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I've stopped knives that were coming to disembowel me

I've clawed for my gun while bullets ripped past me

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The streets were my home, I hunted in the night and was hunted in turn


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The Mystery of Chinkuchi

Caveat: This article is mine and mine alone. I the author of this article assure you, the reader, that any of the opinions expressed here are my own and are a result of the way in which my meandering mind interprets a particular situation and/or concept. The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of other martial arts and/or conflict/violence professionals or authors of source materials. It should be quite obvious that the sources I used herein have not approved, endorsed, embraced, friended, liked, tweeted or authorized this article. (Everything I think and write is true, within the limits of my knowledge and understanding. Oh, and just because I wrote it and just because it sounds reasonable and just because it makes sense, does not mean it is true.) 

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.

What makes this term a mystery is the inability of most to even define it, even when in the dojo. When questions begin during a chinkuchi demonstration and/or testing the responses are inadequate, incomplete and incomprehensible to the layman. Oh, they are told that they will understand when they have reached a certain level in the system but, alas, when that time comes the black belt simply continues the same rhetoric they heard from their Sensei leaving it one of those “Mysterious” aspects of the Asian culture. 

Even the Okinawans tend to use terse and convoluted explanations emphasizing that the student must “feel it” with hands-on instruction from a qualified sensei on the dojo floor yet when it does happen and if any questions arise due to the students confusion they also tend to say, “You will understand once you develop chinkuchi.” 

Then there are the western “Masters of the Okinawan systems,” who profess through what I see as “tricks” that they have chinkuchi and that to perform these tests properly truly means you have it and can apply it but what is “IT?” Can you actually test “IT” and even if that testing is valid, is it actually available to you in the fight?

First, the fight, then there is the ingredient of training and practice that is an imperative to success in the fight that is more often forgotten or ignored that, in my minds eye, would validate or invalidate chinkuchi. To perform chinkuchi, even if you know what it is and have the ability to manifest it, in the safety of the dojo and without this ingredient necessary for reality that is the chaos of fighting and defending makes the ability to manifest chinkuchi null and void - like many aspects of martial systems involving self-defense in fighting situations. 

So, the questions that come to mind are:

1. Chinkuchi, what is it, really?

2. How does one manifest and develop chinkuchi provided they even get an explanation that makes sense?

3. How would you test for chinkuchi manifestation and development?

4. How would you know when you either manifest it or actually improve it through development?

5. Are the “TESTS,” valid and how do you know or how could you know especially with the lack of explanation and the distinctions between other manifested physical traits?

There are these questions and more that need clarification before one can assume they know and understand chinkuchi. So, first I would have to answer the above questions.

1. Chinkuchi, what is it, really?

Chinkuchi in its simplest translation means, “sinew, bone, muscle.” When you hear explanations you hear:

“Fundamentally they say, it is directly translates as muscle, sinew, bone and energy.” That doesn’t tell you much but it does leave a wide latitude for someone to provide a personal assumption and speculation according to their personal perceptions. Another add on answer is then, “Chinkuchi is the manifestation of courtesy, spirit and patience from a philosophical perspective and that physically it is about applying impact with destructive power. Then they would demonstrate by doing a technique, i.e.,“When his shuto reached approximately a 5-6 inch distance from his other hand, it accelerated at great speed, obviously hitting with much impact. He would say that, "Chinkuchi destruction power," then show a measurement of about 5-6 inches with his hands.”

Now, showing someone a technique that appears powerful to the eye and saying the movement of only about 5 o 6 inches does NOT actually explain the manifestation of chinkuchi because you would have to explain what it was about this demonstration that truly applied great destructive power to the target. I can explain it, if I can assume that the demonstration involved more than merely moving the hand 5 to 6 inches, i.e., if the body were also moving so that the bodies mass and movement contributed because just the movement of the hand and arm without that does NOT mean or apply power even with the body properly tensing, etc., provides true real and actual power.

Then the next explanation adds in “Short distance power, chinkuchi.” You cannot apply real stopping or destructive power in only a short distance if you again use the above hand demonstration because without the power from the mass of the body the power generated, physically and according to physics, is just not there. Even if you add in the “so called ki power or energy” that energy can only come from a source that actually, in the physical and physics driven reality of the world, generates power needs more than the mass of the arm and hand even if moving and even with makiwara conditioned hands to achieve true destructive power.

The next person then says, “Chinkuchi is a Okinawan dialect word and is made up from ‘chin’ or ‘muscle, sinew, ‘ku’ which means ‘bone’, and ‘chi’ which means controlled energy. The technique of controlling (chi) soft (muscle, sinew) and hard (bone) and body management. Sanchin kata is where chinkuchi is really emphasized.” 

Where is the explanation of how muscle, sinew, bone and energy make chinkuchi? No where do they explain things like structure and posture along with other principles when applied a certain way creates the type of power for chinkuchi, it is incomplete and many just assume when they see the demonstrations, i.e., are the tests or demonstrations a true and exact tool to measure the manifestation of chinkuchi as it has been explained so far or are they simply demonstrations of strength of the body?

