Review: When The Fight Goes To The Ground (Jiu Jitsu Strategies & Tactics For Self-Defense)

Lori O’Connell

Following on from my interview with Lori O’Connell, back in January, I’ve also had the privilege to review her new book, When The Fight Goes To The Ground (Jiu Jitsu Strategies And Tactics For Self-Defense).

With many sport grappling systems encompassing ground fighting, this book focuses purely on ground fighting from a self-defense point of view.  However, with the rising popularity of Mixed Martial Arts/Cage Fighting, Lori’s wisely points out that the threat on the streets has changed.  Continue reading “Review: When The Fight Goes To The Ground (Jiu Jitsu Strategies & Tactics For Self-Defense)”

Kousaku Yokota’s Interactive Cyber Dojo

Many people do online classes, but these are usually pre-recorded videos.  If you have questions, you have to type them in on your key board and wait on the teacher getting back to you. And if you don’t fully understand their answer, you have to send another question and wait again.

Shihan Kousaku Yokota

Furthermore, the teacher can’t actually see how you are doing things yourself, so can’t pick up on fine details that you may not even know to ask about.

This is why I was quite intrigued when I heard about Shihan Kousaku Yokota’s idea for an Interactive Cyber Dojo.

So what is an Interactive Cyber Dojo? Continue reading “Kousaku Yokota’s Interactive Cyber Dojo”

The True Purpose Of Makawara Training & A Review

Karate Depot have asked me to review a makiwara (striking board) for them.  But first, I would like to talk about what makawara training is actually trying to achieve as it not quite what most people imagine.

Personally, I like makawara’s.  Some people argue that as they have so little give in them, your punch/strike has to stop after impact, rather than going all the way through the target – as you might do in a real combat situation.  Therefore (it is argued) you are training yourself to “stop short”.

I personally believe that Continue reading “The True Purpose Of Makawara Training & A Review”

Review: A Killing Art – The Untold History of Tae Kwon Do

I have to confess that I haven’t read this book, though I would like to when I get the chance.  My brother-in-law, Martin who is a 2nd Dan TKD has read it and has highly recommended it.  Then I saw a review on my friend Bob Patterson’s Striking Thoughts blog, so I thought I would copy it here for my TKD readers.

It is along similar lines to Shotokan’s Secret, by Dr Bruce Clayton, which is the only book that I’ve ever finished and then read again almost straight away.  Both books explore the history behind the arts in question and expose many of the so called “truths” behind the “official history” of these arts.  I do believe that it is helpful to Continue reading “Review: A Killing Art – The Untold History of Tae Kwon Do”

Daoist Nei Gong: New Book By Damo Mitchell

Damo Mitchell was born into a family of martial artists.  His father, Paul Mitchell (who is my Karate Sensei & Tai Chi teacher) and his mother, Chris, introduced him to Shotokan Karate & Yoga at the humble age of 4.

His studies led him through many styles and various weapons, until he settled to focus on internal Chinese martial arts.  Damo has travelled to the Far East to seek out the very best of teachers and has studied not only the internal marital arts, but Qi Gong, Daoist Yoga, Nei Gong (internal change) and a whole range of related disciplines. Continue reading “Daoist Nei Gong: New Book By Damo Mitchell”

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.

Shihan Kousaku Yokota’s New Book – “Shotokan Myths” (More Than Just Shotokan): Part 2

Recently I wrote about Shihan Kousaku Yokota’s new book, Shotokan Myths.  Well now it is available for purchase (details below).  I have had some private correspondence with Shihan Yokota and there was one thing in particular that he said that I consider very important and I wanted to share with everybody. With so many “reality based” martial arts and the rise of mixed martial arts, many people have questioned the effectiveness and validity of the traditional martial arts.  Many Japanese masters have been secretive or aloof and have not bothered to explain the finer points, keeping Westerns on a rather superficial level.  I’ve seen some Japanese masters teach up in Scotland, UK, where they actually pretend that they can’t speak English properly when you know full well that they can (from people who have actually visited the masters own dojo).

I have to say that I do not believe this of all the Japanese masters, but certainly some are like it.  Yet here we have a Japanese master at the very highest level who is not only wants to teach all that he knows, but is actually concerned that if he does not, that Karate will become obsolete.  As I said before, although the book has “Shotokan” in the title, it should be of interest to other styles as well, especially those with Shotokan in their lineage.

