Monday, February 25, 2008

Choy Li Fat


Master Chan Heung, the founder of Choy Li Fut, was born in the Kwang-Tung province of China on July 10, 1806. At the age of seven, Chan began to study Gung Fu from his uncle, who had trained in the Shaolin temple. Mentally and physically superior for his age, the young boy made rapid progress in the martial arts. By age 15, Chan was the leading boxer in his area. When he was 17, he studied under his uncle's senior classmate, a Shaolin expert named Li Yau Shan. Within several years, Chan had absorbed all the teachings of Master Li. One day, Chan's instructor said, "Your uncle and I spent 20 years in the Shaolin temple. It is unbelievable how you could master all that we know in only half that time. Any further instruction will need to come directly from a Shaolin priest. But most of these monks have disappeared from the area. The only one I know of is a wandering priest named Choy Fok. Unfortunately, he is leading a life of seclusion and does not like to be bothered." Yearning for further knowledge, Chan Heung decided to seek out the nomadic monk.

Arriving at Mount Lau Foo, Chan Heung searched until he was able to locate the Shaolin priest. Reading Chan's letter of introduction, Choy Fok said, "I gave up practicing martial arts a long time ago. So if you have come here to acquire skill and strength in boxing, I'm afraid that I cannot help you. I am just too old. The remaining years of my life are being devoted to a thorough research of Buddhism. You may stay and study our religion together if you wish." Instead of being discouraged, Chan Heung knelt down and humbly accepted the monk's offer to become a disciple of Buddha.

Although the study of religion took up most of Chan's time, he still maintained a high interest in the martial arts. In his leisure hours, therefore, Chan Heung continued to practice the Shaolin style of combat he had learned. One early morning, Chan was performing foot sweeps against bamboo stumps in a heavily wooded area. He also kicked rocks up into the air, smashing them to pieces as they fell. Suddenly the monk appears and asked, "Is that all you can do?" Pointing to a 50-60-lb. rock nearby, Choy Fok said, "Try your best to kick it up." Summoning all his power, Chan Heung Swept his foot against the rock and sent it into the air. Proud of his feat, Chan waited for the monk to show an expression of praise. Without saying a word, however, Choy Fok calmly walked over to the boulder and thrust his right foot beneath the heavy object. He spun around in a quick graceful motion and sent the rock flying more than 12 feet away. By now, Chan Heung realized that the priest still possessed some sort of super-normal power. Chan immediately asked the monk to teach him. Satisfied with Chan Heung's character and patience, the monk Choy Fok agreed and for the next eight years, taught his new student everything that he knew of Gung Fu.

At the age of 29, Chan left the monk and returned to his native village, analyzing everything that he had learned. Finally, in the year 1836, Chan Heung founded a new method of fighting. Chan named the system after his two instructors Choy and Li. The suffix Fut, which meant Buddha, was then added to pay homage to the Shaolin temple from which his predecessors had come. Chan Heung's fame as a boxing expert soon became known, and he was persuaded by village elders to set up a school in a nearby temple.


Choy Li Fut is one of the most powerful styles of Wushu. It relies on very powerful hand and arm techniques. Four main hand techniques are used, including the straight punch, the back fist, the uppercut and the hook punch. It incorporates oriental medicine and philosophy. The emphasis is on learning through forms practice and many hands and weapons forms are taught, most of which have between one hundred and three hundred moements. Speed, balance and power are all important elements in this style of Wushu, which also combines hard and soft techniques. Many full contact fighters follow this system.

Practitioners can also learn numerous weapons including the double hook swords and the staff, plus the nine dragon trident, which is exclusive to this style.

Commando Krav Maga

Commando Krav Maga Certification
Commando Krav Maga Seminar Information
Teaching Commando Krav Maga /Combat Survival Since 1975
Web Site

Commando Krav Maga, aka CKM, is considered by many experts to be the most devastating fighting system in the world. In CKM, you’ll learn to defeat attackers (even multiple attackers) armed with knives, guns, bottles, sticks, baseball bats etc. Additionally, you’ll learn how to debilitate your opponent immediately irrespective of his size, training background or experience level. Most importantly, you’ll see immediate results.
The system is based on simple and reflexive moves that will save your life! The effectiveness of the techniques has been battle tested time and time again. Remember, CKM is taught to the most elite commando units and SWAT forces in Israel and around the world. most importantly, you’ll also be training your mind to be a winner as you will be able to confidently handle any of life’s innumerable challenges.

Krav Maga

The history of Israeli Fighting systems dates back to 1919, with the implementation of the British Mandate. In this same year the Jewish people formed an underground army known as the Haganah (the Hebrew word for defense) to deal with the ongoing conflict with various terrorist gangs, and in anticipation of the creation of a Jewish state promised to them by the British in the Balfour Declaration. Throughout its existence since that time, the little region in the Middle East now known as Israel has had to fight daily in order to survive.

Completely surrounded by its enemies at all times, it has always been totally outnumbered in its battles. In response to these overwhelming odds, the Israelis developed systems of combat that had at their core a particular emphasis on mental toughness, versatility, innovation and practicality.

The formalities of traditional defense systems were abandoned, in favor of methodologies that valued rapid and instinctive learning. These philosophies helped Israel and its citizens to survive in the face of constant aggression and to form one of the most respected armies in the world.

Currently there are several forms of Israeli Fighting Systems in existence, each with the common thread of survival and reality based techniques as their main emphasis. Some are used for basic infantry (ordinary Krav Maga) within the Israeli Defense Forces, while others are reserved for more elite units within the Special Forces (Commando KRAV MAGA, KAPAP, Lotar etc.).

In the seventies Moni Aizik, then a senior member of one of the most elite commando units (Sayaret ), was approached by senior Commando staff to improve upon the already existing system of close quarter combat for the elite units. The system that Moni developed at that time, incorporating Jiu Jitsu, Israeli and various other fighting styles, kept evolving into what is now referred to as Commando Krav Maga.

CKM combines the most useful elements taught to one of the toughest militaries in the world, the Israeli Special Forces, with the no holds barred octagon environment (like the UFC), and Olympic level martial arts and mental training. The goal of CKM is to teach anyone how to survive and be a winner on the street and in life.

Until very recently Moni taught CKM exclusively to special military groups around the world. However, on account of a growing demand from civilian groups, Moni agreed to start teaching civilians for the first time in his career. Now finally even civilians can learn the most elite Israeli commando units’ techniques for armed and unarmed combat.

In Commando Krav Maga, you will learn:
• How to defeat any attackers, including attackers armed with guns, knives, clubs, bottles, bats etc.
• How to control or debilitate your opponent immediately - irrespective of their size or martial arts background.
• How to execute crucial and straightforward moves that can save your life.
• How to become a devastating hand-to-hand combat expert!
• How to cover all aspects of real hand-to-hand combat and weapons training.
• The techniques taught to the most elite commando units and SWAT forces in Israel and around the world!

Guaranteed easy to learn reality based training.

Gun Disarming, Blade Attack Defense, Violent Strangles, Israeli ground Survival, Control, Fast and brutal Striking scenarios, Pressure Points, Violent Headlocks, Baseball bat, Clinch defense, Surprise attacks, Edge weapons, Escape from vicious street-holds, Improvised weapons, crime and terrorism survival skills, Grappling and striking techniques ,Commando Training tips and much more!

