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1650+ Posts... and Counting

1873 Karate Description

Have you read this 1873 Karate description? (That's 1873, not 1973.)

"As regards more manly accomplishments, they are expert archers on horseback and good marksmen with the matchlock. Their skill in boxing is such that a well-trained fighter can smash a large earthen water-jar, or kill a man with a single blow of his fist."
If you would like to see the source, go to Seinenkai.com and click on the What's New? link in the left frame. Our museum received an incredible donation today! The entire article (Notes on Loochoo, by E. W. Satow, Esq.) is now online thanks to the generosity of Goju-Ryu practitioner David A. Williams.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

More On Big Throws

There is a reason why you might want to use a big throw. Think about it. Have you come up with a reason?

At least one reason may be that you want to throw the attacker onto his back. In sport martial arts, you might get a point or even win for doing this.

However, for self-defense there are many other ways to make the attacker land. You could, for example, make him land on his face or the top of his head. You could throw him in such a way that it would be very difficult for him to take a clean fall. In fact, you could throw him with the intention of breaking bones.

Such a throw would not be legal in sport martial arts (for good reason). But for self-defense, a throw could and probably should be considered as part of the counter attack. Except briefly, a throw that simply puts the attacker safely on his back will not stop him from attacking.

Again, sometimes the best throws are small ones -- often a tight, downward spiral.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Big Throws

I often see magazine and book covers in which someone is throwing his partner/attacker. I'm sure that you do too.

Generally, the throw is a "big" one -- the attacker could be vertical in the air above the defender. The bigger the throw the better! Well, at least that is what photographers for magazine and book covers will tell you, and probably what they told the person doing the throwing.

If you ask me, "little" throws are better than big ones. A throw should get the attacker to the ground (or into a wall, fire hydrant, or other hard surface) as quickly and with the least effort possible. A big throw takes time (the attacker has to move throw space). It may look impressive and graceful... but it takes time.

And there are skilled people who can reverse throws in the air! I watched old footage of Mifune Sensei (one of the greatest Judo experts). His partner would throw him up in the air and Mifune Sensei would kick his feet, almost as if he was swimming. Then Mifune Sensei would reverse the throw while he was in the air! It was amazing.

A good grappler (of any art) can reverse throws, particularly big throws. It is much more difficult to reverse or escape from a small, quick throw.

Big throws may look good but small throws usually work better. Perhaps someone should tell that to the people who design book and magazine covers.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

So Much -- So Little

Some people do so much with so little.

Some people do so little with so much.

Just a thought.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

About Bad Habits

Last night I was teaching two new students how to punch from a stationary position (jigotai dachi). Both students are new. One only started training last night.

One of the students did something wrong. I think he punched too high or low, or did not bring his arm back correctly. I thought to myself, "that is a bad habit."

Then I caught myself. New students do not have bad habits. They do not have any Karate habits. Everything is new to them. They are just trying to copy me. They might make mistakes, but that is different from a bad habit.

Advanced students can have bad habits. They have learned and a mistake has become ingrained in their technique. They are doing something wrong all the time.

But a new student has no habits... not yet. It is up to us, as instructors, to teach properly and to ingrain the correct movements in the student's technique. We have to help him to form good habits and have to help prevent him from forming bad habits.

How many "bad habits" were formed because the teacher did not teach diligently? How many bad habits were allowed to slip through because the teacher was not paying attention or was too busy with other students?

My Sensei here in Hawaii, Sensei Rodney Shimabukuro, is very good about not going on until the student gets the technique right. If the student does not get it, he will start over again from the beginning. Shimabukuro Sensei's attitude is that each movement can be broken down into its basic parts. One part is built upon another. If one part is wrong, the next will be wrong too. That is why he is very patient about making each part correct. A little defect in one part can lead to a big defect in a later part, or the whole.

And one technique can form the basis for another. If one technique is defective, the next technique will also be wrong.

New students do not have bad habits (when it comes to Karate technique). They can only form the habits that we allow them to form. It is up to us, as instructors, to ensure that they learn to move correctly.

As I often say, any errors in the dojo are my errors.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Unarmed Martial Arts

Another thing that Stan Henning mentioned in his lecture about Chinese martial arts, was that the most important weapon in China for hundreds of years (perhaps longer) was the bow and arrow. I thought that the sword and spear were the most important weapons. However, it makes sense that the bow would be much better long distance weapon.

