News from Eastern Arts #008
Eastern Arts Newsletter )
A Periodic Newsletter from George E. Mattson October 2004
Whats happening in the Uechi-ryu world
  • Long Journey to Florida
  • Leaving behind the memories and old friends
  • Where Tia & George spend their early mornings
  • Debate over the "sound of one hand clapping"!
  • Gushi Sensei. . . How can you not like him!
  • New England Classic
  • "SummerFest" Dates are set!
  • Take your Winter Break in Orlando!
  • Dear George,

    Happy New Year all. . . Susan, Tia and I have finally moved in to our home in Florida and finished unpacking most of our household goods. After 27 years in one place, we acquired a lot of things we never remembered getting. Going from a 3 floor and basement house to 1900 square feet of living area is a big change. I've been looking for dojo space in the area. So far I've only seen three dojo in the neighboring towns and all are TKD. I suspect that there must be a few adults in the area who would like to study Uechi-ryu. I'll keep you posted. Train hard and often.

    George E. Mattson

    Long Journey to Florida

    What began as a leisurely transfer to Florida turned out to be a nightmare? We sold our house in one week with the condition that we could be out within two weeks. To make matters worse, on the day we were passing papers, the new owners were transferring ownership in their home. We had two moving companies at our door at the same time; ours trying to get boxes out while the other company was trying to get boxes in! Poor Susan was still packing her office in boxes while our moving company was threatening to leave for their next job!

    We ended up having to ship four large boxes of last minute items to Florida by UPS. We then discovered we couldn't leave Brockton until Monday (it was Friday), so ended up (with our four boxes) at a local hotel for the weekend.

    Of course the shipping company decided they couldn't get our possessions to Florida as promised, so we took advantaged of the extra days by visiting friends along the way. I especially want to thank Roy Bedard who graciously showed us the sites of Tallahassee and quite a few fine restaurants in the area. He almost had us convinced to move there. What an absolutely beautiful place. The only drawback was the price of airline tickets to Boston. For some reason, it is very expensive to fly out of Tallahassee, whereas Orlando always has great deals on airfares.

    I also wish to thank David Berndt and Joanne Taylor for helping us during the nearly two months it took to find a house and actually be able to move in. We ended up staying with David and his cat "Aggie" for most of that time. Funny story about how Tia and Aggie (both very independent animals and accustomed to being the only pet. They ended up being friends as you can see by the photo, although Tia mostly tried to ignore Aggie.

    Everyone is happy now. Tia is once again "Queen of the roost" and Susan has her new kingsize bed with a mattress that won't wake her up when Tia or I move around. I'm happy because . . . well, because everyone else is happy.

    Leaving behind the memories and old friends

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    Needless to say, after 27 years, Susan and I played host to quite a few martial art dignitaries at our Brockton home. As we were packing, Susan suggested that we should have kept a "guestbook", where all who stayed with us could have signed the book. Grandmaster Kanei Uechi and his wife stayed with us twice. Kanmei Uechi and Ryuko Tomoyose had rooms named in their honor at the Brockton manor.

    Amusing stories relating to the first delegation of Chinese martial artist abound, especially the time when the first group decided to get up early and walk around the block. Many of our neighbors didn't lock their doors and the Chinese simply walked in and around, checking out the appliances and indoor plumbing. Fortunately, most of our neighbors knew about the Chinese visiting us and graciously showed the visitors around their homes.  

    We loved the house and the neighborhood and were sorry in some ways that we couldn't move both to Florida with us. But Mount Dora is hilly and has lots of trees. In many ways, it encompasses the best of our old homestead with NO SNOW!

    Where Tia & George spend their early mornings

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     I originally hailed from Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes. Well, here in the Mount Dora area, we have lots of lakes and parks. Tia and I spend our very early mornings playing and doing our kata. We have the entire park to ourselves. Hey, its tough, but someone's got to do it! :)

    Debate over the "sound of one hand clapping"!

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    I subscribe to quite a few other lists and forums. Interestingly, this week I received a number of email from one list that addresses many of the "realistic" fighting questions we spar over, here on Eastern Arts. Because each email was from a traditional practitioner of different ranks, the insights offered were particularly enlightening. (See if you can tell who the experts are and who are the students. Oh yes, one is a woman.)