Commando Krav Maga techniques are simple yet highly effective! In the words of Moni Aizik:
”Simplicity is genius!”

Israeli Fighting systems have been successfully used for decades by Israeli Special Forces, FBI SWAT, Argentinean GOE, U.S. Marshals, Brazilian GATE, the American Military, U.S. Border Patrol, Helsinki Police, the British TSG, high profile bodyguards, counter-terrorist police units, and SWAT units from around the world.

Despite the no nonsense reputation of Commando Krav Maga, the system also has at its core basic tenets that help guide individuals throughout their daily living. The same way its country of origin has had to overcome severe limitations and weaknesses in order to survive, Commando Krav Maga helps empower the individual with the requisite mental and emotional tools (in addition to the obvious technical and physical ones), that help one to properly navigate through life’s difficulties. As such, in CKM students are taught to go beyond the physical and explore a side of their consciousness they are not used to confronting.

It is in this way that the system helps deal with the many challenges one can encounter in the day to day. Fundamental to this idea is the awareness of one’s limitations and strengths. It is the consciousness of those limitations that makes us humble as individuals, another major value inherent to the system, but it is the overcoming of those limitations that give confidence and an indomitable spirit when facing future obstacles. The constant emphasis on pushing forward no matter the odds reflects a can do attitude, and one of continuous improvement.

The training for CKM places particular emphasis on a positive state of mind as an approach to everything in life. As such the attitude is not ‘everything good or bad happens for a reason’, but to quote Moni Aizik, “When Nothing is for sure, everything is possible!” It is this philosophy that helps develop survivors on the battlefield, champions in the ring, and winners in life. In order to be a winner, you have to think like a winner.

You have to have a positive outlook, and never, ever give up. And, irrespective of the outcome of life’s challenges, it is from this constant struggle of facing obstacles that character and confidence is developed. Not a shell that exists to impress others, but true inner strength that comes from a well defined and well developed sense of self.

One way of exercising this inner strength is by participating in a daily workout (physical or mental) that challenges the individual psyche. One should strive to partake in as rigorous a mental or physical training regime that one can, and in so doing continually develop character at any age in life. As such, the abuse of any substances is to be avoided, and the enjoying of life’s pleasures done so in moderation.

This approach to life is very much a balanced path, one that is easy to veer from and one
that takes time to completely internalize and master, but consistent and diligent training in facilitates the development of the required skills on this journey to self-mastery.

Philosophy of Commando Krav Maga (CKM):

The Philosophy of CKM can be broken down into three main dimensions.

1. Ethical
2. Pragmatic
3. Dynamic

In CKM, the intention in any conflict situation is to find a honorable path towards a peaceful resolution. CKM abhors fighting. Violence is the absolute last resort.
CKM always gives the aggressor a chance to save face, an honorable solution as a way out without ever compromising its own sense of self esteem. The body says, “I don’t want to fight”. The eyes say, “watch out”.

Many times, a fight is all about somebody’s ego, either ours or theirs. CKM knows that fighting is mostly avoidable and as such its practitioners do best to deescalate any situation that could turn violent. Every practitioner of CKM seeks to dissolve his own individual ego through intense training and introspection.

Precisely because every CKM technique is potentially lethal, CKM insists that its practitioners respect every other human being, regardless of race, religion or gender.
Therefore, the fundamental CKM principle is this: No first use of force.

The second principle of CKM is this: While negotiating for peace, prepare for war.
CKM evolved in the hostile environment of the Middle East. So, CKM intrinsically is a mature and pragmatic body of knowledge. Though every CKM practitioner does his best to deescalate the conflict, CKM is not oblivious to the fact that there are many unintelligent people out there who might mistake a desire for peace as weakness.

So, even as CKM tries to negotiate a honorable peace with the aggressor, the CKM practitioner instantly begins to prepare for combat. The CKM starting stance for instance conceals far more than it reveals. If there is going to be any kind of fighting, the opponent will know nothing about what the CKM practitioner knows. This allows CKM to launch the most devastating counter attacks from what looks like an innocuous position.

CKM practitioners are taught to loudly announcing their intentions of not wanting to fight. This further ensures that should the law enforcement authorities intervene, they will have witnesses to show that the CKM practitioner did not want to fight and that whatever happened subsequently was the result of the aggression of the aggressor. Fighting in self defense is legally OK in most countries. Aggression and the use of excessive force is not.

Static systems that claim to know all the answers are obviously highly suspect. All bodies of knowledge must keep evolving to keep pace with new inputs or else they become outdated. CKM is no different. CKM knows that criminals and terrorists continuously keep changing their tactics. Therefore, CKM keeps evolving to keep pace with the new tactics and weapons of the enemy. It is totally dynamic.

Combat in the streets is totally unpredictable. There are no rules. There is no referee who will stop the fight, or throw in the towel. There is no honor code. Treacherous behavior abounds. The attacker might pull a gun, or a knife, or have friends lurking not too far away (a gang), it may be two or more than two on one. Such people are capable of stooping to any sub-human extent.

The CKM Solution: Think like a Commando. Engage and rapidly disengage. Engage the enemy only if there is no other choice, but if you must then finish him off immediately. Then, rapidly disengage before his friends come to his rescue. The goal is simple. Survival. This is the reality of the street, not of the dojo.

Because Moni and his senior instructors are actively involved with teaching the elite Special Forces, CKM keeps evolving spurred by the demands of one of the fiercest fighting environments in the world; the Middle East.
The third CKM principle is this: In the street there are no rules. Train real.

To read more about Moni or CKM : WWW.COMMANDOKRAVMAGA.COM



Mestre Espirro Mirim's of Group Cordao de Ouro, 2006 Capoeira Showreel.


Capoeira is the African system of unarmed combat that was thought to have been developed in the 1500's by African slaves who were taken to Brazil and forced to work in the sugar cane fields. Because the slaves hands were manacled most of the time punching is not prominent in Capoeira but the art includes fighting while standing on ones hands. Attacks rely heavily on kicking and sweeping leg techniques and evasion is used for defense rather than blocking.

The slaves turned the tools they used in the fields into the weapons of Capoeira. These included the sugar cane knife and the 3/4 inch staff.

Obviously slaves were not permitted to practice this or any form of martial art and therefore the slaves disguised the art as dance. They practiced to the music of percussion and non-percussion instruments, dancing in a circle called the "roda". These "dances" included acrobatics, somersaults, headstands and back flips, and never allowed the martial artist to remain in set stances, but had him moving from one leg to the other over and over again, preventing the opponent from getting too close.

Capoeira includes footwork called Ginga and basic kicks which include roundhouse kicks, side kicks, a front stomping kick, low and a high turning kicks, and outside and inside crescent kicks.

Bando / Thaing or Burmese Boxing

Despite the Chinese influences, Bando is credited as a style of armed and unarmed combat native to Burma. It is an assimilation of Karate-like striking and kicking techniques, Judo-like throwing techniques, swordplay and fighting with knives, spears and sticks.

There are numerous interpretations of the term Bando, and different linguistic and ethnic groups hold to diverse translations. It is generally interpreted in three ways:

"way of discipline"

"systems of self-defense"

"art of fighting or combat"

Some Bando groups have combined all three translations in one, making it similar to the Japanese term Budo (stop conflict), the Chinese word Wu Shu (war art), or the English terms military arts or martial arts. Some etymologists believe the term Bando derives from Chinese, while others claim Indian or even Tibetan origins. Bando is also called "Thaing."