Some additional explanations are then added by another source such as, “Tension or stability of the joints to create a firm stance, a powerful punch, or a strong block.” Here again, the explanation is kind of incomplete and leaves the student to make assumptions and guesses because in the chaos of a fight no one is going to have the time to create a firm stance. Then I would have to ask for an explanation of “what is a firm stance, now do you get to that stance, what defines firm, etc.?

How can a firm stance, once assumed, allow for a true forceful and powerful punch. Once you arrest the movement of your body mass to apply a punch you lose a great deal of that energy build by the movement of the body mass. This goes also for the block as well.

Then we get another addition to that explanation and translation of chinkuchi, i.e., “the joints of the body are momentarily locked for an instant and concentration is focused on the point of contact; the stance is made firm by locking the joints of the lower body – the ankles, the knees and the hips – and by gripping the floor with the feet.”

Ok, we are getting a bit closer to my minds eye. When I hear about locking the joints I think of sequential locking and sequential unlocking to generate power in conjunction with body mass movement, etc. I also understand about that one instance where all of the principles involved lock into that tight concentration of the body but movement is still required to translate all that generated power into a target. I can also see now how the sequential locking/unlocking of the lower body can help but in a fight and during the chaos often you are denied such structure and balance so requiring the ankles, knees, hips etc to achieve sequential locking and unlocking becomes impossible. In other words, this explanation is also left with as many more questions then there are answers so far provided by these terse incomplete responses.

Another example of how it is explained is, “a rapid free-flowing movement is suddenly checked for an instant, on striking or blocking, as power is transferred or absorbed. Then the tension is released immediately in order to prepare for the next movement.”

In this instance how does one visualize such a feat and if this one is true then how does the static and stationary testing done through the sanchin shime tests tell you that you have chinkuchi or not? If manifesting chinkuchi is actually about free-flowing movement suddenly checked in an instant then how does a static and stationary test even possible? In this instance there seems to be two directly opposite explanations of chinkuchi. 

Now, that one ingredient missing from all of this, the one necessary to even achieve some reality where applying chinkuchi, as explained by those who profess understanding and mastery is missing in all the explanations because this one ingredient when missing will in almost all cases result in the complete and utter loss of any chinkuchi ability in the fight when defense is critical. 

This is that one thing not taught even in the traditional/classical forms of martial arts that profess their system is a solid self-defense system. Without this one ingredient there is no possible way to fully understand let alone implement the use of chinkuchi for self-defense martial arts, i.e., adrenal flooding based reality training and practice.

Even my explanations as to what chinkuchi is and how it is manifested does not address adrenal flooding in the fight. That one aspect that is ignored or even unknown that can literally make or break our abilities to defend in an attack possible or even likely. 

Even if my view and distinctions toward a better explanation and understanding of the manifestation of chinkuchi is nothing if it is not properly trained and applied in combat, fighting and self-defense. 


I would amend the above article to include the newer principle of self-defense because that addresses the adrenal flood along with references to reality based no bull training and practice as can be perceived by review of the “Rocky Mountain Combat Applications Training.” http://www.rmcat.com

2. How does one manifest and develop chinkuchi provided they even get an explanation that makes sense?

Well, in my view and humble opinion there is an explanation but most are incomplete and convoluted leaving a lot more questions than answers. One, in my perspective, knowledge and understanding, is that one can manifest chinkuchi and the one I use is definitive and complete toward achieving chinkuchi in the fight for self-defense. 

3. How would you test for chinkuchi manifestation and development?

This is difficult and there are no actual tests you can perform, especially in a static stationary form, that will tell you one way or another if you have manifested, developed and enhanced your ability to manifest chinkuchi. If you will take my view of principles then the principles can be perceived and evaluated but in reality there is only one way to be “SURE” you have chinkuchi and that is in the fight with self-defense. In training, in practice and in a competitive way there is now sure way to see, feel or perceive chinkuchi manifestation. I would even go so far as to bet that those who believe and use the current methods to achieve and perceive manifestation of chinkuchi would actually find it, along with a lot of other martial techniques, gone the way of the doo doo bird when the adrenal flood hits along with the speed, surprise, fear of the hard, fast and close attack that often comes from behind or the sid where your OODA loop is overloaded due to the pummeling, crowding, loss of balance and structure where the OO bounce dominates while you try to achieve your chinkuchi to end the battle with one destructive blow of that short distance technique, yea, you go dude!

4. How would you know when you either manifest it or actually improve it through development?

Simply put, you don’t until you have to apply it as described above

5. Are the “TESTS,” valid and how do you know or how could you know especially with the lack of explanation and the distinctions between other manifested physical traits?

I would pose one challenge to answer this question, “Apply for and go through Peyton Quinn’s RMCAT program in the Rocky Mountains to see if you actually manifest chinkuchi in one of his programs toward reality based combat then you will know if you have it, can manifest it and therefore continue to develop it in your training and practice otherwise, not so much.


Side Note: In Okinawa sometimes chinkuchi is truncated for ease and brevity into a term, “Kunchi.” 

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