One Person's Opinion

"Success is neither magical or mysterious. Success is the natural consequence
of consistently applying the basic fundamentals."
_________ Jim Rohn

58 Years of Sanchin type Training To Improve Power - Michael E. Odell IR of Blaine,Washington
Traditional Body Toughening and KoTeKiTai - Michael E. Odell IR of Blaine, Washington
IR Body Mechanics - IR Sensei Norman Losier of Hope B.C
Bo-Bo Kumite - IR Sensei Michael O'Leary of Abbotsford B.C.
Developing Kata's Practical Application - IR Sensei Michael O'Leary Abbotsford B.C
Seisan, Seiunchin, Naihanchi Kata Okinawa Style - Sensei Norm Losier of Hope B.C.
The Heavy Bag & Kata - IR Sensei Philip Raymond of Cottage Grove, Oregon
Your Benefits of Drilling - Kotekitai # 2 - IR Sensei Norman Losier of Hope B.C
From Stance to Stance - IR Sensei Norman Losier of Hope B.C.

"To train only when other people are watching is not budo, it is side show!
All men must learn to train alone." ____ Jon Crain

Return to Isshinryu Northwest
Isshin-ryu Northwest Okinawa Karate Association ®

by Michael E. Odell — June 2006

"All is in Sanchin." ___ Kanbun Uechi 1877-1948

Well, maybe yes and maybe no
. Sanchin Kata and Sanchin type training may not be for everyone. And all may not be in Sanchin. For me, however, Sanchin Kata is the core of Okinawa Karate. The kata's purpose is definable. Done appropriately, the kata leaves one invigorated physically and at peace mentally. The kata can teach focus, proper breathing, develop strength and muscle memory, controlled tension and relaxation. Overall, done properly, Sanchin Kata should bring us closer to developing the "one punch kill" concept of Okinawa Karate—at the same time increase one's ability to withstand a blow to body or limb.

Kanryo Higaonna is credited with bringing an open-hand version of Sanchin Kata to Okinawa from China. And Chojun Miyagi founder of Goju ryu is credited with changing part of Sanchin's strikes from an open hand to a closed fist. We will leave the history to the historians and concentrate on Sanchin type training. Our interest here, however, is not in discussing Sanchin Kata, but Sanchin type training to improve our overall karate abilities.

Consult with your physician first. The following comes from my personal experience with this training concept—more than 58 years—not from any medical training. In fact, some medical professionals might tell you to avoid Sanchin type of training. For questions about the health aspects of this type of training—positive or negative—please consult with your Sensei and/or the proper medical professionals.

Four Stages of Learning:
As I said, the following comes from my 58 plus years of personal experience with this concept of body training through four learning stages: dynamic, isometric, isotonic—and Sanchin Kata.

I developed interest in dynamic tension training ( the resistance of one body part against another) shortly after the end of World War II. As a preteen I was aware of Charles Atlas's famous home body building course—using dynamic tension. Known as the worlds best built man, Charles Atlas started selling his course in 1929. During the following decades he sold hundreds of thousands of his muscular development courses. Now, none of us could afford the course. This did not, however, stop us daydreaming about owning it.

Someone in our neighborhood got hold of Charles Atlas's biceps training lesson, or at least part of it. From then on I spent a lot of time trying to pump up those eleven year old's biceps and pectorals—using controlled breathing and dynamic tension to make them bigger and stronger. Well, at least in my own mind. How much muscle or strength did other people gain using Atlas's training course? I don't know. I do know his concepts have proven extremely effective for the bodybuilder and strength athlete. His concepts can also prove effective for those of us who want to improve our martial art abilities.

In 1949, when I was twelve, my Mother's youngest brother—now home from the war—took me to the YMCA and introduced me to lifting weights. And I have not stopped since. The YMCA had the only weightlifting/bodybuilding gym in Spokane. Very few people lifted weights during this time period. In fact, if you did most—if not all—high schools and colleges would not let you be involved in school sports. They claimed it would make you muscle bound and slow you down. The few, at that time, who advocated weight lifting for judo players were mavericks. How things have changed.

Knowledge that came from weight lifting and isometric and isotonic training, I apply to my karate training today—tight-no-tight, breathing in through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, exhaling ending at the mil-second moment past or through peak power exertion. And of course applying isometric and isotonic training methods to karate blocking and striking movements.

Isometric - Isotonic - Isokinetic Training:

Through his magazine Strength & Health and several books in 1961 and 1962, Bob Hoffman—Olympic weightlifting coach and owner of York Barbell Company—introduced the strength building capabilities of isometric and isotonic training in conjunction with weightlifting.

Isometric involves muscular contraction against resistance and the muscle's length remains the same—exerting sustained pressure against an immovable force.
Isotonic the muscles remain under relatively constant tension for a short distance until stopped by an unmovable force (Isometric).
Isokinetic method of training—resistance at a constant speed and maximum force through full-range motion—took special equipment such as Nautilus. This type of equipment did not come into being until later.

I consider Charles Atlas's dynamic tension training as both Isometric and Isokinetic in nature. And we mimic Isokinetic's constant speed and maximum force through full-range motion when we do Sanchin Kata.

Why Isometric and Isotonic Training? You stimulate strength. Isometrics place the stress entirely on the muscle fibers and allows you to prolong the time under tension of area being trained—more results in less time and energy. With isometrics you can train around injuries. Isometrics stress the muscle not the tendons. And for the younger individual who might be interested, isometrics increases muscle growth. And of interest to the older person, isometric training is believed to increase bone density.

Developing Your Own Program:
The following is a guide to help you develop your own "Isotonic-Isometric Sanchin Type" program to improve stance and punching power, muscle tension and relaxation, eye focus, and abdominal breathing.

Sanchin Kata done sensibly—not the forced, loud breathing, eye bulging, gut busting type—I believe we can do daily if we so choose. For maximum results, how often should we do a strength-building isotonic-isometrics program? For most of us once a week is enough. More is not necessarily better. Isotonic-isometrics training is concentrated and demanding. We want to supplement our overall karate training, not replace it.

If you are interested, try the following program. Later create your own program for kicks, knees, elbows, side blocks, down blocks, gripping, pulling, pushing etc. You may wish to experiment with varying stances. This all comes later, after you feel proficient doing the following program out of Sanchin stance. We want to make this a Sanchin type of training program.

When doing the punching exercises, if you find your shoulders tiring quickly—or at all—you are not doing it correctly. You may be punching using the wrong muscles—shoulder muscles. Instead, use your lats (latisimus dorsi ) and your pecks ( pectorals). Keep your elbows in and your shoulders pulled down. In addition, keep in mind your abdominal breathing, eye focus, and mental concentration.

From Sanchin Dachi - Both Left and Right Stance:

Isometric Punch from Three Ranges - Close, Mid, Extended
3 sets for each position. Hold for 7-10 seconds exhaling smoothly from lower abdomen.

Isometric Palms Up Finger Thrust from Three Ranges
3 sets for each position. Hold for 7-10 seconds exhaling smoothly.

Isometric Pulling In from Three Ranges
3 sets for each position. Hold for 7-10 seconds exhaling smoothly.

Isometric Double Palm Strike from Three Ranges
3 sets. Hold for 7-10 seconds exhaling smoothly.

Isometric Down Block - Single Position
3 sets x 7-10 seconds exhaling smoothly.

Isometric Side Block - Single Position
3 sets x 7-10 seconds exhaling smoothly.