There are many styles of Bando, but most follow basic instructional patterns. The art emphasizes initial withdrawal followed by an attack outside the opponent's reach. All parts of the body are employed in these attacks, and once the initial technique is delivered, grappling and locking techniques are used. Techniques are learned first through formal exercises in some systems and only later through sparring.

When the Japanese invaded Burma in 1942, they encouraged the practice and proliferation of Bando and influenced it by exchanging techniques from Judo, Jujutsu, and Aikido. After World War II, Bando was furthered through a large number of competitions.

Bando was introduced in the U.S. by Dr. Maung Gyi, a college professor who began teaching the art on April 3, 1960, in Washington, D.C. Later, Bando classes were formally conducted at American University until the fall of 1966. Dr. Gyi organized the American Bando Association on June 15, 1968, at Ohio University. Members present at this initiation ceremony took a blood oath.

The International Bando Association was officially formed on March 9, 1946, by U Ba Than, then director of physical education and athletics for the Union of Burma. The IBA was organized in honor of those servicemen who fought and died in the China-Burma-India theater of World War II.

Kali / Arnis / Eskrima

From Mark V. Wiley's Filipino Martial Arts

The recording and documentation of history is an arduous and often difficult undertaking. While reading about history we frequently believe the point of view of the author; however, this is often incomplete and inaccurate. In particular, when tracing the origin of an art of war, such as Eskrima, it is often difficult to string together the bits and pieces of fragmented information into chronological order. Also, since the exact origin of the art was never documented by those who were directly responsible for its founding, much is left to speculation and the cross-referencing of pertinent information to historical events in the surrounding geographical region.


Centuries old, the Filipino warrior arts have long been the backbone of Filipino society. It was the practice and preservation of these arts that have kept the Philippine archipelago from permanent domination by a foreign power. There are several hundred styles of these warrior arts presently being preserved and taught throughout the Philippines. Although known by many names, often descriptive of the styles and names of their founders and enemies (i.e., Binas Arnis, Italiana style), the Filipino warrior arts can be classified by three distinct territorial styles --Arnis, Eskrima, and Kali -- that are found in the northern, central and southern Philippines, respectively.

It has been postulated that the Filipino art of Escrima originated in India and that it was brought to the Philippines by people who traveled through Indonesia across a land bridge known as the Riouw archipelago that linked the Malay peninsula to Sumatra, and across another land bridge that connected Malaya to the Philippine islands. Indonesian Tjakalele and Malay Silat Melayu are two forms of combat said to have been introduced to the Philippines via these now-sunken routes. The ninth century Tang dynasty brought goods to the Philippines from East Asia and Malaysia. These countries' combat methods of Kuntao and Silat had a great influence on the development of Kali, which is the "mother art" of the Philippines. Legends claim that ten Datus (chieftains) left Borneo and settled in Panay where they established the Bothoan in the twelfth century. The Bothoan was a school where the Datus taught Kali along with academic subjects and agriculture. It was a kind of preparatory school for tribal leaders.

During the fourteenth century, a third migration of Malaysians to the Philippines took place. These immigrants were the ancestors of the Moro (Muslim) Filipinos of Mindanao and Sulu. They spread their cultural-religious beliefs as well as their Kali systems, which utilized bladed weapons of varying lengths. Datu Mangal is credited with bringing the art of Kali to Mactan Island; Sri Bataugong and his son Sri Bantug Lamay were said to have brought the art to the island of Cebu during the Majapahit Empire. Raja Lapu Lapu, the son of Datu Mangal, through constant struggle and war, developed a personalized Kali subsystem known as Pangamut. In the sixteenth century, he and Raja Humabon, the son of Sri Bantug Lamay, began to quarrel. A battle was mounting as Lapu Lapu accused Humabon of wrongfully taking land that belonged to his father. The battle, however, was never to take place, as the Philippines were unexpectedly visited by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.

In the early part of the sixteenth century, the Spanish set sail in search of a westward route across the Pacific to the Indies. Commander Ferdinand Magellan's fleet of ships accidentally stumbled upon an unknown archipelago. On March 16, 1521, Magellan came upon the island of Samar. He decided that it was in his best interest to wait to attack, and thus dock at a nearby island. This island was uninhabited and so Magellan's fleet took a few days of needed rest.

On March 18, the Spaniards took note of a boatload of natives coming toward their ships. Commander Magellan, seeing a strange opportunity, greeted them in friendship. This friendship was to develop, and the native islanders familiarized Magellan with the names of the surrounding islands that made up the archipelago. With assistance of the ship's priest, Magellan baptized Raja Kolambu, the chief of Samar, and also Raja Humabon, the chief of Cebu, converting them to Catholicism and ultimately Spanish allegiance.

On April 27, Magellan led an expedition to nearby Mactan Island in hopes of conquering and then presenting it as a git to Raja Humabon. Unfortunately, as he and 49 Spanish conquistadors disembarked from their ships, they were confronted by 1,050 islanders, led by Raja Lapu Lapu, armed with iron-tipped fire-hardened bamboo lances and pointed fire-dried wooden stakes. Greatly outnumbered, Magellan was killed by the spears and arrows of Lapu Lapu's men.

In 1543, Ruy de Villalobos, sailing from New Spain (Mexico), landed south of Mindanao and proceeded to name the entire archipelago the PHILIPPINES after King Philip II of Spain. It was not until 1565 that Miguel Lopez de legazpi, authorized by Philip II, colonized the island of Cebu, and a foothold was secured in the Philippines. When the Spaniards traveled to the island of Luzon in 1570, they found it inhabited by Filipino, Chinese and Indonesian cross-cultures, and upon their arrival they were confronted by Kalistas (Kali warriors) whose fighting method far exceeded theirs. But the Spaniards, using firearms defeated the inhabitants of Luzon. From then on, the art of Kali was prohibited, but it was still practieced and perfected by a dedicated few. The arts were then preserved in native ritual dances called sinulog that had mock battles with swords as finales. Ironically, these dances were often performed for the Spaniards' enjoyment.

Kalistas practiced their arts diligently, and hence developed extreme accuracy, speed, and agility. These attributes were a must. Because the Spaniards' swords were sharp and readily cut through the Filipinos' wooden weapons, many strikes to nerve centres along the body and limbs were mastered, allowing the Kalista to disarm and disable his opponent with a flurry of attacks.

During the 330 years of Spanish reign, after many skirmishes with Spanish fencing exponents and after careful observation, the art of Kali was altered. Many training methods were dropped and many new concepts and techniques were added. This, coupled with the influence of Spanish culture and language, prompted the evolution of Eskrima (aka. Arnis de Mano). It was the Spanish rapier and dagger systems that had the greatest influence on the development of Eskrima. The use of numbered angles of attack as well as what have become traditional Eskrima uniforms, were both influenced by the Spanish. It is also interesting to note that although Tagalog is the national language of the Philippines, many of the top Eskrima masters still teach their arts in Spanish, today.

