Friday, June 29, 2018

One instructor's most important lesson.

My son was one of my students.
 He first was at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club when he was 3 days old.
He often attended classes as I ran them when he was little.
At 7 he as old enough to become a member and then joined the program.
I had learned from my instructors that karate was not the only thing he did.
Little League for years. Youth Soccer for years, several years of dance, flute were among his othe activities as well as school.
This photo was taken one time when Charles Murray visited in 1996.
After he graduated high school he was promoted to shodan,   Which was about the standard time for youth  promotions.
As he went to college, he continued his studies when he came home.
He was qualified and in time reached Ni-Dan.
He was a very good student.
Then life intervened, and as he was trained to do, he made up his mind.
Karate was set aside as he made adult decisions about where he should spend his time.
I supported that, it was what he was being trained to do.



Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Irimi - Usheiba Morihei


Budo the teaching of the Founder of Aikido

Usheiba Morihei


Irimi (page 32)


the principle of kokyu (*) timing to enter smoothly to his side;


-          be prepared to strike your opponent to the rear with your right hand.

-          In an instant, advance deeply to his rear with your left foot, keeping your right foot solidly based,

-          and simultaneously cut down with your left hand to his rear.

-           Step in with your right foot behind him without breaking your posture and down him with both hands.


-          When your right foot is forward the procedure is reversed, and you must answer to your opponents left.


(*) Kokyu: prana, the vital breathy of life, the universal current of vibrant energy.

Technically, kokyu refers to proper timing and a steady, unimpeded flow of power.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Discovered an old post I had made in 2000 about The Good Old Days

Postby Victor » Sat Mar 04, 2000 7:09 pm

The Good Old Days Part II – The Bad (The Terror)

I was a new black belt, had been one for about 3 months, and was getting ready to line up for my first Black Belt Sparring division at Jon Bonner’s Coal Kick-In in Tamaqua, Pa. The division lined up by height and general size. As fortune had it my closest match was Sam Shockley from Lancaster, Penna. At that time Sam was ranked the No. 10 heavyweight in the World by the PKA.

The Sam Shockley I knew from tournaments conducted himself like a true gentleman. But he could be a terrifying one too. I had previously seen him leap into the air with a marvelous jump spin back kick over his opponents head.

Several weeks before my first tournament I read how Sam knocked out one of my seniors, Reese Rigby, no mean fighter in his own right. At that tournament Sam misjudged a jump spinning wheel kick and hit Reese in the neck, knocking him out. True, as it was non-concact Reese won the fight, but he was also on the ground.

About 6 months before this fated match I saw Sam fight at one of George Dillmans’s tournaments. He competed in both the non-contact and the Semi-Pro (full contact to the body – light contact to the head) divisions.

In his non-contact fights Sam drew a young fighter from Philadelphia who twice kicked him in the groin. The non-contact divisions allowed no groin kicks to score. After the second contact the competitor was disqualified, and although more than a little pressed, Sam conducted himself as controlled warrrior.

In the Semi-Pro divion, they drew each other for their second fight. Once again the young man drove a rising front kick into Sam’s Groin. Sam chose to simply step outside of the ring and walk around the entire tournament floor to walk off the pain. Although not allowed, not a judge said a thing to Sam.

When he re-entered the ring he set down in his horse stance. The judge shoulted ‘Hajime’ and Sam lept in with the strongest side kick I’ve ever seen. He kicked the young man in the abdomen so hard that he was totally bent in two over and under Sam’s leg from the kics. When Sam’s leg withdrew he dropped to the floor screaming. Personally I thought he was dying, but later realized he was trying to shout he pain away.

Well the fight eventually continued and Sam one as the young man’s wind was completely out of his sails at that time.

I guess one doesn’t kick Sam Shockley in the groin and think it won’t be noticed.

Now it was my time, my first Black Belt fight, and my opponent was Sam Shockley.

All of this was going through my head as I was waiting to compete.

