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Table of contents :
American Freestyle Karate In Perspective
Stance & Posture
Body Movement With Footwork
Footork By Range
Straight Rhythm - Broken Rhythm
Line & Angle Fighting
Body Movement Without Footwork
Techniques For Punching, Kicking & Blocking
Factors In Skilled Kicking
Offensive & Defensive Approaches
Range - Timing
Errors In Timing
Attack By Combination
Indirect Attack - Faking
Faking & Opponent Reactions
Change Up Techniques
Broken Rhythm - Broken Flow
Pulling Your Opponent Out Of Position
Foot Hooks & Sweeps
Leg Taps/Leg Sweeps
Attack By Trapping
Trapping An Over Block
Attack By Drawing
Hit As Your Opponent Changes
Hit As The Ranges Cross
Hold Your Position & Hit
Simultaneous Block & Hit
Block & Hit
Evade & Hit
Measuring Your Retreat
Defensive Footwork - The Connection Line
Positional Set Up
Sparring The Position
Conceptual Aids & Added Information
Appendix 1 - Interview With Dan Anderson
Appendix 2 - History of Karate Free-fighting
Appendix 3 - Irreverent History Of American Point Karate
Appendix 4 - Kudos
American Freestyle Karate: A Guide To Sparring 40th Anniversary Edition Revised & Expanded
Dan Anderson - 10th Dan
American Freestyle Karate: A Guide To Sparring 40th Anniversary Edition Revised & Expanded Dan Anderson - 10th Dan US National & World Free-Fighting Champion Joe Lewis Eternal Warrior Recipient © 2018 Dan Anderson/Dan Anderson Martial Arts Media (DAMA) All Rights Reserved - Compiled in the United States of America First Release December 2018
Contacting Dan Anderson Website: http://www.superdanonlinelibrary.com Email: [email protected] Postal Mail: P.O. Box 1463 • Gresham, Oregon 97030
Disclaimer Neither the author or publisher assumes any responsibility for the use or misuse of the information in this book. Information in this book is distributed “as is” without warranty. Nothing in this document constitutes a legal opinion nor should any of its contents be treated as such. Further, neither does the author or publisher have any control over or assume any responsibility for websites or external references in this book.
Dedication This book is dedicated to every white belt who has a hunger for knowledge and to every black belt who has made the personal decision to pay it forward. This one factor was the key point in being able to achieve everything I have since 1966. I had amazing mentors who matched my thirst for knowledge with their willingness to share. This book is for both sides of the coin - white belts and mentors alike.
1979 - Acknowledgements The creation of this book is due to the influence and support over the years of a great many people. To list everybody would require a full section of this book, so I am thanking in print some of the principles and the rest of you, we both know who you are. My instructors: Loren Christensen (l966~l967); Mike Engeln (19664969); Bruce Terrill (l966~l974); My teammates in the Wu Ying Mun black belt class during a crucial stage of my early development (l97l~l974); and Steve Armstrong, Don Williams, and Bob Barrow in the Pacific Northwest. Bill Wallace, Howard Jackson, Jeff Smith, Demetrius Havanis, Roy Kurban, John Natividad, Darnell Garcia, Bcnny Urquidez, Steve Sanders and the entire BKF crew, Al Dascasos, and Mike Anderson in my early national tournament days (l970~1975). I would like to acknowledge special thanks to Bill Wallace who, prior to the publication of this book, went over the basics of his special kicking method. corrected me where it was needed, and okayed this presentation in this book. My current top ten peer group: Keith Vitali, Bobby Tucker, Ray McCallum, Jimmy Tabares, Larry Kelley, John Longstreet, Harold Burrage, Mike Genova, George Chung, Karen Shepard, Belinda Davis, Tayari Casel. A special tip of the hat goes to Chip Wright of Medford, Oregon; Fred King and Tom Levak of Portland, Oregon; Steve Fisher of Los Angeles, California; Jack Farr of Enid, Oklahoma; Mike and Sheila Dillard and the entire Century crew of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for their special friendship at special times. Thanks go out to Dean Sutera and Larry Kennedy, my job supervisors, for their indulgence. About 90% of this book was written at work. To Kathy Weckel for expert typing and patience beyond the call of duty. She put up with my last-second changes, extreme impatience and mood changes better than any crack team of combat psychologists could have. Thanks to Ed lkuta for the photography of the text, to Mary and Maggie Townsley, for some of the action photos, the Unique Publications staff for their aid in preparation of this manual, and to Bill Rooklidge, my partner in the photos, Also, special thanks go out to Renardo Barden and Leslie Kerr for their initial interest and encouragement in this work and to Paul Maslak who got after me to finish it. Thanks to L. Ron Hubbard for his inadvertent aid and instruction.
2019 - Acknowledgements Oh boy, 40 years down the road, the list is way too long to name everybody in a single book but I‘ll name a few. Marie – my wife for the last 23 years who has put up with me through thick and thin. My family - Jenelle, Robert, Nicole, Jessica, Alexandria and Charlie. It‘s wonderful having a family who gives you total support. Mr. Allen Steen – He is the man and organization who promoted me to 10th Dan. Remy Presas – My first arnis (Filipino Martial Arts) teacher who took me from being a sport karate player to a full martial artist. Manong Ted Buot – My second Filipino Martial Arts teacher who opened my eyes to expansion in my stick work. Thomas Corsine – Tom has been my ―partner in crime‖ at the martial arts school for 20 years and has had my back that whole time Tim Gustavson – My number 1 competition student who has always brought back things for me to learn. What goes around comes around. Codi Strandberg and Ashley Stading – my ―second daughters‖ who helped out in the photos in this book. Their hips work like mine used to. Bill Shaw - For a suggestion that turned into gold. Everybody who has trained at Dan Anderson Karate School and Anderson Martial Arts. Every instructor gains more skills and knowledge when teaching others. I am no exception to that rule. Special friends in the martial arts, far too many to name, both here and across the globe.
Table Of Contents
Stance and Posture
Body Movement With Footwork
Footwork By Range
Straight Rhythm-Broken Rhythm
Line and Angle Fighting
The Connection Line
Body Movement Without Footwork
Techniques For Punching, Kicking & Blocking
Bill Wallace Method - Side Facing Kicks
Factors In Skilled Kicking
Offensive & Defensive Approaches
Errors In Timing
Attack By Combination
Attack By Trapping
Attack By Drawing
Hit As Your Opponent Changes
Hit As The Ranges Cross
Hold Your Position & Hit
Simultaneous Block & Hit
Block & Hit
Evade & Hit/Evade
Positional Set Up
Sparring The Position
Conceptual Aids & Added Information
Final Notes: My Personal Attitude Towards Karate
Appendix: Interview With Dan Anderson by Ron Goin
Appendix 2 - History of Karate Free-fighting
Appendix 3 - Irreverent History of American Point Karate 315 Appendix 4 - Kudos
1979 - American Freestyle Karate In Perspective I started karate in November I966 in Vancouver, Washington, under the instruction of Loren Christensen and Mike Engeln. The style of karate we practiced was Kong Su, a pre -unification Korean method that resembled Shotokan karate. At the time I began, Kong Su was being modified with some Wing Chun Gung Fu ideas by our organization‘s head instructor. I trained with Loren and Mike through brown belt level and then began direct instruction under Bruce Terrill, receiving my first-degree black belt in January, I970, and my second-degree black belt in January, 1973. It was then that I began my main drive in competition, and my competitive endeavors helped me to expand my own growth in karate. Within three years of my promotion to black belt, I was being rated in the Top Ten National competitors periodic ratings and have for the last three seasons (‘77 —‘78, ‗78—‘79, ‗79—‘80) been rated in the yearly top ten by the Karate Illustrated ratings system and also have been rated in the top ten by the STAR Ratings system by Inside Kung -Fu Magazine. My overall record shows 60 Grand Championships including several Western States titles, a Martial Arts Ratings Systems Grand Championship, a Mid -American Nationals Grand Championship, plus being the anchorman on the first-place team in the 1974 International Karate Championships. In the summer of 1974, I began to work on devising my own training methods for a group of private students, breaking away from the Wu Ying Mun style (the style Kong Su evolved into). Using my previously gained knowledge and continuing to compete on the national circuit, I picked up a healthy amount of input which helped me in devising my own method of instruction. In 1979, I and a black belt student of mine, Janesa Kruse, set up our first school, and later in mid-1980, we expanded our base of instruction into two schools. I was also promoted to third -degree black belt by the American Karate Association in May of that year. ―American Freestyle‖ is the name tag I give to my method of instruction in order to convey the idea of a non-oriental type of karate. Rather than the idea of a set style to be passed on from master to senior student, I liken my studio and method of karate to that of a boxing gym headed by a particular trainer (e.g. Muhammad Ali‘s camp headed by Angelo Dundee or Floyd Patterson‘s camp headed by Cus D‘Amato). Not exactly the traditional way karate is looked at, but then again, this is not a very traditional style. This concept in karate instruction and, 1 feel. any style of American Karate, owes tremendous debts to Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris. Joe Lewis and Mike Stone. In 1967, Bruce Lee came out in print and denounced non -progressive, traditional methods of Gung Fu and flatly advised any practitioner to experiment rather than blindly follow anything that was told to them. This, coming from an Oriental, especially one as skilled as Lee, was taken as a godsend by every martial artist who wanted to expand and experiment but did not because of peer group pressure. Slightly earlier or about the same time on the tournament circuit, Chuck Norris started revising his fighting style to aid his winning in tournaments. He began adding punching methods and moving combinations to the previously kicking-oriented Tang Soo Do training and became a much more rounded fighter. Joe Lewis expanded on training given him by Bruce Lee to revolutionize karate beyond the mechanical technique level to an operational approach level that helped karate‘s progression jump about ten years forward in a space of a few years. As early as 1963, Mike Stone introduced Western -based positive mental attitude training besides the physical training to replace Oriental attitude training to Americanize his style.
Overall, the Dan Anderson method of American Freestyle Karate acknowledges these martial artists and Muhammad Ali. from whose style and artistry I have borrowed liberally. 2019 - American Freestyle Karate In Perspective I certainly have changed my tune since the first perspective was written. It came about by starting a commercial school in 1985. Up until then I had a series of clubs devoted to one thing – me. When I started the school in 1985, I decided that this one was for the students themselves. I was done with competition. I had my fun. This school was for them. The first thing I had to do was to codify what I taught into a decent curriculum. What were the important things that a student needed to learn? What sequence should I teach the material in? Which pieces were more important? Which basics and basic concepts were needed to be taught first? That project has gone on for the last 33 years. American Freestyle Karate, as I have found out, is somewhat like a child you are trying to raise. As the child gets older (and me as well) attitudes change, importances change, and the style changes with them. I‘m sure this has driven my students crazy at times but there you go. I am not a person who will get stuck into a martial arts rut just because of tradition. Cars get better, go faster. Everything undergoes changes throughout its life. American Freestyle Karate does the same. So, it is a style. It is a system of teaching. Before I end off on this, let me define what a ―style‖ of karate is. It is an orientation point to wrap your wits around amidst the chaos of fighting. Fighting is crazy business. I call it ―two cats in a blender‖. It is wild, chaotic, fast, painful. How does one cope with it? Well, someone a long time ago figured how he would deal with that chaos and that became his ―style‖. He taught someone else who had a different opinion or body structure or intelligence or what have you. That person changed what he was taught and it became another style. And so on for hundreds of years. As long as there are more than two people on planet earth, there will be different styles of karate. American Freestyle Karate is one of them.
1979 - Forward (Original) This book is one I searched for as a 14 -year-old white belt back in 1966. My own instructor was teaching me the basics of karate, but I hungered for a book that could show me all sorts of ―fancy moves" and ―tricks‖ in sparring. The type of books on the market then and today are 1) beginning primers, 2) self - defense, 3) weapons primers, 4) style specialties, 5) other martial arts (Judo, Tai Chi Chuan), and 6) history books. There have been several books that cover certain techniques for sparring that have been written recently, but they fail to satisfy my original needs. Robert W. Smith, a fairly well known author on various Chinese martial arts, once wrote in a review of a martial arts book, “Give me the principles and I’ll devise my own tactics.” That is what I was looking for. Give me the idea and I‘ll see how it works for me and under what circumstances. That is what this book is all about. What is covered here is what is covered in my classes and, in fact, is an expanded version of a packet of printed reference material that I hand out to my students. So, go over the material and see what interests you and what directly relates to your own sparring. When you find something that does, study it until you have the idea or concept down pat. 2019 - Forward For The Revised/Expanded Edition The concept for the expansion and revision of this book came from none other than Herb Perez, the 1992 Olympic gold medalist in taekwondo. We were talking about this book at the Martial Arts Industry Association Super Show in 2018 and he brought up the possibility of me writing a comparison book, what I think now compared to how I thought then. I told him that I y way of thinking was pretty much the same as I did when I first wrote this book. When I got back home I began mulling over the idea. When the book first came out I was very happy with it. I had taken my best shot and came up with a very creditable book. There were things about it, however, that I was unhappy with. Several of them were the up and down layout of pictures as opposed to the usual side by side layout. Another thing was the size of the font. It was very small and hard to read. Only about 750 of the 1200 photos we shot were used and I had been very careful to illustrate every concept and action. Some of the captions were wrongly done but my biggest complaint was taking the section on timing and placing it way in the back of the book rather than where I had originally placed it – at the beginning of the offensive and defensive approach section. All in all, it was still a very good book. Seeing that this was before on -demand online printing, the company was taking a calculated risk in even printing it so, of course, they would cut costs (cut ―useless‖ or redundant pictures and making the font smaller, etc.) so that in the end they could still see a profit on it. As a former printer, I totally understand but I always thought I would like to correct it someday. Well, thanks to online printing, I can now correct it. I can even make it better.
This revised edition of the book is set up as follows: Everything that comes after the notation 1979 is in the first edition is included and in the order it was laid out. Anything that comes after the 2019 notation are additions to show where a concept has been expanded or clarified since then, explanations of concepts, etc. now which are better than when I first wrote them, fleshing out certain sections to make them more complete and in one or two occasions, to completely reverse my position on something. All of the photos for the 2019 revision/expansion points are of me taken at my age now. This will be interesting to see the curly haired lad juxtaposed with the older and bald man.
Lastly, many of the techniques illustrated in this book are now illegal in tournament competition. I don‘t care. The restrictions that have been placed on the competitor from 1980 to the present day have stifled the development of all -around free-sparring skills. I grew up in the golden age of karate development and I stick to that frame of mind. That being said, enjoy this revised and expanded edition of my first book, my pride and joy, American Freestyle Karate: A Guide To Sparring.
Mechanical Approach 1979 – Stance and Posture Front Stance The basic front stance is between an extended position and a natural stand. The front stance is similar to a boxer‘s foot position and is used for its mobility. Feet Position: One shoulder -width forward and back. The lead foot should be turned slightly inward so that in conjunction with the way you are facing, the little toe is in line with the inside of your heel. The rear foot is positioned so that the heel/toe alignment is facing straight toward your opponent as is your lead foot. The rear heel is up off the floor and both knees are bent. Imagine that the front knee is on the corner of a box that is exactly your shoulder width square. If your feet go off the corners. you fall off the box. Rather than standing straight up in this foot position, you should get the feel of ―sitting‖ in the stance. Your weight is evenly distributed on both feet with the rear heel up. Keep from leaning over the front foot, thereby putting more weight on the front foot. Your hips and shoulders should angle away from the direction of the rear foot, thereby placing your whole body at a 45 degree angle position to your opponent. Your head and neck face straight forward. Avoid two gross errors: Getting the feet one in front of the other in a line (thin or shallow stance). If your feet are aligned, your sideways balance is almost non -existent. Also avoid getting your feet too wide in a stance; you are asking to get kicked in the groin. Hand Position Bring your fists up to shoulder height and rest your elbows at the side of your ribs. Rest your rear fist on the same side breast but don‘t ―stick‖ it there tightly. Put your lead ﬁst in front of the same side breast at one ﬁst‗s width distance from the body. Point both ﬁsts at the opponent rather than at the ceiling. Keep the knuckles aimed at your opponent‘s nose. Remember to keep both elbows well bent. Do not let the lead arm drift out from the body like an antenna or let the rear arm lower its position. Your lead hand is always the same as the lead leg forward! The basic side stance is merely a sideways variation of the front middle stance. It is used for mobility but also has potential for implementing side facing kicks. 3
2019 - Hand Position I revised the positioning of the hands early in my teaching after this book came out because I found out that I could successfully parry and block with my hands at chest height but my students could not. Most likely it was because they couldn‘t see attacks coming at them as well as I could so their responses were. To handle this I began to have them hold their hands up as high as their faces and then hold them apart about a shoulder width. This would leave a nice big target for their partner to punch at but there is a method to my madness. Let me explain. My opinion: you cannot control your opponent. Can‘t be done. If you can, have him sign over the title to his car, the deed to his house and give you all of his pocket money while you‘re at it. If you can do that then you can control your opponent. Why fuss with fighting when you can get the car, the house and a few dollars in your pocket? The example sounds ridiculous but really clarifies the point. You cannot control your opponent. But you can lure or invite him. This is where the hands farther apart than what seems safe comes in. If you leave an open target, you will invite your opponent to hit you there. The fascinating thing is that in doing so, you will walk your opponent straight into your defense. You can look at it this way as well. There is much ado about covering up your opponent‘s targets. Well, what I have done in the past is when my opponent covered his targets, I simply found new targets to hit. If that is what I had done, you can bet that your opponent will do the same and find some way to work around your covering up. I‘d rather invite my opponent in and walk him into my blocks and parries. 1979 - Feet Position Your feet are a shoulder-width apart facing at a 90 degree angle from the direction your head is facing. The feet are parallel to each other with the rear heel raised. The knees are well bent. Your hips and torso should be totally sideways to your opponent with your head turned so that it is facing him. Looking at your stance in a mirror, you should only be able to see your lead shoulder. Angle of hip & shoulder Shoulder width
Front Stance Dimensions
Side Stance Dimensions
Horse Stance This stance is used as a change -of-pace stance shifting from a ―high riding‖ posture to a ―low sitting‖ one. It is also a great position to create the illusion of increased distance between you and your opponent. It as not as mobile as either the front stance or side stance. Feet Position Your feet are two shoulder -widths apart and as parallel as possible. Push your knees outward and create the impression of sitting. Your butt should be tucked under and your back straight. Your basic side stance hand position applies here also.
Alternative Hand Positions: There are two basic alternative hand positions I teach; they are basically ―guard‖ positions. They are the high guard and low guard, based on the positioning of the lead hand. Rather than being in an engarde/ready-to-hit position, these positions are shields covering certain areas. High Guard The lead biceps/upper arm area is resting against the ribs. The lead fist is resting about the distance of a fist and a half in front of the lead breast. The rear arm‗s biceps rests alongside the ribs and the hand covers the front of the groin. The angle of the body is facing to the side, but not quite fully sideways. A side stance or horse stance is the foot position. Low Guard The lead arm biceps rests against the lead side ribs and the hand covers the front of the groin. The rear biceps and elbow rests on the ribs just a few inches to the side of the solar plexus, and the lower arm (forearm, fist) is held vertical so that the fist is near the jawline. Again, a side -facing stance is most suitable for this guard. High Guard 5
As you can see, these guards place the arms in a position to shield any vital area from attack with a minimum of body movement. Their main drawback is that only certain types of attacks can come from these guards with a minimum of telegraphing; for example, it is going to be difficult to disguise a lead hand downward hammer fist from the low guard position, but a lead back fist from the same position comes quite naturally. The stances I have listed have many variations and a fair -sized book could be written just listing all the different stances people use. These are the ones that I find useful. The basic hands -up position is good for attack and is excellent for blocking. The guards are good for certain attacks and excellent for shielding your body if you are uncertain about your blocking or just have a preference for shielding. Low Guard
2019 - Positioning Principles - I wasn‘t thinking in these terms back in 1979 but certainly was much later in my career. One of the key principles of American Freestyle Karate is positioning. The entire book, Beyond Kick & Punch, is devoted to outlining the principles of AFK. The key principles of AFK are: Monitoring (attack recognition) Timing Distancing Positioning Balance Mobility Knowledge of Offensive & Defensive Approaches In the original edition, I referred to positioning as ―Stance‖. It goes much deeper than that so let‘s take a look at this particular principle. Positioning Positioning is how and where you stand in relation to your opponent. For me, correct positioning is: • your being positioned so that you are ready to attack or defend. I look at Positioning in several ways. First is offensive capability. Are you ready to launch whatever attack you want from the position you are in? If you like the back fist and side kick as your principal weapons of offense, can you launch them from right where you are without further preparation? If you are, then you are in position. If you have to do something in order to launch them, then you are out of position. It is the same with forward attacks. As an example, one of the best examples of being in position was point fighting champion Bill Wallace. Wallace was known for having only three kicks in his arsenal; the side kick, round kick, and hook kick, all off of his lead side. That was all. Everybody was amazed at his speed. His kicks were clocked at 60 miles per hour. Yes, he was fast, but even more important was that his positioning was superb. He was always ready to fire any one of those kicks. You never found him in any other position than facing sideways. It was the same with all -time great, Joe Lewis. 6
Other stellar fighters who always maintained position were Frank Smith, Tonny Tulleners and Chuck Norris. Japanese style fighters were known for paring their attacks down to front kick and straight punch. Smith‘s body was always forward and his limbs were always set to fire straight punch and front kick. His fists were pointed at his opponent and both of his legs were in exact position so that he could kick with either leg without hesitation. I found it was the same with Gosoku -ryu practitioner Tonny Tulleners. Chuck Norris often positioned himself in the same way. None of these players were out of position…ever! This is offensive positioning at its finest. The second way I look at positioning is defensive positioning. Are you set up so that you won‘t get hit? Are your hands down? Are your legs not ready to move? If you get hit often, then there is something about your defensive positioning that is faulty. Two examples of excellent defensive positioning were karate fighters Jeff Smith and Joe Lewis. Both players had great defenses and both were very different. Jeff carried his hands high so as to ward off kicks and punches. Joe, on the other hand, used his quick retreat to get out of the range of an opponent‘s attack. He was always set to move. Two very different approaches to defense, but they both had one thing in common – their position was set up so that they could execute their defense without a moment‘s hesitation, with no delay. There are three basic positions I teach in American Freestyle Karate and each has their purposes, advantages and disadvantages. The first is a hybrid boxing/Thai kickboxing stand up position. The body is front -facing with the feet being a shoulder width apart. Your hands are up roughly cheek height with your forearms vertical and aligned with your shoulders. This position is a good one for luring your opponent‘s strikes into your defense. It is also good for any kind of straight forward offense of your own. It is not well set up to deliver lateral attacks though. The second position is a hybrid side facing position in which you use your arms and stance to cover and hide your opponent‘s major target areas. In it I use my arms and elbows to cover my head, side of body and groin area. The disadvantage of this position is that it is a good one for American point karate competition but leaves your legs open to an attack.
Side Position 7
The third position is also a good one for competition and that is using my hands to obstruct the line of attack of my opponent. An example of this is at the last tournament I competed in, I spotted one of the team players from Japan warming up. I noted that a favored tactic was to lead off with the front hand to the face. In my first match I competed against one of them, I placed my lead hand forward in direct line with his lead hand creating an obstruction for his front punch. It worked like a charm. 1979 - Body Movement With Footwork Body movement is categorized into two parts: a) footwork and b) body movement excluding footwork. I will outline and give explanations for the various types of footwork and body movements used in American Freestyle Karate as their uses will be further explained in the Offensive / Defensive approach section of the book. Footwork is one of the most important mechanical aspects of karate. If you can‗t move with any degree of coordination, you won‘t hit your opponent or keep from being hit. It is that basic. Over the years, karate footwork has evolved from the early Frankenstein monster stiff -stepping to a combination of quick bursts, easy gliding and coordinated grace. We all owe a bit of thanks to Bruce Lee for telling us Americans that it is okay to be innovative in our own country (it sounds silly, but that is exactly what happened) and Muhammad Ali for appearing on the boxing scene when he did. There is not a top American karate fighter today who has not lifted at least one aspect of the Ali footwork repertoire. Footwork is broken down into three categories: 1) mobility, 2) entry and 3) retreat. Mobility This is used when you are setting up or feeling out your opponent. You are simply keeping a mobile base. At white belt level, a constant circular walk in one direction or the other is sufficient. As you become more coordinated, different types of bouncing and circling are added. You can cross step, simple front or side bounce. With the cross step and bounce, you want to set up an easy rhythm; a relaxed movement that does not tax you. You can remain relatively in one position or circle around your opponent as you move. The basic idea is to not ―sit‖ on your opponent. It is too easy to be sucker shot when you plant yourself in one position or sit dead on somebody. Also, your take -off action in your attack is going to be that much more telegraphed if you start from a standstill. Then, there is also inertia to consider. 2019 - Initial Move It really seems odd now but at the time I wrote this book, I did not include a definition for a term which is very important to understand – initial move. I had better define it here and now. Initial move is the coordinating of your entry footwork and attack so that they launch at the same time. Bruce Lee originally introduced this concept which he got from fencing. Stepping with the lead foot and hitting at the same time was the empty hand version of the fencer‘s stop -hit. Whether used offensively or defensively, using initial move will enable you to get your attack in without your opponent being to see it. Back to the original text…
1979 - Webster‘s New Collegiate Dictionary‘s definition of inertia is “a property of matter by which it remains at rest or in uniform motion in the same straight line unless acted upon by some external force." It applies to footwork when you want to change non-motion to motion or motion to non-motion. The external force in changing non -motion to motion is the leg muscles. Have you ever wondered why your initial move does not explode, especially from a standstill? It's because of the inertia (non -motion) that must be overcome (changed to motion). From a standstill, your leg muscles have to tense up and begin working into the leg action desired to bridge the gap. This initial starting is going to be slower than the final speed reached because the leg muscles are starting from a dead stop. A car does the same thing; builds up speed from a stop (―0 to 60 mph in 6 seconds" TV commercial. Why not 0 to 60 right now? Because of the weight of the car, the wheels are not turning, etc. Inertia). Inertia is very important to overcome. If you are moving, the leg muscles are already in action, so all you have to do is accelerate the muscle action at the time you desire to make the initial move explosive. You are accelerating moving weight instead of moving dead weight. Then, if your initial move is still sluggish, you can trace it to not enough commitment and poor timing. Now, on to mobility. Circular Walking: I start beginners on circular walking since they have been walking all their life. Here, you merely walk the periphery of your opponent‘s critical distance line. I prefer that you walk to your own ―front,‖ forward stepping rather than backward stepping, although you can walk backwards. When circle walking you want to keep your lead fist, shoulder, hip and head pointed at your opponent at all times. This way you will be in position for an adequate attack or defense. Walk normally with emphasis on keeping your knees bent and your head level but don‘t formalize this action so that it starts being unnatural. Also, don‘t try to sneak around, like a spy in the movies; just walk. The main thing to watch for is getting out of alignment with your opponent. Work on being able to go in one direction and then change to the opposite direction. Use the step of the rear leg to pivot off to twist and change direction with. Don‗t drift through the transition. That is a great place to get hit. A note on circular moving: Keep the idea of following your rear leg and use the lead foot as a pivotal point. You need not keep the lead foot stationary (actually, in most cases you should not), but keep it aligned with your opponent. On circling toward your front, do somewhat of a shuffle/skip motion, leading with your rear leg. Here you break out of the cross step bounce to do the circle to the inside, but go back into it when the circling is complete Do not extend on your sideways step with your rear leg since that will really open up your groin area. When circling to the rear, do not go out of alignment with your opponent and turn your back even slightly on him; you will be asking for trouble.
Step to your right
Step to your left
Begin rotation to your left
Follow up step
Stationary Bounce: This is just bouncing up and down. The idea here is to get the feel of constant movement, an easy rhythm that does not tax you. You want to flex at the knees and ankles, not just the ankles. In the beginning, if you bounce just off the ankles you will get a quick hop but not an easy bounce. At this stage you want to develop a flow of motion so that you can work on coordinating your actions easily. When you can do that, then we can get into breaking up the rhythm. First develop the flow of motion so that you are not doing a series of singular bounces, but one giant action consisting of bouncing. Make sure you bounce on the balls of your feet and not on the flats. A lunge comes especially easily from this movement. Forward - Back (bounce): My own nickname for this is the ―rope skip" as it approximates a step used in skipping rope and differentiates it from the stationary bounce. How do you do it? From your stance, step forward on your lead foot about six inches, set it down, bring your rear foot forward the same distance, set it down. Then, take the rear foot back six inches, set it down, and then the lead foot back the same, set it down. Forward—back, forward—back. That‘s it. Do the step until you get a continuous rhythmic feel for it and then do it with a bounce. The bounce is deceptively harder than the step but still fairly easy to learn. This type of motion is easy to use for creeping up on your opponent or to set up a false lead (broken rhythm). Do not cover much distance with each single step; this is not an entry method but a mobility step. Use it to creep and move but not for gap bridging. 10
Forward - back (Bounce)
Lead foot slides forward
Rear foot follows up
Lead foot withdraws
Rear foot slides back
To circle with this step, instead of bringing the rear foot forward, pull it slightly behind you so that with each bounce you will be rotating toward your rear using your lead foot as your axis point. For circling toward your front, instead of bringing your rear foot straight back to the original position (the beginning of the step back portion of the step), take it diagonally to your front. Then pull the lead foot back in alignment with your opponent. As you do this consecutively, you will circle toward your front. I know it is hard to work with photos, but when looking at the footwork photos, do it first in sets of twos; l-2, 3-4, 1 -2, 3 -4. Like Morse code rhythm; dot -dot, dash-dash. When that is coordinated, then 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4. After that, do it in sets of 5, 7, 10, and then continuously. First stepping and then bouncing. If you get frustrated, go over the ―Gradient Learning" section of this book and then go over the illustrations again. It will come with practice and patience. Cross Step (bounce): This is also a bounce pattern and is basically a side facing pattern. A cross step is a stationary bounce but scissoring the legs as you bounce. The trick here is to not cross your legs very far nor let them go outwards very far, but to make a short easy motion. An easy way to get the feel of how far to scissor your legs and then return them to an outward position is to draw a straight line and align it with you facing your opponent. On the scissor motion, both feet just cross over the line, on the return they again just cross over the line. There is a tendency to dramatize the action and scissor too much, setting yourself up as an easy target.
Cross step (Bounce)
After a while, you will get a feel for the correct distance. There is also a tendency to sit a split instant prior to the next bounce. Don‘t, unless you are breaking the rhythm on purpose. Otherwise, keep the movement continuous. Avoid springing up and down and don‘t let your head bob more than a few inches, otherwise you will be just ―trampolining‖ and that won‗t help your ability to move. To turn, let your rear leg (on the scissor action) cross behind farther than on the stationary cross step and use both legs to slightly turn to your rear so that you will face at an angle to your original direction. To move in a circle, do the same as turning but when you go outward from the scissor action, step out with your lead leg a bit farther than on the bounce so that with the further stepping of the rear leg (on the scissor action) and lead leg (coming out of the scissor action), both feet will he stepping toward your rear. Get the idea of following your rear leg and it will come easier. 2019 - Footwork Set Ups Prior to using entry footwork, there are a number of steps that I teach so that you can disguise your take off. The idea here is to use the set up to get you into position to launch your attack. Footwork set ups are used to disrupt your opponent‘s positional alignment. The premise you are operating under here is that your opponent is facing you in a position they feel confident in. Hardly anybody faces off against you in a weak position unless they are either naive or very experienced. Since they face you in a confident position, that is the position you want to dislodge them from. When they face you in a physical position of confidence and have their face turned towards you so that they can see you with both eyes (very important distinction) they will be on what I call the Connection Line. (Note: When you and your opponent are set up to attack each other, the line from you to him and vice versa is what I call the Connection Line.) The interesting thing about the Connection Line is that your opponent will almost always follow this line when attacking. 12
List of footwork set ups that I teach are: 1. 1-2 attack 2. 1-2-3 attack 3. 1-2 rear foot, attack 4. 1-2-3 rear foot, attack 5. Side switch step - attack 6. Side circle A key point is that you need to do these quickly. You can practice them slowly to get the rhythm and technique of them but as to execution, do them quickly. 1-2 Attack
1 Lead foot steps across and touches, not plants on the floor.
Spring back off of the lead foot and cross back. Change directions to forward right when you touch down.
The 1-2 Attack is a simple stepping across the Connection Line with your lead foot and then springing it back to its original position. Upon touching down you spring forward and attack.
Cross over and back with your lead foot three times.
Attack Touch down with your lead foot and step forwards to execute your lead hand strike.
1-2 rear foot, Attack
Cross over and back with your lead foot. Step with your rear foot and push forwards for your punch.
1-2-3 (rear foot steps back), Attack
Cross over and back three times with your lead foot. Step back with your rear foot.
Attack Land rear foot and step forwards with your lead foot push off to come forwards and strike.
Side Switch Step, Attack
Use your lead foot to push off to the side and then spring forward for your attack.
Pull your lead foot back to begin a shuffle sideways in a circle. Then change directions and attack.
Footwork Set Ups are meant for one thing - to disguise your forward entry. Going back to the subject of inertia, you will find that it is easier to move forward when you are already moving instead of from a stand still position. You are moving from one directional motion to another and that will take some training but you won‘t have inertial to overcome. There is another factor in play here as well. It is easier for someone to see you go from non -motion to motion than from motion to motion. This is a very well known fact to hunters. Hunters know that animals can spot the slightest motion and use that as a signal to run away. Therefore, a skill that is mastered in seasoned hunters is how to stand still for periods of time. This factor is the same in human beings. We can easily spot non -motion shifting to motion. When you use a footwork set up, you can disguise your forward motion and gain an advantage over your opponent.
1979 - Entry Entry is getting from point A, outside of range, to point B, where you can hit your opponent effectively. This is actually bridging the gap between you and your opponent. A lunge, slide up, skip, spin or run step would be used here. A lunge, skip and run -step must be explosive, like a bullet shot from a gun. You can regulate the timing of a slide up and spin on either full speed or less than full speed. Entry is the idea of ―you gotta get there.‖ Where? To your opponent. How? Here is how. The Lunge: From ―front stance‖, the foot position of the basic fighting stance, push off of the rear foot. As you do, extend the lead leg as far as you can, pointing the toes ahead of you. This extension step should cover at least one shoulder -length distance. As the lead foot sets down, use the tightening of the leg muscles so that the lead leg brakes the forward progress of the body. This way, you keep from falling over your lead leg. As you brake, the lead knee is behind the foot but in line with the shin and ankle. As your foot brakes the body action, your rear foot slides up to a stance position twice as fast as the lead leg extension. It is pulled by the forward motion of the rear knee. Moving the feet only about a shoulder length or so forward is a preparation to the lunge called the ―easy step" (2019 – now called the Slide Forward). When you feel comfortable with the easy step, increase the distance so that rather than being able to step across the distance, the rear leg has to propel the body across. This is a bit more difficult. The push -off pressure of the rear foot should be directed downward and back so that your body will be propelled forward only. A common mistake is to push your body upward rather than forward. The head and shoulders should move in a straight line and not bob up and down when lunging. Of paramount importance is the quickness of the takeoff. Quickness is the suddenness with which you take off rather than the miles per hour speed/ velocity you attain. The quickness of the lunge is likened to a bullet coming out of the chamber. When the gun is fired, the bullet does not straighten its back, see if its stance is okay, brace its back leg, etc. It goes —NOW! When you lunge, so do you. This is a move which requires lots of practice and time to master. When you lunge at your opponent, you need to have full commitment in your action and nothing less; otherwise it will greatly impede your chances of successfully bridging the gap. Also, refer to the section on ―Reach‖ in this book as a conceptual aid in lunging. Watch for common errors: (1) Rocking or resting your weight on the back leg before taking off. (2) Returning your rear foot too close to the lead foot. (3) Returning your rear foot to a shallow stance and being too sideways. (4) Dragging the rear leg stiffly back to a stance rather than lightly and quickly. (5) Not using the bend and flex of the knees to move.
Lunge Back Fist
Note the use of initial move in both punches. The fist and the lead foot move forward at exactly the same time.
Below are a couple pictures of where I’ve used the lunge punch and backfist in competition. The lower left picture left shows me scoring on Keith Vitali with a lunge punch. Keith was the number one fighter in the USA back in 1980. The lower right photo is me scoring with a back fist at the Funakoshi Karate Association World Championships in 2002, where I won my world title.
Lunge kick: On a lead leg lunge kick, pick up your lead leg a fraction of a second prior to the push off of the rear leg. Fire the kick as you are pushing off so that you minimize the time lag in the delivery of the kick. If throwing a side facing kick, make sure you are facing the side to begin with, as the additional body movement used in turning sideways from a front facing position will add to the time lag between the lungs kick. Watch out for three common errors: (1) Picking up the leg and then pushing off, (2) unnecessary over-cocking of the leg, (3) doing a simultaneous pickup and push -off and then kicking ( 2019 note: meaning hesitating to fire the kick after doing the push off). All three cause a delay or time lag in your action to lunge kick your opponent. This approach is especially speedy if you take off from a mobile base (moving fighting position) and also if your opponent lets you in his range. Something to keep in mind is that you want to go straight at your opponent. The lunge is easy to goof up by moving up rather than straight. A method of training for a correct lunge is what I call “Up and Under." Have your partner place his arm in front of you across your path at about forehead height. You bounce up once (to simulate a mobile base) and as you come down and land, push off on your rear foot forward and pass under the arm. If you go up at all, you will get smacked by your partner’s arm as you pass. If you go straight, you will pass underneath. This should give you the feel for pushing off correctly. Then do a two -bounce, three-bounce up to a constant movement. You can also do this with the lead lunge kick.
Lead leg picks up and rear leg pushes off at the same time.
The kick fires and you draw your rear foot forwards to maintain balance.
2019 - The Lunge round kick was a favorite of mine and it scored well for me in competition. Below are a couple of pictures of me using it in competition. Lower left is me and my first black belt, Bill Rookledge, exchanging lunge round kicks in a match. Lower right is a photo from a magazine where I am kicking Flem Evans, a top ten rated fighter, with the lunge kick.
Rear Leg Lunge Kick: This is an action which is more of a power drive action rather than an initial speed one. Here you use the pick -up and throwing forward of the rear leg to pull your body forward to cover distance. The rear leg lunge kick is the classic example of commitment in a kick. Use this type of kick for a follow-up action on an opponent who runs from you or is a leaner. However, it is not recommended against someone who is quick.
Skip: A skip is a light, quick action for kicking when right on the periphery of the critical distance line or just slightly inside. The object of this movement is that of displacing your lead foot with your rear foot so that you can kick with the lead foot. You are not trying to move a large body of mass (your body) across a distance, but merely displacing one foot with the other and keeping the body movement down to a minimum. From a side or front position, the foot action is the same. Your rear foot steps (not slides) up to the lead foot. As it sets to the floor, the lead foot picks up and kicks. The lead foot picks up as the rear foot sets down, not after it touches the floor and plants for balance. The feet pass each other in mid air, one going up, the other going down. If the skip kick is timed right, your kick should make contact as your other foot plants solidly on the floor. When done lightly, this is an extremely fast movement, but it is limited by range. When skip kicking and with any other footwork method of kicking, be sure to plant the support foot in whatever pivot position it needs to be in for the kick. If you set down and then have to do your pivot action for the kick, that causes a time lag between the decision to kick and finally hitting your target. 21
2019 Note - the photos for a slide -up kick were mistakenly inserted for depicting the skip kick in the original book. They did now show the feet switching in mid air, which is an essential aspect of the skip. With a skip kick, once in motion, both feet do not touch the ground at the same time. 1979 - Slide Up: This is a longer, more flowing motion than the lunge or skip. The basic action is nearly the same as the skip. (1) You take a short step with the lead foot, about nine inches forward and then (2) bring the rear foot directly beside the lead foot, heel up and on the ball of the foot and then (3) extend the lead leg forward and slightly outward into your stance. You extend outward with your lead foot so that you do not end up in a shallow stance. The timing of doing a hand attack is to begin as the lead leg extends into the final stance. A slide up kick is the same as a slide up punch, except at the end of (2) your foot plants flat on the floor and (3) your lead leg kicks and sets forward in a front stance. In the slide up motion, your head maintains an even position as you move across the floor. Your gap -bridging speed is not as fast as the lunge, but you have time to spot any counter attacks your opponent may throw while you move.
Slide Up Punch
Slide Up Side Kick
Note: On kicks where your body position is to be sideways when you kick (i.e., round kick, side kick, etc.) you use the initial step to position your body for the kick rather than wait until your leg is up and then shift. Footwork is used for setting your body up to deliver an attack, getting close enough and positioning your body. Then your attack hits. So do all of your preliminaries prior to the hit: body positioning, angles, pivots, the works.
Using your lead step to set you up for a side facing kick.
Slide Up Front Kick
The feeling you should have doing a slide up is one of an ocean wave moving up the shore, a steady, constant forward flow of motion, rather than the bullet out of the gun barrel explosion. This step is best used with combination attacks and fake setups. A note on footwork at this point. Do not put any weight on the moving foot during any footwork maneuver that involves sliding across the floor. Any weight on the moving foot will cause friction or unwanted drag and slow down the overall motion. 24
Run Step: As the skip is used primarily with your initial move being a kick, this is used primarily with a punch. This step was made popular by Chuck Norris back in the mid and late 1960s and later by Howard Jackson in the early l970s. The initial motion here is the lunge. But instead of ending it with a single lunge, you follow up with a full sprint at your opponent. This is the foot work most commonly used for a “blitz,” a rapid fire, forward attack on your opponent. The blitz will be covered more at length in the “Attack by Combination” section.
This particular approach needs full commitment if it is going to work, especially on the initial move. Coordinate this from a moving action so that you will telegraph it as little as possible. Get the idea that the first move has to score and the follow -up is merely a backup. Do not get into the lazy attitude of “Oh well, if my first move doesn’t get them, my follow -ups will.” That is a classic example of mental and physical laziness with a good dose of non -commitment thrown in. The first move makes the others work. Spin: Looking at it from a theoretical standpoint, doing a half or full turn to approach your opponent is downright risky, if not slightly suicidal, but you would be surprised how many people still get caught with an initial move spin back kick and even more so with a spin back fist or spin straight punch. Since I have nailed enough people on it, I will include it. A spin entry is used for a change up on your opponent and surprise. Spin on the lead foot pushing off on the ball of the rear foot, twisting as you push. Your head must lead the body. You will find that if you get the head cranked around, the body will naturally follow. Closely watch an ice skater doing a spin in a routine. His head always turns before the body. In fact, it turns, stops and waits for the body spin to catch up, turns again, stops, etc. This is the same idea as the spin kick or spin punch. The head goes first so that you will whip your body around. Otherwise, you are just turning, not spinning. A spin is much faster than a turn. When spinning, spin on the ball of the foot and not the entire foot. If you are doing a spin kick, drop the spinning foot to a flat -on-the-floor position and brake your spin when you hit the exact preparatory position for the kick you are doing. Your preparatory position for the back kick will obviously be different than for the side kick or round kick. If you are doing a spinning back fist or punch, you will find that the spin is usually enough to off -set your opponent since a spin will generally precede a kick. Continue the spin into either a side facing position (for back fist) or front position (for straight punch). If you continue into a straight punch attack. set the “up” leg forward and go into a run step or stationary stance, depending on whether your opponent is standing or moving away Do not use the spin very often, but become proficient with it. It comes in handy at times.
Spinning Back Fist
2019 - This is one of my favorite pictures of a spinning back fist. This is where I got hit with one in 1972 by Rich Mainenti at the Western States Karate Championships.
Spinning Back Kick
Spinning back kick
Spinning Side Kick
Spinning side kick
Spinning Round Kick
360 Degree Round Kick - 2019 note: This was a rare application when I first wrote this book. Now it is a common attack in Olympic Taekwondo competition.
2019 - Footwork by range Footwork, simply defined, is the use of the legs to a) offensively get from you to your opponent and b) steps you use as your defense against an opponent‘s attack. Regarding bridging the gap between you and your opponent, much ado has been made about Bruce Lee and Joe Lewis extolling the need for explosive entry footwork and although I don‘t disagree, there are some things that must be taken into account regarding this. Explosive footwork has been promoted as the only effective footwork or, at least, the most effective footwork. This is all nice and fine except for one fact - both martial artists who promoted this idea were young men who were in prime physical shape. Bruce Lee was roughly 5‘ 7‖ and weighed 135 lbs. He was a conditioning fanatic. Joe Lewis was a larger version of Lee. He was roughly 190 lbs. and in terrific condition. For guys like them, explosive take off was not a problem. I had trouble teaching explosive take off to many of my students because they were not of the same body type as I was – lean and wiry. This led me to research entry footwork that would work for everybody, what I call Footwork by Range. The offensive use of Footwork by Range is to be able to approach your opponent from any distance. Your opponent may be very good at setting and controlling the distance between him and you. Offensively, the aim for you is to not trapped into using only one kind of footwork step from one set distance. If your opponent denies you that specific distance, he has the advantage. With Footwork By Range, if your opponent doesn‘t allow you to set up at your preferred distance, so what. You‘ll be able to work from wherever they go. This will even mess them up more. Defensively you can use Footwork by Range to foil your opponent‘s main method of entry. Usually a person will find a range they are comfortable at and then try to launch all of their attacks from that degree of closeness. When you understand exactly what types of footwork are effective from the different ranges, then you can expect the type of footwork your opponent is trying to set up for. Then you can adjust and go to a range that isn‘t suitable for that footwork. In other words, you mess up their attack without even touching them. This is a list of the different types of offensive footwork you can use at the 4 different ranges of free-fighting. The objectives of learning these are to be able to recognize which range you are in at any given moment. This way you will be able to use the most appropriate method of footwork for that exact instant. 1. Out of range - ―Long‖ footwork: Double step, slide up-step through, multiple shuffle/slide up and so on. These steps aren‘t speed steps, but even -rhythm steps. Using a flow to move in from long range will enable you to change up or defend yourself when you come in, if necessary. Grasp that concept – using a flow of entry. This is the viable alternative to the explosive take off that was popularized by Bruce Lee and Joe Lewis. Depending on how much you have worked the muscles that govern sudden take offs and your body size, these two factors will determine your success using them. But not everybody can work an explosive entry. Your muscles may not be developed enough. You may be short and cannot get close enough to your opponent to make it work. There are a number of variables that might work against you. You can always apply a flowing entry. You can use these entry footwork types from the Critical Distance Line as well. 2. Critical Distance Line/Firing Line - ―Medium‖ footwork: Slide up, spin kick, step through, spin step, switch step. At this range you can either take off at full speed or measure your entry speed to set up a forward moving defense.
3. Inside Firing Line (originally called Effective Monitoring Range) – ―Close‖ footwork: Lunge kick or lunge punch, skip kick or skip in and punch. As you are inside the firing line, this is where you need to take off quickly. The one advantage to being this close is that the distance you have to cover is relatively short. 4. Leaning Touch Range - (Where you can lean forward and touch your partner): Upper body explosion. Inside Firing Line and Leaning Touch Range you take off at full speed as you are inside the Critical Distance Line so you are in potential danger. At this range it is difficult for your opponent to react quickly enough. These are good for when you sneak into range or if your opponent inadvertently crosses into your range of hitting. 1979 - Straight Rhythm - Broken Rhythm Most foot work techniques are done in a straight rhythm. You start coming at your opponent at usually one speed and don‘t stop until you get there. You can feel the beat or pulse of your movement. Skip: pop-pop, Slide up: swish-swish-swish-swish, 1, 2, 3, 4. Conceptualize this, your entry is the dash (4) in Morse Code. Skip (— ), slide up (————), lunge (—), your committed entry being the long dash. An uncommitted step or false lead is the Morse Code dot ( -). False lead -skip ( - ——), double false lead- lunge (-- —), false lead in mid slide up (— - —), and so on. What happens to your opponent if he is expecting only committed actions from you? Most karate players expect that when someone comes at them that they are going to totally commit themselves at that instant. You can drive a person literally crazy with an extended series of false leads interspersed with committed actions. Most people cannot handle it. “Either come at me, damn it, or don’t!“ If you get the idea of stuttering through a sentence and apply it to foot work, you‗ve got it. A stutterer is not faking it. He is really trying to say a sentence. Your broken rhythm steps should not look like fakes, just breaks at the last instant. Once coordinated, broken rhythm is incredible. Broken rhythm is usually used in conjunction with arm, leg and body fakes. Broken Rhythm—Mechanical Application You want to apply broken rhythm to your entry to either upset or work off of your opponent‗s natural reaction or determined response. Directionally, your opponent has three options to your moving forward: He moves forward, he holds still, he moves away. Here, you are going to be working off of the response pattern rather than his technique counter. Keep in mind this one note: If you catch him off guard, what he will do is his natural response. His natural response may be flinch, jump up, a hit or whatever. This is what you want to work off of because the more confused your opponent becomes, the more ―on automatic‖ he will get and the more on automatic he gets, the more he will do the same thing over again. Patterns will emerge that you will be able to work off of. (a) Forward Response: Your opponent comes at you to hit you as you move. The idea is to play the ―I dare you to cross over this line‖ game that most kids play There is a certain distance that you will have to cover in order to get your opponent to move at you, but in order to reach that distance you won‘t need the amount of commitment necessary to fully cross the range to hit him. You do a half lunge, barely touch over that line and spring backwards to your original position and something interesting will happen. Your opponent, moving forward to your moving forward, will be used to only doing about a half a lunge‘s worth of distance covering (as he is meeting you about half -way across the range). 30
When you spring backwards, his counter move will be out of range. The tricks here are to not plant yourself when doing the forward -back movement so that you can see two distinct, unconnected moves and to cover enough distance to make it look as if you a.re doing a fully committed action rather than just a half action. You can use this to either drive him into an extreme case of impatience so he will take off at you blindly so you can pick him off or to set him up into believing that you have got a case of hesitation during entry and then— bang—the real thing hits him. Just to be safe, this method is good to see just how your opponent will react and exactly what you want to use to set him up.
Broken rhythm against a forward response - Using an in-out step to draw my opponent into attacking.
(b) Hold His Position: This is where your opponent is going to plant and blast you on the way in. This type of response is when your opponent is going to react on your full commitment and generally has a decent eye for spotting commitment, so here is where we put it to use against him. Mechanically, what you are doing here is one -half of the action used against a forward response. You do a half lunge forward but you plant for a moment‘s hesitation, and then spring. What happens is that your opponent sees you coming, he begins his counter move (block, hit, etc.), it registers that you did not complete the commitment (your instant‘s pause), and he checks his counter move, you hit him during the check. Your half lunge has gotten you close enough so that you have very little distance to cover when you do close in and hit, but not so close that he can hit you on your move in. Here again the distance you cover is going to be crucial, close enough but not too close. (c) Evasion Response: This is the tough one. Your opponent here either is somewhat jumpy or is not about to be suckered. What you can do to this type of defensive response is to come forward in a series of short, staccato -like bursts, until he gets in a defensive flow of motion and then blitz him (a blitz is covered in the Attack by Combination section). The tricks here are, do not come in with a series of rhythmically connected (same speed) steps because a good defensive fighter will, while backing up, 31
match your forward rhythm and speed and then pop you one, and watch out for being set up by a fighter who will back up once, twice and then, bang, you get tagged as you move. Working against this particular type of response you have to be really alert. Is he jumpy or is he smart‗? Keep your eyes open. Once you get your broken rhythm down so that it feels comfortable, intersperse it with straight rhythmic attacks so that your opponent will not know what you are going to do.
Broken Rhythm against opponent holding a position - using what I call a “short step - long step” to draw out his response.
2019 - Broken Rhythm-Broken Flow Note: there will be more data regarding how your opponent reacts in the section on Indirect Attack where I go over ―Faking and Opponent Reactions.‖ 1979 - Line and Angle Fighting As long as we are going over foot work entry, let‗s look at footwork approaches to sparring. There are line fighting and angle fighting. a) Line Fighting is where you assume a straight forward and back approach to fighting your opponent. You move straight forward at him and straight away from him. b) Angle Fighting is using an angular directional step to approach your opponent. On the offensive, at times you will take a preparatory step in order to angle in to your opponent or you might angle step past your opponent, hitting him as you pass. In line and angle fighting, we are concerned with the entry and retreat aspects of foot work. You can either circle or stationary bounce or even stand still as far as preparation goes.
Most karate fighting is done in a line fighting approach; forward and back are the only directions that are used. While directness is a valuable asset to any fighter‘s approach, deceptiveness is just as valuable. This is where angle fighting comes into play. Angular stepping is especially useful when fighting an aggressive fighter who is stronger than you so that you can bypass meeting his strength head on. Also, you can use angular stepping to confuse your opponent prior to the actual attack. When you and your opponent are fighting, you are connected by a line between you, much as though you held a rope taut between you. When you circle, the line moves as you move. The idea behind angle stepping is to first establish the connecting line between you and your opponent and then move off the line or cross it when you attack. Since most people fight in a line fighting manner, the connection is usually established from the beginning. 2019 - Originally I used the concept of a Connection Line as only your orientation to your opponent, however, it is clearly a connection between you and your opponent, not just yourself to him. So, the connection singly from you to him (and vice versa) is called a Line of Attack. When both Lines of Attack are superimposed one on another, we now have a Connection Line.
1979 - Your opponent will face you in a certain posture and that will establish the connecting line. When you angle toward his backside or front, generally he will shift to reestablish the line to its original posture. As he shifts, you angle in to him or past him and hit. This is what I will mean by crossing the line. If your opponent is stationary, it is easiest to offset him by doing a preparatory step followed by an angle step to attack him or just to shoot a fast step past him and hit as you pass. If he is circling, you can angle in the direction of his circle and intercept him by shooting just slightly ahead of him. An interesting thing about the connecting line; it is much like an elastic band stretched tightly from you to your opponent. lt will extend to about a foot or so beyond your (or his) maximum range of extension. Beyond that, there is a feeling of disconnection, so keep that in mind if things are not going your way in sparring. Disconnect and then reconnect up again to start taking the initiative. If you want to drive an opponent crazy, disconnect every time he telegraphs an attack and then reconnect. After several of these, attack when he telegraphs. You will get him so he won‘t know if he‘s coming or going.
2019 - The Connection Line This is a more full description of the Connection Line. I add this here as what I put in the original book was a bit casual so its importance could be easily overlooked. When you square off with your opponent and are in good enough alignment to go after him, you are on what I call a Line of Attack. If your opponent is in the same position, he is on his Line of Attack. When you are squared off with your opponent and both of you are on your Lines of Attack, your Lines of Attack overlap. This overlap is what I call the Connection Line. You and your opponent are faced off in good alignment at each other. You are, in a sense, connected. When you attack, your body moves across the floor in a straight line. I have never seen anyone chase anybody down by circle. Yes, you might circle around your opponent before you attack, but when you attack you go in straight at your opponent. I am talking about moving your body from point A to B, not a circular type of hit, such as a round kick or ridge hand strike. This is moving the body across the floor. You move along your Line of Attack. Your opponent moves along his Line of Attack. As I said, when your Lines of Attack are aligned or overlapped, this creates a Connection Line. When you angle or side step as an offensive entry you will be getting out of position for his immediate counter. When used as a defensive maneuver, your opponent will either miss his attack (if he is committed) or will need to abort and realign himself to create a Line of Attack towards you. 1979 - Here are the basic approaches to angular stepping: Angle past and hit: This is one of the easiest methods of offensive angular attack as you shoot off of the connecting line just enough to get out of the line of his possible counter and still make it as compact an action as possible. The thing you want to watch out for is making the angle too wide and putting yourself out of range for your own attack. One very nice side effect of the angle past and hit approach is that it gives your attack a slightly different trajectory than if you were coming in on a straight line. Example: Slide up round kick to the head. If you take a line approach you will hit the side of the head. On an angular approach, your body will be in a different position in relation to a line step and the trajectory of your kick will take it to the back of his head. If your opponent has a habit pattern of just guarding the side of his head, he will get smacked with the kick.
Straight line approach to slide up round kick.
Angle past & hit
Utilize this idea with any technique you want and you will find a generality among karate players: They are most comfortable defending against an attack that travels along the connecting line. An attack that goes off the connecting line is out of sync with the blocking circuit (habit pattern) that they have set up for themselves: therefore, they have more problems handling that attack. You can set this up with a broken rhythm movement or do it direct. If your opponent is circling on you, you can angle step and intercept him.
My opponent moves to the side
My line to intercept 1
Angle step to intercept a circling opponent.
Step and angle in: This is used in conjunction with doing a constantly changing footwork pattern. Circle left three steps, shift stance, false step, circle right two steps, retreat one half step, step forward, circle, step off and angle in—hang! You attack! The idea here is to use this move with other patterns of movement so that when you decide to step and angle in it will blend in with your other movements and not be so telegraphed. To do it without preliminary footwork, you might as well send them a telegram letting them know of your arrival time. Basically, the idea here is to drive your opponent crazy with footwork and then hit him at an odd angle. Your preliminary step, if at all possible, should be some sort of a forward step so that when you spring on your opponent you won‘t have much ground to cover.
Step & angle in
Step & angle in with a side kick.
Step in and angle past: This is a combination of 1. and 2. If your opponent is keeping a tight watch on you as you set him up, throw a wrench into his works by angling past and hitting after the step. If he is keeping that tight a watch on you, then he is prepared for something that is coming at him, so do not come exactly at him.
This coverage here of line and angle fighting is just the offensive portion of it as it follows the entry portion of footwork. The defensive options will be outlined in the retreat section of Footwork and Evade and the Hit/ Evade section of ―Defensive Approaches.‖
Retreat The concept of retreat includes both retreating away from your opponent‘s attack and recovering from your own offensive move. Here we will concern ourselves mainly with the footwork aspect of retreat. The main actions are the half step, multiple skip, spin off and jump spin with the directions being straight, sideways and 45 degree angle. Half Step: This is primarily to set your opponent up for a counter. There will be fighters who will aim at you right where you are standing without regard to whether you are going to move or not. This is where the half step comes in. You retreat a half step back or at an angle and your opponent‘s attack will just fall short of its target. Then you counter. The idea here is to take as small a step as possible and still be safe. Make sure that you don‘t get any momentum going backward; brace your rear leg just as you set down after the half step so that you can push off and spring forward to counter. Get the concept of your step going backward but your intention to hit still going forward and it will come easily. You can also get the feel of it by doing a half step back and then a lunge forward. Whatever gets the idea across is fine.
Half step-pass: (2019 note: this was incorrectly titled ―half step-retreat‖ in the book) A half step can be applied angling forward, like ships passing in the night, or sideways like a matador letting a bull zoom right by. The actual length of the step will be dictated by necessity but if possible, try not to step so far away as to be out of range to counter. When you angle forward, you can hit as you pass or block.
Angle stepping forward using a Half step-pass.
Side stepping forward using a Half step-pass.
Multiple Skip: This is for getting away from your opponent quickly and with the minimum of effort. Move on the balls of your feet with your head not bobbing up at all and, most of all, be light on your feet. Make as little noise as possible when moving. When you make noise, you are hammering the floor with your feet. You want to zip across the floor, not stomp. No Frankenstein steps allowed. You will get caught and ―put to the torch.‖ Get the idea of a flat stone skipping across a lake‘s surface. Anywhere along in a skip, you can change directions on your opponent or stop and hit him as he comes in. The half step and multiple skip are easiest done in a line fashion, but are also effective done angularly. Spin Off: This foot movement is a side step of sorts and an excellent entry into circling or angular steps. Pivot on your lead foot toward your rear and twist your upper body at the same time. Push off your rear foot to give your pivot a quickness that you will need for evasive action. Then, as you pivot on the lead foot, bring your rear foot around behind you to complete the turn and half step back to complete the entire action. From here you can keep moving or hold your position and hit. This sudden change of direction is excellent for retreat as it will catch your opponent off guard. This is good against a strong forward charger and is an excellent change-of-direction recovery from your attack.
Jump Spin: Here is another theoretically unrealistic maneuver; however, I include it here because I have not only worked it myself but have had it worked on me. A tip of the hat goes to Rich Mainenti and Fred King for this one. Pushing off your lead foot, you turn toward your inside and pivot on your rear foot. During the turn, as you face directly opposite your original facing direction, take your (original) lead foot and spring in the air, still turning, and set it down behind you. As it sets down you pivot and set your rear leg behind you in a stance and you end up sitting in your original stance facing your original direction. Go over the example photos as it is hard to describe this maneuver only with words. This maneuver is good for surprise and distance. You want to get the feeling of jumping over a small log when you do this. A light and springy feeling is what you are after. lt is quite an odd sight to see your opponent spring away from a clash with you in this manner. I have seen more than one person interrupt an attack because they are shocked by this unorthodox retreat, a good reason to add it to your collection. With the distance covered by this maneuver, you can momentarily create enough space between you and your opponent to reorient yourself or seize the initiative. All that remains to be said is that your retreat must be speedy, regardless of whether your intention is to set your opponent up, give yourself room to think or just plain run. Scoot, and be quick about it!
2019 - Strategic Retreats I am going to present two strategies for retreating. Most retreating is done out of a non -confront of the attack. As you know, my entire concept behind defense is to be able to confront and handle the attack. One of my main lines of developing this system of teaching Karate, however, has been to take a natural response and turn it into a trained one. You see it especially in our blocking techniques where we use open hand sweeps instead of a hard, closed fist block as seen in other styles. Personally I don't like to teach retreating and would rather see you use blocking, angling, and the like to handle an attack. Unfortunately, when caught off guard or out of position, a person still tends to retreat. So instead of fighting that urge, I'll teach you three strategies for doing it causatively instead of reactively. I've broken retreating down into three styles to be used in mainly two different situations. Situation 1, Caught off guard, run for it. Full Retreat. This is a full speed, backwards multiple skip as covered in the first edition of American Freestyle Karate: A Guide To Sparring . I’ve used it a lot in competition and have found it to be quite workable. The idea here is to increase the distance between you and your opponent rapidly to get out of danger and then get yourself back in position and mentally on guard. Full Retreat = full speed, backwards skipping. Situation 2, Setting your opponent up for a counter attack. A Full Retreat -shift is good here because you can make your opponent chase you and then you turn it into an angle action on the next clash. Example: They go, you run. They go, you run. Now you've trained them to think you're going to run when they go at you. They go and you back off a few steps and then halt and hit them. You can use a Full Retreat to set them up to hit them as they cross the range in the same way. A third way to use a Full Retreat is to take off backwards fast and then stop after a couple of steps and then angle and hit them as they come in. All of these are very effective and require an ability to confront your opponent coming in. A Measured Retreat is using your simple bounce, multiple slide back, to keep the range the same as your opponent comes in at you. As they come in you adjust your position with a simple bounce so that if they take off, they'll be a slight bit out of range and over extended. This is also a great way to stay calm and keep your range if they are pumping you and breaking rhythm. One Step Back, lead foot or rear, is the third method of retreat. All you're doing here is stepping back so that your opponents first attack falls short or is over extended leaving them open for your counter attack. You can use this with a block or just the step alone.
Chip Wright executing a one step back in our match. 42
1979 - Body Movement Without Footwork Body movement without footwork includes a) Rotation and b) Inclination (turning and bending). These body movements are integrated into everything that you do in karate. Rotation This is the twisting of the hips and torso. You can either rotate toward your inside or your rear side. Rotations can be used for adding power to your hitting and blocking, positioning your body to shield against a blow, or repositioning a target away from your opponent‘s attack. Your rotation for a hitting action should be quick and sharp, while a defensive rotation should be quick and relaxed. an easy flowing motion. The following are examples of offensive rotations. For lead hand attacks you will rotate to your inside, and for rear hand attacks you will rotate to your rear side. Rotation and Rear Hand Punch: There are three separate but interlocking actions to this movement: 1)Rear Leg Push: The hip twist begins with the straightening of the rear leg. Get the feel of a track sprint runner going out of the starting block. The leg pushes the body forward, not upward, so remember to direct the tension of the rear leg down and back at an angle, not just straight down. 2) Twisting the Hips: The most common action of the rear leg pushing off is for the body to lurch forward as in walking, running, etc. Keep the position of the upper body the same as if somebody had his hand on your chest preventing you from going forward an inch. Then as you push off with the rear leg, this will allow you to twist your hips with maximum aid from the leg. As you do this, bend the lead knee slightly and rotate the rear heel outward so that it is aligned with the leg. 3) Shoulder Rotation and Punch: During the hip pivot, just as your hips almost square up your opponent (or the direction you are punching), begin the punch and rotate the shoulders so that you end up at an angle to your opponent. This is in direct opposition to classical karate form. Classical karate form dictates that your shoulders and hips never go beyond being straight on or squared with your opponent. There are several things wrong with this theory: 1) You lose a few inches of reach when you punch and 2) boxers have been doing this method of overturning their shoulders for years with excellent results.
Slight increase in
Definite leg action
Direction of rear leg press Horizontal body rotation
Maintenance of vertical body position 43
To keep from losing power or balance in this method of twisting, your body must not lean forward or backward or sideways at all. Picture your upper body encased in a greased pipe that is anchored to the wall so that you can do nothing but spin on an axis. Any leaning to the front or side and your balance is going to go so fast you won’t have time to recover against your opponent. The whole body and arm recovers back to the fighting position as speedily as possible. The snap back of the arm will naturally be quicker than the body twist. Practice the hip twist and punch so each move is separate from the rest but in order When you get the feel of what each part is supposed to do, then interweave the beginning and ending of each separate part so that right before the end of the first move the second move begins, and so on so that it ends up as one flowing motion. This is the basic idea for every rear hand blow, be it straight punch, round punch, angle hammer or whatever.
The rotation for the lead hand punch will vary for the type of punch you throw. The lead straight punch will require less rotation than the lead round punch. Lead Straight Punch: Rotate your shoulders toward your inside and punch with the lead hand and basically you have it. Since the lead fist is tucked in close to the body (one fist width from touching), you need not draw the hand back or twist the hip backward before firing the punch. Keep the elbow under the fist so that it does not flip out sideways and weaken the punch. Roll the shoulders slightly as you punch, but don’t end up facing completely sideways as the punch reaches full extension; keep some shoulder angle there. The lead punch is not a killer ‘blow but, like a boxer’s jab, it is a stinger and upsetter. A series of lead jabs thrown in a row tend to confuse the opponent and are good for setting up follow-up attacks.
Lead Round Punch: The rotation for this punch is fuller than the minimal shoulder roll for the lead straight punch. Rotate by pivoting hips and torso, moving off the balls of the feet. The legs should twist the hips and body around in a sharp motion away from facing your opponent straight on (or slightly angled) to facing your opponent sideways.
Using rotation with an attack after you block is an excellent way to generate a powerful single blow. There was a boxer in the championship days of Jack Johnson that Johnson himself refused to fight, Sam Langford. Sam Langford was a black middleweight who was known for incredibly powerful punching and was avoided by a lot of the top white heavyweight contenders at the time. When asked how he was able to hit so hard, he replied, “I’ve told you all before. It ain’t no secret. It’s all in the hips.” Classical karate players, boxers, and kick boxers will all tell you the same thing, from hooks to straight shots, it is all in the hips. 45
Inclination Inclination is merely bending, forward, sideways, backward or at an angle. This all comes from the waist. You can do this offensively and defensively. It mainly comes into American Karate through the influence of fencing, boxing and some methods of gung fu. Most classically oriented karate methods emphasize a straight up and down posture concerning the upper body. Offensive Inclination: Back in 1973-1974, there was a classmate of mine who, rather than use rotation to power his punches, snapped his upper body forward as he punched. He was powerfully built so I thought that he could get away without using rotation and still hit hard. Since I was used to rotation -based power it did strike me as odd that he could get as much zing out of his punches as he did. Recently (February 1980), I was listening to another martial artist who was telling me about the four principle revisions Bruce Lee made in the Wing Chun style of gung fu, one of them being shifting from a leg pivot/shoulder rotation method of punching to a snappy, forward body inclination during the punch. Exactly the same thing my classmate was doing unconsciously years before. After testing it out, I found that it was a good deal more powerful than it looked and faster than the rotation method. However, for me, the rotation is more powerful. The effectiveness of the offensive incline punch lies in its quickness. If you bend and hit, there is no jolt, but if you snap! forward and hit at the same time, you will deliver a shocker. Inclination punching utilizes both momentum and independent unit speed impact for its power. Use this with a short quick step rather than a long lunge motion. You want to incline not more than 45 degrees and use the body to aid your hitting, not to help you reach your opponent.
Eyes looking up and forward to keep equilibrium
Waist bend Waist Pivotal point
Upper body inclination with punch
Defensive Inclination: Defensive inclination is merely bending the body in whatever direction so as to avoid an attack. Bending forward you can duck, bob, weave and angle forward or sideways; you can slip or lean and you can lean to the rear. Utilization of these will come later in the book. Developing Power There are several ways of generating power in your hitting: Rotation/centrifugal force. This is employed in the hip twist method. Momentum. Throwing a body of mass forward so that the weight is added to the muscular power of the hitting unit as in lunge punching. lndependent Unit Speed Impact. This is using the maximum speed generated by an independent hitting agent (arm, leg) without using either rotation or momentum. Power Base/Muscular Strength. Anchoring your legs/feet to the floor so that your legs will take up the counter shock resistance of your strike. Rotation/Centrifugal Force We went over the mechanics of rotation earlier. Here is the explanation of how it works. Rotation is the wind up before the punch. Instead of rearing back like a baseball pitcher, the idea here is to fire off a quick twist of the body involving the legs, hips, torso and shoulders at the same instant to generate an explosive takeoff for the hitting agent (fist or foot). Almost all karate styles use this type of power development. Momentum Momentum is basically throwing your weight around. You throw your weight into your technique to induce follow up, making sure you get there and drive your technique through your opponent. Independent Unit Speed Impact This is the raw speed of the technique, how fast it is. It is a well -known law of physics that if you double the mass of any given object, you will double its impact, but if you double its velocity (speed) you will quadruple its impact. This is your basic snapping attack: backfist, round kick, straight punch at times. The Kenpo style here in the United States bases its power on speed impact. Watch a Kenpo player go through a form or partner drill and you will see what I mean.
You have to watch out for three points when using a speed impact type of strike: a) Snap back is as important as the snap out. Snap somebody with a towel but don’t snap the towel back. It will lose a lot of its zing. b) Follow through about four inches into the target. This is what is different about a powerful speed impact strike and a slapsy smack. You have to follow through. On two separate occasions I have knocked out my opponent with a defensive jumping up lead straight punch. No rotation, no momentum of my own and definitely no power base; just independent unit speed impact and follow through. c) Strike at exposed targets. This type of hit is the one that all of a sudden sets off the tuning fork in your head or sucks the wind right out of you. Sharpness and follow through. Do not punch to the body with a speed impact shot if that shot is going to be muffled by a heavy coat. You do not want to dig with this hit. Power Base/Muscular Strength Where momentum can be viewed as the irresistible force, the power base can be looked at as the immovable object. This is where your stance is so solid that when you hit your opponent with a blow, your body position will not give an inch. Example: If you hit your opponent‘s body with a punch and he is firmly rooted to the floor and does not move, something will give. If you are up on your toes or have bad balance, your position will give and you will be knocked backward. If your stance is firm, then either your wrist or his body will give. These are the four basic components of hitting power. Most commonly, three are used together. A stationary rear hand straight punch will use rotation, impact speed and power base; and a lunge rear hand punch will use rotation, momentum and impact speed. Any of the single components can be used together with the exception of momentum and power base. It is rather difficult to plant yourself solidly and move forward at the same time.
Techniques For Punching, Kicking and Blocking I am only going to give a bare bones description for most of the techniques in this section, outside of blocking, as the actual techniques will not differ much from what is shown in other schools or books. I will point out and explain where there are differences in the way I teach and the accepted norm. 2019 – It is interesting that the progression of karate has been such that what follows for the technical side of this is more the norm than the radical. Punching beginning from a guard instead of the waist, kicking from one position rather than three, open hand parries are all part of present time karate practice. 1979 - Punching Usually hand attacks are divided up into two categories: punching (i.e., forefist straight punch) and striking (i.e., backfist strike). To me, any attack with the hand is included under the term punching. It is simpler to categorize that way. Straight Punch: On a beginner’s first night, I show him the classical method of punching from the hip, centerline punch from the solar plexus and angular straight punch from the shoulder to illustrate the idea of a straight punch. It a) goes straight and b) can be thrown from anywhere. I prefer to use the thumb -up fist position as it is the natural position of the whole arm when hanging. The bones and muscles are aligned naturally and not twisted around. In doing the straight punch, your fist should go straight from the point of origin (hip, shoulder, stance, etc.) to the point of destination (target) with no deviation along its route. Regardless of origin point, the elbow should be under the fist and not get angled out and away from the body. In fact, the arm should follow the fist. Get the idea of the fist having to travel through a tube or pipe (much like a piston in an engine sliding in a cylinder) and you will get the idea of straightness of the travel route. The punch should pump in and out, fast and straight. I cannot over-emphasize the idea of going straight with your punch. You will lose a lot of power if you door knock, work it off of the elbow. I also emphasize when sparring to punch from the stance; do not cock it back or crank it up before firing. Either have it already in the position you want to punch from or punch from where it already is.
Straight punch from the hip, from the centerline, and from the guard position.
A beginner’s mistake - “door knocking”, the downward delivery of the fist during a punch.
Lunge Punch: This is the great initial attack and excellent coordination exercise. The trick here is to start the lead foot and the punch at the same time so that you complete the punch and hit your opponent at the fullest rear leg extension in mid -flight. Here is where your momentum is the best. When doing a single lunge punch, your punching hand will snap back to the basic guard before the whole movement of the lunge has finished. When throwing two punches per lunge, the second punch will land approximately as your lead foot brakes you to a halt. The main thing to remember is to land the initial punch in mid -flight rather than as you brake. You lose all the momentum if you punch late. Also, your hip twist will not be as strong in this but you make up for it with the momentum. A good exercise for synchronizing the lead foot and punch is to assume the basic fighting stance but put about 75 percent of your weight on the lead foot. Without shifting your weight backward, quickly raise the lead foot, pointing the toes forward, and punch at the same time, but do not push off the rear foot. With all that weight on the lead foot, gravity should pull you forward a bit. Done correctly, you should feel as if a cord has been tied around your wrist and ankle both and jerked forward at the same distance. After you do this enough times to get the feeling of the punching arm and lead leg moving at the same instant, then graduate to the easy step, and then lunge.
Lunge punch - both the attacking hand and the stepping foot take off at the same time.
Backfist: As the straight punch is your basic thrusting hand technique, the backfist is your basic snapping technique. You are hitting with the back of the knuckles, snapping the lower arm and using the elbow like a door hinge. The elbow remains stationary as the lower arm fires out and back. This snapping technique relies on speed impact and not driving penetration so it is best to direct it at immediately open targets such as the face, temple, jaw, etc. This shot is to be delivered and returned as fast as possible. To get the feel of the technique, aim your elbow slightly past your target, bringing the fist to your opposite shoulder and then snap it out and back to the same position. When you have the feel for it, shoot it from the basic fighting position or either of the high or low guard positions. You usually use the inclination method of body motion to add power to the strike and can use rotation for a “baseball bat" power shot or for a spin backfist.
Lunge back fist
Round Punch/Hook: There are two methods of hook punching; one predominantly uses the arm while the other uses the body to direct the arm. The extended hook is usually thrown as a ridge hand at arm extension range and the traditional boxers’ hook is thrown at close in range, using the body to throw it. Ridge Hand/Extended Hook: The ridge hand is thrown by whipping the arm around and hitting with the index knuckle on the inside of the thumb. You have to watch out when throwing this that you do not: a) hit anything solid like the skull, b) keep the thumb tucked far enough under so that you do not injure it, and c) do not drop your hand down and throw it, extend it sideways. The ridge hand attack is good for softer areas such as the throat, temple, and jaw. To make it stronger, just ball up your fist and hit with your two front knuckles (this requires a little more bend of the elbow). When you hit with the ridge hand be sure that you keep your elbow at least slightly bent and bounce the hitting agent off the target to get a jolt rather than a dull thud impact.
Boxer’s Hook: This is an excellent close -in punch when done correctly. You want to bring your arm around in a tight bend while rotating in the direction of the punch. The sharper the rotation, the more powerful the punch. Often you drop a slight bit by bending the knees and use an upward push off your legs added to the rotation to increase the power of the hook. The hook does not necessarily have to come straight across, parallel to the floor. It can come in at all angles, including straight up (upper cut) or straight down (overhand hook). That is one of the things that makes it good for in-fighting.
Using a hook punch in competition.
Angle Hammer: I include this technique as it is one of the most powerful of the hand techniques. Why it is not more in use in competition is a real mystery to me. You get all of the benefits of rotation based power, the whip of the hook and fairly compact delivery, plus a good amount of power to boot. From the basic fighting position, let your fist go out from your body while keeping your elbow still close to the ribs. Rotate your body in the direction of your punch and let the fist whip around in a semicircular arc inward. Do this with maximum whip and rotation and hit a bag with it. It is awkward at first but when you coordinate it, you get a tremendous amount of power out of it. This is a good shot to the side of the head or body and is an excellent substitute for a straight punch if you injure your fist. I used this punch when I broke a bone in the back of my right hand in 1972 and it worked out quite well.
You won’t see a shot like this in tournaments these days - an angle hammer to the middle of the back.
Kicking Kicking is one of the greatest assets of a karate player. With skill in kicking you can injure an opponent or keep him at a distance. The strength of the legs is a good bit stronger than the arms so the potential power is greater in kicking than punching. Potential is the key word here. Kicking has to be developed to a great degree to be of any use in fighting. Since the arms are far more coordinated than the legs at the beginning stage, you have to give 110 percent of yourself to get anything out of kicking. To become an adequate kicker will take much more training than to be an adequate puncher. Keep that in mind when you feel discouraged with your kicks. They can be great! You just have to keep plugging away. Front Kick: This kick is the easiest to learn but one of the hardest to master. Rear Leg: (l) Bring your knee up in front of you, belt high, and foot beside your knee. Your ankle should be bent and toes bent back. (2) Leaving your knee and thigh in that position, use the knee as a door hinge and snap the lower leg out and back to the initial foot-to-knee position. Bend the ankle forward as you snap the foot out so that your leg is basically straight from thigh to the ball of the foot when you strike. Do not lock out the knee joint! Snap the kick back about an inch prior to lock position. Locking the knee joint can damage the joint, so do not lock the kick. The snap back to the knee should be twice as fast as the kick out. (3) Return to the initial stance position. When snapping the kick back and returning to position, the foot should travel by the knee as it did when kicking out. Do not drop the foot straight to the floor. Keep the standing knee bent and foot flat on the floor. You may pivot the standing foot outward slightly as you begin the kick so that your hips will be aligned as you kick. Do not use your body or arms in a jerking fashion to help the leg up and out. Just pivot and use the leg to kick.
When you kick with the rear leg and set down forward, shift the rear hand forward as you kick, remembering that the lead hand and leg are the same at all times. Make sure that you do not overdo the forward momentum or you will fall forward into the stance.
Lead Leg Front Kick: Lower the heel and rest your weight on your back leg and do steps (1), (2) and (3) of the rear leg kick. Maintain your balance so that you do not fall back to the floor, but rather set the foot down when you want. This is done by placing your hips directly over your supporting foot. Angle Kick: This is a variation of the front kick. It is used to attack at an off angle but not commit you to as big a turn as in the round kick. When you do the kick itself, you do your basic front kick but the lower leg is out away from your support leg about six inches to a foot. This way your kick comes in slightly angled. If you picture your opponent standing totally sideways to you and you want to front kick him in the stomach you will get the basic idea. This is an excellent kick to set up for follow -up punches. It is predominantly a rear leg kick, but is a good lead leg lunge kick to the groin also.
Lead leg front kick.
Side Facing Kicks: There are two methods of side facing kicks that I teach to beginners to get the feel of the kicking actions: the orthodox round kick and the side thrust kick. Later on, when coordination is of a higher order, the Bill Wallace method is introduced. The Wallace method is firing the three basic side facing kicks: round kick, side kick and hook kick, from the same cocking position. The ability to interchange the orthodox and Wallace methods will lead to increased skill in kicking and unpredictability in your own movements.
Orthodox Method Round Kick: The round kick is the backfist of kicking. You aim your knee slightly past your target and then hold the knee stationary as your lower leg snaps out and back. Prior to kicking, the foot and knee are the same height, parallel to the floor. It is a front kick that is turned on its side. The striking surface is the instep if you kick to the side of your opponent, and the ball of the foot if you kick to the front. It all depends on the angle of entry. The round kick is a speed impact blow so the snap out and back must be very fast.
2019 - Rear leg round kick: I pictured the rear leg kick but never described it in the first book. The leg action is the same but you will need to pivot your standing leg so that your rear knee and hip can turn to fire the kick. Pivoting on the ball of your standing foot is absolutely vital for this kick to be thrown without damage to your support leg.
1979 - Side Thrust Kick: This type of kick is a thrust kick. Basically it is a foot version of the straight punch. Snap kicks work off the knee and are foot versions of the backfist. When doing a thrust kick, keep your attention on the hitting agent, the foot, throughout the kick. Aim it at the target and make sure it travels in a straight line toward its target. From a side facing position, and with the support leg in full pivot away from the direction of the kick, keep the knee down and begin raising the foot up sideways until it bypasses the knee. When it passes the knee, begin raising the knee and thigh up until it is at least parallel to the floor, with the foot slightly higher. Your foot should be in line with your lead hip and your target, the knee and thigh tucked hack toward your upper body. Use the thigh muscles and direct the heel/edge of the foot (blade) straight at your target. Return the kick by pulling back with the knee and thigh. In the side thrust kick, I cannot over emphasize the importance of using the thigh to propel the kick. It makes the difference between night and day with the kick. The side thrust kick is a direct power blow. The tendency sometimes is to shove with this kick. Unless you do not wish to hurt your opponent or merely push them away, hit them with a jolt. When hitting the bag with a side thrust kick, make the bag jump, not fly backward. If it flies, you are probably pushing.
2019 - I am not a big fan of the rear leg side kick as it is a hugely telegraphed attack. When throwing it, ensure that you rotate your hips even more than you do than on the round kick. This is best used when your opponent is a fair distance from you.
Rear leg side kick
1979 - With rear leg kicks, get the idea of turn and kick and basically you will have it. Do your prior positioning and cocking with minimum motion; especially do not use your arms to help throw the kick. You need them for hitting and blocking. Back Kick: The back kick is not a side facing kick, but the mechanics of it and the side thrust kick are almost identical, so I include it right after the side kick explanation. Look over the same shoulder as the kicking leg. Tuck the foot up close to the back of the thigh, under the butt. As you kick back, incline your body forward, still looking over your shoulder. Direct the heel of your foot straight back, keeping the knee under the foot at all times. At full extension, bring the knee back beside the support leg so the kick from start to finish is done in a pump action. Watch out for: 1) Hooking the kick. There is a tendency to not work the thigh into this kick and to do most of the kick with the lower leg. This will resemble an upside down front kick. 2) Hitting with the toes/ball of the foot. The striking surface is the heel. The foot can either point down or sideways but hit with the heel. 3) Don’t let the knee drift sideways. This will open you for a groin kick. Keep the knee under the foot. 4) Don‘t pull the kick back with the knee.
2019 – Clarification I never clarified that the preceding points were meant for both the side kick and the back kick. Coming in the manuscript directly after back kick, one could get the idea that I was talking about only back kick. (1) By hooking the kick I mean kicking as though you are doing a round kick with the heel. In this manner you are losing the full power of the kick. (4) I mean the mistake is not pulling back with the knee to original chamber position. You want to execute the side thrust kick in a forward -back piston like motion. I tell my students that side thrust kick is the leg version of the straight punch.
I loved to kick back when I competed - round kick, side kick, back kick, hook kick, I liked them all.
1979 - Bill Wallace Method - Side Facing Kicks: Firing different types of kicks from the same position is an innovation by Bill Wallace. Wallace is the most famous kicker in American Karate history. He was rated #1 in point competition and won the Professional Karate Association’s middleweight full contact title in 1974. It is ironic that Wallace, whose nickname is “Super Foot," originally came from a karate style that did not kick above the waist. 2019 - Bill Wallace was one of the greatest American point fighters and was also undefeated in kickboxing. Bill Wallace was a kicker par excellence. He only threw three kicks (and with only his left leg): the round kick, the side kick and the hook kick and a fighter had an awful time defending against them. Bill had a way of disguising his kick so you didn’t know which one was coming at you until the very last moment. It was all in the chamber of his kick. He would draw his knee high to the side and have his kicking foot exactly on the positional center line with his toes and ankle retracted. It looked like a high side kick chamber. From there he would throw either a round kick, side kick or hook kick. Each of the kicks has the same chamber. This way the kick is hidden until it is thrown. 1979 - Prekick Position: The positioning of the body is straight sideways; hipbone, shoulder and lead foot in alignment. Bring the knee and foot up, keeping the foot in line with the butt. The upper body should be protected by the knee and shin and the foot out from the body. The knee, on the side and hook kick, should be quite a bit higher than the foot and both should be as high as possible. On the round kick. The knee and foot should be at the same height. Lean the body back and definitely do not tuck forward toward the kicking leg. Also, turn the ankle in and bend the toes back so that the edge (blade) of the foot is facing your opponent.
2019 - Back when I was younger and had a lot more flexibility, I worked on achieving the Wallace prekick position, knee high and foot as nearly as high as my waist. As I got older I found that I didn’t need to get my knee as high in order to execute the same concept. As long as I had my kicking foot in a straight line alignment toward my opponent, I could do same action although the kicks would be lower.
Pre-kick position - Knee high, three kicks from the same spot, and lower knee position.
1979 - From the Cocking Position Round Kick: Pivot your ankle so that you are circling your foot from a blade facing to instep facing position. Use that circular motion to begin the circling of your lower leg into a parallel position to the floor. From there, snap the kick like a front kick turned on its side, from the knee out and strike with the instep. The kick travels sideways through the air, not at an upward angle.
Bill Wallace round kick front view.
Straight Side Kick: Extend the foot straight toward your target, using only your leg to do the action. Upon completion, let your leg snap hack to the original position. The key points to this kick are: a. Keep the knee somewhat stationary. Hinge the lower leg off the knee doing the kick in a snapping motion. b. Keep the foot traveling in a straight line toward your opponent. This kick is easy to do like a round kick. The leg snaps out from under the knee, not beside it as in a round kick. c. Don‘t lock out the knee joint. d. Don‘t throw your hips into the kick after starting it.
The reason I call this a side straight kick instead of a side snap kick is that when the leg is in the cocking position, the foot is at about body height and it is easy to shoot straight to the body or slightly upward to the chest. Since I do not fire this type kick to the head and I do not want my students to get into flipping it out without any power, I want them to picture it as a straight kick from the Wallace cocking position, not a flip kick. Wallace made special mention that the side kick in any style is the hardest kick to master. Once you can do this kick skillfully, the others are that much easier to learn.
Hook Kick: Do the straight side kick at an off angle to your opponent. When the leg straightens out, snap the lower leg back like a recoil from a round kick. The thigh moves in the same direction as the heel during the snap back, The idea of a sloppy side kick is what a hook kick turns out to be. You miss your target (side kick wise) and hook back with a bad return (for a side kick) and catch him with your heel.
Slide up hook kick.
On all three kicks, keep in mind: 1) Raise the knee as high as possible so that you can protect your upper body with your shin. 2) Keep the foot in a line between you and your target. 3) Get the idea of raising up and then kicking out. This will keep you from kicking from the floor instead of the cocking position. 4) Do all of your preliminaries prior to the kick: positioning, pivot, body inclination, etc. 5) Kick with the leg, not with the body. These are basically snapping kicks, not lock out kicks, so keep them loose and relaxed. Use all of the potential leg action that you can get. Whatever footwork type you use for entry into the kick, make it a light and quick step. Remember, in both the orthodox and Wallace method kicks, get your preliminaries done before firing the kick to avoid finishing them during the kick.
Factors in Skilled Kicking Here are some factors that may help you with your kicking: a) Upper body alignment with kick. This particular problem is prevalent in side facing kicks. Basically, the body should be in a straight line with the completed extension of the kicking leg. What often happens is that a person when kicking will bend his body forward, bending through the stomach when kicking. This creates an unbalanced situation because you want your upper body to counter balance the weight of the extending leg. Bend your body at the side, not the front, directly away from the kick and proper upper body alignment will occur.
A) Upper body alignment with kick
b) Hip alignment with kick (round kick, side kick, hook kick): The direction of your kick’s force has maximum impact when your body is properly aligned and positioned prior to the kick. A lot of people have trouble on their side facing kicks. One of these problems is the lower body positioning prior to the kick. To remedy this, lead with your hip bone as if it were hooked to a line and was being pulled. Aim your hip at your opponent and you will be in good hip alignment. You can test where your own proper hip alignment with your support foot is by doing a simple test; place your support foot, at first. at a right angle to the direction you are kicking and then raise your leg to rib height. If you feel any kind of sideways pull on your leg, then angle out your support foot away from your opponent until you find the position that will not put any kind of pull on your kicking leg. You will notice that the more your support foot points at your opponent, the more you will have a tendency to bend through the waist and Pointing the the more awkward the kick will be. Inversely, the more hip at your you point your support foot away from your opponent, the target more you can put your body behind your kicking leg (bending sideways rather than forward) and the better balance you will have. B) Hip alignment with kick 66
c) Hip alignment with supporting leg: Make sure you are in a good supporting leg pivot position even with your hip in position; an out of line support foot can blow the kick. The foot can be pointed anywhere from directly opposite the kick to 45 degrees in from that position. The exact pivot position will be determined by where it is comfortable for you when doing the kick technically exact.
C) Hip alignment with supporting leg
d) Center of gravity alignment: The prime reason for poor balance in your kicks is that you are not maintaining a good center of gravity. To do this, merely place your butt over your standing foot and bend the supporting knee a little. That is it. When you fall off balance, it is because your butt is not over your foot and your center of gravity is out of alignment for standing and kicking.
D) Center of gravity out of alignment...
e) Body bend/stretch imbalance: If you keep your body too straight up and down when kicking, and you are not very loose, your kicks will remain low. If you bend your upper body too much when kicking, your balance and overall support strength will be weak. What you need to do is to find where your level of stretch and level of upper body inclination meet to produce the strongest possible kick for you. The tighter you are, the more bend you will need. The average is about a 45 degree bend.
E) Body bend/stretch imbalance
2019 – Alignment As you can tell from the above, the beginnings of the importance of being properly aligned was forming in my mind. The above had to do with kicks but it is this emphasis on proper alignment that has kept me from being among the many martial artists who have had hip or knee replacements in their later years. One of the aforementioned major principles in American Freestyle Karate was Positioning. Positioning includes being aligned for both maximum performance of your body and for maximum safety for your body. I can find no good reason for training in martial arts if you are going to be crippled later in life because of it.
1979 - Blocking Having a water -tight defense is one of my prime considerations in the development of my students. Anybody can walk up and slug someone, but to keep from getting hit is an art in itself. Most modern day karate players concern themselves too much with hitting and not enough with defense work. You can see this at any karate tournament you go to. There are a ton of offensive fighters, but few good counter fighters. A good defense will even out the balance you need to become a good karate player. In order to have a good defense system, you have to have blocks that actually work and a way of spotting and confronting attacks. I noticed that when I taught in a karate studio several years back, I taught what was the accepted norm for blocking, forearm blocks, to beginning students. At the same time, when I sparred, I used open hand blocks, much to the dismay of my instructor. It did not make much sense to me to teach one thing and then do what felt natural myself. I have always gone by the premise that if I can do it, anybody can. So, when I started a private class of friends I began to explore, laying out exactly what I did naturally and trying to teach that to my students. I noticed that a lot of my blocking consisted of either guarding my body with my arms or doing what boxers call “picking off blows“ with sweeps. Instead of predominantly using my lead arm to block, I was using both arms and I was looking at the actual attack, not at the shoulders or hips. I remembered watching Muhammad Ali many times pick off blows that came at him and his eyes were glued to the actual attacking agents themselves, the hands. What follows here is what I developed as the defense system I teach now. First the mechanics of blocking and then, how to spot and confront the attack itself, which I call monitoring. The basic idea behind blocking is to either stop or deflect an attack with minimum motion by you. The blocking in American Freestyle Karate consists of motions that are as close to natural reactions as possible. Many karate styles teach forearm blocking but when they spar it quickly turns into a lot of sweeps and guards. Well, if sweeps and guards come naturally, that is going to be my approach. It is hard enough confronting attacks without adding unwieldy blocking actions to further the mess. There are primarily three types of actions to blocking: 1) deflection, 2) shielding, and 3) intercepting/ stopping. 1. Deflection: Sweep, hook (Mantis), downward and backhand blocks. You are knocking an attack off its course so that, if completed, it will miss you. 2. Shielding: Guards for round kick, hook kick, side kick, hook punch, etc. You place a guard up between your opponent’s target and the trajectory of his attack. The guard is as close to the body as is feasible for the attack you are guarding against. Example: your guard for the round kick to the body is closer to you than for a round kick to the head. 3. Intercepting/Stopping: Pressing or jamming an opponent‘s attack just as it comes out of chamber position, before it has power enough to do damage. Pressing back fists or leg jamming side kicks are examples of these. You can also jam a kick by using the lead hand to press your opponent’s thigh down as he begins to pick it up for a kick. You will have to move forward in order to do this and use this maneuver against lead leg kicks in order to pull it off safely.
Two prime goals in blocking or defensive manners are minimum of motion and maximum efficiency. Minimum of motion - Do not do anything other than the motion required. Maximum efficiency - Make sure the attack is successfully defended against. Mechanics of Blocking: The actual number of blocks that I teach are relatively few, again, primarily sweeps and guards. a) Deflection Blocks: Sweep Block: I teach three directions of sweep block: horizontal -straight across, downward angular and straight down. Horizontal: I just call this a sweep block. You take your open hand, fingers straight up and thumb tucked into the side and move it from one side of your body to the other. Only from one side to the other - any further and you are over -blocking. Once you get to one side and there is no more of you to hit, there is no reason to continue the block. You make contact with the palm, not the palm heel, edge or fingers. It should be a relaxed, easy motion.
2019 - Note: you see in the second photo I go up at an angle. I use this a lot in my school and refer to it as an up sweep. 1979 - You want to watch out for 1) curling the fingers into a grab and 2) keeping the elbow stationary and slapping down; the windshield wiper effect. Your elbow and arm follow the hand and the hand goes straight across. The horizontal sweep is good for zone 1 target defense, head down to just above the solar plexus. I will explain later how I define my target zones. Downward Angular: I call this an angle sweep. This is done like the straight sweep except it goes downward and slightly away from your body. You go from the same side ribs to the opposite side hip bone. Again, do not block past the body. This is for blocking attacks to the solar plexus to about belt line.
Straight Down: Here you sweep in a straight line to the floor for abdomen and groin attacks. The idea here is to get from point A (hand position) to point B (completed sweep) in as short a route as possible.
Here I am going to break in on the mechanics of blocking to explain my method of targeting. Traditional targeting divides the body into sectional parts: head, body down to waist line, waist line to groin and legs. I section my target zones by your opponent‟s blocking potential: zone l, head to above solar plexus; zone 2, solar plexus to waist; zone 3, abdomen to groin; zone 4, legs.
Here is my reasoning. Look at where the elbow bends in conjunction with the torso. It bends close to the solar plexus. Now take the straight sweep block and start doing blocks from the head down. Do a block and move the hand about four inches down and do another, and so on. When you hit the solar plexus level you will find it quite hard to go straight across. From the head down to the solar plexus, the easiest arm motions to do are upward and sideways motions and below that, straight down pushes or extended arm sideways motions. So, when you set up your opponent, you want to set him up within his range of motion. If you want to hit a certain area, know how he can move his arm to defend that area and then work off it. Hence, my “zoning laws.” Back to blocking…
Backhand: The backhand block is the mechanical reverse of a sweep block. It is used when a straight punch to the head gets around to the back side of your arm. It is obvious that you cannot duck your hand under your opponent„s arm and bring it around to a palm block with any effective speed at all. Also, it is good for a straight downward hammer to the head or collar bone.
Rising Block: This block I do not like much, but it has its uses against a back fist to the head if you counter punch at the same time. You bring your lead hand and forearm upward (with the arm bent at an angle - 90 degrees or so) and twist at the last second, hitting with the outer edge of your forearm. For straight punches, this block is risky and a waste of time, but for a backfist or extremely powerful hook, it is effective. Do not leave the arm up after blocking.
Hook/Mantis: This is a zone 2 block and is taken from the Praying Mantis gung fu method. You drop your forearm straight down parallel to the floor and when you touch the punching arm, your wrist curls and hooks the arm and you pull sideways. Do not grab with the fingers or continue pushing down after hooking. This is a sideways block, not a straight down or angular one. This is good for straight or uppercut punches to the ribs.
Hook/Mantis Block application against a punch or kick.
Downward Block: This is just a lower version of the hook block for kicks or very low punches. Keep in mind here to connect with the forearm, not the hand. Try to grab a kick over and over with the hand and sooner or later you will jam your fingers so far you will be balling your fist up by your elbow. Again, this is as much of a sideways block as you can manage. 2019 – Double Downward Block: In my school, I nickname this “10 down”. To block the side kick, I do something entirely different. The side kick comes at you in a straight fashion. What makes it difficult to block is that it doesn‟t come at you from the left or right side but straight down the middle. This makes it difficult to block with a standard downward block. I pull back the lead foot and use two hands to push down the side kick. This is amazingly effective as the thigh muscles are not designed to resist a downward push like that. In applying this action, you bounce the leg down much like bouncing a ball. This allows you to get your hands back up to further protect yourself.
1979 - Shielding: Shielding is placing a guard between your opponent„s attack and its intended target. Generally, the closer the guard, the stronger its positioning. This is good for circular attacks and hard to deflect straight ones. High Guard: This is placing your arm up, fist slightly higher than the temple with the elbow forward and arm straight up and down. Middle Guard: Bend the arm to maximum bend and cover the rib area with it. Rotate your body to position the guard for the attack. Low Guard: Let the upper arm rest alongside the ribs. Bend the elbow and place your fist/wrist beside the groin area. You will have to position it for the trajectory of the kick. Do not just stick it down there and forget about it. You have to remember that a guard is just that, a guard. It is not a moving deflective action, but a stationary shield. You have to move your body with rotation to move the guard in the path of the attack. The biggest mistake people make with guards is to stick them up in a position and expect somebody to hit them. Anybody who wants to hit you will find a way past your guard if you just set it there. Rotate for positioning; do not just stick your guard there and forget about it. High guard
Intercepting/Stopping: The popular term for interception is “jamming.” To jam an attack you have to go forward to meet the attack and stop it before it can generate any power. The two main ways of doing this are pressing and leg checking. Pressing: Pressing is mainly a stiff arm push to the attacking limb or adjoining section of that limb (shoulder, hip). You can use a press when your opponent obviously telegraphs his attack. Pressing a backfist is about the best use for this movement. Pressing a straight punch or extended hook on your opponent‟s biceps works great in theory, but horrible in practice. I do not recommend it.
Leg Guard: This method of shielding should not be used too many times in succession because of the possibility of your support leg getting swept out from under you. Raise your knee up so that your knee and shin are directly between you and your opponent or in the case of circular kicks, between your opponent's target and the trajectory of your kick. This is also a great place to counter kick from. By no means stand and fight in this position. Use it and be done with it.
Leg Checking: A leg check is using your foot to obstruct the path of your opponent‟s kick. This is not a kick to the leg. You put your foot, mid shin or lower portion out in either a front or side kick position and stop your opponent‟s leg by attaching your foot to it. “Sticky feet." A variation of this is when your opponent throws a spin kick. As he spins, you push his butt with your foot. During a spin, you will see how easy it is to be pushed over. To sharpen your kicking, go from a leg check to a kick attack and back to a leg check again. Another variation of this is a hip check. You place your foot in a side kick position on your opponent‟s hip bone and giving a slight shove. This is great against people who love to do nothing but kick; they pick up their leg and you push them away. 2019 - Comment...this is another great technique to nullify skilled kickers that has fallen by the wayside because of it being banned in tournament competition these days. A pity...
1979 - Monitoring With any system of blocking should come a method of attack recognition, a way to tell what is coming at you. I have found that most karate methods are fairly sketchy on this point and after all that is said and done, rely upon the student to develop his own intuition. That, to me, is inadequate. There is a definite methodology for the instruction of every other phase of karate learning but this one. Now, there is one. Get the concept of what monitoring is and then apply it to your blocking. You can also apply it to your offensive actions as well. Monitoring - General Concept Webster‟s New Collegiate Dictionary deﬁnition, monitor - verb 3,
to watch, observe or check especially for a special purpose.
Monitoring your opponent is the ability to consciously watch and spot your opponent‟s moves as he begins to do them. Most people block as if they were “barricading the fort." An attack will travel through the air at them and only when it reaches a certain point will they even begin to block or respond. This is like letting the Indians climb the fort walls before any action is taken. This comes from a failure to confront the attack itself as it registers too late to do anything but a last second reaction. Here is where there are wild, haphazard responses. In other words, the decision to confront and handle the attack comes too late. When you monitor your opponent, you are constantly aware of what he is doing at all times. You monitor the actual attacking agents (fists, feet). When monitoring the attacking agents, you can spot within the first few inches what direction the attack is going to take and be able to intercept it in flight. It is like putting out your own radar and firing your own intercepter missiles. You want to spot your opponent‟s movements from their point of origin. Point of origin is the position from which the attack begins. When spotting from the origin point, you will be able to see what direction the attack will take long before it reaches you; in short, there will be no surprises. This requires constantly being awake and aware of your opponent. Most karate people are 70 percent asleep. When they spar and at times there is up to a 90 -100 percent snooze factor. They do not maintain constant attention and awareness of what their opponent is doing and therefore get caught constantly with the same attack or sucker shots. When you are aware of yourself and your opponent, you do not get suckered. It is as simple as that. Just work on staying awake and you will have it in no time. Monitoring - Technical Approach There are speciﬁc and general monitoring points, depending on your range and opponent‟s skill. General monitoring points are the shoulders and hips. Movement in these areas will not tell you specifically what attack is coming, but will act as a signal that something is on the way. You cannot punch without the shoulders moving, nor kick without movement from the hips. Operating either on or outside of your opponent‟s critical distance line is the most effective range you can use for general monitoring points.
Specific monitoring points are the attacking agents themselves: fists and feet. This is where your concentration has to be really acute. If you mentally cut the body in half and monitor your opponent's hands at a point of origin, you will find that he will either move toward or away from the center line you set up. When you divide his body, do it from whatever position he is facing you in; be it front ways, angular or completely sideways.
When I look at his hands, I can see his thighs in the lower periphery of my vision.
A backfist will cross over the center line at its inception.
A curved strike (hook punch, ridge hand, etc.) will move away from the center line at its inception.
The straight punch is the exception to this; that will move straight at you from the point of origin. The back fist attack will begin with the fist across the center line and the extended hook (ridge hand) will begin by moving out and away from the center line. The downward strike and angle hammer will move up from the point of origin before going downward, and the uppercut, down before going up. 79
A straight punch neither crosses nor moves away from the center line at its inception.
Positional Center Line - front and side facing.
The front kick doesn’t move off of the center line.
Notice how both the round kick and hook move away from the center line in their inceptions. 80
Note that like the front kick, a side kick raises up the center line as opposed to moving away from it.
An attack has three parts: point of origin (the starting point); travel route; and point of destination (where he intends to hit). You want to intercept the attack during its travel, preferably near the middle or three - quarter flight, but definitely not at the end. In order to do this, you have to (1) monitor the point of origin closely to tell what the attack is and where it‘s targeted (you should be able to tell within the first five inches of travel), and (2) start your block soon enough. You want to begin your blocking action as he does his attack. Most people do not start to block until an attack gets so close to them that it is too late. They will sleep through the initial stages of an attack and will not realize that one is coming until it is too late. Proper monitoring and good timing on blocking will cut this down by quite a bit. Next, to make blocking more simple, do what I call ―same siding.‖ You assign your hands to handle the attack on whatever side it comes on. Left hand for left side, right hand for right side. (When I say side, I mean your side. Their right straight punch will come off your left side so left block it.) Here you train yourself to block with either hand. Same siding is my recommended method of blocking, although there will be instances where you will have to cross block. Same siding will take care of the confusion of ―which arm shall l block this with?‖ The exception to this is with the side kick. On a side kick, there is no left or right side, just front and rear. In the round and hook kicks, they will come from the right or left side. With a front kick, it will come from the left or right side of the attacker‗s body. The side kick comes straight at you from the center so you can take it with either a lead or rear hand or a guard.
Examples of same-siding.
Most people‘s defenses are less than efficient, at best. because (I) they have been pushed into fast sparring too soon, (2) they have been taught robot -like motions for blocking, (3) they have not been taught how to spot an attack, and (4) they fail to confront the attack itself. Now we have a method of spotting the attack, monitoring, and easy blocking movements that are more natural motions. All it will take is the proper head work and physical work and the rest will follow. In order to block with 100 percent effectiveness, you have to do it in this order: a) Monitor the attacking agents, reach forward and focus. Mentally you go forward to meet the attack, you focus and recognize as he moves. With his being out of range, that is at least a reach of 2 1/2 to 3 feet. The idea of reaching is to actually go out and meet the attack. On the sweeps you go slightly forward with your hand as well as sideways angularly or down. Do not over reach, just reach and intercept. b) Spot the attack and travel route within the first five inches. c) Intercept the attack in its travel route, between its point of origin and point of destination. Focus intently on the hands of your opponent and know at all times where your hands are. I came across a problem I was having during my own sparring; actually two problems. One, I was getting sucker shots by my own students and was inefficiently covering while attacking. I was getting hit as I moved or was blocked and countered. I came up with an idea. Most of the time while attacking, I focused on my target area, diverting attention from my opponent‘s attacking agents. I decided to monitor the attacking agents 100% and develop a feel for my target areas, seeing them in the periphery of my vision but definitely not focusing my attention on them. The idea actually is seeing without looking. 82
Initially, this is a strange thing to do, looking only at the hands, but a few interesting phenomena did occur. By watching the hands, most obviously, you are focusing on your opponent better and are better prepared for his attacks, but more interestingly, you are much better prepared for his counter attacks. I found that after a while, just by a tight monitor on his hands, I could gauge the range of his kicking by the length of his arm range. While watching the hands I could still spot telltale thigh movement prior to my opponent kicking. I could easily tell if a kick or punch was coming and it was easier to sec the fake and real attacks. Adjustments in my range were easier to make, especially when I was moving. The most interesting phenomenon was that of reaching over the guard. I had been having trouble hitting anybody with a back fist for a long time, but in a flash the idea of reaching out over the guard came to me. I scored about ten out of twelve back fists, with both hands. This can extend to reaching through the guard, under the guard, maybe around the guard and possibly lifting the guard. All in all, it has so far proven effective. Use it in conjunction with footwork and work it in both offense and defense. Primary and Secondary Blocks For Techniques In conjunction with monitoring, these are the recommended set of defensive actions for various techniques. The primary blocks are the ones I find most useful for defense and the secondary blocks are just in case actions. Blocking actions for techniques should by no means be rigidly set. The situation always dictates the response Here is a list of the various defensive actions for offensive techniques. I will include notes on certain techniques as you go down the list. Straight Punch: Head (1) Sweep (2) Backhand, Rising Chest (1) Sweep (2) Backhand Lower Body (1) Angle Sweep (2) Hook, Groin (1) Straight Down, Downward Block (Straight down is a sweep and downward block, and hook.) Backfist: Head (1) Same Side Press, (2) Lead Guard, Rising Block Body (1) Guard Groin (1) Guard, Downward Extended Hook (Ridge Hand): Head (1) Guard (2) Rising (same side) Body (1) Guard Groin (1) Guard, Downward Angle Hammer: Head (1) Guard (2) Sweep, Rising Body (1) Guard Groin (1) Hook. Downward Uppercut: Head (1) Sweep Body (1) Sweep, Hook (2) Angle Sweep Groin (1) Hook, Downward 83
Front Kick: Head (1) Sweep Chest (1) Sweep Lower Body (l) Downward (2) Angle Sweep Groin (1) Downward Angle and Round Kick: Head (1) Guard (2) Sweep, Rising Body (1) Guard Groin (1) Guard (2) Downward The round kick can be jammed by moving in to meet the direction of the kick. Here you stop the kick before it gathers any power. Same for the hook kick and the side kick, jamming it with a guard You can intercept a lead leg round kick to the head with an opposite side sweep as the objective of the kick is not a drive through power shot, but a speed impact shot. Therefore, its follow -through should not break through the sweep. Back Kick: Head (1) Sweep Body (1) Guard, Sweep (2) Downward, Hook Groin (1) Straight Down, Downward The primary actions are done on the same side (except for the body guard) as the back kick has a tendency to angle rather than go straight back. Side Kick: Head (l) Sweep Body (l) Sweep, Guard (2) Hook Groin (l) Straight Down, Downward The side kick comes straight at you not from a left -right origin point but a forward -back position so with exception of the body guard and hook, the option is yours whether to do a lead or rear hand blocking action. The body guard and hook are done with the lead arm. Hook Kick Head (l) Guard (2) Rising Body (1) Guard Groin (1) Guard (2) Downward Axe Kick Head, Collar Bone (1) Sweep (2) Back Fist The axe kick (not demonstrated) is a foot version of the downward hammer fist punch. Go over the list for various techniques and see what feels right for you. Single Arm Blocking This is a secondary method of defense. The method of blocking I prefer is a two -armed method; however, most karate players are one -armed bandits when it comes to blocking. Blocking is taught predominantly using the lead arm. Every so often there are certain moves for which the rear arm will 84
be used, but not often. When you use mainly the lead arm for blocking, your opponent‘s possibilities to set you up for an attack are much greater than if you use two arms. There are times when you can only block realistically with the lead arm, such as in a side stance. So, I have a way of one -arm blocking for this. This method owes quite a bit to the wing chun gung fu method. Guard Preparation—Sideways Your lead elbow is in front of your ribs and your fist is in a line directly between your opponent‘s and your nose. The fist is about chin high. Guard Preparation - Frontwards Your lead elbow is in front of the same side of your ribs and your hand is chin high in a line with your opponent‘s and your nose. The idea here is that no matter which way you stand, you have your lead hand and arm in the center of your facing position (center line) and directly pointed at your opponent‗s face. This puts up an obstruction in the dead center of your body and in order to straight punch you, your opponent has to go over, under or around your arm. If he has to bypass your lead arm, the attack is that much more telegraphed. Monitor him and it is going to be quite easy. For hooks to your inside body and groin you will have to same side guard because the lead arm cannot get into a realistic block or guard position for that attack to those targets. Your usage of the backhand block, hook block and straight down sweep will come more into play than usual. There is another motion that you can use, ―twisting forearm drop― Here, you drop your lead elbow to your body while giving the forearm and upper body a slight twist to your inside. This can be used for a zone 2 straight punch or uppercut.
Positional center line - front, angle and side facing.
Doing a one -armed bandit approach will set yourself up to do three types of counter attack possibilities; 1) block with one arm, counter with the other, 2) block and counter with same arm, and 3) simultaneously block and counter. These will all be covered in the defensive approach section of this book. An added note here: you do not want to block more than three consecutive blocks without either a return attack or totally disengaging from your partner. You can begin to get into a defensive flow that will be hard to pull out of. This holds true for both the two -armed blocking method and the one -armed bandit. Keep it in mind! Mechanical Approach - Afterward This is how I teach and perform the mechanics in my method of American Freestyle. They may or may not differ from how you do them. Try them out; add that is useful to you and delete that which is not. 85
Offensive & Defensive Approaches
Offensive and Defensive Approaches
2019 – I found this quote too late to make it into the printing of the book but it definitely fits here. ”Recently, I read an interview with Wayne Gretzky. He was asked by a reporter why he was the greatest hockey player when he wasn‟t the biggest, the fastest or the strongest. Wayne explained: „Well, I am a little surprised that you haven‟t guessed the answer already, because to me it is quite obvious. When I get on the ice and the play begins, all the players go to where the puck is; me, I go to where the puck is going to be.‟” That is how I played the game of free-sparring. 1979 - Part one of this book demonstrated the mechanics of offense and defense. Now, part two illustrates how actually to get in there and use them. lf your opponent is any good at all, you cannot just walk up and slug him. You will probably get blasted first. This is the reason for different approaches to offense and defense. One of the prime laws of fighting in my method of instruction is: The situation dictates the response and/or action taken. One approach will not work for every kind of fighter. Therefore, you have to tailor your approach to your opponent's weaknesses or habit patterns. True skill is the ability to change and spot change. If you are very good at doing A, B and C and your opponent is a sucker for D but not for A, B or C, what do you do! If you are ready for anything, you will get surprised by nothing and if you can do everything, you will be ready for any situation. Since mechanics from style to style do not vary in great degree, it stands to reason that it is how you get that technique there, the approach, that is important. Offense: Attack initiated by you either directly or by a setup. Defense: Working off your opponent‘s initial actions for your own attack. I owe a great debt to both Bruce Lee and to Joe Lewis for the categorization of offensive approaches. The offensive approach section is my extrapolation of their categorizations. The categorizations are well set up and cover all entries to offense so I have appropriated them for my use. The defensive section is basically a gradient series of defensive approaches from the most aggressive to least aggressive. Get a good idea and working knowledge of the offensive and defensive approaches. This quote (one of my favorites, you will see it a few times) from Omni magazine, April 1979, truly sums it up. David Levy, International Chess Grand Champion, “The great world chess champion Emmannuel Lasker once said that it is not so much playing the objectively best move that is important as playing the move that is most undesirable for a particular opponent.” 2019 – Prerequisites for Offensive & Defensive Approaches There are a couple of points that need to be gone over prior to actually getting into the approaches. One of them was placed correctly in the 1979 edition of this book (Range) and one was not (Timing). This is corrected in this edition.
1979 - Range Your critical distance line (CDL) is established by the extension of your opponent‘s rear leg toward you in a kick. The point of full extension where he can barely touch you is your CDL for that opponent. It is that simple, cut and dried. An easy but bad habit to fall into is going into a ―comfort range‖ with all opponents. On the average, most of the people you practice with are within a certain height group that varies within five or so inches. It is easy to establish one set range for all. The exceptions to this are, of course, fairly tall or short people. Falling into a comfort range happens when you turn off your range monitoring and go on automatic. Then all of a sudden, surprise of surprises, you get nailed by a kick or a punch that you thought was out of range. Your CDL differs with each opponent. No ifs, ands, or buts! Stay awake and alert. The CDL is good for fighting fast opponents, especially if you take a defensive approach. There is a certain range of distance they have to cross prior to being close enough to hit you. lf you are awake, you will monitor and be able to spot his telegraph(s) and respond with any number of actions. Offensively, it will give you time to monitor his reactions to your attack.
Setting the Critical Distance Line by the extension of your opponent’s leg.
Effective Monitoring Range
Effective Monitoring Range (2019 note – also called Inside Firing Line) EMR is also varied by the opponent you face. This is a range inside your CDL but still having a fair amount of safety. Your monitoring has to be very sharp since your opponent has even less range to cross to hit you. This is a good offensive range, conducive to quick, bursting attacks. This range is most effective in a criss-cross position with your opponent (your left foot forward to his right foot forward or reverse). You want to set yourself so that you cut a certain number of his attack possibilities by your position alone and then guarding for the rest. Short people, combining a mobile base with broken rhythm and fully committed entry, can use the EMR to their best attack advantage. Timing (2019 note: this section somehow ended up on page 213 in the original printing. It is now back in its originally intended place in the book) 1979 - Timing is one of the most important factors in sparring. There is no use in throwing a fast and strong technique if it is not in sync with when your opponent is open for it. Timing is the ―when‖ of sparring. A slower fighter can beat a faster one just by having better timing, Timing involves a decision of when and the certainty of the decision to follow up on it. There are certain key moments regarding when you should move.
When To Initiate Offensive Movement On An Opponent l. During his stance shift.
2. During his footwork (I hit him as he moves to the side).
3. During his hand position change.
4. During his advance.
5. During his retreat.
6. During his reaction to a fake.
7. When he comes to a halt or stand still.
When To Counter l. As the attacker changes 2. As the ranges cross 3. Before the first attack completes 4. Between attacks 5. As the attacker quits (in range or out) 6. As the attacker retreats When you begin to work on timing, start slowly You will start by going through an actual thought process of deciding when. An attack comes in, block, “now!“ you counter. Your opponent switches stance and in mid -step, “now!“, you attack. As you get better at timing your attacks and counters. you will begin to shift from thought processes to “picture image recognition." Picture image recognition is when you recognize what is happening and give an appropriate response for the situation as it is right then. This happens when you are in tune with what both you and your opponent are doing. Do not confuse this with a circuit. A circuit will be the same type attack or response for the general same type situation. This is where a circuit will hang you up; there is no such thing as a “general same type situation." Each encounter or clash is a new clash with your opponent, even if it involves the same approach and technique over and over again. Example: Your opponent throws a back fist and you under punch. Fine. Say you always under punch counter to a back fist. The next time your opponent starts to back fist, you automatically under punch. He checks his back fist and blocks your punch and then follows up by punching you. Had you been in tune with your opponent, you would have seen him check his back fist and then given an appropriate response to that particular situation, which may have been checking your punch, changing the target of the punch, or whatever. You become good as a fighter in direct proportion to your awareness of you, your opponent and your given situation. The reasons for poor timing arc indecision, lack of certainty in a decision made or being out of sync with your opponent. -Indecision. -You cannot decide what to do and when to do it. You are in a perpetual fog. -Lack of certainty in a decision made. -You do not think the decision you made was right. -Out of sync with your opponent. -Your actions do not correspond with what your opponent is doing. -Good cross reference aids for timing are the portions on circuitry and gradient learning. 2019 – Timing Expanded Everyone has a good sense of timing, but very few people have a workable definition of the term. My own working definition of timing is: • Timing is a decision of “when”. When what? When anything. As I said, everyone has a good sense of timing in daily life. You lift a fork to your mouth, your mouth opens just at the right time to take a bite. Timing. You approach a door. Your feet slow down and halt so that you don’t run into it while you extend your hand to open it. 95
Timing. You decide to pass another car on the freeway. You look to see if there are other cars nearby, you accelerate to pass the car, and you finish by pulling ahead of the car far enough so that you don’t hit it. Timing. All of these examples include a decision of when. Even if certain timing usages are now reflexive, they began with a decision of when. Okay, let’s now get into free -fighting use of timing – when to attack. I find the best time to attack my opponent is on a moment of change, when he changes in any way, shape, or form. The concept of Attention Units is crucial also in the application of timing. I consider that everyone has 100 measurable units of attention. If my opponent has all 100 of his attention units zeroed in on me, he is going to spot when I am going to come forward to attack. His eyes are on me with no distractions present. There is no way I am going to sneak anything past him. Now, if he steps, shifts his weight, changes his hand position, anything, he will use some of his attention units to do that. That is “x” amount of attention units less on me. This is when I launch an attack. You might say, “Well, he isn‟t thinking „Now I‟m going to move my hand down a quarter of an inch. Okay, now I‟ve done that. I‟m done.‟ ” The fascinating thing is this works on even a subconscious level. If a person moves from a totally still position, some of his attention units will be in play and that is that amount of attention units that will be off of you, even if only for a split moment. You might ask “What if he isn‟t stock still? What if he‟s moving?” My answer is that he won’t have all 100 of his attention units on you in the first place. You still hit him on the change.
If she has all of her attention units on me, I wait until she shifts them and hit her on the shift.
This is something you can work with to good effect. I have found this concept to be uniformly workable when training students at my school and in seminars. An example of an everyday life event would be if you are studying for school and your buddies are having a party. They are loud and the stereo is turned up and the music is playing. You are trying to concentrate on your assignment and you are distracted. Attention units are being siphoned off by what is going on outside of your study area. This phenomenon happens everywhere. Have you ever nearly gotten into a car accident? I have. Look back at a time when this happened and see if you can spot where your attention was at the time. You might have been singing to the radio. You might have had a problem on your mind. Maybe you were looking forward to your next date with your girlfriend. You were robbed of some attention units by something. This is such an everyday phenomenon that it tends to get overlooked. Don’t overlook this when you free-fight. Use it to your advantage. 96
Which changes do you hit him on? There are many changes you can spot but some of the most obvious ones are: • The moment he steps forward • The moment he steps back • The moment he steps to the side • The moment he shifts his weight forward or back • The moment he raises his lead hand • The moment he lowers his lead hand • The moment he changes moving from one side to the other • The moment he raises up from his stance • The moment he lowers himself deeper in his stance • The moment he shifts from a side facing position to a front facing position (and vice versa) The list can go on and on and is limited only by your imagination and observation. I tend to watch my opponent’s hands or his shoulders to catch changes in my opponent. You’ll note that all of the example timing triggers have one thing in common. Change. Change in position as he begins his action. Where there is change, there are divided attention units. There is not necessarily divided attention. Your opponent might feel all of his attention is still on you and it will be on a conscious level. On a subconscious level, however, attention units will be siphoned off. If you are spot on with your timing, your opponent might feel you are too fast for him or have some other reason for getting hit by you. One of my biggest weapons was my judgement of timing. My timing was very good because I understood what it was. Now you do as well. It takes training to set your body into motion right at the beginning of your opponent’s move, but it can be trained. Okay, what if you do the drills but feel your timing is still off? That comes next. 2019 - Errors In Timing Now that you have a definition of timing, why might your timing be off? Simple. Since timing is a decision of when, your “when” is most likely be off, which brings me to the next point – how to correct your timing to make it as pinpoint as possible. There are three mistakes in application of timing. Two of them are obvious from the definition of the term itself: Too soon and Too late My favorite example of the mistakes in timing is a kid arriving for dinner. Dinner is scheduled at 6 pm. If the kid arrives too soon he has to set the table for mom. If he arrives too late, he misses out on dinner, has to eat Cheerios for his dinner and ends up doing the dishes. If he arrives at 6 pm, all he has to do is wash his hands, sit down, and enjoy. Too soon and too late are the key obvious mistakes in free-fighting. If you attack when your opponent is ready for you, your chance of success will be slim. You attack too late and you have missed your opportunity. This runs true with defense as well. If you defend too soon you yank yourself out of position and if you defend too late, well, you just got hit. Too soon and too late. These are the obvious mistakes in timing. How do you avoid these mistakes? By keeping a watchful eye on your opponent and drilling timing.
Timing error - too soon.
Timing error - too late.
Now you know a working definition of timing. You also now the two key errors in timing. There is one more factor you need to be aware of if you are having any timing difficulties. Read on. 2019 - The Hidden Beast… There is a third mistake in timing that nearly everyone totally misses – Preparation, lack of. Your spotting can be excellent. Your tactics can be optimum. Your ability to see the minutest changes in your opponent can be razor sharp. However, if you aren’t prepared to move, they will be all for naught. Here is an example I use in every seminar I teach on timing. I will have the students execute a slide forward backfist strike when they see their partner execute a change. After three or four changes, I will ask if anyone is still having trouble with their timing. I will always get someone who is still not getting it. I will have that student do the drill in front of everyone and will ask the group to watch closely and then tell me what the very first move that student makes is. The student will do the drill for four or five repetitions. Then I ask the group what his first motion was. They always get it wrong. Always! I then tell them what I see. More often than not the student is bending his knees first, and then launching his backfist strike. In other words, his timing was spot on but he was wasting that precious split instant in time by getting ready to move instead of moving. He wasn’t ready to move and that is the hidden factor in timing – Preparation. If you aren’t prepared to go, you will first prepare to go and then go. The only problem is that you have just spent your “when” by getting ready instead of just going.
Lack of preparation is the hidden error in timing.
In the above example, my timing is perfect but I attack late because I wasn’t prepared to move.
So, here is something to look at. Are you prepared to move without hesitation? Are your knees sufficiently bent to step immediately? Are your hands in position to attack or defend without needing to reposition them in order to do so? Watch a video of you sparring and see for yourself to get your answers. Now that you have this data to work with, your timing should be easy to correct or even make better. Caution: Here is one added thing to watch out for. You can be slightly off in your timing if you are naturally quick. This can become a camouflaged hole in your timing. I define quickness as “suddenness of movement”. If you can move suddenly, you can be a hair late in your timing and your quickness can make up for it. Your “when point”, the exact moment you decide to move has broader parameters here than if you aren’t so quick. If you aren’t quick, your timing has to really be spot on. And for your timing to be totally spot on, you need to be prepared to move. 2019 - Qualities of Each Offensive Approach: Direct Attack – explosive Attack By Combination – continuous Indirect Attack – divertive Attack By Trapping – obstructive Attack By Drawing - luring
1979 – Offensive Approaches 1979 - Direct Attack Direct attack is your basic singular attack, picking out a target and going for it. There are several ways you can approach it according to the defensive response of your opponent. For someone who responds to the attack, you can step on his toes, getting extremely close before attacking. For someone who responds to your body movement] commitment, you need to develop your initial move with or without broken rhythm. For somebody who keeps a good range or constantly moves, either make a great initial move or shift to a different approach. 2019 – Direct Attack is where you go without hesitation to your opponent. A couple of friends of mine have very good descriptions of how a Direct Attack is done. Kirby Barker uses the phrase “metal to magnet” and Ray McCallum uses “technique to target” . Perfect descriptions of the immediacy of a Direct Attack. 1979 - The best bet for a direct attack is when you can be slightly inside of your opponent’s range, as close as possible, so that you do not have much distance to cover to hit him. This is what I call stepping on his toes. Either your opponent does not have a good idea of range or he is going to respond to your technique. The idea here is that a small action is going to take less time than a large action. Look at the mechanics involved. Attacker: Decision, gap cross, hit. Defender: Notices attacker’s action, action registers, decision, counter action. How many times have you had this happen? “I knew what the attack was but there was nothing I could do about it.” That is because it registered too late for a decision of what to do and implementing the decision. This hinges on the speed of the gap bridge. The faster you cross the gap, the shorter time they have to notice and register the action. The small action comes in by doing whatever preliminaries prior to the actual attack motion itself so that just before you move, you are in the optimum position. Do your preliminary positioning as part of your mobility so that it is not obvious. If you are going to do a front kick, do not shift from a side to front position one second before you kick. You might as well telephone them and tell them a front kick is coming. Work back and forth from side to angle to front, etc., so that when it fires, it is part of the movement. This way it is a small action. It takes less time to do because in carrying it out it has less step by step parts. Decision - gap cross - hit/kick. You will get people who will let you slide up or skip extremely close to them without a counter attack because they are waiting for a technique to cue in on. These people are fun to direct attack because they let you step on their toes. This will also work on an opponent who responds by retreating to your commitment. He tries to maintain the same range distance as when you started your commitment so that he can get you to overextend your attack so that he can counter. When you step on his toes, there is no long range, large commitment to counter so you can actually bridge the gap and get close enough to him because he is in a habit of responding to a long range committed action, not a series of small actions (short steps to get close to him). He will move away somewhat uncertain instead of preparing for a counter. (This creeping in on the opponent who responds to a commitment will work if your opponent is snoozing and not keeping an alert eye on your movements. It will usually take a large commitment to wake him up, an attack alarm clock of sorts.) A slide up, skip or run step to get in range and then a lunge once in range is probably the quickest way to attack this type of person. 100
Broken rhythm footwork is useful but not as important here as other places because the opponent is responding, remember, to the technique. You have to take a slightly different approach with an opponent who responds on body movement across the critical distance line. You have to depend on your initial move. You can develop your initial move two ways: synchronize your footwork (lunge in most cases) and your attack to begin at the same time or start the attack slightly before your footwork. In no case should you ever start your footwork first and then attack. The main idea here is to get the attack across the range before your opponent can effectively respond to your body motion. Here it is especially effective to precede your actual attack with false leads, broken rhythm. The idea is to get him confused so that he doesn’t know which is the real committed action, and you can time your real attack when he is still recovering from your false lead. Often your opponent will retreat slightly when you use a standard lunge or slide up entry into a kicking attack so as to overextend you. A good way to foil this and to make up the extra distance is to do a slide up kick action. But prior to the kick itself, add a lunge at the tail end of the slide up and then kick. You will easily cover the half step your opponent took. Besides linear entry, you can also put an angle step to good use, especially if you false lead with line steps. If an opponent keeps his range on you or has a tendency to back off as you try to work your way in, watch out. You are probably up against someone who is familiar with dealing with direct attacks. (This is different from the opponent responding by retreating from a commitment. Here you may not be committing yourself to a long range entry across the CDL, and your opponent is responding to the range cross itself, regardless of speed of entry.) A good counter fighter will try to draw his opponent into overreaching his extension so that instead of doing an abrupt, quick action you are suckered into a long commitment and are somewhat off balance. If he keeps his range, abandon direct attack and try a different approach. Final Notes: A direct attack needs full commitment: An explosive take -off, a follow through attack and good timing. It all has to be there without any reservation. If it is not all there, chances are it will not go. Recommended footwork for punching is the lunge, for kicking, either lunge or skip and for angle kicking, either the lunge or slide up. The overall options in direct attack are more limited because of the necessity for a small action.
Direct attack - lunge punch
Direct attack - lunge backfist
Direct attack - lunge round kick
Direct attack - slide up lunge side kick against a retreating opponent.
2019 – More On Direct Attack • definition: A singular attack with the intention to hit. It doesn’t get any more simple than that. You launch one strike and hit with it. There are five factors that will play into your Direct Attack being effective. The first is your when to launch the attack. Go back to the section on Timing and review when to launch your attack. The examples listed there will give you a start as to when you want to launch your attack against your opponent. The second is Distancing. A Direct Attack is most effective when you launch it from inside the critical distance line. If you can sneak inside the critical distance line the distance you have to cover will be shorter and your quick burst will be harder to defend against. The third factor is what is called Initial Move. Initial Move is synchronizing your entry footwork and your attack to occur at the same time. If you throw your attack after your entry footwork, you run the hazard of getting hit by your opponent when you arrive. If you throw your attack ahead of your entry it will fall short. Initial Move is crucial to the success of your Direct Attack. The forth factor is quickness. Quickness is degree of sudden motion. Quick is not speed. Speed is raw velocity. Quick is how sudden you go from no motion to motion. I have seen many fighters who were not quick. Once they got going, they were very fast and hard to overcome. Fighters who hit you right off the bat without being detected are quick. The fifth factor is being committed. Full commitment to your Direct Attack will enable you to cover the range and hit your opponent. A phrase that really sums this up is one from several time world champion Ray McCallum: “Technique to target.” It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
1979 - Attack By Combination “ABC” is merely compounding the direct attack. Here, the initial move is not quite as important, but if you develop it well, your ABC is going to be that much more effective. In ABC, special care should be taken regarding balance so that you can follow up immediately. You have to develop coordination combining forward footwork and good, solid attacks. When instructing my students up the levels, I divide ABC into three parts: two follow-ups; and continued fighting in range.
Two-Blow Sparring: Two-blow sparring is used to bridge the gap between one -blow sparring (white belt stage) and multiple blow sparring (colored belt stage). I do this because I feel that too many white belts are thrown to the lions too soon. They get tossed into multiple -blow fast sparring before they are ready. Several months of medium speed two -blow sparring will ease them into being ready for regular sparring. “All in its own good time” is the appropriate cliche for this. There are four basic mechanical approaches to two -blow sparring: punch -punch, punch -kick, kick punch, and kick -kick. They can come on your initial attack, after blocking or with a block in between the two attacks. They can be done with the same attacking agent or alternating agents. Also, you can use the same technique or vary the techniques. Here you can already see that within the apparently limited framework there is actually quite a bit to keep a white belt busy for a while. 2019 - I found after the publication of this book that although I clearly laid out the various combinations one could use, there was a missing step in my instruction. Under belt students hadn’t developed the coordination needed to execute them so I came up with some undercut combinations and basic concepts to help to develop that coordination. A basic concept that they needed to learn was how to link their moves together into a smooth combination. Linking your moves together: The first thing I go over with my students is how to link their moves so that they are actually throwing a combination of attacks. The important note regarding combinations is how to link your moves together. When throwing a combination, whether it is composed of only two moves or many more, a key point to make is to link your moves together rather than throw them one at a time. What I mean by this is it’s all too common for a beginner to do one move, reset to his guard and then throw another move and so on. This unfortunately creates gaps in your offense in which your partner can insert a counter strike. How you want to develop a combination is that the end of your striking portion of any attack is the beginning of your next one. As you retract your first attack, another one is on the way. This creates a link from one strike to the next.
In diagram 1, the three moves are separate, unlinked.
In diagram 2, each move is linked to the next.
Developmental Combinations: The developmental combinations I teach are very simple and are simply laid out. The key point was to create combinations that were easy to link together in or der to get the concept across. I set them up the same way I did in my first book: punch -punch, kick-kick, punch-kick, and kick-punch. I will outline in the next several pages the beginning developmental combinations you can use to begin your sparring training. Developmental Combinations - Punch-punch 1 - Front punch, rear punch
Developmental Combinations - Punch-punch 2 - Backfist, under punch
Developmental Combinations - Punch-punch 3 - lead punch, rear hand punch
Developmental Combinations - Punch-punch 4 - traveling punches
Developmental Combinations - Kick-kick 1 - Rear leg front kick, follow up front kick
Developmental Combinations - Kick-kick 2 - Rear leg front kick, follow up round kick
Developmental Combinations - Kick-kick 3 - Rear leg round kick, touch side kick
Developmental Combinations - Kick-kick 4 - Slide up side kick, spin back kick
Developmental Combinations - Kick-punch 1 - Rear leg front kick-follow up punch
Developmental Combinations - Kick-punch 2 - Rear leg round kick-follow up backfist
Developmental Combinations - Kick-punch 3 - Slide up side kick, follow up backfist
Developmental Combinations - Kick-punch 4 - Spin back kick, follow up rear punch
Developmental Combinations - Punch-kick 1 - Stepping rear hand punch, rear leg front kick
Developmental Combinations - Punch-kick 2 - Stepping rear hand punch, rear leg round kick
Developmental Combinations - Punch-kick 3 - Step forward backfist, skip side kick
Developmental Combinations - Punch-kick 4 - Step forward punch, spinning back kick
Intelligent Combinations Once you have developed the coordination to put moves together, then it’s time to put together moves that will be effective in hitting your opponent. Here is where we move onto what I call Intelligent Combinations. An Intelligent Combination is where each attack opens up a hole in your opponent’s defense for your next attack to follow up into. Here is where we begin to get into the definition of a combination as regards fighting: two or more attacks, each intending to land. The combinations detailed in the first printing of this book were Intelligent Combinations. A good example of a developmental combination is Punch -punch l. Here you have a lead jab to the face followed by a rear punch to the face. Your first strike will draw their attention to the upper region. Another punch to the same area doesn’t have much of a chance to land if your partner doesn’t flinch. His attention is already “upstairs”. A good example of an Intelligent Combination is my school’s Punch Combination 2. You execute a lead hand back fist to the face. Your second strike is a rear hand punch to the stomach. You draw attention to the high line (first punch) and attack the low line (second punch). All of the following punch, kick, and hand/foot combinations are examples of intelligent combinations. When you multiply the number of strikes thrown at your opponent, the effect it should have one of blows raining on them from all angles. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll stick with the two -blow combinations for examples. Intelligent combinations - punch-punch.
Slide up - front jab, rear punch
Intelligent combinations continued...
Rear punch to the body, lead punch to the head
Backfist to the head, hammerfist to the back
Intelligent combinations continued...
Lead hand ridge hand to the head, rear punch to the body
Double backfist to the head
2019 - There are a number of additional combinations I am adding in this revised and upgraded version of this book for a couple of reason. First is that each combination can be transformed into a faking action as will be shown in the section on Indirect Attack. Also, as this is a comprehensive book on sparring I am being as complete as possible. Included are combinations that I teach my students in my school for their development. Additional Intelligent Punch-punch combinations
Lead hand backfist, rear hand stomach punch, lead backfist, rear hand hook, lead hand stomach punch
Intelligent combinations continued...
Lead hand punch head, rear punch body, lead hand punch body, rear hand punch head.
Rear hand punch to the body followed by a same hand backfist to the head
Intelligent combinations continued...
Rear hand punch to the body followed by a same hand ridge hand to the head
Lead hand punch to the body followed by a same hand ridge hand to the head
Intelligent combinations continued...
I learned this combination from Chuck Norris as a seminar of his that I attended. This is the basis of the blitz (speed stepping combination) that he taught in his schools. Step forward and lead hand backfist to the head. Follow up rear hand punch to the body. Step through and backfist to the head followed by a rear punch to the body.
Intelligent combinations continued - Punch-kick
Lead hand jab into slide up front kick
Lead hand backfist into slide up side kick
Intelligent combinations continued - Punch-kick
Step in and rear punch to the body, follow up round kick to the head
Lead step and ridge hand followed by spin back kick
Intelligent combinations - Kick-punch
Lunge round kick, backfist
Lunge side kick, rear punch to the head
Intelligent combinations - Kick-punch
Rear leg angle kick, rear hand ridge hand strike
Stationary side kick followed by backfist
Intelligent combinations - Kick-kick
Slide up double side kick
Slide up side kick into spin back kick
Intelligent combinations continued...
Slide up low-high round kick
Slide up high round kick into side kick to the body
Intelligent combinations continued...
Slide up side kick to the middle into round kick high
Slide up double hook kick to the head
Intelligent combinations continued...
Rear leg front kick to the body into round kick to the head
One of the basic things to watch for in two -blow sparring that applies in almost every approach is the “time lag." A time lag is the amount of time in between one action and the next. The more time there is in between, the greater the time lag. Basically, you want to avoid having the slightest time lag while keeping the two actions separate. A good way to do this is when one action is beginning to end, begin the next. This results in one larger action with two interlocking parts. If you were doing practice in a mirror, you would want to end the entire action as you set in your final stance or at full recovery back to the original position. Both attacks are intended to hit. That is important to remember. The preceding examples can be used for a two-blow entry into Indirect Attack, but more on that later. Independent Upper Body Action: One point I would like to insert here is the idea of being able to move your upper body regardless of the position of your lower body. In ABC, as well as in indirect attack, there are times when you won„t have the time to set the kick (or kick fake) to the floor prior to your follow-up but have to fire the follow-up as soon as possible. Here, your extension has to be without any kind of delay at all. This is what I call “jack knifing,*” bending the upper body forward sharply so as to be able to reach with your hand attack when your leg is still in the air. You can also use this independent motion idea with blocking a counter attack when a kick is still up. Another method of this same idea is using rotation to pull your body from a side facing kick position to a more front facing position. Rotating into a follow-up punch or block after a round kick or side kick is the easiest for this. 2019 *A jack-knife is a term for a folding knife. 130
Examples of jack-knifing
Front leg round kick into a jack-knife backfist
Front leg round kick into a jack-knife rear hand straight punch
Examples of jack-knifing
Front leg round kick into a jack-knife defense
Combinations: Combination attacks are the logical extensions of two -blow sparring. You enter into a multiple blow combination with a two -blow set -up: hand -hand, hand -foot, foot -hand, foot -foot. Once you are past doing only two -blow sparring, you can divide combinations into two approaches: 1) follow -ups, and 2) continued fighting in range. Follow ups: Follow-ups are basically chasing an opponent. This is the idea of a “blitz.” You take off after an opponent who backs away a lot. Rear leg front kick, straight punch, charging punches and follow -up side kicks are good in this approach. Spin kicks at the end of the follow -up are good also. Basically, you want to chase your opponent with a minimum of twisting and turning; shoot straight forward like an arrow. One of the classic examples of follow -ups is the “Chuck Norris blitz," which was introduced to me by his student, Bob Barrow. Back in the middle 1960s, Norris became the top tournament competitor by perfecting a series of forward moving combinations. He used an exercise he called “down and back" to perfect his coordination of the attacks and footwork. “Down and back” merely consists of doing combinations the length of the studio floor, with a partner, in a flowing manner with the key being that the footwork never stops. You do not sit dead in a stance; you keep coming on. As your coordination develops in doing this, opportunities will become apparent.
The main reasons behind “blitzing” (rapid charging) an opponent are: l. closing the gap extremely fast, 2. to physical overwhelm. 3. to surprise, and 4. to gain momentum based power for your attacks. l. The reason behind this is obvious. The less time spent getting from your out of range position to your opponent, the less time they have to hit you as you come in. 2.You want to hit your opponent with a barrage of shots to different areas of the body so that he cannot possibly block each shot. Also, the feeling of getting struck rapidly and in different areas of the body tends to overwhelm and scatter your opponent (check page on “Randomness”). 3. Unexpected, sudden movements cause time lags and hesitancy in your opponent‟s reaction time and these can be taken advantage of. 4. The more thrust there is in your rear leg in your charge, the more physical mass (momentum) speed you will have; this will replace the loss of power you would have if you were standing in a firmly based stance. Ninety percent of the success of the blitz depends upon the take -off and thrusting motion of the rear foot. You want to liken the foot work to doing a 100 yard dash in track. You do not pace yourself or build up speed. When the gun goes off, you explode out of the box at a full Sprint. Any the less momentum will drastically reduce your chances of scoring. The main approach for a blitz is a “three -step punch.” In the three -step punch blitz, you have to be ready to hit solidly with your second or third punch, depending on how fast your opponent retreats. A rear leg front kick after the punches is a good follow -up. The main thing you have to watch out for is running into your opponent‟s counter attack when you chase him down. It is very easy to get caught up into what you are doing and forget that he may stop and hit you. Follow up combinations example #1
Follow up combinations example #1 continued...
Follow up combinations example #2.
Follow up combinations example #2 continued...
Follow up combinations example #3.
Follow up combinations example #4 .
Follow up combinations example #5.
Note how in the first move I use my raised knee to protect myself as I move forward.
Follow up combinations example #6.
1979 - Continued fighting in range is where you and your opponent stay inside and “duke it out." Boxing calls this “in -fighting.” You continue to attack, block, trip, trap, etc., from a hand range position. Most karate players are used to an extended arm and leg range. So, when someone stays on the inside with them, the first reaction is to defend yourself: “I’m getting hit!“ What you want to do is get to a point where you can feel comfortable fighting in range. When you get to that point, you can put the pressure on your opponent and get him on the defensive much easier. You would be surprised how many karate players downgrade boxers and then absolutely freeze up when backed into a corner. You can only confront that which you are faced with. If you do not get any practice fighting on the inside, you will not be able to deal with it very effectively. If you can keep your opponent at hand or leg range, great! But most street fights take place on the inside, so you have to be ready for this. With fighting on the inside you need to use knees, elbows, hook and uppercut punches, foot hooks and take downs, clinches, good defensive moving and covering, etc. You can also kick in hand range by doing what I call “tucking kicks.“ To kick in hand range you have to cock the leg tighter to the body in order to hit with the kick. You must really bend the kicking leg to its maximum bend. Front kick, low round kick and side thrust kick are the most easily adaptable to tucking.
Tucking front kick
Tucking round kick
Tucking kicks continued.
Tucking side kick
When doing combinations you must be able to shift from follow -ups to fighting in range and back, etc. You never know when someone you are chasing down will suddenly plant himself and start to fire back. You do not have that much time to let the realization of what is happening just drift in and settle.
A seldom seen punch in karate competition - a left hook.
Continued fighting in range example.
Straight right to the body, double left hook, right elbow, left tucking front kick, inside foot hook, straight right to the head.
Final Notes: This type of approach is good for street fighting and full contact karate. The idea here is not to get into the “one hit and quit" attitude of point karate. I am not against point karate and, in fact, I really enjoy it, but one must be realistic. Elements of in -fighting such as bobbing and weaving and clinching are techniques that overlap into several approaches (offensive trapping, defensive evasion) and will be covered in their appropriate sections. Be able to execute both single hit and multiple hit sparring as each have their place and can be interchanged on various opponents.
Indirect Attack Indirect attack consists of using an attention -getter on your opponent. You can either fake an attack, use some sort of distraction or leg sweep. The primary idea is that you are trying to set up an opponent so that he will be in a position where you can hit him or you can Work off his natural reaction patterns. When Rocky Graziano was knocked out by Sugar Ray Robinson, his comment to the press was, “I zigged when I shoulda’ zagged.” This is the idea of what you are doing to your opponent. Faking When throwing a fake, you have to establish whether your opponent reacts to a body movement or technique. Most people do not respond to an independent unit (arm, leg technique) fake, but they do respond to a body fake. This is a generality but is usually the case. You should be able to do both. Indirect attack is primarily based on faking. A fake is a false lead intended to get your opponent’s attention away from your real action. The object of faking is to get the opponent to react into the real attack. They will either go for a blocking motion or body motion. You must be able to spot what they do and when. You want to accomplish two ends when you fake: 1) you must get your opponent going every which way (jumpy) and, 2) you have got to cover distance. When covering distance on a fake, it is the idea of a “half-commitment” which, incidentally, I got from Joe Lewis’ articles. Half -commitment is merely covering part of the range. Your opponent will never fall for anything that is faked out of range. There are two basic approaches to faking: faking a technique and faking a body motion. They are often used together. Technique Faking: High-Low, Side -Side, Half -Full are the basic approaches to technique faking. High -Low has to do with up and down faking. You fake high and go low, or fake low and go high. The highs and lows do not necessarily have to be extreme. Example, fake a head punch into a hammer fist to the ribs, etc. Side-Side is for right -left or left -right movement. Half -Full is for the same side or broken rhythm techniques, but can be used in conjunction with any of the above. Any technique fake or set -up can contain any or all of the approaches listed. The easiest way to learn how to do a fake is to work backward on a technique. Do the full technique, then do it four-fifths, threefifths, two-fifths and so on until you find the point at which it ceases to look like something to be taken seriously. For that particular opponent, you will have found out how much is needed for them to react. Different opponents will vary in how much of a technique they will react to. A fake should not look like a fake. A fake should look like an attack! The timing for the follow -up attack on a technique fake is just as his body reacts into the desired position, blam! You fire the real shot. The reason for this is because your opponent has to notice your real attack, it has to register, he has to brake his reaction to your fake and handle the real attack. That is basically driving at 70 m.p.h., hitting the brakes, throwing the car in reverse and peeling out. It is too much in too little time if you have no time lag in between his reaction and your follow -up. If he goes to a block, do not let the block actually touch the fake; that will help it rebound off your arm/leg to block the real attack. 144
Example of technique faking - backfist fake into follow up punch to the body.
Example of technique faking - body punch fake into follow up backfist.
Example of technique faking - front jab fake into follow up round kick to the head.
Example of technique faking - slide up side kick chamber turning into a head high round kick.
Example of technique faking - fake los round kick into follow up hook kick to the head.
Seattle Open Karate championships circa 1975
Body Faking: Here is where you use a sharp motion of the hips or shoulders to appear as if you are attacking. With shoulder fakes, you use inclination and rotation. With hip fakes, you use forward motion or rotation. The body fake should be the exact action of the attack you are trying to fake. A lot of people will only do a quick lean to fake a backfist while lunging when they throw it for real. Then, they wonder why the person does not fall for the fake. Again, along with the technique fake, work backward to see how much body action is needed to throw off your opponent. Added note: The less motion you need to fake, the more you must put into that motion to approximate a large action. A body action that is four -fifths complete is a larger action than one that is two -fifths complete, so you have to put more energy and zip to make up for the other two -fifths; otherwise it will just look like a small action and not really worth bothering with. Keep in mind that your opponent has three footwork options to your fakes or attacks: a move forward, hold his position or evade. Use several fakes or safe leads to ascertain just how he reacts so that you make the right move for his reaction. It makes no sense to take a short lead step on somebody who runs or a long lead on someone who moves forward.
Lead shoulder fake into low round kick.
Body fakes continued - hip fake followed up by a lead hand backfist.
Body fakes continued - spin hip fake followed up by a slide up side kick.
2019 – Indirect Attack… Faking Expanded • indirect definition - deviating from a straight line; not going straight to the point Direct Attack and Attack by Combination are very straight forward approaches with no hint of deviousness in them. Indirect Attack is the opposite. With Indirect Attack you are playing with your opponent‟s attention. You want his attention on one thing or area while you hit another area. That is the simplicity of it. Faking/feinting The terms „faking‟ and „feinting‟ are often used interchangeably but the „feint‟ is the proper term. Let‟s go over definitions first (Oxford dictionary). • Fake: to trick or deceive (an opponent) by making a fake (often followed by out): faked out the defender with a deft move and scored.
