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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 1999 9:12 pm 
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Hello all,
I've wondered for quite some time about the relationship of the "recent" introduction of the Seiken Zuki in the curriculum and the other striking waza brought to Okinawa by Kanbun Sensei. I'm particularly fascinated by looking at seiken relative to the much older presence of a vertical fist position in "closed gate" kamae and the mechanics of the omnipresent Shoken.
Some scholars regard the present form of the seiken as either a Japanization of the movement used on Okinawa relative to the full vs. 3/4 twist and/or a concession to the introduction of the arts into the elementary school curriculum. Both reflective of the movement from an orientation of "Jutsu" to that of "Do." I don't know about that. I've seen very senior Hung-Gar (an older established system) Sifu use the seiken and there was little question as to it's "jutsu" potency.
Is the seiken a beginner's movement relative to the use of any kind of hand strike or only to closed fist strikes? Maybe both? The closed fist certainly is not the weapon of choice against an extremely dense bony plate (ever try to break a cow bone, coconut or human head with a closed fist?) yet my bias is that the seiken is a "beginners" movement relative to the angles that it can be applied while retaining maximum bone alignment of the delivery system, eg, the upper extremity.
Thus, my original question, do we have a valid (taught in the kata) vertical fist in Uechi-Ryu? The closed gate position is a thinly disguised traditional Gung-Fu salutation - left fist open symbolizing the character for "Moon", the right fist clasped to signify the charater for "Sun" which together create the charaters denoting "Ming". An archaic fraternal sign.
The vertical fist is not always delivered to a target in a strictly vertical manner but depending on the relative height of the target is rotated in an arc from palm up for high targets to palm down for low targets to retain maximum bone alignment of primarily the last three knuckles with the skeletal structure of the rest of the upper extremity.
In the lower position (a strike to the bladder perhaps) it looks just like a seiken with the exception that the focus of impact is not the first two knuckles but rather the entire fist with an emphasis on the last three knuckles.
The preceding was primarily to lead into the question - are there Uechi practitioners who train their hands (particularly shoken structure) who can deliver a shoken with efficacy to other than very low targets using a fully twisting seiken like movement? I recognize that the shoken is not for hitting bony plate, but laboratory perfect conditions don't exist in the street. I train my hands and can't imagine doing a shoken with any velocity with a seiken movement to any but the lowest/softest targets. The perfect world would allow me to do a seiken movement using the shoken tool with laser like accuracy and exquisite distance/timing to a Dim Mak/Kyusho point, but honestly, I'd be fearful of the consequences to my hand.
The Wing Chun "Foong Ngon Kuen" ('Phoenix-Eye Punch') is identical to the Uechi Shoken with the exception of the thumb brace being along side the index finger rather than underneath. This punch is a variation of the "Yut" Jee Choong Kuen ('Sun character thrust punch' or vertical fist) and as such rotates to maintain perfect bone alignment with the arm. The entire fist strikes the target but the index finger penetrates a little deeper. I can use this punch full power to almost any reasonable target as a consequence of the bone alignment and the fact that the index finger is not set up to take the full force of the impact. The bracing methodology is irrelevant. Thumb braced along side or under both work.
This post is not to set up an argument of which system, punch, or any other system variable is "better," but a real curiosity as to perhaps their very great similarity. I'll enjoy hearing what folks think.
Oh, p.s. for those who might say, O.K., the closed gate position argument might hold water but why are Sanchin strikes done with a Seiken full rotation? Take a peek at Video Magazine #012. Sanchin strikes in this dojo of direct Kanbun Sensei lineage are performed on a much lower line than currently practiced. Concern for maximum bone alignment for the shoken - the "tm" of the system?


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Good training,
David


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 1999 10:48 pm 
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I'll just post a couple of memories of my training:

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>1. No full fist (seiken) in Uechi-ryu.

2. One-knuckle fist (shoken) moves palm up until moment of strike, then full twist with penetration of hit.

Ryuko Tomoyose<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Interested in what others have to say on this. I believe Isshinryu introduced the full fist vertical punch in the 60s. Prior to this, don't think any other Okinawan style used it.