I remember entering the ring opposite him, Rei-ing getting set and participating in a very quick warm up exercise with Sam. I began to attack and he nailed me. Then he blew through my defenses several times and the fight was completed. Sam was very nice and professional about it. I allowed him to losen up a little before his next fight.

My friends came up to me afterwards and remarked that they never saw anyone turn so white and trembling before they stepped into the ring..

Perhaps not, but then they weren’t the ones stepping out with Sam.



Saturday, June 23, 2018

Just a small point

Just a small point, I realize how little about the martial arts I really know. I have been fortunate to have associated with so many superior instructors over my years. Each of them far exceeding whatever I had, I have just tried to keep my mind open and keep learning, that is the truth to this day.
I also have been fortunate to have had students who also exceeded my own poor abilities. I am forever walking in the shadow all of them cast.

Charles Murray and me when I visited him in Tampa Florida in 1980 for training.

Charles Murray and me when I visited him in Tampa Florida in 1980 for training.

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Dynamic Sphere and Alignment

As time passed and I experienced more things I began to see how all the arts, while different, were also inter-related.


My earliest training was Isshinryu karate since 1974.
Then I studied Yang Tai Chi Chau since 1979.
Followed closely by Sutrisno Shotokan, Aikido and Tjimande over 10 years.
And there were many other studies of shorter duration.

One time during my initial Isshinryu instruction, my instructor, Dennis Lockwood, was going to use me as his uke. What he was going to do was a hip throw during the demonstration. When he first practiced it with me, and he went to do it, a course on wrestling I took in college kicked in and instead of being thrown, I lowered my center below his and he was the one thrown.


I much later  realized what happened. The middle of a technique is the exact instant it can be reversed. Then when I lowered my center his attack was reversed and worked against him. Of course it was not my intention to throw him, I am sure I was as surprised as he was. But it did teach me something useful too.


Back in my beginning years I purchased a copy of “Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere”.

I was not or have ever been an aikido-ka. But years later learned some aikido that was shaped for karate instruction. Covering many of the aikido basics integrated with karate.

Eventually I remembered that book on my shelf, and discovered the aikido I studied allowed me to work many of those techniques. This was well before the YouTube days where everything seems to be available.


In that context I learned some aikido, it’s purpose was more to train one how to use the space surrounding any attack and then to apply a specific response. That is why the skills I acquired made understand other techniques easier.


But that books many drawings of use of the sphere around yourself in time made greater sense.





An interesting Aikido example is this one, which also melds into something I was shown.





One of the aikido lessons I was shown by Tristan Sutrisno is as follows:





I believe these two examples show the way they are using the sphere around them.


One late night at a martial arts summer camp, my Tai Chi instructor, Ernest Rothrock, took me to a dark field and asked to see my tai chi. I started doing the Yang form I taught him. After a short time he stopped me and began showing I was doing every thing wrong.

He had me begin again, then with the slightest touch or tug, I went falling or flying in the direction he touched me. There were so many corrections, after 15 years of work I realized I was doing nothing right.


Then he stopped and explained what I was doing wrong,  First, beginning his own instructor had also waited 15 years to share this. At the same time, living a long distance away from him also had something to do with it I am sure.


What was happening is my body was not correctly aligned with each technique. Nothing magical, just I should have been doing what I was orignialy shown. But on my own practice, I did not notice small mistakes I was allowing to occur, and each of them opened me to counter-attack, or at the same time made my own tai chi attacks less efficient.


Then what he explained to  me was an alignment point framework to insure my movement were correct. It was extremely simple, and when I used that concept, the same light touches and tugs no longer worked for him.


I could feel the difference, and of course he then proceeded to give me hundreds of corrections. Driving the nail in how much work I needed.


It was hard to get to sleep later, thinking about what occurred.


After that summer camp I returned to my own program. Then I had one of my senior students do Seisan kata. He did it well, but after a time I noticed he was slightly mis-aligned by the concept I had been taught from my tai chi.