The running back
• Feint: a movement made in order to deceive an adversary; an attack aimed at one place or point merely as a distraction from the real place or point of attack; the feints of a skilled fencer. I have used the word “fake” for so long that I will continue to use it in this text. Technique fake What is a technique fake? It is an unfinished technique because your opponent reacted. How does an unfinished technique cause a reaction? Well, what does a real technique contain? Speed, power, aim and intent. A fake must contain the same. One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is to fake the fake, to not make it real. Nothing looks less realistic than a half -hearted attempt at a technique and no skilled fighter is going to fall for something like that. Look at like this. A fake is a real technique that you changed your mind about in order to throw something else. So what made you change your mind? Your opponent‟s reaction. Why did he react? Because something was coming he was going to get hit by. That is a fake! Leading centers fake A second kind of faking is when you use body motion to hint that you are going to throw a technique. Leading center fakes consist of use of the shoulder, hips or head to give off a tell -tale sign of a technique being thrown. Leaning forward with the shoulder appears like a back fist is coming. Rolling your hips toward your opponent shows that a kick is on its way. This is what you are giving your opponent a look at. A smart opponent is looking for these kinds of tell-tale signs. This is something you can use against him. Commitment fakes The third category of fakes that I teach is Commitment fakes. A commitment fake is where you take off with a short burst, covering 6 inches at the most. This replicates an explosive take off. By going only 6 inches you halt out of your opponent‟s striking range. Your opponent watches for nothing but a committed entry. He doesn‟t watch leading centers or techniques. He watches for you to take off full bore. I discovered this one while training with the late Larry Kelly. We were at Greg Silva‟s school and I noticed that his fighters didn‟t react to the kinds of fakes I was doing at the time, but every time I attacked, they nearly jumped out of their skins. I thought that was interesting so I decided to give 150
something a try. I was attacking from the Critical Distance Line. I did my first Commitment fake and got my partner to jump. Then I checked something. How was his knowledge of range? I snuck inside of range to see if he‟d react. He didn‟t. Interesting! Here is when I formed another faking strategy - check to see if my opponent reacts to a quick burst. Faking and Opponent Reactions Here is an interesting question for you: How can you tell what kind of fake your partner will react to? This was an interesting dilemma of mine for many years. I made a major breakthrough when I was training with a friend of mine, Fred King. Fred would use leading center fakes (movement of the shoulders or hips telegraphing the technique) on me. I would use techniques fakes (partially executed techniques to get him to respond) on him. Neither one of us were falling for the other. He would pop his hip at me or make a motion with his shoulder and I would wonder why he was doing that. I‟d fake a technique at him and he would just stand there waiting for me to come in. I couldn‟t get him to flinch. One day it hit me out of the blue. Here is what the problem was. Neither of us were trained in the other‟s way of thinking. I didn‟t know the concept of leading centers and he wasn‟t taught to watch techniques. As far as I was concerned, he was just jerking his body and that meant nothing to me. He never fell for my technique fake because he could tell by my lack of shoulder movement that I was not committing to the attack. This lead to my major breakthrough on feints: YOUR FAKES MUST PARALLEL THE EDUCATION OF YOUR OPPONENT. Fascinating! I then figured out how to safely test how your opponent has been educated. The funny thing is that he usually never figures out how you are setting him up. I have found three predominant ways of faking. Most people will fall for at least one of them. I have found that your opponent or partner will respond to: • a commitment fake • a body fake or • a technique fake The way I‟ll test someone is I‟ll check commitment fakes, body fakes, and techniques fakes, in that exact order. I go from what is the safest for me to the most risky. When testing a commitment fake, you don‟t need to get into range of your partner. You pump him with the beginning of an entry step and see if he reacts. If he doesn‟t react, then I‟ll pop a hip or shoulder fake and see if he reacts. If no reaction there, I will try a technique fake. That will usually do it. If none of the above get a reaction, then I usually just attack with a combination or go on the defensive. It‟s rare that I don‟t get a reaction on one of the three. You can never fully know or assume what your partner is watching for. This method of figuring out how your partner will react has been very successful for me. I‟ll demonstrate some examples of how I test an opponent with which kind of fake. The key point what is your opponent going to respond to? I don‟t know. Let‟s “ask”. 151
Faking and opponent reactions - commitment fake examples.
Testing my partner with a commitment fake. I do a pump and she backs off.
She attacks as I test her with a commitment fake. My in-out step keeps me at a safe range.
Faking and opponent reactions - commitment fake examples continued.
I do a commitment fake and draw her fire. The moment she stops, I continue with my own attack.
Faking and opponent reactions - leading centers fakes.
I do a sharp hip twist approximating a spin kick for my fake. My opponent backs off.
I sharply rotate my lead shoulder forward approximating a punch. She immediately strikes so I back off.
Faking and opponent reactions - technique fakes.
In this example I test her reactions with a technique fake. She backs off and starts to block.
She immediately strikes as I execute a technique fake so I abort my action.
2019 - Change Up Techniques How do you throw a back fist without it looking like a back fist? You do what is called a Change Up Technique. This is a very special kind of fake. A change up technique is very specifically a move which starts out being one technique and ends up as another. You notice the emphasis – starts out being. It doesn't look like one technique and then ends up another. This starts out being one technique and ends up as another. It changes shape in mid flight. You see that this is not just a fake high - hit low proposition. This is not necessarily an easy move to do but it is a marvelous sucker move. The technique changes shape in mid flight. It would be like as if the cat jumped at you and landed on you as the dog. This can, at times, be difficult to do as you have, so far, been accustomed to knowing either the technique which lands as the technique (direct or combination attack) or using one technique to set up another (indirect attack). Prior to this point you'd punch the punch or you fake the punch to open them up for the kick. Here you start the straight punch and it ends up being a back fist. You„ll get the idea as you learn the actual techniques themselves. Keep in mind that the Change Up Technique actually starts out being one move and changes to another and you„ll be halfway there already. One additional note is that the Change Up Technique's are very subtle in their shifting. A Change Up Technique is so subtle, so slippery, that it can be used over and over without your opponent figuring out what is going on. That is why it is a Change Up Technique rather than a fake. Work on them. You'll see what I mean.
The punch slides across your centerline and then raises into a backfist.
Change up technique example #1 - rear punch to the body sliding up to a backfist to the head.
Change up technique example #2 - backfist telegraph sliding into front jab to the face.
Starting from a low guard, you raise your forearm horizontally with your fist on the centerline. When your arm reaches head height, you bend your wrist to aim your jab. This takes the fist off the centerline and creates a path for your jab to the face.
Change up technique example #3 - backfist pass into ridge hand strike.
I throw the backfist at an angle to intentionally miss my opponent’s head and retract it into a ridge hand.
Change up technique example #4 - cross behind step back kick into downward round kick.
2019 – The concept of Broken Rhythm actually fits in Indirect Attack. Here is my discovery that led me to be able to teach anyone the subject. Broken Rhythm-Broken Flow Here is one subject, I have to admit, that had me stumped. The closest thing I could understand about broken rhythm was that it was a pump to get your opponent out of position. Understanding it was hard and attempting to teach it was hell. I just couldn‟t get it. I looked up the words „break‟ and „rhythm‟ in the dictionary and still no joy. What the heck was going on? I understood the words but couldn‟t get the concept until the light bulb finally came on. Let me backtrack. Broken Rhythm was a term initially coined and brought to light by the late Bruce Lee. Joe Lewis later popularized it in the leading magazines of the 1970s. After years of research, the simplicity of what occurred finally came to me. I found out what the problem was. The term “Broken Rhythm” was a misnomer (def. a wrong or inaccurate name or designation). Bruce Lee‟s second language was English and he used a term which didn‟t explain what he was doing. Why? He had a misunderstood word and it was the word „rhythm‟ and how it applied to fighting. So, what is rhythm in fighting? I looked it up in the dictionary. • Rhythm – “movement with a regular repetition of beat, accent, rise and fall” That didn‟t help at all. Nobody fights in a robotic, rhythmic beat. Fighters will fight in a continuous action or flow. A combination attack is a flow of action. Even if it an explosive flow of action, it still is a continuous action. The definition of the word „flow‟ is: “a smooth, uninterrupted movement.” Okay, let‟s look at how the term, rhythm, can be used in karate free-sparring. What I have found is that fighters have a particular rate of motion or rate of flow that suits them best. When they can dictate the fight to go at this rate, they often say they have found their rhythm or that they have dictated the rhythm of the fight. I looked into writings about boxing. Boxers are always talking about finding their rhythm and such. Here are some examples of what I found from various sources. “It seems having rhythm is the ability to get the opponent's timing down and being able to double up on it easily so the punches and moves can get in between the other guys punches. Or the ability to stay a quarter step ahead of his tempo.” “I think of rhythm as basically not being predictable, i.e. not throwing the same combinations, not moving your head left -right-left-right all the time. Fighting out of rhythm means a guy has more difficultly figuring you out and timing you.” “You should watch Mayweather. He is amazing at taking his opponents out of their rhythm and making them fight his fight. If you have a decent jab, use it. It is such an underused weapon in amateur boxing and it completely disrupts your opponent‟s rhythm if you use it right.” 161
“Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard are beautiful to watch, I haven‟t seen much of Sugar Ray Robinson‟s fights. I see that body rhythm is putting punches together and avoiding punches make your rhythm. What in am more interested in is the defensive side of rhythm, avoiding punches and being elusive. So basically rhythm means not to be predictable with your movements and change the speed and direction of your head movements, vary the speed and combinations of your punches.” The above statements sound like “rhythm” is defined as basically fighting your fight and not the other guy‟s. The closest thing I could find as to a definition that might relate rhythm to fighting was in the Oxford dictionary: • 3.1 Art “A harmonious sequence or correlation of colours or elements” Okay, here was somewhere to begin. A “harmonious sequence or correlation of colours or elements” from my perspective, is fighting my fight. “Harmonious sequence” = flow. Broken Rhythm drills have always been staccato, start -stop-start affairs. Well, if fighters fight in a flow of motion then what has been called Broken Rhythm would better be referred to as Broken Flow. Here are four basic types of Broken Flow (by no means a complete list): • Timing break – Interruptions in a series of techniques (instead of a combination being 1 -2-3-4, it is more like 1-2…pause…3-4). This can also apply to your stepping actions. • Speed break – Speeding up or slowing down within a flow of action • Motion break – Stopping and restarting • Energy break – Shifting from explosive action to being relaxed or vice versa If „rhythm‟ is more fighting your fight the way you want to or following your game plan, Broken Rhythm is when this is prevented. You‟re using a Broken Flow to create a Broken Rhythm in your opponent. Is this now making sense? So, then what is Broken Rhythm, by definition? It is when another breaks into your rhythm or interrupts your rhythm. One way is when your opponent makes you feel uncomfortable or of out of sorts by one of the four ways outlined above. You can‟t get the right feeling. Your rhythm is broken. Any of these could disrupt a fighter‟s rhythm, a fighter‟s composure. When I put all that together, then it hit me. You apply Broken Flow to break the other guy’s rhythm . That makes sense! The term Broken Rhythm was being used backwards. To sum it up you can break it down this way: • Typical use of Broken Rhythm is actually Broken Flow • Broken Rhythm as a noun is a misnomer • As a verb it should be Breaking Rhythm • Broken Rhythm is an effect, it’s what the other guy feels • As a verb it should be Broken Flow, you apply a Broken Flow to achieve a broken rhythm or upset composure You add Broken Flow to your entry footwork and you will not need to worry about if you are explosive or not. 162
Broken flow example
This is my favorite example of Broken Flow. I do a short step to draw her fire. I land short to make her attack fall short and then I finish my entry and attack.
2019 - Pulling Your Opponent Out Of Position All of the preceding strategies for Indirect Attack have one common goal – to pull your opponent out of position. When using offensive and defensive approaches, you begin to work on strategy. The two things you want to check your opponent for is if they are set or if they aren‟t set. When I look at your opponent being set, I don‟t mean are they in a stance, not moving. I mean is your opponent able to hit at you from their position, whether they are moving or not. Are they set up to attack you. If so, they‟re set. Here is a workable outline of how to approach your opponent. NOT SET: Direct style attack. They aren‟t ready. You just go on them. SET: Indirect attack. You pull them out of setup and then you go. The different ways you can pull your opponent out of position are: Technique fake Pump (footwork and body fake) Angle step Disconnect (back up so far that you‟re way out of range) These are just some examples. There are all sorts of different ways you can do this. When you have this concept down, you will create many more examples of your own. The primary thing is if your opponent is set up, pull them out of set position and then attack. Don‟t go in on someone who is set unless you have unbelievable speed...and even then it‟s chancy. You set them up for your attack, don‟t get yourself setup for their attack. Ruin their position. This is the way to approach your opponent safely. Start by seeing if your opponent is ready and then act accordingly. When watching your opponent‟s positional setup, watch for your opponent to pull himself out of position also. This is very common with lower belts and careless upper belts. Often they will do the work for you as far as out of position goes.
1979 - Foot Hooks and Sweeps You can set someone up for an attack by either using “non -technique" distractors or unbalancing actions. Take-downs and throws are in a different category than foot hooks and sweeps. Take -downs and throws actually get your opponent to the floor while foot hooks and sweeps are unbalancers. A foot hook or sweep is an excellent method of setting up an opponent for a follow -up attack. The prime thing to avoid is putting all your attention on the hook or sweep and forgetting your opponent. This is a great way to get hit as you are coming in. I have worked it quite often and have gotten caught by it also. First, we will go over the mechanics of hooks and sweeps and then into examples. Look at the direction of pressure in any given stance. Picture a tripod, three legs going down and outward from a central point. The direction of pressure follows the legs out. Look at a stance of a person. People have two legs so balance is a bit more precarious from the start. Now from the central joining point (hips) the legs again go down and outward to the floor. There are two things that keep people from involuntarily sliding to a side split position (not including stretching): 1) the friction from our feet and 2) the combined weight and muscular pressure applied by the legs to make the base more solid, The outward pressure direction basically follows the thighs and is like two magnets opposing each other.
Now, to unbalance a person, all you need do is to pull his leg in the direction of the outward pressure of his stance. (You would not believe the number of people who bash people in the legs in the name of leg sweeps.) You want to reduce or completely eliminate the friction of his feet so as to unbalance him. Since it is not feasible to ask him to put powder on the bottoms of his feet, you have got to hook as close to the foot as possible (ankle) and to jerk as sharply as possible. Curl the foot back toward you so that it resembles a hook. You also have to have your standing foot no farther away than a shoulder width from his lead foot so you do not lose leverage by being stretched out. Foot hooks are used against a solid base and foot sweeps are against a mobile base.
Rear leg foot hook, inside.
Rear leg foot hook, outside.
Rear leg foot hook, inside.
Rear leg foot hook, inside.
Slide up round kick sweep.
Slide up hook kick sweep.
Slide up lead leg foot hook against a jumping opponent.
Slide up lead leg foot hook against a jumping opponent.
2019 - Leg Taps/Leg sweeps This second area of Indirect Attack deals with manipulating their attention units by physical touch. As I detailed in the beginning of the section on intelligent combinations, you want to play with your opponent’s attention units. You want to move them and shift them around to your advantage. Using leg taps and leg sweeps are great ways of doing so. What differentiates a leg tap from a leg sweep? How do you know which to use in any given situation? The answer is very simple. How is your opponent standing? Look at the photo below. Look at the way I am standing. My feet are too far apart for someone to leg sweep me successfully. My rear leg is positioned to use counter force against a sweep coming toward my front leg. For a leg sweep to be effective against me in this position, you would have to be a lot bigger than me to pull it off. I have successfully countered leg sweeps for years by having my stance to wide in a forward facing position. I did this, much to the surprise of my opponent, at an international competition in Cleveland, Ohio. In the warm up matches I was faced against a Japanese national or world champion (I can’t remember which). During the match he came in at me with a leg sweep. I saw his set up for it and dropped my weight. His sweeping leg stopped dead on my planted leg as if he was kicking a tree trunk while I hit him with my counter punch. My legs were too wide for a leg sweep...but not for a leg tap which we’ll get into now.
The idea of a leg tap is to swat your opponent’s leg hard enough to get their attention. I have used a lead leg round kick to do this successfully. I have used the following two techniques successfully in national competitions. The first is the leg tap -back fist. I was down in Long Beach, California at the 1972 International Karate Championships. The lightweight black belt division was so big that they had to split it up into two rings. I was fighting Frank Wilson to see who would go to the finals that night. We had a tied score and the match went into overtime and whoever scored the first point won. This was the technique that put me into the evening finals and launched my nationally rated career. This next example is one I seldom executed but I am glad I did at this particular tournament. I was at the 1979 Mid-America Diamond Nationals, one of the top rated tournaments in the late 1970s/early 1980s. I was fighting in the middleweight division again to see who would be fighting for first place in the evening finals. My opponent was David Deaton. I remembered Dave because he beat me in a match eight years before in my home region, the Pacific Northwest, and I never had a chance to even things up. We had both gotten a lot better in the ensuing eight years and here we were in overtime (again) in the semi-finals. I executed a lead leg tap-rear hand punch to score on him which got me into the finals. The odd thing is, I still don’t know why I used this one as it was never a “go to” move for me. It just came out of thin air. I’m glad it did. I went on to win that match and the grand championship later on in the evening. 171
Leg tap with a follow up backfist.
2019 - Karate Sweeping & Throwing Included in indirect style of sparring is the use of sweeps (using the bottom of the foot to move the leg) and throws. These are set ups for the actual finishing attacks. This is what one would call the beginnings of “karate grappling”. Applications of sweeping and throwing were far more prevalent in the 1950s through the early l970s as many early fighters had a judo background in addition to their karate training. Many tournament fighters were known for their sweeps and takedowns. It was dangerous to leave a kick out for them to grab. In the late 1980s things changed and sweeps and takedowns were no longer allowed in tournament competition. The development of karate sparring techniques and strategies quite often ran parallel with tournament competition. When sweeping and throwing were no longer allowed, the art of sweeping began to die out. I used sweeps and takedowns regularly in my competition career and am sharing the methods used then and which will work now. These sweeps and takedowns follow the same guidelines as I outlined in 1979. 172
Sweeping/Throwing Techniques Preparation A key thing to know is when to use which technique. This depends on the stance your partner has and the degree of rooting or how set he is in the stance. First let’s take a look at the stance itself. A position where you partner is facing you with his legs a bit apart sideways is not very conducive to a sweep. You have no leverage. You want your partner’s feet in a line with each other pointing at you. If your partner has a lot of weight sunk into his stance, you will want to hook his leg for a takedown. If he hasn’t got much weight on his front foot you will need to just go for the sweep for an off -balancing technique or shoot for the rear leg cut. If your partner is “high riding” (knees not bent at all) you can sweep both legs for the takedown.
Feet planted and wide apart
Feet in a line
In this example the rear leg foot sweep is set up by a distracting one-two punch combination.
Foot sweeps and takedowns continued.
I sweep her leg just enough to offset her and set her up for my punch.
Foot sweeps and takedowns continued.
I execute a pull in the direction opposite of the foot hook in order to effect a takedown.
Foot sweeps and takedowns continued.
The key point on this sweep is to cut both legs at the same time.
Foot sweeps and takedowns continued.
The key point of this sweep is to catch the descending foot just prior to it touching the floor.
Foot sweeps and takedowns continued.
Pull downward just as you cut in front of the leg. The natural reaction of your opponent is to protect the face from hitting the floor. This opens her up for the follow up punch.
Foot sweeps and takedowns continued.
Leading with the backfist, cross step deep enough to bump into their body so as to unbalance your opponent. Cut across the back of both legs for the full sweep.
Foot sweeps and takedowns continued.
The trick on this takedown is to intentionally miss with your punch so that you can place your arm across the body to create a scissor action with you leg.
Foot sweeps and takedowns continued.
Full leg reaping action against an opponent who lifts their lead leg as a guard against kicks.
Foot sweeps and takedowns continued.
Rear leg reaping action against an opponent who lifts their lead leg as a guard against kicks.
Foot sweeps and takedowns continued.
In this takedown I combine a push with a forward heel hook.
Foot sweeps and takedowns continued.
In this takedown I combine a pull with a cross behind heel hook.
Foot sweeps and takedowns continued.
This move has the nickname “The Iron Broom”
NOTE: Although the examples of sweeping/throwing that follow show follow up strikes, you can also use any kind of shove, off -balance action, escape or immobilization action as your follow up. The typical karate application is to do some sort of finishing move. Quite often the takedown or throw itself contains enough impact to discourage further hostilities. Executing a sweeping takedown in competition is frowned upon these days. A pity… 1979 - A foot sweep is basically used with a slide up, and mechanically it is a slide up round kick or hook kick to the ankle. It is a short snappy action. You can also use a rear leg sweep, but those leave you open for an immediate counter. The idea here is to either turn him slightly or to redirect attention by the slapping of his leg. The less extraneous the movement in this action the better. a. Throw/Take-Down; Get your opponent from a standing position to a prone one. b. Foot Hook: Unbalance opponent from a solid base or when setting down from a kick. c. Foot Sweep: Displace your opponent‟s position or redirect your opponent's attention while he is mobile. Note: I include the description for throwing so as to explain the difference between them and hooks/ sweeps. Throwing will be covered in the section on “Attack by Trapping”. d. Distractions: Get your opponent‟s attention. How? I have seen anything from hooting and hollering to the unveiling of an obscene hand signal hidden in the stance. I even worked getting a guy to turn his head and look behind because I stopped fighting and pointed to the stands - in competition, mind you! See what works for you. Final Notes: An indirect attack works on the premise that you want to redirect your opponent‟s attention from point A to point B so that you can hit point A. You can use a combination of fakes and hooks / sweeps prior to the real attack. Nowhere in the book of rules does it say just one set -up per attack. This approach is a good one for your imagination so use it.
Attack By Trapping I divide attack by trapping into two application types: sparring applications and self -defense applications. This is because there are maneuvers that will specifically apply to karate sparring and there are those that will specifically apply to street fighting. It is best to know which will work where. Example: I was working out with a friend of mine who was extolling the good points of the Wing Chun gung fu method of trapping hands. I told him I had never had it worked on me in sparring. So we sparred, and every time we got in close I pounded him with hooks, knees in the clinches. Then we played with self -defense situations, grabs, attempted punches, etc. He tied my arms up in so many knots I would have sworn he was a sailor. There are situational approaches that are not interchangeable and there are those that are. 2019 – Here is one point where I have to do a complete reversal of opinion. In the above paragraph I discounted rather politely how trapping hands didn‟t work in sparring. When my partner tried to execute a trapping hands maneuver on me in sparring, I pounded him like a week old steak. I totally discounted trapping hands after that. What I should have realized was that perhaps he wasn‟t that good at it. Fast forward 35 years later. I was sparring a friend of mine, Mike Shintaku – a very experienced black belt. In the middle of an exchange I did one of the basic trapping maneuvers from Modern Arnis on him, the brush -trap-strike. He looked at me and said, “That’s one of your arnis techniques, isn’t it?” I replied that it was and we continued sparring. What I didn‟t tell him at the time was that the technique wasn‟t planned but appeared out of the blue. I had trained in arnis and the hand tchniques for so long that when the opportunity was right, it came out. Okay, I can be wrong. I will delineate a series of trapping hands exercises for you later in the text. 1979 - A “trap” consists of a grab, arm pin, joint lock, catching a kick or take-down/throw and any type of mat work. Sparring Applications of Attack by Trapping: I divide this section into three options: l) grabbing/pressing. 2) clinching, and 3) take-downs. l. Grabbing/Pressing: This is usually done during your entry into your opponent„s range as clinching generally occurs while you are already in range. When you grab you can pull your opponent toward you (or if fighting a heavier opponent, pull yourself to him), turn him, pull up or down. A press is a pushing of the arm either down, sideways or toward the opponent. The idea is to immobilize that attacking agent. This is especially good when immobilizing your opponent„s favorite arm. Watch out for extending your arm too far prior to grabbing or pressing because this opens you up. Use the action in conjunction with other arm motions so it is not blatantly obvious. To do this with the feet you can either leg check, hip check, or step on your opponent‟s foot.
Grab and punch.
Grab and kick.
Grabbing/Pressing examples continued.
Press down and punch.
2. Clinching: There are several ways to tie up your opponent so that he cannot hit you with his arms. This is a good way to work on an opponent with knees, elbows, and close hooks on the inside plus a good set -up for going into a take-down. Two arms over the arms (defensive clinch 1): Here you are putting both your arms over the tops of his arms and applying pressure forward and slightly down. Your wrist and hand curl over his wrist and you tuck your elbows into your body and close to each other. The forearms exert the pressure and the wrists/hands “stick” to your opponent‟s wrists. You want to make sure that your elbows are in protecting the ribs and that you are hooking, not grabbing with the fingers.
Defensive clinch 1 - sneak punch from a clinch. 189
Defensive clinch 1 continued.
Defensive clinch 1 - foot hook followed by a knee to the groin.
Escape from defensive clinch 1 - drop your right hand with the downward pressure of your opponent’s left. Use your left hand to trap his left and punch over the top. 190
One arm behind the neck, one over the arm (defensive clinch 2): This is a variation of the first, but you hook his neck and pull downward with one arm. Especially keep the elbow in because of your elevated arm position hooking the neck: you will be open for a rib shot if you do not. When your opponent resists your head pull, let him raise his head up, punch him with your other hand and then pull his head back down. This is an effective cheap shot. On both clinches a and b you want to start hitting in some way so that your opponent will not disengage and punch you. Knees and low kicks are especially effective for hitting in clinches. You can also disengage yourself hit coming out of the break.
Defensive clinch 2 - uppercut from the clinch.
Both hands behind the neck and pulling down (defensive clinch 3): This was made popular in the second Ali -Frazier boxing match. The first reaction to the head being pulled down is to resist and try to bring yourself upright. Since you can lean entire weight on his neck, he is expending a lot of wasted energy pulling against you.
I pull down on his head and kick him as he tries to lift up out of it.
Defensive clinch 3 - knee into a hip throw. 192
Defensive clinch 3 continued.
Defensive clinch 3 into a choke.
Escape from defensive clinch 3.
3. Take-downs: A take -down is where you end up putting your opponent on the ground. Judo throws and trips, wrestling take-downs or just picking up somebody and dumping them all come under the concept of take-downs. Offensively, a take -down should be a follow -up to an attack or fake since it is going to be somewhat risky to try and bridge the gap to do a take-down without getting hit on the way in. Once you are on the inside, you can initiate the take-down action. Defensively, the easiest way to do it is to grab a kick and knock the support leg out from under him. Basically, you want your opponent to over commit himself with a body action so that you can work off it and throw him. Either way, offensively or defensively, you want to work with their balance rather than attempting to physically up-end them. 2019 – It never occurred to me when I first wrote this book that a capture and counter attack was another defensive option. I just included the kick captures in this section as part of the overall topic of takedowns and throws. I will keep them in here to maintain continuity but an added defensive approach of Capture and Counter would be a subheading of Block and Hit in the section where I go over Defensive Approaches. 1979 - I have set up several categories of balance description that I believe are clearer than the usual descriptions. I have especially been dissatisfied with the judo classifications; i.e., hip throws, leg throws, sacrifice throws, etc. Here, I classify throwing / take-downs by method of balance description. a. Reposition the mass so that it is out of alignment with the base. This is exampled best by the basic hip throw, shoulder throw, somersault throw. Basically the idea here is to get the upper body out of alignment with the stance so that you get an imbalance in the over-all position. Natural alignment of the body for balance when standing.
Base of support (feet)
Upper body out of alignment with base. 194
Examples of balance in throwing A.
Balance in throwing A - shoulder throw.
Balance in throwing A - somersault throw.
b. Reposition the mass so that the base no longer provides solid support. Here what you are doing is repositioning the body weight so that it is mostly supported on one leg. The difference between this and the preceding method is that here your opponent still maintains his balance, albeit on one leg. Then you merely undercut the support leg for the throw. Some opponents will naturally retreat to a one leg position so that you will not have to grapple with them onto one leg.
Balance in throwing B - the kick-back throw (top two rows), side kick capture and throw (bottom two rows).
Examples of balance in throwing B continued.
I catch her mid spinning hook kick and hook my leg in front of her thigh, causing her to fall towards her face.
Balance in throwing B continued - rear leg cut.
c. Reposition the base so that it no longer supports the mass. Here you go directly for the legs without creating any imbalance beforehand. The idea of pulling the rug out from under your opponent is what is employed here. Wrestling‟s single and double take-downs (double leg take -down shown below) are examples of this. You have to make sure that you set up your opponent with some kind of distraction so that you do not get hit on the way in.
d. Getting the body to follow a single extremity. This is your basic Aikido approach. The main idea is “leading the person around by the nose." A reverse wrist lock and rear choke throw are good examples of these. Any throw involving the head will generally fall under this category.
Balance in throwing D - kick capture and ankle twist.
Balance in throwing D - neck twist. 199
2019 – For the purposes of this book, these categories remain valid. I did a thorough research project on how to manipulate your opponent‟s position and re-categorized balance and body structure breaks. This is covered in my book, Shintai Kyousei Jutsu. 1979 - Trapping an “Over block” You can set yourself up to do a trap on an opponent who overblocks your attack. When you block, you want to do a blocking action that is just enough for the particular attack. A lot of people over block, leaving their arm extended, ready to be grabbed, pulled, pressed, etc. Avoid over blocking yourself and capitalize on it when your opponent over blocks. Basic defensive trapping has to do with either an evade and trap or block and trap approach. Evade and trap tends to be more effective against hand attacks since it is quite difficult to block and trap a punch that is coming at you full speed. If you do block and trap against a punch, it would be more effective to block the punch and go for an immobilization/trap or takedown maneuver involving a different part of the body. It is hard to grab a punch. It is much easier and economical in terms of your energy expenditure to evade the punch and work off the rest of the body. Block and trap is quite effective against single kicks; you just snag them as they touch your blocking arm.
My partner pushes my punch too far. I trap his blocking arm and follow up strike.
Trapping an over block examples continued.
My partner extends his guard to far out from his head. I connect and pull his arm down for my follow up punch.
Self-Defense Applications An explanatory note here. I categorize “self -defense karate" into two sections: 1) fist fighting, and 2) self-defense. Fist fighting is the actual slug out, kicking, punching, clawing, screaming, biting, etc., portion of a fight. Self -defense is against the less aggressive and more annoying type of attack. I feel if you are threatened with bodily harm, then pound the attacker right into the dirt without delay. But there are times when it is not appropriate to pound your opponent, when a simple smack in the face or breakaway will suffice. This is what I term self -defense techniques. There are trapping actions that work better off an arm extension than a punching action. A lot of what I consider self -defense trapping is standard for judo, aikido, jujutsu and some types of gung fu. I will describe examples of the different approach types rather than do an expansive section on the techniques themselves. Joint Locks: Arm and wrist. These are your basic immobilization /come alongs that are jujutsu based and adopted by a lot of law enforcement departments in this country. Here you are looking for submission and control, although in extreme cases, they can be used for either dislocating or breaking the joint itself. Judo. jujutsu and aikido books have good examples of joint locks. 2019 - I fully detail joint locks in an arnis (Filipino Martial Arts) book I wrote and produced, Trankada - The Ties That Bind (www.superdanonlinelibrary.com).
Chokes: Chokes are submission holds designed to render your opponent unconscious. You can approach it two ways: 1) cut off the air supply to the lungs (wind pipe), or 2) cut off blood supply to the brain (carotid artery). Either way is effective although they carry an aspect of danger. When applying a choke you must hit the right spot quickly as your opponent is bound to fight like crazy to get out of it. Any good judo book will have an expansive collection of choke examples. Grabbing: This is a lot like the sparring applications, but here you will use a bit more rotation to turn your opponent as you grab him. The reasons for this is that you want to position him for either a shove, take-down or strike of some sort, and since you are defending against presumably) a non -striking attack, you will have the time to grab and rotate rather than on offense when you have to move as fast as possible. Trapping Hands: This is a method in which you use your opponent„s directional arm movement to get him in his own way so as to hinder his own attack possibilities. It generally consists of getting one arm on top of the other and pressing down. Easy as it sounds, it is almost an art in itself and requires a lot of practice. This approach to self -defense is a prominent portion of the Wing Chun gung fu method and its principles have found their way into many other styles. Basically the idea is to tie your opponent up and hit him or immobilize him. 2019 – Trapping Hands I stated earlier in this text that this is an area where I had to do a complete reversal of opinion which was that trapping hands had no functional place in the world of free sparring. I held that opinion for decades and then a funny thing happened. I was sparring with a friend of mine and we were in some sort of exchange of punches where, out of the blue, a simple trapping hands technique appeared. No one was more surprised than me. What I later figured out was with all of the drilling I had done with it in arnis, it finally came alive in the free sparring. Fascinating. So, here is a complete turnabout for this book. Trapping deals with tactile monitoring, recognition by touch. Touch recognition is where you use trapping, joint locking, redirection, sticking, adhering, and so forth. Many Chinese styles emphasize this a lot but don‟t apply it much in sparring. My feeling is that they have not become comfortable in the presence of their opponents fast and hard attacks. They haven‟t learned to confront yet. Here I am not talking about a master of an art. I am talking about your rank and file student and “novice expert," a young black belt. I've sparred a number of good players whose styles taught sticking hands and so forth and when they demonstrated the art of sticking in either the drills or the self -defense movements, they were pretty good. When we sparred it was a different story. I kept them from applying the sticking skills. The skipped step, I feel, was that they never did get to a point where they could actually handle the tools of the trade (the attacks themselves) comfortably in a non -prearranged manner or in a “hot fight" situation. Tactile monitoring skill comes after visual monitoring skill. It doesn‟t come magically all of itself though. You have to train it until you get a sensitivity of pressure. Then you can detect what direction your opponent is pushing/pulling and so forth so that you can use it to your best advantage. But this, to me, comes after you can first comfortably confront and handle an attack. 202
As to handling attacks, l teach my students to block first, then to angle and cover/shield their body, then learn to execute trapping, then joint locking, and finally, neutralizing. These are exact steps. The reason is that it is easier for the student to train confronting an attack that comes at them from far away than one that starts up close. I want to train a person using the proper gradient step so that training doesn't become an overwhelming thing for them. It is easier to confront something farther away than close up, so, that's where you start. You build up to a close -in confront of an attack. To develop this close -in confront skill, here are the trapping actions I teach. I start with an the obstruction removal action.
Trapping hands exercises continued - folding elbow-trap-strike.
Trapping hands exercises continued - “threading”.
I use my rear arm to slide to the inside of his contact arm and pull outward, opening him up for my strike.
Trapping hands exercises continued - pull down and strike.
The first four applications came from contact to the back of your arm. The next couple are from contact to the inside of your arm. This first is a simple pull down and strike.
Trapping hands exercises continued - “giving way” and strike.
My partner applies pressure to the inside of my arm. I ride with the pressure and escape it, trap with my other hand and counter strike him.
Trapping hands exercises continued - parry, trap and strike.
This is a basic trapping action against a committed punch. You parry his punch off to the side. You capture it as it passes by and you counter strike with your parrying hand.
Trapping hands exercises continued - backhand parry, trap and strike.
Trapping hands exercises continued - obstruction removal against a hook punch.
Whether you are triggering off of a contact application (the first six examples) or defending against a punch or throwing a punch, training in these nine examples are sufficient for you to develop your contact or tactile monitoring skills. 210
1979 - Takedowns Basically the same ideas apply to self -defense as they do to sparring, but with added emphasis on hitting your opponent before trying to throw him. Unless it is under the optimum balance conditions, do not ever initiate with a take -down without softening up your opponent first. Do not mess around; give the take-down its best chance of working. Soften your opponent up for it first. 2019 - The photo examples in the original book were counter attacks as opposed to initial attacks. Although not demonstrated, the above datum remains true. Use some sort of striking or distraction action before attempting any kind of takedown on your partner. I look at it this way. Once you grab him he knows something is up and will try to defend against it. A motto I use in my school is “if you are going to take him to the cleaners, you‟d better use some fabric softener first.”
Duck and double leg takedown.
Attack by trapping continued - using a takedown as a counter attack.
2019 - Final note regarding takedowns. Although it is outside of the scope of the intention of this book, I follow the old combat style of jujutsu viewpoint that the ground is your final strike. In sparring you control the fall of your partner so that he suffers no injury. You do the same in competition where takedowns are allowed. In a self defense situation, the ground and how hard it is becomes your final punch. In this manner, a takedown can also be your only punch. Wham! He hits the ground and is stunned. That gives you time to get out of there.
Trap (slap down) and punch in competition.
1979 - Attack By Drawing This type of attack approach and the first of the defensive approaches, “Hitting as the Opponent Changes,” epitomize the fine art of splitting hairs. Attack by drawing appears defensive and “Hitting as the Opponent Changes” appears offensive. However, if you recheck the definitions for offense and defense I set up in the opening chapter of this section, you will notice that Attack by drawing is an attack after setting up your opponent and “Hitting as the Opponent Changes“ is using your opponent‟s initial action(s) to respond to. „Tis splitting hairs, I agree, but it works in conjunction with your attitude when fighting, be it offensive or defensive. There are three approaches to attack by drawing: to draw your opponent by: a) “bait,” leaving an opening in your guard, b) “push,” goad your opponent into attacking prematurely, or c) "pull," pull away out of range and get the opponent to either make up the distance or to chase you. Bait: This is fairly simple to do. You merely leave an area open and when your opponent attacks, cover the area or shift its position out of line with the attack. Look for the hole he leaves open as he attacks and go for it. This requires good monitoring and attack recognition to do this well. Note: at times you will have to cover against or actually block his attack as you shoot for the opening. You can also use stylistic stances and postures to induce someone into attacking. Karate and gung fu have a whole ton of positions that are of minimal use in fighting. Actually, though, any fighting posture you adopt has holes in it and is somewhat of a lure whether you want it to he or not. Accept it and use it to your advantage.