    Obviously the topic is a hot one, since quite a few individuals and groups have targeted the martial arts for destruction and are quite visible on all forums and lists with intelligent topics such as "Who is tougher: A boxer, karate guy or a wrassler?" I hope you will enjoy these letters as I did. Perhaps one of more of the four opinions will make sense to you. I felt it refreshing to see martial arts discussed in a manner that makes sense to those of us who actually train and enjoy what we do. Email me if you want the identities of the writers.

    # 1: Subject: Violence

    . . .

    In my personal opinion, if one desires to have the understanding and ability (physical and mental) to defend themselves in a real street situation, then they should participate in the following training activities:

    Good physical conditioning (cardio and strength)

    Contact conditioning training

    Full contact dojo fighting without protective gear, with rules that include grabbing, throwing, choking, joint locks, kneeing, kicking, leg whipping, elbows, etc. Obviously you cannot hit full contact to the head/face unless you wear protective headgear intended for full contact.

    If with the above, none of this training will work if someone pulls out a gun. Still in the end, the very best method of self defense is to never engage.

    However, I personally believe that training that is absent of body conditioning and full contact fighting on a regular basis, does very little toward preparing oneself to experience full contact in the street against an angry and confident street fighter.

    Hopefully the character and morals that we learn and strive for, as well as the self control we practice will keep us from having to ever use our martial skills. Although I am totally against solving things via violence and have always done my utmost to avoid physical conflict, I have found myself becoming involved in the protection of other weaker persons who could not defend themselves. For these rare instances, I have been extremely glad that my training included extensive body conditioning and full contact fighting.

    I sincerely wished there was never violence or situations in which we have to choose to risk ourselves and to risk injuring another.

    Anything in life that we do all of the time, whether it is cooking, playing chess, reading, skiing, basketball, or any other activity; we become comfortable, relaxed, and good at it. The same holds true for combat. If nobody ever tries to hit, kick, or throw you hard, then it is impossible to become good at defending it. Goju Ryu has a form of continuous kumite called Iri Kumi. There is Iri Kumi GO and Iri Kumi Ju. The only difference between the two is that GO involves hitting the head/face and Iri Kumi JU allows full contact to the body but no head/face contact. I'm very glad we have this type of training and I personally feel it is invaluable in demonstrating what works and what doesn't. It is also very valuable in teaching you to receive hard contact, overcome, and fight back.

    #2: Another point of view:. . . your post has succeeded in drawing me out from lurking.  I am one of those who has never had to use my self defense in a physically and potentially life threatening situation.  However, I think much of that is due to good training.  The training has changed my thinking, perceptions, and expectations.  I work with violent offenders, and am around people on a daily basis who are out of control with their violence.  As the years have gone by, I have become intimately acquainted with my own violence, and to master it.  I have applied the principles of my training so that I do not get attacked, and perceive the attacks coming before they become physical (on the level of intention).  I have been "caught in dangerous conflict situations" many times, but have been able to diffuse without resorting to physical force.  In a way, I hope I never have to defend my life and limb, or that of a loved one, but I think you are right about the rules of engagement.  One must have all this sorted out in advance, because if, and when the time comes, there is no time to contemplate! 

    #3: Another interesting point of view: Suffice it to say I have met over the years a number of black belts (in a variety of martial arts) who whilst being friendly and excellent people - might just have well have taken up knitting for all the good their martial arts training would do them if ever they were unlucky enough to get caught in a dangerous conflict situation...

    Let's just take two small aspects.

    ONE: You HAVE to be able to evaluate your training - your strengths and your weaknesses. You have to be able to think your way past 'Sensei Says' and 'It works in tournaments' and 'I will be able to do this technique right if I just practice it some more' and...

    TWO: You have to be able to pre-plan - How do you avoid 'bad' situations? What would your response be to such a situation if your avoidance strategy has failed? What is your backup plan? What are your rules of engagement? What are you willing to do to win? Are you willing to maim or kill? What if you can't win, do you still get involved? What exit strategies do you have? What if you get badly beaten up or crippled or blinded - what then? AND SO ON......

