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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 1999 4:48 pm 
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I was in Tom Seabourne's home. He disagreed with me. He obviously could not recognize my brilliance or he would have agreed completely with everything I said.

This is my home. mine, Mine, MINE!

But seriously folks, I wasn't getting anywhere with Tom in his forum on the topic of body conditioning. And the system wiped out my last few entries anyhow. It all started when Rich Castanet asked Tom about his biases on body conditioning in his new book (the one with the buff Tom bearing his shaved chest and Taequondo kick on the cover). First of all, Tom's a smart, educated guy and a good martial artist. He likes to spar and he has a great track record. But athletes - even the educated ones - can be the most superstitious folk around. Tom doesn't believe in body conditioning. He'd rather brag about the bruises he got on his arm in his warrior days, and tell us how he used DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) to make them go away. And Tom will not be convinced otherwise; he'd rather cling to a stereotypical view of how it is practiced and what it does. Too bad - I thought he could be of use in my investigation of this practice.

By the way, do NOT use DMSO unless you do not value your long-term health. There is a very good reason why they banned it for medicinal use. It's all in the literature. I can explain if anyone is interested.

If someone were asked to explain what Uechi Ryu is in a page or so, the topic of body conditioning would have to come up. It has been documented by Mattson and others that Uechi Kanbun learned and taught just a few things from his China experience: 3 forms, sparring, Chinese medicine (perhaps the Bubishi), and body conditioning methods. The origin of this practice stems back to Iron Shirt training in China. Basically the practitioners believed that they could make themselves less vulnerable to attacks and the rigors of battle by conditioning surfaces that receive a lot of punishment. This punishment could be the result of direct assault (like a shot to the solar plexus), or merely a consequence of blocking (shins and forearms). For those who believe or are "into" kyusho, the training was also meant to make one less vulnerable to the consequence of a sequential attack to specific vital areas (kyusho or accupuncture points).

Body conditioning methods are NOT foreign to western athletes. Twenty two years ago when I was training with the Charlottesville Boxing Club, they had a routine they used to develop the abdomen. The practitioner would do situps on an incline board. Each time the practitioner came near the top of the situp, the partner would strike his solar plexus with a medicine ball. It was an elegantly simple and highly effective version of the body conditioning methods that we all practice. Those who remember martial arts in the 60s and early 70s probably remember some of the challenges that occurred between martial artists and boxers. In almost every case, the martial artist got his butt kicked. The reason was....because boxers were used to getting hit, and most of the martial artists back then had never heard of these conditioning methods.

Anyone who has played either football or judo or has practiced aikido knows the importance of conditioning methods. The football player spends lots of time with the weights in the spring and summer, but cannot survive the rigors of blocking and tackling/being tackled without proper contact work. While the nature and target of these conditioning methods are different, the ultimate outcome is the same - create the effective, warrior who is less fearful and less vulnerable without being naive about his/her vulnerability.

Here are my issues. Many have totally inaccurate views of the mechanisms and outcome of this type of training. One is NOT trying to develop calcium deposits on the bones; one is instead trying to increase bone density. One is NOT supposed to be developing ugly callouses and scarring; one is (I belive) instead supposed to be developing functional connective tissue and improve the tone of smooth and skeletal muscle. And there is also a whole-body element involved that teaches us how to both absorb and reflect energy. But this is all theory - where is the evidence? And I BELIEVE that the slower, more controlled methods are both safer and give better long term results. But where is the evidence? And are all my assumptions about underlying mechanisms supported by research in the sports medicine literature? And if not, what are we academic folk waiting for? Work needs to be done!

I welcome your knowledge, input, and commentary.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 1999 7:03 pm 
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Bill San,

All one needs to do to prove your words is to condition consistantly for one month, paying attention to the nuances (spelling). Then don't condition for a month and when you go back to it the truth be known.

Works the same with throwing and even some kyusho points.

Evan Pantazi


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 1999 7:42 pm 
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test


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 1999 7:48 pm 
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I'm in agreement with Bill all the way. I don't care how good a fighter you think you are, if you are hit and distracted from the pain or injury, you'll be in trouble.

I don't necessarily agree with Evan on the one month to get in condition. I will agree that one month off will set you way back!

I have always been a strong proponent of body conditioning at every workout and have found that progressing slowing over long periods definitely produces the best results. Too much too soon and you'll bruise and get dicouraged.

