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#107037 - 01/05/05 08:35 PM . One interpretation of the Isshinryu as opposed to an interpretation of the Soken Ma
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Kata or in this case Ďform in its essenceí not its particular. One interpretation of the Isshinryu as opposed to an interpretation of the Soken Matsumura Seito.

Occasionally I and Multiversd have differences of opinion. The reason I post is to both learn and critically re-examine my own thinking and expression of my studies. Iím not in this for followers, new students or critical approval of anyone, all I can do is express what Iíve seen, believe and practice.

Iím not in disagreement with Multi, an exponent of Matsumura Seito, having strong opinions, I have strong opinions myself. Sometimes ours agree and other times theyíre opposite each other. While I hope his training is as strong as any that exists in the world and his instructors, friends and brother are even more competent than he has expressed, I certainly work as hard to make my own the same.

I do not represent Isshinryu, while Isshinryu is a core art I practice and believe in, I only represent myself, the path my instructors shared with me, and the path I share with my students. On the other hand both Isshinryu in general and my own path in particular have been in my experience mis-interpreted by multiís opinions about this art, and rather than puff up my own chest, and say ďOíYeah!Ē Iíd rather try to use this as a critical exposition of my own point of view, and in turn allow him and others to share in the process, and perhaps we all can make our cases clearer.

In fact karate has a very long tradition about people sniping about each others teachings in Okinawa in the past as well as Okinawa in the present. Okinawa also has traditions about how before the rise of systems, people shared openly. Matsumura trained many, Soken trained Kashiba from Nagamine, Funakoshiís instructors sent him to many other instructors, many people shared with Tara, and todayís groups on Okinawan working together, are all real too, as much as the hard lines between people.

We canít prove any of this with internet words, this is only what it is, a discussion. Iím hardly anyoneís example of a showcase for my own teachings. Iím older, slower, much thicker and fighting arthritis, losing much of my past. And Iím a really rotten instructor for none of my students follow my path, theyíre all in great shape and some with superb physical ability. I apologize I canít show them the true way to become me.

Iíve taken a while to answer this because I first wanted to find out more about Soken and his teachings than what Iíve already known. So checking with a friend in South America who greatly admires Sokens simpler kata approach to the Okinawan arts and his long teaching there in the Okinawan community, and with a long friend in the American Soken community Iíve gotten a feel for who is doing what with Sokenís teachings. Iím not interested in anyoneís opinion about the inter-Soken group warfare that exists in that group anymore than Iím interested in any groups inner warfare. Suffice it to say there are vastly different opinions about who has what experience and knowledge of Sokenís teachings, and what the outer and inner teachings in those groups may practice. Not my path but interesting, and not my business to discuss further, which would be hearsay. But research gave me some insight to Multiís instructor, who is a very good martial artist and instructor. Which is no endorsement of their way, or that everyone in the Soken community agrees with everything, but just the reality.

But my issue isnít about the Soken groups, rather Multiís opinions about Isshinryu in general, and some of his statements in particular.

So for part 1 of this analysis, lets review some of them. Multi commented on my understanding of Seisan Kata, which I guess is in his focus as a holder of the Matsumura Seito Seisan tradition.

ďAs for Seisan and who Vic has seen- well who cares? Have you seen Sensei Lindsey, Coffman, Gingras, Nishihira or my brother or me? Nope. So you can't evaluate what the "strongest" and best Seisan is until you've seen many other stylists.Ē

Interesting comment. Of course in turn I could say have you seen Tom Lewis, Charles Murray, Reese Rigby, Sherman Harrill, Carl Long, Tris Sutrisno or me or my students? Oooops, perhps theyíre better? Perhaps notÖand is it germane to the issue, which Seisan tradition is stronger?

Letís see I do my variation on the Isshinryu Seisan, Iíve studied Seisan with Carl Long (Nash/Shimabuku Ezio tradition), I do Hangetsu (Shotokan Seisan in the Sutisno Lineage), I do Uechi Seisan, I have on tap about 20 different Seisan video from Japan and Okinawa, and much more material. Iíve seen Seisan from Tomari, Goju, outside of one of the strongest Hiagonna M., and much of the Merriman/Martin lineage in the states, Uechi (which may be the most brutal by overt technical content in my little experience), various Shorin traditions, and even part of Motobuís Seisan tradition. Now perhaps Iím truly not qualified to evaluate whatís the Ďstrongestí and Ďbestí, but then who is, someone who practices one?

But then again critically examining Seisan is more than just moves. For sheer performance when I was competing in open tournaments in region 10 in the 80ís I regularly saw Seisan performed in the Soken tradition in Pennsylvania. The people I saw ran good, clean forms, certainly better than I was, but not necessarily better than I was working towards. I couldnít examine better from competition, and outside of recognizing they were doing Seisan, my own studies were enough to keep my focus. Outside of being friends I had no room for critical analysis.

Here in New Hampsire, a few years ago Iíve held a New England exploration into Seisan-ness, much of that information gathered for that group, trying to determine the underlying Seisan tradition, not in words, but by stepping on the floor experiencing the shape of the various versions.

And of course the kata is much, much more than the punch, the step of the pattern. I intend to close this exercise trying to describe a bit of what I find in Seisan practice in my Isshinryu. I really want to share whether I have an knowledgeable opinion about what I write or not.

Multi then shifts to another issue, ďGood passive-aggressive act Victor. I won't be sending you that detailed and very astute article based on modern science and Orthopedics that you originally had. Go to med school, learn to draw and do your own. What you say is patent and you seem to jock a lot of people who mean squat.Ē

I only recently discovered he and I had much the same discussion word for word in 2001 on Yes I recollect he did send me an article and I passed it to Dr. Harper, who did remark it was well researched, but with any number of computer crashes, and over 20 feet of notebooks of internet discussion and martial research material in the library I canít say where a copy may or may not be. On the whole such material has no place for an impact in my studies. I find with good material that I see a place for it often takes me 5 years to fit it into my research, and on the whole I guess what he sent didnít fit my needs. Sorry.