Isometric Sweeping Side Block - Two Positions
Beginning of Block - 3 sets x 7-10 seconds
Ending of Block - 3 sets x 7-10 seconds

Isotonic on Makiwara:

This should be executed using the last two to three inches of punch against a Makiwara with slight give—one or two inches.

Three Sets from Left Stance and Three from Right Stance
Rear Hand - 3 sets x 7 reps x 1 second each - a sharp exhale then relaxation with each rep
Forward Hand -3 sets x 7 reps x 1 second each - a sharp exhale then relaxation with each rep

You are not limited to Sanchin Dachi of course. I just believe it is a good place to start and to concentrate for this type of training.

Once again, the preceding thoughts come from my personal experience, not from any medical background or medical training. For questions about the health aspects of this type of training—or any strenuous physical activity—please take your questions to the proper medical professional.

As always, any thoughts, corrections, or additions are appreciated

From Blaine - Michael E. Odell ©
Isshin-ryu Northwest Okinawa Karate Association ®

Return to One Person's Opinion

Traditional Body Toughening & KoTeKiTai
____ Michael E. Odell

KoTeKiTai, Sanchin, and Makiwara training is traditional to most Okinawa Karate—particularly Goju Do, Uechi Ryu/Pangai Noon, and other Naha influenced styles including Isshin ryu.

It is not for everyone, and definitely in only a limited sense for those under eighteen years of age. It is, however, the way I have chosen to center my training.

In 1969, when I first started training in Isshin ryu at Sensei Armstrong's Tacoma Dojo, I was already in my early thirties, but in fair physical condition from more than twenty years of consistent weight training.

At Armstrong Sensei's I immediately took to the Makiwara. My Makiwara training, however, was nowhere as knowledgeable, consistent, and formalized as it is today. It was almost 15 years before my training began to formalize around the Makiwara, Sanchin, and KoTeKiTai.

Besides meeting my personal need, the three traditional forms of Okinawa training help prepare the body and the mind for actual combat should it ever be necessary.

The practice of KoTeKiTa—conditioning certain areas of the forearm by repeated strikes—seems to cause the thin layer of tissue covering and underlying the skin to change in such a way to help cushion blows to the area trained. Bruises appear less and seem to heal quicker. Conditioning, however, is achieved by practicing slowly and consistently over many years.

The correct concept of body toughening is to slowly and gently adjust our body to being struck, yet not suffer the normal numbing or bruising. Historically, Okinawa karate embraced this type of body conditioning. KoTeKiTai, conditioning of the forearm, prepares the arm for the endless pounding of normal training—and of course, combat. Today, many styles and schools have dropped this type of body conditioning as it does not fit in with their concept of Exercise-Karate or Competition-Karate. And understandably, since traditional conditioning is started at the first lesson, it certainly does not appeal to most commercially centered karate schools or organizations. But, this does not mean there is anything wrong with these schools of thought, not at all. And this does not mean some of you involved in these types of karate training may not want to undertake the type of training under discussion on a limited schedule on your own.

The following thoughts come from my personal practice and experience, not from any medical background or medical training. In fact, most medical professionals would probably tell you to avoid this type of training altogether. So, if you have questions about the health aspects of this type of training—or any karate training—please direct those questions to your Sensei and or the proper medical professional before performing any new exercise or technique.

Most of us in Isshin ryu block with the meaty part and not the bone part of our leg or forearm. This makes the type of body conditioning being discussed most helpful in training the body areas where actual body contact takes place. This allows for harder and longer durations of training, particularly person-to-person drills. It does not, however, make one invincible when it comes to training injuries. I know, do to my own inattention, having received the dubious honor of having my ribs broke or cracked on at least three occasions.

We do need to be careful, bones and muscles bruise easily. Bruised bones are painful, take a long time to heal, and can bring on serious complications in old age. Seriously bruised bones or muscles can result in serious complications and must be promptly attended to by a professional medical specialist.

In my personal opinion, most so-called bone conditioning of forearms and shins should be avoided. Although it is believed doing so increases bone density. We know weight training will increase bone density in women suffering from osteoporosis. And, from personal experience, prudent makiwara and similar training of the fist did seem to increase density. It did, for sure, toughen the hand.

But, so-called bone conditioning can be most painful. The results are questionable. The risks considerable. I will admit, however, to doing a limited amount on my shin bones. They are still sensitive.

When training alone, one can condition the shin by rolling something smooth up and down the shin—such as your bo to start. Later, you can if you wish use something heavier and harder. If you have a training partner, try using repeated light kicks to the shin with the toes.

Do be carful of joints when training. I don't believe joints can be strengthened by contact conditioning.

When practicing KoTeKiTai with others, or any type of body conditioning, it is up to the Senior to protect the health and well being of any and all students. This means immediately putting a stop to any displays of machismo. This also means avoid overtraining. The concept of achieving body toughening is to start slowly and gently—and be consistent in your training. One should be in good health before starting. Yes, there will be some slight bruising when you first start. Bruising is more common in older students and those in dubious physical condition. I have found Vitamin C and E helpful.

Within the Isshin ryu system are specific exercises to train our natural offensive and defensive weapons. The main areas these conditioning exercises strengthen include the forearm areas used for the majority of blocking. I also condition the side and front areas of the thighs between the knee and hip, and of course the shin as previously mentioned.

These areas are conditioned by repeated blocks and strikes, alternatively striking a slightly different section of the area being conditioned. I also include a limited amount of body conditioning to the abdomen and other major body areas. I basically leave these areas to Sanchin training—muscle tension and controlled breathing.

As I said previously, the thoughts come from my personal practice and experience, not from any medical background or medical training. Most medical professionals would probably tell you to avoid this type of training altogether. So, if you have questions about the health aspects of this type of training—or any karate training—please take your questions to the proper medical professional before performing any new exercise or technique.

As always, any thoughts, corrections, or additions are appreciated. ____Michael E. Odell © Washington
For Isshin ryu Kotekitai drills, click on the article by Sensei Norman Losier: "Your Benefits of Drilling Kotekitai"

Isshin ryu training is like spiral staircase where we constantly return to the same themes, but at a new level and with a wider perspective. Return to One Person's Opinion

IR Body Mechanics
____________ Sensei Norman Losier of Hope B.C

Following excerpts are from a letter Sensei Losier sent his students regarding a recent visit by original Isshin ryu student A.J. Advincula. Much of it Sensei Losier transcribed from a video of the event.

Sensei A.J. Advincula visited our Hope Yama Dojo October 31, 1998. He worked on the Seisan and Seiunchin Kata of Isshin-Ryu. The idea was for him to discuss body mechanics, stances, drills and bunkai relating to the two forms. It also gave our Dojo an opportunity to show Sensei how we do the forms and get his ideas on how we can do improve.

Here are a few things Sensei Advincula shared. To begin with, let us say that Kata is broken into segments. These segments can be practiced and drilled to increase efficiency. Segments of the Kata are called sets. A set is a cluster of moves that fit together when initiating an attack or defending against one. It is also a sequence that allows transition from blocking to countering and the transition from attacking to defending should your attack be blocked.

Protecting Center of Mass
When practicing Karate, whatever style, one common principle is protecting the center of mass. Sensei Advincula explained the marines teach you to shoot at the large part of the body.

This is attacking the center of mass. In Isshin-Ryu the primary target is the solar plexus area. When your center is attacked, crossing your hands in front of the body protects and keeps your center blocked. When performing many Kata movements, the arms and hands are crossed in front of the body for a split second. This technique of protecting the center of mass is in part explained by redirection in blocking and striking.