About Doce Pares

About San Miguel Eskrima

Remy Presas, The Man Behind Modern Arnis


American Kenpo

A style of Karate developed in the West. It deviates from traditional Karate in several important respects. First, the terms used are in language of the country in which it is being taught. Japanese is not the language of instruction. Also, students are encouraged to change and adapt the techniques. The school emphasizes vital point attacks using punches, strikes and kicks. Throws are also important. The art was original introduced in Hawaii by James Mitose, near the start of World War II. Later, William Chow, one of his students, adapted Mitose's approach and "Americanized" the art. Ed Parker, who is probably the most famous practitioner, was a student of Chows and further adapted the methods so that they would prove practical in an actual fight. He created a logical organization for the basic Kenpo techniques, dividing them into eight categories., such as stances, blocks, punches and so on. These are taught in forms, in self-defense practice, and in free-style sparring. (From The Martial Arts Encyclopedia by Jennifer Lawler)


Kenpo is a mixture of five cultures (in historical order): Chinese, Japanese, Okinawan, Hawaiian (before Hawaii became a state) and American. (Hopefully Canadian will at some point be a part of that list.)

The word Kenpo is Japanese for "Fist Law" (Ken/fist, Po/Law) which in itself is confusing for this art started in China. Most people have heard of "Chinese Kenpo" or "American Kenpo." But Japanese? (For point of reference "Fist Law" in Chinese is CH'UAN FA.)

The name is the result of centuries of development and change. Despite it's birth in China, the art of "Kenpo" was passed down through the Mitose family who studied the original art in China in the 1600's and brought it back to Japan. The Mitose family were Japanese, so, naturally they used Japanese to describe their family system.

James M. Mitose moved from Japan to Hawaii and the style he taught there was called "Kenpo Jiu-Jitsu" (He wrote a book in 1953 called: "What is Self Defense? (Kenpo Jiu Jitsu).

James Mitose's second Shodan was William Chow. In 1949 Chow opened his own Kenpo club and he used the term "Kenpo Karate" to try and distinguish his system from "Kenpo Jiu Jitsu."

In the early 1950's Ed Parker (who was a Judo Shodan) started to take Kenpo Karate lessons with W. Chow. In 1956 Ed Parker moved to Pasadena, California where he opened his own Kenpo Karate school. Ed parker would later become the foremost pioneer of Kenpo to the American mainland. Ed Parker's 5th and 6th black belts were Al and Jim Tracy.

**Frances Romney kindly informed me of a part of Kenpo history regarding Ed Parker, that I never knew, give it a read!( The letter is after the Kenpo history.)**

Through the years of 1956-1960, Parker's system of Kenpo was called "Original Kenpo" because it was identical to that Mitose and Chow taught. (Parker called his system simply, "Kenpo Karate.") In 1961, Ed parker and Chinese Gung Fu Master, James Wing Woo co-founded, "Traditional Kenpo."

So, Kenpo has had a lot added to it over the centuries. Please don't take this short summary as a suggestion that Kenpo is not a "set" art. On the contrary, after so many years of development the Kenpo system knows what does and doesn't work, because of the fact that the style has been handed down from one generation to another for hundreds of years. (They have had a lot of practice.)

Many people call Kenpo the "ultimate in self defense." Kenpo training emphasizes a scientific approach to combat. Kenpo disables an attacker with quick, efficient techniques. Kenpo has a counter for every kind of grab, punch, strike, charge or push. The counters range from simple escapes to joint locks, brakes, blocks, strikes and joint and nerve strikes. From Gecko K Martial Arts

Aiki Ju-Jutsu


It is believed that the traditional Japanese martial art Daitoryu originated within the family of Emperor Seiwa who reigned from 858 to 876 AD. In the eleventh century, a descendent named Shinra Saburo Minamoto no Yoshimitsu advanced the art through the study of human anatomy. He dissected the bodies of war dead and executed criminals to develop effective strikes, holds and joint locks which he incorporated into his family's martial art. His eldest son, Yoshikiyo, moved to the village of Takeda in Koma and there the Daitoryu tradition was handed down within the Takeda family for generations.

Near the end of the 16th century, Kunitsugu Takeda moved the family's main base to the Aizu district. There the art of Daitoryu was secretly taught to the Samurai until the fall of the Shogunate in 1868.

It was Sokaku Takeda, in the 19th century, who began teaching Daitoryu to the public. He was born in 1860 and learned Daitoryu from his relatives and from the last minister of the Aizu region - Tanomo Sigo (1830 - 1905). Sokaku Takeda had also studied other martial arts and he incorporated his knowledge of these plus his practical experience into the Daitoryu which he taught to select groups of military officers, police officials and aristocrats. Although he had many students (some estimates are as high as 30, 000), he issued approximately 20 formal teaching licenses.

Sokaku Takeda was the 35th Grand Master of the Daitoryu tradition that had stemmed from Kunitsugu Takeda. His son, Tokimune Takeda, succeeded him as headmaster. See the Aikido World web page for a discussion of current leadership of the style.

The History of Aikido

Aikido was founded by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) in Tokyo, Japan in 1942. Ueshiba was born in a rural area of Japan near Osaka and left home in his late teens for Tokyo to seek martial arts instruction. Ueshiba was heavily influenced by Daito Ryu AikiJu-Jitsu - a traditional martial art that dates back 1200 years, as well as several styles of Japanese fencing (Kenjutsu), spearfighting (Yarijutsu), and by the religion Omotokyo. Prior to 1942, Ueshiba called his art "Aikibudo" or "Aikinomichi."

Largely because of his deep interest in Omotokyo, Ueshiba attempted to cultivate a "spirit of loving protection for all things" rather than techniques for achieving physical domination over others. He organized Aikido; his own system, and established the principle of nonresistance, the non-violent way of self defense. The name Aikido means "The Way of Harmony with the Ki" (life force) and stresses the harmony between mind, body and spirit.

He then began teaching selected pupils, some from noble families, others from the armed forces. He continued his instruction until World War II when he returned to the countryside. Witnessing his countrymen turn their interests from spiritual to material matters, Ueshiba eventually decided that he could encourage a rebirth of the spirit through the medium of Aikido. With that thought, he selected his finest students and sent them to spread Aikido throughout the world.

There are several major variants of Aikido. The root variant is the "aikikai." Aikikai is the name given to the central dojo of Aikido in Tokyo, Japan. The chief instructor is Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Morihei Ueshiba's son. The Aikikai also houses the headquarters of the International Aikido Federation which has branches throughout the world and which oversees the dissemination of Ueshiba's Aikido. With his death in 1969, the development of Aikido was taken over by Kisshomaru. He presides at the general headquarters and the International Aikido Federation, representing all the countries of the free world. Through this organization, the quality of the art and the black belt ranks are strictly regulated.

The teachings of the Daito Ryu AikiJu-Jutsu continue today, and Tokimune Takeda is its current headmaster in Japan. Several organizations in the United States are affiliated with the Aikikai, including the United States Aikido Federation, the Aikido Association of America, and Aikido Schools of Ueshiba. More than 14 different sects of Aikido exist today.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Krav Maga Style

Krav Maga (krahv muh-GAH) , the Israeli self defense and fighting system, is the official hand-to-hand combat system of the Israeli Defense Forces. The name Krav Maga simply means contact fight or battle or the touch of the fighter. It was developed by Imrich ("Imi")

Moni Aizik training in the Israeli Army

Sde-Or, a champion heavyweight boxer, studied jiu-jitsu and judo and was a dancer and trapeze acrobat. Imi utilized his knowledge in the above sports to develop the Israeli martial art of self defense. Teacher and martial arts master, Moni Aizik an expert in jujitsu and judo, reconstucted the art for its application and teaching in the Israeli army.

In the early 1940's, the underground liberation organizations were fighting for the independence of the State of Israel. Since it was illegal to carry weapons, the fighters went into battle with knives and sticks and their knowledge of Krav Maga and they were extremely successful. The developer of Krav Maga realized that the defense needs of the Israeli fighter were different from those needed by classical martial artists and therefore Krav Maga incorporates new techniques which are needed as defense against pistols, guns and hand grenades.

Krav Maga is the official martial art taught in the Israel defense forces and it is also taught in many public schools in Israel.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Aikido Primer by Eric Sotnak

Aikido Primer by Eric Sotnak

Morihei Ueshiba

"Eight forces sustain creation:
movement and stillness, solidification and fluidity,
extension and contraction, unification and division. "

" Techniques employ four qualities that reflect the nature of our world. Depending on the circumstance, you should be: hard as a diamond, flexible as a willow,
smooth-flowing like water, and as empty as space. "

excerpted from
The Art of Peace
Teachings of the Founder of Aikido

Aikido's founder, Morihei Ueshiba, was born in Japan on December 14, 1883. As a boy, he often saw local thugs beat up his father for political reasons. He set out to make himself strong so that he could take revenge. He devoted himself to hard physical conditioning and eventually to the practice of martial arts, receiving certificates of mastery in several styles of jujitsu, fencing, and spear fighting. In spite of his impressive physical and martial capabilities, however, he felt very dissatisfied. He began delving into religions in hopes of finding a deeper significance to life, all the while continuing to pursue his studies of budo, or the martial arts. By combining his martial training with his religious and political ideologies, he created the modern martial art of aikido. Ueshiba decided on the name "aikido" in 1942 (before that he called his martial art "aikibudo" and "aikinomichi").

On the technical side, aikido is rooted in several styles of jujitsu (from which modern judo is also derived), in particular daitoryu-(aiki) jujitsu, as well as sword and spear fighting arts. Oversimplifying somewhat, we may say that aikido takes the joint locks and throws from jujitsu and combines them with the body movements of sword and spear fighting. However, we must also realize that many aikido techniques are the result of Master Ueshiba's own innovation.

On the religious side, Ueshiba was a devotee of one of Japan's so-called "new religions," Omotokyo. Omotokyo was (and is) part neo-shintoism, and part socio-political idealism. One goal of omotokyo has been the unification of all humanity in a single "heavenly kingdom on earth" where all religions would be united under the banner of omotokyo. It is impossible sufficiently to understand many of O-sensei's writings and sayings without keeping the influence of Omotokyo firmly in mind.

Despite what many people think or claim, there is no unified philosophy of aikido. What there is, instead, is a disorganized and only partially coherent collection of religious, ethical, and metaphysical beliefs which are only more or less shared by aikidoists, and which are either transmitted by word of mouth or found in scattered publications about aikido.

Some examples: "Aikido is not a way to fight with or defeat enemies; it is a way to reconcile the world and make all human beings one family." "The essence of aikido is the cultivation of ki (a vital force, internal power, mental/spiritual energy)." "The secret of aikido is to become one with the universe." "Aikido is primarily a way to achieve physical and psychological self- mastery." "The body is the concrete unification of the physical and spiritual created by the universe." And so forth.

At the core of almost all philosophical interpretations of aikido, however, we may identify at least two fundamental threads:

(1) A commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict whenever possible.
(2) A commitment to self-improvement through aikido training.

An Interview with Henry Ellis
Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido
By Authur Lockyear

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Kung Fu Styles

Northern Shaolin

    With the original Shaolin Temple in Northern China long since destroyed, the main branches of Shaolin Kung Fu spread far and wide through China, undergoing many revisions and adaptations. The present system, known as Northern Shaolin, specializes in long-range fighting techniques. Based on some of the original temple boxing heritage, the proponents of this system maintain that kicks are more effective than hand movements because the legs obviously are longer than the arms.


    The mythical dragon has been characterized in the West as a serpentlike, winged monster which, according to some religions, including Christianity, represents the power of evil. However, other cultures, especially the Chinese, believed that the fabulous creature was benevolent, life giving and worthy of reverence, indeed, even worship. In ancient China, the dragon, as a Yang force, was associated with male fertility. Above all, the dragon represented the fertilizing power of rain. As the continuous pelts of rain may be used for healthy growth, they may also be used to engulf or destroy as in the Dragon style. The Dragon specialty at the time of attack is a combination of Hard and Soft techniques. Exponents rely on "floating and sinking movements with shoulders dropped and elbows bent." A powerful outflow of thrusting power is then released.

White Crane

    The regal spirit of the white crane has inspired what may be considered as the most elegantly beautiful of all the Chinese Kung Fu systems. Patterned after the aesthetic essence of the statuesque wading bird found mostly in marshes and open plains, the classic White Crane self-defense forms contain an unexpected deadly beauty, especially devastating for the aggressive beholder. The main principles of the White Crane style are really quite simple and direct, although extremely difficult to perfect. There are four main principles to remember: to Hurt, to Evade, to Penetrate, and to Intercept.

      To Hurt:

      A White Crane master will never fight unless it is to save lives or prevent harm to others. This includes, of course, the protection of oneself from destruction.

      To Evade:

      The White Crane master almost haughtily disdains physical contact with an opponent, instead opting for a single debilitating blow, usually delivered from long range. A White Crane saying has it that "If you evade an attack, there will only be one attack; if you block an attack there will be ten attacks."

      To Penetrate

      This means to break through the defense of the adversary. The master should take advantage of the tense side of the opponent's attention or the lax side of his inattention.

      To Intercept:

      Violent situations could possibly arise in which distasteful physical contact might be forced by a strong opponent. There are basically two methods of intercepting, physical interception and negative interception. Physical interception, the blow is intercepted just as it is launched. And negative interception, an application of pressure in the same direction as the antagonistic force.

Wing Chun

    The essence of Wing Chun, in Chinese terms, is "Opponent attacks, absorb and neutralize blow. Opponent withdraws, pursue and counter. Disengage restriction from arms, retaliate with penetrating thrust." This will take some time to understand and a lot of practical application to master. Technically, Wing Chun uses a constant flow of forward energy based on the principle that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Offensively, a Wing Chun artist will use a combination of straight and intercepting lines and deflecting arcs. We emphasize the word "offense" because Wing Chun is structurally an aggressive close-quarter style which, as a modern Wing Chun practitioner told us, "Doesn't give a damn about traditional block and punch routines."

Hung Gar

    Hung Gar is an adaptation of the Shaolin Tiger system, and stresses close-quarter fighting methods. This system was totally unlike the far-ranging jumping styles of the North, but it was extremely effective for combat in the confining alleys of China during the Ch'ing dynasty. In Hong Kong, Hung Gar artists consider a half hour in a strong horse stance adequate for daily exercise, in addition to powerful boxing and weapons sets.

Praying Mantis

    Some three hundred and fifty years ago Wang Lang founded the Praying Mantis form of Kung Fu. Wang based his martial art on a mantis he captured. He observed the mantis' offensive and defensive movements. After Wang's death his carefully thought out mantis heritage became divided when four of Wang's disciples, each claiming superior innovations, sought to be released from the founding school. The mantis master granted permission on one condition- each student name their individualized style after the markings on the back of a personally captured mantis. One had the appearance of a Yin-Yang symbol (Tai T'si), another looked like a plum blossom (Mei Hua), one showed the markings of seven stars (Tsi T'sing), and one had no markings and was called the Bare style (Kwong P'an).

