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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Chinkuchi - The Definitive Answer

In a recent e-post to Michael Clarke, and others, I was reminded that I seem to come back to this subject matter. It is because I am trying to put into words something that seemingly is only understood through a tactual training session. Hands on instruction that is both action and word seems to be the best yet when the words come they often don't measure up to match what is conveyed under tactual teaching methods. Mr. Clarke reminded me of this yet I still have the urge to attempt to put into words for those who have not experienced chinkuchi but mostly for those who wish to experience it so they may seek out someone who actually knows and has chinkuchi. 

I feel that both words and actions are the best teachers. You still need to know something of the subject so when you actually practice it you can make connections where often the words being inadequate and incomplete become more because of the physical experience. Much like the fight, you cannot begin to understand what it means to be on the receiving end of violence if you don't actually experience it to one level or another. Talking or reading about being hit is not adequate to the experience. Chinkuchi is similar to this experience.

I understand the remarks from Mr. Clarke and other martial art luminaries but in the end I cannot accept that there is no adequate explanation that truly conveys why chinkuchi is important to the practice and application of martial arts with specificity to Okinawa Ti or today's karate. I believe that words both spoken and written are what stimulates curiosity and later spurs the research necessary to learn. I also believe in the case of all teaching of physical disciplines that those words will assume greater meaning once the tactual/physical/action teachings are added. 

It is this pairing of word and deed that makes things whole and complete. A lack of adequate words to explain a concept in modern martial arts especially for westerners means they will often discount the concept similar to the current status of kata in the west where kata is ignored simply because of a lack of understanding as to the purpose of kata. This is also true of other aspects of traditional karate of Okinawa. 

Understanding the concept of chinkuchi means more who have not been exposed to it may seek out instruction so they can achieve true karate of Okinawa. Many of the older karate-ka of Okinawa believe that without chinkuchi you are not practicing true karate. It is much easier to believe in something if you can get a fundamental understanding as to what that concept is and means. In the west the spoken or written word usually leads to training and practice. Westerners and many other folks today tend to seek out answers before committing to actions. Good or bad, but true, and relevant to seeking out an explanation that gives the most understanding of this concept is important - I seek a solid, relevant and instructional way to convey the concept in words, spoken and written. 

So, I keep returning to this term and its conceptual meaning in words simply to provide the best words to inspire others to see it if they already have it and to seek out instruction to learn it if they do not have it. To seek out those who can see it and either explain it or teach it properly. So with this in mind, I provide the following as my latest attempt to put into words that which seems elusive.

Chinkuchi is the application of the fundamental principles of marital arts to the jutsu of karate whereby you achieve concentrated power at any given moment into a single point under any circumstance with maximum energy and maximum power.

Chinkuchi: Literally the term means, sinew, bone, and energy. This cannot be confirmed through sources other than documented conversations between American practitioners and Okinawan experts, i.e. Shimabuku Tatsuo, Shimabuku Cisco, etc. and leading Okinawan students of Tatsuo-san. Another source at the Shinjinbukan System web site states that "chinkuchi is that exact point in which a joint can resist a force in two opposite directions (pulling and pushing). This is a unique aspect of the body mechanics that facilitates  stability and leverage without wasting muscular force. This concept is unique to Ti, the ancient Okinawan Martial Art.

Chinkuchi can only be learned by allowing the teacher to touch and guide the movement of the student during the execution of a technique. Chinkuchi can not be learned by reading a book on the subject, because without the physical experience and muscle memory it is impossible to develop, embody and produce a chinkuchi quality. Chinkuchi could also be defined as a state-of-mind, because it requires that both mind and body remain in total balance. Nowadays, most Karate teachers who speak and write about chinkuchi do not understand it and are only able to produce stiff mechanical movements with no real-life applications. "

Although both explain it the explanation is too limited to truly convey the meaning and its significance to the practice of karate. Others add in such things as having the following elements:

1. Intention of Zanshin.
2. Perfection of Technique.
3. Fluid Movement.
4. Speed of Movement.
5. Power of Movement. 
6. Ki as an essential ingredient.
7. Proper tensing.
8. Proper breathing.
9. Accompanying of technique with mind-control.
10. Being loose until the moment of contact.
11. Allowing your ki to flow through the movement.
12. Exhalation makes the strike stronger.
13. Capability to stun your adversary.
14. Tighten abdominal muscles as you strike. 
15. Kiai.
16. Mind Control.
17. Focused strength and power.


These all provide some limited insight but fail to convey how the concept is applied to the individual to give them chinkuchi. As you can see and as I explain in the following this can be misleading or simply fails to provide an explanation that makes sense. This occurs due to the tendency to assume the person speaking or writing knows what they know and also the tendency to not question due to a belief we cannot look stupid by asking such questions. A few examples of the issues I have with the above elements. 

Intention of Zanshin: Impossible to understand because zanshin like chinkuchi is one of those terms that is hard to explain in words and the explanations vary as much as the quantity of techniques taught in martial arts.  

Ki is an essential ingredient: No one can fully and adequately explain what Ki really is and if it even truly exists. Ki is one of those terms that is used often to deflect honest questions for a variety of reasons including the sensei just doesn't know and understand what Ki is. 

