Kata Bunkai for Shorin Ryu Pinan Shodan (Heian Nidan)

This is something that has been discussed on my Facebook page before, but I wanted to go into more depth with it.  Most traditional martial arts have been dumbed down.  Karate applications (Kata bunkai) were dumbed down when the Okinawans decided to introduce it into their school system in the late nineteenth century.  This dumbed down version was taught to the Japanese and from there to the Koreans.

Kung Fu too has suffered.  The Chinese were at first very reluctant to teach martial arts to anybody who was not full blooded Chinese.  Later it was realised that it could be quite financially lucrative to do so!  However, in the main they still held back a lot from Westerners.  It is known that when the legendary Master Ip Man was teaching Wing Chun to Bruce Lee, he held back some of the more advanced secrets because Bruce Lee was not full blooded Chinese.  If Bruce Lee was not taught the full system, what makes any Westerners think that they have been? Continue reading “Kata Bunkai for Shorin Ryu Pinan Shodan (Heian Nidan)”

What Are The Differences Between Kung Fu & Karate?

One of the most popular and most frequently visited postings that I’ve ever done on this website has been an unbiased look at the differences between Karate and Tae Kwon Do.  So I thought I’d do the same between Karate and Kung Fu.

As with Karate and Tae Kwon Do, I believe that there is often a lot of misunderstanding between Karate and Kung Fu practitioners as they don’t really understand what  the other one is doing or why!  That said, there are many people who cross train between the 2 styles, in particular Karateka who train in Kung Fu to better understand the roots of the their own system.

This post is not aimed at arguing that either martial art is better than the other, as I have always maintained, Continue reading “What Are The Differences Between Kung Fu & Karate?”

The Humble “Yoi”

The kata’s (patterns/forms) within a traditional style often have different salutations and ready positions.  This would indicate that they have different meanings, beyond being just a salutation.  Think about it, if they were no more than just a salutation, why would they not be standardised.  Why would any style need more than one salutation which it would use on all of its kata’s/patterns/forms.

Logic would suggest that these salutations/ready positions are moves that could stop an opponent early in the proceedings, before a full blown fight breaks out.  If that does not work, then its into the kata to use techniques that will deal with a full blown fight.

The most common salutation or ready position in Karate is the “Yoi”.  The performance of the Yoi may vary from style to style, but generally the arms come up to head height (sometimes higher) then circle inwards and downwards, crossing over your center line, then back outwards, before settling just about hip height at  about a torso width apart.

Here’s our interpretation of how to use the humble Yoi against somebody who is acting aggressively, to turn the tables on them and put them in a position of disadvantage which you can exploit as you see fit.

Please tell us what you think.  Is your Yoi or salutation very much different?  Do you see the Yoi as being no more than a salutation with no practical function, or do you see it as a functional movement as we do?  Feel free to leave your opinion in the comment box below.

Yoi

Dis-Mounting An Attacker

Should you be unfortunate enough to be taken to the ground and end up with some gormless thug on top of you trying to bludgeon the living daylights out of you, we look at some ways of getting them off (so that you can bludgeon them – much more fun).

Keith’s favourite is flesh grabs which is used quite a lot in some styles of Kung Fu.  The nasty ones 🙂

We are not taking about grabbing large lumps of muscle or limbs, just a handful of surface skin, which can be surprisingly painful.  I know that some people will prefer pressure points.  My only concern with that is that you really have to know what you are doing.  If you are interested in pressure points, then you should look the work of somebody like Russell Stutely.

Pressure points are probably better if you really know what you are doing, but if you don’t then flesh grabs are much easier and much more accessible to the average martial artist and still hurt the opponent (though be aware that if they are high or drunk they won’t feel it quite so much).

From a Karate perspective, show how you can use the good old Gedan Barai (lower sweep/block) to dis-mount your attacker.

Bunkai

Hangetsu/Seishan

Here we take a look at one of the movements from Hangetsu kata (formally known as Seishan).  Karate is usually looked at as being linear and Kung Fu as being predominantly circular.  However, the technique that we look at below is performed in a circular manor in the kata, but when we look at similar Kung Fu movements, they are performed in a linear manner.  As per usual, there is more in common than there is different.

Hangetsu / Seishan Karate Bunkai

Bunkai And Comparison Of Karate/TKD’s Age Uke (Rising Block) & Wing Chun’s Bong Sau (Wing Arm Block)

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.

I hope you enjoy this video.

Age Uke & Bong Sau Bunkai

More Choy Lee Fut Sao Choy Technique Talk

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.

By Graham Barlow of Bath-Tai Chi and Choy Lee Fut (www.bath-taichi.co.uk)

Choy Lee Fut’s Sao Choy

“Through the back” power in Choy Lee Fut.

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(!)

By Graham Barlow of Bath-Tai Chi and Choy Lee Fut (www.bath-taichi.co.uk)

Soto Uke (Outside Block) & Related Kung Fu Techniques

I have written in a previous posting about how I believe that Karate’s Soto Uke was probably based on an instinctive human reaction and developed by the masters of old.  In the following video sequence we demonstrate some applications for Soto Uke, whilst also looking at Chinese Kung Fu movements that are almost the same.

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.

We hope you enjoy our video:

Bunkai: Heian Nidan/Pinan Shodan (Won Hyo, Chum Kiu)

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.

Anyway, we hope you enjoy our short video: