Monday, October 29, 2018

Yet another example of extreme technique analysis

Yet another example of extreme technique analysis


This came to me in my sleep, for I never stop thinking of new ways to use what I know.

Something I have never used, but I would invite a student to step in and punch me

to demonstrate what can occur.


There are so many layers possible how to use a movement,

They are never fully exhausted.


This movement comes from the second row of my Isshinryu Seisan kata.

But attempting to describe this, I break sections of the movement into different pieces,

Yet that is for descriptive purposes, not exactly what is happening.


The attack is either a left foot stepping forward grab jab or punch,

Or perhaps a left foot stepping forward left grab.

So something is moving towards you.



1.  Originally standing Right Foot Forward,

Your right palm parries across your body to lightly deflect the incoming strike.

1.a. As you parry your right hip rolls toward the parry

Becoming a force enhancer to fully engage both sides of the body behind the parry.




2. Your left foot steps forward as you begin your crescent step.

2.a. This moves your center off center of where the incoming attack is focused.

2.b. Your hip rolls to the left as you are stepping.



3. Your left foot concludes the forward crescent step.

You step and finish heel down, first, then the toes of the foot.

The stepping motion is behind the forward leg of the attacker,

Calf to calf., which in turn becomes a bump against their leg.

3.a As you step your hip rolls to the left. Becoming a force enhancer to the step

Which has become a destabilizing factor to their approaching step.



4. While stepping the left hand swoops up becoming an open hand (palm up) outside parry against their incoming arm.

4a. Again, the hip rolling to the left, while a force enhance to the leg placement,

also becomes a force enhancer to that parry.

The totality of the hip roll brings the force of the entire body into play.

with both happening at the same time.

4.b. Along with this motion the right hand swoops down at the same time

into what appears to be a right descending knife hand block.

This motion increases the force of the left parry.



5, Immediately upon finishing the left back of hand parry,

You turn that hand over and drive the thumb into their carotid artery.

1.a. And as that occurs you also roll your hip back to the right,

Again using that motion as another force enhancer for your strike.


Then there are many possible conclusions.


I am just going to suggest one.

As that strike occurs your left calf additionally bumps their lead right calf.

That bump further destabilizing their body,

Making a fall more possible.


Any strike into the carotid sinus can possibly stop the heart of the attacker.

For the bodies sinus cavities are designed to register a sudden increase of blood pressure.

Then the heart stops beating as a way to drop the blood pressure into safety.


But that is when a strike such as this is done in a more perfect, stable world,

Considering they are moving in on you

And you are moving, at the same time, in on them,

The effect of such a strike is more likely to become a destabilizing force,

Making them a more stable body to work against,

because of that pain.


Remember all this occurs by utilizing one motion from Seisan kata.



All of the photos shown here are of

Charles Murray when he was practicing Seisan kata,

Outside on Okinawa.


They are not exactly what I have been describing,

But as most of my students Seisan kata are done head on,

they do not show what I want either.


I do believe these photos

Do give a glimpse of what I mean.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

About the purpose of my blog.

The way I taught Isshinryu karate, was based on the way I was originally taught.

Karate class was never a history lesson, there were simply too many other things to do.

Never enough time to do everything the instructor wanted in karate.


Following the same vision of my art, I only very briefly touched on Isshinryu history.

When a student was preparing for sho-dan examination I did share what I considered relevant history with them at that time for study. But there simply never was enough time for the actual practice of their karate.


Of course when you browse this blog you find a lot of articles on Isshinryu (and many other things of personal interest). I read all of them during my years, and in more that some of them I doubt everything is completely accurate.


But the actual way Isshinryu history was really transmitted, to understand that possible less than accurate transmission of some things, was what occurred. These articles are shared to allow you to understand how Isshinryu material was transmitted at different times. You need to understand what was shared in order to understand where the Isshinryu has been.


Of course time on the floor is still more important.


I want you to experience them just as I have and to consider what they present  as when I first read them. Then it is up to you to understand and consider their value to your own practice. There is too much editing of the past by others, one needs to see exactly what was being shared and then begin to understand how that information shaped opinion.


But your study already has shown you what reality feels like. You are well equipped to form your own opinions.


Years ago I realized I had accumulated literally thousands of karate magazines, some from all over the world. I also realized how much I would never have an interest in reading again. I saved a few magazines. saved articles ( clipped out) that interested me and canned the rest, piles of magazines.


The articles interested me, not which magazine they came from. Then I scanned many of them into my blog when I had a scanner. Then moving I totally downsized my library and most of those saved magazines. So you are seeing what I can always copy the articled into your own pc, and then blow up the scan to read it better.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Tai Chi Press

Tai Chi Press


I realize none of you care about this, nor will you read on. But I am doing my best to record everything for my students. Not for the tai chi, for they are not tai chi practitioners. Rather to understand the process I went through to analyze a motion, any motion at all. And perhaps learn something from that.


 At times things get so entangles that I forget how many steps I went through for each discovery I have made.


I have studied and practice Yang Tai Chi Chaun continuously since 1979, and I know not so long a time. When Ernest Rothrock instructed me on the form for 2 years, it was just that form instruction. Movements were impressed into my existence. At first it is sections, or poses, one learns.  And I remember postures that would cause a charley horse on one strand of the quadriceps, karate did not prepare you for the study.. But quickly you learn.


So many things which were different. Stepping, the continual flow of both hands and arms throughout the form, use of breath to consciously slow down. The continual movement of the head rolling through the form, the focus of the eyes over the hands constantly changing,The realization that tai chi was not a collection of postures, rather you entered the flow and then you left it. The constant demands of conscious thought throughout the execution of the form to accomplish all those things.


The study of Yang Tai Chi Sword. Where you had to do all of the above and control a sword in your hands as you did it.


Single Pushing Hands, Stepping Single Pushing Hands, Stepping and Turning Pushing hands. Double Pushing Hands, Stepping Double Pushing Hands, Stepping and Turning Double Pushing Hands. Too often just mentioned without the detail beginning to be discussed. Much more in depth than realized. Perhaps some day that might make an interesting topic.


I realize there is much more there, but this is what my studies covered. I was not interested in the martial use of Yang Tai Chi, and except for basic description, such was not what I studied.


Then time passes, a lot of time, Then one day Ernest showed me the remainder of the Yang Sword form, and of course life got more complicated.


A number of different things intervened. For one thing I read as much Tai Chi literature as I could find, finding the topic even interesting. I was especially interested in Advanced Tai Chi 2 by Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming. That book concerned itself with the martial applications of Yang Tai Chi Chaun. And while there are thousands of varying Yang forms, what was shown was very close to what I studied. I even showed the book to Tristan Sutrisno, who I was also studying with, in Shotokan, Aikido studied and Tjimande Studies. He looked through the book and was amazed, proclaiming “These were the things his father taught him.” And he did not do tai chi.


Tris grabbed a technique at random, and performed it on me (painfully), then technique after technique. I believed him.


However I did not run out an work on it, I had way too many other things I was working on. The book just sat on the shelf and became another occasional read.


Then I reached the point, Ernest changed my Yang practice, by dramatically showing me how correct alignment in my tai chi chaun works.  My form did not  change, but my understanding how, why and what I should be doing became greater, understanding how correct alignment increases the force of a gesture, or conversely how incorrect alignment could become a weakness that could be attacked.


Back to practice.


I was not teaching Yang to a small group of my karate students who each were interested in the topic. In a year they learned the form, then the Sunday morning group became more fun, getting deeper into the study. At times, for fun, I would randomly select a technique from Dr. Yang’s book and every time I made it work. It was an interesting time.


My own studies into Isshinryu application potential were progressing. No small part of it was something I learned from Dr. Yang’s book ‘Advanced Tai Chaun 2, the martial applications.’ For every movement he demonstrated there were at least 3 possible applications. 


Downing the Opponent meaning using the technique as a takedown of throwing technique.

Chin Na controlling techniques which could also project the attacker.

Cavity Strikes or where the technique strikes into the body for effect.


I explored this far more in my karate research.


Tai Chi Chaun for the group was more focused on those aspects I had studied.


I also was studying with Sherman Harrill and his incredible wealth of Isshinryu applications. That would continue for a decade.


After some time I started to get creative. At times on the conclusion of the tai chi class, a karate application would come to me, and of course I grabbed someone to try it on in slow motion, and of course most often damaging them in the process.


