Hiki-te Bunkai

I haven’t done any video’s for a little while and it seemed about time that I did.  Unfortunately, my “partner in crime”, Keith, has gone his own way now so I enlisted the help of another friend, Artchi (yes, that is how he spells it).

So with Artchi’s help, we had a look at hikite (pull back hand).

The Russell Stutely Interview

Russell Stutely is recognised as Europe’s number one expert in pressure points and famous throughout the world for his innovative teachings, which have moved the boundaries of the martial arts  and added new dimensions for all of us.  His system can be applied to any martial art, so you don’t need to change style to incorporate his teachings.  He has studied very deeply how to use pressure point fighting in high pressure scenarios, so that they will work when we really need them.

Russell has kindly agreed to do an interview with me which you’ll find below.  But before you go on to the interview, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Russell Stutely for taking the time to answer my questions and share some if his insights with us.

But first, here’s a little clip of Russell in action:

The Interview:

CW:   Russell, can you tell us a bit about your early background in martial arts, what inspired you to start and what style(s) did you practice in your early days?

RS:   Like many people, I started Karate because my older Brother went to Class.. he stopped and I carried on. I started in Shukokai… stopped for a while and then started again in Shotokan

CW:   When you decided that you wanted to develop beyond the usual traditional martial arts (as taught in the West), who did you seek you seek out to teach and take you to the next level?

RS:   It was after watching “way of the warrior” that I knew there was more out there. I tried to study with all the experts and masters… but it was only when I met Rick Moneymaker and Tom Muncy that it all started to make sense

CW:   You obviously have an in-depth knowledge of all the pressure point (or some might say acupuncture points).  Do you also have a background in Traditional Chinese Medicine (or something similar)?  If so, to what extent has this helped you in your martial arts studies?

RS:   No background.. just learnt it as I went along

CW:   I’m a great believer that whilst you should learn as much as you can from others, experienced martial artists should also be able to work out a lot of applications for themselves rather than waiting for others to teach them every single aspect of their art.  To what extent have you taken the knowledge that you have and worked out the rest for yourself?

RS:   I have no idea to what extent that has been done… Only when you begin to understand what you are doing, do you “sometimes” realise how much you don’t know!
As regards working out stuff.. we do that every day…as for applications.. I have no idea how many I know as the only limit is your imagination and the depth of knowledge that you have.
I sometimes can give a whole seminar on one move from one Kata and show a different application every 5-10 mins for hours on end. It depends on how deep you want to go

CW:   Although you are primarily known as a pressure point expert, you include a number of other aspects which you refer to as “players in the game”.  Can you please explain what these are?

RS:   Technique enhancers.. the underlying principles upon which a technique is based.

CW:   There are other big names in the pressure point business (like Rick Clark, George Dillman and others).  Can you explain how your approach is different from the way the other experts teach?

RS:   I am more interested in making the Points work when the proverbial hits the fan. That means that PP’s are the last 5% of any given technique… some people find that a hard concept to grasp for some reason.

CW:   I’ve always believed that the ideal time to use pressure point strikes is during the pre fight build up, when you know that things are about to take off and you decided that your best option is a pre-emptive strike.  If the guy is “peacocking” rather than taking up a fighting stance he leaves himself more open and vulnerable.  Would you agree with this?

RS:   Only hit if you have to.. but yes of course.. a pre-emptive strike has to be the preferred option if there is no other way out.

CW:   Many people argue that pressure point fighting is not really viable in an all out fight as a high degree of accuracy is required to hit a small target when it is moving and you are under great pressure too.  How would you answer this?

RS:   They are doing it wrong are mis-informed about how and why Points work or have no real experience of Points other than with the wrong teacher.
Accuracy is VERY IMPORTANT and it is one area that many so called Self Defense “experts” purport to not need in a fight or is impossible to use… absolute rubbish. THEY may not use it.. aim small miss small. Accuracy is what you build up in training. Hit what you are aiming at and the rest kinda falls into place.

CW:   Have you had much feedback from people who have actually had to use what you’ve taught them in a real live situation?

RS:   Yes.. every day nearly from Cops / Security etc all over the World

CW:   I’ve read a comment by you ages ago that some people, having experienced the “waveform” and felt how much more power they can generate; then go back to their own clubs and just go back to the way they were doing it before.  How easy is it to absorb your teachings (players) into a traditional martial art?
(The reason I ask is that if somebody returning from one of your courses tries to do it in their own club and it is obviously different from what their regular instructor is teaching, they may be told not to do it that way).