But Multi continues, ďAnyway that Isshin fist form is WRONG (as is the full-twisting punch). Every decent Okinawan karate-ka knows this. It doesn't even make biomechanical or anatomical sense. Just like the Wing Chun punch with the last knuckles. Plain stupid and potentially injurious.Ē

ďIf you had a memory or read what I sent you you'd know this. ď

As Iíve discussed more fully I disagree with his informed medical opinion. First its based on either incomplete observation of Isshinryu with no structural knowledge of how the system works, or from an opinion with someone who has a little Isshinryu experience but not enough real training to understand.

I donít make that claim lightly. No one who practices an art does so to injure themselves. The sheer fact tens of thousands have practice Isshinryu in the past 50 years and still use the vertical striking technique without significant issue proves the point. If it was dangerous to use, there would be statistical evidence of such. And the issue who hits hardest isnít a structural issue, but a deeper mechanics issue than his structural knowledge addresses. Perhaps Matsumura Seito only addresses the strike as a flat impact mechanism so itís beyond their knowledge. Canít say, Iíll try and address some of my deeper concerns in the Seisan section.

Now as for every decent Okinawan karate-kaís opinions, frankly who gives a darn. Opinions fly about everything. Shimabuku Tatsuoís vision left Okinawa. Almost all of the Okinawanís bolted when he formed Isshinryu. They didnít want changes and they didnít want to associate with the Americansí who destroyed so many of the families. In that they are right to their own opinions, but Iíd hardly call them knowledgeable about Isshinryu, not taking the time to truly accept their instructorís vision.

Remember Okinawa clings to opinions like Goju Sanchin will cause an early death, ignoring the ravages of war that affected some people, and the obvious fact there were and are Goju seniors living into their 90ís. Okinawan opinions are just that, opinions, not better or worse.

And whoís to say who is a decent Okinawan kaerate-ka? For myself, while I have a few opinions, I donít practice Okinawan karate or want to. I practice Isshinryu as taught to me by my American instructors from their training on Okinawa, and their decades of work here in the states. And I only train those who live here. What anyone on Okinawa thinks has absolutely no bearing on where we go. That was then, perod, not today.

The vertical strike in Isshinryu, itself, came out of Kyan Senseiís teachings and Isshinryuís founder choose to focus on that for his primary striking mechanism. As Isshinryu was expressed to my instructors, there is a minor role for the twisting punch as an advanced exercise. Now as the Isshinryu vertical strike is a simple name for a much more complex strike, which can and does cant as required for the target, there are places it strikes in that ĺ tradition as well as the ľ tradition, and other variations. The main difference is that there is no twisting of the arm from chamber to the strike, and my Isshinryu takes full advantage of that chamber.

I didnít take the time ask my friends about this, or do I recall what Iíve seen at this moment, to notice whether Matsumura Seito turns the arm during striking or chambers. Perhaps Iíll throw on my Soken tapes and see what he does, not really germane to what Isshinryu does however, just may help understand why Multi thinks what he does.

Multi continues more with: ďYou would have learned things more important than training with some Indonesian Shotokan guy, who did Penche Silat and Siddhartha leg fighting. Isshin Ryu is a nominal style. Tatsuo didn't teach certain important forms like Gojushiho because he never learned them. He was a jack of all trades--- master of none. You are missing a lot in that style, regardless of who teaches it. Sorry, it's the truth again.Ē

In that I guarantee you, you are very, very, very wrong. Iíve trained and seen a lot of good people in different ways, the good are just that good, you canít say whoís better. Pound for pound Tris Sutrisno, Sensei and a whole lot more is unreal, both in his knowledge of his art, his bunkai and technique and his cat like explosiveness and balance. I see he does clinics these days, on his Indonesian arts, go and try him out yourself, say in empty hand, or kama or knife, or bo and donít listen to me, you wonít give my opinion any credibility.

He is Indonesian, he does Shotokan, his father trained under Funakoshi, and his training began at age 4. I will say his Shotokan isnít JKA, the roots are similar but the way they construct the inner system is beyond belief. You could train with him but youíre too old to really get it, as was I. You could get a great deal, and so could everyone, whatever he would share, but you wouldnít get what he has. I trained with him over 10 years and he shared a great deal.

Funny you mention Gojushiho, I guess you think that your studies under Sokenís is something and that Shimabuku didnít include it in the Isshinryu that was taught to the Americanís means something.

As for any instructor they can share what they wish, and with who. Perhaps he only did share a bit of his art, whatís the difference. Its what you can do with what you have that truly matters. I realize he did teach Gojushiho at one time and it is not in the American curricula. Big deal. He also created and gave them his SunNuSu kata, perhaps the most interesting kata created on Okinawa in the past 100 years, it contains Gojushiho, Patsai, concepts as well as ideas from other kata, and a whole lot of technique not in anyone elses.

So we could weigh Gojushiho on one side and SunNuSu on the other, but I think thatís irrelevant. Some people realize there are inner and outers systems of knowledge. I would characterize kata of a system as outer system of knowledge. Very important for long periods of training, but the inner priciples behind a system and karate usage are more, much more important. Perhaps Matsumura Seito doesnít get into such things. Perhaps some of us in Isshinryu got them from resolute study of our system instead of direct transmission form the founder, but if you move your study and teachings beyond mere kata, there is much more such as various mechanism of using your studies to generate power, and shape that power into the target. Iím not talking striking vital points. That has a small place, but the shape of the power you impart from your practice can make any kata the true key and all you need, except for continuing challenges of study to keep oneís approach fresh.

The Isshinryu system is complete enough, pure, for anyone. The late Sherman Harrill, with the minor study I did with him, reinforced that. But then the 800 applications for Isshirnyuís 8 kata I studied and work on, and the vast underlying principles just from him reinforce that day by day to me.

But we were talking the vast powers of Gojushiho. Well it turns out I and my very senior students also do Gojushiho from the Sutrisno lineage. I realize youíre giggling on the floor about Shotokan Gojushiho having meaning, but his lineage has Gojushiho, Gojushiho Sho and Gojushoi Dai. The last two are closer to the JKA versions, the Gojushiho he does, is much, much closer to the Okinawan ones. Course he does utilize some principles Iíve not see in the Okinawan training, but thatís personal.