I stopped him, told him to hold his position, and lightly touched one of the alignment points as I had been shown. That slight touch unbalanced him.


I realized I was on to something. Using it I now had a better way to make corrections to everyone. From the rawest beginner, to the most senior students, it was a way to make them feel what I was telling them.


I was not doing anything but showing the correct way they were always shown. But now they could feel why it should be done that way. They could feel how doing it wrong could be used against them. And how misalignment could rob their technique of power.


This was not done continually, with the newer students to occasionally make a point why things were done that way.


Then as a tool for dans to understand how to improve themselves.


I learnt it for my tai chi, but found it useful in my karate instruction.


Then further reflection I came to realize every system had their own alignment. It became a way I could evaluate other performances, even ones where I did not know the form.


Simply stated if the alignment shown for a technique shown could be attacked because it showed incorrect, then that performance was less perfect. If they showed more alignment with their technique, Then they were moving toward more perfect performance.


I was not judging tournaments anymore, but I did observe what others were doing.


A small example. The newer trends were newer created forms showcasing the performers strengths. I observed many might place their power in their kicks, but just throw out powerless strikes, for movement flow. Those strikes often without power. Alignment theory heightened where they were incorrect.


 But further thought went into it. If they had weaker techniques because of misalignment, the flip side was those misalignment points were also the places open to strong attack to demolish what they offered.


I came to realize there were two sides to this tool Where one was incorrect to show where to strengthen them. But if one’s attacker as in any way misaligned that showed exactly where to attack them.


Look we aren’t perfect. Imperfections creep in, and in conditions extremis we are more likely to make mistakes. Which is why constant practice is a way to have stronger technique to work with.


So many different things were starting to come together.


Other things I learned over time.


One of the Sutrisno Aikido teachings was how to do a wrap the wrist lock to control someone by their arm. However, he also showed how easy it could be neutralized by just moving the wrist being grabbed slightly to the side. Then no matter how much they worked at it, it would not work.


That does not seem like much, but when I moved to NH, a friend invited me to a martial arts clinic. Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming was presenting some of his Chin-Na technique. After a time he had us partner up, My wife partnered with my friend. As it was he was having some difficulty doing the small wrist lock. And Dr. Yang asked my wife to do it to him so my friend could watch. Of course he did not know we had learned this from the aikido we were shown, My wife performed the wrist lock on him, correctly, and placed some force to it, Dr. Yang dropped to the ground.


An aside, later my wife took a 6 month clinic with Dr. Yang, and I got painfully to be who she did her homework on.


A number of years later we were hosting a clinic with Sherman Harrill, and he was showing how to do the wrist wrap on John Dinger. I gave John a nod, telling him yes, he should surprise Sherman with the counter we had learned. John did so, Sherman got a funny look on his face but immediately countered that with something else. Proving don’t play games with Sherman LOL. I then offered an explanation to Sherman what was done.


It turns out that when the founder of Aikido, Usheiba Sensei, would send out new International Instructors around the workd, the last thing he would teach them was how to neutralize the locks and projections they had studied, I assume to know in case some student got rambunctious.


I am not saying neutralizations are not part of Aikido. Rather at different times and in different organizations things may have been taught at different paces. For one thing the Tomiki Aikido had aikido kata neutralization studies as part of their art.



But in time I came to see how all of the above came together.


And the best realization I could use is that we are all performing with a dynamic sphere.

This is not something mystical.


Take karate at attacker surrounded by his dynamic sprehre, attacks an opponent surrounded by their own dynamic sphere.


The point their sphere’s meet is the same point  the attack moves through.


Anyone attacking is surely trying their best to put power into what they do. The defender is likewise probably trying to do their best in response.


Then using alignment unintentionally being misaligned probably means a weaker attack. When they untended it to be their strongest technique.


The defender also being misaligned means a weaker response.


Mistakes offer a road map where further attack or counter-attack would be successful.


Of if the attack was a grab, misalignment offers further opportunity for defense.