Then at times an the conclusion of an adult karate class a tai chi application would come  to me, and of course I grabbed someone to try it on in slow motion, and of course most often damaging them in the process.


Very quickly everyone suggested I stop mixing the arts at their expense. And for quite some time I did.


I was getting deeper in to the arts in which I had been trained, deeper into my own Isshinryu studies, deeper into those things I was learning from Sherman Harrill. So whether intentional or not, I began thinking about the tai chi possibilities too.


The reason I was practicing tai chi was not for martial purposes. But I clearly saw they were there too.


One of the things I saw was articles explaining the Yang practice of Da Lu. This was before youtube. Among the early explainations for DaLu was this one by Earl Montague

 I explain some of what I saw in Isshinryu contrasted with the DaLu practice in the Yang System here.


In no small part a portion of my mind was thinking about my Tai Chi.


I realize these musings are going all over the place, Of course this was what led up to what followed next. My discovery of the actual nature of the tai chi press.


When you learn the Yang Long Fist Tai Chi Chaun, in the beginning there are 4 postures that are very famous. Meaning tons has been written about them.


The Tai Chi opening postures


* Peng – ward off-intercept and control opponent’s advance upward  {1 of 4 straight directions}

* Lu -rollback- deflect opponent down and back   {1 of 4 straight directions}

* Ji (chi) – follow-apply force forward   {1 of 4 straight directions}

* An – press weight into opponent, downward  {1 of 4 straight directions}


One of the things I had learned was that even the most insignificant motion in karate could have devastating application potential.


So one day I decided to focus on the tai chi press, A very small motion within the Yang form. After you have rolled or drawn away from an attack, both hands beginning from the waist, have the left palm touching the right wrist and then both hands press into an opponent, done as the hip shifts to the right, supporting the strike.


Done slowly seemingly the slightest of motions. In fact the two hands hardly travel 1 foot, surely not for much impact.


So one day in tai chi practice, I ‘borrowed’ Dennis Driscol and asked him to strike at me in slow motion, for having an idea I wanted to see what it was like.


Dennis came in with the strike. It was a standard linear stepping punch.


I remained still and then stepped slightly towards him and performed the press movement exactly as in the Yang form. My right hand struck into his chest,


Dennis was most soundly struck and went down to the driveway.


I rushed to help him up and of course apologized, for I never intended to strike him so hard.


But still curious about what had happened, I asked Dennis again to step in and strike, Promising to go even slower.


Again he struck. I moved ever so much slower this time, And I hit even harder, almost to the point of caving in Dennis’s chest. That was not my intention. Enough for that day.


That being the first thing on a Sunday morning the remainder of the day I tried to work out what was happening.


Later that day I called Rothrock Laoshi, and explained to him what had happened.


Laughing he replied, “Victor, don’t you remember I told you never do that to your students.” Which was even privately funnier as we had not explaord tai chi as for martial application.


Of course I very quickly worked things out.  And it was supported by many things he had taught me about the use of alignment in tai chi.

There were a number of things happening at the same time.


1. When you use the ‘press’ your left palm touching the back of your right wrist in the execution of the movement, automatically aligns the left side of your body with the right side. This becomes a very powerful force enhancer.


2. Whey you execute the ‘press’ your hip (or core) rotation rolls toward where the press is intended. That rolling motion is another force enhancer.


3. Those two force enhancers working together make a more powerful strike.


I then began to work on just that subtle motion, rolling my hip into that press, using smaller and smaller motion. Quicker and quicker execution. I did learn how to control myself not to damage my students, but there was another key force enhancer in play. I knew my form, I trusted my form.


It was something I worked on for myself. A slight subtle movement with with I could surprise as opponent, coming seemingly out of nowhere.


My tai chi students were very good students, but the day came each of them for their own reasons moved on, leaving the flow so to speak.


I never did stop.


And of course I now had a new toy…. One among thousands of others.


Here is a demonstration I once did using the opening of the Yang form. You can see the press as I studied it. 


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Okinawan Karate Should Not be Changed


When I face reality in the eyeball, for most purposes my active years in Isshinryu are over. I continue to practice, study and everything else, but no one comes to me for training. I am mostly left with my memories and my quests to understand, uninterrupted.


That does not imply that the future ends, however a realistic evaluation of what Isshinryu participation is left for me.


