Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Real Lessons

Over the years there are more than a few things that had to be experienced to be believed. I am going to suggest a few of them I lived through.



1. One day at a summer camp we used to hold my friend Ernest Rothrock, an instructor in many Chinese arts (today focused on Wu Tai Chi, Yang Tai Chi and Faan Tzi Jing Jow Pai)  asked me to be his demonstration partner.


Now that was always an experience with him, but I agreed.


Then he asked me to strike at him with a hooking punch. And I did  so. But he just lifted his hands, so my strike hit them first. There was intense pain.


Of course then he started laughing and asked me if I couldn’t hit harder than that.


So I struck at him as hard as I could and again he just raised his hands in a vertical position, I struck into them with my hooking strike. Again more intense pain.


I never forgot that,


What occurred was I was striking into his unmoving vertical palms with the interior of my arm. Those strikes drove his hands into the softer areas of my arm, and hit an area that cause pain. And the harder I struck the harder I was striking myself.


In time I discovered many applications for that knowledge gained the hard way.



2. Then one day I learned how to fly. I was working with Tristan Sutrisno, a Shotokan, Aikido, Tjimande instructor, where in 1983 we were preparing a demonstration fight. In the course of the fight I caused him to take to the floor and I went to stomp him,


Instead he performed a middle finger strike from the floor, directly into the point between my testes and my anus. A place where there is not much muscular protection.



I learned how to fly, receiving great pain from his strike.

The Chinese designation of that point. I believe the Hui Yin point, is 1/2 between the testes and the anus, and is an extremely sensitive area;
 Pronounced Who Yin
  • The Hui Yin is an acupuncture point known as CV-1 located at the perineum between your anus (rectum) and your genitals (see diagram page 18)
  • The Hui Yin is also known as the root chakra
  • The Hui Yin position connects the energy channels from the root chakra (earth energy) of your body and closes the perineum to prevent energy from escaping your body
  • Contracting the Hui Yin allows energy (also called Ki, Chi, Prana, Huna, Ka) to flow through your energy channels in a complete circuit
Another lesson not to forget.
3. When in 1984 I was soon moving to New Hampshire, I received another lesson from him. Again I was with his students at another demonstration, for one of his students opening a new school.

While we were warming up he was trying to make a point to one of his senior students.. whereby he turned toward me and asked me to step in and strike him.



I started doing so, knowing I was sure to be on the receiving end of something painful.



Instead he disappeared before my eyes, no longer before me. Then I felt his weight standing on my shoulders.


He hopped off me and flipped a side kick towards my face and then landed with a grin.


That was a very strange feeling. The person you were striking towards ending up atop your shoulders. It was beyond belief.



I had no idea now he had done it.


I turned toward his other black belts and asked them what he had done. I only got blank looks on their faces. None of them was expecting that so they did not see what he had done.


There is a lesson there about observation.



And of course as the recipient I could not ask him how he had done it.



Over the next several years I came up with several different ways he might have done it.


A number of years later while he was conducting a clinic for my students in New Hampshire, I saw him perform a technique I may have seen once before in 1980. I knew then what he had done.


It was a different technique from what I had imagined. Somewhat altered from what I knew he had, done that way because I was a more stable platform. It used my forward motion to vault upward, using one of his aikido principles in a new way.


I turned to him and asked him if that was what he had done with me.  With a grin, he admitted so.


More lessons learned the hard way.


4. Again back to Ernest Rothrock. As the decades in his study of Faan Tzi Ying Jow Pai (Northern Eagle Claw) his ability to work the claws of his are improved greatly.


I remember a clinic in the late 1990s, where again being his opponent, he grabbed my biceps with an Eagle Claw control claw, and the pain of that grab was exquisite. And the grip let marks on my arm for a month, marks that looked like claw marks.


I observed how his ability to form his hand claws changed over the decades. Although there were subsidiary practices to aid that occurring, he maintained that it was the forms practice, with uncountable clawing movements over, and over and over as the main factor. Something people often to not recognize the value of decades of practice bringing. Too short term in their focus.


5. In time my own studies gave another reason. At one period for a year for a variety of reasons, the adult group shrank to just two of us (the program experiences ebb and flow, as even do students experience the cycles). But that allowed me to have the most advanced studies with a skilled partner.



I got deeper into my own Isshinryu and other kobudo studies.  I began to experience that most of the kubudo was not for practical study. (the exception being our stick studies)


Rather came to understand the stronger reason for the kobudo was for the force multiplier effect the training offered.


Again training for decades of work. When your strength began its decline for age reasons, the long work with bo, sai, kama, and tonfa, offered other advantages.


I came to realize that what was a very deep study with Ernie Rothock and his dozens of different Chinese weapons studies, was actually working as a force enhancer each different weapon developing different muscular strengths, and dexterity skills, all contributing to his Eagle Claw abilities.


The same thing was happening in our karate. When you did a downward block/strike with the closed position sai, it worked to add increased strength to a grab and pull down as if the arm was a sai. Increasing the kata application ability of movements.


Closed Sai, Open Sai, Bo, Kama closed and Kama open,  even Tonfa strengthening finger and grip strength. All of the kobudo a great force enhancer, One with decades of abilities to confer.


Although there was always more that could be studies, most of us do not have the time to do so. And the relatively few Isshinryu Kobudo studies were more than enough to do the trick.


6. The thing was their senior students receiving their techniques over and over were on the way to becoming great instructors themselves.



That pain receiving they experienced, allowed them to instruct with great accuracy. When you worked with them, they would adjust your strikes into areas that would cause greater pain, which they were intimately familiar with.


These are not the only lessons I experienced. Just a significant handful among them.

I have had just a many lessons from my Instructors and friends in Isshinryu, but I will save them for another time. 

We work forward and at times learn over our decades.

May time be with you.

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