Please take a look at Articles on self-defense/conflict/violence for introductions to the references found in the bibliography page.

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Hey, NOTHING here is PERSONAL, get over it - Teach Me and I will Learn!

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


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.

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Patterns and Habits

Patterns, that which form the kata. Why patterns in lieu of just practicing combination which if you look closely are also smaller patterns of physical movement. Could it be that the ancients understood intuitively how the brain and human actions learned, retained and recalled specific actions without thought.

Looking at fundamentals of "habit or patterns" which both apply in this instance for the patterns tend to instill in humans those habits that become automatic, without though and are perceived as instinctive. The brain experts theorize that the part of the brain responsible for this is the "basal ganglia." A small nub of material located inside the brain near the top of the spinal column.

In laymens terms and from a total not a brain specialist/expert view all human habits and patterns everyone uses every single day of our lives comes from a neurological processes, i.e. "urges," in lieu of what most think are well-researched thoughts. The brain initially flares up in a variety of brain area's when we first encounter something but after a period of repetitive encounters and responses centralizes in the basal ganglia where the urges drive the actions.

Therefore my theory is that realizing that to achieve the kind of perceived instinctual actions in response to stimuli especially when the actual experience of combat is not available one must train the brain to respond and the best teaching method in lieu of actual experience, multiple experiences, is to train using patterns to achieve habits or urges that rise up faster than light speed when the basal ganglia receives signals already encoded, etc.

I can see why it is easier to develop a hand full of combinations for those patterns used repetitively in practice tend to come instinctually in a fight but the rub here is when someone wanders outside the patterns and habits of either attack or defense to freeze the brain while all the normal reasoning thoughts try to find an adequate answer.

It solidifies the understanding I have that learning the patterns and habits is necessary but once you achieve a certain level of proficiency you must change them dynamically to achieve a greater association that would either bypass the freeze or at least break it to survive the fight, combat or predatory attack. Now, the answer as to how that is done is a bit more involved and cannot be taught in a blog post.

Looking at the snapshot of the basal ganglia and its purpose in other area's you can see how it might be referred to as the "lizard brain."


Rick said...

Words mean things. For myself, I make the distinction between a blind reaction and an appropriate response. With a clear, calm mind, the latter is what I am trying to achieve in my training.

ademarco said...

Hello Sensei Charles
It has been some time since we last talked about the tsuki, I have been discussing some anatomy and karate with two fellow budo-ka. Durning the discussion I thought of you, and hoped this might interest you. We have been working on the Tsuki, from stand point of the interosseous membrane which connects the radius and ulna.I gave the inclosed reading to my anatomy students, and in it we noted the following finding by the researchers: "Regardless of the position of the forearm, the structure of the ulna seems like it's better suited for receiving/transmitting force". The catch is that it lines up most closely with the fifth metacarpal, which, as you know, is notoriously weak. The radius lines up with the 2nd and 3rd metacarpals, which are generally what we hit with, but the radius doesn't line up with the humerus as well as the ulna, and is wrapped over the ulna during pronation. I read an article that I'm trying to find again that demonstrated that the interosseous membrane worked to (among other things) transfer force from the distal radius to the proximal ulna. I'm wondering if this transfer is more effective when there is greater tension in the membrane. The point where the IOM has greatest tension is halfway between pronation and supination, which is the position for the tate tsuki (like the Isshinryu tsuk. If that's the case, it makes a strong argument for having the fist vertical during the "fukai" portion of the tsuki, regardless of the final rotation.
I have experimented (non scientifically) withe various fists, and have taught a fare about human and cat anatomy over the last 20 years.
A. The "traditional" fist with all fin gets curled and tightened with the thumb.
B. The fist with the forefinger uncurled and covered with the thumb.
C. The vertical fist with all fingers curled and covered by the thumb.
D. The vertical fist with all fingers curled but the thumb pressing down onto the second joint of the pointing finger.
E. The Shorinji Kenpo way of hitting with the ring and pinkie in the vertical position.
Action more the thought. If it didn't work then review and improve. Hitting the makiwara was just such a method.
I would like to give a brief review of how we have been taught the Three Phases of the Tsuki, not as gospel, but more for an understand of how our mind works about the punch. , I am going to try and give a summary of the "Three phases of a thrust or strike as taught by Flynn, Shihan. I have been taught that the phases are as follows. 1) Sesshoku-te defined as the point of contact with the target, during this phase the hand is tate. 2) Fukakku-te or to penetrate the target, the hand here would be in the 45 degree positon, halfway between tate and seiken tsuki postition. 3) Tomeru-te or the point of termination of the thrust/strike. In relationship to the discussion at "Hand" (note the pun Gahahaha) The forearm would be then rotating from its hiki-te (supination of the radius around ulna in anatomy terms). If you are still with me, then our theory, would argue that at be strongest at Sesshoku-te to Fukakku-te. In theory the halfway point between supine and prone hand postion. In practice both he and I tend to finish on the heavy bag at about 45 degrees, which I would say is closer to Fukaku-te. I am not sure if you would agree?? Now, Please note that Flynn, Shihan was very clear to me: "Tony, Please remember all this happens in a fraction of a second...not so much meant to be taken literally-absolutely physically...these are distinctions that cause us to think about maai, and our limb position in relation to the opponent." I hope I have done justice to his teaching....

ademarco said...