In the opening sequence of Seisan we use redirection to set up a left side block. Looking at it for that split second will allow us to see the arms crossed in front of the body, protecting the center of mass. In the second line of the Kata we see again redirection used to set up a block. This time we use the palm up open hand block. By redirecting we are again in the position of protecting the center of mass. On the palm up redirection and block you must put chinkuchi in the palm up block - chinkuchi is the coordination of muscle tension, breathing and body mechanics to produce power.

Closer to Mass - Stronger the Technique
You can make the technique stronger by bending your hand at the wrist. This puts tension in your forearm, turning the block into somewhat of a strike. To test this theory, try pushing your partner's hand down when your hand and wrist are in line. Now try it with the bend in the wrist and you will see that it is stronger. The second line sequence is a 1-2-3- movement. 1- is the palm up block, 2- is the sudden expansion of the hand as you turn you hand over palm to the ground, 3- is the pull in motion to get your arm closer to your body. This is done because the closer to mass the stronger the technique.

On a wrist grab we can use the pulling back motion to work against the thumb and break the hold. In Seisan the opening sequences of punches and side blocks are misinterpreted as side blocks. They represent a way to free oneself from a wrist grab. As you pull back, you bring the arm closer to the center of mass and it makes the technique stronger.

The Power of the Wedge
The power of the wedge is the principle used when breaking a double lapel grab with two high blocks. In Karate you strive not to break a technique but to break a person's balance. Have your partner grab your lapels, shuffle forward to close the distance. Using your whole body, rise up from the ground, driving your arms up in a double high block. The last one fist length of the motion is brought to full tension or sudden expansion. This technique is designed to break your opponent's balance in a backwards motion.

Next you can snag the arms with your closed fists and draw them down in a circular motion as you knee-kick the midsection. If you simply break the technique your opponent may have a chance to counter your defense. In Karate we strive to break the opponents balance using ballistic methods like punching, striking and kicking.

Seisan means 13, which can be explained as North, South, East, West, the four corners, rise and fall, push and pull, your center, equilibrium or hara. All Isshin-Ryu Kata are intertwined. To do one is to begin to understand another. In Seisan Kata you lower your body to use all your weight. This is the principle of rise and fall where one uses his whole body weight to create power in a block or strike.

Avoiding Collision
The worst collision is a head on collision. Two cars doing 50 miles an hour will produce a 100 miles an hour impact. If we start from Seisan we can then revert to the 15 upper body basics and do a different technique to finish off. The double high block sequence can be finished off by using two open hand grabs and bringing your opponent downward to the rising knee kick. The lower part of the foot should be relaxed, allowing maximum energy in the rising part of the move. If your foot is up when you knee kick, it may be snagged by your opponent. With the foot relaxed it will slip off the block and you can still complete the rising kick. It's the subtle things that make the difference. In Seisan understand the principle of rise and fall, use the whole body and not just the arms.

Principle of Evasion
After the double high block sequence you employ the principle of evasion. The question at the Dojo, What do you do when the trains coming? The answer is Get off the tracks." This represents the principle of evasion. Moving away, stepping to the side, bending one way or another just enough not to get hit are all evasive movements. After the double high block you turn left 180 degrees, and for a split second, you again protect the center of mass by crossing your hands in front of the body. This posture is a Kamae or combative engagement stance or posture. From this position you can block the three primary areas, high, middle, low and counter.

Kata Teaches
Kata teaches body mechanics and application. A Kata is developed for many different reasons. One reason is for exercise. How many people would do Seiunchin if they didn't have to? The system forces you to do a Kata like Seiunchin which teaches the low stance and you get stronger doing it.

In Seiunchin you learn to break an opponent's balance. From a front grab if you simply drop into Seiunchin you will not break the opponents balance as you are working into his power. We must learn to step to the side as we drop and spread his grip so we can break his balance to one side or the other and make him weaker. When you open your hands and repeat this technique you give yourself a little more separation on the opponent's arms, making him weaker yet by taking his arms away from his center of mass. If he catches us lower on the body, by jumping back into a cat stance we again break his center by bending him forward. On a bear hug we slide into the grabber. As we move into a cat stance it elongates the body making it harder for him to hold us. To repeat, the three primary things that Seiunchin defends against are front high grab, front middle grab and rear bear hug under and over the biceps area.

Kata forces us to use certain muscles. It also teaches us to develop combat application and physical application and mental application.

Mind Body Spirit
Kata teaches us not just fighting. If we go by the Bubishi and the Kempo Gokui, when Tatsuo told you the explanation for it he gave you two. He gave the combat application and the real life application. Since we are doing more real life than combat, Gichin Funakoshi said The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat but in the perfection of character

Karate is a way of life. It is not only about punching, striking, kicking or grappling. Each Kata teaches a different aspect. That is what is so beautiful about Karate. We can all develop it for different reasons. When doing Kata you are not always in combat. In the old days Kata was a style. Most styles taught a Kata for three years.

In the Seiunchin uppercut and backfist combination, the uppercut has to come straight up so your opponent's head stays in place for the backfist to the neck area. The nice thing about the uppercut is that gravity helps us out. If your opponent weights 100 pounds we can say that he has 100 hundred units of energy holding him down. Gravity helps, as I uppercut I can put more energy into my target so more energy is absorbed. When I uppercut I drive his head up and expose his neck area for the backfist. This technique can be used with the principle of push and pull. When you are attacked pull down on the arm and it will bring the head housing group down. This will make the uppercut more effective.

Certain Amount of Symbolism
When you do Kata you have to understand that there is a certain amount of symbolism attached to it. Remember that we are learning an Asian martial art and in Asia there is much symbolism. The closed fist is symbolic of hard where the open hand is soft. Just because it's referred to as a soft techniques it doesn't mean it won't hurt when you get hit with it. The manner of drinking or spitting is either hard or soft. The Goju- Ryu people use that to mean breathing in or out, ones hard and ones soft. In theory, hard techniques done slow are supposed to bring out this intrinsic energy. So the theory is if we do some techniques really hard and some really fast, that between the two its just right. So it's symbolic. In the opening of Kusanku the circular hand movement is symbolic of the moon. It can also represent heaven and earth because it starts at the top and ends at the bottom. Upper and lower. So many techniques have more than one symbolism. The elbow strike to the open palm is symbolic of using the elbow to impact your opponent. It's like the explanation mark. By hitting your own body you show what body part your attacking with. Some people don't know it and start making creations for that thing.

Example, Angi Uezu said that there is a curtain and in Kusanku your bending forward to open the curtain to avoid being kicked. Yet I've been to Okinawa many a year and I've never seen curtains in a house. For that reason I don't believe that interpretation.

Kusanku is a night fighting Kata so the circular motion is also symbolic of heaven and earth. We can also be showing the moon. The high block and low block is symbolic of shielding the moon. Can it be used against an attack? Of course it can. Can we use it to shield the eyes against the sun, of course. This is where people lose the symbolism.

In Seisan Kata we use the large circular motion and pull the hands back to the hips to create an opening. Symbolic, in combat you never make such a large circle or you get zapped.

When you keep your hands high, it sets a trap. You often do this so your opponent will strike low. It's symbolic. When somebody teaches you this, you understand. Samurai movies show this symbolism to the extreme. One goes into a high kamae and the other goes into a low kamae, they play with that. Karate stances actually have a purpose. If I'm in a certain stance it's hard to penetrate. If I'm in a different stance it's easier to penetrate. So for me, instead of fighting you from the same stance all the time, I move from stance to stance hoping to set a trap.

