use would be striking the side of the head or into the neck.

Or into the arm and even the ribs or groin.


But fate has a role in their use, and in time I became disabled, weaker, more unsteady on my feet. I had to work to find out how to do what I already knew. The only range that was sure for me was up close and personal, but at the same time being slower that made my choices more difficult.


I could no longer strike with much power, and increased practice no longer yielded increases results.


Then I remembered those sticks. An old memory and they were hanging out in the bottom of my equipment bag.


So I observed various ways they were used in different kata.

I tried those techniques out.


I had a variety of motions from many martial studies to use too.


Slowly I worked out a training plan.

The use of those sticks meant I could strike with more power than my former karate technique allowed. For one thing, the sticks did not feel pain.


I could use them in a wide variety of ways.


1. I could use them with my Yang Tai Chi,

or with my Yang Tai Chi Sword form.

2. I could perform all of my kata with those sticks.

3. I could perform my basic tjimande drills with the sticks

for greater effectiveness.

4. I could imitate movements from various kata such as tekko and jiffa.

5. It made my Bando Short Stick available for me to use.

6. I could even craft short kata using a variety of strikes.


There was no limit to the ways I could use them.


They can be simply held in a pocket.

When held in your hands are mostly unnoticed.

If necessary a quick flip of your hands allows you to discard them,

and they are so low cost their loss is negligible.


After all We Must Speak Softly

(and my disabilities make speech a real issue)

And Carry a Short Stick.