As the story goes I was in Penna. When a local Shorin instructor paid to bring Kise Sensei over for a month to train his students, and then held a big tournament while Kise was there. I heard how Mr. Lindesy was there and apparently upset that Kise was not available for the Matsumura Seito groups. This was about 82 or 83 and I think Mr. Lindsey was with Kise at that time. Why he didnít stay with him is a Matsumura Seito story not mine. A number of years later a local NH instructor (then a Mr. Kise representative) held a clinic with Mr. Kise teaching bo, sai and kama, I and one of my senior students attended. I still have my detailed notes of those kata, but on our way home we both agreed that our own studies had enough to keep us busy and we didnít continue them. So I guess in some way Iíve touched the Soken traditions perhaps, or perhaps not as it were.

Bout a year later at a local quite traditional tournament (hosted by a Goju school) that instructor completed in the Masters Division with Gojushiho, and my Shotokan instructor was visiting and he competed in the same division with Gojushiho. They both did very, very good kata.. Nice crisp power in the Seito, explosive dynamics in the Sutrisno, and I have both on very clear video. So the Gojushiho I have is not the Kise one, and perhaps youíll say Kise isnít teaching the Soken one? Iím not sure, but as I look at Soken doing Gojushiho, I see it very close to that instructors.

Tris won, which means the judges liked him better. Truthfully I can say both were good for what they were. The Sutrisno Gojuhiho does not have the 'same' as the Kise one, but the Kise one does not have what the Sutrisno one does either. And in the end its what you can make do with what you have.

So I guess it comes down to I personally donít care what you think about what Shimabuku did or not, as I got mine. Yep I can be quite trite.

Iíll conclude with this remark from Multi: ďI will say that the karate I've learned under Lindsey is the most scientific and realistic I've encountered. He's does do seminars. Invite him to your school and see if you like what he says and if what he says works. You'll be more than pleasantly surprised, trust me. He does do the art of the Head of the Royal Palace Guard at Shuri after all . What he taught (Sokon) was for quick, efficient and effective self-preservation, not for prolonged fighting in a fair manner.Ē

First Iím glad Mr. Lindsey is that good. Thatís great for you to follow that tradition. Itís nice you make the offer to let me bring him in so see myself. On the other hand most senior instructors I know who are really working on their art donít really have the time to spend on searches. Iíve taught thousands of students for 25 years for free. At this time thereís no cash flow to spend on such a search, especially as the traditions Iíve studied have given me more than I can practice or teach out. That heís great, which I fully believe, is irrelevant because Iíve been more than fortunate to be trained by a whole group of great instructors in many traditions till thereís more than enough.

Course I might change my opinion if the Royal Palace Guard at Shuri had stopped the Japanese invasion in the 1500ís. And my Isshinryu study is also quick, efficient and effective self-preservation, so guess Iím naturally lucky I do Isshinryu (and a whole lot of other things).

So thus concludes part I, my personal response to Multiís expression. Am I right, perhaps not, but what I do works for me as much as I suspect what he does works for him.

But words arenít enough. As this began with a discussion on Seisan kata, it strikes me it would be worthwhile to pull together what I see in my tradition. Now if you check out Donnelly Senseiís site at youíll see his expression of Seisan kata. I feel itís a fair generic Isshinryu example. Not necessarily totally what I do or teach, but a clean reference to the system and what Iíll be discussing.

Donnelly Sensei shows the kata in 75 movements. At a very high level here is what I do with the system.
[note Ė this is not how I train people, these concepts cover what happens from the beginning to what is experience over say 15 or more years at least if not more into its study.] Some people talk about 5 years on one kata. I began with this kata 31 years ago and am still exploring and working on Seisan-ness.

Lets see the kata is first a study of technique to respond to an opponent.

Those techniques strike the body, arms, legs, neck, break arms, break legs, wrench necks, lever down an opponent with almost each section, contain immobilization locks, can instantly drop any opponent 100% of the time, and a great deal more.

Harrill Sensei focused on 40 distinct applications in his clinic to Seisan directly, and pulling Seisan technique from other kata studies he took easily have more than 20 more applications there. And before I met him I was doing close to 50 on just the first sequence alone. But much more than the raw techniques are the principles behind what is Seisan, and the wealth of studies there in.

For example one of our first studies is directing the student to use a signature movement in their Seisan, a unique way to use their body. This continues throughout their Isshinryu study for years, at a much later date other movement studies within the Sesan movement are undertaken offering new power generation.

When Iíve had outside students join the group, there are no shortcuts, they begin anew because this underlying movement flow is essential in the manner in which I undertake their movement application studies much later. In no way am I saying our approach is the only answer, it is just the way we undertake our study. Others in Isshinryu may be like us or not, if their answers are different.

This approach is to specifically generate the maximum power in technique that is possible.

Then there are multiple layers of study. The new student learns one method of technique execution, at intermediate study some of the techniques change and at more advanced study they change again. One way to develop a student is to teach the kata and drill and drill and drill. What Iíve done is make a few changes to build specific movement skills, and when those skills are developed, move on to a more advanced movement and later to the final version. In the choices Iíve made I believe the end result is better and faster.

Seisan in Isshinryu is following a very old tradition as the first study. Most groups consider Seisan a quite advanced kata. Isshinryuís isnít simplified, it is a very advanced kata and by the time youíre doing it a very long time youíve become an advanced karate-ka too. I just realized having students do it wrong till they got it right wasnít helping them learn faster. Instead they were working on dealing with doing it wrong till their body developed. So what I did was work on the underlying power, and gradually build them towards the original. Yet all the technique I teach is quite real and works, itís just different from the original.

Then the manner of blocking is both hard and soft. [Wonder where that came from, but its also true of the entire understanding of Isshinryu, that there are layers.] The hard being the original deflections, the soft being a different way to use the Ďblockí to draw the opponent closer for a quicker counter strike, a way which by the way is identical to the way the Bando fighter utilizes the stick in a moving wall block.