Boxers do this all the time. Some boxers do what? They play like they are hurt and then baam! Well in Karate, Gojushiho is a drunken style. So they play like they are what, like they are drunk and they are not. That is deception, in Karate there is a whole philosophy dedicated to deception. What's real, what's perceived? It's never just one, it's all together.

Yin/Yang describes this. Where is the Yin /Yang in the Dojo? Camouflage and concealment! Where does it come from? Yes China. In Yin/Yang we have the circle that is half white and half black. You notice that there is a white comma within the black and a black comma within the white. This represents that nothing is ever completely soft or hard. We always look at it as a solid circle, half white and half black. You have to look at the Yin/Yang as a ball of gases, as a sphere. Its not just round it is intermingling and intertwining and if we look at the intricacies of Karate we see that everything is blending. Nothing is just straight, nothing is just circular, everything is blended.

Changes In Isshin-Ryu
People always ask why Tatsuo changed things in Isshin-Ryu. I don't know, but some of it is because Okinawa was at war in the 40's. In 1943, the war began to affect Okinawa and most Okinawans stopped practicing karate. They had more important things going on, like staying alive. They were being bombed by the Americans. One third of the population of Okinawa was killed. Look at the United States and figure what one third the population is.

The war ended in 1947, and reconstruction started. That same year Tatsuo opened his first Dojo. During the previous 4 or 5 years they had not practiced Karate, now they relearn their Karate and go back to teaching as best they remember. Some forgot and some innovated. Who gives a damn, the thing is that's why some are closer, some might be farther. Today we look at Isshin-Ryu and we have 20, 30, 40 branches and they all have different interpretations. Another thing is that the Okinawans had no videos. Today everyone tapes - this is one reason things have changed.

Out of China
Two schools of thought came out of China. One is the Yin/Yang and the other is the five element theory. The Yin/Yang theory was the more sophisticated one with the merchants. They had the hard, soft, yin, yang and the blend. The other was the farmers and the peasants. If we look at the Yin/Yang we have heaven and earth. Within our own symbol we have heaven and earth. Where is heaven depicted in the crest? The Dragon represents heaven and the Tiger represents earth. You will see a lot of Chinese art with the Dragon and the Tiger. Now if we have something square and something round, which is heaven and which is earth? The round represents heaven and the square is earth. Miyagi had heaven and earth in his symbol. All of the philosophy goes into each branch of Karate.

When you hear anything that says there are only five directions, they are referring to North, South, East, West and the center or equilibrium. The Chinese also say there are only five tastes and those 5 make up all the tastes in the universe. In Chinese philosophy one represents being united - all things begin with one. When we hear two, we think Yin/Yang, heaven/earth, hard /soft. If we talk three we think of mind/body/spirit, heaven/earth/man. There will always be sets of three, one, two, three. If we talk four we talk of the four corners, we talk about the four primary directions. It just keeps going on and on. If we talk five, we talk fiv
e elemental theory or five tastes....

We thank Isshin ryu Sensei Norm Losier - Hope Yama Dojo, Hope B.C. - for allowing us to print the preceding passages from his letter to his students.

Since this was an all day seminar, there was of course much more. If you have any questions, additions, thoughts or want to know more, please contact Sensei Norm Losier, Box 2342, Hope, B.C. VOX 1LO - or call 1-604-869-2600 - or e-mail

We wish to thank Norm once again for sharing his thoughts and experiences with us.
__ Michael E. Odell

Return to One Person's Opinion

& ALL OTHERS______ Sensei Michael O'Leary

The object is to develop a format to systematically practice basics in such a way that will lead to real life practice with the weapon

ATTACK_________________ & ________________ DEFENSE

1. Bow, step left ___________________________________________________ Bow, step right

2. Ready stance ___________________________________________________ Ready stance

3. Overhead strike ________________________________________________ Overhead block

4.Step forward, overhead strike__________________ Step back, overhead block - thrust to body

5. Temple strike ____________________________________________ Temple block, backhand

6. Step forward, temple strike _______________________ Step back, temple block -strike to side

7. Side strike __________________________________________________________ Side block

8. Step forward, side strike ___________________________ Step back, side block - strike to knee

9. Low strike to the knee __________________________________________ Backhand low block,

10. Step forward, low strike to the knee ___________________Step back, low block - strike to side

11. Thrust punch ____________________________ Inside to outside parry - Step forward & thrust

13. Snap punch ________________________________________________ Outside to inside parry

14, Step forward, snap punch ________________ Step back, outside to inside parry - thrust to body

15. Bow ____________________________________________________________________ Bow

_______________Sensei O'Leary's Terminology
_______________Punch: Strike with the tip of the bo - driving it in.
________________Snap punch: A sliding thrust with bo
________________Thrust punch: Two handed thrust with bo

This is a drill our dojo devised after training with Sensei A.J.Advincula. It is not to be taken as the only way to practice Bo basics. The object is to develop a format to systematically practice basics that will lead to real life practice with a weapon.

Begin by practicing this drill stepping in and stepping out in time with each other. After you become comfortable with the format, try breaking from the regiment of the foot work and practice free style. Also try adding specific techniques or sequences from kata - experiment.

This particular drill is developed along the same lines as our empty hand basics, starting from the top and working down just to give it a format - enjoy.

We thank Isshin ryu Sensei Michael O'Leary of the Abbotsford Isshin-ryu Karate-Do for the preceding. If you have any questions, additions, thoughts or want to know more, please contact Sensei O'Leary: Phone 604-864-7590 or 604-853-6972 E-mail

Return to One Person's Opinion

Developing Kata's Practical Application
______ by Sensei Michael O'Leary

Previously I posted a fairly simple bo drill: Bo-Bo Kumite. Since then I have been asked if I have any more drills like this, not only for the bo, but also for sai and tuifa. It seems many practitioners would like to have practical application drills to work weapons in a more realistic scenario.

We develop practical application in weapon or empty hand kata using the same process. Pull sequences from the kata and break them down to the basic principles (i.e. Rise and fall or push and pull for example). Then work them into drills. Once we establish the drill, a bunkai or practical application can be introduced producing a 2-man drill.

This is fairly close to how the martial arts were practiced prior to the introduction of Sport Kumite. If you read Funakoshi's books you discover he felt free sparing was dangerous - seeing what was being practiced was considered a deadly art. Funakoshi therefore developed predetermined 2 man drills. We can apply the same to today's martial arts.

A Drill
In Tokumine no kun there is a sequence of three sliding or snap thrusts. Isolate these from the kata. Practice them with the intention of mastering form, balance, power, and cadence. We have developed a drill. To take it one step further introduce a partner who is defending themselves against these strikes.

The Flow Drill
Taking the parry that occurs in Tokumine and having the opponent use this to defend, further helps one to practice techniques in the kata. It also teaches the opponent to parry while moving back through the same sequences of cat stances that the attacker is going forward. We have created a flow drill. When repeated, we will have an attacker moving forward three steps and then reversed so that the same person is now stepping back three steps.

This carries on so that both partners practice both sides of the drill repeatedly. This is known as a "flow" drill.

If we break down the entire kata in this manner we have a kata that can be practiced with a partner and, in fact, a second kata to practice.

Ying and Yang. This is the unseen side of the kata. Recently I visited Norm Losier in Hope BC. While comparing notes and kata, one of our discussions centered on Tokumine Bunkai. Sensei Losier began the kata and I did the bunkai. When we were done, we discussed a few minor differences. Basically, his bunkai and the bunkai I performed were almost identical, although we had never sat down and agreed on any particular sequence. It was the process that was identical, therefore the logic of which bunkai fit where was similar.

Each of us is different and each will inject personality into kata and drills and application. I was originally taught bunkai for Tokumine by Advincula Sensei and for the most part this is what I do. I do however adapt those techniques that my particular body style finds more easily executed or those techniques that for me seem more-natural.

There are perimeters to this process. One must learn mechanics of body or weapon to reach a viable and logical conclusion. A technique has to be tried "in the field" or in a scenario that will prove it is a working technique, not just a frivolous idea someone came up with. All techniques must be able to withstand scrutiny.

Tokumine no kon
Notes on drills and bunkai development
1. Attention.
2. Bow with bo under right arm.
3. Flip bo 180-degrees on right side.
4. Execute a left low block.
5. Step back with the left foot and execute a right hand overhead strike.
6. Step forward with the left foot into a reverse cat stance and snap
7. Step forward with the right foot into a diagonal Seisan stance and snap
8. Step forward with the left foot into a reverse cat stance and snap
9. Step back with the left foot into a diagonal Seisan and kumai.
10. Step 45-degrees right with the right foot forward and execute a reverse
right hand side strike to the head.
11. Step to a point 45-degrees left of the centerline and executes a
reverse left-hand side strike to the head.
12. Step to a point 90-degrees to the left of the original centerline and
execute a left side block, overhead strike, uppercut, overhead strike,
reverse side strike and a side strike. The strikes are done with the bo on
the right side of the body.
13. Snap punch and kumai.
14. Reverse your handgrip on the bo and step with the right leg forward
180-degrees, executing a right side block. Execute the same sequence as #12
only on the right side of the body.
15. Snap punch and kumai.
16. Draw your right foot in and face the original centerline at attention
with the bo held along the right side of your body, right hand on the
bottom and left hand held across the body on top.
17. Step forward into a horse stance and execute a right side block,
holding the bo behind the leg and not infront. Stand up sharply by bringing
your right foot back to your left. As you do this draw your left hand to
your hip and your right hand to your solar plexus.
18. Step forward with the right foot into a diagonal Seisan stance and
thrust punch. KIAI:
19. Bring the left foot forward into a reverse cat stance and thrust punch.
20. Step forward with the right foot into a diagonal Seisan stance and
thrust punch.
21. Pivot 180-degrees into a left foot forward cat stance with the bo
"cocked" on your shoulder.
22. Step forward with the right foot into a diagonal Seisan stance and
execute a forward side strike.
23. Swing the body 180-degrees, step back with the left foot and go down on
the left knee, executing a straight side strike, left hand forward.
24. While still down on the knee execute reverse side strike with the right
hand forward.
25. As you stand up perform a left side low block with the right hand low
and the left hand on the right shoulder.
26. Perform the sequence of overhead strike, 2 side strikes, uppercut,
overhead strike, snap punch and kumai.
27. Step back with the right foot into a horse stance. You should be facing
90-degrees to the right of the original front centerline. Perform a "flip
over" head strike to your left.
28. Step into a horse stance with the right foot so you are now facing the
original front centerline and execute a 2 handed push with the bo.
29. Without changing stance or grip on the bo, spin the bo and execute a
reverse strike, 3 parries and another reverse strike (the first reverse
strike is done in front of you, the second one is carried through the
target and ends up 90-degrees to your original front centerline.
30.Spin the bo over your head as you change grip and complete #29 sequence
only on the left side of the body.
31. Upon completion on the second reverse strike, bring the left hand
behind the head over the right shoulder as if you were doing a big wind up.
Step 180-degrees with the left foot, to the rear and execute a left-hand
forward reverse strike.
32. Slide your left hand under the bo, in preparation of changing grip.
33. Step again 180-degrees with the right foot, to face the original front
centerline, and execute a reverse side strike with the right hand forward.
34. Immediately draw the right hand to the hip.
35. Shuffle forwards and perform a right hand strike, a left hand reverse
block, and another right hand strike. It is optional to shuffle once, twice
or even three times on this move. It is also optional to shuffle not at
all. Either is acceptable.
36. Step back to attention and close.

Training Drills
All of the drills and sequences are taken from the description.

Using steps 5 to 9 from schematic description, perform a one man training drill. To turn this into a two man bunkai drill use blocks and parries to defend against the strikes and counter with a snap punch when the kumai is performed.
Using steps 10 and 11 perform a one-man drill. Because this to moves only and by the nature of the move it can be used as a warm up drill as well as a technique practice drill.
Using steps 12 and 13 perform a one-man drill and also incorporate this sequence as a two-man bunkai drill. This is the signature sequence of attack in this kata.
Use drill #3 and incorporate steps 14 and 15 to complete the maneuver in multiple directions. As you work this drill you may want to advance it to the point of using the 8 gates and begin working the sequence in multiple directions.
Using steps 16 to 18 perform both one man and two man drills.
Using steps 17 to 21 perform both one and two man drills.
Using steps 18 and 19 perform both one and two man drills. This is also a good warm up drill.
Using steps 22 to 25 perform both one and two man drills. An excellent warm up drill for the knees and legs. Try as you stand up, turn 180-degrees and repeat in the opposite direction or use the 8 gates as direction.
Using steps 27 and 28 perform one man and two man drills. Keep the horse stance low and use as a warm-up drill, repeating in different directions.
Using steps 28 to 30 perform both one and two or even three man drills. Keep it moving and again using different directions.
Using steps 31 to 33 perform a one man and two man or three-man drill. If you repeat the grip change sequence you will be able to move back and forth in different directions non-stop. This is also an excellent warm up drill.
Using steps 33 to 35 perform a one or two man drill. Practice the side to side techniques concentrating on the difference between a block and a strike. Also practice shuffling in and generating power from the hip as you move.

_______________________ Mike O'Leary

If you have any questions, additions, thoughts or want to know more, please contact Sensei Michael O'Leary of the Abbotsford Isshin-ryu Karate-Do : Phone 604-864-7590 or 604-853-6972 E-mail

"The art of karate does not mean the ability of technical excellence, which can be developed by physical training, but an ability of attaining a spiritual goal through the practice of the kata, so that the player plays against self and succeeds in conquering self... He who conquers self is the greatest warrior. This is the highest platitudes for the karate master." ____ Richard Kim

Return to One Person's Opinion

Seisan, Seiunchin, Naihanchi -Kata
Okinawa Style

______ by Sensei Norm Losier

Canadian Sensei Norm Losier of the Hope Yama Dojo and Sensei Mike O Leary of the Abbotsford Kakure Dojo recently co-hosted a weekend seminar conducted by well-known Isshin Ryu Sensei A.J. Advincula of Oceanside, California.

Saturday morning a small group of 14 were treated to two hours of Hindiandi Gung Fu training. Sensei Advincula covered some Hindiandi basics and introduced partner drills to better help us remember and understand the movements.

Saturday afternoon's seminar ran four hours. Training centered on the first three kata of Isshin Ryu: Seisan, Seiunchin and Naihanchi. The following will be my attempt to convey what instruction took place, and to stand as a record of this seminar to use as a reference.


Seisan can be translated as thirteen. Sensei Advincula explains it as the four cardinal points: North, South , East, West, and the four corners which add up to eight. The eight directions of the wind. Push, pull, rise, fall and your center or your equilibrium.

Under Sensei Advincula s watchful eye, the group did Seisan kata a number of times so he could see the different ways it was being performed. This led to drills and applications in partner training.

Doing kata - Sensei Advincula stressed - means performing a number of movements in sets and these sets have a certain rhythm or cadence. Doing Seisan kata by the numbers - as Sensei demonstrated on Saturday - gives us 20 sets of movements.

Seisan By The Numbers

1.The opening movement of Seisan is a left side block (on guard position) that is sometimes referred to as Seisan kamae or Kyan kamae. A question was asked about whether the opening had a redirection to the side block or was it simply a left foot forward side block with no redirection. The reply was as evasive as Sensei Advincula is when he is demonstrating stance transitions. The conclusion I have come to is (and this is my opinion only) that there is no redirection in the opening of Seisan as taught by T.S. And there is a redirection as taught by A.J. Advincula. I believe Sensei Advincula does both according to time and place and who he is teaching will also play a part in the way he performs the Kata. The Hope Yama Dojo will continue to do the redirection as we are students of A.J. Advincula.

2. From the left side block position the right reverse punch extends almost fully and pauses momentarily then draws back in a simulated wrist grab breakaway.

3. Step right foot forward and left reverse punch, again fully extending then pausing before pulling back.

4. Step left foot forward to a right reverse punch and pull back.

5. Shuffle forward and double high block. The right punch before the double high block sequence should not be drawn back to the hip but should high block from that position. ( Principle: Not going backwards to go forward, economy of motion).

6. As you turn 180 degrees you create an evasion from a back attack. For a split second your hands cross the center of mass and your kamae is able to defend an attack to either of the 3 areas, lower middle high. The double shuto to the sides should be directed on a 45 degrees angle to the front sides.

7. Step right foot forward and use your left hand to redirect the attack to a right palm up block. Turn the right palm over to grab the wrist and pull. The distancing is such that an elbow check is not needed here. The opposite hand low block is again blocking a kick from the 45 degrees frontal area. The palm up block wrist grab and pull in sequence is done on a one, two, three count.

One is the redirection to the palm up block which should be about half way between the shoulder and the waist. This is done to the front in keeping with the fighting forward theory.(push and pull principle) Bending the wrist towards the floor will put tension in your forearm and make the technique stronger.
Two is the sudden expansion of turning your arm over to grab the wrist. This produces a rotation in the hand that will drive the attackers arm away.
Three is the grab as you draw your hand in to your body.(closer to mass, stronger the technique) Maintain the elbow to hip distance to one of your fists.

8. Step left foot forward and repeat #7.

9. Step right foot forward and repeat #8( palm up block) as you pull into your body to finish this movement stack your hands on your right hip and look left to your next point of attack.

10. Turn left 90 degrees and left side block, reverse punch, straight punch, right kick and reverse punch. As you complete the punch stack on your left hip and look right .

11. Turn right 180 degrees and right side block, reverse punch, straight punch, left kick and reverse punch. As you stack on your right hip look left.

12. Turn left 90 degrees and left side block, reverse punch, straight punch, right kick, reverse punch to a left side block. As you side block drop to a Seiunchin stance by pivoting on your right foot. ( Note that on #10-11-12, reestablish your Seisan stance after the kick before you reverse punch. )

13. The next transition is from Seiunchin stance to a cat stance 180 degrees to the right.
( look, evade, counter and evade ) Evade by moving to a cat stance and counter with a back fist as you step to a Seisan stance. Slide back to a cat and drop your elbow into a Seisan kamae to block a rib attack. This sequence of movements has four stance transitions. Seiunchin to cat, to Seisan to cat stance.

14. Cross over step to a reverse cat stance. (Chinto stance ) Right front kick and land forward in a right Seisan stance to a low block reverse punch. Right side block as you drop to Seiunchin stance. A good drill is to reverse punch in Seisan stance, transition to Seiunchin and side block as you pull your reverse punch back to your hip. This is an example of the rise and fall principle

15. Look left as you slide to a left cat stance and stack both hands on your right hip. Back fist in a left Seisan stance and slide back into a left cat stance.

16. Cross over into a reverse cat stance to a left front kick. Left Seisan stance to a low block and reverse punch. Left Seisan stance to a Seiunchin as you side block.( the fist of the blocking hand is one fist higher than the shoulder due to the drop in height from the Seiunchin stance )

17. Look right 180 degrees and move to a right cat stance. Step to a right Seisan, back fist , low block, reverse punch and side block. This evasion transition does not extend as far as the other two. The movements go from Seiunchin to cat stance to Seisan stance to Seiunchin as you stack backfist low block and reverse punch and side block.

18. Step back with your right leg back to left cat stance as you block open hand with your left hand. Kick right leg.

19. Right reverse punch.(kiai) The benefits of a kiai are lost if you do it on a kicking technique. Distancing is an important factor in the use of a kiai. Physiologically the kiai adds more to a punching technique than it does to a kicking technique.

20. Shuffle back as you make two circular movements with your arms which is symbolic of inviting an attack. Cradle the foot with your left hand and push down with your right . Feet together right open hand behind left open hand at the height of your center. Down in front of your groin area. Hands to the side and bow out.


This Kata is useful in breaking your opponents balance using the principle of push and pull. The Kata was done repeatedly in an attempt to standardize the form. The Saturday seminar was represented by seven different clubs so there were a variety of Seiunchin Kata for Sensei to look at.

Some points to consider when doing the Kata:

1.The opening open hand palm up blocks are close to the body and not a strike to your opponents neck area. They can be used as strikes to the neck in a self defense application. You are breaking your attacker 's balance to the side your stepping to. The opening sequence is a set that has to be broken down to be understood properly. After the breakout you could finish with an elbow or a knee depending on the circumstances. The two low blocks are referenced over the knees and the arms remains slightly bent.

2. The palm up block and grab sequence is similar to the one found in Seisan kata, only now it is done to the side and the grabbing hand is pulled all the way to the hip. This is done in an attempt to break your opponents balance. These movements are performed on a 45 degree angle to the side.

3. Seiunchin to cat stance, as you hook a kick and back fist the instep. T.S. taught the back fist and Sensei Advincula teaches the hammer fist.

4. Seisan stance punch right hand. No big wind up on the transition from the cat stance to the Seisan stance. The fist is in place from the back fist or hammer fist. Turn the left hand over the right as a block and punch under it from this point. The open hand block follows the punch and ends up on the back of the wrist in an augmented position. This combines a straight punch and a shuto to make the technique stronger.

5. On the augmented side block do not retract the right hand in a big wind up before the side block to emphasize economy of motion. This is also an example of not going backwards to go forwards. By bending the wrist back on the support hand you can make the technique stronger.

6. When you uppercut and back fist make sure the uppercut goes straight up under the chin. The next movement is a backfist to the neck area.


1. From the ready position look left, pivot on left foot as you turn left 90 degrees to Seiunchin stance. Double open hand palm up break out block, low block over knees, right palm up block to right on a 45 degree angle, turn right hand over and pull in to right hip as you spear hand with left to ribs.
2. Turn right 180 degrees and repeat sequence 1 with left hand
3. Turn left 180 degrees and repeat sequence 1
4. from Seiunchin stance slide back to right cat stance, left hand open in front of groin and right hammer fist in open left hand
5. Step forward with right to right Seisan stance, augmented right punch
6. Shuffle forward to right elbow to open left palm at shoulder height
7. Turn right 45 degrees to a right augmented side block
8. Step through into a Seiunchin stance and low block over left knee
9. On the same line step back 180 degrees and low block over right knee
10. Turn left 90 degrees and transition from Seiunchin to left Seisan stance and left augmented side block
11. Step through into a Seiunchin stance and low block over right knee.
12. On the same line step back 180 degree. and low block over left knee.
13. Step back with left leg 135 degree. and open right hand low block, left hand open by left ear
14. Step back 180 degree. and open left hand low block, right hand open by right ear. Right palm facing right ear.
15. Step forward to a right Seisan stance and right hammer fist to elbow. Bring your left open hand to your right elbow.
16. Shuffle forward and right uppercut(kiai).
17. Pivot on left foot and turn left 225 degree to a left Seisan stance and left side block and right low block.
18. Transition from left Seisan stance to Seiunchin by shuffling forward and left uppercut and left backfist(heart guard with right hand).
19. Low block with left hand and retract the heart guard.
20. Step back 180 degree to a Seiunchin stance and low block with right hand.
21. Turn left 180 degree. and transition to a left Seisan stance, left side block and right low block
22. Step forward with right foot to a Seiunchin stance and right uppercut and right backfist (heart guard with left hand)
23. Low block with right hand and retract heart guard
24. Step back 180 degree. to a Seiunchin stance and low block with left hand
25. Left foot back 135 degree. to a right cat stance and bear hug break
26. Right foot back to a left cat stance and bear hug break
27. Right punch to front of groin with left hand open in front of solarplex.
28. Step forward with right foot to a right Seisan stance, block down with left hand and right back fist to face.
29. Shuffle back with left foot bringing both arms up in a circular motion with your palms facing the rear. As you shuffle back rise into a right cat stance and drive the elbows outward as you drop to a Sanchin stance Step up with left foot and right closed fist in open left hand and bow.

Seiunchin Bunkai

Defense for a double lapel grab. Drive your left shuto into his right arm at the mid point between the elbow and wrist. This will cause the predetermined response of stretching his neck. Drive your high block into the neck cavity. Bring both your arms up over his head and double shuto to the neck in the area of the trap deltoid insertion.

Naihanchi teaches us how to fight side to side. This however is not to be taken literally. There are actually only two attacks to the sides and they are the double punch sequences at the mid point and end of the Kata. The rest of the Kata directs its focus to the front 45 degrees to each side.

Some of the points we played with on Saturday:

1. The palm up block is a little lower than the shoulder.
2. After the leg lift the low block comes down with the leg .
3. The sequence of side block to low block, opposite elbow and back fist is done to a three count.

One is the open hand side block where the hand is facing the shoulder . Points to remember are that the elbow be one of your fists away from your body. Fingers a bit higher than the shoulder. This allows use to use the same body mechanics as a side block.
Two is the down block with one arm and the rising elbow with the other.
Three is the back fist to the face area.

4. The side blocks and hammer fists are to the front 45 degree area.

5. The double punch sequence is a block with the hand closest to the body and a punch with the extended hand.


From the bow,left hand over right in front of groin. Feet come together and the legs bend to drop your center.
1. Look left and cross over, right leg in front of left moving left to a Naihanchi stance
2. Left palm up block 45 deg. to the left. Left palm at shoulder height, right hand closed on right hip
3. Right horizontal elbow into left palm(fingers on left hand face forward)
4. Bring both closed hands to the stack position on your left hip.
5. Raise the right leg in front of the left.
6. Low block with right hand.
7. Spear hand to right side with left hand.
8. Cross over left leg in front of right, moving to the right.
9. Left side block with an open hand palm facing towards you.
10. Left hammer fist low block.
11. Right rising elbow as you dring you right hand to you right ear.
12. Right bach fist to the face as you bring your left hand under your right elbow.
13. Lift your right leg.
14. Twist right and side block on the right side.
15. Lift the left leg.
16. Twist left and hammer fist to the left side.
17. Stack both closed hands to your left hip.
18. Lift your right leg.
19. Punch to the right side with right hand and left hand is closed in front of solar plex(KIAI).
20. Right palm up block 45 deg. to the right.
21. Left horizontal elbow into right palm(fingers on right hand face forward).
22. Bring both closed hands to the stack position on your right hip.
23. Lift left leg.
24. Low block with left hand.
25. Spear hand to left side with right hand.
26. Cross over left leg in front of right , moving to your left.
27. Right side block with an open palm facing towards you.
28. Right hammer fist low block.
29. Left rising elbow.
30. left backfist to the face.
31. Lift your left leg.
32. Ttwist left and side block.
33. Lift your right leg.
34. Twist right and right side hammer fist.
35. Stack both closed fists on your right hip.
36. Lift your left leg.
37. Double punch to your left side.(KIAI)

In closing I would like to acknowledge my gratitude to Sensei Advincula for always sharing his years of research with us .You can t read it or have someone tell you how it works or feels. The Martial arts can only be experienced with hard work and sweat. We must use our creative minds to drive our bodies physically in an attempt to elevate our character.

Sensei Advincula has always encouraged me to study other systems in an attempt to better understand Isshin Ryu. _________ Sensei Norm Losier
There was of course much more. If you have any questions, additions, thoughts or want to know more, please contact Sensei Norm Losier, Box 2342, Hope, B.C. VOX 1LO - or call 1-604-869-2600 - or e-mail

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The Heavy Bag & Kata

by Sensei Philip Raymond of Cottage Grove, Oregon
Kata Combinations
Take the greatest gifts the masters gave us, kata, and pull the 3, 4 or 5 piece combinations ( i.e. block, kick, punch, elbow) starting with the 1 or 2 combinations from each of your kata - basic through advanced. I draw from 9 Isshinryu and 3 Hindiandi Gung Fu kata, giving me 18 combinations in my routine.

Assemble them in order of most basic kata to most advanced kata combinations. Perform 10 right and 10 left at a rate that is not for speed.

Concentrate on the power. Slow down to start with. Body mechanics are paramount. Technique must be as near to perfect as possible. Listen. The impact will tell you how well the technique has been applied.

When Done Properly
With the combinations properly chosen to use of forward, angled and multi-directional steps and stances. and the body's balance, alignment and distance executed precisely; the bag, during and after attack, will make it loud and clear by its movement how well the power of the technique was delivered.

If you try to push the bag with foot or hand the impact will sound and feel like mush. If you try to slap or snap at the bag the sound will sound maybe impressive but the feel won't be and the bag will hardly move.

It is the same with balance and footwork. The wrong spacing will create weak, inconsistent striking capability. To deep a stance and you can't move to the next part of the combination quickly enough. To shallow or high and the bag will hit you harder than you hit it.

The practice of when to throw the next kick or punch or when to move distancing will be honed to a fine edge. Too far and the result will be little or weak impact. To close and techniques will collapse into useless flailing without impact.

As with all else, as you learn you will develop the stamina, power and strength (with speed as a BI-product) to go on for 45-60 minute in a single workout. You will know the distance required moving into and out of range. You will know how to unload full force all of your chosen techniques upon a large target that is moving any of 8 or more directions at one time.

Now the power you have and know you can accurately deliver to multiple targets, in multiple combinations with superior agility, balance and speed.

The Bag
I recommend a heavy bag that is about half your body weight. If you are 120 pounds, a 60 pound bag. A 100 lbs. Bag is the maximum for most. The length should reach from your forehead to your shins.

Support: Either one garage door spring suspended from a strong roof cross member to a swivel hook that attaches to the four chains attached to the bag directly. Or, heavy duty springs, I have six on my 100 lbs. The bag must move and spin freely. Glancing blows will not impact this way. Impact must be seen for trajectory. A punch or kick that spins the bag is not centered.

It is best to allow at least a 10 square foot area for the bag to travel and you to move.

Vinyl is the best for cleaning and will also force any non-centered strikes to slide right off without any impact of note. Especially when good and sweaty.

On one wall a mirror that allows for you to view yourself from head to toe. This allows for visual correction of your technique.

Get a length of nylon tie down that you can secure to the ceiling and reaches down to the bottom of the bag. This enables you to lift the bag up to the ceiling with the bottom of the bag higher than the top of the bag. This keeps the filler in the bag from settling down into the base of the bag. Also it allows you to use the space in your training area for other things when the bag is not in use.

We thank Isshin-ryu Sensei Philip Raymond of Oregon for the preceding.  ___ Michael E. Odell

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Your Benefits of Drilling Kotekitai # 2
_____ Sensei Norman Losier of Hope B.C

Why do we drill? We drill to improve kime or focus in a safe environment. The benefits are numerous. Development of body mechanics (Kata), coordination of breath and movement (chinkuchi), toughening of limbs, hands, body (sanchin), and creating the much needed Hands on experience of actually making contact as opposed to pulling your punches (bunkai).

Let us begin by looking into our upper body basics and examine the open hand block or redirection in O UCHI O UCHI. A technique added to the upper body basics after Sensei A.J. Advincula discussed it with Master Shimabuku.

In most styles, Karate practitioners are taught to block over the lead leg to take advantage of the distancing between the attack and the defense. How much of a block or redirection needed to do the job depends on our body movement in relation to the block.

The blocking techniques should be learned and practiced before introducing any body movement. At the Hope Yama Dojo the standard for this block or redirection is one half the distance between the sternum and your shoulder at the height of your solar plexus. The blocking arms elbow (chudan uke) is usually one fist away from your floating rib. With the block at shoulder height (fist in line with top of shoulder) the length of your forearm is used fully while not being to close to the body. The Advincula theory of diminishing returns (more on this at a later time).

At the Hope Yama Dojo we teach the basics with the point or reference being the little finger of the closed fist on the hip bone (crest of Ilium). As Ippon Kumite is introduced that point of reference is moved to the body's centerline or Seisan Kamae. Seisan Kamae is lead leg hand forward, in a side block position, rear hand in line with the elbow and your center (solar plexus).

Kotekitai # 2

Left Seisan stance, left side block on a reverse punch
. Block is non preferred as you want to expose the center of your partners body. As you complete the left side block drive your right hand under his extended arm (Chinto style x block). This allows you to tegate barai his arm with your right hand, to your right side, as you fold your left blocking hand on your chest. After you have the arm to the right, your left hand is in a position to shuto, (shuto uchi shuto uchi ) from your chest down to his arm . This is done in a static position to a series of reverse punches from each practitioner. As you become proficient at this drill, you will notice that the redirection will make the block more effective.

This is a drill not a competition so work with your partner. Start slow and perform the movements as precisely as possible. As you get better you can speed up. Break the whole movement down into segments and practice getting better at let's say the redirection and side block. Once that is worked out add the reverse punch or the under the block grab. With the slow movements you will notice the development of tension in the Deltoid area, the Latissimus dorsi muscles and the upper back.

Drill # 1
From a left Seisan stance, we use the left open hand block from O UCHI O UCHI to redirect the attack to the right halfway between the sternum and the shoulder (blocking over the lead leg). As you complete the redirection step forward to a right Seisan stance and side block under your redirection (blocking over the lead leg). Draw your left hand back to your centerline in a Seiunchin type heart guard, leaving your right side block in position to check your opponents elbow (Seisan Kamae) and reverse punch.

This will teach you to counter punch without winding up by changing your point of reference from the hip to the solar plexus. Stepping forward and back on the same leg will help you develop the body mechanics and economy of motion necessary to develop power.

Drill # 2
Perform Kotekitai # 2 alone. Seisan stance, open hand redirection, step and side block, cross under side block, chop down with other hand. The chopping hand becomes the redirection, step and side block, cross under side block, chop down with other hand.

This will teach you how to perform on both sides of the body which I believe to be one of the principles taught in Naihanchi Kata.

Drill # 3
Face your partner and have him straight punch to the chudan area. Redirect the attack and side block over your lead leg (make sure your stances are both right foot forward). As you complete the side block reverse punch to your partner's chudan area. Your partner will block that counter with the pulling back motion taught in Seisan Kata.

We refer to this as " The punch and pull back drill." So in short, one person will straight punch and pull back to a side block position and the other person will redirect, side block and counter with a reverse punch.

This drill is derived from the bunkai taught by Sensei Advicula in the opening sequence of Seisan Kata. __________ Sensei Norm Losier

We thank Isshin ryu Sensei Norm Losier - Hope Yama Dojo, Hope B.C. for sharing his thoughts and experiences with us

If you have any questions, additions, thoughts or want to know more, please contact Sensei Norm Losier, Box 2342, Hope, B.C. VOX 1LO - or call 1-604-869-2600

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From Stance to Stance - 13 Point Stance Drill
__ Sensei Norman Losier of Hope B.C.

Chinto-Kusanku (reverse Cat stance)

Low block
Reverse punch
Palm up block
Horizontal elbow
Sanchin press
Open hand block
Mae geri

Seisan to Seiunchin
Seiunchin to Seisan
Seisan to Naihanchi
Naihanchi to Sanchin
Sanchin to Wansu
Wansu to Naihanchi
Naihanchi to Chinto - Kusanku

I have always believed movement is one of the most important aspects of the martial arts. Once a student has learned the blocking, punching and kicking basics of a system (kyhon), it is time to teach him how to move his body in conjunction with these techniques. This drill is one way to practice changing body position, by transitioning from stance to stance.

13 Point Stance Drill

1. Right seisan stance / low block over lead leg
2. Reverse punch
3. Use the reverse punch to redirect the attack and right side block as you drop into a Seiunchin stance by pivoting on your left foot.
4. Rise to a Seisan stance and reverse punch (note that 3 -4 can be used as a rise and fall drill with a partner)
5. Use the reverse punch to redirect the attack to a palm up block (from Naihanchi) as you turn your lead foot into Naihanchi stance.
6. Left horizontal eblow into right palm (from Naihanchi)
7. Drop your right open hand down to your right thigh as your left open palm faces your left shoulder.
8. Shuffle forward into Sanchin stance as both arms turn clockwise and Sanchin press.
9. Twist left 180 deg. into Wansu stance and left backfist in line with the lead leg
10. Right punch in line with backfist
11. wist right 225 deg. to Naihanchi stance and open hands up in high kamae ( Sunsu and the last break out in Seiunchin)
12. Twist right into a reverse Cat stance as you block with right (Kusanku open hand block) Chop to neck with left hand
13. Left Mae geri as you land in a left Seisan stance and start over on the left side.

We use this as a warn up at the Hope Yama Dojo. The upper body basics and kicks are used to get the body ready for a good class of Karate. We then do drills extracted from the kata - like this 13 point stance drill.

The 13 Point Stance Drill was created from notes taken while attending a Sensei Advincula seminar on stances and transitions. So thanks Sensei for your knowledge and instruction.

If you have any questions, additions, thoughts or want to know more, please contact Sensei Norm Losier, Box 2342, Hope, B.C. VOX 1LO - or call 1-604-869-2600 - or e-mail

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"Do not initiate first strike. But strike first" ___ Michael E.Odell ©