jorvik wrote:same could be said of Uechi, iron shins etc.
Rather than refute everything you're saying, Ray, I'm going to focus on what I clearly have the qualifications to comment on. One could possibly then step back and conclude that maybe there are no "special secrets", but rather "silos" of information that exist in many places.
I tried a number of times to start this thread, and a gif file kept causing the Forums to delete my entire post. It took many tries to find the line that was causing the original post to crash and lose a half hour of work (each post). So what got written was short and to the point. I will expand.
One (and only one) of the "secrets" (GOD do I hate that word!!!!) of Uechi lies in what I like to call "Uechi pointy things." Kanbun's original style had no seiken fist in it. Think about that... a style of infighting which relies on hand techniques that has no close-fisted punch in it. None. Zero. And it's mostly a striking style. What's up with that?
Most of these martial styles can be understood better if you go back to the context in which they were originally choreographed and later practiced. Kanbun's original style existed where people kept their rice in these jars, and there was a special way you carried them from point A to point B. Then it was practiced on Okinawa where the three main industries were farming, fishing, and trade. So what you end up with is a guy who had a killer grip studying fighting while understanding basic body mechanics from being in the field all day.
Fast forward to present.
I'm teaching Uechi's style in Raintree Swim and Racquet club, and trying to figure out how to get people there to do what Kanbun could do. I tried spending $$$$ on a half dozen pairs of custom jars made by a potter. They are delivered to me, and one of them falls over in the transaction period. That jar shattered in a dozen pieces. I thought about it... I'm teaching in a room where any tennis moron can come in after hours and play with our stuff. No... this isn't going to work. Then one day I'm thinking about it, and I look at the dumbbell rack right over on the side. Epiphany hits. The end of the dumbbell with the weight amount imprinted in the side creates the perfect surface to practice Kanbun's grip. Kanbun's toys that were available to him taught him to do something that my toys available to me could do equally well.
And then there is learning basic mechanics from working in the fields or on a boat vs. learning to swing a bat or throw a ball. Given that I once had a lawn care business (in high school) and still do my own yard, I know a thing or two about real work. And I remember some things were obvious to me in handling equipment because I learned the principles on the baseball field.
As Larry Tan - a phenomenal multi-style Chinese martial artist and author - used to tell me, "There are only so many ways to bend the human body. After a while you start repeating yourself."
I know I will never convince Ray of much of this. We have been through this dozens of times with the "THAT'S NOT UECHI!!!!!!
" discussions. What-ever... A kung fu teacher often is in the business of creating mystique so he appears to have a corner of the market on something. I am a professional scientist. It is my job to demystify. They blow up the balloons; I apply the pin. BAM!!!
As for iron shins... Come watch some American football some time, Ray. Send me your best iron shirt guy, and I'll send him out on the field with some college football players. We'll see who knows what about taking a hit.
It should be no surprise that years ago I went to the Varsity Strength Coach at UVa (former world heavyweight powerlifting champion John Gamble) to have my class training regimen reviewed. He first asked for a book about what we did; I gave him George's Uechi Ryu Karate Do as a gift. Then he came back to me and applied principles of training to what I was doing. They were tweaked a bit for what we did, but much of what I did looked like what the football players were doing.
Different applications; same basic principle. Good movement is good movement. Good body development is good body development. Unusual abilities are just that - something a rare few can do and we all admire.
Marty Dow used to tell me how his first teacher, Seiyu Shinjo, was always reading something. Books on different martial arts. Books about sports. Books about physical fitness. Read, read, read... Funny thing is... his son was nine time All Okinawa Champion and now has appeared on The History Channel showing principles of Classical Okinawan Karate. He's THE guy on Okinawa today......
"I know a good joke when I steal it."