Since at least 1870 that which became known as Okinawan Karate as been in a constant state of change.


I am aware of only a few books which talk about the earlier arts. Though I am sure there are probably more, just that I am unaware of them.


“Ryuku Oke Hiden Bujutsu: Karate, Bukijutsu” translated by Joe Swift


Translated by Mario McKenna A chapter in the 1938 Nakasone book “Karate Do Taikan”


 The book Mario McKenna translated


And occasionally some possible other sources, such as this



What emerges is that things had been in flux as to what became karate


Come the 20th century:

            1. Itosu proposes karate should be shared in the schools, and it was many times.

            2, Okinawa, a small island, began to have karate trained individuals move into Okiawan communities around the world. Japan, other east Asian locations, Hawaii and South America. Though their teachings remained within those Okinawan communities.

            3. Okinawan instructors began migrating to Japan, and began teaching Karate there. Especially in the Japanese universities.

            4. Okinawan instructors in Japan began writing books about what karate was and sharing their curricula.

            5. Okinawans were sharing their karate between themselves. This could have been an older tradtion, I can’t be sure about that.

            6. Okinawan instructors began a wider sharing of karate than done with the previous arts.

            7. WWII occurred. A huge percentage of Okinawans were killed.

            8. Control of Okinawa shifted to USA hands.

            9. About the time Okinawa became aware that the American control would end reverting control of Okinawa back to Japan, a wide variety of changes were made to Okinawan karate to resemble what the version of karate in Japan was doing.

            9.. There were changes many times from those who became instructors. That change, IMO, became more of a constant for a variety of reasons.

            10. I have heard most became an instructor, when the desire was there, on the death of their instructor. As a result of WWII, that was sadly too frequent an occurrence.

            11. The impossible occurred, some instructors began teaching American soldiers, and with little training time, when they returned to their homes continued to practice and then teach karate for their lifetimes.

            12, Karate became a world wide phemona, with no oversight what karate would become from what remained on Okinawa. Thus constant, continual change became the norm.


I could go on, however I believe you can see what I am getting to.


Styles of karate, now formed, but from friends who trained on Okinawa, each dojo for the most part was doing different things, no matter which grouping they belonged to.


The reality of the transmission of karate, you really only had what your instructor told you about it. From Kyan a number of different instructors formed different styles. Each one sharing some commonility and differences. Of course perhaps they trained at  different times, and in different places. But each had their own logic behind what they taught.


When Shimabuku Tatsuo created Isshinryu, he had training from a number of different instructors. Among them Kyan, Miyagi and Motobu. Different amounts of time, different places, etc. He based his style on part of what he trained in, part of his own analytic efforts from what he experienced, and at that, at different times for different reasons, he shared differently. Of course there is much more involved. When he formed his system, his instructors had passed and he followed his own conscience as to what he taught. Apparently always trying out to better his system.


He was a agent of change. He consciously choose to train USMC members, during their tours on Olinawa. Of course it was for money, the depression Okinawa experienced was severe. No one on Okinawa would have considered that such short time students, with so little training would go on to spend their lives with their karate.


Of course others on Okinawa, paid attention, and they too began to teach the Americans.


Then Shimabuku Sensei did as he was trained, Observing Kyan working out different things, he followed as he was trained, and continued to adjust what he shared with his students.


So different versions were received by his students, and they followed the version they had.


I am but a simple student of Tom Lewis and Charles Murray, most of what I am is just what I experienced from them. I am not the source of everything Isshinryu, just what my own Isshinryu has become.


But from what I have observed Isshinryu today is a powerful universe that descended from that single force, Shimabuku Tatsuo.


Perhaps very far from one thing, but by its existence, it proved so many different things Okinawa probably thought impossible.


. One man could teach a system of karate to short term foreign students, and they in turn would become a world wide system of karate.

. The original standard that what an instructor taught, died with him,  The idea that what an instructor shared could be a system to pass down to future generations, that was a new thought on Okinawa, not tradition. Shimabuku’s work proved that could occur.



It always interesting to remember Shimabuku Tatsuo was also an adapt of the I Ching, the Chinese book of Changes, used for divination. Which used the idea of change as the one constant to interpret the now.
In that is one way is life was so very much caught up in Change as was all Okinawan karate.