There are I believe two aspects involved in the conditioning process; one, building up an immunity to surface pain and two, developing internal strength in the muscles and bones. Both effects are the direct result of repetitive, moderate surface striking over long periods. A length of automotive heater hose works great to condition for pain reduction on the arms and legs! I have not used one, but I've been told that the vibrations caused through the use of the "Iron arm" tool provide even greater benefit as it conditions the skin, muscle, and bone at the same time while releasing more energy from the strike over a longer duration. (Bill.. maybe some explanation is available?)

Working the body requires the makiwara and a partner. The makiwara builds you at your pace while the training partner puts some element of surprise in the workout as you don't know exactly how hard and where the strike will come. After a long while the body reaches at point where the intensity can approach that of a severe pounding.

This is not for everyone and I am certainly not too far right from the center of the conditioning bell curve. This is how I train and it works for me. ( I've told I have no feelings and I'm numb!…hey, … wait a minute….) I've learned this method by watching the blocks of granite who double as seniors at our Dojo. Just thought I'd pass it on.

VTY

Kevin


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 1999 7:52 pm 
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Other benefits of conditioning:

1) practice. By developing a strong body one can practice harder with more 'realism'

2) mental. One gets to know one's limits and have confience in their ability. Confidence is knowing your limits and testing those limits in small steps.

3) targeting!!! Conditioning, if done correctly teaches you to hit a target. After fifty or so hard kicks to a partner's thigh, the practioner will be able to hit a leg. Different than hitting a bag. Modify the conditioning drills and you have a fantastic targeting/fighting/mindset set of drills.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 1999 10:06 pm 
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Kevin

I think you are onto something with your description of the function of the Iron Arm and the rubber hose.

Jimmy Malone speaks often of the importance of "time on contact" when delivering an effective strike to a pressure point. The goal - in my opinion - is to create an "inelastic" collision, a term that has mathematical meaning in physics. Basically you don't want to bounce or push, but instead deliver energy into the target zone. This energy is then converted into heat or broken molecular bonds or electrical signals in specific nerves.

A year or so ago I saw something in a hardward store called an impact hammer. I took it and a normal hammer and hit them on the concrete floor below. The standard metal hammer bounced. The impact hammer practically stuck to the floor. Essential all the energy was being delivered to the concrete below. The head of that hammer was some type of unusual polymer. I think being hit with that thing would be an unusual experience!

I think the Iron Arm and rubber hose essentially outlast the elastic phase of the collision (elasticity used in a more general sense here). Basically you give time for the biological material to compress, and you continue to deliver energy beyound that compression phase. The Iron Arm does this with the clapping of the second piece of wood. The rubber hose does it because it spreads out the time period of its impulse via its internal elasticity. A good martial artist does this by continuing to deliver force for a period of time past the initial contact. The goal in hurting someone is to break past the protective compression phase so as to cause "damage". The goal in conditioning would be the same, but done below the threshold of significant damage.

These are my guesses, but I think I'm on target (bad pun).

Bill


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 1999 8:58 am 
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Bill Sensei, very interesting discussion. Don't give the medicine ball a standing eight count. It's still a very valid training impliment not only for body conditioning a' la push toss to the abdomen, but also a great plyometric device. I like to use it as a warm up before class with trainees participating in a variety of routines such as tossing the ball to each other using only hip twist as an impetus, throwing to a seated partner who absorbs the impact of the throw in a rocking motion and returns "fire," exchanging the ball in Sanchin turn down a line, and many other drills. Sometimes we end our warm up session with relay sprints to the end of the dojo turn and run back and throw the ball at the next victim - uh, I mean participant with great spirit in unpredictable trajectories.
I am curious about the bone density bit. I have been practicing iron palm for about three years. Last year when I fractured cartiledge in the little finger knuckle (boxer's fracture) I asked the Orthopod about what the picture revealed and his response was that there was no evidence of anything unusual. He specifically rejected any indication of greater density of the bone structure Are there actually studies which demonstrate that conditioning produces greater bone density?
Thanks,
David Elkins


[This message has been edited by David Elkins (edited 01-15-99).]


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 1999 12:53 pm 
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David, there is proven medical evidence (I a can't site a reference at this time) that concert pianists develop greater bone mass in the joints of their fingers over years and years of playing. I'm sure this is true of others who do repetitive, hard movement over years.
VTY

Kevin


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 1999 7:30 pm 
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David

Kevin's reference is just the sort of thing that I was looking for.

