Most Karate systems that evolved from the Okinawan style of Shuri Te tend to use big steps to capitalise on forward body momentum and inertia to transfer impact into the opponent. As a broad generalisation, this tends to distinguish them from the styles derived from Naha Te and most styles of Kung Fu which prefer the use of circular (or centrifugal) force for generating power.
However, the Tekki kata’s (or Naihanchi in some styles and Chul Gi in Korean) which are still present in many Shuri Te derived styles contradict this forward momentum method in that they are not very mobile and are far more “static”. Another characteristic of the Tekki kata’s is that they punch with the palm facing up as opposed to the usual “cork-screw” punch where the fist ends up facing downwards and the arm is not fully extended.
Tekki is obviously a close quarters fighting kata. As such a number of its movements are quite close to Wing Chun Kung Fu which specialises in close quarters fighting. On the surface, Wing Chun and Tekki look quite different, but as usual Keith and I look below the surface and find some similarities which can be used by practitioners of either system.
I am very pleased to be able to include 2 short video clips of my own Sensei, Paul Mitchell 4th Dan.
Sensei Mitchell is a recognised authority on Bunkai within the Traditional Shotokan Karate Association and usually teaches bunkai on TSKA residential courses. Having originally started my Karate training in Kent, then continued it when I moved up to Scotland and again when I moved to the South West of England; I can say I’ve been about a bit and seen a few different clubs. I consider myself very lucky to have found Sensei Mitchell’s club as firstly I like the emphasis on good technique and secondly I like the practically of his teachings and bunkai.
Thirdly, I like his quirkly sense of humour, but that’s another story . . . . sorry Sensei 😉
The clips below were taken on a recent Kata course hosted by Sensei Mitchell focusing on kata Jitte. The course started of with structure and form, followed by Bunkai. After a light lunch (thanks Chris) it was back to work and being Jitte, we did it with Bo’s. Jitte is unique in that it can be performed empty handed or with Bo, with very little adjustment at all.
Sensei Mitchell hosts these courses every couple of months and they are open to Karateka of any style (including TaeKwonDo) from 4th Kyu/Kup and above. These are taught in an open and friendly environment and if you would like to attend, then check out the “Calender Of Events” tab on his website every now and then. If you enjoy Bunkai and practical Karate, then I would highly recommend these courses.
Here we take a look at 2 blocks which are very similar. Wing Chun’s Bong Sau (Wing Arm Block) and the Age Uke (Rising Block) used in Karate, Teakwondo and Tang Soo Do. The advantage of comparing techniques between different styles is that sometimes you get clues as to how they originated. Wing Chun is based on Snake Kung Fu and Crane Kung Fu. One of the main influences on Okinawan Karate was White Crane Kung Fu, so there would appear to be some common roots.
Furthermore, by looking at how another style uses its techniques can often give clues as to extra applications for which you can use your own techniques. This is particularly advantageous to Karate, TaeKwonDo and Tang Soo Do practitioners as a lot of our original applications have been lost along the way.
This is a follow up video to my previous one on Sao Choy, which addresses a few of the questions and comments it raised, particularly “Wouldn’t it be safer to do it on the outside of the arm?” and “You can also do Sao Choy after various other blocks or parries”.
The video shows a few more Choy Lee Fut techniques – Pao Choy, (which I believe translates as “cannon fist”) which is a upward strike similar to an uppercut and Poon Kui (which I believe translates as “coiling bridge”), which is a circular block that can be used as a great set up for a lot of Choy Lee Fut techniques since it should help destabilise the attacker.
In this video I use the technique called Sao Choy from the Choy Lee Fut system. Sao Choy (“Sweeping fist”), can be found in all styles of Choy Lee Fut, but seems to be particularly emphasised in the Buk Sing style I practice, along with Chap Choy.
When using the Sao Choy technique you’ll notice that the Choy Lee Fut practitioner usually performs a clearing or blocking action with the other hand first. Like most techniques in Choy Lee Fut, Sao Choy tends to be used in combination with other techniques in a fluid and circular manner, rather than in isolation. Since more attention is usually paid to the arm doing the Sao Choy when explaining the technique, I thought I’d concentrate on what the other hand is doing in my video, since there can be a lot of subtly to the technique employed, which is easy to miss. It’s also interesting to compare with similar posts on this blog that examine what the non-striking hand is doing in other arts, like Karate.
One of the features of Buk Sing CLF is a kind of “through the back” power, which connects the action of one arm to the action of the other, so that rather than operating separately, they work together to achieve their aims. A discussion of what the “other” hand is doing in the Sao Choy technique naturally leads on to a discussion of how this “through the back” power works in Choy Lee Fut in general.
It should also be noted that you are not limited to the particular clearing technique I’m demonstrating here prior to the Sao Choy – other popular options are Gwa Choy (a backfist) or Poon Kui, a circular block.
I hope you enjoy the video, and feel free to ask questions in the comments section.*
* Apologies for my slightly irreverent presentation style(!)
I’m pleased to be asked to contribute to this excellent blog created by Karateka and Tai Chi Chuan practitioner Charlie Wildish, aimed at bringing different styles of martial arts, and martial artists, together under the banner of “bunkai”, the Japanese term meaning “applications”. So much in the oriental martial arts seems vague, hidden or obscured (quite often at the behest of cultural or political reasons inappropriately transplanted from another time and place), so it’s particularly refreshing to discover a group of traditional martial artists dedicated to unearthing the treasures hidden in the arts they practice, rather than simply going through the moves by rote, in blind obedience to tradition. I think this progressive attitude is something positive that Western culture can bring to these ancient arts from the East.
While forms, salutes, uniforms, attitude, places of practice and class structures may vary wildly between “traditional” martial styles, it’s in the applications that the arts are at their closest. While the stylistic manner of execution, “body mechanics” or the strategy may differ greatly between arts, a wrist lock performed by twisting the radius and ulna bones of the forearm until they lock in Tai Chi Chuan is the same wrist lock performed by twisting the radius and ulna bones of the forearm until they lock in Karate or Wing Chun or Ju Jitsu. By looking at the applications we can start to see the similarities between styles and gain new insights into the arts we practice.
In the following clip I am performing an exercise known in Tai Chi Chuan as Tui Shou or “Pushing hands”. Practitioners of other martial styles will no doubt recognise many of the locking and takedown techniques from their own styles. Observers of Push Hands competitions would be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that Push Hands is about pushing the opponent away, hopefully in a convincing enough manner to score a point. As such it becomes a wrestling match where you’re not allowed to grab with the hands, and while not without merit, such competitions seem (to me) to have strayed from the original martial intent of the art. To gain the most benefit from Push Hands I believe the Tai Chi Chuan community needs to reclaim a lot of the elements that have been taken out under competition rules. One such element is the traditional art of Chin Na (translations vary: “Catching and locking”, “Catch-Arrest”, “Seize and Immobilise”, etc…). To perform Chin Na following the principles of Tai Chi Chuan it is important that you don’t force the situation. Instead, you adapt as it changes, without opposing it. Done correctly the technique happens of itself. The constant flowing pattern of push hands encourages this spontaneity of technique.
As it says in verse 2 of Lao Tzu’s classic of Taoism.
“Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing, teaching no-talking.The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease,Creating, yet not.Working, yet not taking credit.Work is done, then forgotten.Therefore it lasts forever.”
In future posts I hope to offer more technique-specific insights into both Tai Chi Chuan and Choy Lee Fut.
Note: The block called Soto Uke in some styles is called Uchi Uke (inside block) in other styles.
Bearing in mind that much of Karate’s original bunkai has been lost, and that Karate is largely based on Kung Fu, it is good to look at similar Kung Fu movements and how Kung Fu practitioners apply them. By looking into our roots we can learn more about our own style and read across from what the Okinawan masters probably learnt from the Chinese masters. The Okinawan masters would have adapted the movements to suit their own physiques and needs, which is fine as the Chinese masters did exactly the same. That is why there is such a vast array of Kung Fu styles.
When a beginner looks at different styles of Kung Fu, Karate, TKD etc., they see lots of differences. However, the experienced practitioner sees many similarities. This why we are able to learn from each other, to increase our knowledge and understanding of our own style, without necessarily having to study other styles in depth.
In the clip below, we look at some applications from the opening sequence of Heian Nidan/Pinan Shodan/Won Hyo. We don’t say that this is necessarily the best or only interpretations for these moves, it just our take on it. Although Heian Nidan and Pinan Shodan are in effect the same kata (just named differently in different styles) and Tae Kwon Do’s Won Hyo pattern is closely based on it; Chum Kiu is essentially quite different. It is the second form from the Wing Chun Kung Fu system.
However, some of the moves in Chum Kiu quite closely resemble the opening sequence of Heian Nidan/Pinan Shodan, although is performed quite a bit more tightly.
Is this surprising to find such similarities?
Not at all. Tae Kwon Do is largely based on Karate and Karate is largely based on Kung Fu. The nearest part of China to Okinawa (where Karate developed) is Fukien Provence and it is known that White Crane Kung Fu was particularly popular in that area. Wing Chun Kung Fu is based mainly on the Snake and the Crane, so there is a common lineage.
Professor Rick Clark is a specialist in applying pressure points using techniques from the katas/patterns. He has a very good understanding of both Japanese/Okinawan katas as well as Korean. When you see his qualifications, you’ll understand why:
8th Dan Ryukyu Kempo
7th Dan Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan
7th Dan Ju-jitsu
5th Dan Judo
3rd Dan Modern Arnis
1st Dan Hapkido
As well as having one of his books, I’ve had the pleasure to attend one of his courses when he came over to the UK. He’s a very easy going gentleman who is very approachable and extremely knowledgeable.