Dec 13 2008

Clearing the Way through spiritual Martial Arts

by Sensei Sequoia

 WELCOME TO HANTA YO …. The Martial Arts, although fighting arts, are at the deepest level about the fight over ones self. We find our own internal contradictions to be our true enemy. Gaining control over energies is the purpose of discipline and focus. We may then utilize this focused energy toward healing, well-being and creative expression.

Usually people are fixated in their attention. This is a condition when excessive interior dialogue, unconscious bodily function and perpetual emotional consideration keep us stuck in limited areas of our body/mind. The work of Martial Arts is designed to spread consciousness to the extremities of our body so that the hands and feet have as much awareness in them as our thoughts and feelings. The over all effect of conscious work through Martial Arts is to produce a human being who is vitally centered and able to be a positive agent in all aspects of life, including conflict.

Hanta Yo is a Lakota Sioux term that means, “clear the way”. It indicates the intention of drawing on the Great Spirit to clear the way while you do your part with faith. All mystical, conscious work, including yoga and the Martial Arts, are about “plugging in” to an infinite source of creative potential. Techniques vary but the goals are identical: to conduct the life force more dynamically through the body/mind of the human being. Hanta Yo uses breath, conscious movement, balance, discipline and strong intention to accomplish this goal. The process involves The 9 ways of Hanta Yo: the rock way, the lightning way, the fire way, the water way, the wind way, the tree way, the earth way, the heavenly way and the love way. Each way involves a different approach to exercise. While we work out physically, the psychological component is also operative. This is understood as the transmutation of ego through three apparent phases: (solid) rigid, (mellow), and (gas) empty.

The 9 Ways integrate the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual realms of being. Hanta Yo assigns an appropriate action to each of these 4 realms using the following formula of the 4 R’s, Relax the body, Release the emotions, Rest the mind and Recognize the spirit. Tension in any of the four realms impedes the flow of ki. In order to have “flowing ki” the body must be in a relaxed state, allowing both negative and positive “charges” in the emotions to be released. As this occurs the mind is given a rest from it’s chatter. Simply recognizing or remembering the Spirit stimulates “ki” flow”. So we find that tension can be released even eliminated with the “flame of attention”.

The fundamental goal of the Martial artist is “centeredness”. Ideally the very presence of such a person maintains harmony in the immediate environment. However, when the ideal is not the reality and conflict arises, the martial artist is trained to handle most situations. The self-defense techniques that are a basic part of the work enable the martial artist to be a positive force in containing a potential or actual violent situation.

  Training involves strengthening the entire system through exercise, stretching, coordination, balance, stamina and conscious movement. Classes provide a “theater” of interaction where students can smooth out rough areas of their movement and psyches. The phases of ego transformation from solid through liquid to empty are encountered, as students repeatedly must confront their limitations. The opportunity to “flow or grow” appears again and again both within the classes and in the larger scope of social relations.

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Dec 13 2008

Okinawan Karate Flow Drills

Copyright David Elkins
1160 Garden Grove Drive
Roseburg, OR 97470
23 July 2001

Okinawan Karate Flow Drills [That I will be teaching at Summer Camp]


Uechi-Ryu Applications of Tegumi Renzokugeiko adapted from Sensei Patrick McCarthy’s video “The McCarthy Seminars I”  Thanks to Master McCarthy for sharing his knowledge and insights.  Osu!

These flow drills represent one of the “lost” elements of traditional karate practice – that of two person continuous energy exchange drills.  In addition to promoting the development of fear control for typical scenarios of unwanted aggression, they contain aspects of iron body conditioning, foster feeling sensitivity, and encourage consolidation of Sanchin root and center.  The twelve drills can be performed consecutively in a giant chain incorporating increasingly sophisticated variations as the practitioner becomes comfortable with the basic patterns. 

When appropriate, anatomical and/or meridian point targets for strikes are noted.  Obviously, in a real fight we are happy just to connect with our opponent – who is attempting not only to thwart our blows, but also to hit us. As impossible as it may seem to target a small moving “point” which, of course should be struck in a specific direction at an ideal time of day, blah, blah – it is good training.  As our shooter friends say “aim small/miss small”.

1.   Kakie

engage forearms (with force) facing partner in Sanchin.  Press up/in snaking hand at wrist at apogee of movement to then pull vigorously toward self using kakie (wrist) hook.  One partner will be palm up the other palm down.  This will change with every successive movement.  Perform designated number and then clash opposite forearms to switch arms much the same as arm rubbing.


