Showing posts from June, 2009

Can karate become taiji?

My friend Frank "Magpie" posed this question on the Traditional Fighting Arts Forum:"What i want to ask all you guys that do internal arts is this.

Lets say I practiced shotokan kata like Kanku Dai, Jion, Heian etc. etc. just as slow as a tai chi practicioner practices tai chi, let's say that I breathe in for blocks and out for strikes, all movement is slomo, there is no kime or any sort of tension the whole body is relaxed.

Would this have the same health benefits to the body as tai chi does?

If not why not?"Well, that's a fascinating question.

It reminds me of this video on Youtube of a karate kata in relation to which a viewer commented: "It looks like taichi". I answered: "No it doesn't."

USA Goju "Mawashi uke kata" done "slowly" - but it is nothing like taijiquan!

So you can guess that my short answer to Magpie's question is:

No - karate done slowly is not like taijiquan. The reason comes down to design, speci…

Genius and the "13 count" jo form

There is a jo form practised in aikido that is commonly referred to as the "13 count" form or drill. I do not know who created it. It was taught to me as a 16 count1 form by my teacher Bob Davies who I believe learned it from the late aikido master Ken Cottier, a direct student of aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba but also a student of Morihiro Saito who it seems created the current 13 count form.2

Near as I can tell from watching this form on the net, very few, if any, people know that it is actually a 2 person form - or more particularly, that it functions as a looping 2 person form where both sides do precisely the same sequence.

A video showing the 16 or 13 count jo form with 2 person application

On Youtube I see some people practising it with extra movements while some miss out certain movements altogether. Sometimes the movements are there, but are performed with the wrong emphasis.3 How do I know this? I feel that the kata's applicability as a 2 person set provide…

Which leads - hand or body?

Recently a colleague on the Traditional Fighting Arts forum posed this question and it gave me pause to consider.

My friend Shidokai wrote as follows:"How do you lead off strikes? I was never explicitly taught to lead with one or the other until I started my Daito-ryu training, and my teacher was very specific about leading with the hand and then powering with the body after. It was weird at first, as I had always naturally moved from my hips with the assumption that my hand, held steady, would be powered by that. This method actually started to make sense to me a while back, as it is slightly faster, hence why bouncy tag sparring can strike quickly without using body weight.

I recently saw the same thing in Kelly McCann's combatives training videos, however, he throws his whole body behind the strike. In the video below he explains that it comes from the back heel, but if you watch him do the technique, he's moving his hand first."The Kelly McCann video to which Shid…

More details: inverted knife thrusts in goju

Some arguments in favour of an angled nukite in seiyuchin

I have received many responses to my article "Details, details". Some of these have offered arguments for why the ura zuki (inverted knife hand strike) should be 45 degrees relative to the front rather than point straight forward.

Essentially these arguments attempt to prove that the nukite should follow the angle of the shiko (ie. the red arrow in the adjacent picture) rather than follow the angle of your front knee (which points straight forward - ie. the green arrow).

The first reason given is that the nukite could be used to a vulnerable region on the face once the head is pulled down; the region might only be accessible by a “sideways” angle.

This can work, but as with the gojukensha saifa, I think this is creating a different beast - or perhaps just making the best of a poor body structure!

Furthermore, in my opinion the primary application does not involve a head grab; the "sukui uke" (scooping deflec…

π, Lyoto Machida and other "irrational" things

The other day I was reminiscing with a colleague about high school physics. He was surprised that I could still quote the periodic table which I had memorised all those years ago (H – He – Li, Be – B, C, N, O, F, Ne – Na, Mg – Al, Si, P, S, Cl, Ar – K... you get the picture). “Ah ha,” he countered, “but how about π (pi)?” He could remember it to 6 digits. Digging into the recesses of my memory I surprised myself:
“3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097494459230781640628620899862803482534271106798...” (I think that’s right – you can check it yourselves.)

That little discussion got me thinking. π is of course the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It is an irrational number – which is to say it cannot be expressed as a ratio of 2 integers. Yes, we commonly see it rendered as the fraction 22/7. But that is an approximation only. π is a number that has unlimited decimal places; its decimal expansion never ends or repeats. I always found the ter…

"String theory": combinations and their effectiveness


In my previous posts I have dwelled principally on deflection, evasion and generally on responding to threats. However traditional martial arts techniques aren't always responsive. Often they are proactive.

In many martial schools this manifests in very fast combinations; attacks that are strung together in an impressive manner. Indeed, such "strings" are the mainstay of many traditional martial arts. The approach is to continue pressing an attack with such speed and ferocity that you overwhelm your opponent. In this respect I am reminded of a school here in Perth which used to advertise such a methodology on television with the slogan "Fight to the total destruction of your enemy"!

Southern Chinese systems (in particular the Hakka school) place more emphasis on such a methodology (eg. the chain punching of Wing Chun and the fast hand exchanges of southern preying mantis). The fact that goju ryu karate also features such "strings" of at…