Note the areas we are leaving for open attack. If I leave my hands, down it opens up my head. Her hands raised up in a boxer’s position leaves her groin and legs open for attack (photo 1). If I raise my elbow, it opens up my rib cage (photo 2).
Attack by drawing - baiting your opponent.
Bait your opponent by leaving your head open. Counter with a side kick.
Bait your opponent by leaving your body open. Clear the kick and counter with a punch.
Attack by drawing - baiting your opponent continued.
I leave my head open for her attack. I slide my head to the side and counter attack her body.
I leave my head open for her kick. She goes for the opening. I slide slightly back and counter kick to the groin.
Attack by drawing - baiting your opponent continued.
Here is one I’ve used in matches. I leave my body open for the kick and angle off and counter as she does so.
Push: This requires a bit more trickery You can goad your opponent with footwork or by pressure. With footwork, you can move in and out of his critical distance line. As you zig -zag his CDL, be ready for him to move on you as you pull out. With pressuring, you can “stutter step” and employ a number of fakes to get the opponent jumpy. When pressuring your opponent be sure to have noted his favorite attacks and favorite attack positions because when you really get him jumpy, you can expect an attack from him. He will generally fire his attack sooner than he originally wanted, out of nervousness. Monitor him closely. Do not get so caught up with pressuring him that you do not see his attack coming. Get after him, “step on his toes," use broken rhythm, drive him batty, but do not blow it by not monitoring his actions.
Pull: This is good for driving your opponent somewhat crazy. Basically, you keep stepping out of range or stay totally away from him until his patience breaks and he comes after you full bore. Then you either run or pick him off, depending on what the options are at the time. You can switch back and forth from push to pull to push and really get him going. Here, make sure that you maintain a water -tight guard, excellent mobility, and a tight monitoring on your opponent to make this work. Your aim is to literally pull him into your attack. You will notice that you have directional options for drawing your opponent in: moving forward push; holding your position - bait; and moving away - pull. Be able to interchange these with the variations in your opponent‟s approach to best suit your own ends. Also be able to recognize them when they are being pulled on you. 2019 - Attack by Drawing Attack by Drawing is the last of the offensive approaches delineated by Bruce Lee and Joe Lewis. This is an interesting one in that you are opening up a hole in your opponent‟s defense by opening up a hole in yours. As opposed to Attack by Combination where you go forward to open up a hole, Attack by Drawing does the exact opposite. You entice your opponent to leave an opening for you to hit. How does this work? Simple. Any time you attack, you leave yourself open somewhere. You hit high, you leave yourself open somewhere low. You hit low and you leave yourself open somewhere higher up. We only have two arms and legs so we can‟t protect ourselves everywhere at once. You entice him to strike at a target (that you left open on purpose), which in doing so, creates an open target for you to deliver a counter strike of your own. This is the basis of Attack by Drawing. 1979 - Final Notes: In order to make the offensive (and defensive) approaches work, you have got to give total commitment to them. No half measures will do against anyone who is good at all. When you can do the offensive approaches singularly with some degree of comfort, then compound them. Example #1. Combination attack-direct attack. Hit-hit-fake-hit. Example #2. Attack by drawing/Attack by trapping. Bait -block kick -take down-choke. Both of these will be demonstrated in the next pages. It is good to have a couple of surprise reserve tactics for when the going gets rough. We all have our favorites; we all should have our backups, too.
Compounding offensive approaches example 1.
Attack by combination followed by indirect attack.
Compounding offensive approaches example 2.
Attack by drawing followed by attack by trapping.
Defensive Approaches The object of defense is to keep from getting hit. You are responding to your opponent’s attack, commitment, his taking the initiative, telegraphing or any combination of these. Basically, he is making the first move and you are working off it. You have three directional options while defending: 1) forward toward your opponent, 2) holding your position, and 3) away, out of line with your opponent’s attack. 2019 – I have to point out in this part of the text that I was being rather politically correct when I wrote the above paragraph. I was disappointed that both Bruce Lee and Joe Lewis had given defensive approaches the short shrift. Lewis categorized defensive fighters as a) jammers, b) blockers and c) runners. To me, that really didn’t help the defensively minded fighter. I was a defensive minded fighter so I decided to really delineate the actual options that were available, much like Lee and Lewis did for offensive minded fighters. I broke them down ranging from the most aggressive kind of defense to the most passive. This made defensive options a lot more clear for all students. 1979 - Different fighters will be more susceptible to different defensive approaches. To know all the options you have defensively (as well as offensively) is going to increase your chances of success against any given opponent. Therefore, get to know these defensive approaches as well as the offensive approaches. You will find they will come in handy. Success often hinges on the ability to change. Keep it in mind. Added Note: Your counter attack type comes under the five offensive approaches. Most people counter with either a direct attack or combination attack, but you can actually counter with whatever attack approach that is most appropriate. My #1 rule concerning fighting is: The situation dictates the response! Nothing has to be. There are going to be some responses more optimum than others but the situation always dictates the response. Often you are not set for the most optimum response, so you have to do what is most appropriate instead. That may be ducking, running, covering or whatever. Be cautious of using this axiom as an excuse for not being awake and aware of the opponent and not trying to do your best. It can be the great justifier for chronic mistakes, bad habits and just plain chickening out. If you are having trouble with an approach, work with a partner who will give you enough slack so that you can become skilled at it. Then when the appropriate situation arises, you will be able to handle it.
Hit As Your Opponent Changes I put this in the category of defensive approaches because your opponent is moving first, regardless if he is going to attack or merely moving. Here you want to select a time to hit your opponent based on his movements. He may be doing footwork or bobbing his hands or whatever. The main thing is to catch him in mid -move from one point to another. This is good if he is stepping, changing lead legs, dropping an arm, etc. Generally a direct attack is quite effective in this. The crucial point is to be ready to attack in a split second without appearing as though you are ready to pounce. Constantly moving in one place or circling will help disguise your initial move when you go. Monitor your opponent for lapses, awareness lapses. This is when to pounce, when he lets his mental guard down. Often it will be when he changes stances, hand positions, offense to defense, etc. Get in the habit of watching closely and you will begin to spot the lapses. 2019 – The only real difference between Hit As Your Opponent Changes and offensive timing is frame of mind. An aggressive player will look at an opponent changing as the perfect time to attack. A defensive player will look as the change being something the opponent initiates. Cross reference this with the sections I wrote on Timing.
1979 - Hit As The Ranges Cross This defensive approach is one of the most effective and somewhat paradoxical of all the defensive approaches. Your opponent is attacking so you go right at him. There is a method to the madness though. When your opponent attacks, he attacks you in the position you are in at that moment. Assume he has five units of distance to cross before he makes contact; he will time his attack to hit just as he has crossed that fifth unit. When you move forward, you are crossing some of the distance units for him, so now he has only crossed three and is close enough to hit. If you hit as he moves, you will hit him as he is in mid -move. Most fighters do not shift mental gears quickly enough to account for the missing distance.
Using hit as the ranges cross in competition.
Hit as the ranges cross continued.
Five units of distance.
Note that she times her attack to land by the time she reaches me. In addition, note that she has to come across the halfway point in order to hit me. This is an important point to the success of hit as the ranges cross.
Using hit as the ranges cross, I only need to cross half the distance to strike her. 223
The trick to this is to synchronize your movement forward and attack so that he is moving at the same time. You are timing your attack to land about in the middle of the initial distance between you and your opponent. Be sure to cover the target area your opponent is aiming for or monitor his attacking agent so that you can avoid getting hit by or monitor his attacking agent so that you can avoid getting hit by it. Merely hitting him in mid -move is usually enough to upset the power, speed and targeting of his attack. But it is good to be on the safe side by staying alert.
Note how my stepping foot and striking hand move at the same time.
Keep in mind that you are hitting as the ranges cross, not as your opponent attacks. If you get this confused with hitting as the opponent attacks, you are opening yourself up stepping on your toes and then attacking you from in close. The moment he inches over your critical distance line, go after him. When he attacks he is committing himself, but when he creeps in, he is not. Work off the range, not the commitment. 2019 – Hit As The Ranges Cross was first popularized by Bruce Lee who, in turn, got it from fencing. Bruce Lee’s brother, Peter, was a fencer and Lee probably got it from him. The term in fencing is called a “stop hit”. Here is a definition for you: Stop Hit, also Stop Thrust, Stop-in-Time. A counter-attack that attempts to take advantage of an uncertain attack. A properly performed Stop Hit allows a fencer to counter -attack into an oncoming attack, hit his opponent, and then still parry the oncoming attack. It may try to break the continuance of an attack by 'stopping' into it. This concept actually morphed into Lee’s Jeet Kune Do – the Way of the Intercepting Fist = the way of the stop hit. Keep in mind that a key method of karate style defense back in the 1960s was to back off from an attack or to block and hit back. The concept of moving forward as your opponent attacked was still foreign to fighters at that time. This one action aided Lee in confusing his sparring partners. Your partner starts to move in – you move in and hit them right as they start. The instructor who I got my black belt from, Bruce Terrill, studied with Taky Kimura (Bruce Lee’s number 1 student in Seattle, Washington) for a short while and introduced this concept to the black belt class. We took it out into the tournament arena with great success.
Examples of hit as the ranges cross.
I do a lunge round kick just as he begins to move and follow it with a punch.
2019 - What do I look for to recognize that my opponent is beginning to move at me? The most telltale actions are the knees bending and the shoulders dropping. That is when I move.
Important point - Note that I am already prepared to move (knees bent) when she is preparing to move. 225
Hit as the ranges cross continued.
Stepping forward as she lifts her leg gives me enough time to move inside of her kick for my strike.
Stepping forward just as he prepares to kick.
1979 - Hold Your Position and Hit This is your basic stationary pick -off move. Standing and kicking somebody as they come in is an all-time favorite. So is standing inside of someone’s range and counter punching. The thing you have to keep in mind here is to synchronize your attack with his commitment. You want to catch him coming in. The easiest way to do this is to determine a set distance between you and your opponent and maintain it so that in order for your opponent to hit you. He has to commit himself to a gap -bridging attack action. Then, you hold your ground and hit as he comes in. This illustrates the speed of a smaller action over a larger action. Example: your opponent lunges in with a backfist. You counter punch. The entire action of your opponent’s lunge from out of range and backfist attack involves more body motion than a pivot and counter punch, hence a small action defeating a larger action. If at all possible, your hold and hit action should be as direct as possible with no preliminary actions other than the counter attack itself. Make sure your preparatory position is such that you can go right from there.
Pick off side kick.
2019 – One point I didn’t make in the original text was the importance of relative sizes of the fighters plays a part in which technique you use to execute this approach. If you are taller and have a good reach, it is relatively safe to use punching as your technique. Conversely, you are shorter or have a short reach, counter kicking is a safe way to go. A case in point is a friend of mine, Fred King, was a terrific counter kicker. His defensive side kick was a thing of beauty. What made it so effective? He had these short, stubby legs that he could pick up in a split second. He used to beat high speed fighters with this one technique alone.
Hold your position and hit examples.
As I have longer arm reach, it is very safe for me to counter punch her as she comes in.
My partner, being shorter than me, has the advantage when it comes to counter kicking.
Hold your position and hit examples continued.
In this example I am covering my head as I hold my position and hit.
1979 – Simultaneous Block and Hit This is where your action requires a block but you want to execute the quickest possible counter, so you hit him at the same time as you block. A person is open every time he throws an attack. The timing of this is crucial. With monitoring you can spot when your opponent is going to attack. As he attacks, begin your own attack and block (Note: I did not say “block and attack") so that your attack is completed and hits the target just as the block finishes. Shielding an area of your body and hitting at the same time is also part of this concept. This is used sometimes in competition but is more suited for street fighting. A powerful follow -up is usually used in conjunction with a simultaneous block and hit. Many styles of gung fu emphasize this approach. The key to making this approach work is simplicity. Keep it as easy to work as possible. You can interchange the actual blocking and hitting agents as the situation demands. This works quite well with both the two -arm and one -arm blocking methods.
Examples of simultaneous block and hit.
Rear hand check and lead hand counter punch against a backfist.
Rising block and rear hand counter punch against a backfist.
Rear hand downward block and lead hand backfist against a round kick.
High guard and counter punch against a hook punch. 230
A shield and under kick is a guard for a kick and performing a counter kick to the groin underneath. This is great for people who like to kick high a lot. Just bang them low and keep them honest. 2019 - The shield and under kick was a great tactic until around 1980 when the groin was taken away as a valid target in tournament competition. The concept (as explained by the promoters at the time) was it was so that the sport became more spectator friendly. What it did in the long run was orient competition to a more limber and kicking oriented style of free -fighting. This is all nice and fine except it put the smaller, less limber fighter at a disadvantage. The groin kick was a great equalizer and now it was taken away. Also, taking groin kicking out of competition led to many schools not allowing it in their free -fighting and thereby not being able to defend against it effectively. My opinion.
Block and Hit This is the traditional karate approach to defense and still is a very valid one. It is both quite primitive and sophisticated. The block and hit is strictly a 1~2 move. The tricky part of it is in the timing of the counter hit. The counter hit should begin just as the block has knocked the attack off trajectory (sweep, hook, downward block) or stopped the attack (shield and press) so that there is no time lag in between the two movements. The two movements should flow together into one complete movement so that there are no breaks from the start of the block to the return to original position after the attack. I have found that either holding your position, stepping to an angle or taking a half step back to put your opponents fully extended technique just inches away from contact to be the preferred footwork for this approach.
2019 - A key point to make in the application of block and hit is that it should flow together in exactly the same way as in throwing a combination. The actions of the block and the counter strike should overlap. This means that you should fire the counter as the blocking action is finishing, not after it has finished. If you wait until after the block has finished, you will create a gap in your actions that your opponent can use for his next strike or series of strikes.
Block and hit as separate actions.
Block and hit connected together.
Examples of block and hit continued.
2019 - Block and Hit The function of a Block and Counter defensive approach is to stop the combination. It is to halt a combination attack in its tracks. There is one problem, however, and that is if your opponent has a tendency to disregard his own safety. As opposed to intelligent combinations , they throw what I call “overwhelm combinations”. They steamroll right over you. I have run into opponents like this. You block and hit them and they keep coming. I found that if I really want to stop a combination, instead of Block and Hit (singular), I need to Block and Blitz (multiple counter blows after the block minimum of four). This will stop an aggressive fighter in his tracks. So, when I think of Block and Counter, in reality I am thinking of Block and Blitz. Completely take the aggressive action away from my opponent. Keep in mind the free -fighting context in which I am speaking. I am primarily used to point competition or free -fighting in the karate dojo where you pull the degree of impact of your strikes so that you don’t injure your partner. This is where your partner or opponent can get the mistaken idea that he can steamroll over you without regard to his own safety. In full -contact karate, kickboxing or mixed martial arts competition you don’t get this phenomenon so much. A key point in executing a Block and Blitz is to direct the counter punches to right between the eyes. The eyes reflexively blink when anything comes at them. The multiple counter punches right between the eyes is a great combination stopper. They blink on the first punch and before they can adjust, three more just like it are coming their way.
Example of block and blitz.
Note that each counter punch is directed right between the eyes. This is very important as it will cause your opponent to blink and introvert if your punches are thrown at high speed.
1979 – Evade and Hit Evasion is primarily repositioning the target out of the way of an attack. It can be done with footwork (circling, retreating, jumping, etc). Or it can be done with body movement (ducking, bob and weave, angling, dropping, forward incline and so forth). Duking is going under an attack by bending at the waist and the knees. Bobbing is multiple ducking. You duck, begin to rise, change directions and duck again. Weaving is moving side to side in a duck position. To angle forward is to incline forward at an angle to avoid straight shots and get closer to your opponent. A slip is a sideways lean with a slight rotation of the head toward the direction you are leaning. A sideways and backward lean is just leaning away from an attack in those directions. In evade and hit, the idea is to reposition the body out of the way of an attack but still be in close enough proximity for a counter strike. Again, you must be monitoring closely so that you can spot the direction of the attack so that you do not dodge only to run right smack into it.
Ducking a round kick.
Evade and hit being used on me. 235
Evade and hit continued.
Bobbing against a 1-2 punch combination followed by a left hook.
Evade and hit continued.
Slipping a left jab.
Slipping and weaving against a straight left punch.
Evade and hit continued.
Forward angling Forward angling.
Backward angling Backward angling.
Evade and hit continued.
Lean away and counter.
Jump up and backfist counter.
Evade and hit continued.
Jump up and side kick counter.
Drop under and side kick counter.
The reason that evade and hit works so nicely is that most fighters do not stay awake and aware of their opponents at all times. They will look at their opponent and their mental camera takes a picture, click, of where you are. It registers, and then they punch at the picture. However, you have moved and by the time this registers, they are committed to the attack and are often tagged on the counter. This is what I mean by inability to shift gears in mid -motion, especially mental gears. You get fixated on your target being in a certain position and you do not change your register of where the target is quickly enough. 2019 - Evade & Hit With this approach I use what I call “body motion monitoring”. Body motion monitoring is where you watch your partner’s shoulders, not his hands. This is key for evasion. You move right when you spot the tell-tale motion of your partner’s shoulders. You are looking for a telegraph of motion, not recognition of commitment. A huge mistake to make is to wait until you recognize the commitment of your partner. That is way too late, especially if your partner has a quick take off. You will get hit that way. You move right when you see them begin to move, the earlier the better. Another key point to make in using evasion/distancing as your defense is to not overdo it. Any target your opponent is hitting at is relatively small. The target isn’t a 3 by 3 foot sized target. It’s small. Therefore your evasion doesn’t have to be a large movement. It can be short and sweet. The phrase I use for this is “Aim small, miss small.” The target your opponent is aiming at is small, so you make him miss small. One thing to watch out for is if you are using evasion to camouflage a flinch. This is done more often than one would expect. I will teach blocking first to train how to not flinch and handle the attack before I teach how to make one miss. I feel that is a better progression. In competition, I was terrific at making my opponent miss but it came out of a fear of getting hit. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to get hit, however, it can lead to never developing a workable defense. A workable defense must include how to protect yourself if you get caught in a corner or somewhere you can’t readily step away from. Develop your blocking, parrying, and covering defenses and they will not fail you if you can’t step away. 1979 - Defensive Angling The primary approach used in defensive angling is to angle past and hit. This can either be done by foot work or by inclination. You want to move yourself, the target area, off the connecting line, but still be in range to return fire. Back in the late 1960s, Joe Lewis introduced the lead angle step forward (inverted body punch counter attack to a kick) in tournament competition. This was the beginning of a whole series of developments on angle stepping. The angle step is great for avoiding head -on collisions with stronger opponents.
Example of defensive angling.
Right as my partner begins her step, I step forward off of her line of attack and counter strike.
2019 - Measuring Your Retreat When you measure your retreat (page 42) you are using an evasive action to set up your opponent for a counter. Whether you spin off, side step or whatever, you want to keep an eye on your opponent and keep a really good bead on your ranges so that when the moment is right, you are in good position to fire a searing counter.
Example of measured retreat.
Measured retreat. I shuffle backwards just enough to maintain the original distance between us. I fire my counter attack as he finishes an attack but before he can fire off another one.
2019 - Defensive footwork Evade and Hit relies heavily on defensive footwork. Defensive footwork is very easy if you grasp one key idea. Your opponent is hitting at you exactly where you are at – not two feet behind you or a foot off to either side. He‟s aiming at you right where you are. All you need to do is to move his target slightly further away than the size of the target. You can look at this way as well. How far can your opponent reach? Let‟s say he can reach 3 feet from his present position. You only need to move 3 ¼ feet to make him miss then. You don‟t need to take large steps. His target is small. You make him “miss small”. The steps you can use are: slide back, extend back, angle step forward, side step, and spin off. You can combine any of these steps as well. A key point to make is that you do not mess up your positioning when you do the step. You want to maintain structure during transition. Keeping your structure before and after transition is easy. You are just standing there. Maintaining structure during transition means you keep your upper body the same as when you were standing still. No leaning, no waving or dropping of the arms, no turning of the body – nothing. Your legs do the moving and your upper body stays in position. Now here is an interesting question. What are you doing when you execute a defensive step? Getting out of the way of the hit? Well, that is the result. What else are you doing? Running like a thief? Well, again, yes, but there‟s more to it than that which is extremely important. Let‟s go over something that is a bit broader in application than “running away”. It is called the Connection Line. The Connection Line and Disconnection This is a very important concept and here is the proper time to take it up. I have gone over the Connection Line in a couple of spots in this book. It deals with extending the range and the effect it will have on your opponent. Disconnection There is an interesting effect I have found that occurs when you step away from your opponent. You back off far enough and your opponent lowers his intensity and drops his guard. This is a most interesting phenomenon to observe. Obviously, the closer you are to your opponent, the more your opponent is going to be more on his guard. That is obvious. You back off and you, in essence, cut the Connection Line. You are no longer connected and your opponent feels it. He drops energy. He is less on guard. It is interesting to observe when you spar and free -fight. These are the two effects that you can create when you execute a defensive step. You either get off of the Connection Line to disrupt your opponent‟s alignment to you or you step away and break connection. Either way you maintain your advantage over your opponent. Okay, how big does your step need to be? That all depends on what you‟re trying to accomplish. Are you trying to reestablish a superior position or are you trying to make him miss so that you can counter attack immediately? Those are two different goals. Obviously, if you are reestablishing a superior position or alignment with your opponent, you will want to step far enough away so that he cannot reach out and hit you. How big does your step need to be if you are setting yourself up for an immediate counter attack? Much less than you would think. When I step to make my opponent miss, I set up for an immediate counter attack. I‟ll recap what I said earlier in this text. The part of your opponent‟s body that is going 244
to hit you is really rather small. His fist, his foot, his elbow, are very small in proportion to his entire body. The target he is hitting at is also rather small. Your head, your belly, your groin, all cover a relatively small portion of your overall body. All you need to do is step enough to make him miss. A small step will make him “miss small”. When he misses small and you retain your alignment to him, you will be in position to fire off a counter attack right away. 1979 - Lastly, evading. This is one of the best methods of self -defense against an unarmed attacker. lt will not do much for building up a tough guy image, but its success rate for pure effectiveness cannot be beaten. “He who fights and runs away, lives to run another day.” Pogo Possum 2019 – One final entry before we go onto section three of this book. Being a defensive fighter, I worked very hard on being able to read my opponent, to predict what he might do. Over time I spotted that there were certain things, which applied, worked for me flawlessly. This research became what I call Positional Set Up. I remember sitting with a friend of mine, Kara Mack, at a tournament. We were watching some matches and I amazed her by telling her what each fighter was going to do before they did it. I predicted each exchange and was spot on. This is how I do it. Positional Set Up “Positioning” deals with how and where you stand in relation to your opponent. Positional Set Up has to do with how your opponent stands in relation to you. This is the prime prediction tool I use. How your opponent is set up will tell you what he is most likely to throw. When I teach this concept at seminars I make an example of its effectiveness by sparring someone in the seminar. We bow in and the moment my partner squares off with me, I walk off. I go to someone in the seminar and tell him exactly what my partner is set up to do and how I am going to handle it. I go back to my partner and we spar for a minute or two. At the end of the mini -sparring session, I ask the person I talked what my percentage rate as to accurately predicting what my partner was going to do. I have always been 70 -98% accurate. With percentages like that, you have quite an advantage. The following are what I look for. 1. Weight distribution between the feet Most fighters have a way of tipping you off as to whether they are offensive, defensive or neutral. This is whether their weight is more on the front foot, rear foot or balanced 50 -50. An offensive fighter usually has their weight forward. A defensive fighter usually has their weight more towards the rear leg and a balanced fighter is usually 50-50. Weight distribution is fairly reliable, but against experienced fighters, it‟s the one I find the least reliable. An experienced fighter can use any weight distribution and mask his real intentions. He might rest his weight backwards to throw a lead leg kick, for example. Against less experienced fighters or fighters who are set in their ways, I find weight distribution useful. The nice thing about watching weight distribution is that a lot of fighters do not watch closely their own weight distribution so they present you with a tip of what they‟re going to do. 245
Positional set up - weight distribution of the feet.
Weight forward - offensive
Weight even - neutral
Weight backward - defensive
2. Aim of the front foot This is a very good clue to what kind of front leg kick your opponent favors. I will do this drill in seminars. I will have the participants aim their lead leg straight forwards and front kick several times and then round kick from that same point position. I ask them after that which kick is easier to throw. Invariably the answer is front kick. I then have them point their front feet in a 45 degree position and have them do the same with round kick and front kick, in that order. I ask them the same question – which was easier? The answer usually ends up being round kick. I repeat the same drill having them aim the edge of their feet exactly sideways and have them compare side kick and round kick. The same question again – which is easier? Side kick is generally the answer. The sideways position can be a crap shoot as some people will throw hook kick from that exact position as well, but if your monitoring is developed, you will not be surprised by the kick. A key point to this is that the thigh generally turns in the same direction as the foot is pointed. This is the giveaway. When your thigh is pointed forward it is easiest to execute a front kick. Turn your thigh inwards a bit and you are set up for a round kick. Turn your thigh sideways to your opponent and the easiest thing to do is to kick straight at him (side kick). The foot turn creates the thigh turn which creates the telegraph of which kick your opponent wants to throw at you.
Front kick set up
Round kick set up
Side kick set up
Do that drill for yourself. Do not take my word for it. The purpose of this drill is for you to experience what feels the most comfortable for you to throw from which position. If you know anatomy and the natural function of body parts, this is a dead giveaway. Your foot, ankle, knee and hip are connected. When you kick, none move independently of the other. You can rotate the foot a tiny bit, but not much. As you turn the foot, you‟ll turn the shin, knee, thigh, and hip as well. The leg functions as a kinetic chain. If you bend your leg, pick it up and straighten it, you will see what the leg naturally does. Do the drill from the section in Monitoring and see if I‟m right. If the foot is pointed forwards, the easiest kick will be front kick. If the foot is pointed inward at an angle, the easiest kick will be an angle or round kick. If the foot is pointed exactly sideways, the easiest kick for most, will be the side kick. Pigeon toe the lead foot and you‟ll find that side and hook kick are the usual kicks. The pointing of the lead foot is also based on this premise: a fighter will usually never make things hard for himself to do. That is totally backwards of the aim of any endeavor. You don‟t learn and perfect something so that you will continue to have trouble with it. That is so simple yet it is overlooked in many areas. Why worry about what kick or punch your opponent is going to throw? He is telling you in his body position. He might as well write you a letter and mail you a check. If you learn how to read his position it is that easy. Fighters will telegraph what they want to throw by how they stand…if you know how to read them. This one is pure gold. 3. Distance between the feet The distance between the feet of your opponent is a very good clue whether he is going to kick with his front foot or not. Here I am talking about his initial move, his kicking with the front foot without any other type of pre -kick preparation. If his feet are about one to one and a quarter shoulder width apart, count on the kick coming without footwork preparation. If his feet are wider than that, look for a step first or the rear leg kick. If his feet are wider than one and a quarter shoulder width, he‟ll need some sort of step first to deliver a front leg kick. I‟m talking about offensive kicking. A defensive kick can come out of a wider stance but the weight distribution will be towards the rear leg. Check it out. Put your feet in a short stance and then lead leg kick. Pretty easy. Now do it out of a deep stance without footwork set up. Good luck. See how the body goes off balance by comparison? If this happens to your body, it‟ll happen to another‟s just the same. I find that the front leg lunge kick is limited to about a shoulder and a quarter width stance.
1 1/4 shoulder width - I expect a front leg kick. Any wider than that I expect to see preparational footwork first
So much for the front foot. What about the rear foot? How do you know if your opponent is going to kick with the rear leg? Interestingly enough, your opponent will tell you via body position. Take a look at the photo below. Note that my feet are far enough apart that my lead leg is not in the way of my kicking leg. This is a very important point. My feet are not on a straight line with each other. This is a very reliable way to tell if your opponent is set up for a rear leg front kick.
A spinning kick has its own tell as well. Where a rear leg front kick will have the legs apart, a spin kick will be set up differently. The feet will be lined up, more or less, one in front of the other to facilitate the spinning action of the kick. 4. Hand and foot position in relationship to the Positional Center Line. This is a very slick one. Remember the earlier section on Monitoring? This is the use of how to read telegraphs by how your opponent holds his hands. If he moves his hand out away from the centerline, it‟s coming back at you in a hook or angle type strike. If it crosses in over the centerline, it‟s coming at you in a backhand fashion. If it just runs parallel to the centerline, it‟ll be straight at you. How he holds his hands in regards to the centerline will tell you what he wants to throw. A lot of karate fighters hold the lead hand across the centerline. What‟s coming then? Backfist, of course. Take a look at your opponent‟s hand position. Are they up in a boxer‟s position? Which way do the “guns” face? From watching how your opponent sets his hands up in the first you‟ll see what he can throw from where he is before he even knows it. That is a nice advantage. Also, does he only have one of his hands aimed at you? One handed fighters will do that. One will be pointed and the other will be off. The pointed one is the live one. Once you have worked on and gained your own confidence in your ability to read your opponent, you can apply this next entry. 2019 - Sparring The Position Very often you'll encounter a hidden factor foiling your attempts to make your tactics work. While you're trying to spar your partner/opponent, you'll be sparring something else. In fact you might never be sparring the opponent, himself, and be sparring against everything but. What do I mean here? You might be sparring your partner's rank, attributes, attitude or his reputation but never the partner himself. Let's take rank. I've seen where a purple belt will spar a blue belt and spank him, be evenly matched against another purple belt, and then as if they just lost all their ability, perform less than their own ability against a green belt or higher. What happened? As the belt rank got higher, their confidence shrank. "A blue belt? Hal Bring it on! Let's give him a taste of this! Oh? A purple belt? Aha! A good match.‟ No? A (gulp) green belt? Oh my. (sigh) Oh well...” You see what happens? All it is, is a loss of confidence in oneself against what they supposed to be the abilities of the higher ranked person. 248
Here's another one, sparring the attributes of the partner rank rather than the partner. "Oh wow! Tim‟s kicks are just killers! I have such a hard time against kicks. Okay Tim, go ahead and kick me and get it over with.” Again the loss of confidence. How about attitude? It's the same. Do you shrink away from someone who looks or acts mean? Or do you get psyched by someone who is an "iceman," who shows no feeling? What is happening is one can get caught up in all of the significance (what something means or should mean) of your partner and then have all that in front of his eyes like a blindfold. You now spar all the significance instead of the person in front of you. This reminds me of a story told by Sugar Ray Robinson (the original Sugar Ray), 5 time world middleweight boxing champion. He was an amateur at the time and he looked over at his opponent and told his trainer George Gainford, "I can't fight that guy. He's too tough. Look at all those scars. He's too tough." Gainford said, "Robinson, if he could fight, he wouldn't look like that." Ray Robinson knocked him out. Your own personal preconceived ideas about how someone will spar or what kind of skills they should have because of a belt color can get in your way. I personally know this one very well as I have fallen prey to it many times. So, what do you do about it? A good way to start is to spar your opponents position. How are they standing? Which foot is forward? Are both their hands up? Which zones are being protected? Are they set up to kick? How close or far are they? Each position yields opportunities for your offense. Their position will tell you of their offensive and defensive possibilities. From where they are, what can they easily do? Easily do. That's the key point. Anyone can do anything from whichever position. I doubt many people will do a flying kick from a prone position, though! Is their head open? Their groin? What? Look at their position. The position of the white belt and a brown belt just might be the same. It doesn't matter that one is a brown belt and the other is a blue belt. If their positions are the same, then the openings are the same. This approach you'll have to take on faith until you experience it. It works. Everybody is open for some kind of attack and everybody is set up to do only so many things. Their position will tell the tale. So, look at and spar the position, not the belt, attributes, attitudes, or whatever. Spar just the position. 1979 - Defensive Approaches - Final Notes: When taking the counter offensive (counter attacking), remember that this comes in the realm of offensive approaches. Most karate players use a direct attack after a defensive maneuver, but the possibilities are staggering in what you have options for. Example #1. Hit as the ranges cross/attack by trapping. Your opponent throws a backfist attack. As he bridges the gap, you duck and do a double leg take -down. Example #2. Block and hit/indirect attack. Your opponent throws a front kick to your middle. You block and fake a counter backfist to the head. He goes to block the backfist and you side kick under his block. The possibilities are there. Use your imagination to discover what will fit where. All of these approaches are basic approaches. Do not get so elaborate that your approach has no practical effectiveness, but at the same time, do not get stuck in a rut doing the same thing. Also, it is a good idea to get into the habit of planning your defense. Set yourself up so that when your opponent attacks, you will be operating through a particular approach mode. You do not want to attempt to specifically second guess what technique he will throw, but just set yourself up so that you will be ready to spot his attack and respond. Check “Orientation Points” for more information. Do this not as the opponent telegraphs or attacks, but in between the exchanges Then be ready to shift to another approach if the one you choose does not work for the situation. Check pages on “Monitoring” and “Picture Image Recognition" for cross references. 249
Conceptual Aids & Added Information
Conceptual Aids And Added Information (1979)
This section of the book deals with concepts, ideas and added information. It is said that one picture is worth a thousand words, and in karate instruction, this is true. So here I am going to try to paint some mental pictures to describe some of the ideas following this information. There are many intangibles to sparring, things you cannot use a photograph to illustrate but which are still very important. In fact, to me, these intangibles (“itty bitties" as I call them) are the most important aspects of karate. Small things that make a world of difference; karate is made up of them. A lot of the following ideas and concepts cover the intangibles. Much of today‟s learning leans heavily on the use of pictures and even much of our actual thinking is done in picture form. When someone mentions a warm summer day or a cold glass of water, the imagery comes to mind, not the adjectives, phrases and thousands of words written on the subject, but the imagery based on your own experiences of those things. So now I am going to bring out the mental canvas, brush and oils and paint some intangibles for you. Get the picture? Gradient Learning One of the cornerstones upon which I base my method of instruction is the concept of gradient learning. The basic idea is just to take one step at a time. It is very simple. Unfortunately, most Americans are of the “gotta do now, gotta have now" frame of mind. In fact, most of today's society is geared toward that concept. The idea is first to build up to a point where you can “do.” Step One Understanding: learn the technique/approach so that it is understood in your mind. Know what it is you are doing. Have no doubt when you do it and leave no questions unanswered. Anything that is misunderstood in what you learn will sink you quicker than a cement overcoat. Step Two Coordination: get the feel of the movement under a non -competitive, no stress atmosphere. Learn how to do the movement right and then do it over and over enough so your body gets the feeling of how it is done correctly. Mirrors and partner practice are great for this. Perform the movement enough so that it becomes an easy, relaxed motion. Step Three Placement: start being able to put a technique exactly where you want to. Develop it so that you can place technique with pinpoint accuracy. with maximum muscular control. This way you get out of flinging it to a general area. Step Four Coordination in sparring: start to apply the action in a relaxed sparring situation. The main idea here is to not get concerned with scoring. Just do the actions in sparring until they feel comfortable. Get your mind off speed. power, scoring, etc. From this point, start picking up in speed, power, placement, etc., until you can perform in fast sparring. If something is going wrong with any action, you are doing it “out-gradient” to the skill/understanding that you actually possess. If something is not working, back 253
up, slow down, recheck it step by step. This approach will save you a lot of unnecessary agonized concern. If you are trying to do any action on a higher gradient than you are prepared for, recognize this and back up to a point where you can do it. Then, build from there. Put the learning of techniques in the same frame of mind as if you were going to learn gymnastics or painting. You are not going on the balance beam until you have your basics, nor are you going to paint anything of worth until you learn the fundamentals of art. It is the same with karate. Do not worry about learning; just take it step by step and it will come. The Ability To Confront “To confront" verb transitive - Webster„s New Collegiate Dictionary 2.a. to cause to meet: bring face to face. Mentally, everything in karate boils right down to the idea of confrontation, to face up to something. Sparring, approaches, technical information, everything. A person‟s ability to confront things comes with familiarization and gradient stages of the ability to confront itself. When you have trouble with any facet of karate, it comes from a failure to confront that particular area. Example: a person is a strong technician and is tough but does not think when sparring. The thing to do is to have them confront thinking during sparring in gradient stages. 1) Plan out each attack and carry out the plan; 2) spot circuits (habit patterns) in your opponent‟s sparring, etc. Take him through each step until he is up to sparring and thinking. The ability to confront is such a great part of everything. Anything you can do well is because you can confront it, meet it face to face, nose to nose with a big grin. Karate has always felt easy to me, but acceptance of getting hit in the head has never been easy. My ability to confront things is up on karate and down on getting hit in the head. Things that you cannot confront easily will have to be worked through, but if you take any one particular thing and work it out in easily handled steps, pretty soon the punch in the head (or whatever) will not seem so awful to you. This is how I break my students into sparring. Thanks to movies and television, beginners come in with preconceived notions of karate, ranging anywhere from macho brutality to the idea that the studio is a monastic retreat for pacifistic martial monks. But, they have one thing in common: they sit back and tense up when watching somebody else spar. Here it is so close to them, violence, punching faces, kicking groins, struggling. A sparring match can be a fearsome sight to a lot of beginners. So, I start them off easy with a punch, a stance, a kick. a block. until they are comfortable with it. Then slowly. easily in a line drill, they see that attack come at them and block it. Great. That attack was handled. Then after a while, they get into slow and easy, unstructured blocks and attacks with a partner, the same thing that bugged their eyes out in the first place, sparring. The only difference is that through a series of gradient steps, they reached a point where what was once foreign to them was now recognizable and comfortable. That is what the ability to confront is about. Anything you have trouble with, work on in easy steps until it becomes comfortable.