    If from your style of martial arts you have learnt a thousand techniques then you should have pre-planned five thousand scenarios in your head.

    - Oh and by the way the reason you absolutely NEED to think about your martial arts - is that in combat there is virtually no time to think - you have to KNOW at a conscious and sub-conscious level so that you automatically do the optimum thing...

    . . .

    Of course the good news is 99% of martial artists never use their skills in a serious confrontation so the fact that (let's be charitable) 97% of them couldn't use their skills doesn't matter very much :

    #4 I like this one: Subject: RE: Violence

    . . .Contact conditioning training One flaw in your full contact training is that there are other parts of the body that are just as anatomically weak as being smacked in the melon, some even more so. I understand the end that you wish to get here but would have to suggest that it would side line more than it would benefit.

    If with the above, none of this training will work if someone pulls out a gun. If you have noting to lose that is not already going to be lost (life), you have to jump on the chance.

    If nobody ever tries to hit, kick, or throw you hard, then it is impossible to become good at defending it.

    I have seen footage of the Combat Ki bunch taking one in the groin and I have to think that there are better techniques than development of you iron shorts.

    #5 Well, yes. . . You wrote in part:

    One flaw in your full contact training is that there are other parts of the body that are just as anatomically weak as being smacked in the melon, some even more so. . .


    I agree there are more vulnerable parts, but my point is that a lot of martial artist who have never been hit or only hit by controlled techniques, believe that they can defend themselves, only to find out that their neurological and physical response the first time that someone clocks them is "shock", hesitation, psychological defeat, and surprise.

    I argue that if you practice kicking the thigh and lower body with your shin, then it is very easy to adjust that kick to joints and other vulnerable areas. Although any human being can "get lucky" and strike a vulnerable area with focus and power, it is rare, especially when someone is attacking you with all they are worth, and your natural reaction is trying to protect yourself and get out of the way.

    Very few people are able to launch well focused and powerful techniques to vulnerable areas during the hest of battle against a tough and aggressive attacker. In fact, the one punch kill, that is taught and practiced in karate, is a great concept but very rarely is achieved in real battle.

    You are fully entitled to your opinion about full contact training sidelining, but I completely disagree with you. It has been my experience that people that feel this way have either never participated in it pertaining to their training, or have never been in a real self defense situation against a skilled and determined street fighter.

    #6 I've got to work tomorrow! Subject: RE: Violence

    Don't get me wrong, I think the only way to train for self defense is to the point of tapping. But if I am training the last thing I want my partner to do is a red line shin kick to my thigh, I don't care if he is practicing for a knee kick or not. If you are going to do a controlled kick doesn't that take away from what you are trying to accomplish? I agree toss that protective equipment in the closet but you are going to have to drag out the focus mitts and Thai pads to do the thumping. The anatomically weak areas that you will hyper excite with finger, hand or elbow can be done to the tap point OR A BIT MORE.:-) I don't think that we are that far off.

    #7 Well, you knew my favorite was coming! Hi

    Just picked up on the thread on full contact (Re: violence).  I am in disagreement not on full contact v semi contact which I personally think comes down to the risk appetite of the people training (dependent in my opinion) on their genetically set testosterone level) but on the whole concept that martial arts training is adequate or necessary or even helpful preparation for self defence scenarios.

    Note there are three different negative assertions being put forward

    1.  Martial arts training is not adequate preparation for self defence.

    2.  Martial arts training is not necessary preparation for self defence.

    3.  Martial arts training is not helpful preparation for self defence.

    By self defence, I mean physically protecting oneself, loved ones and/or property from physical assault in a lawful manner.

    Taking each assertion in turn.  Martial arts training is not adequate preparation for physical self defence precisely because it tends to concentrate almost wholly on physical aspects (speed, strength, stamina, technique).  In the majority of classes in various different styles that I have trained in or with, little or nothing is done to address other necessary aspects of training to deal with physical conflict e.g. legality of application of force, psychology, tactics, strategy etc.  The class or conference expects and the instructor finds it easy to comply with teaching martial arts as a sophisticated (and health beneficial) form of callesthenics rather than really address the thorny issues of dealing with the street as it really is (i.e. a warzone) and not as people would fondly imagine it to be (i.e. a jumped version of the school playground bullies and all).