 He R same side grab > R cover/trap (be prepared to raise R elbow to “nosecone” destruction of incoming L cross), hit radial nerve (C10) with L hand, R shuto (as you perform the shuto – the L hand slides down his forearm using shoken flesh grab to seize/pull his R arm to your L hip) convert shuto to reverse neck hook, R knee spike to face, push up on his R arm or shoulder and down on the L side of his head or his L shoulder to spin him around (this is the Silat puta-kapala or double arm crane motion from Sanseiryu kata – a VERY serious application involves stepping on his foot as you perform the spin/ his foot is pinned to the ground and his spine is torqued – the weak link in the chain will break!) spin to deck retaining your hold on his R arm, R iron palm slap to face, double thumb gouges to eyes, head smash on deck using ears as handles, jack chin back and finger spike supraclavicular notch (CV22) – the crane koken strikes from Seisan kata with the exception of the forward movement being palm down

 2.   Straight Punch

to transition from kakie to straight punch one partner simply steps forward and punches

He R lunge straight punch > L retreats and accepts the punch as body conditioning, R Uechi cross block/L iron palm heel strike down on radial nerve C10, L then slides down his forearm in “shrinking ring” (using ripping tiger claw to irradiate his brain with pain/trap/and excruciate tendons and nerves on wrist as it straightens out his arm bringing him into the void and opening his ribcage, R hand slams into lower rib cage.  That hand continues in a counterclockwise arc hitting the richly innervated area of the neck/lower mandible.  From there it hits the forearm again (thus far it has inscribed a reverse circle block), and terminates in a ulna bone forearm smash to the neck.

As a partner drill the “defender” should protect the neck with guarding hand.  The forearm and rib cage border should be conditioned.

To move this drill up and down the deck from the last technique – defender protects neck with guarding hand, sweeps it down and out in a downblock movement (reverse of the initiation of the mawashi uke movement) slap blocks it to the other side of the centerline and punches with the hand used in protecting the neck.

Bunkai – dynamic exit from the drill

After striking the neck – reverse wrap neck in a guillotine movement, lift then sit/roll backwards using the leg nearest your partner to lift his body (in the street you would employ this as a striking lever), as you achieve the “mount” position you are still grasping his R hand.  Using your R hand, iron palm slap his temple with a “tetsui” movement, slip your L foot under his head and fall back perpendicular to him placing him in an armbar and perform an adductive kick to his sternum, xyphoid, bladder, groin, etc. as you break arm.


After forearm strike to the neck bring his R wrist to your L hip locking his elbow.  Roll your striking arm pivoting at the elbow so that your forearm is perpendicular to the deck (this is the lead arm scoop/throwing motion of the dragon in Sanseiryu) the elbow is ideally digging into his triceps tendon.  Using spit and sink of “swallow, spit, float, and sink” exhale and drop your center.  From there, rotate your forearm clockwise to access his groin (in partner drill we grab hamstring) using shoken flesh grab, rip/twist as you sit down and roll back.  You are now both on your backs with heads facing in opposite directions.  You are still holding his wrist.  Slap down on his face, elbow to the serratus.  Raising his R arm that you are holding,  insert your striking hand behind his elbow and pull his forearm toward your groin to dislocate.  You can alternatively wrench his wrist toward his own forearm.

Editorial – Wrist grabbing is often seen by the naïve as an entry which is seldom the case.  A more likely scenario would involve an individual grabbing another’s wrist to attempt a disengagement from a painful situation such as a groin grab.  Thus the universality of the Tegumi flows – like kata the movements are finite but the applications infinite. Similarly, everything has an entry, an execution, and a follow through.  As in knife fighting, command of the nuances of transition is what distinguishes novice from journeyman from master.

3.   Forearm clashing

 to transition from straight punch to forearm clashing, one partner simply steps forward and delivers a low forearm strike rather than a punch

 Face partner in Sanchin.  Hand not in use should be in guard.

 a.     R low arm clash (from cross block motion)

b.    L high arm clash (from shuto movement)

2 kakie movements as in exercise #1

c.     R hand performs circle block to high clash

both partners form guarding hand structure and press out/up/down/and in forming an invisible elliptical plane between them similar to the triple hirakins of Seisan.

d.    after two energy exchanges of part c., partner A performs a straight punch at B’s head.  B defends with hajiki uke.  Both return to origin and the roles reverse with B trying to hit A.  A defends with hijiki uke.  All of these motions are done with the same arm that initially clashed in “c”.  It is single sticky hand (dan chi-sau).

e.     Once again for the third time, press dynamically out/up/down/in

f.      Conclude this flow with a low sweep block (gedan barai) movement using the same hand.