I am not aware of anyone doing randomized trials (or repeated measures design a la Evan's suggestion) of folks doing and not doing kotekitae and then getting bone density measurements. By the way, an XRAY cannot measure bone density. It can show localized calicification (a type of damage that is to be avoided) but not the specific type of bone development that I think would happen in the ideal.

There is much indirect evidence that this improved bone density would happen. Those who spend time in weightless enviromnents (like time on a space station) suffer from a decalicification of the bone that is a severe as folks who are in early stages of osteoporosis. It's well known that stress is an important cue for communicating the mineral needs of the bones to the osteocytes (bone cells). It stands to reason from first principles that kotekitae may (among MANY other things) improve bone density (i.e. calcium content). But nobody has done the hard research that I know of. For years I've been looking for some enterprising young student with access to a lab to help me run a freebie trial to show this. It isn't the kind of research that NIH is busting their gut to fund. Nevertheless, it may indeed be important for sports.

Here are a few other kotekitae topics that I think are worth investigation:

* What goes on physiologically that reduces the risk of bruising - something that I know anecdotally to be true.

* Specifically what goes on that reduces pain. I don't believe that nerve fibers are destroyed. I believe the body adapts via endorphins and other such chemicals to change the individual's perception of the pain. Anyone who has had a severe injury and was put on morphine knows what I am talking about. Morphine doesn't make the pain go away - it just makes you not care about it.

* What goes on (if anything) with the neuromuscular system that perhaps changes the way we "receive" the force. I believe it is somewhat complex, and may involve both local and whole-body muscle involvement. Houdini was famous for being able to take a punch in the gut. There is a "story" that someone challenged him and hit him in the stomach before he got mentally prepared to be hit. As the story goes, the internal injury that came of the blow was a factor in his death during a performance. I personally believe that kotekitae is NOT a passive act.

Some of you may wonder what all my fuss is about. But we academics like proof; more than you get from anecdote and personal beliefs. Proof can lead to refinement which can lead to better-trained athletes. And it can also help us convince the Neanderthals that they should lighten up a bit to achieve the best results.

So much to wonder, so little time....


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 1999 9:27 pm 
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J.D.

Thanks, father superior.

So....I think you and I can agree - strictly based on first principles - that moderate stress to, say, the forearm bones in kotekitae might be a good thing. But what would happen if you ran the following randomized trial?

Group 1: No special activity

Group 2: Weight training only

Group 3: Kotekitae only

Group 4: Kotekitae and weight training.

Which groups would end up with superior forearm bone density after, say, six months of training?

Now I understand that there is a dose/response relationship between the activity (weight training or kotekitae) and the expected response(s). Figuring out the amount of exercise you would want the individuals to do may be problematic when it's possible for you to max out and even overtrain. It does make the development of such a design complex. Perhaps the best design would be to let the individuals decide for themselves exactly how "hard" they should train. This would be close to one reality.

I also understand that bone density is one small issue in the big picture of body conditioning. It is not something to fixate on; just an element to be considered.

But....would we find that kotekitae gives a SIGNIFICANTLY better result? I'm not talking just statistically significant, I'm talking PRACTICALLY (clinically) significant. And how would it compare to weight training which has been shown to be an important tool in developing and/or maintaining bone density? And is there any additive or synergistic benefit involved in doing both? A lot of us serious Uechi folk (myself included) fall into group 4 training.

If we REALLY want to have cutting edge training, we would ask hard questions like these and seek out the answers.

I realize these are rhetorical questions at this point. But shouldn't WE be pushing the envelope? Don't expect revelations from the "Masters" (term used in the vernacular sense) and "lotus eaters". Their brands of wisdom leave a lot to be desired.

Bill


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 1999 9:30 pm 
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Bill,

First of all, glad to see things are up and running again! I went on vacation to warmer climes and by the time I returned, pipes had burst, the server was down, and there was no way to feed my addiction to the forums...


The part I am most interested in is your discussion of how our 'receiving' of the force during kotekitae, or for that matter during the execution of a blocking technique changes over the years. In my opinion, this is the factor which most explains the reduction of bruising in martial artists over the years of study. The subtle 'yielding' which occurs when an advanced practitioner blocks both protects the striking surface of the blocker's arms, while transfering a tremendous amount of force to the opposing limb. Frankly, I think this would be even harder to measure than the bone density changes you referred to, but I have seen (and experienced) this phenomenon time and again - most often when working with Mattson Sensei.

