open vs closed fist & why? (apologies to Rory)

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open vs closed fist & why? (apologies to Rory)

Postby Shana Moore » Tue Jun 09, 2009 4:52 pm

In another martial forum, Rory Miller's Meditations on Violence , was brought up because he mentions a style of Okinawan karate that had no closed fist strikes until the modern era. This grabbed my attention, obviously, as he was talking about Uechi.

The conversation went on to mention that they often think of Uechi in relation to fists. Here is what one poster noted, after talking to Rory:

I told Rory it's hard to think of Uechi & not think of a fist. But then I sat & thought about what Rory said & it makes sense. He said Uechi had the fists added in to be more "mainline" with what was going on in Okinawa. They still use a large percentage of open hand strikes (my thoughts after the fact) but you still see the fist (my thoughts at first). -sean stonehart


So, the first part of my question is about the history of Uechi and open vs closed fist techniques. Can anyone comment?

In looking at the materials I have, Kanshiwa, Kanshu, Seiryu, Kanchin were all later katas (after 1950). Sanchin is an open handed kata. I do not know enough, yet about Seisan, Sanseiryu, or Suparinpei to comment on the % of open handed vs closed for the others ( I have these as the original Kata of Shu Shi Wa). So...someone more knowledgeable on these latter kata..do they support the concept of open handed as the earlier focus with closed fist added later?
Last edited by Shana Moore on Tue Jun 09, 2009 4:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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part II..yes more questions

Postby Shana Moore » Tue Jun 09, 2009 4:57 pm

This then brought to my mind, a different line of thought...and my apologies if this is a "du-huh" comment to those more experienced than I....

I'm curious and would love to hear other's thoughts on this. While we do use some closed fist punches, most motions (at least as I have been taught to date) are taught as potentials. A kick can be both a block and a kick. A block can also be a strike, etc.

My current thought on the closed fist vs open fist issue is that an important part of Uechi is the ability to grab. The hiraken, shoken, and boshiken are all quickly and easily (well...for some :oops: :lol: )adaptable to pinching and grabbing. These can be used offensively (throwing your opponent off balance, controlling thier movements) and defensively (grabbing/pinching sensitive spots to cause release or pause in your attacker)...and many other ways, I'm sure.

So, I'd love someone more experienced than I to comment on whether this may be the point? or at least one consideration?
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Postby f.Channell » Tue Jun 09, 2009 5:29 pm

The only place fists appear is in Kanshiwa, back in 77-78 when I learned it we used shokens. After striking with the shoken we quickly opened our fist so we could block and grab.

Lots of sensei may argue that there are no blocks in Uechi.
But that will be a long topic!!! It's been covered before.

To me it is what you want it to be. Do you use a hammer to bang in or pull out a nail. Your tool your choice.

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Postby maxwell ainley » Tue Jun 09, 2009 7:52 pm

Shana .

If you look closer at Sanchin ,you will see/ feel closed fists ,along with shokens etc,etc, basicaly Sanchin contains changing hands .Fist formulations are within that structure ,other kata simply utilise component aspects of sanchin in different tactical useage " lack of fists then becomes the uechi trademark " but you could quite easy create other tactical usage that Sanchin offers incorperating [fists ] if you can create things from your on going study as you progress.
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Postby Shana Moore » Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:01 pm

maxwell ainley wrote:you will see/ feel closed fists ,along with shokens etc,etc, basicaly Sanchin contains changing hands .Fist formulations are within that structure ,other kata simply utilise component aspects of sanchin in different tactical useage " lack of fists then becomes the uechi trademark " but you could quite easy create other tactical usage that Sanchin offers incorperating [fists ] if you can create things from your on going study as you progress.


I am continually amazed at how much is in Sanchin. I don't think I really began to realize that until recently. I heard the phrase, but I didn't "get" it...so much to learn! Not just the movements, but hte in between spaces...aiya! (and cool!)
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Postby mhosea » Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:59 pm

What is a fist? Shoken, hiraken, and seiken are all fists. It's the same fist, used differently, for backfist and hammerfist strikes. Did you mean to zero in on seiken-tsuki? The only seiken-tsuki in Uechi is the modern-day kanshiwa, and as has been previously pointed out, it is also practiced with shoken-tsuki instead of seiken-tsuki. There are some seiken-tsukis in the Shohei-Ryu kata Ryuko.