Monitoring I covered the idea behind monitoring in the blocking section. Here I re -emphasize the importance of it. When you monitor your opponent. you are actually watching him, which means that you are extending your area of concern to include him also. You have a radius around your body which you are actively monitoring. Have you ever noticed how you do not want someone too close to you when you are talking to them or how you flinch when someone reaches to touch you? They are crossing over this radius, entering your space. Your space has its own dimensions forward, sideways and back. Something foreign can come only so close until it crosses over into being monitored closely. The idea of monitoring is to expand your space so that it includes your opponent. This way, rather than having an attack cross a certain distance and then be concerned about it, your opponent's very presence in your expanded space merits watching. Phase two of getting this concept is to accept his presence in your space. Total acceptance is going to calm you down while resistance is going to agitate you. Once you are calm, your overall perception is greater. Do not confuse being calm with becoming lax or lazy. Being calm is merely being devoid of restricting nervous tension. Continue to remain extremely alert to your opponent‟s actions while not frozen by tension. You will be amazed at what you can see when you have expanded your space to include your opponent and have accepted him into it. Combine this mental fee] with the mechanics of monitoring/blocking outlined earlier and you have the entire concept.
Circuits - Habit Patterns Along with monitoring, spotting circuits is another prime prerequisite to being a skilled fighter. A circuit is an automatic movement, response, etc, that one is not consciously aware of doing or aware of having done. The amount of awareness (or unawareness) varies from technique to technique, and in intensity of unawareness. The term circuit comes from the idea of a computer program. A circuit is programmed and set up to do one function and does not vary from that function. So are habit patterns. Consider your mind as a computer. When you first do karate you have to think out each move. You consciously place your feet here. punch there, block this, oops, I forgot to counter, etc. You are constantly having to program. feed the computer with what to do now, what to do next and what not to do again. Then as skills progress, there is less conscious effort in the techniques and an easier flow begins to build up. This is a crucial stage and is usually where a circuit begins to form. A technique circuit usually forms following a success or feeling of accomplishment. As you rely on a particular 255
kind of attack or response, there is a tendency to start applying it to most situations, instead of those that are most suited for it. Let us say a sweep block followed by a straight punch is a technique with which you score often. Each time you score with it, that score is filed and noted on a “score card" in the computer (your mind). The more wins/scores that are associated with that particular technique, the more you use it. The more you use it. the more the particular muscles of the body employed in throwing it get used to it and the more natural it becomes. The more natural it becomes, the more it becomes automatic. When the technique goes on automatic and scores, that is entered on the score card also and that is when you start to get stuck. You have got this computation in the files that says this technique will work on automatic and until that computation is changed, you are stuck in an easily readable circuit. This also happens when a certain technique feels comfortable and easy to do. People tend to be lazy so that when they respond, the easiest thing to do is what they usually throw. Many techniques have not passed from the difficult stage into the easy stage because of a lack of practicing them. And they are not practiced enough because they are difficult. Hmmmm… When you are unaware of a technique, block and counter, follow -up. etc., being repetitious (especially being thrown in situations where they do not fit) you are falling into a circuit. The way to overcome a circuit is to first become consciously aware of the circuit, then be aware of when you fall into it and consciously work to change it. Circuits. at first, generally have to be pointed out by others. What techniques come easiest to you and what techniques do you use the most? These are prime circuit suspects. Have your classmates and instructor point out whenever you fall into a circuit pattern and when they point one out, work to be aware of it. The hardest circuits to blow are the ones that work the best. Consider this also. Circuits can be found in all aspects of your sparring. Not only technique circuits, but target circuits (hitting the exact same place on certain techniques), approach circuits. way of thinking circuits, etc, They are all over the place. Watch people and check it out and then check yourself out. One question often asked is, “lsn‟t it good to develop some circuits for „natural reaction‟?” In my opinion, no. Circuits are initially set up on the basis of a lazy way to retain an effective move but in that automatic retention, it may pop up at inappropriate times, making it possibly somewhat useless. Do not make excuses for setting up some mental nap time. lt‟s better to be awake and aware. Attention Units – Self Monitoring How is it that so many people get nailed by counter attacks„? A simple block and counter seems to be one of the biggies in any type of fighting as far as effectiveness goes. The reason people get tagged with counter attacks is because of stuck attention units. Assume that you have ten attention units in all. These are actual measurable units that you can place on anything in any amount. When you throw an attack, your attention is on the attack, usually with the majority of the attention units connected to the attack. That means that you are not necessarily monitoring the opponent with all that much attention. When you miss with the attack, your attention usually follows the attacking agent. 256
How many times have you thrown a rear leg round kick that missed and have spun with it! Following your attack when it misses is a good example of stuck attention units. Your attention is still on the method of hitting even after it missed. When you go to hit an opponent, do not put all of your attention units on your target. In fact, you should put only as little attention as is needed to find the target and leave the rest free. This creates the setting for developing a good split focus. You direct your attention at your opponent for good attack possibilities while monitoring him for his counter responses. This is tough to do initially, but an incredible skill by today's standards. When sparring, besides monitoring your opponent, you have to be able to monitor yourself. How many times have you asked someone. “Wow! That was a good kick! How did you get that in?” And they reply, “l‟m not sure." I have had it happen so many times that it is like watching a rerun of an old television show. They do not know how they did what they did. This also applies to why you get hit with the same shot over and over again. If you saw what you did that left you open, you would not do it again. Monitoring yourself is being aware of what you are doing at all times but not necessarily having a rigid control on yourself. Be aware of what you are doing, but do not maintain a tight, rigid control. Rigid control rather than an easy awareness and control is a manifestation of being introverted. When monitoring yourself, you will be able to tell when mistakes are made and why, how to correct them, etc. All you have to do is watch yourself as well as watch your opponent.
2019 – Proprioception Definition: The unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself. In humans, these stimuli are detected by nerves within the body itself, as well as by the semicircular canals of the inner ear. Boy, that‟s a mouthful. If you read that five times in a row I bet you‟ll go to sleep. Let‟s make it easier and use a layman‟s definition given to me by a student of mine who is a professor of physiology and anatomy (Thanks to Susan Spencer, anatomy and physiology professor at Mt. Hood Community College): knowing the position of the parts of your body without having to look at them. Ah, much better. This is a lot easier to think with than the technical definition. 257
Proprioception deals with knowing what position you are in at any given time. This comes with very thorough drilling on your basics. Diligent training in kata thoroughly develops this type of monitoring. When you first begin learning karate, it can be like learning how to eat with chopsticks…with your left hand. Manipulating chopsticks is not an unnatural action for the hand to do, but it is certainly an untrained action for the hand. This means that you practice over and over and over in order to physically manipulate the chopsticks to a point where you do not have to think about how to use them. It is the same with karate movements. They are not unnatural actions for your body, but they are certainly untrained actions. You do them repetitively until they are second nature. Then you start all over again with your sparring training. It‟s a case of “left handed chopsticks” when working with a partner, but you keep at it until that becomes second nature as well. You end up being positioned naturally and now don‟t have to think of how your body is positioned. You know. A statement such as “I didn‟t know that my lead hand was down.” is indicative of not having trained the basics well enough. This is not an accusative statement because I‟ve uttered that statement far too often myself. It just means it‟s time to go back to the dojo and drill some more until you know where every part of your body is at any given time. This is not a short term process but has high value in the end run. 1979 – How To Think While Sparring The first thing to do is, again, consider your mind a computer, taking in bits and pieces of data that are fed to it and filed in their appropriate places. What happens to most people is that about 90 percent of what they receive never gets ﬁled and so is lost or gets ﬁled under “miscellaneous garbage." Now, let‟s get into appropriate filing rather than losing data. Monitoring Your Opponent This is to determine what your opponent is doing so that you can hit him when you want. Most fighters have patterns so glaring that it is almost like being sent a singing telegram. Unfortunately, most fighters are tone deaf. Defensively, what does your opponent do when you fake, attack, do footwork, advance, retreat, jump, stomp. wave your hands, look away, smile, scowl, yell, etc.? Does he retreat, advance, block, hit. cringe, jump, kick, turn, etc? What does he react with most often„! Right hand, left hand, which foot or kick, block and counter, footwork maneuver, etc.,? Most fighters have five or less offensive and defensive patterns that they are comfortable with and use most often. Do this as an exercise: pick five of your classmates and point out what five reaction patterns they are most comfortable with, in detail to the last degree. What they are doing and how they are doing it. What stance they are in, which side, do they step forward, what hand did they hit with, did they close their eyes? Everything to the smallest detail should be noticed Position of hands and feet and body, where they can be hit and with what. You can also do this at tournaments. Style habits are very simple to spot. Look at four or five members of any particular style and sec what they respond with to various attacks, etc. They will almost to a „T„ respond the same way. On offense, how does your opponent attack and from which side‟? How does he set up for it, what scores for him the most, which hand or foot is it‟? Does he have any habits prior to throwing it? How close is he, how far„? So you think that this is a lot to remember„? Only by looking at these pages and 258
not getting off your butt and actually doing will it be a lot to remember. Once you get into the habit of monitoring your opponent you will find that it will be like taking candy from a baby. It will come that easily. You just have to form the habit of doing it. And then you will be ready for the next part, self monitoring. This seems to be the hardest thing for a fighter to do, to look at himself objectively without positive or negative prejudice. Use the criteria set out above and also keep in mind exactly what techniques you get scored on with and all the factors involved. Detached introspection without the usual emotional additives is an excellent guide to mastery of your art.
In a rugged match with Top Ten fighter Pat Worley.
Objective Analysis Of Sparring “How to think while sparring" is an excellent lead -in to this. In my school, we do an exercise in objective analysis of a sparring match. The idea of objective analysis is to view your sparring and your opponent‟s sparring from a third person detached observer or strategists point of view. You must give up the subjective viewpoint entirely. Your emotional feelings on a match have nothing to do with the mechanics of it. Your opponent‟s emotional play within a match can be used against him as part of a strategy. The first question is "What?" What is going on? Are you winning or losing? What are you doing right and what are you doing wrong with that particular opponent„? As your opponents differ in skill, what you are doing right and wrong with each one will differ also. This is also the time to start being meticulous. Almost anyone can spot gross errors; hesitation, being out of range, hitting off target. Start being specific! What is happening with each approach that you try? Are you trying different approaches? What is the pattern of the fight from starting out of range to end of clash! Once you see what is being done. the next question is “H0w?" How are you scoring? how is your opponent scoring? How are you keeping from getting hit? How does he set you up when he stands with his left leg forward? Right leg forward? Does he slide up, lunge, fake? How are you hitting him‟? On what side forward and with what attacking agent and with what attack? Are you blocking, shielding, running, ducking? How is it happening? Are you acting deliberately or instinctively?
Once you know what is happening and how it is being done. the next question is “When”? What is the timing involved? When is the hitting being done? From the beginning of the exchange there are several places where you can hit or get hit: l) at the beginning. The initial move or defensive move as the opponent moves or as ranges cross; 2) in between your attacks, in the middle of the combination; 3) during a hesitation. Many fighters will score, hesitate in range l -2-3, then continue. Sometimes the hesitation is not that long, but the hesitation is still there. Sometimes he will quit after he scores and simply meander back out of range; 4) going out of range or defensive footwork. Find out what general errors you commit, what does everyone hit you with‟? And then ﬁnd out speciﬁes. What sucker shots do you get tagged by? What do you tag others with and how do you do it? When you put together the what, haw and when of things you begin to see patterns emerge. Example: Your opponent scores well on a low groin kick-backfist head combination. What is happening? You are both same side forward (left leg to left leg, leading), the opponent throws a groin kick, you respond in a manner to leave open your head and his backfist scores. How? In this instance, it is a lead leg lunge round kick. Your lead hand drops to cover a groin shot. Your rear hand does not move or moves insufficiently to cover the head so the backfist scores. When„? You are both close enough so your opponent can throw the lunge kick with a minimum of telegraphing. As you drop your lead guard to stop the kick, he times the backfist so you cannot raise your guard in time to cover it. lt is that easy. Learn to do it in gradient steps. l. Watch others spar and apply this method of analysis. 2. Spar slowly and analyze generally. 3. Stop after each exchange and analyze specifically. 4. Do #2 and #3 gradually speeding up. Do not go past what you can do comfortably. When people spar they get caught up in the emotional/instinctive part of sparring a good portion of the time. Typical comments: “I guess l was not paying attention . . .” and “l don't remember exactly what happened blow by blow; I was too involved in what was going on.” The great trick to objective analysis in sparring is to be able to analyze while in the heat of the battle. Analyzing before and after sparring is good but definitely lower gradients. What is the reasoning behind objective analysis? To spot circuit patterns and to adjust your approach to work around or off their patterns, the ability to change. One of the greatest abilities of sparring is the ability to change, simply Change. lf your opponent does not fight according to your favorite approach, tailor your approach to his greatest number of weaknesses. How, you ask? What, how and when, I answer. Start actually looking at what you are doing and what your opponent is doing. Get that brain working overtime. When you blindly spar or sleepwalk, the best you can hope for is a good workout and a good time, but you will gain nothing in understanding. Start taxing yourself, start controlling your every move. Do not fight on instinct. That will trip you up at this stage. Do not do a block, counter, move, kick, cte., unless it is what you decide to do. The trick to controlling your opponent is to get him to lose control of what he is doing. Control your own motions and you control the fight. 260
Know What You And Your Opponent Are Doing! "The great world chess champion Emmanuel Lasker once said that it is not so much playing the objectively best move that is important as playing the move that is most undesirable for a particular opponent." David Levy, International Chess Grand Champion, Omni, April 1979.
Certainty Of Expression I came across this concept when reviewing test results with students of mine. I knew that they had done their homework by talking to them at various times on karate principles and approaches, but when it came time for the test, they were hesitant in expressing, with certainty, their karate knowledge. In application during sparring, the hesitation and uncertainty were there again. Expression can be either verbal or physical. If a person knows something, he should be able to express it. lf you know something, you should be able to do it. In karate, the degree to which you can describe a particular action, principle or approach is going to parallel your ability to execute it. To describe it to another is a form of certainty of expression. Check it out. The maneuvers you cannot describe are generally the ones you cannot do very well. The better at verbal expression, the greater the understanding. The greater the understanding, the more skillful the execution. ln this type of karate. Understanding of what you are doing is of prime importance. Lack of verbal certainty of expression will manifest itself in uncertain physical expression. Therefore, number one: do your “knowledge homework.“ Find out the hows, whys, and whats about every specific technique and approach. Reach a point where you know what you are doing. Number two: work on being able to discuss it with some degree of certainty with your instructor. Most students are hesitant to tell their instructor about a technique, principle, etc., for fear of being incorrect. The reason for becoming educated is so that you will have knowledge and certainty in whatever areas you are being educated in. So learn and feel good about what you have learned. Know it and be certain about it within yourself. When called upon to speak about it, do it with some backing. 2019 addendum… Certainty of expression, I have found, relies heavily on simplicity of understanding. A friend of mine, Bram Frank, always says during his seminars, “This is not rocket science.” Unfortunately, a lot of what has been explained in karate sparring has had all the complexities of rocket science appended to it. This is not needed. All of the material I have presented in this book is explained simply. The more 261
you understand something, the simpler it becomes. I go into longer explanations so that the reader/ student will get the full idea. I can sit back and say, “Monitoring? Ah, yes. That is watching your opponent‟s attacking agents so that you will see what he is throwing at you.” Well, to me, that says it all. If you don‟t know what I am talking about it means nothing. The moral of this story is ensure you understand whatever concept, technique, tactic, etc. you are working on to the point of where it becomes a simplicity. 1979 - Total Commitment Commitment has to do with attitude. Commitment is the will power behind the action taken to complete any given goal or fulfill a decision made. Partial commitment may succeed in partial completion of a goal; total commitment will succeed at full completion of a goal. lt is an attitude. Either you will see a goal through to its completion or you will not, lt is that simple. You can apply this to the mechanics of a sparring match. Why do some attacks score and some do not‟? Why can some people just walk right up and hit someone? When you throw a technique or series of techniques, the way you are going to score is by putting as much of yourself into the technique as possible. Techniques or approaches that are hesitant, off target, ill timed, out of range, etc., are basically uncommitted techniques. To give total commitment to a technique, you have to give it all, body and spirit. Body-wise, you have to deliver it with speed and power, fully cross the range, go for exact targets with razor sharp, precision techniques. Spirit -wise, you have to have full intention, come hell or high water, of completing the desired end result of your action. You develop a tunnel vision of sorts, not allowing even the slightest thing deter you from the approach you make. When you develop this type of tunnel vision, make sure you do not fall into another type of tunnel vision; one of “nothing exists but the attack.“ While attacking with total commitment, you still have to monitor your opponent for openings and possible counters. You have to watch out for falling into two traps, over monitoring and blind commitment. Over monitoring will cause you to put higher consideration on your opponent‟s attacks than your own. Here is where uncommitted attacks, hesitation, bad timing and placement, etc. occur. You hardly ever hit your opponent because you are too concerned about what he is doing. Blind commitment is to go in and totally disregard what your opponent is doing. Here is where you get sucker shot and picked off. You are too totally wrapped up in what you yourself are doing to the exclusion of the person you are fighting. With total commitment, you monitor your opponent so that if he attacks as you come in, you can block or cover while you are still coming in at him. Reach Do you ever find yourself out of range in your attacks, especially on a lunge type of footwork„? Odds are you are not "reaching." A reach is an extension with the intention of arriving at a predetermined destination. The reason many attacks fall short is because of lack of sufficient reach; the lack of intention to complete the extension. “Well, I wanted to hit him . . . I tried…" But the commitment was not there. Let me graphically illustrate reach. I had a student get out of range and do a lunge backfist at my head several times. His fist landed at my head. Then, l took one step back and told him to stand there, just reach out with his hand to my face; not hit, just reach. I took two more steps back and said “Reach! Go ahead if you have to lean on your front foot. Get the feeling of reaching!” Finally, he ended up on 262
one foot, stretching, reaching as far as he could. Then I had him get into range again and this time I said “Backfist at me but this time. reach. with both the backfist and your footwork.” He hit me with the forearm and his body ended up right next to mine on the first attempt, without the effort it would have taken before the exercise. Check it out. Reach and it will get there. Agreement In Sparring Agreement with yourself in sparring is in direct proportion to the amount of confidence you have in your own sparring approaches, techniques, etc. Going out of agreement with yourself and into agreement with your opponent is to place him at a higher level of consideration than yourself. “He can kick better, she is going to beat me, there is no way l can…” Most of the time this is what does it. There are times when one is definitely out -classed and overmatched in skill. The thing to do when this happens is to acknowledge it to yourself and not cave in. Keep on sparring with confidence in yourself. A lot of times what happens is when, let us say, a green belt faces a good black belt, the green belt will cave in and go back to the confidence level he had as a white belt. This is absolutely ridiculous. He is still a green belt. He should act and fight like one and not crumble the first or hundred and first time he is out-classed. You cannot go from point E to point F if you keep falling back to point A all the time. That is the idea of going out of agreement with yourself. In sparring matches, one of the first things you will see is one fighter going into agreement with the other. Often it will switch back and forth many times during a single session. This has also to do with maintaining a fight plan; the approach you decide on will work on a particular opponent. Any time you fight another„s fight plan, another„s principles against your own, you are going way out of agreement with yourself. Can you win by fighting against yourself? Nobody that I know does. Work out in another school sometime and see if you can fight your fight or if you get sucked into your opponent„s. In another school, it is easier to go out of agreement with yourself due to the “mass agreement” of the school. Everybody is performing the same way; i.e.. sparring from the same stance, throwing the same techniques. etc. lf you can maintain and make your own approach to fighting work, then you can really fight your fight. And that is what a skilled fighter is all about.
Sparring with Luis Fernando Jimenez at my 9th Dan test in Houston.
Controlling Your Opponent (Initiative) How can you control your opponent? You cannot! It is as simple as that! lf you can, get him into sitting down on the floor with his back to you so that you can kick him from behind. Or better still, have him hand you a $20.00 bill instead of attacking. If you can do that, you can control your opponent: otherwise you cannot! You can control the tempo and outcome of a match by working around your opponent‘s patterns and by controlling your own actions and responses to him. This is what I call taking the initiative. Rather than letting happen whatever happens in a non -determinative way, you control what you are going to do. You can take control of a fight by taking the initiative away from the opponent. This is one of the most talked about ideas in karate with the least workable information distributed. Therefore, everyone talks about it and nobody knows how to do it. Usually, your opponent is trying to control you, trying to get you to react in a method that will allow him to hit you with his favorite shots. Basically, control of any fight takes place in control of your own responses. You do what you want to do and not what you have to do. lf you let your opponent establish the pattern of the fight, against your agreement, then your overall ability to win is impaired. If your opponent begins to establish the pattern of the fight, the first thing to do is to break contact with him; simply stepping out of range is good enough. Then as you reestablish contact, take the initiative with either unexpected actions or actions contrary to the pattern he set up. Taking the initiative can be anything from a simple stance change to a change in offensive or defensive approach. I have found that using footwork is one of the best ways of taking control of the initiative. If you feel you are getting into a defensive flow, disengage and return. All you need do is totally control yourself and fight the match the way you want to. Remember that usually every karate player has about live or fewer offensive and defensive patterns and technique approaches that are exclusively used. Discover what they are and act contrary to them. Picture Image Recognition Picture image recognition is when you recognize an attack or opening in your opponent‗s guard and give an appropriate response to it. This is what the grand old masters call ―oneness.‖ It happens faster than thought process. When you start out, you use a lot of thought process going through the sparring applications of techniques. You start out slowly enough so that you can think and decide while sparring. As one speeds up, the time used to think and decide becomes shorter and one has to make instant decisions. You will have moments when you ―saw‖ and responded. That is picture image recognition. You saw the opening, hit with the appropriate technique faster than if you had to think about it. From what I have experienced so far, this happens defensively more often than offensively. Offensively there is generally the decision to do an action, waiting for an opening or setting up an opening and then implementing the decision (attacking). That does not leave much to spontaneity. Every once in a while, the opening will just suddenly be there and, blam! - so will your attack. That is what l am talking about, picture image recognition. This is just for information. Do not try to work on 264
Just recognize and acknowledge it when it happens. Working on ironing out your own circuits and skill at monitoring will enhance your picture image recognition. If it does not come naturally, it cannot be forced. If something like this happens but you do not have full awareness of what is happening or what happened, consider it as being a circuit. With picture image recognition, you will be very aware of what is going on at the time it is happening. This is a truly ―natural response." 2019 addendum… I will often tell my students this maxim – “Recognition is senior to analytical thought.” What I mean by this is recognizing something is much faster than sitting back and figuring it out. Let me explain. When I trained for competition, I was what I would call a generalist. I worked on everything – punching, kicking, offense, defense, the works. Why? I found that fighters who were caught up in their own karate system preferences got hit by things they weren‘t used to seeing. I loved it back in the old days to fight someone from a closed system. Japanese fighters weren‘t used to being kicked in the head and Korean fighters weren‘t used to being punched. It was like Christmas every match. What was terrific about being a generalist was that when I went out on the national circuit, I was used to seeing any kind of move being thrown at me. I would recognize it faster than I could ever analyze it in mid motion. I would not get caught by it by surprise. This is how I teach my students. Learn everything so that you will recognize it when it comes at you.
1979 – Orientation Points A lot of indecision and hesitation during sparring comes from a lack of orientation point. For example, have you ever noticed how much simpler everything becomes when you decide to just pick a single approach (i.e., defensive block and hit, offensive direct attack) and follow it in sparring! The more you cut down on your options, the less confusing sparring becomes. This is because you have chosen to single out a certain approach pattern to ―ﬁlter‖ through whatever your opponent does. That becomes your orientation point. A famous karate player, Joe Lewis. calls it ―point-of-view."
You can get the idea of this by picturing looking through a red lens at everything. There, the entire color spectrum becomes less diverse because everything is now relating directly through the color red. Everything is red, light red, dark red, etc. Red is your orientation point in regard to color when looking through a red lens. This applies to approaches. You work with one until you feel good at it. Then it is time to add more. In the beginning, it is good to hold on to orientation points because they give you a point to operate from, a line of reasoning to receive input from. However, as you grow in skill and learning, you have to learn to give up orientation points you feel safe with so you can get good at new ones. There is not a tennis champ right now who is only good on his backhand but poor on his forehand, Then, once you feel safe with several orientation points, you can work on shifting from one to the next, to the next, etc., until you can change at will. Most karate people do not progress so that they have several orientation points to choose from. Since all fighters do not fight exactly the same, you cannot work the same approach on every fighter. Adaptability is the key here. Keep in mind that the only reason that you will cling to a single approach or small number of approaches is to retain a feeling of safety. This viewpoint will only end up with your nose facing into a corner Become good at an approach, get oriented within that particular framework and then work on another, keeping the ones you have in reserve. Pull them out of the closet every once in a while to keep them from getting too much dust on them, but do not get stuck into using only them. Besides offensive and defensive approaches, you can use this for anything related to sparring, footwork. monitoring, rhythm. On a stale night, I will go through five or six changes to get into a mode from which I can feel good operating. Orientation points. The trick is to develop them and then be able to shift when you need to. One of the best ways to use orientation points is to ―plan your defense." Most karate players get nailed by offensive actions rather than by defensive counter actions. This is because when they are squared off with their opponent, they have a tendency to be mentally adrift, or waiting without a plan of action. When all of a sudden an attack comes in, they snap into an automatic response. Usually it is a defensive one, backing up, turning away, freezing up, etc. Every so often it is hitting, but that is not the norm. When you plan your defense, you are orienting your counter action through a specific mode of operations. You are then waiting, monitoring and timing the specifics of how and when to implement the action. Most important, it wakes you up. Since different opponents fight differently, become familiar with different defensive approaches so that you can use the appropriate mode of action for your opponent. Working with orientation points is a primary step to ―Operational Modes." Operational modes are made up of a combination of offensive, defensive and rhythmic orientation points to make up one package deal.
Operational Modes Besides monitoring for specific attack and general movement telegraphs, it is good to learn to monitor approach and rhythmic operational modes. Your opponent will orient himself and his attack/defense methods around certain offensive and defensive approaches. The whole package (example: two offensive approaches, one defensive approach, one footwork pattern) is his operational mode. Learning how to recognize this is going to be an asset to you. For every ploy there is an equally efficient counter ploy. The key here is to be able to recognize what is being used against you and work off that. Become familiar with the offensive and defensive approaches, so much so that you can spot them immediately. Make a list of the offensive approaches. Which defensive approaches counter each offensive approach in order from maximum efficiency to minimum efficiency? Do the same with offensive approaches against each defensive approach. Then do the same with footwork patterns and rhythm patterns. From there you will find that there is a mode of operation for every opponent you will come up against. The more familiar you are with approaches, the better you will be able to cope with them. A punch is a punch and a kick is a kick, but they have to get there somehow and that somehow is what you want to be able to spot. Here again, l go back to using the mind as a computer. You receive data input in the form of recognition of operational modes and you decide on how to handle it on the basis of the information you have stored in your own memory banks, be it from experience or learned data. It is really not so hard to do. You do this kind of thinking when driving, choosing a book, etc. Just get into this frame of thinking and it will come smoothly with time.
Against Larry Kelly (RIP), 1979 Diamond Nationals
Randomness Randomness comes from the word random (Webster‘s New Collegiate Dictionary) random:
without definite aim, direction, rule or method (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary) chaos: 2.b. - a state of utter confusion.
. It is the application of chaos to an opponent
When you can set a course or method for anything, the less confusing and chaotic that thing becomes. This holds especially true for receiving attacks. The number of added elements increases the randomness in any given area. Directed randomness acts like an electric current to a circuit. Once the electric current passes the point the circuit can handle, the circuit breaker acts and shuts everything down. Apply that to your conscious thinking while sparring and when the randomness hits a certain point, bang, your thinking shuts down and you go on automatic. Automatic for any of you may be speeding up, cringing, using only favorite techniques or any one of a hundred things. You notice that when there are several things going on at once. It becomes hard to concentrate. There are too many distractions. The distraction factor comes from an inability to register several inputs simultaneously in the computer (mind). This is where chaos comes in. You concentrate on one of them and the others still want in. The extra inputs are the random ones, the ones you have not taken control of. The more attacks thrown quickly at you increases the randomness of that particular exchange. l have seen instances where a single clash with a high randomness factor will scatter an opponent for several exchanges afterward. Most people are not trained to handle any kind of randomness or diversity at all. The joke of not being able to walk and chew gum at the same time is a prime example of this. How does one handle the randomness of an opponent‗s combinations? First, slow down to a speed that you can easily handle. Second, work on focusing your attention on what your opponent is doing and catch yourself during attention lapses. Then, slowly increase the speed. Some days are going to feel better than others, so just work on it steadily and it will come. Do not try to do it, just do it. If you try, you are giving yourself room for failure. If you do it. no matter how poorly you do it. You are still doing it. It does not matter how poorly you do something, because just by doing it, you will get better at it. Trust Your Hunches Most of what I write and teach is in the realm of the technical and mechanical, but this is one piece I would like to pass on that deals with the intuitive. How many times has it happened that after an exchange you were thinking, “I knew I should have…" You ―knew,‖ but how did you know‗? Ask an aikidoist and he will say you felt your opponent‘s ki. Ask Joe Lewis and he will say that your body is reacting to your opponent's aura (I asked him in a seminar, once). Me? I think you are consciously or unconsciously "reading" your opponent‗s intention directed at you. Sometimes I just "know" and there have been times I have actually seen a picture image in my mind in polaroid print ( 2019 – jpeg these days) in full color. This is not ruled by principles concerning the physical. It is more in the realm of the intuitive or sixth sense. Do not rule it out. Open your viewpoint up so as to include the possibility of intuitively spotting telegraphed messages, and I think you will be surprised. Do not try to feel or receive—just accept that at any time you may have a hunch about something. Act on it. Pat yourself on the back when it works out and do not worry about it when it does not. 268
Let me relate two instances of this: l. When I fought Fred King for a grand championship match in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, we were in overtime and I got this huge I6‖ X 20" picture image in my mind of him ﬁring a left leg front kick at me. I was immediately ready for it, He started to move and I did an angle stcp forward and lead jab to the face inside of his. . . yep, front kick, for the match point. 2. Another time, this time in the school, I was feeling particularly good and I noticed that l was looking at, of all places, my opponent‗s stomach. I felt there was the connection between me and my opponent at that time. Now, the first instance is an example of reading intention and the second instance could be interpreted as feeling your opponent's ki or feeling your opponent‘s body aura extending toward you. It does not really matter which explanation is the ―officially approved" one. What matters is to open your viewpoint to accept the possibility of it happening and then validate yourself when it does. Do not put it in the realm of the magically mystical or the spoon-bending paranormal - just trust your hunches.
Common Mistakes In Sparring Here are what I consider to be the most common mistakes that are made when sparring. Much of what is listed here, when used as part of a strategic ruse, are not mistakes but assets. But, when you get stuck into any one (or several) of these and it hampers your adaptability in sparring, it is a mistake. Anything that gets in the way of the ability to change will trip you up, and your patterns will be readable, no matter how skilled you are at them. And if you fight out of patterns, you can be set up. So read through these, see which apply and then have somebody else run through them and checklist you also. The most obvious mistakes are ones you are blind to. l. Too much withdrawal (defense without countering): This will show you are weak on the counter attack and probably have a preference for sneak attacks. Once you get running backwards, it is hard to shift gears and counter attack. Runners generally are not that aggressive. 2. Inefficient footwork in conjunction with hard attacks: You cannot smack your opponent if you cannot get there and you are not going to get there by ―stumble footing."
4. Not picking targets - random hitting: Do not rely on your backup hits to do the damage for you. A sharp shooter will pick you to pieces. 5. Reaching for blocks: There is a big difference between intercepting and reaching. Intercepting is meeting in mid-flight, and reaching is extending out, chasing down the attack. 6. Standing only one side facing (left or right): Besides having a variety of attacks with both limbs, having a variety of positions you can operate out of is going to typecast you less. Standing with only one side facing is a limiter. 7. Relying on favorite techniques/approaches: Cross reference this with circuits. This is basically circuit thinking. 8. Time lag between block and counter. 9. Time lag between consecutive hits. Both 8 and 9 are of the same idea. Any combination of movements is one action. If you break up the action with pauses, your opponent can hit you during the pause. I0. Trying too hard to win: Trying to win and wanting to win in a contest match are fine, but when you try too hard you will put too much effort into what you are doing, tense up and actually slow down your muscular action and develop tunnel vision that will open you up for counters. l l. Not monitoring your opponent while attacking: Cross reference blind commitment on ―Total Commitment" section. 12. Posing after an attack, quitting in range: This comes from too much tournament karate based on the one punch kill idea. If you are in range, do something, anything! 13. Lack of commitment: Halfway measures will produce halfway results. 14. Inappropriate distancing. Being either too close or too far away from your opponent's size and what he is doing. 15. Lack of hips in hitting: This is applicable where rotation power is used. It is easy to fall into hitting just with an independent unit. forgetting to put weight behind your hit. I6. Pulling your blows too short/not being close enough to hit: This is prevalent in schools that do not practice with some sort of contact equipment. This often happens in correlation with #14. 17. Hesitation: This is indecision to do an action or lack of certainty to carry out an action that has been decided upon. Decide and do it.
Final Notes: My Personal Attitude Toward Karate (1979) Many times I have been asked, ―What kind of karate do you teach?‖ When I answer ―American Freestyle,― they usually say, ―Oh, tournament karate." My ―claim to fame" comes from the fact that I am known for being a competitor in tournament karate for a number of years. I was first rated in Karate Illustrated Top 10 Rating in 1972 and have been in every top karate publication since then, usually in conjunction with tournaments. Tournament karate is my fun karate, but it is not all there is. As an instructor, I have several conditions I go by when teaching my students: 1) Make it as uncomplicated to learn as possible. 2) Make it as enjoyable as possible. 3) Do not overwhelm a student with too much information in any given class. 4) Teach them what works. My first concern with a new student is to make sure karate is enjoyable and stick to workable basics. I feel that the first nine months of instruction are going to make or break a potentially good karate player. Here is his infancy, so to speak. This is when he picks up training habits. thinking habits, attitudes pertaining to competition, other types of karate and martial arts in general. The instructor‗s influence here is stronger than at any other time, so here is where you really have to treat your student right. Therefore l teach straight karate for about a year before ever attempting to get students to seriously think about tournaments. Until then, it is just a take it or leave it fun thing. After that, l impress upon them its importance in their overall training. Tournament karate is a training exercise (hopefully a fun one), no more, no less, and should be looked at as such. lt is a small piece of the overall pie. To concentrate on only one small aspect and exclude the rest from your viewpoint is damaging to your overall skill and knowledge. Fluidity, water -tight defense, accurate hitting and technical coordination should be of prime mechanical importance while relaxation, maintaining an easy control and knowing what you are doing is of prime mental importance. The maintenance of relaxed control under pressure and not giving up when you are losing are of prime importance when entering tournaments. Tournament psyche out is at least 90 percent self -induced. Any time you are nervous or worried about some part of the tourney (your matches, how you will perform, how good your opponent is) you are the one who is worrying and therefore you are the one blowing your own cool. Tournaments are often overused as a means of glorification, both for the individual and for the school. Using tournaments for personal gratification is fine until there is an overkill of that idea and you begin to downgrade everyone else. Also, an overkill of the same idea is to attempt to perpetuate a moment of glory gained at a contest. Then, the prime function of the school turns into turning out tournament players who may or may not be prepared for a street fight.
Basically, a karate player should endeavor to be balanced between all points of karate fighting so that he becomes ―the calm in the midst of a storm.― Fluid, hard, fast, slow, soft, win, lose, attack, block, exercise, etc., he is the central point controlling these approaches and attitudes, and does not allow the attitudes and approaches to control him.