I imaging that the sword and spear looked much better in Kung Fu movies. Most people would not be that interested in watching people shoot each other with arrows.

But Stan also mentioned something that sounded familiar to me -- that the unarmed martial arts were used when you lost your weapon or your weapon was broken. Think about it -- unarmed martial arts only make sense when you are not armed. If your opponent has a weapon, you would want to have a weapon too. While there may be instances in which an unarmed martial artist defeated an armed warrior, such cases are few and far between. The more likely outcome would have been that the unarmed martial artist ran away or was killed.

Warriors were skilled in the use of weapons. Only when a weapon was lost or broken would the unarmed martial arts come into play -- and then only until a weapon could be obtained.

What makes Okinawan Karate so interesting is that it is a martial art built around unarmed techniques. In Karate, unarmed techniques are primary, not secondary.

In addition, Karate is a civilian martial art. It was not designed for use by the military. It was designed for use on the street (or to defend your home), not on the battlefield.

It is said that Karate developed because the people in Okinawa were prohibited from carrying weapons by the invading and occupying Satsuma samurai. However, it is also said that the social conditions in Okinawa were such that the people did not carry weapons. As a center of trade between China, Japan, and other countries, Okinawa was known as the land of courtesy, not warfare. Okinawan (Ryukyu) nobles did not carry weapons because it was not necessary or considered proper for them to do so. It may have been that such nobles actually had many weapons -- but would generally not carry them.

Many of the nobles were educated in China and Japan, where they could have and probably did learn about the use of weapons. The early Karate experts, particularly those of the noble and higher classes, were most likely trained in the classical weapons of the time. Matsumura Sensei, for example, was an expert of Japanese swordsmanship. I also heard stories about Kentsu Yabu teaching the use of a short, two edged sword in Okinawa.

As for the "common people", I have often been told that the most plentiful and readily available weapon in Okinawa, was a stone. Okinawa is a very rocky island. A stone could be thrown or put in cloth and swung like a flail.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

The Most Difficult Thing I Do

As most people know, in addition to teaching Karate, I am the head of the Hawaii Karate Museum. I should say the "head", hands, and feet.

I enjoy Karate research very much and find it personally rewarding. I also feel that it is important to collect and preserve old Karate books, articles, weapons, and artifacts so that future generations of Karate students will have access to these treasures.

However, there is one aspect of my "work" that is particularly difficult -- that so many of the elderly people I meet and become friends with die. Each year, people I know pass away. I am only 50, but I know many people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. Year by year, the group of elders grows smaller.

A man I knew died a few years ago. I recently heard that his widow just passed away. They were such a warm and friendly couple. I miss them very much. Although I knew them only briefly, they feel like relatives.

A 90 year old man came to one of my exhibits a few years ago. It was hard for him, but he wanted to show respect to his father who was included in the exhibit. His father had learned from Itosu Sensei. Not long after that, the man died. I can still see his face, standing before his father's photo, a photo he himself had allowed me to copy to include in the exhibit. He was so proud that his father was receiving some recognition.

I used to speak to an elderly Sensei on the telephone. Actually, I spoke to his wife and she would relay the questions. I thought it was because he was not comfortable in English. Actually, it was because he was bedridden and almost deaf. He did not want anyone to see him in such a condition.

We all grow old. That is inevitable. But how we grow old is something we can work on. We cannot control it, but we can do our best to be healthy, to be in good shape, to keep mentally alert, and to have a positive attitude. We can do our best to help others. There are things we can do... while we have time.

Karate makes me very happy. The loss of so many people I meet, respect, and grow fond of is the most difficult aspect of my Karate "work". I can imagine that other Karate researchers must have felt this, particularly Sensei such as Shoshin Nagamine and Morio Higaonna. The people they interviewed were often not strangers. The lived in Okinawa and interviewed people that could have been their relatives, townmates, or classmates.

When a Karate Sensei passes away, we all lose something. The same is true when a son, grandson, or student of a Karate Sensei, who has carried on his memory and teachings, passes away. We all lose something.

If you know a fine Sensei who is still living, particularly one in his 70s, 80s, or 90s, please take the time to pay your respect and give your thanks to him. Do not miss this opportunity. Life is very short.