Regardless of whether one thinks of seiken-tsuki as a real Uechi technique or just a borrowed one, the emphasis compared to other styles of karate could not be more different. In Shorin-Ryu we used seiken-tsuki as the ikken hissatsu technique of choice, directed at any one of a dozen or so vulnerable targets, and since not all of them were quite so soft, we relied on our conditioning and our skill to protect our hands from injury. Uechi, IMO, does not labor under this ikken hissatsu idea, and when it appears, seiken-tsuki is just another way of striking a soft target with something hard.
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Postby maxwell ainley » Wed Jun 10, 2009 7:13 pm

Shana ,a major reason why we tend not to see things in sanchin is; we rush ,overlook etc .This is really the essense of slow training to curb this problem ,later this attitude helps you create from sanchin .
Slow means you are spending more time to areas of study it does not mean you are just doing slow moves etc, its a way of seeing more from less ,its a attitude that can't be bought .
Its a internal slowing down ,the opposite of aggitated impulsive types ,you learn more .
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Postby JimHawkins » Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:17 pm

One should examine the differences to understand the use of the tools....


===========
Some differences:

Range--Fists are longer than palms

Spear hand is longer than fists

Spears can split incoming force

Fists can protect the fingers--palms can expose the fingers

Fists are sharp--have points, palms are blunt

Fists are rooted in the primal brain

Fists create tension and stiffness in parts of the arms and mind

Palms are more loose, relaxed and not as tense in the mind and body as are fists

==========

Fists represent a small percentage of the tool-set in many Chinese arts..

It should be noted that "fists" or open handed tools may be used to both give and receive energy, e.g. offense and defense, best executed simultaneously.. :)

IMO 'fists' have their place especially starting out in skill...
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Postby MikeK » Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:19 am

Jim,
Good list. I've recently noticed that one of my opening moves is usually a spear hand to the eyes or throat, followed by palm heels to the face. This comes mostly from by-passing the fist range, and also it's more natural for me to keep the hand open after the spear hand. I've also noticed that when working a finish like to the short ribs, I'm more likely to use a fist than open hand. Come to think of it my choice of hand form is more about what I'm targeting rather than range, though that figures into it also.
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Postby Shana Moore » Thu Jun 11, 2009 4:20 pm

maxwell ainley wrote:Shana ,a major reason why we tend not to see things in sanchin is; we rush ,overlook etc .This is really the essense of slow training to curb this problem ,later this attitude helps you create from sanchin .
Slow means you are spending more time to areas of study it does not mean you are just doing slow moves etc, its a way of seeing more from less ,its a attitude that can't be bought .
Its a internal slowing down ,the opposite of aggitated impulsive types ,you learn more .


Thanks Maxwell, this is definately something I will continue to consider in my practice. This sounds like it has a similarity to my (very basic) understanding of Quigong. That the art is as much internal as external, focus and non-focus. Is this simply a concept that can/should be applied to most Japanese and Chinese martial arts?

hmmm....perhaps that should be taken to a new thread?
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Postby Shana Moore » Thu Jun 11, 2009 4:40 pm

JimHawkins wrote:One should examine the differences to understand the use of the tools....


===========
Some differences:

Range--Fists are longer than palms

Spear hand is longer than fists

Spears can split incoming force

Fists can protect the fingers--palms can expose the fingers

Fists are sharp--have points, palms are blunt

Fists are rooted in the primal brain

Fists create tension and stiffness in parts of the arms and mind

Palms are more loose, relaxed and not as tense in the mind and body as are fists

==========

Fists represent a small percentage of the tool-set in many Chinese arts..

It should be noted that "fists" or open handed tools may be used to both give and receive energy, e.g. offense and defense, best executed simultaneously.. :)

IMO 'fists' have their place especially starting out in skill...


Good to see you here, Jim, and thanks for the great list.

So, you are saying to consider the differences in range, targeting, vulnerability, visceral roots, holistic body impact, and end goals....hmmm...that makes a lot of sense as a way to approach which tool to use. The would also address the question of whether the ability to grab is part of the focus on more open handed techinques. It may be part of the issue, but only part of a larger whole of considerations. Is that a correct assessment of your comments so far?