For any who have trained with him, or anyone like him, you know what I am talking about - a seemingly relaxed arm striking an incoming kick or punch will crushing force! Outwardly, there is little to see, but tori certainly feels it! I think it is in part this idea of relaxed, flexible [internal?!] strength which allows all those little old sensei to put such a hurtin' on the young strapping buck just in from the states...


I think this is just another one of those things which are so hard to quantify (and to teach) but which represent the highest level of instrinsic understanding of the arts.

greg


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 1999 10:28 pm 
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Greg

Touche!!!

I brought this up with Tom in the thread on his forum, and he took it to mean that I was trying to hurt people. <Sigh.....> I agree that it is a special ability that comes with practice, and it is VERY real.

I never realized I was developing that ability until some years back when I did kotekitae with my (then) girlfriend. She was an extremely talented Uechiryu practitioner who happened to be my (secret) girlfriend at that time. She had been doing the exercise with others for a while, and then one day ended up working with me. Well...let's just say that mixing karate and your love life can create problems; it's generally a very bad idea. She took the "response" she got from hitting me very personally - almost as if I was intentionally trying to harm her. My perceptions had become distorted from working with the bruisers that nobody else cared to work with. I think those few hardasses had become endorphin junkies and were thriving off the stimulation of working with me. It's sorta like the "pleasure" you get from eating habanero peppers.

My superficial assessment is that this "ability" is a combination of anticipation, refined sensitivity to force, and a kind of plyometric response to the muscle assault you get from the blow. As such, one has to elevate this ability to the level of a very complex neuromuscular response. But it is VERY real.

I love the thought of working with someone sans pads to "educate" them on this ability that is completely missed when you never go au naturelle. Indeed the body of the trained Uechi practitioner itself is like an accident waiting to happen for the hapless amateur who decides to take a swipe. Last year one of our Florida braggerts claimed he broke a person's arm in a demo where he let people from the audience punch his stomach. While I do not endorse that kind of sensationalist display, I actually believe that this COULD have happened.

But if your head is in the qi clouds.....

Bill


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 1999 11:17 pm 
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The reference I couldn't cite earlier is Wolff's Law after German Ortho surgeon Julius Wolff from late 19th century. Simply put bones respond to physical stress and adjust shape and density accordingly. The opposite has been proven during space flight when no stress is on the bone due to weightlessness.

Kevin


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 1999 11:24 pm 
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One more quick thought on the benefits of kotekitae on a more 'practical' level.


A couple of years ago now, I was out at a local club watching a live band. Suffice it to say the band was a bit rowdier than Alanis (I don't think you would have liked them at all J.D...) and so was the crowd. Inevitably (perhaps) a fight broke out between a couple of teenagers, and I, stupidly, 'found' myself in between them - what can I say, I work with kids - it's an instinct. Anyway, after holding them apart with some help from other folks in the crowd, the bouncers came to get them. Because of their incompetence (I call 'em as I see 'em), they grabbed one of the kids, but didn't really get the other one. I grabbed on to the jacket of the one they didn't have, to prevent him from killing the kid they had immobilized. The one who I grabbed turned around and [wake up! here's the point!] began yelling (which I couldn't hear of course - the band didn't stop) and then began smashing his forearm down on my arm over and over as hard as he could...


It quite literally took a matter of seconds before I realized - he wanted me to let go! By that time the bouncers grabbed ahold of him and threw him out. The moral of the story? Practice a lot of kotekitae if you go to club shows - also, ukemi helps for when you get dropped while crowd surfing...

greg


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 16, 1999 1:21 am 
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Anecdotal evidence coming up.
Last fall our health club had a 'health fair' for seniors. They were not busy and opened the fair to all present. One booth included a 'bone density scanner' using an xray scanning device by Norland. The right arm is placed in the machine for about 5 minutes and it does a scan of the forearm from the wrist to mid forearm, and then jumps up to a point just below the elbow for a sanity check.

I was advised that after 30 an average male loses about 1% of bone density per year (Bill, JD?). At the time, at 45, I should have measured a density of less than 90% of the typical male of my size and weight at age 30. (The computer this thing was hooked to allegedly had 10,000 or so samples of scans in its statistical database).

My result was 98.8% the density of a statistally average 30 year old. Pretty good I was told. "Keep up whatever you are doing", which is weight training and Uechiryu.

Bill: We need to get our hands on one of these machines and take it to camp next summer. You could build a pretty good database to support our conditioning practices.

Rich


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