For all the relatives and students of Karate Sensei who read this Blog, my respect and thanks to your Sensei!

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Japanese Influence on MA

Another thing that Stan Henning mentioned in his lecture about Chinese martial arts, was that monks in Southern China used their fighting skills to defend against Japanese pirates.

We also know that Okinawans (then in the Ryukyu Kingdom) had to develop their own martial arts to defend themselves against invading and occupying Japanese samurai from Satsuma (on Kyushu).

The martial arts owe a lot to the Japanese!

I am only joking. However, most Karate students who are taught that Karate originated in Japan (not exactly true), know little or nothing about the actual history that led to the development of Karate.

Karate was developed in Okinawa largely based on Okinawan students experiences with Chinese martial arts (Tu, or To, or Kara), as well as the indigenous mostly grappling art of Ti (or Te).

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

80% Food

A friend of mine who lives on the mainland was a serious power lifter. He is almost 70 and was working to set records in his age category before having a health setback. But the point is that he was a serious weight lifter.

He said that experts he dealt with often said that for serious weight lifters, 80% depended on the food they ate -- 80%. Serious weight lifters do not think of food -- they think of fuel.

I do not know if this exact percentage is true (I am not a weight lifter) but it makes sense to me that diet would be extremely important. All serious weight lifters will train regularly and hard. That is a given. But given two athletes training equally hard, the one with the better diet should do better. This is particularly true in weight lifting since it takes a special diet to build strong muscle.

If diet is so important to weight lifters, is it also important to martial artists? Does what we eat (and how often) affect our performance? Should we think of food as fuel (rather then just as things that taste good)?

As martial artists, even martial arts hobbiests, we are athletes. We have to be in good shape to perform at a peak level. What does a Karate instructor say when he is in terrible shape? Unless he has a medical problem, he is setting a pretty bad example.

As martial artists, we should be mindful of what we eat. We should watch our weight and health generally. We need to stay in good health in order to be able to practice martial arts. And at a high level, we need to put the proper fuel in our body to enable us to move in an "extraordinary" manner.

As a side note, I try to make sure that I don't eat things that will make me burp before I teach. No spicy foods on training days.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Guest Post: The Mirror

This Guest Post is by my friend and senior, Sensei Pat Nakata. Nakata Sensei is the head of the Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate Association in Hawaii. He was a student of Chosin (Choshin) Chibana in Shorin-Ryu, and also studied Ryukyu Kobudo under Sensei Fumio Nagaishi. When he was a young man, he studied Wado-Ryu Karate under Sensei Walter Nishioka.

- - - - - - - - - -

Too many times, we look outward and fail to look inward. When we look outward, it may appear like, "the grass looks greener on the other side" and we lose our focus. When we look deep into ourselves, we start to develop focus and we start to know our path. Looking inward is also looking at our system, our methodology. Our teachings are based on science, as are other schools, but their approaches, in most cases, are different. Our practice is from Chibana Chosin Sensei and his "ippon kowashi no waza (to destroy with one technique)". To develop this "ippon kowashi no waza", we must have correct posture, precise timing (kime), and correct movements (osae/press).

Chibana Sensei's teachings are based on the application of power. Chibana Sensei's teachings are found in his Kata. We initially learn by watching, and initially a mirror may help. As we advance, we should discard the use of a mirror, because it will distract our focus. Using a mirror is looking outward, we must develop our "inner mirror", which is our "kimochi (feeling)". "Kimochi" cannot be taught or demonstrated and can be developed only by diligent training by keeping our focus.

Now the riddle: We refine our Kata with "kimochi", but as we start to reach the higher stages of refinement our "kimochi" starts to become imperceptible. Although the "kimochi" becomes imperceptible, it is still there. It is our "mind's eye" that keeps our focus. Again, we can only reach this stage through constant training. If we loose the spirit of repetition, we loose our focus and we loose our way.

So, go look into that "mirror".