Then the manner of striking is both hard and soft, and a whole lot more. The structure of the Isshinryu fist, with the thumb on top is actually a mechanism for specific power generation that the thumb tightly on the side does not offer as cleanly. Oooops, that was what I was shown the first day by Mr. Lewis and it was exactly how Shimabuku Sensei showed him. It was Harrill Sensei who showed how to delineate between the presence of hard tight fists and the incredible shocking power of the Seisan opening fist from its softness. I realize this is just words, unfortunately some of us have experienced being hit this way, its not the same thing as the Ďhardí fist, which has some uses, and as far as Iíve seen is unique in the Isshinryu tradition. If others have it no oneís talking, and truthfully in Isshinryu most who are doing this arenít talking either. Of course my talking isnít explaining how this is done, that can only be done in person, not in words. But it is real, and is a different power principle.

The usage of that thumb on top is so interesting, beyond the simple examples Iíve talked about previously, it offers unique opportunity that those who donít use it canít do it. Do they need it, of course NOT, but it is part of our answer.

The method of stepping is very subtle. First stepping into foot locks magnifies much of the power of other in-close technique. Too often people just concentrate on the hands, and donít see the leg checks for force multipliers. Second steps are sweeps, potentially finishing every technique in the kata with a forced takedown. Every stepping motion is a crippling lower leg kick (either as in close stomps or Tam Tuie style kicking), the kick being a hidden hand (Ďkakushiteí in shito usage of Ďhidden handí).

The manner of turning can be just a turn, the opening to use a Ďhiddení kick exactly like most of the Seisansí use in the same place, the kick a natural derivative from the manner of stepping in the turn. Likewise turning most clearly represents specific appictaion against an attack such as a grab from the rear. The exact kata usage clearly shows how turning is always a counter to those attacks.

Letís see I havenít touched on so much, Isshinruís closing touching on that most magnificent of Okinawan creations, the Tora Guchi, or the specific targeting the kata shows for hard strikes and kicks, the multitude of techniques in the fractals of the motions.

What about the incredible power of the chambering hand. It automatically makes any movement going forward a counter from a bear hug from behind, the sharper you chamber the harder your striking to the rear. The chambering hand contains grab and yank in conjunction with the striking hand, moving the opponent into your strike. The chambering hand is the faster response to free from a grab with no extra motion. Exceptionally clean when done as in the kata.

Now Iím starting to cook. Next is the use of Isshinryu as Aikido. There are multiple aikido techniques within the direct execution of Seisan kata, but the most powerful is the arm bar, which actually links every Seisan kata in existence, the punching arm isnít for striking, rather the one hand grabs and retracts as the other punches, slides over the triceps tendon creating the arm bar, slamming their face into the ground. Of course the Isshinryu vertical strike is more efficient, IMVHO, than the other forms of striking, to be closely followed with the full turning punch.

So much so the arm bar must be the principle grappling technique of Isshinryu, there are so many directly in its kata, and with no changes involved.

Course I can show you how bagua zhang and its single palm change is in Isshinryu with super results. I can also show you how Eagle Claw is directly within the kata too, though no one lets me play with them, they like their necks too much.

Course those are the minor studies and principles.

More major are the studies on insertion. As in the angle of insertion to an attack. Most of the techniques are not maximized from the front. The beginning level of this involves slipping position and using the kata technique. When one become much more advanced the use of the knee release as a force multiplier allows you to reset the angle of insertion without taking a step, and using the technique to move them to set up the right angle.

Angle of technique execution gets involved, by changing the angle the technique is performed, different shaped changes from the strikes are presented.

The method of breathing and movement enters the picture. In the first stages breathing is natural throughout the kata. At advanced stages the difference between inter and intra technique execution is explored for the use in power and most importantly speed generation. [Slight digression here, our Sutrisino Gojushiho kata is actually one of the most advanced tools we have on the use of breathing and technique speed. The underlying principle is cut down the response time, hit Ďem faster, much, much, much faster, in speed there is power.]

Then the manner of movement is further explored. You can do Seisan kata directly as shown. At another level you can study the kata and its applications with replacement stepping. It offers different strategic opportunities. It is a way to respond to an attack that is coming faster than you anticipated and survive, and it allows you to do the kata in one spot without sacrificing anything, so if space is a premium thereís no reason you canít still do the entire system without moving from one spot and not miss a bit of the above.

But thinking of speed and movement and breathing and knee release and alignment, you can make all of it work 100% of the time without taking a step, ever, all of the kata technique. And potentially much faster response time with no sacrifice of anything.

Iím sure Iím forgetting the advanced stuff. I apologize as Iím not trying too, but Iíve never taken the time to state this, this way before.

Truthfully I donít know much, Iím still a beginner. Iím old, fat and sow and Iím not very good and I donít teach very well, and yep Isshinryu is a con game filled with fake technique and the punch doesnít work.

But if youíll forgive me this is just one of the studies I teach and study, for all of this applies to everything else we do too.

I donít care for titles or principles behind them but as an instructor I kind of think I have enough to keep me busy for a long time.

Remember this is just words. I donít do Ďclinicsí I only teach karate, step by step. I donít want new students but Iíve also never turned them away. I only teach when I can and only at the pace I do. If you want to see if I can back this up youíll have to spend a year or so before you can make an informed judgment about that.

After all this is just Isshinryu, and I really havenít given any secrets away, the secret is stepping on the floor, and stepping on the floor again, and stepping on the floor again, and perhaps having run into a gifted instructor or two till you get enough for your lifetime, even though nothing is enough, thereís always so much more.

So Iíve tried state some of mine. Feel free to offer more than some comments about forearm alignment. Iíd rather see what Matsumura Seito has to offer me, really I would.

I appreciate the chance to reflect on this. Hadnít thought about the hard and soft aspects of what I was doing before I began this chain of discussion.

And Shonuff, no Iím not explaining howÖ..<GRIN>ÖÖ

Humbly, your obedient,

Victor Smth
bushi no te isshinryu

[This message has been edited by Victor Smith (edited 01-05-2005).]

#107038 - 01/05/05 10:07 PM Re: . One interpretation of the Isshinryu as opposed to an interpretation of the Soken Ma
Multiversed Offline

Registered: 03/11/03
Posts: 642
Loc: Sa, Tx. USA
Wow!! That was a dissertation, man! Good post! You're now awarded your online PhD [IMG][/IMG]!