Monkey Style

    It may be a very comical style of martial arts, but is truly one of the most deadly personal defense systems. Its origins trace back to at least 1842 when foreign missionaries were first allowed into China. When a normally peaceful man, Kau See, resisted being drafted he accidentally killed an officer. For this crime he was placed in prison, from his cell Kau See watched and imitated the movements of the prison "watchdogs" which were apes. He watched the movements of the apes for ten years, paying special attention to how the apes fought. When he was pardoned and released he became know as "The Monkey Master." Disciples soon joined him to learn his unusual hopping and squatting defense system.

Choy Lee Fut

    Choy Lee Fut's power originates from the waist through a strong horse stance. It utilizes this power to release punches from only a foot away from the target. It also uses basic Chin Na grappling and throwing techniques, high and low kicks, side kicks, snap kicks, hook kicks and turn kicks featuring 360-degree spins and turns. Intercepting and jamming are favorite tactics used against any enemy. Jam an opponent off balance by moving straight into him while blasting overpowering hooks and uppercuts. Some of these moves are strikingly similar to Western boxing.

    All information for this article was taken from the book, KUNG FU: History, Philosophy and Technique by David Chow and Richard Spangler.


    Little Nine Heaven is the oldest Taoist system known today dating back to 2698BC. It consists of three skills: ju kung (boxing), chian-kuan jen (swordsmanship) and shi shui (bone marrow washing). It consists of five forms, twelve animals, three rushes, five harmonies and the nine essentials. It is also the highest level of the I-Ching (Book of Changes).

    Hsing-I is an ancient art of fighting and healing that tunes the mind and body to a finely honed degree. It is said to have developed during the period of the Northern Sung dynasty (1127-1276 AD). The system consists of the five elements, twelve animals, tien-gunn, six harmonies, nine essences, and the theory of touch, go, kiss using the seven stars. Hsing-I is the easiest style to learn, but the hardest to master, because it is so easy.

    Chen Tai-Chi The old form taught at the school is called 13 postures. It consists of 13 sections and has 64 moves. The second form is called Pao Twi (cannon fist). The learning of chen sa chin (silk reeling energy), circles around the body's meridians like latitudes around the globe. The precise movements will give extraordinary power. This also provides a form of moving meditation in time.

    Splashing Hands is a fighting style which is an extremely practical, no-nonsense art. It features quick shuffling footwork and low-focused straight leg kicks. It is combined with jabs, punches, elbows and singular and two man fighting forms. Splashing Hands is geared for the street and dates back to early 1700.

    Iron Hand the term, refers to the properly developed human hands which can become hard like iron and generate tremendous power, but still maintain the look of a normal hand. It dates back to the early days of the Shaolin Temples. There are several methods of training in iron hand including 'slapping', 'thrusting' and 'cooking'.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Karate Styles

Martial Arts Information by USADOJO.COM

When people hear the term "martial art" they generally think of Karate. One of the most popular martial arts, Karate had its roots in China, developed in Okinawa, and was later brought to Japan by Gichin Funakoshi. Karate originated in Okinawa in the 1600s. It was developed from imported Chinese martial arts skills and refined as an advanced means of self-defense because weapons were outlawed on the island. It was originally called Te, meaning "hand." Later, masters adopted the name Karate, meaning "empty hand" or "Chinese hand" (depending upon which characters are used to write the word).

The word Karate is formed by two characters, the first one kara (empty) and the other te (hand). Kara may be explained several ways. The first way is that through the practice of karate, self-defense techniques are learned, where no weapons are used, other than hands, feet, or other parts of the body. A second way, as explained by Master Funakoshi, "Just as it is the clear mirror that reflects without distortion, or the quiet valley that echoes a sound, so must one who would study Karate-do purge himself of selfish and evil thoughts, for only with a clear mind and conscience can he [she] understand that which he [she] receives. This is another meaning of the element kara in Karate-do." Another meaning given by Funakoshi is that of always striving to be inwardly humble and outwardly gentle. Finally, Funakoshi also talks about the elemental form of the universe, which is emptiness (kara, ku), "and thus, emptiness is form itself. The kara of Karate-do has this meaning." It is clear that Karate is much more than mere self-defense techniques.

Toward the end of the 19th century, Gichin Funakoshi trained with various karate masters, and then devised his own system, which he named Shotokan. He spread the style to the Japanese mainland and eventually to the West. Master Funakoshi, inspired by traditional martial arts from the main Japanese islands (such as Kyudo, Kendo, and Judo) modified Karate, which until that moment could have been called Karate-jutsu (a fighting art), and emphasized its philosophical aspects combining Karate techniques with traditional Budo (the martial way). The word Budo is formed by two Chinese characters. Bu is formed by two symbols, a symbol that means to stop is drawn inside another symbol of two weapons, two crossed halberds. Thus, bu means to stop conflict. As stated before, do means a way or a life philosophy. In Master Funakoshi's own words: "Since Karate is a Budo, this meaning should be deeply considered, and the fists should not be used heedlessly".

Today it is common to find both "traditional" and "competitive" styles of karate. Traditional styles being the formal Okinawan styles, and competitive styles being those involved mostly in tournament competition. Karate is based upon powerful linear kicks and punches. It is considered a "hard" martial art since its blocks and attacks are direct and forceful. Many different styles fall under the karate banner. All include hard­style kicks, punches, and blocks, but some emphasize linear movements, while others emphasize circular movements. In virtually every style, kata (patterns) practice and kumite (sparring) play an important role in training.

American Freestyle Karate. American freestyle (named by Dan Anderson) is not really a style, it more of method of non-Oriental training. It stresses training to capitalize on your own specific skills and capabilities rather than training to force yourself to conform to some preconceived idea of what a technique should be.

American Kempo. American Kempo (or Kenpo) (American Fist Law) is an eclectic art developed by Hawaiian Ed Parker. The art combines the Kara-Ho Kempo Karate that Parker learned from William Chow with influences from Chinese, Japanese Kosho Ryu Kenpo, Hawaiian, and Western martial art sources. Parker added many labels to concepts from these arts that originally has no labels. It blends circular motions and evasive movements with linear kicks and punches. It is oriented toward "street" self-defense. The system allows "artistic interpretation" and many American offshoots have evolved from it.

Note: In the Japanese language, the consonants "n" and "m" have the same symbol, thus the English spelling can be rendered either "Kempo" or "Kenpo". There are several arts in this family, but the spelling is not significant in distinguishing between them.

Cha Yon Ryu. Cha Yon Ryu (Natural Way) is an eclectic, fairly new martial art founded in 1968 by Kim Soo of Houston, Texas. Taekwondo and Shotokan Karate contributes kicking techniques, strong stances and direct, linear strikes and blocks. Okinawa-te movements add techniques with some angularity, and Quanfa Gongfu contributes fluid, circular movements. Hapkido adds defenses against chokes, grabs and armed attacks, as well as various throwing and falling techniques. Students strive to fulfill The Dojang Hun (Training Hall Oath): Seek perfection of character, Live the way of truth, Endeavor, Be faithful, Respect your seniors, and Refrain from violent behavior.

Full-Contact Karate. Full-contact karate was founded in the early 1970's by Mike Anderson and Jhoon Rhee. Similar to boxing, the goal is to knockout the opponent or to win on a decision by judges. Unlike boxing, kicks are permitted and a minimum number of kicks must be delivered each round.

Goju-Ryu. Goju-Ryu was founded in the 1930's by Miyagi Chojun from Okinawan Kate and Chinese Kempo techniques. It is combination of hard "go" and soft "ju" techniques that work together similar to yin and yang. Linear motion is combined with circular movements. Patterns are practiced slowly with emphasis on breathing.

Isshin-Ryu. Isshin-ryu was found in Okinawa in 1954 by Shimabuku Tatso by combining Shorin-ryu (90%) and Goju-ryu (10%) techniques. It uses low kicks, short stances, and awareness of surroundings to be useful for street fighting. It also teaches use of the kusarigama. Isshin-ryu emphasizes:

Kicks and punches that are thrown from natural stances eliminating wasted motions and giving you split-second advantages over opponents using some of the other styles.
Stresses proficiency with both hand and foot techniques, equally, making it a more versatile form of Karate because you have no weak points.
"Close in" techniques useful in "street fighting" making it a more realistic style of Karate.
Snap punches and snap kicks, where the limb does not fully extend and is immediately retracted (preventing excessive strain on the knees and elbows) permitting you to move in and out quickly without committing yourself to a disadvantageous position should you miss or misjudge.
Blocks with muscular portion of the forearm rather than the bone.
Fist formed with the thumb on top rather than wrapped over the first two fingers (this strengthens the wrist to help prevent buckling at the wrist on impact).
The vertical punch, which increases speed and can be focused at any given point.

Karate Connection. An American Kenpo based school created by Chuck Sullivan and Vic LeRoux. It includes techniques from many different styles; a "use what works" mentality.

Kempo. Kempo "way of the fist" (also known as Quan Fa, Chuan Fa, Jiaodishu, Kaiki, and Kenyu) is a Chinese martial art. Its techniques are similar to Karate with a focus on Buddhist philosophy. Other arts, such as archery and swordsmanship are also taught in Kempo schools.

Kenpo (Kosho Ryu). A Japanese based, philosophical art much like Jeet Kune Do but with a Zen influence, meaning lots of mind science material and healing arts. It is not a style of compiled patterns or specific techniques; it is a study of all motion and therefore cannot be stylized to look like a specific teacher or animal movement.

Kenpo is the family style of Grandmaster James Mitose. It was first taught to non-family members in Hawaii during the 1940's and 1950's. Mitose called his family style "Kyu-sho-ryu" Kenpo (old pine tree school fist law). According to Mitose, during the invasion of Genghis Khan, the Head Monk of the Shaolin Temple fled China and found refuge with the Mitose family. In appreciation for the kindness of the Mitose's, he taught them Shaolin Chuan Fa (Shorinji Kempo in Japanese). The, in 1235, a Shinto priest whom James Mitose calls his first ancestor became enlightened to what we call Kempo. According to Mitose, this man was a martial arts master and a Buddhist monk studying at Shaka In who found it difficult to be both. His religion taught him pacifism; his martial art taught him destruction. He pondered this dilemma under an old pine tree meaning Kosho in Japanese. He became enlightened and was from then on known as, Kosho Bosatsu, the Old Pine Tree Enlightened One. He discovered the relationship between man and nature and also the secret of the escaping arts. He founded the Kosho Shorei Temple of Peace, True Self Defense, and Kosho Shorei Yoga School.

One of James Mitose's students, William Chow, mixed it with elements of his father's Chinese style to produce his own style, called "Kara-ho" Kenpo Karate. Kenpo's techniques were influenced by those of various Chinese, Japanese, and Hawaiian martial arts. Kenpo training emphasizes a scientific approach to combat. Many patterns, rapid­fire hand techniques, and combinations are taught. Ed Parker popularized the style on the mainland by organizing the style and orienting it toward practical street self-defense. Although it is often categorized as an American martial art, the style's name is written with the same Chinese characters as Chuan-fa, a generic Chinese term for martial arts. The art received a popularity boost after Jeff Speakman, a student of Parker's, showcased it in the movie, "Perfect Weapon."

Kempo (Ryukyu). Ryukyu Kempo (which roughly translates into Okinawan kung-fu, or Chinese boxing science) is the original style of martial arts learned and taught by Gichin Funakoshi on the Okinawa, an island in the Ryukyu island chain. It stresses the existence of body points within your opponent that can be struck or grappled for more effective fighting. Funakoshi's first edition book "Ryukyu Kempo" shows him clearly grappling and touching an opponent. Later editions and current karate books only show a practioner with a retracted punch, where the original shows actively grappling an enemy. It is felt that Funakoshi was the last of the purists, wanting all to learn the art.

Okinawans, who have a culture and history of their own, became disenchanted with the Japanese, and were less inclined to teach them the "secret techniques" of self-defense. When American military soldiers occupied Japan after WWII, they became enamored of the martial-arts. It is theorized that the Japanese and Okinawans were reluctant to teach the secrets of their national art to the occupiers, and so taught a "watered down" version of karate-do usually reserved for children. Contemporary Kempo practioners practice "pressure point fighting" or Kyushu-jitsu and grappling, called Tuite. It is an exact art of striking small targets on the body, such as nerve centers, and grappling body points in manners similar to Jujitsu or Aikido.

There are a couple of physical differences in Kempo and many other styles. One is a three-quarter punch, rather than a full twist. Second is a fist whereby the thumb stops at the first finger, rather than the first two fingers. Third is the sword hand, which has the little finger placed as parallel as possible to the third finger and the thumb straight and on the inside rather than bent.

Kobo-Jutsu. Kobo-jutsu is a Okinawan style of Karate characterized by the large array of weapons it uses. The style makes extensive use of forms to perfect techniques.

Kyokushin-Kai. Kyokushin-Kai is a Japanese style of Karate found by Oyama Masutatsu in the 1950's. The style was influenced by Kempo, Gojuryu, and Zen. It is powerful art that emphasized breaking, breathing, multiple attacks in quick sucession, and kill techniques.

Shohei-Ryu (formally known as Uechi-Ryu). A traditional Okinawan, Zen based style founded by Kanbum Uechi . Although it has become one of the main Okinawan martial arts and absorbed many of the traditional Okinawan karate training methods and approaches, it is historically, and to some extent technically, quite separate.

The name Shohei-Ryu comes from two Chinese characters, "Sho" meaning "to shine brightly" and "Hei" meaning "fairness", "equality" and "peace". The name also refers to two Japanese eras, a past one, Showa, and the present one, Heisei. Ryu (pronounced "roo") is the Japanese word for "style" or "path".

Grandmaster Kanbun Uechi was born on May 5, 1877 in Isumi, a small village in northern Okinawa. In 1897, at the age of 20, he fled to Fuzhou, the capital city of Fujian province in China, to avoid being drafted into the Japanese army, which was occupying Okinawa at the time. For ten years, he studied the art of Pangai-noon, meaning half hard half soft, under master Shushiwa, a Buddist priest who had received his training in the Shoalin Temple in Southern China. Pangai-noon was derived from the interwoven movements of the tiger, crane and dragon and it concentrates on the use of the single-knuckle punch, spear-hand strike, pointed kick and circular block. Uechi opened his own school in Nanchon, a city in Fukien Province, where he taught for three years, having the distinction of being the only Okinawan ever accepted in China as a teacher. Disheartened after one of his students became involved in a dispute and killed another person, Uechi vowed never to teach again, and, in 1910, he closed his school and returned Okinawa where he married and, on June 26, 1911, his son Kanei was born. Uechi still refused to teach his art and only once during the ensuing years did he reluctantly demonstrate his kata.