Pat Nakata

Most Upsetting Things

In my years of Karate training, here are some things I have observed that really upset some instructors:

  • A student who leaves and teaches without permission.
  • A student who leaves and teaches without permission and takes students with him.
  • Another instructor who "steals" students.
  • A student who goes over his instructor's head (contacts a more senior instructor without permission).
  • A student who studies with another instructor on the side without permission.
  • Bad calls in tournaments.
  • A student who changes kata and techniques without permission.
  • A student who accepts rank or title from someone else or another organization (without permission).
  • A student who calls his Sensei by his first name (even once).
  • A student who shows any disrespect (even once).
  • Another instructor who shows disrespect, even if obliquely.
  • Talking behind the instructor's back.
  • Fiscal malfeasance (basically stealing).
  • Personal malfeasance.
This is certainly not a complete list. Some people carry around long lists of grudges. Karate would be so much easier if everyone, everywhere could get along. But human nature is human nature.

Many of the things on the list could be avoided by properly training students in courtesy, and by making expectations in the dojo very clear. Students can avoid most problems by simply asking permission first.

Also, Sensei should not be petty people. We teach to preserve and perpetuate the art -- not to create kingdoms.

One of the reasons I put my second son in charge of our dojo when I was only 49, was to break the usual cycle. If I have to be in charge to be a good Sensei, then the system is possibly flawed. My goal is to produce some fine instructors so that they can carry on the art. You have to let people teach in order for them to get good at it.

Many of the things on the list have to do with control in the dojo. I recall a saying that a Buddha has no fist, meaning that he is very open. We should try to lift up our students, not push them down. Control is important, but so is generosity.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that students do not only upset instructors -- instructors can do things to upset students too. The relationship is a two way street. There are good students and good instructors. There are also bad students and bad instructors.

A bad instructor is like a bad doctor. You should get a better one -- after all, it's your health! Actually, you should not get a better one, you should get the best one!

As a student, you should do your best to find a good instructor, to be a good student, and eventually to become a good instructor yourself.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Pinan Shodan

Tonight I was teaching Pinan Shodan to a student. I have to say that Itosu Sensei certainly must have enjoyed himself creating this as the first kata to teach school students. It is an impossible first kata!

Just take the first few movements -- they are all two handed combinations. And then there are all the shuto uke movements!

I put Pinan Shodan up there among the most difficult kata in our system. Before you get me wrong, I mean that it is difficult to do well -- not difficult to learn or gently move through. But to do this kata well is a real feat.

I have to admit that several years before I had the good luck and privilege to meet my Sensei, Sensei Katsuhiko Shinzato, I saw a video of him performing Pinan Shodan. I thought that he was a magician!

You see, Pinan Shodan without koshi is, well... pretty unsatisfying and clunky. But with koshi, it is like silk magic. The movements just burst out.

I think that Itosu Sensei might have made Pinan Shodan as a Gordian knot ("any very difficult problem; insoluble in its own terms"). You can't solve it using the usual rules. To do the kata well, you have to use your body, particularly your core, in a very coordinated manner. You have to cut through a rigid approach to movement.

You could watch 100 people do the kata. No, no, no, no, no.......... bam! Yes, that is it!

I don't know if Itosu Sensei really intended this. My perspective might be slanted because of my Kishaba Juku training. In our system, certain kata really stand out -- because they give us a great opportunity to use our koshi.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

A Confession

I have to confess something. On Monday nights I have been wearing a black Judo gi at the dojo. We train in a matted room on Monday nights, and I like to teach ukemi and take downs, thus the Judo gi. But I did not want anyone to say that I was teaching Judo or Aikido, thus the black gi.

However, I know that some people might say that I am dressed like a Kenpo person, and in fact I did teach Kenpo before I even studied Shorin-Ryu. In some ways, once Kenpo always Kenpo.

But when you really get down to it, I just wanted to wear black sometimes. Color shouldn't matter, and I have been wearing white for over 30 years. I sort of missed the black gi. A black Judo gi is so nice!

And black gi don't get as dirty.

Actually, I think that Kendo gi are the nicest. But they are not made for grappling and they don't come with matching bottoms. I don't like hakama (they are just too hard to fold).

So if you ever see me in black, it means that I am teaching Shorin-Ryu ukemi and take downs.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

How I Got Here

When I was a child in Misawa Air Force Base Japan, I started Judo because I did not want to play little league baseball. I was on a swim team and the pool was next to the gym. I had seen Judo at the gym. I saw Kendo too, but that was only for adults.

So I started martial arts training as a way not to play baseball.

When I came to Hawaii, I initially continued Judo training. I was in intermediate school.

When I was in high school, I was a Boy Scout. One of my friends, Chris, told me about a Karate class and I went with him. It was a Kenpo Karate class and that is how I started Karate training. the Sensei also taught Tai Chi and Gung Fu, so I learned that too.

Later in high school, my then fiance's older brother told me about another Karate class. I went with him to meet Sensei Tommy Morita at the Nuuanu YMCA, who recommended that we go train with his student, Sensei Rodney Shimabukuro, who taught class closer to where we lived. So I was introduced to Shorin-Ryu by my (now) brother-in-law.

My brother-in-law was attending law school on the mainland. He was studying and teaching Shorin-Ryu and one summer when he returned to Hawaii, decided to start practicing Aikido here. Shimabukuro Sensei had encouraged my brother-in-law and me to study other martial arts. So I started learning Aikido too, with Sensei Sadao Yoshioka.

While I was attending the University of Hawaii, I saw a Kendo class. So I started learning Kendo under Sensei Chuichi Fureyama, who also taught Iaido, so I started to learn Iaido too.

Eventually I started to teach Shorin-Ryu. I eventually became a student of Sensei Katsuhiko Shinzato who lives in Yonabaru, Okinawa. He also teaches Yamani-Ryu bojutsu, and I also learn that from Shinzato Sensei.

I have left out some twists and turns (many twists and turns), but I have gotten here because: (1) I did not like baseball, (2) a Boy Scout friend's recommendation; (3) my brother-in-law's recommendations; and (4) lots of luck.

Had things worked out differently, I might have become a professional baseball player! Not!

Here is my point. I really enjoy Karate training. But had I lived closer to downtown Honolulu, I might have trained under Morita Sensei rather than Shimabukuro Sensei. Actually, I once called Sifu Andrew Lum to ask about learning Tai Chi, but his classes were too far away for me (at that time I only rode a bike).

My life could have been very different if I lived somewhere else. For me, martial arts training was series of chances and recommendations. With just a little change, I could have studied Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, or another style of Karate. It just so happened that I started Shorin-Ryu training at a formative time in my life, and have done so ever since.

If I had studied Shotokan, I would probably still be doing so. It is hard to change paths once you have trained for 10, 20 or 30 years. It is possible, but difficult.

I went to an awards ceremony some time back. It was for lifetime achievement in the martial arts. One gentleman was given an award for Judo. In his acceptance speech, he mentioned that he actually started Kendo first, before World War II, but that Kendo training was prohibited during the war and for some time afterward. Judo training resumed shortly after the war, so he started Judo. But if not for the war, he would have continued Kendo. This is what he said when he received a lifetime achievement award for Judo.

We all get where we are by strange paths. What matters is that we are serious about martial arts, and, as teachers, want to pass it on to the next generation of students. Style and organizations don't matter very much. What matters is that we train and teach sincerely. What matters is that we are martial artists and apply what we learn in the dojo to our daily lives.

Whether Shorin-Ryu or Uechi-Ryu or Shotokan or Kenpo, Judo, Aikido, Kendo, Iaido, or MMA, we are all martial artists. I respect serious students of any style or art. Had things been a little different, I could we writing about Judo, or Aikido, or even baseball. Probably not baseball (because I have always bad eyesight and could never focus on the ball).

How did you get where you are?

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Prove and Proof

Something I have observed...

There are two types of Sensei -- those who have something to prove and those who are the proof.

I am extremely fortunate to know many fine Sensei who are living proof of the value of Karate in forming a refined character, shaping a strong and healthy body, and creating true Karate gentlemen (bushi).

I also have met some instructors who always seem to have something to prove.

We are the proof of what we do and stand for. Sensei can only teach by their example.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Shortcuts

Not long ago, I mentioned to a student that "Karate without applications is like Windows without the shortcut keys."

If you use Windows programs as much as I do, you probably could not imagine not having the shortcut keys. They make computing so much easier and faster.

Just like the applications and body dynamics of Karate.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

McCarthy Sensei on YouTube

I usually do not provide links to YouTube videos. Sometimes, videos of a Sensei will be on YouTube without his permission.

But some Sensei post videos on YouTube. Sensei Patrick McCarthy has recently done so, and announced it publicly. So I feel good about letting readers know about his YouTube presence.

Please see:

http://youtube.com/user/mccarthysensei
McCarthy Sensei has posted a wide range of video clips (52 so far) ranging from historic footage to excerpts of his training videos. He has been a generous supporter of the Hawaii Karate Museum and I admire his willingness to share his knowledge about the martial arts, in print, on video, and in person.

By comparison, I am far more reluctant to share videos of myself. You could call it selfishness, being conservative, or being unsure. I appreciate Sensei, such as McCarthy Sensei, who are willing to "put it out there." In the case of YouTube, he is doing so free of charge. How about that!

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Looking Violent

Recently, I demonstrated the applications of some movements to a student. The student commented that I look "so violent."

I thought about it. The techniques were pretty destructive. If used properly, they definitely would cause damage to the attacker. From that perspective, the techniques were violent -- even if only to be used in self-defense.

But I did not feel violent. It is not as if my blood boils when I demonstrate applications. In fact, I feel the same as when I pick weeds in the yard or when I go fishing. Techniques are just techniques. I feel completely normal when I demonstrate them -- no different at all.

The techniques may look violent but I do not feel violent. And it is not as if I am numb to violence. I hate violence. The world would be a much better place if all people were peaceful. But short of that, self-defense is a useful skill.

When practicing Karate, I do not feel violent, angry, mad, enraged, etc. I don't feel anything emotionally.

My only aim is to work on refining my movement. And if I have to use Karate in self-defense, then that will simply be a necessity. I would be reluctant to do so, but if it became a last resort, then there would have to be no reluctance or hesitation. It would be time to act. But I hope I would not feel violent.

And to my students, if I ever look violent, please rest assured that I am not. Karate is for peace, not violence.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Why Block?

This is a multiple choice question. Why do you block?

  1. To keep from getting hit.
  2. To deflect the attacker's punch.
  3. To stop the attacker's punch.
  4. To destroy the attacker's arm.
  5. To set up for a counterattack.
  6. To get closer to the attacker to that you can counterattack.
  7. To protect yourself while simultaneously counterattacking.
  8. To push off the attacker temporarily while you try to reason with him.
  9. To give the attacker a chance to back down.
  10. To create a space that will enable you to escape.
  11. To establish that you tried to protect yourself first before counterattacking (thus bolstering your self-defense argument in court).
  12. Because when you are caught unaware, your first instinct is to protect yourself by throwing up your hands (in a block).
  13. Because we are taught to block in Karate.
  14. You don't know.
  15. All of the above.
  16. Some of the above.
  17. None of the above.
  18. Other: ___________________________________
OK, have you thought of an answer?

I have to admit that I hated multiple choice questions in school. I would either think that all the answers were right (or at least partially correct) or I would have my own different answer. Perhaps that is why I became a lawyer -- in law there is usually not only one answer, and your get points for being able to argue the facts and law.

So when it comes to blocking, why the multiple choices? Because... why you block shapes how you will block and move.

If you are only trying to stop a punch, you will probably get hit by a second or third punch. No one can stop every punch. Eventually one will get through.

Beginners are taught to simply block. We do pairing off drills. One student punches and the other blocks. Punch, punch, block, block. But that is only for beginners.

For more advanced students, the drills have to be more complete. What comes after the block? Do you counterattack, and if so, how?

Block, then counterattack.

Even that is basic. A more advanced student will simultaneously block and counterattack.

Even that is basic. A more advanced student might not block at all. If a punch is coming, he might simply punch the attacker in the face before the attacker's punch can land. Blocking is slow. Even the fastest block is not as fast as a swift punch. Sometimes we divert the attacker's punch with our own punch. He misses and we hit him in the face (or wherever we desire).

The more advanced a student becomes, the less he relies on simple blocks.

But at a very, very advanced stage, a student might revert to blocks to destroy the attacker's arm. This sounds very severe, but actually it is very humane. Which is worse, a broken arm or a broken neck? Can you imagine the damage an expert would cause if he hit an attacker in the face? A broken arm is much more humane, and should stop the fight.

My good friend and senior Sensei Pat Nakata once told me about an incident. A guy ran up and tried to punch him (I'm leaving out the details that led up to this, but it was not Nakata's Sensei's fault). Nakata Sensei punched the guy in the head and knocked him out. While he was unconscious, a policeman came. Nakata Sensei started to explain what happened. Without warning, the guy regained consciousness and jumped up. He was ready to continue the fight and had no idea that he had been knocked out. Fortunately, Nakata Sensei and the policeman talked him down. Actually, the guy was impressed when he realized that he had been knocked out by such a well known Karate Sensei.