Accompany technique with mind-control: This one is left to interpretation. No one actually explains mind control and not many if any address this in training and practice. It is one of those "assumption" topics. 

If you explain something with other inexplicable things you have not explained the original thing to begin with. This is deflection due to lack of knowledge. 

So, how do we explain chinkuchi. Let us begin with the definition given, i.e. sinew, bone and energy. These words merely provide a type of introduction similar to karate being empty hand. The simplicity of both open the door to depth and breadth of complexities and simplicities that make up the martial arts, i.e. in this case karate. It is merely a lead in to more.

When you take in the explanation of the shinjinbukan you get additional information, i.e. "body mechanics," "stability and leverage," "economy of motion," "muscular force," "muscle memory," "state-of-mind," and "tactual teaching methods." This too is only a means to introduce the concept to practitioners. 

A few examples of these concepts:

Body Mechanics: Actually there is no such thing but the concept that is used as the basis of this is actually the fundamentally principles of martial systems as provided by the author of the book, "The Book of Martial Power: The Universal Guide to the Combative Arts." Steven J. Pearlman. I use this book because it connects with the concept of chinkuchi as provided by concepts like body mechanics, muscle memory, and stability and leverage, etc. 

Economy of motion: speaks to the concept of the same as explained in the fundamental principles of martial systems. A comprehensive tome of what it takes to produce power though what you practice and train as karate-ka. The underlying foundation that makes it work at its most efficient and powerful. 

Tactual training methods: this speaks to the yang of the yin-yang of chinkuchi. The yin being what I am trying to do here while the yang is the need to learn by doing concept. It is the participation in the practice of karate to feel and sense the body as it achieves chinkuchi so that the mind can comprehend it as a whole achieving chinkuchi. 

The rules that require you to practice a certain way with certain concepts and certain beliefs lead you to chinkuchi. It is the whole of all the parts that make it work and along with tactual training one must understand and know what underlies chinkuchi, the fundamental principles of martial systems as achieved by basics, kata, kumite, makiwara, hojo-undo, kumite, etc. The principles are the yin and the practice of karate as described is the yang making a whole one. 

Chinkuchi, in part, can be how we manifest this whole one though the yin-yang of developing chinkuchi. Chinkuchi is also a concept that results in the maximization of energy and power transference from one body to another. Chinkuchi is how that happens. If you apply fundamental principles of marital arts to the jutsu of karate whereby you achieve concentrated power at any given moment into a single point under any circumstance with maximum energy and maximum power you have chinkuchi. 

Fundamental Principles of Martial Systems:

Universality, control, efficiency, lengthen our line, percentage principle, std of infinite measure, power paradox, ratio, simplicity, natural action, Michelangelo principle, reciprocity, opponents as illusions, reflexive action, training truth, imperception and deception.

Breathing, Posture, Triangle guard, Centerline, Primary Gate, Spinal Alignment, Axis, Minor Axis, Structure, Heaviness, Relaxation, Wave Energy, Convergence, Centeredness, Triangulation Point, The Dynamic Sphere, Body-Mind, Void, Centripetal Force, Centrifugal Force, Sequential Locking & Sequential Relaxation, Peripheral Vision, Tactile Sensitivity, Rooting.

Techniques vs. Technique, Equal Rights, Compliment, Kobo Ichi, Economical Motion, Active Movement, Positioning, Angling, Leading Control, Complex Forces, Indirect Pressure, Live Energy & Dead Energy, Torsion & Pinning, Speed, Timing, Rhythm, Balance, Reactive Control, Natural & Unnatural Motion, Weak Link, Non-Telegraphing, Extension and Penetration.

Mind, Mushin, Kime, Non-intention, Yin-Yang, Oneness, Zanshin & Being, Non-action, Character, The Empty Cup.

As can be seen these principles and the sub-concepts drive how we learn, practice and apply karate as well as other martial arts. As you look at the sub-concepts you will see those that relate directly to the concept of chinkuchi, i.e. the transference of energy and power, etc. When some attempt to explain chinkuchi the speak of some of these sub-concepts such as breathing, posture, alignments, efficiency, etc. and that is limiting the concept to the few sub-concepts in a few principles. 

Looking, reading and then practicing/learning of the principles builds the foundation of the system as a true traditional combative art, karate. When you see these principles you can then see how chinkuchi at is base meaning of sinew, bone and energy can be connected directly to all the principles. These principles build and connect one another into one wholehearted practice of a system. That system is fundamental to the concept, learning and teaching of chinkuchi. 

In addition to understand such terms as this you have to connect yourself to those who discovered chinkuchi in karate-do. You need to put yourself in their shoes for the time in which they lived and according to the culture, belief and practices of the peoples of Okinawa. By extension understanding the culture and beliefs of martial arts and the people who influenced the evolution of karate as well, i.e. the Chinese, the Japanese and other Asian societies of the times. 

Chinkuchi is still hard to convey in words both spoken and written. It still needs to be taught on the dojo floor where you can feel, see, and sense it within the body. This then connects the words into the concept and by that action of learning, practice and application solidifies it within each of us and it is then hoped that those practitioners can learn the words to explain and convey this concept. 

Chinkuchi is the application of the fundamental principles of marital arts to the jutsu of karate whereby you achieve concentrated power at any given moment into a single point under any circumstance with maximum energy and maximum power.

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