I'm curious though, based on this answer, do you think they (open and closed) are both natural extensions of combat? So would that make it more likely they were part of the original foundation of Uechi, or simply a natural part of the growth of Uechi as a style?
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to maxwell and others interested

Postby Shana Moore » Thu Jun 11, 2009 5:46 pm

I've started a new thread on depth of learning to address the concept of slow learning, etc.

Max, I hope I have not completely taken your thoughts out of context. If so, please whip me with a wet noodle and correct me. Thank you! :lol:
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Postby JimHawkins » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:14 am

MikeK wrote:I've recently noticed that one of my opening moves is usually a spear hand to the eyes or throat, followed by palm heels to the face.


Roger that...

This is of course the meat and potatoes of my art...

I personally use the spear hand lead but I shy away from it when and if the occasion is serious or could become so--why?

1. I know there is a chance I might actually land on hard bone---ouch! I could break my fingers.

2. I know the chances of me landing the lead spear into the eye of the opponent is slim... Very small target..

Generally, based on my method I assume my initial attack will fail, in terms of doing any damage or even landing... My intent on the lead is to gain a connection really, to make some kind of contact with the defense or with the offense and to convert to offense..

In this case the spear is fine but there is the problem I mentioned above for me at least..

This is why I have kept the basic (vertical) fist as my primary entry move-it's small enough to penetrate as a spear but strong enough not to break if some contact is actually made onto a hard target..

That said, I agree that it is harder to convert from closed fists during the heat of the moment to open hands...

Perhaps the answer lies somewhere within these issues... After working at it for long enough converting may be less of a problem... Perhaps after working at it enough there is less risk of breaking the spear on hard bone, for whatever reason.... In retrospect keeping one hand open and the other closed may help as well to convert.

MikeK wrote:This comes mostly from by-passing the fist range, and also it's more natural for me to keep the hand open after the spear hand. I've also noticed that when working a finish like to the short ribs, I'm more likely to use a fist than open hand. Come to think of it my choice of hand form is more about what I'm targeting rather than range, though that figures into it also.


True that...

I like the repeated palms as a finish here.. Again this is the bread and butter of what I learned... Elbows can also be very good especially when they go for deep cover and no real targets seem open...

As always I don't advocate deliberation or conscious target evaluation in the heat of the moment. Rather I advocate a continuous projection of power and force..

It should be noted that some are opposed to the use of the fist because of possible problems landing on the teeth/mouth of the opponent... This can cause all kinds of infections, etc... Also many will find their fist is weak and crumples on impact, possibly breaking the fist or wrist... Some fists are more vulnerable than others to this but these objections are well taken...
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Postby JimHawkins » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:54 am

Shana Moore wrote:So, you are saying to consider the differences in range, targeting, vulnerability, visceral roots, holistic body impact, and end goals....hmmm...that makes a lot of sense as a way to approach which tool to use. The would also address the question of whether the ability to grab is part of the focus on more open handed techniques. It may be part of the issue, but only part of a larger whole of considerations. Is that a correct assessment of your comments so far?


Sure, it's part of the study to think and evaluate all of these elements and tools we are given..

And of course use of a fist, or some fists does not prevent the use of 'grabbing' one need only train to convert from a fist to a grab.. I also find that a vertical fist with the elbow under can help to convert to a grabbing clear which also has the elbow under and in...

Shana Moore wrote:I'm curious though, based on this answer, do you think they (open and closed) are both natural extensions of combat? So would that make it more likely they were part of the original foundation of Uechi, or simply a natural part of the growth of Uechi as a style?


I have no idea about the "original foundation of Uechi" but I do see open and closed as natural expressions--one could even say hard and soft expressions...

Btw: It's important and little known that wrapping the thumb under, as one 'grabs' any handle...will prevent smooth conversion from the grab to hitting with the same hand.. Anyone know why?
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Postby Shana Moore » Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:18 pm

Btw: It's important and little known that wrapping the thumb under, as one 'grabs' any handle...will prevent smooth conversion from the grab to hitting with the same hand.. Anyone know why?


hmmm....I'm intrigued and can't wait to hear the full/true answer.

I'm going to hazard a guess and say that it has to do with the quick formation of a fist. I've been lead to beleive you don't make a fist with your thumb bent under, as it can lead to breaking the thumb with a strong hit. If you had your thmub under, then you either end up making a fist the same or have to take the time to reorient whole hand...

Anywhere close?
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