But the point is -- he wanted to keep fighting. Being knocked out did not permanently injure him (he probably did lose some brain cells). He could have kept going.

But he probably would have been unable to continue if his arm had been broken. And that would have been more humane. If he had been able to continue, he could have been killed. (Also, he certainly picked the wrong person to mess with.)

Why you block will shape how you block. What are you trying to accomplish?

In the dojo, someone punches and you block. In the real world, it is not so simple or nice. My Kenpo friends often say that the fight isn't over if the attacker is still standing. When you block, are you thinking of simply stopping or avoiding a punch, or starting a process leading to the destruction or incapacitation of the attacker?

Block and counter should not be thought of as two things. They are parts of the same thing.

Just something to think about.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Heel To The Face

One more MMA story...

My sons and I also watched a match in which one competitor was lying on his back. The other fighter tried to jump in and deliver a Superman punch to the face. Bam! The guy on the ground kicked him right in the face with his heel! KO!

Here is the point. If someone is on the ground, you have to be very careful. Don't just jump in with a punch or a kick. If the grounded person is a grappling expert, he wants you to jump in. He is inviting you to attack. He is thinking "please attack me on the ground!"

In Karate, if the attacker is lying on his back on the ground, it is time to get away. You also have to watch out for his friends.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

An Injured Knee

Last night, when my sons and I were watching MMA on cable television, we observed a match won by a leg lock. The loser tapped out, but not before his knee appeared to be badly injured. Injuries seem to be pretty common in MMA.

I was speaking to former Chief of Police Lee Donohue, Sr. One of his teachers was Takamasa Bingo, who taught Kenpo at the Te Ken Jutsu Kai dojo, here in Hawaii and later on the mainland. Bingo Sensei learned from Sensei Masaichi Oshiro, who in turn learned from Professor William Chow. When Oshiro Sensei switched to Goju-Ryu, Bingo Sensei continued to teach Kenpo.

Bingo Sensei mentioned to Donohue Sensei that he did not want his students to participate in tournaments. He said that his students all had jobs and could not afford to be injured in a sport match. An injury could prevent them from working and earning a livelihood.

My friend, Professor Kimo Ferreira, told me about a tournament in which one of his students suffered a broken knee from a "cheap shot." A broken knee could easily make a student lose a job.

I'm sure that you have seen or heard of serious injuries in tournaments.

I agree with Bingo Sensei's advice. While we are learning self-defense, we should try our best to avoid injuries.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Karate in MMA

My sons and I like to watch MMA on cable television. One thing we have noticed...

Not that many fighters say that they have a Karate background, and those who do, usually lose. The best fighters tend to have backgrounds in Ju Jitsu/grappling and boxing.

I am not saying that Karate is not an excellent martial art. I do believe that Karate is not designed for sport or fighting -- it is designed for self-defense.

The rules of MMA favor competitors who excel at knock outs and submissions. You don't win by escaping.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Domestic Violence

There was a tragedy here in Hawaii in January. A young woman was killed in the street by her ex-boyfriend, a 340 pound man standing 6 feet 2 inches tall. He rammed her car first and then bludgeoned her to death with a shotgun.

A few weeks earlier, I had witnessed a tall man arguing with his girlfriend (apparently) in a parking lot at a shopping center. I would estimate that he weighed over 200 pounds and she weighed barely 100 pounds. He did not hit her, but they were arguing.

Whether an attacker weights 340 pounds or 200 pounds, a small woman is at a serious disadvantage. The attacker is taller, stronger, has a longer reach, can take a hit, etc. Honestly, there is little chance that a woman could defend herself in such a situation. Certainly, she could not trade punches with the attacker.

Please don't get me wrong. I know that there are many strong women and excellent martial artists. But when a woman is outweighed by over 100 pounds and the attacker is many times stronger... the best defense is to avoid the situation. By the time the attacker is punching, or hitting with a shotgun, it is too late for most martial arts techniques. The only hope is for the woman to escape or call for help.

In the case of the shotgun wielding attacker, a brave bystander did try to help. He was struck and seriously injured.