RS:   The reasons they went back to what they were doing previously are
Instructor said do it my way or leave
They were embarrassed to tell their students that they need to change
They were embarrassed at the fact they had been training 20 years and hit at X Power.. then in 60 Mins we got them to 2X Power… bit difficult for some people to take!

CW:   You must have seen very many people progress and take great leaps forward due to your teachings.  Is there anybody who you are especially proud of for the progress that they have made?

RS:   All of our OCFM Coaches.. and lots of people who have trained with us over the years. Especially the Cops in MA and the DT Trainers there.. outstanding people with outstanding ability
CW:   Putting fighting applications aside for a moment, how do you feel that your training/teaching has helped you to develop as a person (spiritually, emotionally, mentally, intellectually)?

RS:   You have to develop in those areas when you study and teach

CW:   Do you feel that anybody (as long as they train hard) can develop their personal characteristics (in the way that you have) as well?

RS:   I don’t know if anyone wants to develop my personal characteristics 🙂 But anyone can develop to whatever their potential if they work hard enough. That is what we try to help them to do.

CW:   Many people teach martial arts as their main source of income (or even just to pay a few bills).  As you have been very successful, do you have any advice to give to help people build up their martial arts business?

RS:   Just follow sound business practice. Don’t take that stupid attitude of “I teach for nothing” and the holier than thou attitude of the “knockers” out there. The MOMENT you accept money you are in business. You MUST treat your students like CUSTOMERS. Give them the BEST POSSIBLE service at a good price.
That is what we do with our OCFM Schools.. we do all the marketing etc for our owners.. they just teach.. and give the best class ever each and every class.
There is so much to running a School.. but we have the answers if people want them

CW:   Finally, for anybody new to your teachings/philosophy and who may not be able to make a seminar, you have a lot of DVD’s/Downloads for them to chose from.  However, it could be a bit confusing (especially with the different players).  Which of your products would you recommend to somebody looking at your products for the very first time and getting confused as to where to start?

RS:   Start at the recommended order listing at my store.. follow it in sequence for the quickest and best results. www.russellstutely.com/ashop

CW:   Russell, on behalf of myself and my readers, thank very much for giving us the benefit of your insights.

Karate Bunkai Course: Practical Shotokan, Beginner To Black Belt

My Sensei, Paul Mitchell, 4th Dan will be hosting a special Karate bunkai course looking at the principles & techniques of  Shotokan Karate and applying them to realistic self defence.  Along with the more obvious punches and kicks, this will include locks throws and takedowns utilising moves from both basics and kata.

The course is open to all Karateka regardless of grade –  Beginner to Black belt.  However, there is a minimum age of 12 for anybody under 4th Kyu

Basic details are:

  • When – Sunday 3rd April 2011, 11:00 – 2:30pm.
  • Where – Wells Blue Sports Centre, Kennion Road, Wells, Somerset, BA5 2NR
  • Cost – Adults £12.00, Juniors £10.00
  • Light Lunch will be provided

To book your place please contact Sensei Mitchell at shotokankaratewells@hotmail.co.uk

If you are interested but unsure, then please look at the videos from his last special course on Gojushiho Sho kata and bunkai.  This will give you some idea of the type of teacher he is.  This course is highly recommended.

Kata Bunkai From Gojushiho Sho Kata Course

A little while ago I posted about a recent kata course hosted by my own Sensei, Paul Mitchell, 4th Dan.  Well they’ve had a re-organisation of their Youtube channel and the Youtube link in that posting is now showing as “this video has been removed by user”.  However, they’ve put some more up which are well worth watching, so here they are below.

They are all bunkai taken from the kata Gojushiho Sho.

If anybody is interested in attending a future kata course with Sensei Paul Mitchell (highly recommended), then you can either visit his website from time to time and check the “courses” page on that website.

I will also promote these courses, so you can either join my newsletter to be notified or go to the BunkaiJutsu Facebook page and “like” it to receive updates via Facebook.

I hope you enjoy the videos.

Pre-Emptive Strike: Modern Reality Based Training Or Traditional Karate

I am a big admirer of Geoff Thompson.  He has done a lot to promote the cause of reality training and is very much into keeping it real.  His training methods are often as much about how to avoid getting into a fight (not taught in many martial arts) as has how to actually conduct the fight itself.  Traditional martial arts generally teach you how to win in a fair fight.  But that’s the problem, most fights aren’t fair.  Sometimes you could be outnumbered, your assailant(s) could have a weapon and they often start from right up in your face without warning (rather than bowing first from a safe distance before gradually moving in).

So assuming that you’ve done all the avoidance techniques and the guy is still coming in and it is clear that the conflict is going to become physical, what is universally the best tactic to use?

Note, I said tactic, not technique.

In the words of Geoff Thompson himself:

“And if an encounter does by necessity become physical I teach and I preach the pre-emptive strike (attacking first). It is the only thing that works consistently. All the other stuff that you see, that you are taught or that you imagine might work ‘out there’ probably will not”.

And:

“If your choice is a physical response, my advice is to be pre-emptive and strike first – very hard – preferably on the jaw (it’s a direct link to the brain”.

In the Karate world in particular, people used to quote Funakoshi when he famously said:

“In Karate, there is no first strike”.

This has been taken to mean that we have to actually wait for an attacker to throw the first strike and then try and block and counter it.  This is a dangerous game to play.  Geoff is spot when he describes this as:

“not only unsound it is dangerous and extremely naive”.

It’s not so bad when you are in a competition and your opponent is just out of range, then suddenly tries to attack (usually whilst still maintaining full leg or arm range).  But in a street where somebody may be right up in your face, nose to nose, screaming obscenities at you, its not so good.  Also, in a street fight an attacker is likely to grab you and pull you around or off balance (a tactic that is banned in Karate, TKD, Kickboxing and some others sport fighting systems).

So why would Funakoshi give advice that would leave his students in a vulnerable position?  Well it is widely accepted by many now that something has been lost in the translation and what Funakoshi really meant was, that you don’t instigate or look for the fight.  However, when in a  situation when physical threat is unavoidable and you cannot get away, Funakoshi wrote in his book, Karate Do Kyohan:

“When there are no avenues of escape or one is caught even before any attempt to escape can be made, then for the first time the use of self-defense techniques should be considered. Even at times like these, do not show any intention of attacking, but first let the attacker become careless. At that time attack him concentrating one’s whole strength in one blow to a vital point and in the moment of surprise, escape, seek shelter, and seek help.”

Funikoshi is clearly talking about a pre-emptive strike.  He recommends that you strike a “vital point” which is not so different from Geoff Thompson recommending that you strike the jaw as it has a direct link to the brain.  He was trained for reality, not competition.  This is the part that has been overlooked in the way that so many people have trained for a number of decades.  I believe that this is largely because Karate has been dumbed down (see my 5 part video course if you haven’t already) and the fact that for such a long time Karate has been interpreted through the eyes of competition fighters.

Geoff Thompson and the other modern reality based martial arts teachers are not the first ones to train this way.  Clearly the old Okinawan masters did too.  However, after decades of being dumbed down for social and political reasons, Geoff and the other masters of reality based training have helped to bring the “lost” elements to help us make our training more complete.

Some people will (quite reasonably) have a concerns about the legalities of using a pre-emptive strike.  Firstly, as you can never be sure how far an attacker will go, it is best to make that you are still around to deal with the legalities.  No point being killed for the sake of worrying about going to court.

Secondly, in the UK at least (and I suspect most other countries), if you feel that you are in a real danger of being harmed by a would-be attacker, you are legally entitled to use a pre-emptive strike.  I don’t know about other countries, but this is a defence that will stand in a British court.  However, you will have to give good reason why you thought that you were in very real and very imminent danger.  Somebody giving you a dodgy look will not be accepted.

Tai Chi: For Advanced Martial Artists

Many martial arts are misunderstood.  I have written a number of times about how Karate and other arts have become dumbed down and stylised to a point where a lot of what is practiced would not work under pressure.

However, I don’t think any martial art is more misunderstood than Tai Chi.  I think this is for a number of reasons, but mostly:

  • Many people practice it purely as a for health and well-being, with no martial applications at all.
  • Many people do not believe in the concept of “Chi” energy on which Tai Chi is largely based.
  • With more and more people getting into “reality based” training, “hard” styles being seen by many as stylised and ritualistic; the slow practice of Tai Chi seems even further from being a real form of combat.

So lets have a closer look at Tai Chi.  Firstly we should look at the modern emphasis on health and well-being.  I am told that the Chinese communist government wanted to exploit the the health properties of Tai Chi as a simple way to keep people healthy and keep down expenditure on their health service.  They therefore called together a number of top Tai Chi masters and told them to create a simplified version of Tai Chi for introduction to the masses.  When the masters initially refused, they were told that they and their families would be sent to labour camps.  So they agreed.  The simplified Tai Chi that they created was nicknamed “Beijing Tai Chi” and this is the version that spread most rapidly around the world.

As for the concept of chi, some people will never believe in it which is fair enough, we are all entitled to our own views.  I just ask that if you are somebody that does not believe, then please just respect the views of those that do.

As for a combat system that is performed slowly, that one takes a bit more to get your head around.  The part which is often missed is that Tai Chi as a combat art was never designed to be, or expected to be the starting point.  In China, in the Shaolin monasteries and elsewhere, they would alway start with a “hard” style first and only after they mastered that would they move on to Tai Chi and other internal styles.  It is not simply that they start young and young people relate better to harder styles (which is true in itself), but learning Tai Chi is actually easier if you have experience in a harder art.

By learning the hard art first (such as Kung Fu, Karate or similar), the practitioner learns about speed, raw power, distancing, dealing with somebody steaming in full power, aggression, adrenalin and all the primary aspects of combat.  Many people will be quick to point out that Tai Chi does not teach these things.  In the main they are right; because Tai Chi is designed for people who already know them.  Tai Chi is not a stand alone fighting art, it is the polish and finish on other fighting arts, which takes them to higher levels.

As my instructor Paul Mitchell says, most martial arts teach you to be substantial, whereas Tai Chi teaches you to be insubstantial.  What does this mean?

Well in most martial arts, we learn the things mentioned above (speed, power, aggression, etc); how to meet somebody head on, or even when evading how to hit them like a hammer when you do strike.  These make you act and feel to the opponent very substantial indeed.  But with Tai Chi, somebody attacks and you learn to almost “melt” out of their way letting them finish an attack after you are no longer there.  To be able to move like this requires a high degree of relaxation.  This is being “insubstantial” so that you can just not be their when the attack is completed.

So why is everything practiced so slowly?

Firstly, it is learn the relaxation to be able move in an “insubstantial” way.  This primarily uses the internal muscles of the body rather than the major muscle groups (as most other martial arts do).  Learning to use the internal muscles can not be done by practicing fast.

Secondly it is learn to use and move your internal energy.  As mentioned above, I know that a lot of people reading this probably won’t believe in Chi, but again, please just respect that this is the belief of most people that do practice Tai Chi.  The idea is to learn to co-ordinate your internal energy with your physical movement and this can only be done slowly.

Thirdly (and this is where some people will probably think I’ve gone mad) it is to learn to deal with the effects of adrenalin and to stay calm when confronted by a hostile person.  Now people who do the reality based scenario training that I’ve discussed in earlier postings will probably have trouble seeing how moving slowly through a form can possibly prepare you for the effects of adrenalin.  Well the short answer is it doesn’t, that should have already been accomplished by the previous martial arts training (Kung Fu/Karate etc).  By the time you take up Tai Chi you should already be familiar with the effects of adrenalin and confrontation.  What Tai Chi aims to do is to keep you calm in the face of confrontation and to actually negate the effects of adrenalin.

Scenario based training as discussed in other postings is geared to giving you an adrenalin rush (so that you get used to operating in that state), which is fantastic when you start your martial arts career.  However, Tai Chi being geared to advanced martial artists is geared to stop you having an adrenalin rush.  This will not happen overnight and will take years to achieve, but it is a long term training program and that is what is works towards.  That is why as a martial art, it is only really for already accomplished martial artists.  As a form of health and well-being, you can start it anytime without any experience in other martial arts.

The slow movements are designed to give the feeling that you “have all day” when somebody attacks you.  Of course you don’t.  Of course you have to move very fast.  But that’s why you should have done another martial art first.  You are also training to achieve a deep state of relaxation which permeates into every facet of your life.  This includes staying relaxed when in a violent confrontation and we all know that you move faster when you are relaxed.

Some people may be concerned by the idea of negating the effects of adrenalin as it boosts strength and speed (which are obviously useful) so why loose these positive effects?  Well again, we go back to already being an accomplished martial artist.  You should be strong and fast already.

But what about the negative effects of adrenalin (which will vary from person to person and situation to situation)?

  • Blood goes away from your brain and into the major muscle groups so you loose some of your fine motor skills.
  • You tend to get tunnel vision (which is not good for multiple opponents).
  • You can’t think so well and you may blank out verbal advice from friends/allies trying to help.

So if you could function with speed and power (from previous training) without losing fine motor skills, without losing mental faculties, being aware of multiple assailants and being aware of helpful/warning shouts around you, then you can take your fighting ability to a whole new level.

The Martial Arts Paradox: By Russell Stutely

I received the following posting from Russell Stutely as I’m signed up to his newsletter.  I thought it made such a good point that I decided to share it with you.  It emphasises the point that I keep trying to make about learning your kata bunkai and understanding what the moves are really for.  I hope you enjoy it.