A simple touch of a limb attacked, draws the defenders body into stronger alignment, weakening the attack in the process.


Simple examples for what is a dynamic process to acquire.


We are within that Dynamic Sphere, no matter what our art.







Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Bushi No Te Isshinryu Rank Standards

Now concerning Bushi No Te Isshinryu, I am no longer in charge.

Over the years for various reasons I adapted the following rank structure,

I was still primarily and Isshinryu program, that always my core.


But I addressed issues like:


1. Supplementary kata for beginning youth, to slow down what they had to learn, and build stronger skills for their eventual Isshinryu studies.

2. The requirements were the standard for everyone, but adults tended to move through the beginning kata as a faster pace.

3. I incorporated various mandatory supplemental kata from numerous systems so long term students could gain a larger understanding of what other systems did, in part.

4. I squarely face the reality that my students had friends in many other karate programs and their friends were black belts often after 2 years. So I reset the youth ranks, adopting junior black belts. That did not change the youth time to reach full shodan, which remained 7 to 9 years. It also did not increase the number of students remaining training either. Just a small acknowledgment of what they were accomplishing.

5. Kobudo training was for the most part something for dan study.

6. My own studies (senior) were not for others.

7. Instructor was not a dan rank, they had different challenges to keep their minds working.

8. Effectively there were 2 dan ranks, Ni dan and San dan, both lifetime studies in their own right. The day by their own effort determines how far they go.


 #  Youth rank    Kata           Adult rank          Kata source


 1       White         Sho             White                  Shorin Matsubayshi

 2       Purple        Kyozai                                    School Kata on Okinawa

 3       Orange       Annaku      White                   Shorin Kyan

 4       Yellow        Seisan         Yellow                  Isshinryu

 5       Blue            Saifa           Yellow                  Goju Ryu

 6       Green         Seiunchin   Yellow                  Isshinryu

 7       Brown        Naifanchi   Blue                     Isshinryu

 8       Brown        Wansu        Blue                     Isshinryu

 9       Jr. Black 1 Chinto        Green                   Isshinryu

10      Jr. Black 1           Lung Le Kuen Brown            Pai Lum

11      Jr. Black 2           Kusanku    Brown                  Isshinryu

12      Jr. Black 2 Nijushiho   Brown                  Shotokan

13      Jr. Black 3           SunNusu    Brown                  Isshinryu

14      Jr. Black 3           Sanchin      Brown                  Isshinryu

15                         Bando Staff         Brown*      Bando

16                         Bando Stick 1      Brown*      Bando

17                         Bando Stick 2      Black 1      Bando

18                         Matzan Tildur     Black 1       Tjimande

19                         Kusanku Sai       Black 2       Isshinryu

20                         Tokomeni No Kon Black 2    Isshinryu

21                         Urashie no Bo     Black 2      Isshinryu

22                         Wansu No tonfa  Black 2      Victor

23                         Chantan Yara no Sai 

Black3        Isshinryu

24                         Shi Shi No Kon no Dai

                                                          Black 3       Isshinryu

25                         “Chia Fa” tonfa  Black 3        Isshinryu

26                         Gojushiho            Black 3       Isshinryu

27                         Tanto Drills         Instructor   Sutrisno

28                         Kama Drill          Instructor   Victor

29                         Chosen No Kama Sho

                                                          Instructor   Sutrisno

30                         Chosen No Kama Dai

                                                          Instructor   Sutrisno

31                         Tomari Rohai     Senior         Shorin

32                         Aragaki Sochin   Senior         Shorin

33                         Seipai                   Senior         Goju

34                         Yang Tai Chi Chaun

                                                          Senior         Yang

35                         Yang Tai Chi Sword

                                                          Senior         Yang

35                         Bassai Dai            Optional     Shotokan

36                         Suparimpei                   Optional     Goju

37                         Sanchin               Optional     Ueichi

38                         Seisan                  Optional     Ueichi