    Martial arts training is not necessary for self defence training as people are evidently capable (from all the newspaper stories) of quite adequately defending themselves without it QED

    Martial arts training is not helpful preparation for self defence because the general psychology of martial artists is to confront things head on and to try to win i.e. by putting the other person down or taking them out which is a high risk strategy (it has a 50/50 chance of success - either you win or you lose).  Thus the possibilities of both strategic retreat and fighting from the shadows (i.e. using sneaky low down tactics on a hit and run basis) are never examined in any depth, if at all.  Secondly, martial arts combinations tend to rely on elaborate sets of skills which can and do come off in the sports arena but fall down in the intensely adrenal scenarios of the street.  Finally, martial artists tend consciously or subconsciously to adhere to an honour code which denies them the ability to cease tactical opportunities (such as the nearest chair, bottle, glass, snooker cue and/or various projectiles) even when they are confronted by numerous opponents who are probably armed.  Hollywood has a lot to answer for here as well.

    This is not to say that there aren't martial artists who have defended themselves with martial arts but generally speaking these guys were tough hobos to begin with and all martial arts training has done is sharpen the knife.  The rest of us tend to be spoons and no amount of sharpening will change that fact.

    finally, finally, finally, in terms of self protection physical self defence is only one potential countermeasure and usually not the optimal one.  Martial arts is a good way of getting fit and reasonable way of making friends but it isn't and never was the be all and end all of self protection or self defence.

    Amen. . .



    Gushi Sensei. . . How can you not like him!

    I really enjoyed working out with Sensei Gushi last month. He is one memorable individual and a gifted instructor from the "old" school. In this day and age of rapidly changing information and expert testimony regarding the pros and cons of the "old" ways, it is refreshing to simply work out without worrying about what expert is going to tell you regarding your methods and how they are "behind" the times. Sometimes its just nice to practice with a "mind like still water".

    New England Classic

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    Kid's Tournament 1/23/05

    Hello All:

    I hope this note finds you all in good health and working out hard. Please know that on Sunday January 23rd , Sensei Fred Channel will be hosting the next tournament in the New England Children's Tournament Series.
    Please mark this date in on your calendars, and please try to attend and show your support and solidarity.

    The series itself has been doing very well. Each tournament over all has an average of 130 kids competing. This is a very impressive number based on the fact that historically most Uechi / Shohei Ryu dojo's do not support tournaments or events outside of there own schools. The one area that is most important is the referee's and judgers. All promoters need your support and help. Please try to attend and help give the future kids of Uechi / Shohei Ryu a good time.

    Please try to think back when you first started your karate training. You may have many great memories. This tournament series is giving these kids the same memories, they will remember though out their karate life. You being a tournament judge make's this all possible.

    Please contact Fred Channel ( ) and let him know if you will be attending.

    If I can answer any questions, please just contact me.

    Thank you - Jay Salhanick

    "SummerFest" Dates are set!

    I've been getting lots of calls and email asking about SummerFest dates. Well, Susan just committed to the weekend of August 11-13th. This year we will be taking over the entire Maritime Academy, so we need lots of martial artist who don't mind getting their gi grass-stained, feet a little sunburned and working hard from early morning until late at night. (well... from 8-Midnight we play hard!) Click on the picture to enter our secure server store and register today! This year, take advantage of the best martial art camp . . . ANYWHERE!

    Take your Winter Break in Orlando!

    WinterFest dates are: 2nd weekend in February: Plan to arrive on Thursday, Feb 10th, Workout on Fri and Sat (11th & 12th) Travel day on Sunday. We have a stellar cast of presenters. The only thing missing is a YOU. Tired of all that snow and cold weather. Come on down and enjoy the sun and warm weather workouts with all us Floridians. I hear Gary Khoury is coming and I know Raff will be here. How about you? All you need to do is click on the picture and fill out the form. What a wonderful opportunity.

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