Absorbing some Okinawan Goju-ryu over the decades, Shohei-Ryu still retains its original Chinese flavor, both in its technique and in the culture of the dojo. It is a "half-hard, half-soft" style very similar to such southern Chinese styles as Fukienese Crane (as still practiced in the Chinese communities of Malaysia), Taiwanese Golden Eagle, and even Wing Chun. Conditioning the body for both attack and defense is a common characteristic of both Okinawan karate and southern Shaolin "street" styles, and as such is an important part of Shohei-Ryu training. There is a strong internal component to the practice, including focused breathing and tensioning exercises similar to Chinese Qigong. Shohei-Ryu, following its Chinese Crane heritage, emphasizes circular blocks, low snap kicks, infighting (coordinating footwork with grabs, locks, throws, and sweeps), and short, rapid hand traps and attacks (not unlike Wing Chun). The style incorporates the characteristics of the Wushu animals. It uses circular motions and uses the Phoenix Eye single knuckle punch. Unlike most Karate styles, it uses grappling techniques.

Shorin Ryu. Shorin Ryu is an Okinawan soft style. Known for its light, quick, and agile techniques that are suitable for a person of light body structure. Because of its strict spiritual aspects it is considered a religious sect.

Shorinji Kempo. Shorinji Kempo is a Japanese Karate style that is deeply rooted in Zen meditation. It was created by So Doshin who says it is based on traditional Shaolin teachings. In the 1970's, the Japanese courts forced So Doshin to the change the name of his school to Nippon Shorinji Kempo. It stresses being calm in action. Students first learn its deep spirituality, then learn the fighting techniques. Because of its combination of Buddhism, philosophy, and martial arts, many consider Shorinji Kempo a religious sect.

Shorei Ryu. Shorei Ryu is an Okinawan hard style. Know for its heavy, powerful techniques and body toughening training. It is known for the its numerous amount of stances. It is more suitable for a person of heavy body structure. It strives to emulate the actions of the 5 traditional animals and teaches all the traditional Okinawan weapons, such as the bo, tonfa, and sai. Some characteristics of shorei-ryu:

  • Stances exceptionally low in kata form.
  • Seiken thrust: slightly downward and in center of body. The rear leg moves slightly forward at the completion of the punch. The moving of the rear leg is automatic and is caused by the power generated by the force of the punch and the forward movement of the hips.
  • Fist: index finger under curled thumb.
  • Hips: rotate with a definite forward movement.
  • Blocks: all start spiraling at wrists and spiral until completion of block.
  • Head snap when turning.
  • Thousand hand, five and six-count rice exercises, and sun fist.
  • High rising block - executed from thigh up.
  • Teeth clenched.
  • Wide-eyed stare.
  • Eight faces: the art of looking or expression (hyojo do). (Confidence, Friendly, Solemn, Unconcerned, Contempt, Shock, Fear, Anger)
  • All kicks, blocks and strikes are 90% circular (point and circles).
  • Kicks: for every forward one there is a reverse one.
  • Te-katana and te-uke covers are very obvious in all Shuri-ryu techniques and katas.
  • Body: always relaxed until exact moment of completing technique.

Shotokai Karate-do. Shotokai Karate-do is a non-competitive style of Karate derived from Gichin Funakoshi's Karate by Masters Yoshitaka (Gigo) Funakoshi and Shigeru Egami. The word Shotokai is composed of three kanji characters in Japanese. The Sho character is taken from the word matsu which means pine tree. To is the character for waves. Pine Waves is the English translation that tries to express what the original Japanese kanji represent, the sound that is produced by the pine needles when the wind blows through them, a sort of wave sound. Gichin Funakoshi, used Shoto as a pseudonym when he signed his poetry works. The word kai means organization. Thus, Shotokai means the Organization of Shoto, or the Organization of Master Gichin Funakoshi. Kan, means building or house, thus Shotokan is the house or building of Shoto.

Shotokai does not consider Karate a sport so it avoids all type of competitive tournaments. Rather, it stresses Karate as a Budo art that is concerned with personal development through the study and practice of Karate as a Do, a Way of Life, and the development of the internal energy, Ki. Shotokai movements are full of vitality and energy, but they use the principles of harmony and relaxation and avoid the use of brute force. Each Shotokai student in a group, has his or her own way of attaining mind-ki-body unity, in a way that permits all students to learn from each other. In a training atmosphere void of distinctions, communication grows and mutual respect arises unhindered.

Shotokan. Shotokan is the "authorized" Japanese style of Karate. It is an Okinawan style founded by Gichin Funakoshi. Shoto was the pen name of Funakoshi. He combined Shorin and Shorei to a style that would accommodate all body structures. According to Funakoshi "The art of karate strives neither for victory, nor for defeat, but for the perfection of the character of its practitioners." Shotokan is a "hard" linear style that is a true "empty hand" art", it does not include weapons training. Although originally known for its a lethal attacks, dynamic entry techniques, and its theory of "one strike, one kill," similar to other martial arts, it has evolved into a sport. Shotokan training emphasizes mastering a few techniques rather than learning many techniquees.

Shotokai and Shotokan are two names for the same thing. Shotokai is the name of the Organization established in 1935 to raise funds for the building of Funakoshi's Main Training Hall. Gichin Funakoshi held only two positions during his lifetime: one as Head Instructor of the Shotokan Dojo and the other as director of the Shotokai school.

Shotokan is the name of the building finished in 1936 that was the result of the work done by this organization. In time, people who trained in Karate were not only known for practicing Karate but also began to be related to different "styles", even though Gichin Funakoshi was against this. His students began to be known as of the "Shotokan", the place where they trained, or "Shotokan-Ryu", the Shotokan Style.

After Master Gichin Funakoshi's death in 1957, Shotokai was heir of his symbol (O-sensei's Tiger), the Shotokan and Shotokai names, and more importantly all his documents and writings, which is why Shotokai is in charge of editing and publishing his works. Shotokai's headquarters in Japan is still the Shotokan Dojo, a though it has been reconstructed since the original one burned during a World War II bombing. The Shotokan name has been misused by many groups with no respect for Master Funakoshi or his families wishes. For this reason, many uninformed people relate Gichin Funakoshi with sport karate, something he was strongly against.

Wado-Ryu. Wado-ryu "school of the way of harmony" was founded in the 1920's by Otsuka Hidenori, one of Funakoshi Gichin's students. Ohtsuka studied Jujutsu for many years before becoming a student of Gichin Funakoshi, considered by some to be Funakoshi's most brilliant student. Ohtsuka combined the movements of Jujutsu with the striking techniques of Okinawan Karate, with a strong focus on evasion through body shifting. Style has higher stances and shorter punches than Shotokan. Training stresses spiritual discipline. After the death of Ohtsuka in the early 1980s, the style split into two factions: Wado Kai, headed by Ohtsuka's senior students; and Wado Ryu, headed by Ohtsuka's son, Jiro. Both factions continue to preserve most of the basic elements of the style.

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