 Now it’s your turn, enjoy being creative.  Anything goes as long as it conforms to the fighting concepts and principles of Uechi-Ryu.

 4.   Shoving

 to transition from forearm clashing to shoving, one partner simply steps forward and delivers a middle gate shove rather than a low forearm smash

 He shoves > circle block allowing the circle block to dissipate/guide his energy into a “push hands” exchange – think of it as Uechi arm rubbing turned on its side.  Exchange roles by aggressively trapping his arms, stepping forward and shoving with other hand.  He responds by stepping back and repeating drill.  This exercise emphasizes the origin of movement being from the dan tien not the shoulder/arms.  In the initial stages of learning this drill, go softly.  One of the primary objectives of this drill is to learn the skills of “cotton body” – the ability to displace your mass at will denying your opponent centerline advantage.  You will retard your progress in this skill if you approach it as an iron rod rather than a wad of cotton.

 5.  Defending/attacking

 to transition from shoving to defending/attacking, one partner simply delivers a shove as in the previous drill

 he R shoves > R “catch-up” block (a slapping palm moving backward on the elbow line as opposed to the usual manifestation of it moving forward slightly preceding the circle block – think of it as a continuation of the retraction phase of the Sanchin thrust.  L slams on his radius/R shuto to throat.  He stops with his L guarding hand, pushes my strike down and away as he circles his R hand toward and then away from himself to launch shuto at me.  I protect similarly.  We then flow with reciprocal exchange of shutos/deflections. 

 To switch sides – when he shoves my hand down, he continues to drop his elbow down into my chest, continues forward energy into a shoulder bump to my chest, and finally attacks with his own shuto with the opposite hand (actually the same side that is folding) > defend and drill continues.

 This drill teaches a late defense (the catch-up movement), the ability to “fold” joints when your attack is blocked, allowing you to hit with the next weapon in the line of your skeletal structure, and the ability to defend and immediately launch a counteroffensive when you are caught off guard and surprised by an attack.  As in the previous drill, go easy at first to develop great speed in this drill.  It should look like hitting a speed bag!

 6.   Hook Punch #1

 to transition from defending/attacking to hook punch, one partner simply delivers a hook rather than a shove

 He R hooks (sucker punch) > L shuto, snake R hand underneath to circle block (this is an interesting movement as it could easily be either an eye poke, fish hook, throat grab, or a ripping tiger claw movement inside or outside his arm as a function of the directional flow of combative energy at the moment), L hand checks his arm at elbow, launch my own R hook (in the street both of my “defensive” movements seek to destroy in the manner of a FMA “Gunting” targets being the radial nerve and the ulnar nerve – funny bone, or the vulnerable elbow joint) .

To switch – duck the hook and return fire from the opposite side – slick! 

 7.   Straight Punch

 to transition from hook punch to straight punch, one partner simply delivers a lunge punch rather than a hook.  Alternately, my partner can check my hook with his shuto and immediately return fire with a lunge straight punch.

 He throws R straight P > L slap block/R circle block, L check, and return fire with a R lunge P.  To switch, when I check he steps in aggressively and punches me.

 This drill is reminiscent of Uechi kokekitae only it uses a checking hand in the penultimate movement rather than trusting the circle block to keep his striking arm under control.  This drill (as any of the others also) can be “spiced-up” by adding variety in the angle of attack.  It teaches aggressive response particularly on the switch – if you check and hesitate, he will continue his attack.  Your “defense” must be continuous and relentless.

 8.   Hacking Elbow

 This technique is the mirror image of the second movement of “hijizuki”

 to transition from hook punch to hacking elbow, one partner simply delivers an elbow rather than a hook

 He R hacking elbow > L hand soft “catcher’s mitt” absorbs his energy, R circle block (or hajiki uke for a destruction approach), turn his arm internally, L check his arm, and return hacking elbow.

 To switch, I catch and he aggressively steps forward to throw elbow from other side.

