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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 1999 4:17 pm 
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Uechi ryu is distinguished by two very nasty - and very difficult to perform - techniques: the shoken and the sokusen. They are, in a way, parallel techniques. Both concentrate the power of their respective limbs. Both involve striking with an unusual part of the anatomy of the extremities. Both are difficult to develop. Both have practical applications when considering other props (shoes with the sokusen, sai with the shoken).

I've noted a few variations on the sokusen (toe kick) and thought I'd bring them out and take a tally of "favorites".

* The classic - and easiest - way to kick a front kick is with the ball of the foot. Actually what you are doing is hitting with the distal (far) end of the first metatarsal of the foot. Barefoot and in the classroom, it's easy and can take a lot of force. It has some disadvantages. Put a normal shoe on and suddenly you cannot do the extensor motion with the toes necessary to expose that first metatarsal. The best most could do is hit with a very flat part of the sole of a shoe. Maybe cletes, but otherwise not very practical. Often people choose instead to flex the ankle and kick with the heel. That works. Women may lose a heel if you've got the classic pumps on, but then bees leave body parts behind when they sting the &*%$ out of you.

* The sokusen that appears classically in Uechi Kanei's Kihon is quite difficult for many to do at first. The tip of the big toe is the striking surface. That isn't such a big deal except that most lack the strength to support that much force. But it's the unsual positioning of the toes that drives beginners batty. The more proximal phalages of all the toes are fully extended (point to heaven when the leg is straight out and the ankle is straight). The distal phalanges are then flexed such that the tips of all the toes are facing in the same direction as the rest of the foot. The big toe is the only striking surface, with the rest of the toes going along for the ride. Master Uechi's book has a beautiful picture of it from several angles. I believe Allan Dollar has the same set of photographs in his book.

* If you were ever a little girl in ballet, you know what I call the Yonamine variation. Ballerinas toe with a straght big toe. But then they have little booties on that keep them from skinning the tips of the toes of those waife-like bodies. In 1984 I worked a bit with Yonamine at one of the Thompson Island camps. For those who don't know, he is famous for his toughness. He does demonstrations where people break baseball bats over his shins. I believe George is in possession of one...er...two of those Louisville Sluggers post-demo. Anyhow, he was the first Uechika I observed doing the ballerina toe while demonstrating some rather intense ashikitae. Recently I was working with George and observed him proudly advocating the same way.

Regardless of which way you choose to do the sokusen, it is the technique of choice with a shoe on. Even a relatively weak sokusen is strong when braced by a little leather and backed with a good sole. And those pointy women's dress shoes? Ouch!!! But that's the only time these crazy products of vanity are practical.

* I've observed a few anomalous foot positions over the year that frankly work. Basically not everyone is built the same way. The first unusual variation I observed was from a fellow who was studying with me way back in 1972. He was a tall, athletic fellow who could not pull his toes back to do the classic ball-of-foot front kick. Instead, this monkey-like gentleman could ball his toes up in a fist and hit with the same first metatarsal from that direction. Go figure. The second variation was from another freak of nature ;-) who had an unusually long second toe. Oh well....kick with the first two toes. It worked for him. The lesson here is that a good teacher should take individual abilities into consideration.

So, how do you like to front kick? Do you have favorites? Do you strongly advocate any one way for your students or peers? IF so, why? Do you have special frustrations, training methods, etc to share? I'm all toes...er...ears.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 1999 9:13 pm 
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Front kick to the groin = heel.

Front/Snap to the floating ribs = toe.

-Collin


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 1999 10:05 pm 
"If you were ever a little girl in ballet, you know what I call the Yonamine variation. Ballerinas toe with a straght big toe. But then they have little booties on that keep them from skinning the tips of the toes of those waife-like bodies."
Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill...
Whatever am I going to do with you...It's interesting the number of ballet references I keep coming across on the forums. So let's set the record straight. I was one of those poor, poor children who's mother stuffed them into a little pink tutu week after week. Toe-Ballet, though something I enjoyed, is a horrible, horrible disfiguring activity for children. As for those little booties to keep from skinning the tips of our little toes, they are stuffed with lamb's wool not for cushion but to soak up the blood so it didn't stain the shoes. After my cousin had to have corrective surgery on her feet, I quit taking lessons (took them for two years). I love to watch ballet, and I have the greatest respect for those who suffered to make it to the stage, but from now on I'll only put myself through that kind of conditioning if it has some practical application. Sorry about the hissy-fit, but making light of ballet is one of my pet pieves.

For the record, I prefer the sokusen kick, though can only do it with one foot right now.

Collin
Heel to the groin? Wouldn't a toe hurt alot more?

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Shelly


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 1999 1:46 am 
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J.D.
This may explain why we caught Bill in a very fashionable woman's clothing store in Germany, trying on leather vests with stunning trim! He became quite agitated when Bruce and I found him, stating that he was purchasing gifts for his sister, who happens to be about the same chest size.

Hey. . . I thought it looked quite nice on him. . . Image

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GEM


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 1999 2:18 am 
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Shelly:

Depends on what you are targeting...besides. In the heat of the situation, aim becomes a difficult thing to achieve. With a toe kick to the groin, you risk a good chance of hitting pelvic bone, lower abs, etc. With a heel kick you have enough surface area to almost ensure that you will put the boys in a vice. Good knock down power too.

-Collin


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 1999 4:28 pm 
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GEM

Hey! The vest you saw on my body was for me! I like the frilly ones. Oh, and thanks for the compliments on my choice of shopping locations.

And wasn't it you that took the white lace blouse that I was looking at? I'd better hear Susan gushing about it! As her if she'll loan it to me.

Shelly

Activities like ballet, gymnastics, cross country, football, etc were meant for specific body types - when taken to the advanced level. And some people should never be instructors of kids. Too often such fascist teachers are more interested in the products they produce, and less interested in the people they are developing.

Shelly and Collin

I tend to think that the way you kick the groin depends a lot on the situation. If someone presents with a wide, frontal stance, I'm going to kick like I mean to send the ball(s) through the goalpost uprights. If I have them down as in dan kumite, the flat of the foot works well. If they have a well-protected sanchin or are in a side stance, then a toe kick works, but is difficult to place properly. Etc, etc.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 1999 7:30 pm 
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Good Afternoon,

Does anyone like to lead with their toes for mawashi-geri? On high mawashi kicks, perhaps they stand a good chance of sneaking past the cross block and thumping someone in the head.

Gene


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 1999 8:07 pm 
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Gene

Absolutely. I find it much easier to keep a strong toe with my ankle flexed 90 degrees. I had a usable roundhouse sokusen long before I had a front sokusen.

In master Uechi's kihon, there is a great, full-page, black-and-white photo of someone (?) doing a high roundhouse sokusen with hands in the typical Uechiryu tiger claw position.

One can use the roundhouse toe kick for shots at the temple and in the neck - in the movies. But I find targets on the floating ribs, kidney, outer thigh, and back of knee to be much more practical. And if someone faces you sideways in a horse stance, a roundhouse sokusen to the solar plexus works real well.

And as you suggested, it's easy to sneak a roundhouse sokusen past a poorly-executed cross block. I find that I can get at the ribs on about 30 percent or so of all cross blocks I face. I intentionally try to tag the ribs when we do roundhouse kicking for shin conditioning. It's my way of teaching students to do the cross block correctly.

- Bill

[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 09-28-99).]


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 1999 2:09 am 
JD-san

You got me! I was not aware of his prior training in the performing arts, however I would be very interested in seeing any existing photos taken during this period of Mr. Glasheen's life. But, please none of him wearing the fringed vest especially if it contains matching chaps. I am beginning to wonder if the twin sister really exists or if she is possibly a dual identity Image.

Collin
Points well taken on the groin kick.
Gene
We are taught to lead with the toes on the side round kick. As far as targets...the inner thigh, three weeks and I still have the bruise.


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Shelly


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 1999 7:47 am 
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As the mother of a very mean junior black belt - who does a very mean sokusen - I thought I'd add something on the ballet issue...

As JD so eloquently points out - lets dispense with the sterotypes...

My daughter is anything but waiflike - yet is a very strong and graceful ballerina - she is also taller than me and outweighs me by more than 20 pounds at last check - she's been studying karate for about 8 years now - and - in addition to sometimes a grueling 4 night a week ballet regime - can absolutely kick butt in the dojo - she gives me a run for my money and stops traffic during demonstrations with the power in her kata. Trust me - you do NOT want to be on the receiving end of her sokusen - you will have a bruise even if you are conditioned...

She credits the strength of her sokusen with her ballet training - she is a toe dancer - and the shoes were not developed to soak up blood or other such things - they actually provide very little in the way of support for the foot - the tip of the shoe is hard to give a straighter surface to have in contact with the floor...

I will never admit if I am speaking from experience - so don't bother asking.

Oh - and trained correctly - the foot should NOT deform - although dancers' toes are notoriously tough - the important part in this training is that it does NOT begin before the foot has grown enough - usually after puberty - begin too early and you WILL deform the foot - true enough.

I have been teaching kids for about 8 years now - and haven't had any problems with their developing sokusens - should this be a concern o esteemed medical learned ones?

RE: Focused toe on round kicks - that's how we were taught.

How about some more exercises for developing the sokusen? In my dojo we practice "walking" the floor by pulling our weight with the toes... also kicking stairs while wearing those "flip-flop" style shoes. We also practice some conditioning with toe kicks to the thighs (ouch!).

Any other suggestions?

Peace,
Lori


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 1999 1:55 pm 
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I found kicking a 10lb medacine ball up and down the dojo helps with the toe kick. It's soft enough so your not injuring your toe but there's enough weight behind the ball to provide significant impact.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 1999 7:58 pm 
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Hello fellow foot fetishists,

Like Collin, I like the heel kick for a shomen strike. Reason being that it provides greater stability of skeletal structure and higher probability of successful impact--imagine kicking a thigh in the heat of furious combat. There's a lot of room for missing...he just might not stand still for your kick!

Toe format for mawashi geri is good not only because of weapon of impact, but let's say that you miss with the toe--by positioning the foot at 90 degrees to the shin, you have tensed the shin for contact.

Paul's medicine ball trick sounds cool. I use a heavy bag lying on the ground and kick it in as many complete circles as I feel up to on a given day. By varying the striking surface you can vary the degree of resistance to your kick, eg, top of bag softer, middle firmer, bottom--only Yonamine's may apply.

Sensei Campbell taught a neat variation to the standard shomen geri at summer camp this year. Vary the trajectory of the kick so that it arcs from inside out. In Wing Chun this is called a Ngoy Tiu Gyeuck (reverse round kick.) It is sneaky as hell and tends to get by many defenses. Additionally, it targets a wider arc on the opponent's body. You can actually kick the kidneys while not angled very far from the center line (the imaginary plane connecting the core of the two fighters.) My favorite with this kick is when we have opposite leads (me right lead--him, left lead--this is called an "Open" orientation) and deploying the kick to the groin. Very hard for him to discern the intent of this kick and very effective (as you might well imagine.)

Finally, as Bill Sensei has advised on several previous occasions...train, train, train the sokosen lest you break your pretty toe AND ruin your pedicure.

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Good training,
David


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 1999 5:06 am 
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Lori

Your added perspective on ballet is helpful. My personal interest comes from several sources.

* I had an older sister who did the whole lessons thing, and was quite good at it. And now she's an attorney. Oh well...at least she's a tax attorney.

* I was forever running across female students at UVa who could drop into splits and stand on their toes on day one. Invariably they came from ballet.

* My Uechi instructor in the latter seventies - a big transition period for me - was David Finkelstein. I'd do week-long visits to New York to train with him during school breaks. David was a big fan of the ballet, and of Barishnikov in particular. He had several ballet professionals in his karate class. Of course males aren't subjected to the toe routine.

Anyhow, I think what was recommended to your daughter and friends about waiting until puberty to do toe is reasonable. My sister did it very young. Still, there's a propensity for women in ballet to develop arthritis in that distal big toe joint. Caution is appropriate. In most sports where weight or stress is to be put on joints, conventional wisdom has it that the really stressful work should wait until the growth plates have matured. This means not doing heavy weightlifting, no plyometrics, etc, etc. In baseball, they often preach for kids to avoid throwing curve balls. But then they let them play football and trash their knees at a young age. Sigh Frankly not a lot of good randomized, controlled work has been done, and the epidemiological work is suggestive but not conclusive. Still...caution is in order.

David

Find your suggesting about the protection of the shin during roundhouse kotekitae to be right on. I've been experimenting with that while doing ashikitae. If I do straight-ankle roundhouse kicks, I can't get my ankle flexor muscles to contract and protect the shin bone like I can when I bend that ankle at 90 degrees and contract the sokusen. Thus I have a choice between bare bone contact or contracted muscle contact. The former seems better when I want to use the shin bone as a striking weapon. But the latter feels better when getting my roundhouse kick blocked hard by a cross block.

The "reverse roundhouse" you say Bob Campbell showed is in a classical Goju form. The taequondo people also use it. But none of those folks do it with a toe. Makes much more sense that way.

To all

I personally recommend folks develop "internal strength" in their toes before starting to strike with it. I have students bear weight on these toes in their respective orientations. You can do a straight-ankle stand by supporting your weight on something and slowly letting it down on your straight-ankle sokusens. When you do it on a hard floor, the surface gets conditioned more than the muscles and tendons (because of the pain). When you do it on a padded floor, the reverse happens. You can also do the same for roundhouse sokusen by getting in a pushup position on your toes. Once you can do that comfortably, then raise one of your legs to add more weight to the other toe. I believe that a lot of controlled work like this should be done before the unpredictable shock work of striking things.

I also stretch the toes. I do a toe bend-back position, and a toe curled-under position. In both cases, I concentrate on the big toe, and do PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching (isometric contraction in the fully stretched position). Toes, like all joints we use, benefit from range-of-motion work.

Alan Dollar's book has a picture of a piece of a tire attached to the bottom of a makiwara. This is to be used for toe strikes. When I visited the Nebraska dojo, I got a chance to see an example of this that was made and brought over by their Japanese master. It has just the right give. A very nice "Uechi" addition to your classic makiwara. The Okinawans are very creative in this way. Examples like these are my response to folks who start preaching Okinawa religion and the 1000-year-old sacred traditions. We shouldn't copy their thoughts, we should admire and copy their thinking!

- Bill


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