Anyway, here in Shihan Yokota’s own words (and with his permission to reproduce it):

“I want to share the knowledge so that the western karate practitioners will see the “light” so to speak. There should not be so much of mysticism about Karate. Almost all the things can be fully explained. But it was easier for many “masters” to keep them as mysterious or “secret”. The fact is many “masters” did not know the answers or have the ability (or motivation) to explain them. Many Japanese instructors are afraid to speak up as that would reveal the inability of those masters or the organizations. It has been more than 60 years since shotokan karate was introduced to the western world. I believe it is about time somebody to speak up and let the western practitioners know it is ok to ask and challenge what you read or learn from the Japanese masters. Without this quest we cannot hope to improve karate and it will end up in a museum some day. Ossu”

ISBN #978-1-4568-0709-2 (Hard cover) US$29.99
#978-1-4568-0708-5 (Soft cover) US$19.99
You can order your copy now from the publisher, Xlibris:
• Phone (Toll Free): 1-888-795-4274
• Fax: 1-610-915-0294 or 1-610-915-0293
• E-mail: orders@nullxlibris.com
They will ship internationally (shipping charge will apply).

Extra note:  I don’t know about other countries, but shipping and handling cost quoted for posting to the UK are extortionately high.  I have asked Shihan Yokota to get Xlibris to confirm.  However, Shotokan Myths is also available from Amazon in paperback or hardcover where S & H costs should be more reasonable from there.

UPDATE: You can now get it from Amazon:-

In the UK
Amazon.co.uk Widgets

Shihan Kousaku Yokota’s New Book – “Shotokan Myths” (More Than Just Shotokan)

Shihan Kousaku Yokota, 8thDan Shotokan Karate is releasing a new book, Shotokan Myths, which should be available from mid December.

Firstly, I would like to say that so many other styles have spawned from Shotokan, that this book should be valuable to a far wider audience than just Shotokan Karateka.

So who is Shihan Kousaku Yokota?

Yokota is an 8th Dan with 46 years of Shotokan Karate experience. He specializes in Asai ryu karate which is based on JKA style Shotokan with some White Crane Kung Fu blended in.  He also practiced Okinawa kobudo (nunchaku, sai, tonfa, 3 sectional staff and 7 chain whip).

I have read some of Yokota’s articles in Shotokan Karate Magazine where he wrote about how a number of myths have developed over the years and become ingrained into Shotokan folk lore (and from there into numerous other styles of Karate and TaeKwonDo).  He exposes many of these myths in an intelligent and well informed manner, explaining historical, social and practical reasons why certain practices have been introduced and how they have come to be accepted as “traditional” Karate practices, when in fact many of them are relatively new to the Karate world.

So on a blog that focuses largely on practical applications (bunkai) to traditional martial arts, why would we be interested in myths and the historical/social reason surrounded their coming into being?

Well simply put, if we know what is “real” from what is not, then we can make more informed decisions.  We tend to look how to apply our katas/patterns/forms, but knowing the influences that effected them can change the application.  For example, in one article in SKM, Yokota examined the myth that all kata’s should start and finish in the same place.  This was never a requirement for the Okinawan masters.  However, when Funikoshi took it to Japan, Karate started being taught to much larger numbers of people.  There was not the same small close group of master and only a few special students.  Therefore the students had to be given a way to measure their own performance.  Having katas finish on the same point that they started gave a form of measure (for example, consistent stances length in both direction).  To achieve this, some of the katas had to be adapted.  Most Heian/Pinan kata’s today follow a capital “I” shape.  However, originally the shape of the kata was more like a double headed arrow.  For example, in Kihon kata (or Heian Shodan/Pinan Nidan/Dan Gun), after doing the 3 stepping punches, instead of performing a 3/4 turn (270 degrees) it would have been a 5/8 turn (225 degrees).   This made it difficult to return to original starting position, hence changing it to the “I” shape that is so familiar today.  Many people interpret this movement as a throw.  But knowing why the change came about, gives us the clue that we do not have to spin round quite so far to execute that same throw, actually making it a bit easier to apply!

Other changes have been made to standardize katas to make them easier to judge in competition.  Knowing these things may alter how you perceive the application that put to this movement next time you examine your kata.  This is why knowing fact from myth is important to being able to practically apply your katas.  It is not just an academic exercise in learning history (though this can be very interesting in its own right).