“The paradox of making the MA simple yet incorporating a lifetimes of study. How can it be achieved? Has it been done before? What will happen to our system?

Of course this has happened before. It has happened with every single MA out there. Every single one has been simplified from where it was, made easier than it once was.

The knowledge of the art has become much more superficial. Lifetimes study to truly understand Kata has lost its real meaning. It does not mean, keep training till you can perform the Kata correctly all the way through and score 10 out of 10 from every judge. It means it takes a lifetimes study to truly understand why every move is made and what it is really for.

Now, maybe in the old days with slow communications it took a lifetime, but not now. We can be anywhere in the World in a day, back then it took a day to travel 30 miles.

This simplification that has happened in for example Shotokan, has resulted in a system with 3 or 4 punches, 7 or 8 kicks, a few  blocks, a few stances and a load of Kata.

Which, for the majority, is just some combinations of the above in a set order. Is that really a lifetimes study? To put this into perspective, about 15 years ago I was watching a tape with all 26 Shotokan Kata on.

My sister, a Dance Teacher, saw it and said that it looked real easy to learn. I told her she knew nothing about the MA and not to be so silly, as these Kata are known by only the very top people who have taken years to learn them.

She replied, with “I could learn them in a week”. The bet was on. I lost, convincingly.

She performed them superbly well. No in depth knowledge, but the performance of the moves was beyond reproach!

Does this sound like a watering down to you? The performance of the moves is there, but with no depth of knowledge.

A perfect singer, who is singing in a foreign language. Hitting all the right notes, but not understanding a word!

More later

Kind Regards

Russell

www.RussellStutely.com

How To Put The “Whip” Into A Linear Punch (Part 2)

In Part 1 of How To Put A “Whip” Into A Linear Punch, I looked at how to use the hips properly to generate a waveform motion through the body for basic punches.  Many people struggle with this because as beginners we tend to move the whole torso as one, rather than generating movement from the hips and simply relaxing the rest of the torso so as to let it flow naturally.  This puts tension into the body and takes away our power.

The method used in the first video is great for single basic techniques, especially Choku Zuki (straight punch in upright standing stance) and Gyaku Zuki (reverse punch), where we end with the hips square to front or just 10 to 15 degrees past square.  Well in this next video we take it a step further.  When you snap a towel (or your belt), you have a “pull back” just at the end of the forward movement.  We can incorporate this “pull back” to gain extra whip/snap when we perform a snap punch, or multiple techniques (e.g.  stepping punch, reverse punch or block then reverse punch).  That pull back at the end of the first techniques not only puts an extra whip/snap on the end, but also initiates the hip movement for the second technique.

Now I know that not everybody will have been taught this way, so before you watch my video, please have a quick look at this one by Master Kagawa, 8th Dan Shotokan Karate and Technical Director of the JKS.  As he performs Age Uke (rising block) you can clearly see his hips rotate fully, then just settle back slightly at the end of the movement.  This settling back (or pull back) gives that extra little “whip” on the end the rising block and can be used to initiate the next technique (which is usually a reverse punch).  So for anybody who has not seen this before (and there will be very many who haven’t), I’m not making it up.  This is nothing new, it’s always been there, its just always explained in detail.  I’ve been lucky with my teachers.

[Waveform punch Part 2]

Endorsment By Shihan Kousaku Yokota, 8th Dan Shotokan Karate

Shihan Kousaku Yokota is an 8th Dan at Shotokan Karate with a special interest in uncovering myths and getting to the truth (hence releasing his own book, Shotokan Myths on the subject).

I am therefore very honoured to have received the following endorsement by from him on his Facebook page, about my DVD, Inside Bassai Dai.

“Over the holidays I had a very pleasant experience watching one Shotokan bunkai DVD. It is called Inside Bassai Dai created by Sensei Charlie Wildish, UK. I found the bunkai in it to be realistic and easy to learn. He demonstrates how some of the techniques are applied. I was particularly pleased to see the application for double uchi uke (inside forearm blocks). He interprets them as a uke followed by a uraken”.

I have trained under a number of senior Japanese and British instructors in my time.  But none of them have been as dedicated to exposing the political, social and sporting influences on Karate which have altered the way we train and consequently watered down Shotokan as a martial art as is Shihan Yokota.  This is why his personal endorsement is very special to me.  If he approves then it not only means that I can be satisfied with my DVD, but my whole understanding of Karate as a real martial art (rather than just a sport) must be moving in the right direction.

It will be very difficult to get closer to the true source and understanding of real traditional Karate today than the teachings of Shihan Yokota.  This is why I am very excited to have this endorsement and why I thank him very much for it.