Full fist punches are used in Uechi by new students in kata and drills for safety purposes.



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GEM


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 1999 11:25 pm 
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Thank you Sensei for the enlightening input. As is frequently the case, things are usually not black and white in the real world.
David


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 1999 11:59 pm 
Semsei, I read your "What's new" and am not sure if I received the message you wanted me to.

Down near the bottom of post, I read the word "Tae-Bo" which is newly arriving in the area. I spent a few hours just thinking about the implications of it. People are being duped again. Wonder if all of them in the picture last week's Globe think they are on an easy avenue to learning a martial art, or even really think they are learning one -- NOT.

Then I went back up to the top and read the word 'tradition'.

Then I started reading between the lines, and as very little as I know you, George, once in awhile I can see your face as if you were writing as I read them.

Tradition! What is it? Everyone talks about Uechi-ryu tradition from Okinawa.

What about Uechi-ryu USA Tradition? It all started in Boston and flowered from there. We owe you a debt of gratitude for making Uechi-ryu possible for us all.

Forget what I was starting to write..... Something about Tae-Bo vs Tradition..... I don't care about these gimmics because through all the years of sweat, etc., I'm just glad I have what I do.









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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 1999 12:07 am 
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People say my writing syle leaves much room for interpretation. Perhaps I encourage this by not trying to clarify too much.

Thanks for the generous compliment Al

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GEM


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 1999 12:17 am 
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Tae-Bo and "Eclectic" Karate and Aerobic kick boxing seem to be "all the rage".

Perhaps when people want more than what they offer, they will go elsewhere. For those that don't, I don't think we'd see much of them anyway.

The vertical punch is the only punch in the Yang Family system and, I believe, as mentioned, in Isshinryu and Wing Chun.

Thus far, there are no closed fist strikes in the Ba Fa form----but I am only four months into a two or three year process.

GEM Sensei's comments re: no "Seiken" are interesting. Again, as possibly the case with the "kiai" are we looking at something that has a Japanese "flavor" added into onto a Chinese broth?

JOHN T

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 1999 2:59 am 
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To David

YOU WROTE:

The Wing Chun "Foong Ngon Kuen" ('Phoenix-Eye Punch') is identical to the Uechi Shoken with the exception of the thumb brace being along side the index finger rather than underneath.

etc.

I COMMENT:

This is a fine way to do a shoken tsuki. However advanced study of the Uechi system reveals that the shoken is much more than a tsuki. In sanseiryu the hand is explicitly used as a tiger-style-like grab in the leg catching movements done from horse stance. This application of the Uechi shoken cannot be done with the Wing Chun "Foong Ngon Kuen". The same can be said of the hiraken. One can place or thrust the boshiken into an opponent, and then close the hand into hiraken - resulting in a hand full of material/bodyhair/flesh. This appication of the Uechi hiraken cannot be done if one keeps the "flat fist" truly flat - totally disengaging the thumb from the middle finger. Thus it appears that - in the interest of simplicity - the designers of Kanbun's system chose a way to do the various fists that created multiple possibilities.

I'd like to add another point. The salutation of the superinpei that I learned from Simon Lailey (which finds its origin from Shushiwa's nephew) has the right hand in shoken fist instead of seiken fist. Now....could it be that the closed-fisted salutation is a more recent bastardization, simplification, or Okinawanization of the Chinese original? Another point - all back fists (uraken) in this form are done with the shoken rather than seiken hand. Thus was our original elbow/backfist/shoken combination really an elbow/backshoken/shoken? All food for thought.

Be patient with the shoken, David. I have hands of moderate strength and very slender fingers. I never thought I would ever be able to use the shoken. Years of practice and dilligent training have proven my original fears to be unfounded. And I am accomplishing this without any visible disfigurement of my hands. And much of my ability to use shoken as thrust came about after I discovered how important the shoken grab was. The two techniques complement each other, and help the practitioner understand how to make this special weapon work.