Part II from Tony DeMarco
To our group then, the Ulna seems like it's better suited for receiving/transmitting force. The best I can find is that the natural curvature of the ulnar diaphysis ( center of the bone shaft ) does translate almost 90% of the axial compression into the mediolateral bending movement (Torrance et al , Calcif Tissue Int 1994). However that was done in rat with the "arm" bent much like the hand in koken of Tensho kata. Should we question the hand in the tsuki postion postion does the same? I just don't know of the study, and medline was no help (^^). I agree 100% that during pronation the radius doesn't line up with the humerus as well. It has long been my point about the second knuckle and its postion "behind" the largest bone in the arm the humerus is NOT the reason we strike the seond knuckle, for the ulna is more centered on the trochlea of the humerus. Mark Hatmaker some years back wrote an short article in Black Belt Magazine that argued the second knuckle of the karate fist was not the best for punching, I have sence lost the reference, and I hated to think he was correct. I wish I now had that article. As to the reason why we supinate to pronate in performance of proper chudan tsuki. I would say that the tention in the interosseous membrane would be greatest mid way between Pronation and Supination. The question I would have is how different. That interosseous membrane is much more ridge in my hands then other connective tissue. I am wondering what the numbers in newtons look like from Pronation to Supination look like. That I am sure someone has measured (dont ya think?? Should that not be "fukai" portion of the tsuki??? I would say yes...So then why tomeri Te? Does that not weaken the tsuki?? Might the tormeri te be more part of impulse of the tsuki?? Shorten the time over which the force is applied??
We got on the topic because of ding doing knuckle pushups and playing with different arm angles and positions. In the past I've though that the tomeru te motion was to encourage penetration and that the additional torque was to attempt to recruit more muscles and to stabilize the punch as it enters the body. I've been playing with it on the heavy bag and striking post, and I'm not sure I actually complete the rotation when I hit something for real, instead of in the air. The intent to twist the punch is there, but I think I tend to hit just past vertical, and end up rotating about 3/4 of the way. That may just be a quirk of my particular punching, but it makes me think about how the whole thing works. All of this brought be back to your Isshin Ryu Tsuki….I hope you did not mind my wandering mind of an old budo-ka….
Tony DeMarco, DillonBeyer, and Richard Kimura

Charles James said...

Hi, Rick: Thanks!

Good Morning ADemarco, will read your comments and reply a bit later.

Thanks to both of you for your comments.

- Charles

Charles James said...

Hi, Tony:

First, for me this explanation is a bit more than is necessary to discover the optimal punch or fist for striking, impact or thrust punching. It seems to rely on a certain angle that hits and penetrates the target where by it would indicate that a more direct impact, strike or thrust was optimal for maximum damage.

Second, it must be understood that this system is not the best for combat tactics but is very good for the "school yard scuffle or sportive mind-set." What I mean to say is that focusing in such a narrow way is ok for discussion but loses its more holistic applications or a not seeing the forrest for the tree or in this case the branch of the tree.

Third, all this changes according to each unique waza in combat where the strategy to go in a more direct application loses power and damage ability but by angling the attack or counter attack to cause greater damage must be used.

Take this as an example. We often try to hit more directly where the fist or fore-knuckles actually hit in a flat manner to the target, i.e. lets say the floating ribs. The floating ribs like a lot of the body is designed by nature to take direct impacts well like a body armor where your fitness levels also increases the bodies armor protection. Now, take that same strike, punch or thrust and angle it downward into the floating ribs and the resistance drops dramatically causing a lot of damage causing loss of breathing, etc.

This is the true nature of the strike, punch or thrust action and then you have to decide how that works in each and every situation. Deep data diving into such extreme particulars is nice to discuss but in reality it misses the point - that being the most effective application of a waza to a specific target available during a chaotic mess we call fighting, not sport or not a makiwara or not a heavy bag but a moving, living, breathing, dangerous, hell bent on doing you damage ferocious predatory animal.

I tend to use the fist with the thumb on top Isshinryu hand when appropriate where sometimes it rotates slightly and naturally into a slightly tilted vertical fist on impact to the floating ribs in a downward direction getting past the natural body armor into a sensitive point that will cause the brain to drop into a loop leaving me opportunities - opportunities to leave or do more damage, etc. if required.

Don't get caught in over analysis for you miss the forest for the leaves.

ademarco said...

Thank you for your time and review. I will remember to live my the kiss principle. I do over think..and enjoy most days doing it. I have found like minded friends over the years. I understand that in the moment of combat that I do/and never will be able to process all the information. I just like trying to deliver the "smartest" bomb possibe as I get older...and hit the best sits possible....because I can not drop many big bombs with the oldmans body I now have....Thanks for your time and comments again.

ademarco said...

Might I add...My "winter years" I am taking budo and Anatomy...and most likely think way to much..but hoping I can still come up with one good tsuki when needed...I will not ask for a much more...I enjoy your work...