 9.   Lock-Flow

 Sorry, you should have figured out transitions by now

He R overhead strike > L hajiki uke, R circle blk, immediately grab/pull to extend his arm, enter with L foot/pivot clockwise to deliver a rising forearm to his tri tendon (elbow strike structure of middle Seisan kata)

 He will likely pull back resisting the hyperextension of his arm

 Then snake your L arm over his arm in the crook, your R hand bends his hand in a “gooseneck” fingers toward his face (your L hand can brace on your own R upper arm for leverage in a figure 4 configuration – you may as well as you’ll be using it in a minute)

 He will likely try to back away from you resisting the wrist lock

 Then shoot your R foot out so that you are now facing him and apply forward downward pressure on the shoulder joint with the figure 4 on his R arm

 He will likely try to resist in a forward direction to alleviate the pain in his shoulder

 Then shoot your R foot back so that you are once again at his R side, R grab/pull his wrist, L drive your forearm into the bottom of his mandible/neck area of s9 and s5.  this is a set-up for the next movement which is

 Turn his wrist over so that palm faces ceiling, snake your R arm down/over/around his arm so that your radius bone presses on his tri tendon, grab your own gi or shirt and lift your elbow up in front to jack his elbow joint

 Shove him away – like the phoenix that rises from its ashes, he foolishly comes back for more with an overhead on the other side.

 10.                       Uppercut

 He R uppercut > fade back that side (use “cotton body” to move your gut out of harm’s way – imagine that he has a knife).  For that matter, don’t imagine, train it with one partner stabbing with a drone.  As you step back, L downward/forward strike to his brachialis.  Wing Chun players call this motion a “gum sau” (‘pressing hand’).  It is the energy of the double strike from Sanchin with hand structure in fingers facing internally/palms down and parallel to the ground.  You are not trying to merely stop him, but to hurt him at the same time.  R nukite or Sanchin thrust to the suprasternal notch (cv22), R shuto to his R tricep tendon (c12), circle your L hand up so that you twist his arm into a half-nelson.  As he spins around he throws a L rear elbow to your head which you protect with your R palm “catcher’s mitt”.  Push with your R/pull with your L so that his body spins back toward you.  He will uppercut with his L hand and you repeat drill. 


 11.                     Hook #2

 He R hook > L shuto (which quickly converts to a grab/pull, R vertical palm or Bushiken to temple (Yang reservoir, gb3), R neck grab pulls his head in to a R shoulder butt, pop his head back by explosively straightening your R arm hitting his face with your bicep, just as explosively – pull his head back in to a L elbow strike. 

 This is a good place to experiment with broken timing strikes.  Actually, it’s not a good place to experiment as it is far too dangerous to learn on the head/neck.  The concepts can be used with the wa-uke strike from Sanchin with much less potential risk.  After popping his head back with your arm extension, use the neck grab that pulls his head back to the elbow strike as an adductive strike – don’t just pull him, hit him.  The broken timing comes in via delaying the elbow a ½ beat after the neck/jaw strike.  This sets up rotation. Remember that neck breaks are done with rotation + extension of the cervical vertebrae.  A neck break can occur if the two strikes are done with broken timing and some angulation to hyperextend the neck. This potentially lethal strike would best be done with a L palm rather than an elbow in view of the additional control offered by the hand.

 As if the preceding was not sufficient to dissuade the bad guy from further unwarranted aggression, add the following:  after the elbow sandwich (looks like the mirror image of elbow strike into the hand in the dragon sequence at the end of kata Seisan), jam your R radius bone against his L mastoid process (neck below/behind the ear) as you drive/grind your L ulna bone into the orbital nerve of his R cheek.  This exposes his R temple which you immediately head butt.  Push him away – he returns with a hook from the other side, and the drill begins anew.

 12.                     Hook #3

 He R hook > check with shuto that quickly converts to a grab/pull, R radius forearm smash to his sternal mastoid area of the neck,  R ulna strike to his upper forearm (c10), retaining your L grab of his R arm, R step cross body so that you are in front of him as you rotate his arm (hand thumb up) internally to your L shoulder.  Lever his elbow joint (called “old man carries a pole”), bring him to his toes then L downward palm strike to his groin, step back outside him with your L leg as both hands perform an Irish whip (clockwise rotation) to his R arm, R downward palm strike to his occipital area, shove him away – he returns with opposite side hook.

 Where to go from here?  Well, if we were training together we would be adding footwork supporting various attitudes, we would interrupt timing, consider various entry and exit scenarios, add kicks, and later stop-kicks.  We might even take some or part of the entire sequence to the ground and see how we could use our skills in that venue.  We would definitely train outdoors on hard and soft regular and uneven or slippery surfaces.  Later, we might even put something in our hands to do the drills – maybe to begin with, something hard like a stick or a claw hammer, then maybe something sharp like a knife or a BBQ skewer (just kidding?), and when we really thought we were hot stuff, we might try the whole routine blindfolded!  Just some food for thought.  Enjoy. 

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Dec 13 2008

The Roots of Okinawan Iron Body Conditioning

The Roots of Okinawan Iron Body Conditioning in Sanchin Kata 

By: David Elkins, Michael DeDonato John Morenski


“This article provides a compendium of Okinawan Iron Body Conditioning drills and a comprehensive analysis of Sanchin Shime.” November, 2001

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Dec 13 2008

Darren Laur Articles

Articles by Darren Laur:

Edged weapon tactics and counter tactics: January, 2002

Street 101: by Darren Laur: January, 2002

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Dec 13 2008

Articles by David Gimberline

Articles by David Gimberline


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Dec 13 2008

Ethan Miller Articles

Articles by Ethan Miller:


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Dec 13 2008

John the Greek & the Wigan Bouncer

John The Greek and the Wigan Bouncer
by Raymond Wylie

I have practiced martial arts for many years and have tried everything that was available to me, from Tai Chi to Bando. During this time I have inevitably met highly skilled technicians with specialised skills. I am a great fan of the book “secret fighting arts of the world” by John.f.gilbey were he details the experts that he knew. This is what I shall attempt to do also.

Some of the masters, for I shall call them that, defy classification. Their method and approach is just so singular and different to anything that is practiced elsewhere.

One man that I recollect was the Wigan Bouncer. He used to regularly attend a Goju-Ryu club of which I was a member. He was employed of an evening, in a rough nightclub in the northern town of Wigan. A tremendous fighter, he commanded the respect of everyone in the club although he had never won, or even competed in a tournament and had not even started Karate until he was 28 years of age, then, approaching 40, he was awesome.

He was a heavily built man with a huge barrel chest and hands like shovels; the interesting thing about his method of fighting was that he hardly ever threw a punch.

The only punches that he used were the hammer fist or the one knuckle punch the rest of the time he would use open hand strikes, his favorite was the ridge hand, I once asked him why, and he then proceeded to demonstrate for me by hitting a heavy bag and sending it bouncing to the ceiling. The ridge hand had focus, he explained.

He always trained with his best friend, a bodybuilder, and together before and after the class, they would work on techniques using boxers hook and jab pads or, more often than not trying the moves out on each other. They were always light, gentle even, but they knew exactly what they were trying to accomplish and would spend ages refining or experimenting with different moves. Then after a few weeks the moves would appear in their punch pad routines or disappear entirely. There was nothing in his routine that could ever be described as flashy; everything was simple in conception and practise. A palm heel to the solar plexus followed by a ridge hand to the neck or side of the head then a vicious elbow jab, and a foot sweep to finish. These were the type of moves that he thrived on, he had numerous combinations of two or three open hand strikes followed by an elbow strike or head butt, then finished with a simple trip or foot sweep.

Continuous sparring with karate men of all grades and styles also refined his technique. The club at that time had a kick boxing section, and the kick boxers, like the rest of us afforded him tremendous respect for his skills and abilities. Here he learned how to combat the weakness of his style. He could not move anywhere nearly as fluidly or as quickly as the kickboxers, and did not try to, but his hands made continuous circling moves horizontally and vertically these he would punctuate with quick grabs and pulls to control overpower or throw his opponent. He would push and pull his opponents guard away in a very aggressive and intimidating manner, all the while lumbering around like a huge hungry bear, and throwing his fearsome open handed strikes, or low level kicks to ankles and knees, the groin he saved for fast slapping attacks.

One cold November in the Pub, after training, I asked him how he had come to develop such a distinctive fighting style. It was like nothing I have ever seen before, he replied that he had been a municipal bus driver and of a night he had to sometimes deal with drunken men getting on to his bus, very often they were alcoholics and he told me that sometimes they would head butt the steel door rail when they got on, they were so lost to their addiction. He knew that a punch would never work on these unfortunate souls, but he assured me that his method had never failed.

The Sensei at that club had a passion for knives and was an enthusiastic collector of samurai swords

This rubbed off on many of the members, and one of the Sensei’s friends would come down and sell knives. There were all sorts of collectible blades unheard of in England at that time, Gerbers, Randalls etc. The Wigan Bouncer proved as individualistic as ever, in his choice of knives by purchasing two German Paratrooper’s knives. Thick sturdy bladed, and with deep green handles and scabbards. He would hold them in the ice pick grip and use them in much the same way as he spared, although he only ever shadow boxed with them.

He afforded me the greatest respect one day, by stealing one of my moves and incorporating it into his repertoire. The move was a variation on a low cross kick. One night during sparring practise he threw me a sly wink as he proceeded to use the kick on some unfortunate kick boxer.

John the Greek

Was an entirely different kettle of fish. I trained with him some years later and in a different club. The club practised hapkido and one of the instructor’s friends was a high grade in another Goju Ryu club, he used to come down to train with us, eventually he persuaded some of his contemporaries to train also. On a Saturday morning there would be a whole group of people from different styles and systems all training together.

This was how I met John, for convenience everybody called him John the Greek, nobody could pronounce his surname ( it had lots of “ous” in it) and for another he was extremely Greek. Small, swarthy, and with a large black moustache.

Ordinarily, I would not mention John in the same sentence as the ” Wigan Bouncer”

I trained with John for over a year and he was never very good, he could not punch powerfully, or kick hard or spar well. He was a very pleasant person and well liked.

The club closed and a few years afterward I bumped into one of the Goju guys that I used to train with on the Saturday morning. In the local hostelry, over a few pints of best mild, we talked and reminisced over the good old days and some of the people we had known. John’s name came up and I said that he had not been very talented, to which my companion almost choked on his beer. He related this story to me.

John and his wife operated a Social Security Hotel; all the clients were receiving some form of state benefit, though this proved a lucrative concern, it was not without its hazards. John had taken up Karate so that he could deal with some of the more troublesome clientele. Many of his patrons would go out drinking and return late, after the hotel had shut its doors. Trouble would ensue when they tried to gain access and they would become abusive and violent. I raised my eyebrows at this, how could John a small untalented karateka deal with this? My friend then related that John had one good technique, which he could do lightening fast. He would hold his hands up to cover his face when the fight started, protecting himself as best as he could, letting the blows rain into his arms rather like a boxer, then, when his attacker paused or there was a lull, or opening, he would spin around very quickly and elbow the man either on the chin or the side of the head. He could deliver this blow from either side and lighting fast. My companion said that very often an ambulance would need to be called and they would take his opponent off on a stretcher. What works on the street, sometimes cannot be used in the dojo. That is one; last ditch technique, to keep in your toolbox.

Some years later while training at my Gym, I tried to punch a heavy leather punch bag. It was so hard that I nearly broke my hand, I remembered John and set to with elbow strikes, and had it swinging like a hammock in a gale. I noticed that when you use a circular elbow strike if you miss your target but keep turning then you will automatically come into the correct distance for a perfect back elbow.

Raymond Wylie

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Dec 13 2008

Quality & Depth in Uechi-ryu Karate Do

Quality and Depth in Uechi-ryu Karate Do. 
By David Mott

I’ve been asked on numerous occasions what do I look for when I observe someone’s karate. This question arises particularly in relationship to testing ranks from white belt to dan. I offer the following in order to help each student and each instructor have a clearer understanding of what I recognize as quality and depth in the demonstration of karate. 

This quality and depth is dependent on the cohesive understanding and integrated manifestation of the components of karate – body, mind and spirit. Initially, these are experienced as independent and separate from one another. Body does not communicate with mind, mind is unaware of the body, and spirit is absent. Sanchin, in its translation as three conflicts, presents the opportunity to resolve and integrate body, mind and spirit as One. It is my hope that through the offering of these guidelines that integration can occur and ever grow as a practice for each of you.


1) Grounding: feeling the support of the ground through the feet. a) The feet are firmly and directly repositioned in each stance after each step. b) The feet plant and then root themselves into the ground (lifted toes or “loose” heels weaken this grounding). c) The feet are in a dynamic relationship with ground and body. This means that the energy of intent -incorporating both mindfulness and intrinsic energy (qi) – reaches from the feet into the ground and flows upwards into the whole body.

2) Centering: the understanding of the dan tien or belly in karate. a) The weight of the body positions itself appropriately in each stance. b) All movements connect to and radiate outward from the dan tien. (Reliance upon upper body strength as the primary strength negates the connection to the dan tien.) c) General emptiness in the dan tien is usually caused by a lack of intent being placed there or through the presence of tension or fear, both of which will cause the centre to rise into the chest area or higher. d) All movements are supported by the slight firming or compacting of the dan tien in coordination with the movement to activate the flow of qi.

3) Flow: the ease of movement in all of its various “flavours” (the activation of appropriate body mechanics in support of each individual movement). a) Tension creates rigid or uneven movement. b) The transition from movement to movement or stance to stance needs to occur with fluidity. c) The use of individual (not meaning personal) “flavours” creates a rich vocabulary of movement as opposed to a sameness of movement. Sameness arises from the tendency to want to make all movements feel strong in the same way. If the function of each movement is understood and felt, its unique “flavour” will show.

4) Power: the natural heaviness in all movement as well the impact of each strike as the body supports the completion of each extension. a) The whole body responds and supports the movement as it begins, transits and finishes. b) There is an integration of body mechanics and intent. c) Movements of the limbs do not occur in isolation from the rest of the body. d) Body habits (poor posture etc.) are corrected. e) The body supports but does not compensate (i.e. by leaning in an opposite direction) for each movement. f) There is an alignment of structure (bone, ligament, tendon and muscle) to support each movement and impact.

5) Precision: all movements have a clear beginning, middle and end point. a) All movements demonstrate their potential with detail and refinement. b) There is a sharp, vivid quality to each movement. c) Gaps in the mindfulness of a movement (i.e. lifting the shoulder with a punch) are seen and eliminated.

6) Speed: the velocity of a movement to support power and flow and to create impact. a) Speed issues forth in a manner that is appropriate to the effectiveness of a movement. b) Unequal speed in the extension and retraction of a movement is avoided. c) Too much speed in which a movement’s fullness is sacrificed is avoided. d) Too little speed in which an opponent’s body is not shocked (an important aspect of contact which allows for deep penetration) is avoided. e) The creation of an appropriate pause in the cycle of extension/retraction allows the transference of power and intent.


1) Intent: the clear commitment to a movement involving both the body and the qi. It is a summoning of all of the resources in an appropriate way. a) Each movement and stance projects and radiates the resources of commitment. b) The eyes (the Uechi “glare”) project an intense clarity of commitment. c) There is no self resistance (i.e. dynamic tension) or ambivalence present in movement.

2) Mindfulness: spaciousness and clarity of being. a) All aspects of the body are clearly felt. b) The body and intent is felt in an integrated way at the same time as an individual movement is also felt. c) The function of each movement is understood and informs each movement. d) The potential for change is always present in the moment. e) One is not distracted by thought or emotion. f) The mind is not “set” but flows freely from thing to thing, moment to moment.

3) Self: the body/mind experience of “me-ness” . a) One is not conflicted by self-judgment. b) Feelings of self are relaxed into mindfulness. c) One does not indulge in the pride of self inflation and glorification. d) The bow is practised with gratitude for the Way of Karate rather than as a formality. e) Fear and anger are no longer binding as both solo and partner work take place. They no longer manifest in the clear spaciousness of being.


a) Martial spirit is the evidence of martial force manifesting upon the integration of mind and body. There is not simply the demonstration of personal physical prowess but the clear flow of one or all of the collective forces of the martial art. In Uechi-ryu, this includes embodying the martial forces of dragon, crane and tiger. b) The Way of Karate comes alive and manifests throughout one’s entire life. c) The relationship of student to teacher is one of humility and is heartfelt as is the relationship of teacher to student. The teacher/student relationship further includes clarity, vision and compassion.

The various forms of karate, such as katas, drills, etc., are the means by which all that I have just described occurs. There are no fixed goals in karate that are ever achievable, because the practise of karate would then be limited and perhaps finite. So the last thing I look for is the practitioner’s relationship to karate as a student.

a) I’ve met many a practitioner who would change or re-arrange the forms to suit their own personal needs, desires or dislikes, not recognizing that to do so effectively deprives them of the inherent understanding that can spontaneously come alive in the practice of these physical movements. Katas have been practiced by many for centuries, and as the student aligns and attunes to them in right relationship, then the understanding of karate can fill each one as the movement is occurring. From this depth of foundation, each person can evolve via karate, which is the very means by which karate evolves. 

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Dec 13 2008

The Human Heart: Vulnerable when hit or physically shocked

The Human Heart:  Vulnerable When Hit or Physically Shocked

  By Dorothy B. Reitman, Uechi-Ryu Karate

The lay public and newcomers to the martial arts tend to consider the most serious injuries that a person may inflict upon another to be percussive injuries such as the breaking of bones or head injuries. However, strikes that may not even cause bruising could possibly lead to serious injury or even death. [Stephen Drehobl]

The karate style, “Uechi Ryu Karate- Do” contains such a movement that contemporary practitioners still struggle to understand. The strike is called Boshuken Morote Zuki in Japanese, which simply means, “thumb-knuckle strike with both hands”.