To Allen Moulton and GEM:

Did you know that the taibo/kaerobics/kickboxing phenomenon is not new? Some time you should come down to D.C. and watch some of the traditional Okinawan dancing that the Okinawa society does here during their various celebrations. Even Nestor Folta gets out there and struts with all the other women. Producing a feminized version of these arts for women as well as men with rhythm (not necessarily an oxymoron) is centuries old on Okinawa. So don't disparage the men and women in lycra who are reinventing this very old wheel. There are some on Okinawa who would call this path "tradition".

Bill

[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 02-13-99).]


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 1999 7:43 am 
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Bill Sensei, thanks also for your comments. I will look forward to seeing you in person at summer camp and further exploring the mysteries of the sanseiryu shoken. My sense is that this is not the type of learning that can easily take place over the internet. The idea that I'm getting is that perhaps the Uechi shoken is like the WC Huen Sau ("circling hand") a technique that has progressively complex implications as the kata progress. The picture one gets from your description is that of a clothing/flesh grab which closes in shoken structure to not only rip/tear and manipulate, but to press qi cavities simultaneously ( Evan Sensei where are you?) To the end of the hiraken, the Biu Jee (WC third hand form) Huen Sau is slowly and with dynamic tension closed in three stages: fingers fully stretched with tension , first knuckles closed (the Hiraken structure), second set of knuckles closed and finally thumb wrappped. This is precisely for strengthening the fingers and promoting engraining of flesh grabbing on contact.
I am truely patient with the shoken and train it diligently - in fact, I use it in Hojo Undo and everywhere else I can fit it in as I believe that it's a happenin' stucture. But your post had an inadvertent effect - it gave me hope for my pitiful sokosen. I have long narrow feet and long narrow toes and have broken my great toes (bilaterally) at least three times each. I have basically given up conditioning this tool. I know that sounds pretty un-Uechi like but there is a limit (even for me.) Guess maybe I wasn't patient enough.
See you.
David


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 1999 6:17 pm 
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Anthony San, I loved your extrapolations from the kata!!! It's all there, Eh? Another application of shoken is more or less vertical fist (depending on the height difference between you and your opponent) with shoken to philtrum. This breaks teeth, hits the point above the lip (I know, it's supposed to be rubbed, but this application hurts like hell), and finally, depending on the size of your opponent's face and the size of your fist, can impact right on the "button" of the chin. Having said all that, the palm heel is much kinder on the knuckles and can do massive damage including if applied in a Fairbairn type "chin-jab" (forward upward energy) break the neck.
Take care and happy training
David


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 1999 8:24 pm 
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David

I share your sentiments about the sokusen. I in fact started karate in my last year of running college cross country and track. My lower legs were in horrible shape, thanks to cheap shoes (it was the early seventies), poor coaching, and running on hard surfaces. I was hardly in a position to develop board-shattering toe kicks.

My great curse - and my great blessing - is that I was forced to teach Uechi ryu far before I should have, only because if I didn't then I would have needed to give it up for lack of training partners. I always felt it important to be true to the art. Consequently I taught each and every aspect of the system to everyone, and allowed each individual to focus on what fit them best. So for years I was teaching shokens and sokusens, even though those techniques really weren't me. A funny thing happened. As I settled down into a process of practicing, teaching, and showing these techniques, my body adapted. I would have these points in time when I would suddenly realize I was able to do something that I never thought I could ever do. My students kept MY ass in the dojo doing these things that I thought were not me. The process showed me otherwise.

A sokusen is a technique that needs to be viewed in the context of how it would be applied. I have a relatively weak sokusen. I'll never try to break boards with it. However I can indeed do it, and I can now put a hurt on people - especially using it with a roundhouse kick. But more importantly I began to realize that it doesn't HAVE to be all that strong. On the street, you will likely be wearing a pair of dress shoes or track shoes when the boogeyman jumps out of the bushes. Should I go through the ridiculous effort of trying to bend the end of my Rockport shoes so that I can hit someone with the flat part of my Vibram soles? Heck no. It takes only a very weak sokusen inside a shoe to use the tip of that shoe and do some very, very serious damage. And I can't even imagine how much it would hurt if a man were hit with the tip of a woman's dress shoe. So I came to realize a long time ago that I had something to work with in very short order, even if it didn't impress my opponents in the dojo right away. And even more importantly, my toes and shins are orders of magnitude more healthy and strong than they were when I gave up track. And besides, there are more beautiful women to be met in karate then there were cheerleaders at the finish line in track!

It is important to realize that we all have strengths, weaknesses, and limits. But I've always felt that we need to spend half our efforts learning to work around our limitations, and the other half trying to give ourselves a chance (sometimes over a lifetime) to overcome them. I don't believe we should avoid going the path of least resistence, but sometimes there is a greater good to be accomplished when we consider not selling ourselves short. When we settle down in a good process and see what happens, serendipity is often the norm.

Bill


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 1999 11:30 pm 
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David, Bill and Anthony:

Imagine doing the sokusen roundhouse kick to the kidney area in a cowboy boot with the pointed end gilded with brass ...

I don't now wear them, but this does sound wicked enough to add them to the wardrobe!
(Son, are these heah things registered down at the precinct?!)



JohnC


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 1999 2:45 am 
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John San, check out Dan Dubie's videos from Straight Blast Gym where he teaches Savate with "the boot." It is very interesting, he uses the heel as much as the sokosen like toe. All very cool stuff.
Bill Sensei, very sage advice. I'm happy to be alive and training. A little more time spent on that pesky big toe won't hurt now will it?


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David


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 1999 5:31 am 
Hello David,

I don't know if you are talking about cowboy boots, but they ARE nasty; both heel and pointed toe.

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Allen at [email]uechi@ici.net">uechi@ici.net</A> on <A HREF="http://www.uechi-ryu.org[/email]


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 1999 8:34 pm 
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Allen Sensei - actually I was talking about my high heels (OOPPS wrong forum)
Seriously, we were talking about cowboy boots. Steel toes are pretty wicked too!

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Good training,
David


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 1999 6:07 pm 
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This is a great string, as I love Kata breakdown. I would like to also put in a few ideas about Shoken. Yin / Yang, every technique right down to a hand position should be examined from every direction. Not just the obvious forward striking but even the formation of the fist. As Glasheen Sensei said about the grabbing into Hirakens from the Bushikens, the same holds true for the Shoken. Striking with a Shoken behind the ear at the TW 12 (Not 69) otherwise known as a branch of the Seventh Cranial Nerve, into the Carotid Sinus, hooking down on the St 5 on the side of the Jaw...ect ect will not require hand conditioning to inflict a serious amount of pain and / or damage. Using it as a grab to the Carotid Sinus, Sternocalediod Mastoid Muscle, the Brachial Plexus, into an eye...ect ect can also cause pain and damage beyond the norm.

In the KO#1 MPEG I used Bushikens but have performed this with Shokens and 3/4 Front (David Sans reference mentioned above) punches as is done in a Kata I have called Gojushiho (Useshi-Chinese), but it causes much more pain for Uke so it was tailored down to Bushiken.

The Shoken has a great amount of downward energy transfer, but not up (it's not natural, just knock on someones door using shoken, that's one of my traing tips as I never use doorbells, then try hitting up on the door with it though). The Middle knuckle fist is an upward energy transferance device, (try the same knock on the door with this now and it feels stronger upward).

I once saw a picture of an Octagarian from China on the cover of "Martial Arts of China" in which he was in a very low twist stance holding a Kwon Dao above his head with one hand while the other was reaching out with a slightly open Shoken at about high inner thigh level (Femoral Artery pinch?), I would have just hit the guy with the Kwon Dao.

This years Sanseiru Segment of summer camp will be the Kyusho applications of the double Shokens from the Kata. I breifly covered their destructive capabilities at the Kyusho / Sanseiru video seminar. (please understand this is not crass commercialism, but forty Uechika's were in attendance and this was brought up to jog the memory).

Evan Pantazi


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