By Sensei Jay Salhanick – 5th dan
The following paper is for all martial artists, not solely for the Uechi-Ryu practitioner. It is my intent to go beyond the realm of just Uechi-Ryu. I wish to explore a more detailed understanding and development of ones own karate. I have always had the thirst to learn more about Uechi-Ryu, other martial arts styles, and self-defense in general. I have learned over the years from, Master George Mattson (9th dan), and my Sensei: Robert J. Campbell – (7th Dan) an OPEN MIND…….. Or, as my sensei calls it……OPEN GATE!
Many years ago I discovered during my training, that it was much more important for me, to develop self-defense techniques that REALLY WORK, then…..How many turns are in the first Sanchin kata. At my dojo the Traditional Uechi-Ryu Karate Institute in Boston. I teach two versions of karate. I refer to them as, Dojo Karate and Street Karate. This is not a new concept to many of the old instructors at the “Mattson Academy Of Boston” under Sensei George Mattson. The two names dojo karate and street karate may sound confusing to many students. As time passes they learn the differences very quickly. I will explain these key differences, later on in this paper.
In retrospect, the first time I started to think about the differences between what I did in the dojo, and what I would do on the street, goes back many years. I started my training in Uechi-Ryu back in 1968, at the Mattson Academy of Karate. Located in Boston Ma. I remember back in the very early 70’s, we had a weekly sparring class, held on Thursday evenings. The instructors of that class, are names many people in and out of the Uechi-Ryu world will recognize. Names such as: Robert Campbell, Arthur Rebesa, Van Canna, Jimmy Maloney, Clearance Von Wilder, Ed Huff. The class was by today’s standards, “A TOTAL BLOOD BATH.”
We at the Mattson Academy in Boston, were doing full contact karate, before it became fashionable. If it was done today, the court system would be full of martial art related lawsuits. Many nights I would walk out of the dojo with, black eyes, bloody noise, banged up ribs, and once a dislocated shoulder. PLEASE, do not get me wrong, I do not advocate this type of training any longer. At the time it was the standard way of doing things. But above all, I learned how to defend myself. At first I tried using techniques direct from my katas (Dojo Karate), as well as my two person sets. It did not take long for me to find myself, flat on my ass, on the VERY HARD wooden floor. That is when I first started to analyze and develop self-defense strategies (Street Karate), that I could use, to SURVIVE THE CLASS.
This type of class was as close to a real attack on the street, as one could get. We wore no protective equipment (Not Invented Yet). Their was only one speed, FULL CONTACT. At this point in my training I started to develop my first real rudimentary understanding of real self-defense (Street Karate). The second major turning point in my self-defense process came while I was a member of the United States Marine Corp. It was at this stage of my training. While I was practicing, and teaching Hand To Hand combat in the U.S.M.C. That I really started to understand what real self-defense was all about. It was in the understanding of the following philosophy, which I might add, is the same philosophy found on the streets today. That is the understanding of, Kill or be Killed.
To survive a real attack, one must realize and understand that each attacker is different. The following paragraphs explain how I learned to adapt a self-defense philosophy that worked. I also explain how I evaluate, analyze, and most
important of all synthesize self-defense techniques that worked for me. As time passed I learned from my sensei that fighting each one of these men was a totally different experience. Sensei taught me how to “READ” and evaluate each attacker.
For example, Sensie himself, Bob Campbell is 6′ 4″ tall, with great reach. He also was a (Super Smart Fighter). For matter of fact, Bob Campbell is the finest fighter I have ever seen in all my 29 years of training. Then we had Jimmy Maloney, and Arthur Rabesa. These men are very deceiving, they may be of average height, but they are built like refrigerators, and they are that strong. And to make matters worse, all the instructors were fearless. They had no fear of being hit. Jim Maloney and Arthur Rabesa are both Very Strong and Aggressive Fighters. Van Canna, and Ed Huff were not only strong and aggressive, they were also thinking fighters. they looked for any weakness they could find.
In reading these fighters, sensei taught me how to find there strong points. It was from Bob Campbell, Van Canna, and Ed Huff that I learned how to read my opponent. It was from Jimmy Maloney and Arthur Rebesa that I learned to be aggressive and ferocious. It was From Clearance Von Wilder, that I learned how to utilize my own personal capabilities. Clearance is 6’4 and a very big and SUPER STRONG man. But he moved with such grace and fluidness, it was like watching a dancer. I saw Clearance using every thing he had going for him, That is when I also started to use what I had going natural for me. Such as my size and strength. In teaching my students to defended themselves I try to stress their strong points, and downplay their week points. I teach them how to read an opponent, and size up a potentially dangerous situation. The following are some of the guide lines I teach my students in surviving an attack on the street. Real self-defense is much more then learning a few simple kicks and yells. Self-Defense is more of a state of mind. It is the way you think while walking down the street. It is the way you act, dress, and walk. Self-Defense is awareness of your surroundings, assertiveness, verbal confrontation skills, and how to remain in control. The only way you will survive a real and serious street confrontation is to understand the following. Karate alone will not give you the tools you will need to survive the attack. Successful fighting skills require that you not only have a good fighting sense, but also the ability to be, effective in the delivery of your techniques.
To be very aggressive, and to understand that your opponent is really trying to hurt you. This is not a dojo sparring match. THIS IS WHERE MOST MARTIAL ARTISTS MISS THE MARK…… They forget! they are no longer in the dojo. Welcome, to the real world. These martial artists get caught up in the false belief that, just because they are wearing a black belt they know how to fight. Many karate students have never learned the difference between the exaction of a technique, Vs the real application of the technique. Also, no one has taught them:
The “RULES OF THE STREET”! ……… Rule number one, (most important of all)
1. THERE ARE NO RULES IN A STREET ATTACK, DO WHAT EVER IT TAKES TO WIN. WHAT YOU WIN, IS NOT A TROPHY, BUT YOUR LIFE………….
2. NEVER PLAY FAIR, THEIR IS NO SUCH THING AS A FAIR FIGHT.
3. NEVER BELIEVE ANYTHING YOUR ATTACKER SAYS
4. . BE FEROCIOUS AND AGGRESSIVE
5. CONTROL THE FIGHT, IF YOU CAN
6. EVALUATE………… THEN DESTROY YOUR ATTACKER
7. USE ANYTHING AT YOUR DISPOSAL TO HURT YOUR ATTACKER.
8. DO WHAT EVER IT TAKES TO WIN
9. YELL FIRE…..(THE WORD FIRE, DRAWS MORE ATTENTION THEN…HELP)
10. AGAIN…………..THERE ARE NO RULES ON THE STREET
Many people, as well as other instructors disagree with what I have said. That is their right. I am not saying, I am right, and they are wrong….. What I am saying is, I have been in more then a few street fights, as well as some tough situations while I was in the USMC. I have learned from personal experience what works, and more importantly, what does not work. One major aspect I have learned in real self-defense very fast was, that once you put your attacker down, “Do not think its over”. All they are going to do is get up and come at you again.
THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THE ABOVE ARTICLE, ARE THE SOLE BELIEF OF THE AUTHOR, SENSEI JAY SALHANICK. I DO NOT ADVOCATE THAT ANYONE FOLLOW THE ABOVE BELIEF. I AM ONLY EXPRESSING A SELF-DEFENSE PHILOSOPHY THAT I HAVE FOUND TO WORK FOR ME.
I hope you find one that works for you…………… Its a dangerous world.