I know that some of you might be thinking that the woman could poke the attacker in the eyes, poke him in the throat, or kick him in the groin. I realize that these are useful techniques, but do you really think they would work? Maybe... but I am pretty sure that a shotgun wielding 340 pound man in a rage could not be stopped by a kick to the groin by a 100 pound woman. It is possible, but highly unlikely.

I try to teach Karate the very best that I can. However, my warning to my students, particularly my female students, is that Karate is a last resort. This does not only mean that it is something we should use with great reluctance. It also means that we should try to avoid having to use Karate techniques by avoiding the violent situation. By the time Karate becomes the last resort, our lives are in danger. We should do our best to avoid that last resort.

And realistically, a woman who is outweighed by 100 pounds or more cannot expect to "win" by punches and kicks. The best that she can hope for is to use a technique, such as a poke or rake to the eyes, that might buy her a second or two to escape.

It is good to spend time learning and practicing Karate, or any martial art. But when it comes to personal safety, the greatest effort must be spent on avoiding dangerous situations.

Here are websites with information about domestic violence in Hawaii:

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Tiles on the Floor

We had a new student join the dojo this week. It is hard for new students, because most of our students have practiced for a while, in some cases for many years. New students feel a bit overwhelmed. I told the student:

"Look at the floor. Our room is about 1500 square feet and has 12 inch tiles. That means that there are about 1500 tiles. If you had to install that many tiles all at once, it would be very hard. But if you put one down each time you came to class, in a few years you would cover the whole floor.

In Karate, you will only learn a little at each class. But if you keep training, the techniques will add up, just like the tiles on the floor."
Karate is learned little by little.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Hands and Knees

Today I worked in my yard. For those of you on the mainland, it was a sunny day in the 80s. I actually got a sunburn!

Anyway, my yard looked pretty good, but when I got down on my hands and knees I could see some weeds. I could not see them when I was standing.

It is sort of like that when you teach Karate. When you watch students moving in the dojo from afar, things might look pretty good. But when you get up close and pay attention to each individual movement and body position, you might see errors.

You have to get up close... for weeds and errors.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Internal and External

Another thing that Stanley Henning mentioned in his lecture on Chinese martial arts...

Temples that taught Buddhism were considered external because Buddhism came to China from another country (India).

Temples that taught Taoism (Daoism) were considered internal because that religion developed within China.

So it is possible that the martial arts taught in these temples were labeled "external" or "internal" because of the religions taught there.

As far as the martial arts distinction between "internal" and "external", Stan often points out that any martial art requires both. No martial art can be completely "internal" or "external". In fact, the distinction often has more to do with political code words or symbolism.

Those of us who study Karate, are happy to find a book or article from the 1920s. But by studying the earlier Chinese martial arts, we are studying the earliest roots of Karate. Remember that the early kanji for Karate read "Tudi" or "Tote" meaning "Tang Hand." The Tang Dynasty (618-906) was used as a term for China.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Protecting the Gold

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Stanley Henning on Chinese martial arts. I learned many things and will write about some things as I collect my thoughts.

One thing Stan said really stuck in my mind. He mentioned that one of the reasons monks learned martial arts was to protect the precious statues and other valuables stored in the temple. This would apply to the Shaolin monks as well as those of other temples.

If you have wealth, you have to protect it from thieves and robbers. So the monks would help to feed the poor but would fight against robbers. Do you see the irony?

The more the temple has, the more it needs protection... the more it needs trained fighters.

Maybe if the temples did not have valuables, they would not need so much defense. Perhaps poverty would be a better way to ensure peace.

We normally think of monks and priests as being unattached to material things. Material and "worldly" things should be beneath them. Should they risk their lives to protect statues and use their martial arts skills to kill robbers? Is a statue worth more than a life, even of a robber?

And does having wealth endanger the monks (and people living nearby) by attracting robbers?

Just something to think about.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Making It Look Easy

When a Karate expert demonstrates, people often say that "He makes it look so easy!"

I have heard that many times during my Karate life. But I have only recently realized that the saying is not quite right. The assumption is that the expert is doing something hard and is just making it look easy. In fact, because of his understanding and skill, what he is doing is easy... to him. He makes it look easy because it is easy.

Now it would be very difficult for an untrained person to move the same way. That would be hard. However, if a person were to train and study hard enough and long enough, he should be able to move the same way, easily.

My Sensei has a way of making everything look very easy and fun!

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin