When you begin to feel like you are a tough guy, a warrior, a master of the martial arts or that you have lived a tough life, just take a moment and get some perspective with the following:
I've stopped knives that were coming to disembowel me
I've clawed for my gun while bullets ripped past me
I've dodged as someone tried to put an ax in my skull
I've fought screaming steel and left rubber on the road to avoid death
I've clawed broken glass out of my body after their opening attack failed
I've spit blood and body parts and broke strangle holds before gouging eyes
I've charged into fires, fought through blizzards and run from tornados
I've survived being hunted by gangs, killers and contract killers
The streets were my home, I hunted in the night and was hunted in turn
Please don't brag to me that you're a survivor because someone hit you. And don't tell me how 'tough' you are because of your training. As much as I've been through I know people who have survived much, much worse. - Marc MacYoung
WARNING, CAVEAT AND NOTE
The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books. Please make note that this article/post is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.
Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.
“What you are reading right now is a blog. It’s written and posted by me, because I want to. I get no financial remuneration for writing it. I don’t have to meet anyone’s criteria in order to post it. Not only I don’t have an employer or publisher, but I’m not even constrained by having to please an audience. If people won’t like it, they won’t read it, but I won’t lose anything by it. Provided I don’t break any laws (libel, incitement to violence, etc.), I can post whatever I want. This means that I can write openly and honestly, however controversial my opinions may be. It also means that I could write total bullshit; there is no quality control. I could be biased. I could be insane. I could be trolling. … not all sources are equivalent, and all sources have their pros and cons. These needs to be taken into account when evaluating information, and all information should be evaluated.” - God’s Bastard, Sourcing Sources (this applies to this and other blogs by me as well; if you follow the idea's, advice or information you are on your own, don't come crying to me, it is all on you do do the work to make sure it works for you!)
“You should prepare yourself to dedicate at least five or six years to your training and practice to understand the philosophy and physiokinetics of martial arts and karate so that you can understand the true spirit of everything and dedicate your mind, body and spirit to the discipline of the art.” - cejames (note: you are on your own, make sure you get expert hands-on guidance in all things martial and self-defense)
“All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed.” - Montaigne
Proper Fist Formation Debate
I was reading Marc MacYoungs book of Offense when he introduced me to the book by Jack Dempsey, "Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense." A side note, I was disappointed to find that the book is out of print and not available yet got lucky and found a copy in PDF format on the Internet, ohrah! [p.s.s. found out that the publisher is not happy about the pdf, copyright issues, so I deleted it and do not recommend you downloading the pdf version due to this either. Respect the publisher and author even if no longer with us.]
I am not sure Mr. MacYoung goes into details as to the fist form when he discusses power in offense but Jack Dempsey does talk about it along with the "Power Line." Mr. Dempsey was a great fighter who apparently knows as much about street fist fights as well as "boxing." His chapter on the power line which talks about the formation of the fist leads to a lot of self reflection regarding the Isshinryu fist formation.
Let me be clear, this post is not to refute anyone's system that may form the fist in a unique way for effectiveness but merely a discussion of a form that may be more effective or not depending on the system you study. After all, each system has its own unique set of techniques as applied by that particular system that involves differing tactics, strategies, form, function, structure, etc.
In the karate circles I am familiar with the striking surface taught is the two knuckles of the index finger and the finger next to it. Some systems prefer the single knuckle of that second finger adjacent to the index. Yet, Mr. Dempsey says it should be the finger adjacent to the pinky finger. He says you should aim with that knuckle and let the pinky and middle finger knuckles take care of themselves since they will naturally support the knuckle of focus.
He goes further as to placement of the thumb. He says to get it out of the way, etc. He was a puncher and he states that to fight well one must learn to punch well before all other techniques, etc. (paraphrasing).
If Mr. Dempsey is correct then the various fists and strikes of karate may be less defensive in a real fight than one expects considering the recent history of karate. This also puts some question into the makiwara training method or does makiwara change the rules allowing for this punch to be effective.
If you can find the pdf version on the Internet it might be enlightening and applicable to your training, practice, and instruction. Another interesting tidbit is Mr. Dempsey talks about the "sport-ification" of boxing much like we talk about sport-ification of karate/martial systems.
In addition I just received a theory that was posed at a seminar by a highly regarded person in their field in regards to the fist formation. It will be interesting to receive more details as to his theory but in a nutshell it would seem the Okinawan Masters of the early 1900's, maybe as a prelude to incorporation into school systems, changed the form and application of the karate fist so that it would be less capable of "hard hitting." Interesting and when coupled with the changes of the times toward school age children it may have been watered down like the kata and kumite to reduce injuries, etc. You could look at it as the precursor to the sporting aspects that came about in the fifties and sixties, maybe even earlier.
If the data as to his theory is correct it may actually help validate the Isshinryu vertical rising punch we use in our system. At least it was a dominant feature in the fifties, sixties, and seventies (when I was introduced to Isshinryu on Okinawa).
The redeeming factor, yet to be validated, is the highly regarded person seems to agree with Tatsuo, i.e. "We call it a rising punch. It also comes from the hip area and comes up to the solar plexus, etc. The thumb is on top, pinky finger at the bottom or what we call the "vertical fist" which is a ninety degree turn from the twist punch which starts with palm up, rotates to target so the palm is toward the ground, etc. We also were taught to use the two bones in alignment not only to give structure to the vertical punch but in blocks, deflecting, etc. the bones aligned with musculature gives more support and less injury." - cejames
This may actually be another way to look at this "supposedly innovative change" by Tatsuo Sensei as nothing more than reincorporating the original and effective punching of Okinawa Te into Isshinryu. If the ancients used it, it was changed to a less effective one for schools and sport, and it was reinvented for Isshinryu, maybe. A Theory but no real way to prove it one way or the other.