I understand where you've been, who you've been influenced by and what it is you know or do (to some extent). I know you're very learned and skilled and I know that you know good karate.

I have nothing to add to what I've said before concerning Isshin Ryu or any other style I've critiqued or pumped-up. I'm happy that you feel your karate and MAs training has been top notch and that there is nothing you could learn from the Seito practitioners. More power to you and good luck with it all.

The Isshin Ryu fist isn't faulty because it's vertical, it's faulty because it is not a punch you should use for most punching situations. A physician with no orthopedic specialization may not even know this, heck probably doesn't even know this. So there's the answer to that. What purpose beyond some hypothetical stuff is there for the thumb not reinforcing the punching fist? Makes noooo sense.

So are you asking me to convince you that what I do makes more sense than what you do? That's impossible, especially on the net. Suffice it to say that regardless of politics or stupid allegiances, Lindsey is probably the best karate teacher in America, for the kind of karate he does- the real stuff. The karate he does is some of him and some of others. He can fight for real, not hypothetically. He produces some very high caliber karate-ka and some some pieces of crap. The individual and their ability to adapt and understand has a a lot to do with that. In the end if you stick with it his karate becomes yours, personalized.

You mentioned something about your Sensei being in some tournament where other sensei of other styles evaluated his kata and other competitors. I'd like to say "so what"? You can't be serious about detailing some tournament results that points (no pun intended) to the Shotokan Gojushiho being better for the reals versus the Orthodox Gojushiho from whence it came. Tournament kata evaluations? Hahahaha!

As for Lindsey and his falling out with Kise. Yes he had one because Kise started loving the money too much, at the detriment of his system, and who he agreed to teach and most importantly, who he would promote caused it all. Lindsey was 100% right in that regard, but still has the utmost respect for his teacher's incredible fighting ability and for having taken Ron under his wing when he began his training in Okinawa as well as entrusting the presidency of Kenshinkan to him..

You also want more than arm alignment in order to be able to "feel" me. Okay how about Isshin stances are TOO upright, The knees aren't bent enough, the length is too short and all of that leaves you vulnerable to grapplers and leg kickers. Too much Koshi is used and they are usually oblivious of the concept of "structural" and environmental ki.

The thumb on top thing makes zero sense. You can use your thumb to strike a point like the temple if it's plastered against your fist too. That's not your aim with bare-knuckle punching. Your aim is not to hope and hit with just one or two thumb strikes to a pp, it's to finish things off with as few fast, furious and hard strikes as possible, preferably closed fist punching. You might hit with more than the first two knuckles, but if the majority of your strikes are anything goes, then you are not really a BB in karate or at least don't deserve one.

Again, there is no torque in the Seito punch. It's the the way your arms naturally are when your arms are held out in front of you, neither twisting in (horizontal punch) or out (vertical punch). Our "standing fist" as you call it is exactly the same as Kyan's. This includes throwing hook punches and even uppercuts. You can corkscrew them but why?

The vertical fist seen in other styles is fast but lacks stability to dish out sustained punching without possibly injuring the wrist, especially if you make contact to a hard area with the soft, flimsy last two knucles supported by the weak ulna. This is due to the way the hands and arms are built.

The hand is a complex and delicate machine. Haphazard training or failed understanding of this can lead to arthritis, nerve damage and long-term crippling. The 90 dergree standing fist IS tooo upright. Moderation is the key to everything; techs, principles, training and life.

In closing I'd like to say this, Itosu did not agree with Tatsuo (AND OTHERS) and his philosophy of combining the two "te". Here are his words:

"Karate does not derive from Buddhism or Confucianism. In olden times two styles, called the Shorin style and the Shorei style, came from China. WE CONSIDER THAT BOTH HAVE DISTINCT ADAVANTAGES AND SHOULD NOT BE ALTERED OR COMBINED. THEY SHOULD BE LEFT AS THEY ARE..."

I don't know what he meant by "we", but I'm guessing that the other masters like Miyagi, Higashionna and Machimura felt this way. So where does that leave styles like Isshin, Shito, Shotokan and others? Neither here nor there, again IMO.
Obvioulsy a lot of his students and his students students thought they knew better. They were as usual----- wrong.

As for the Shuri guard stopping an Army invasion. If they were of comparable numbers and equipped similarly they would have routed the Japanese. Maybe they just did what they always did with foreign aggressors, invite them in with no fighting. Why change because it was the japs?

Your responses were good and just what I expected.

Happy training!

[This message has been edited by Multiversed (edited 01-15-2005).]

#107039 - 01/06/05 12:20 AM Re: . One interpretation of the Isshinryu as opposed to an interpretation of the Soken Ma

Victor you stopped me dead in my tracks there, my insatiable curiosity seems to have given me a reputation [IMG][/IMG]

A very interesting and insightful article, especially fo those like myself who know little of Isshin ryu.

One point on which I cant hold back my curiosity though, is why you bother indulging Multiversed? I've given up on trying to debate with the narrow minded narcissists of the world, especially as this one in particular never replies to any direct challenges.

Infact it quite saddens me that most simple exchanges of information on karate kata seem to degrade into "your style does it wrong because its not like mine" and its not just MV who comes out with it.

Anyway thanks again for the interesting look at Siesan. When I finally reach a level of understanding of Hangetsu (give it a few years) i'll try and post my take on it [IMG][/IMG]

#107040 - 01/06/05 04:17 AM Re: . One interpretation of the Isshinryu as opposed to an interpretation of the Soken Ma
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH

I only have a few minute before work in a snow storm and then class but there are a few initial comments.

As I pointed out I could care less about the inter-Soken systems warfare, why, who or what. My friends were concentrating more on where the Soken based groups were going with Soken's teachings, and I fully realize a discussion or two isn't adequate, but I wanted to have some understanding, abet brief, of where the system is.