Yokota is thorough in his research and explanation.  I therefore commend Shotokan Myths not only to Shotokan Karateka, but to all styles that have Shotokan in their lineage.
You can now get this book from Amazon

 

DVD Review: Mixed TaeKwon & Skills Of Hapkido

I’ve recently had a look at 2 videos from 9th Dan.com.  The first is a fusion of self defense skills from two masters one Tae Kwon Do and the other Hapkido, called “Mixed TaeKwon”.

The second one is an introduction to Hapkido, called “Skills of Hapkido”.

MIXED TAEKWON

I was particularly looking forward seeing this one as it was a fusion of the 2 styles.  Having made my own DVD, blending Karate and Kung Fu, I was keen to see somebody else doing a similar thing between different styles.  I wasn’t disappointed.  But first, their promotional trailer:-

Grandmaster Kim (Hapkido) and Master Bae (7th Dan TKD) introduce the DVD, explaining that it is aimed mainly at TKD students to emphasis the self defence aspects of the art.  The masters felt that with since TKD became an Olympic sport there is so much emphasis on sport that the original self defence aspects of the art are sometimes overlooked.  Master Kim explains that TKD has the speed and power, whereas Hapkido has the flexibility, pressure point and joint locking skills.

The DVD is well produced with step by step break down of movements.  It emphasises that the student should not just try to memorize the movements, but learn the principles behind them.  This I think is the best advice from the whole DVD as by learning the principles, these masters are giving the student the tools to go away and work things out for themselves.  It brings to mind the old saying, give a man fish and you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for life.

I did feel however, that the DVD sold TKD a bit short.  Being a Karateka, I am aware that Karate was dumbed down when it went public.  The vast majority of Japanese masters learned the dumbed down version, which TKD was also based on.  However, many Karateka who also studied Kung Fu, Aikido, JuJutsu and others arts (or went back to Okinawa) soon recognised that the techniques in those other arts were the same as movements in their own Karate kata, but the applications were far more effective than the dumbed down applications they had been given in Karate.  Many of these Karateka have brought this knowledge back into Karate and accepted it as being the original meaning of the art (rather than being an imported part from another style).

I believe that TKD being largely based on Karate is in the same position.  The pressure point, joint locking applications are not missing from TKD, they have in many cases (though not all before anybody jumps on me) been lost or forgotten.

When General Choi took Karate back to Korea and started to formulate TKD, he would have influenced by the indigenous Korean martial arts such as Hapkido.  So for TKD exponents to look at a sister art such as Hapkido is an excellent idea for them to re-discover what should have been there from the very beginning.  Don’t look on Hapkido as something different, look on it as something that helps fill the gaps and completes your TKD knowledge.

I would recomend it, a good Christmas present if you know a TKD exponent.

SKILLS OF HAPKIDO

This DVD is just about Hapkido and compliments the Mixed TaeKwon DVD very well.  But first the trailer:-

This follows the same step by step format as the previous DVD, with break downs, close and wide angle views, parnter and solo practice drills.  It establishes the underlying principles of Hapkido first, then these principle are used over and over again during the self defence scenarios demonstrated.  A very good introduction to Hapkido for anybody interested in the style.  Also good for TKD and Karate people who would like to explore further some of the seemingly obscure parts of their own style.

You can find out more at www.9thDan.com.

Reveiw Of Focus Mitts

I’ve been asked by Karate Depot to do a review on some of their focus mitts for them.  I am under no obligation to give a falsely positive review, just my honest opinion.

To be honest, my first thought was “what can I say about focus mitts“.  After all a focus mitt is a focus mitt, they are not complicated pieces of equipment and as long as they can withstand the impact then they do their job!

However, Keith and I gave them a good thrashing to test them out and we both found something that we liked.  For me, it was the Velcro strap at the back to secure the pad to the wrist.  I usually find with focus mitts that when they get hit hard they tend to slip off and I’m almost “clawing” with finger-tips to keep them in place.  With the strap secured tightly around the wrist, this was very much reduced.  Simple but effective.

For Keith, he liked that fact that there was no little patch sown into the center of the striking surface, which sometimes splits the skin.

Only time will tell if they are durable, but they seemed tough enough.  Overall, we liked them and would be happy to recommend them.  Just click on the image to go their website.