The description of the Boshuken Morote Zuki Strike

 Modern Arnis Philippine Martial Art “Stick Fighting” Remy Amador Presas

The black circles in the above drawing are the strike zones.
We will refer to the person performing the strike as “A” and the person struck as “B”. “A” drives both hands straightforward in nearly simultaneous bilateral palm heel/thumb knuckle strikes. In kata, the movements are as follows: “A”‘s right hand, starting at the ilium, strikes “B” on the left ilium; “A”‘s left hand, starting at the pectoralis muscle strikes the right pectoralis muscle of “B”. In other words, “A” strikes targets on “B” correspond to his/her own kata starting points. It is important to note that the strike when delivered in a real fight would probably not begin from the origin points in kata. The hands would simply srike from where ever they happened to be at the moment. The kata provides the key to unlocking the mystery of one possible application of this movement by cryptically informing the practitioner where the strike is to be placed on the opponent. The power for this strike is not confined to movement of the arms. It comes initially from the ground /feet, progressing to the knees, hips, waist, and subsequently up the spine and out to the arms to the thumbs. . 

Can the shock of the Boshuken Morote Zuki directly affect the heart’s rhythm?

In order to understand the implications of the Boshuken Morote Zuki, we will examine the anatomy and physiology of the heart beat cycle.

The SA node (sinoatrial node) lies in the right atrium beneath the opening of the superior vena cava. See figure 18-2a. Each cardiac cycle is initiated by the SA node and sets the basic pace for the heart rate. The SA node is the pacemaker of the heart. The SA node initiates electrical impulses that spread out over both atria causing them to contract. The impulse then passes to the AV (atrioventricular node) located near the bottom of the interatrial septum. (Between the atrium and ventricle.) Contraction of ventricles is stimulated by the Purkinje fibers. [Principles of Anatomy and Physiology Gerard J. Tortora, Nicholas P. Anagnostakos ]

The operation of the SA node can be disrupted by shock, such as a physical strike to that area of the torso. When something disrupts the SA node the AV node takes over to initiate a basic pace for the heart rate. When both the SA node and the AV node are Almost simultaneously disrupted, the heartbeat can be dangerously affected. The heart could be profoundly affected to the point of cessation of function.

When the right hand strikes the Ilium a shock wave radiates across the torso, while at the opposite “corner” of the torso, the left hand strikes, which also generates a shock wave across the torso in the opposite direction. The proximity to the heart and the SA and AV nodes may allow the shock waves of the strikes to disrupt the operation of the SA, AV nodes and thereby disrupt the timing of the heartbeat cycle. How serious the strike is depends on where in the heart beat cycle the subject is when hit. The intensity of the strike may not have to be very strong in order to have devastating results. An interesting subtlety was noted by Mr. James Thompson, who pointed out that the potential energy in this movement is amplified by the whiplike phenomenon of the hand corresponding to the forward foot always striking almost simultaneously before the hand corresponding to the rear foot. [Oral seminar communication ]

In training, I was struck very lightly with the Boshuken Morote Zuki, and observed that my heart fluttered and that some light headedness occurred. The strike appeared to disrupt the rhythm of my heart. From my perspective as a registered nurse, I believe that the results of this strike could be very serious, even lethal .

Severe disruption of the heart’s life sustaining function is not confined to the martial arts.

In the Philadelphia area alone, several recent newscasts have reported that baseball players struck in the chest by the baseball subsequently lost consciousness and died. A five year old girl in Kyoto, Japan playing catch with friends died after having been struck in the chest by a rubber ball [Mainichi Shimbin, March 17, 2002]

I would like to thank Stephen Drehobl, David Elkins, and Harvey Liebergott for their encouragement and help in preparing this article. 

Dorothy Reitman has been studying Uechi Ryu Karate at the Uechi Ryu Karate Academy in Collegeville from Sensei Stephen Drehobl, Yandan since January 2000. She received her Shodan from Sensei James Thompson, Shihan Kyoshi Hachidan June 6, 2003. She has been a registered nurse since July 9, 1977.


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Dec 13 2008

Essays Relating to G.E.Mattson’s seminars in Chicago, 2004

Essays Relating to George Mattson’s March, 2004 Chicago Seminars:

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