The example of the tournament Gojushiho wasn't about the competition or the judging. I agree tournaments are trite, but they were a rite of passage in the arts, and the issue was I have a very clear record of both forms. Frankly I don't see anything any of the Shorin Gojushiho of any sort have that's superior technique or execution wise, and frankly nothing there that's not in Shimabuku's creation SunNuSu. You made an issue of the form, all I can do is offer my opinion and some of my source, especially as you seem to believe knowledge is important behind desisions (ROTFLOL).

Now as for your comments about the Isshinryu striking technique, you're argument actually strikes me as valuable as the comments that the science proves bumblebee's can't fly.

I find it interesting you maintain your punch has no torque, but starts from the same chamber as Kyan's.. Let's see that means the punch has to turn from chamber to delivery, and to me that turn is torque, and that turn is the functional weakness of all such punches. Whether you feel you're ending place is better or not, the vast weakness to exploit exists to the skilled.

I truly maintain if you're 'theory' about Isshinryu's vertical strike had any creedence there would be statistical proof within the wider Isshinryu community from the resultant injuries. You're theory aside, where is the statistical evidence? You don't have any.

But your misunderstanding what is behind Isshinryu striking is understandable, you don't practice it and haven't been schooled in its use. Just because your schooled in the thumb is essential for the strike doesn't mean there aren't other answers.

And your examples of others using the vertical strike are missing many other powerful ones, such as Bando's which is very close to Isshinryu's but comes out of their weapons work, o'that's right you've stated you don't care about outside Okinawa, except to critize Wing Chun I guess.

Further more I really doubt the real use of karate is punching anyway, or the punch as a simple strike, except for beginners of all ranks.

As for the stance being too narrow, absolutely nothing to do with the way the art works. Stance isn't a thing to hold its something to move through. You continue to try and understand an art by its pieces, ignoring all arts are greater than those issues.

Now bringing Itosu into the argument is interesting, as he wasn't alive during most of Shimabuku's lifetime. The issue of Shoin versus Shorei is interesting, except that most researchers around the world acceptp that there never was such as distinction on Okinawa, and it was a device to try and communicate with the Japanese about the various instructors origins.

The delination behind the Okinawan systems development is more complex than most simple accounts are given, even than the pitfully few words recorded on Okinawa seem to indicate.

The development of the arts on Okinawa shows that modification is more the standard than innovation. That Shimabuku didn't get the approval of others is rather irrelevant. That it was part of the reason he lost most of his students on Okinawa is irrelevant too, the American presence had a great deal to do with that too. And Okinawa is irrelevant to most of us today as well.

The past is past, useful if you learn, less meaningful is you just repeat.

Well this is my short response, perhaps with time I'll respond more clearly. And no this isn't a phd dissertation. One can only describe their art, and I'll take mine over all others because, which suprisingly is as complex and complete and answer as anything you've thought to offer.

Let me make clear I think such dialogue is very valuable to both parties. I can't convice you and you certainly aren't armed to convice me, but this sort of sparring creates dialogue and that is always of value.

I'm not going to come running to your instructor to learn the truth, and you're not going to come running to me either.

But the truth, that's simple, it's always Sanchin, but in my case Sanchin the way I do it, full speed and with vertical punches. It is the true cornerstone underneath Seisan, both in theortical analysis, and the energy shape developed.

I admire many ways, it's just I rather know mine in more fullness.



#107041 - 01/06/05 04:59 AM Re: . One interpretation of the Isshinryu as opposed to an interpretation of the Soken Ma

In closing I'd like to say this, Itosu did not agree with Tatsuo (AND OTHERS) and his philosophy of combining the two "te". Here are his words:

"Karate does not derive from Buddhism or Confucianism. In olden times two styles, called the Shorin style and the Shorei style, came from China. WE CONSIDER THAT BOTH HAVE DISTINCT ADAVANTAGES AND SHOULD NOT BE ALTERED OR COMBINED. THEY SHOULD BE LEFT AS THEY ARE..."

I don't know what he meant by "we", but I'm guessing that the other masters like Miyagi, Higashionna and Machimura felt this way. So where does that leave styles like Isshin, Shito, Shotokan and others? Neither here nor there, again IMO.

What an assumption to make on the "we" part.
Knowing that Mabuni was a close friend of Miyagi he helped him to create his shito-ryu
by learning him all the naha-te kata's he knew. He introduced him to Gokenki and was an instructor in the kenkyu-kai. It was also on Miyagi's introduction that he was accepted as student of Higashionna.
Higashionna apparently only instructed him in sanchin but Itosu certainly knew of his training with Higashionna and learning the shorei techniques as did Higashionna knew he was also training with Itosu.

#107042 - 01/06/05 10:18 PM Re: . One interpretation of the Isshinryu as opposed to an interpretation of the Soken Ma
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Oímulti one, chatting Time!

Iíd like to first continue discussing the strike. Issues of which technique aside, having the most powerful strike is less relevant depending on how you choose to use it. Against the onslaught of a sudden boxing attack my answers are the primary target are the arms, exterior line of defense, striking into the sides of the biceps, or interior line of defense striking into the biceps. Assuming one has control of their ability, power punching to the body is irrelevant.

The interior striking into the biceps increases the energy of the strike as their arm is moving into your moving fist. Add to that the effectiveness of the Isshinryu vertical knuckles, the pain they receive is both shocking, and arm deadening, creating the opening for the best tactical response. Then the exterior striking is focused on blasting into the rear arm, the pain to drag their power down.

This isnít about one strike responses, but rather set up counters creating openings for further practice. There are several ways to maximize the strike from the exterior line of defense, where the interior lien of defense does not require those options. Working the arms provides openings to work more open target areas.

Even striking into the body specific kata usage into target areas on the front lower sides of the abdomen with the right opening movement likewise saps the opponentís power incredibly. Accompany that with the range of slashing returning fists and the concept of striking with greatest power is far less meaningful.

This does not concede one punching technique is more powerful than the other, but except for fist formation, the power required for working an opponent is often overblown versus the power required for working the right targets of response

In a separate issue I can understand the theory that striking was Okinawan karateís starting point, but I think it is definitely overblown for long term study. Any of the kata are so technique rich, and if one trains adequately you ought to be able to destroy any attack with any of the techniques. In fact if one spends a while working a kata, and cannot destroy an opponent with each technique sequence the kata provides, what are they really studying?

I have seen it suggested that simple power striking was the beginners focal point on Okinawa because, the actual environment really didnít need karate so something less dangerous was focused on in the class. If students of one school did a knock up with another school theyíd be focusing on less dangerous technique, where others could be far more Ďconvincingí and socially unacceptable to keep karate in the spotlight when they wanted their practice to remain private and uncontrolled. Course that made good sense for some of the seniors to enter Police work to enforce Karate was for the general good.

Still striking does not detract from the vast powers of the rest of the arts.

Now I realize youíre focused on hard fighting ability as an important aspect of karate. Yes hard fighting is a tool, but I personally feel it is far overblown. As a layman I still have some appreciation of the medical implications of really fighting. You could get torn up unto death, You could tear your opponent up unto death, or both of you could be incredibly silly and tear each other up simultaneously.

Personally the only rational moral answer of training should use it to never fight, to do everything possible to avoid fighting, and in those rational cases where only response is the answer, to never fight, instead dominate and end the sequence. I realize youíve been trained one way, Iíve trained and taught that way as well. But it took me a hard, very long look at the most accomplished MA Iíve trained with that never uses fighting as part of his tradition, Too unskilled, and instead uses far more competent tool sets.

It seems to me fighting as the goal, just reinforces fighting is the answer. That may be ok for movies and video games, but it really makes little sense for the real world. Now some locations are trying very hard to legislate violence away. Iíll pick a local one. A person killed another with a cross-bow in Mass, so the state legislature bans cross-bows, and everything else. In Massachusetts, if youíre not Billy Jack (removing your shoes) and in the course of a fight, even self defense, you kick somebody you are charged with battery with a weapon, the shod foot. Now Iíll do whatever I have to do, but codes of social acceptance are forcing change.

Many places will not rent to a school unless insurance is provided, and the insurers are demanding everyone be covered in foam rubber, head to foot, and for one violation, its not they wonít pay, they cancel your insurance. They wonít risk their money with your right to fight as you wish. That is more and more the controlling legislator of the future, the insurance industry. For example its readily easy to see all future students demanding you the instructor have insurance, and then youíre no longer in control. Not everywhere, not immediately, but a coming attraction nevertheless.

So there are many different tastes to training, and even if theyíre outside your experience or preference that does not mean the are unworkable. What is unworkable is there is a single right answer to anything, outside of the fact our time is truly gone, and the next generation will not pay any heed to what we say but do their own thing till they end up where we are themselves.

You know, outside of our wishes, there was no real presence in the past 150 years that made street lethal karate the need on Okinawa. The invasion of Okinawa did change that, the evil ones being our forces of course, from the Okinawan point of view, and still resides as we still control the island to a great degree.

Accept for antidotal evidence, where did any of them actually prove their technique so often they were the king. Even Motobuís one fight hardly proves much than that one event.
So if an art that developed in a quiet, non-deadly environment, with a very low crime rate except for those drinking and kids, is that art the most effective thing in existence the way they chose to practice it?
Iíll cleanly concede Sokenís kama with leader and fishhooks on the end does make a very serious statement. But as Iíve come to accept my Doctor friends point of view, if this point really kills, how many have you killed with it before I can accept your proof that it/you are as deadly as you claim.
Thumbing also seems beyond your knowledge. You donít hit one or two pressure points, I can show you how to strike into to the arm 100% of the time, never missing with that thumb, taking it out of the arm. And last I looked one driving thumb strike into the side of the neck at the carotid sinus as a quite interesting result, which I guarantee you wonít need more than once. In fact using Sutrisno multiple striking flow it becomes a very natural follow up to a quick vertical knuckle strike almost anywhere. But you havenít been trained in it so I do understand your reluctance to understand what you havenít felt or experienced. Course following Bandoís lead you can blast in with the vertical punch and then continue by snapping your thumb into the same spot, layered striking the initial strike weakening that area and the thumb scoring more sharply.

My next comment goes back to your issue that Isshinryuís stance is too upright. I totally agree there are many in Isshinryu that do not address the stance as I practice it, but thatís not universal either. Long ago one of my earliest studies that took was the ultra importance of using the Isshinryu stance correctly, and keeping the knees correctly bent, even before the use of the knee release mechanism, is extremely important. From my point incorrect practice of Isshinryu negates the beauty of using it correctly.

But I would take issue correct utilization of Isshinryuís stances leaves one vulnerable to leg grapplers and leg kickers. All stances are open if the attacker is using the optimal angle of entry to that stance. One of the values behind Isshinryuís stances are the mobility it can offer, and moving away promptly, creating a whole that the kicker enters without finding a target, and the grappler enters to find air, is the best defense, when possible. Course my practice isnít just one stance, one kata or one art. A large part of our advanced study incorporates the full usage of Bandoís short stick to all hand held objects. A bent paper cup, a pencil, a book, keys, a coke can, etc. all provide shearing force that most of us have with us al the time. If one really believes leg tacklers are the future, a fad I personally donít see in reality after all there have so little instances of wrestlers actually doing a shoot in real life, but whatever story one wishes to drive ones training, those shearing objects into legs and or faces, provide interesting responses. Not fighting, more like ending, rather quickly. And open hand response is hardly lacking. One of Isshinryuís Seisan ending techniques uses a descending sheering strike that can strike down into the eye orbit for the same effect, when one canít move away, and there are many other answers. Almost none of them pleasant to consider.

You know I was right, there are many other Seisan aspects I didnít cover last night, but I feel I did address a great deal of just that kataís potential. Consider another underlying principle, much of any kataís technique done in the interior line of defense works better softer and faster, instead of more forcefully. In fact the concept of stillness, or kamae in kata, from a fully Indonesian understanding, is truly viscous as you form your stillness as your opponent is impaling themselves on your kamae. Itís just a question of timing, breathing and alignment. The weapon found in stillness.

If one pursues deeper study of kata potential, you begin to find there are far more useful tools than a strike too.

Course this is all the Ďtechnique of no techniqueí, just words, not enough to share what it is to train this way. In reality this Seisan study is mixed throughout many different training principles and kata study, and drills, lots of drills up to random attacks.

And Iím confident that if youíre right that Mr. Lindsey is the best Karate instructor in the USA, why I guarantee you Iím a whole lot better than that. Thatís the only goal Iíve chosen, discover what the best are doing and work to exceed it.

Tsunamiís, Earthquakes, Tornadoes and even car accidents prove we are never really in control of our lives. We only really appear to be. How one approaches the little piece o f the universe you inhabit in this instances is the only true control any of us appear to have.

I choose to work hard, try and explain what Iím doing better to myself and see what that effort shows me, and enjoy that I am what I am. That fortune blessed me with great instructor role models in many aspects of my life, martial and else where, is fine. But in the end you are what you are becoming. And I have great fun with what I am.

May you have as much fun with whatever you
really are too.


[This message has been edited by Victor Smith (edited 01-06-2005).]

#107043 - 01/07/05 10:44 AM Re: . One interpretation of the Isshinryu as opposed to an interpretation of the Soken Ma
Alejandro Offline

Registered: 05/02/02
Posts: 940
Loc: Las Cruces, NM USA
I always enjoy your posts, Mr. Smith; very insightful!


#107044 - 01/10/05 01:49 PM Re: . One interpretation of the Isshinryu as opposed to an interpretation of the Soken Ma

Reading the thought provoking posts between Mr. Smith and Multiversed is alot like watching cross-fire on CNN.

Please do not take that as jest or insult. Both of these gentelmen are well spoken, very knowledgable of Okinawan history, the history of their own arts, and obviously well trained. I beleive they have much to teach their own students as well as others. I personally have learned a great deal from both.

I wonder if the two have met face to face. Taking time to train together and perhaps incorporate some ideas, or at least understand techniques a little better(the computer just doesn't do some things justice). I think that a very good "point/counter point" book, video or maybe seminar series could come from it.

Just an idea.


#107045 - 01/13/05 08:30 PM Re: . One interpretation of the Isshinryu as opposed to an interpretation of the Soken Ma
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH

I'm not sure that Multiversd and are a true crossfire situation. I believe he is an experience MA and has strong convictions, as in turn do I, and often take the opportunity to engage in discussion to strenghten my own understanding.

We've never had the opportunity to meet, living in quite different areas of the country, an I'm sure both of us are busy between family, work and training that will remain the case.

I understand you feel there would be value to our creating a video/seminar series on our points of view. The difficulty is if you are really commited to your own trianing, it is difficult to have the extra energy to try and undertake such.

I find the study such a treasure my focus is on my own understanding and that I can challenge in my students. For example I've trained with many people, but none of them cared about my original training. Their offer to train was in their art, and in turn I find I'm willing to share anything, but only within the confines of what I teach. The energy isn't there to do otherwise, as I only do it for free, and outside of my studies always costing me money, I have no financial or personal interest to share further.

Now in turn working on my files I did find the article Multiversd had sent to me a number of year ago. It is extremely well done, a very technicial study on the Anatomy and Physiology of the Hand. I can understand why the Surgeon in my program liked it. On the other hand I can also see why it was filed away, as for my current studies I wasn't a focus, regardless of its preparation.

Of all material of worth, I find it often takes me over 5 years before it enters my course of study, and much is still waiting in the wings.

But you should also realize our discussion gave me focus to look into Matsumura Seito in some detail, first to be sure what art was involved, and some context behind his discussion. In fact this evening I located a lengthy tape record of Matsumura Seito, Chinto, Gojushiho and Kusanku Kata.

Extremely different versions from the ones I know. But still technique you can either work or not work, as is everything.

And as always my interest in what I don't practice is more tactical study, what are they doing different, and what potential is there to mine, as they would do to my own arts in turn.

Victor Smith
bushi no te isshinryu

#107046 - 01/15/05 08:45 PM Re: . One interpretation of the Isshinryu as opposed to an interpretation of the Soken Ma
Multiversed Offline

Registered: 03/11/03
Posts: 642
Loc: Sa, Tx. USA
Thanks for the compliments. The "Crossfire" analogy was cool, but I'd like to NOT be Tucker Carlson [IMG][/IMG]!

As always great replies. I know you know a lot more than me when it comes to general karate, but I feel my understanding of Shuri-Te is a little bit beyond even the seasoned karate-ka. I feel that what I do is the father art of about 80% of the karate that is taught nowadays, and that includes the foundation for the "newer" arts specifiaclly, Shito Ryu, Isshin Ryu, Shotokan and TSD (old-style TKD/MDK, etc. included).

Oh and when it comes to "thumbing" do you really think that anyone was better at it than Hohan Soken? That was his trademark tech, and that thumb to the carotid works great against the Judo clinch [IMG][/IMG]!

If you want to know what old Okinawan karate was/is like, the I give you my opinions. If you don't give a damn then you may guffaw or say I'm displaying a stylistic superiority complex. Cool.

Again take it or leave it. It doesn't make one difference to my skill. I may learn some new facts about other systems, but I know the gist of most systems just by taking a trip to any local strip-mall McDojo. If what you do is for the reals, then more power to you. If not then you're probably not too swift anyways and anything I say will just anger or confuse you.

Victor I'm happy to hear you found the article. It is a very short one, but I think it explains some things that the average Martial Artist doesn't understand. did you ever figure out the old "Shuri Fist" quandry that sparked me sending you that? We like to train with the chikudon ippon-ken when striking to certain body points.

I'm glad that you feel you're the best traditional instructor in the USA. I was talking about old-style karate though, like the Matsumura Orthodox my sensei teaches. If you consider what you do to be kobujutsu ("old war art") then so be it. Many would disagree. Still I don't doubt you're awesome.

Oh and just because you are a peaceful person from a peaceful nation or culture doesn't mean that you can't learn or formulate self-preservation methods that will keep your family from starving to death (in reference to your hypothesis of why Okinawan karate was not a deadly art). The elevation of the physical and mental was highly valued in proper Okinawan society. See "Bun Bu Ru". Both were sciences and all-inclusive, before the concept of a philiosophical way or "do" was injected into the Ryukyuan psyche.

Good luck in the arts, love and life. Peace.

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