Super Dan - A Martial Arts Memoir
Conceptual Aids And Added Information (2019) In the last 40 years I have written and produced roughly 50 books and DVDs on karate and Filipino martial arts. It should be no surprise that I might have more to say in this last section. Enjoy. The Need For Basics The need for good, sound basics is a must for any martial arts skill. Sound basics are what make a player excel in any sport or field. The primary fact here is that if your basics are in, you can go anywhere. If they aren‘t, you‘ll go nowhere. Since the Bruce Lee movie boom back in the l970‘s I‘ve seen kids and others imitate his moves, copy his screams, play with the nunchakus and so forth and then fade away from view. Why? Because unlike his imitators, Lee had his basics in good and solid. He knew balance, timing, power development, fighting principles, coordination - the works. He was so thoroughly grounded in the basics of martial arts that he went way beyond what was the level of expectation and created new standards of excellence. From there he became the single most influential person on the American martial arts scene. All this because he had his basics in. The very foundation of skill is having your basics in. You can deal with all the flash and dazzle you want but for a long lasting skill and something which will not fade as you grow older, you need good basics. This may not be real to a 20 year old, however, as a former 20 year old champion now in his middle 60‘s it is very real to me. It will be to you as well if you continue in the martial arts for a long time. Besides, all of the flash and dazzle moves have their foundation in basic moves. All of the moves in this book, whether simple or complex, have their roots is simple basic actions. Keep that in mind as you study this book. 272
Sparring and Fighting I want to differentiate between these two terms as they are quite different in purpose and application. Sparring is training and fighting is combat. Sparring is where you and a partner work on approaches and tactics to use in fighting. Here is where you try out new techniques or polish up on old ones. When you spar, work on specific actions with specific results or goals to achieve. This way you will get the most out of your sparring time. Sparring is an exercise, just as solo and line drills. The only difference is that it is the closest to the application of something in fighting where the line and solo drills are usually quite structured by your coach/ instructor. In sparring you have to have the discipline to structure what you want to work on and then work on it. Use that time wisely. What do you need to work on and polish up? This is the time to do it. This is also the time to cut your partner some slack so that he can work on what he needs, too. Note that I used the term ‗partner‘. You are both working on getting better. Fighting is the application of karate in a win/lose or life/death situation. Your aim is to get him before he gets you, pure and simple. To have an opponent. This relates to the verb, oppose, to go against. You have one aim and that is to get him. If he is out to get you, he is opposing you. You have an opponent in a sport match and you have an opponent in a street fight. Note the difference in attitude between sparring and fighting. Sparring and fighting are two different and distinct actions which might appear the same to an untrained eye. In sparring, more often than not what happens is that a person is somewhere between the two, not really sparring to get better but not really going all out to defeat his opponent, either. It turns out to be a covert one-upsmanship type of affair, which is not very productive in the end, especially for the guy getting beat up. This makes the person getting beat tend to ―survival ﬁght‖ rather than spar. This will lead to bad habits fast. Use your sparring time to spar and your fighting time to fight. Differentiate between the two so that you can do either one. Oh yeah, make sure that you and your partner have the same agreement when you train so that you both will know whether you‘re sparring or fighting. Attitudes Concerning Sparring and Fighting Here are several attitudes, which I find aid the student of any rank and ability. These pertain to the practice of sparring and fighting. Preparedness - You should always be prepared, offensively and defensively. Preparation of offense is fairly natural but defensive preparation and preparation of when your offensive action is cut short (jammed) is usually lacking. Most people take the ―natural reaction‖ attitude approach to defense. This is fine if you have worked your body and mind over a long period of time to be able to respond with a variety of defensive actions. Then whatever is appropriate, more often than not, will pop up. BUT at the lower ranks and often at black belt level, the natural reaction is some kind of defensive flinch rather than have a workable defense or counter offensive. The idea here is to be prepared for whatever happens. Observation is the key to this. You keep your attention on your opponent as to what he is doing. Any kind of flinching or blinking will hamper your ability to observe. If you see his attack or his telegraph at the very beginning, you won‘t be surprised by it. If you aren‘t prepared and something 273
goes wrong, you will just stop, even if only for a split second. This can get you hit. Every action, offensive or defensive, should have some kind of back up option for ―just in case.‖ The options will never present themselves unless you train yourself to do them and think that way. When you expect something, it will not surprise you. Preparedness is an attitude that warrants alertness and observation, self-observation and observation of your opponent. Definition - The definition of your technique is directly related to the degree of how prepared you are and how much you intend for the shot to land. Physical definition is clean, sharp technique to a clearly defined target area with no room for slop. Your physical definition sharpens your intention. The form of any technique is set out in such a manner so as to get the maximum benefit from that technique and I‘m talking about speed, power, impact, body usage, the whole works. Definition also has to do with balance and weight distribution as well as clean techniques. The greater definition you put into your moves will make your moves stronger, faster and much more effective. Definition also carries into body movement such as footwork, hip rotation, etc. It is concerned with all aspects of the physical technique, body position, body alignment, balance, everything. It ties in very directly with preparedness and intention. Intention - Intention is the will power and the drive behind the decision to do something. To drive a technique home to the target, you have to have intention behind it. Intention will give purpose to what you do. You want the technique to go to the target? Make it go to the target! You don‘t want to get hit? Keep yourself from getting hit! Intention is actually a simplicity. You don‘t have to get fancy or serious or anything like that. Just intend to get it done and do it. You do that every day in your life with whatever you accomplish. Anything you have ever done you applied intention do it. Whatever you called it to yourself; want, desire, necessity, it doesn‘t matter. Apply that same want, desire, necessity to a technique and you will carry it through. I use the term intention as that indicates to me. Intention is a key factor to driving a technique home. These attitudes have a lot to do with your fighting ability becoming a cut above the rest. Preparedness will keep you alert. Definition will enable to hone your body to a fine fighting machine, which will respond with split second timing. Intention is the driving force, which will get the job done. This is a very important trio, isn‘t it.
The Situation Dictates The Response Every option has its perfect counter option. Any attack or defense approach can be neutralized by recognition and application of the ―correct‖ opposite which will make it go wrong for him. It is that cut and dried - on paper. Unfortunately, real fighting is anything but that. You don‘t fight on paper. There are many intangibles that are thrown into a real fight or sparring situation. The fighter‘s personalities, emotions, surprises, terrain all play into the situation and response. These are things, which create a live situation instead of a text book case study. The situation always dictates the response. Where you may run one day, you hit your opponent with a chair the next. This is also true in a sparring match. You may hold your position and hit them one time, you may block and move the next. I found this to be true when I was in competition. I had to fight different opponents of all sizes and weights. Even though this guy was ripe for me to rush forward and hitting him just as he moved, he was too big. I‘d get the point but get my head taken off. Pretty uneven exchange for my tastes. What you do in response depends upon your mental and emotional state right at that exact moment and your physical location (which includes your position in relation to your opponent). These will all play a part in determining how you are going to handle a situation. You can create a good series of drills by laying out a good number of situations you may have to fight in and then drill them. An example would be if your right arm became immobilized. Practice fighting with your right hand tied behind you. That‘ll give you a different perspective right there. Or practice in the parking lot. Practice being behind by 2 points with only 5 seconds left in the match. You can come up with any number of situations until you become comfortable in any situation. Viewpoints In Karate Competition Depending on the region of the U.S. you live in and their rules for competition, most of the techniques in this book can be used for point competition so I‘ll address the subject of karate point competition here. What is a viewpoint? A viewpoint is how somebody looks at, feels about and thinks of something. It is a position from where you can view, analyze and handle situations. You can assume all kinds of viewpoints in karate from basic technical to mental to spiritual to gamesmanship. In my first book I use the term ―orientation point.‖ Some people like the term ―game plan.‖ I find the term viewpoint ﬁts it better. The first viewpoint you can assume for the purpose of competition is that of a game player. This is what tournament karate is - a game. To some it is a very serious game and to others it‘s a worthless one but it is a game nonetheless. From here we can look at playing the game (fighting a match) from a viewpoint. One type of viewpoint is to look at from a technical one. Let‘s say you decide to work your defense from a block and counter viewpoint. Instead of not knowing what you are going to do, that‘s your strategy. You block and counter as a handle to his attack. That will be a handle to the confusion of ―What am I going to do?‖ One of my game faces was a smile. Or your viewpoint can be one of aggressiveness. You look at the other fighter and decide whatever he does is going to be met with aggression. He blinks and you‘re going forward, firing all guns. There are an infinite number of viewpoints from which to operate from. 275
You can use any of the offensive or defensive approaches outlined in my first book, anything your instructor teaches, anything you‘ve read about, anything you‘ve come up with yourself, anything. You use a viewpoint to operate out of, base your strategy on and to orient yourself in a moment of confusion. ANY VIEWPOINT IS BETTER THAN NO VIEWPOINT AT ALL. Most successful fighters combine various viewpoints to suit their own personal approach to fighting. The more skill and experience one has, the more viewpoints one will have at his disposal. You should be able to use or not use any viewpoint that you Wish. You should be able to shift viewpoints whenever the situation changes. In any given sparring situation I may go through 5 different viewpoints until I find the worst one for this particular opponent. The entire thrust of this book has to do with the tactics and strategies of sparring and fighting. You can use these to help you in your tournament competition. You can take the initiative by being able to shift viewpoints at a moments notice. Here‘s an example: I was up in Canada for a match. For the Grand Championship I was fighting a heavyweight who had less reach than me (very rare I might say). Normally I would stay out of range and pop and pepper my opponent for the points and emerge unscathed. This guy‘s best action was to go forward very fast and nail him. In other words, he was going to catch me and hammer me unless...I went to him first. Which I did. Every time he moved I went at him. Three rounds and a bloody nose later, I ended up winning the match I 1-3. You seize the initiative by controlling your own actions and responses to any given situation and making your opponent react to you, not you to him. Read that last line again. This is one of the best kept secrets in any kind of fighting. It is so simple. You want to one thing but he keeps fouling it up. Instead of going on the mental defensive (―What am I going to do now? What‘s he going to do?‖) you shift viewpoints (or I could say tactics – same thing) and keep him on the defensive (―That one‘s stopped. Let‘s see what he does with this.‖). Any time you play the other fighter‘s game you‘ve lost the initiative. The only exception to this is if you decide you can do this to your own advantage. If you can out punch a puncher or out kick a kicker, go for it. This is what Jose Torres did in his fight for the light heavyweight boxing championship title fight. In the first round, he out jabbed a jab artist. He took his will from him and went on to a 3rd round knockout. You‘ll notice the key words, you decide. You do it because it is your battle plan, not because you can do nothing else. If you‘re looking into playing the tournament game, the first viewpoint you must assume is one of the game player. In order to do that you must understand the game itself. 276
Definition of Tournament Fighting – The Game I was talking to a student of mine, on how to define tournament fighting to a viewing public who didn‘t have the slightest clue as to what was going on. I was promoting a national tournament and I was trying to ﬁnd the simplest way to describe it. James looked at me, smiled and said, ―The ﬁrst person who touches the other onewins.‖ The simplicity of that statement stunned me. How true! I got around to thinking, with this type of description, how do I elaborate on it but still keep it simple? Well, the better the touch, the more likely it will get called for a point. What are the touches? Karate kicks and punches. What makes it a better touch? The more speed, power and clarity of it. You‘ve got to control it, though. If you touch too hard you‘ll lose. Where can you touch? Only the target approved areas. These are the basics of tournament fighting. Tournament fighting, stripped to its barest fundamental premise is a game of, ―I get you, you don‘t get me.‖ or ―I get you more times than you get me.‖ It has nothing to do with survival ﬁghting, being a warrior, the all American good sportsman attitude or the virtues of the martial arts although it has been the subject of many heated arguments. When the dust settles, however, you‘ll find that the guy who touched the other guy the most is the guy who won. When I say all the above don‘t get the idea that l don‘t believe in honor, proper attitude, effective fighting and furthering the positive aspects of the martial arts because believe me, I do. I work very hard at making the art better for others. But I‘m talking about the game now and if your don‘t really see it for what it is, exactly, you‘re going to set yourself up for hard times playing the game. I was one of the best game players in the history of the game and I know exactly what the tournament game is made up of. Tournament karate is a game of tag, sometimes flaky and sometimes rugged, but a game of tag nonetheless. It itself is not a martial art. So there is a separation of the two - you have the art and you have the game. If you‘re going to play the game to win, you‘ve got to get the idea that it is a game with rules and regulations, wins to be gained, losses to be suffered and penalties to be imposed. When you play cards, you know that the ace can count as either l or 11 and that may aid you to win. The same goes in karate competition. The game is different from the art and again different from a street fight. When you play the game, know what the game consists of. Actuality and Apparancy Now let‘s go over the key hidden point of tournament fighting. If you understand this it‘ll save you a lot confusion and heartaches. Have you ever sank a good reverse punch in your opponents ribs and stepped back to be utterly amazed that the judges didn‘t see it. Then your opponent flicks outa backfist that you know wasn‘t close enough and the flags fly up for his point. Frustrating, isn‘t it. Let me define two terms: actuality - that which really happens. apparancy - that which looks like or appears to have happened. Look at the preceding example from these two terms. You sank in the punch. You know it. Your opponent certainly felt it. He even made a face. That is actuality, that‘s What really happened. It didn‘t get called for a point because the judges didn‘t see it. Next he flicks out a backfist that he knows didn‘t get there. The judges called it anyway. That is apparancy - it appeared to be good enough to the judges 277
be called a point Judges score on apparancy, not actuality. They score on what they thought happened, not what really happened. If you understand this one point it will save you a lot of grief. Not all of the time do judges see what actually happened. Judges are people and their reaction times, eyesight, knowledge and so forth are not infallible. Keep that in mind the next time you feel you are being cheated. The majority of judges I have encountered are very honest, very hard working and want to give each fighter a fair shake. They are usually calling what appears to them to be happening. A number of times they‘ll call what actually did happen but when they don‘t, understand why they called what they did. There is another concept that you need in order to understand the game and how to play it and that is reality. Reality is agreement. Along with the written rules of the game there are the unwritten rules as well. Unwritten rules are based on agreement and they make up the reality of the tournament. Another example from my experience: I was again in Canada fighting in my ring. The rules said light face contact and medium body contact. So that‘s what I did a number of times. No points. Then I blasted my opponent in the face. Point. I kept this up. My last point I hit him in the face so hard that he stopped in the middle of the ring covering his face. The chief judge went up to him, opened his hands, looked at his nose and said, “It’s straight. Point!” I got the point and match. There are the written rules and there are the ring rules. It doesn‘t matter if the written rules say light face contact if ring #3 is allowing for face rearrangement. The written rules in the example said light face contact but the reality of the ring was hard face contact. You play the rules of that ring and if the rules get changed (enforced) later, you change. The interesting thing is that the game can change from ring to ring in the same tournament. Something I always tell my students is that in a tournament, play the game the way it is given you. So what is the reality of any given ring? Well, observe! You‘ll find out. Here is another thing to observe, the difference between legal techniques and what actually gets called. At any tournament you‘ll have a number of techniques you are supposed to be able to get a point with. Now take a look and see what gets called the most. In my day it was the reverse punch. In Texas it was the ridge hand. Observe. You‘ll see what the judges like and then if you throw it, it‘ll more often get called. When you play the game, keep in mind what I said about apparancy and actuality and what gets called for a point is apparancy. Also find out What the reality of the situation by observing what gets called and what doesn‘t. That will get you farther in the game than anything.
Two examples of apparancy vs actuality - both attacks fall short of the target. Both attacks got me points. 278
Straight Line Fighting Nearly everyone fights in a straight line pattern, movement being forward and back. I want to present a particular concept of straight line fighting and a method which may aid you in developing it. Straight line fighting is typified by two main points: l) going from point A to B (you to him) as fast as possible and 2) doing so with disregard to peripheral or outside distraction. A peripheral or outside distraction, in this application, is any attack which doesn‘t come directly at you. Look at the idea of a Japanese ﬁghter. This is a speciﬁc attitude. A Japanese ﬁghter fights with the samurai attitude of ―You cut my flesh, I cut your bone.” If you have ever seen a samurai movie where the two fighters square off, come in at the same time and the fighter with the better timing cuts a hair sooner than his opponent and kills him, you got the idea. This epitomizes the idea of straight line fighting and disregarding peripheral distractions. He will get to a certain distance from you and then 100% total commitment to get the attack through. It is a commonly agreed upon principle that a straight line can beat a curve. Example: a straight punch will reach the target before a hook punch because of the directness of it. Here is where the samurai attitude comes in. You go straight in, cutting any action of his short by taking the shortest possible route. You may get clipped (You cut my flesh...) but he‘ll get drilled (I cut your bone). This type of attitude must be there or else the physical mechanics won‘t work to 100% optimum functioning. I‘ll give you the example of how I developed it for myself. In May, 1982, I planned on entering a W.U.K.O. (World Union Karate -do Organization) rules tournament. W.U.K.O. rules then were very Japanese style oriented and were very different than the open rules I was used to. Open tournaments allow for all sorts of techniques and Japanese tournaments concentrate on front kicks and straight punches. I thought it would be fun if I, an open rules fighter, won a Japanese rules tournament. So, I got to work on my attitude. I concentrated on three things; 1) straight line, 2) no hesitation and 3) samurai attitude. The key thing here is that I was not pretending with my attitude. I was taking that particular attitude and making that mine. It was me. That was how much I worked on the attitude. My students couldn‘t understand it. I was sparring with an approach that was so simple that they should‘ve been able to pick me apart with all sorts of moves and couldn‘t. I then went to the tournament and amazed everyone...but me. I ended up winning my weight division and the open weight (all weights) as well. I beat fighters who had grown up in the Japanese system including the reigning U.S. heavyweight champion. Since then I fought and won in a number of Japanese tournaments including getting two gold medals in the 1990 Goodwill Games (at the ripe old age of 37 - lower left in photo below). The main point of this story is that it all began with my taking on the attitude described earlier and getting into it to such a degree that it became my own attitude with nothing artificial about it.
One nice thing about my being an open stylist was that it aided me in that I have seen all sorts of techniques thrown at me from all angles. I was not going to get hit by anything unexpected so the surprise factor was way down. After training like this my respect for this type of attitude increased greatly. The attitude of going straight in without hesitation is one of the strongest I have come up against and is valuable in overall training. My own development of the approach went like this: I went on the basis that if an attack didn‘t come down on the Positional Center Line, I disregarded it. The Positional Center Line is described in the preceding section on Monitoring. Make that line about three inches thick and if the attack doesn‘t come down it, disregard it, move in and blast away. To make this work you need to have 1) no hesitation. If you hesitate he can get you. 2) Move your body down that space as if your body fit in that small of a space. If you do this with these two points in mind, you won‘t believe how sharp and straight to the point your action will be. This is how I viewed my opponent. If anything didn‘t come down the three inch strip (illustrated by the clarity of that portion of the photo) it was disregarded and I went straightforward. A good way to use the above description is to imagine it. Mock it up and imagine yourself moving inside that 3 inch line, going inside or round kicks, ridge hands, backfists and spin kicks. Picture yourself beating to the punch front kicks and straight punches hitting them right as they move. Razor sharp reflexes, that‘s what you want to imagine. With this type of approach the only thing you‘ll have to watch out for is running into an attack that is coming straight at you like a straight punch, side kick or a high chambered front kick. It would be like running into an outstretched spear. Keep your eyes open when you do this but especially keep your attitude strong. Remember, l made this work for me so you can do the same. Angling The purpose of angling is to move yourself from a position your opponent could hit you in to one which is harder for him to hit you in. That‘s pretty simple. If you are straight in -line with your opponent‘s ability to move forward, you are easy to hit. If you move off of that straight line to one on an angle and then you become not so easy to hit. I discussed in a previous entry Straight Line Fighting which, direction wise, is in a forward manner. Angling is moving in any direction which is off that straight line. One thing you can always count on is that your opponent will set you up for him to hit your from a position which is easy for him to move from. He will set himself up in his best position to attack you from. He will not make it hard for himself. That you can bet money on. I have never fought anyone who purposely faced me in a position that they felt was weak. That‘s why I said when you angle you put yourself in a position that is harder for him to hit you from. Usually he will readjust himself to get back into his position. When he does that you can either hit him during the readjustment or angle again as he readjusts. Either way you are denying him his position. This is a good way to gain the upper hand. With defensive angling you would angle off their straight line approach just as they begin to move. Not as they begin to attack. By the time you recognize the attack, you might be hit. As he begins to move. That‘s when you angle. With offensive angling you would take the initiative and angle off the straight line approach and hit him from a different direction. You could hit him flat footed or as he readjusts. 280
Angling was introduced to the American tournament scene by all -time great, Joe Lewis and was perfected by three time number one player, Keith Vitali (photos below). All of the angling done in the U.S. in tournaments are basically offshoots of Joe Lewis or Keith Vitali.
There are two prerequisites to skilled angling and they are distancing and mobility. If you are going to use movement for defense you need room to move in. If you are too close you will get hit before you can, yourself, move. It‘s that simple. The earlier chapter on distancing lays out my idea of safe distance from your opponent. Let‘s take distancing into consideration first. When you are on the Critical Distance Line, your opponent will have to execute a large motion to get to you. He will have to move his whole body. He won‘t be able to lean in and hit you. He‘ll have to step. This is what you want. You move when his shoulders show the first sign of movement. That‘s the timing point. Not when you recognize that he has committed to his entry. That is Way too late. When his shoulders start to move. You have this datum to operate on: Anything tha takes more motion to execute will take more time to execute it in. This is a very important part of angling. Your chances of success angling against a large motion will be greater than a small motion. The greater your distance between you and your opponent will give you more time to do your angle. There is a second part to defensive angling, angling the upper body. You use this when you are too close to step away. When you angle the upper body you should still be close enough to counter attack. Don‘t be so turned or twisted that your counter has no power. You want to hit him as you move. If you don‘t you are still close enough to get hit by him. When you angle you can also go into a clinch or takedown and grapple as well. Defensive Set Up I have been regarded as one of the premier defensive fighters ever to compete on the open circuit. I‘ve gotten a lot of “How do you keep from being hit with a... ?" questions so I thought I‘d outline how I set myself up defensively and my viewpoints behind what I do.
I fight out of a defensive frame of mind. In my opinion anybody can learn how to hit without a whole lot of training. Keeping from getting hit is a whole different matter and is what separates the men from the boys (and women from the girls). Most fighters are offensively minded. Usually their defensive skills come under the heading of what I call ―barricading the fort.‖ This is like in the cowboy movies where the army is holed up in a fort and they don‘t start shooting until the Indians are climbing the walls. This is an introverted, ―handle it as it comes at you‖ type of thinking. You have to remember that they are firing at you while you are waiting for them to get close. You can fire on them as them come near but what do you do if they have superior fire power? I prefer to use positioning to cut off most of my opponent‘s options way before he ever begins to throw an attack. This is like throwing up roadblocks and detours (through the swamp) so he doesn‘t have a good, clear route to the fort. You get the idea? The other guy doesn‘t know where to begin. There are several tools I use to do this. l. Range - I keep my opponent either where he can‘t hit me or I get too close to him for his comfort. 2. Positional Set Up - Refer to that chapter in this book. 3. Placement of self (including footwork) - How can I stand and how can I place my hands and arms so that my opponent has no targets or has to attack in the areas I choose? Am I set up so that I am in the way of his favorite techniques? 4. Prior observation - If I‘ve seen him before and what he did well and so forth, I can use that knowledge to set myself up accordingly. If I haven‘t, I‘ll go by 1-3 above. Here are two factors that play heavily into this. You need to be able to kick and punch with both sides, not just the right or left. A position you use to limit your opponent will, to some degree, cut out some of your options too. Therefore, you will need the use of both your hands and both your feet. Plus, if you can hit with both limbs at will, you will be able to fire your attack from any position, offensive or defensive, rather than have only one position to hit from. The other factor is to be brutally honest with yourself about your reaction speed. Is your reaction time quick or not? Do you get hit with sudden moves or do you handle them without getting hit? If your reaction speed isn‘t too quick, don‘t worry about it. Just increase the distance between you and your opponent and monitor more closely. I have different reaction speeds on different nights and I do the above to fix it. Go over Monitoring in this section and Positional Set Up in section l to compliment this chapter and you‘ll see where I‘m coming from better. Recognition A student‘s early training and a lot of what is written in my first book deals with thinking and how to think while sparring. Thinking is merely step one. It takes a lot to get a person to what they are doing. Much of society training is based on being able to go on automatic and doing things by rote. Go home and watch television and see how easy it is to get ―glued to the box.‖ That is a nice way of describing going on automatic. To think about something is to consciously put attention into an area. Several columns in my first book describe going on automatic (Circuits/Habit Patterns) and how to think (Objective Analysis in Sparring, How To Think While Sparring). Thinking is stage one. You are beginning to wake up. 282
Recognition is the next step. Recognition is senior to thinking . In order to recognize, you have to be awake and aware of what is happening in your own space and that includes the physical body of your opponent. You have all this information you have been learning about and are getting to know. When your knowledge and ability to confront come up, your ability to recognize will come up with it. The ability to instantly recognize an attack and its intention is very much an above average skill. Recognition is a form of knowing. You don‘t have to check the data banks in order to determine what the attack is and how to handle it. Think about it. How do you know when you know something? When you know. Do you know what your middle name is? Do you know or do you have to check your birth certificate to make sure? That is the basic idea. When you recognize something, you are consciously aware of it. It‘s not automatic. It just operates faster than thought process. It‘s instant knowing. How To Develop New Viewpoints And Skills I came across this in class one night. We were working on a specific viewpoint and my students were having limited success working it in their sparring. So, I told them to really get into to drill and so forth. Then one of my students said to me that he was having trouble fitting it in with his sparring. That immediately told me what the problem was. He was trying to fit it in with his sparring. That is going about it backwards. When you are trying out a new approach, don‘t try to fit it in with your repertoire, fit your repertoire around the new approach. You should work everything around the new viewpoint instead of the other way around. You have in your repertoire all sorts of techniques that you feel comfortable With. When you try out something new, all these other things will get in the way of the new approach if you try to fit the new approach in to the already comfortable actions. Comfortable over uncomfortable, successful over unproven actions - it‘s natural to stick with things that feel good or workable. The idea here is to begin operating out of the new viewpoint totally and those things that work well with it, keep. Those that don‘t, discard them.
Keith Vitali and I in a magazine article.
Here is an example: Let‘s say that you fight out of Horse Stance and feel comfortable with back fist and side kick. You need to develop your Front Stance fighting ability. Instead of fitting your Front Stance into your normal routine, switch to Front Stance and make Front Stance your routine. Now, if side kick doesn‘t fit in with your new routine, then don‘t try to use it. If the back fist does work, keep it. Do you see? You fit your repertoire of techniques around the new approach, not fit the new approach in your repertoire. Once the new approach feels more natural, then it will naturally become part of your overall repertoire. Doing And Trying Frustration. How do you deal with it? Everybody has the problem of mentally beating themselves half to death to some degree or another. One of the consistent factors that has cropped up with every student I have taught in regards to frustration in learning has to do with the concept of ―trying.‖ When you ―try‖, you are attempting something and that attempt includes the possibility of succeeding or failing. Take a look at that. If you are trying to do a good side kick for twenty minutes and finally do a good one, you have spent twenty minutes doing one kick - the good one. Ask a student who is practicing a kick or punch. They usually think in terms of how many good techniques done. They‘ll say, ―I‘ve done several real good ones.‖ You asked them how many side kicks they have done in the last half hour. Gads, what a self put down! They just told you indirectly that most of the last half hour was wasted with the exception of a couple good kicks. Come on. They did more than five side kicks in that last half hour. Talk to a weight lifter after an exercise period. Ask them they did. They will tell you how much they lifted and how many times with each exercise. They were doing, not trying. When you look at the difference between doing and trying, you find that doing is far more positive minded. Instead of only doing two or three really good side kicks in the last half hour, how many side kicks did you do in the last half hour? Never mind that some were better than the others, how many did you do? 500 you say? Now look at that in terms of accomplishment. That you did 500 side kicks is quite an accomplishment. Whenever training, it is most beneficial to look at the most positive aspect of it as you can. This way, you can accomplish something every training period. There are enough ways to be made to low out in this world without you mentally flogging yourself as well. Get into the frame of doing rather than trying. You‘ll feel much better. More On Operational Modes I went over Operational Modes in my first book, however, I have some additional information that didn‘t make it in time. An operational mode is the overall description of how your opponent fights. Whether they are aggressive or defensive is an operational mode. If they are aggressive, they will be prone to using offensive techniques, forward action, etc. They may have all sorts of different approaches to use but their overall mode of operation is aggressive. The same holds true with a defensive fighter. They can be typecast in this way. Another category of operational mode you can look for is the type of energy your opponent displays. This I got from a kung fu practicing friend of mine, Doug Bailey. Your opponent can fight out of three energy types: explosive energy; a pressuring, scattered energy, and a lulling energy. The explosive energy is when your opponent takes off with a sudden quickness, a blast off. A good way to look at this fighter is that he is wound up tight, just waiting to happen. Give him the opening or push him too hard and he explodes towards you, full speed, full commitment. The broken flow, pressure type of energy is like radio static, a non -flowing, jerky, 284
unbalancing, unnerving action. This guy scatters his opponent‘s energy by using a lot of false leads coupled with heavy forward pressure intention. He‘s looking for the scattered or unnerved reaction before he moves in to score. The lulling energy is a drifting, floating action. Nothing really sets you off or unbalances you but they get in close enough to hit you before you can react. An interesting effect of the lulling energy fighter is while the explosive or broken rhythm fighter‘s energy can actually raise their opponent‘s energy level the lull fighter can lower their opponent‘s energy level by their relaxed demeanor. Then when the energy drops, they tag them. Which type of fighter are you? What operational mode do you operate out of? Are you aggressive or defensive? What kind of energy do you display and what type of fighters do you have trouble with? The answers to these questions you can best answer as you work on spotting you and your opponent. Check this out and you will be able to read your opponent that much better.
Desire One thing I wanted to go over at the close of this section is that I can coach you (via this book) on all the techniques and strategies in the world but there is one thing that I can‘t give you. That is desire. That is the one thing that has to come solely from you. This is what takes the average karate player and makes a champion out of them. I‘ve seen mediocre karate players win far more than I expected just because they wanted to win bad enough. I‘ve also seen some of the most talented karate players do nothing for lack of desire. Desire is the common denominator of all great champions whether they are in karate or in some other sport. It isn‘t strategy, physical ability, or who your instructor is although they may play a part in the overall result. It is the desire to overcome anything that may come in the way of your becoming a champion. That means overcoming a five point deficit, moving to another location in order to work with better people, putting in an extra hour every night to work on your reverse punch. That is desire. If you aren‘t doing everything possible to achieve your goals, then you don‘t want it bad enough. How badly do you want it? That is the question. I personally came from a region where nothing was happening in the way of national competition at the time. We had local tournaments but nothing that 285
attracted any nationally known competitors. So, went out on the road and spent a lot of money going to outside tournaments so that I could get the experience I needed to become better at the game. I asked everybody a ton of questions, watched everybody warm up and fight, listened in on other people‘s conversations, anything that I could do in order to take something home with me to work on. Here‘s how badly I wanted it. It paid off. In I972 I got my first national rating and was on my way to become the first fighter from the Pacific Northwest to be rated in the Top Ten ever. All of this happened because I wanted it more than anything else. I went for it with all systems go. In 1990 I competed in the Seattle Goodwill Games Karate tournament. The Hubbard Dianetics Foundation was one of the sponsors of the Goodwill Games and I have been associated with Dianetics since 1982. I hadn‘t planned on competing but at the last moment I was needed. So, with less than a month to prepare, I went for it. Experience paid off but it wouldn‘t have if not for the desire. I came away winning two gold medals, one in the 80 kilogram division and the other in the team competition. Oh yeah, I was 37 years old at the time. There is an old song by the pop group Chicago, which had a verse that truly summed it up for me. The song was ―Saturday in the Park‖ and the verse goes ―...if you want it, really want it ‖ That says it better than anything else I can say I‘ve heard. When it comes to winning, you have to want it so bad that you are willing to undergo any type of training to get better. The thought of losing should start your eyeballs vibrating, your socks unraveling, and the alarm clocks ringing. This way, when you are down by a point or two, you will not give up until the timekeeper calls time and the chief referee stops the match. That is desire and this is what you need to become a champion.
My two gold medals from the 1994 Goodwill Games
2019 - My Personal Attitude Toward Karate The above remains valid but there are areas where I have changed my views with age and experience and research. Research is my main area of focus these days. I go into areas where there are loose ends. I hate loose ends! I absolutely hate them. I feel every phenomenon in martial arts has some sort of explanation and way to develop that skill. I believe the only reason the old masters explained things cryptically (if at all) is that they didn‘t understand, in simple terms, what they were doing or didn‘t have the vocabulary to do so or just plain didn‘t understand the topic. Here is a case in point. For decades there has been a debate as to if kata had any relevance to one‘s development in free -fighting. On the surface it is a case of comparing apples to oranges but here was an odd in the mix – all of the early karate champions were well versed in kata. Mike Stone, Allen Steen, Joe Lewis, Chuck Norris, Steve (Sanders) Muhammad and many others were very good at kata. That became a terrific research project for me. And wouldn‘t you know it, I found the hidden link and published the results in the book, Kata & Free-Fighting - The Hidden Link. I have had a number of great mentors in karate without whom I would never have gotten to where I am today. My goal now is to be that to others, to pay it forward. I have written 25 books and produced over 30 DVDs with the goal in mind to make martial arts easier and more understandable to students. I continue to actualize that goal with the revision/expansion of this book. Happy reading and train hard! Yours, Dan Anderson
Receiving my 10th Dan, May 2017
Appendix 1 – Interview With Dan Anderson by Ron Goin This is a series of two interviews conducted by Ron Goin for his blog. The first one was done in around November 2012 and the second one was done around April 2017. These are the most thorough interviews of me in print so I am including it here in this book. Enjoy! DA
WARRIOR'S PATH SERIES DAN ANDERSON, MARTIAL ARTS LEGEND by Ron Goin – Random Thoughts Every sport has its superstars. In the era of tournament karate, that superstar was Dan Anderson. Dan Anderson, or "Super Dan" as he was known in those days, is a 4 -time National Karate Champion, having won over 70 Grand Titles. He was featured on the cover of Karate/Kung Fu Illustrated magazine twice, and he was rated in the Top Ten lightweight fighters in the world by Professional Karate Magazine. He was rated in Karate Illustrated's yearbook Top Ten 1977, 1978, 1979 and Sport Karate 1980 in sparring competition. He was the only competitor in America to be rated in both Black Belt magazine and Karate Illustrated magazine's Top Ten fighters of the year. 7 -time national champion Steve Anderson and 3 -time national champion Keith Vitali rated Dan in the Top Ten fighters of all time. In addition to open style competition, Dan won in AAU/WUKO (Japanese organization) events including being one of the only two undefeated American Team members against the Japan National Team. He was also the first heavyweight champion in the International All -Chinese Kung Fu Championships (Vancouver, BC) fighting competition. Dan has been recognized as being one of the most influential martial artists in the 40 year history of tournament karate. "Dan Anderson," says Eric Shellenbarger, "knows sparring inside and out." I never had the opportunity to see "Super Dan" Anderson fight in person, but I've met martial artists who did, and each one had a story to share. His footwork, they told me, was loose and rhythmic like a boxer. He worked angles, some said, knowing how to blitz straight in, and also how to cut in at odd angles. Forget the long, low martial arts stances seen in so many martial arts systems at the time...Dan kept his hands up like a professional boxer, and he was able to cover distances quickly. Some of the fighters from that era would move in and throw one jarring technique, but Dan threw combinations and was hard to defend against. Dan's 1981 book, American Freestyle Karate: A Guide to Sparring, has been called seen on sparring," by none other than Loren W. Christenson.
"the best I have
When I ran my own school in 1982, Dan's book was required reading for my advanced students. There was so much in there, and Dan's approach seemed to blend in elements from lots of different sources...clinch work, takedowns, solid boxing and combination techniques, and plenty of good positioning work and strong kicking skills. A Black Belt since 1970, Dan never stopped learning and never stopped expanding his martial arts knowledge. He received the prestigious Joe Lewis Eternal Warrior Award in 2016. Dan has also conducted numerous seminars around the world introducing hundreds of martial artists to the Filipino Martial Arts. I am always interested in the journey of notable martial artists, or what I consider as the Warrior's Path, and Dan graciously accepted my request for an interview. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------RON GOIN: Thanks so much for taking time from your busy schedule. It's a real honor to learn more about your journey. First off, what got you started in the martial arts? DAN ANDERSON: Two things. First of all, I was protected by my older brother, Don. He was the biggest hoodlum in the school so nobody messed with “Anderson‟s little brother” because nobody wanted to mess with Anderson. I had a double -0 license to be a pain in the butt…until he was sent to reform school. Once he got sent up I had to change my ways fast. So, the first reason was self-defense. The second reason was I wanted to be cool. Bruce Lee had just come out in the TV show, The Green Hornet. This was huge. Finally, somebody who could move better than James Coburn or Steve McQueen. A real karate chopper! My mother gave in to my relentless pestering and let me do karate lessons for my 14th birthday. She thought it would be a six month fad. 46 years later I‟m still enjoying my 14th birthday present. The jury is still out as to whether I am cool or not. RG: Whatever happened to your brother? DA: He was the perfect example of how I didn't want my life to be; drugs, crime, and finally, a prematurely ended life. RG: What motivated you to write your book, American Freestyle Karate? DA: Simply speaking, it was the book I wanted to read. There was no cohesive, comprehensive book on how to spar out there on the market. I had written one several years earlier, and I had Tuttle Publishing interested in it. But I went inexpensive on the photographs, too slow on submitting it, and they lost interest. Later on I was talking to the editor of Inside Kung Fu magazine, Paul Maslak. I‟d told him that I wanted to write a book on karate sparring. I was a top -ten fighter at the time. He told me right on the spot that if I wrote it, he‟d publish it. Nine months later I had the manuscript finished. I flew down to Los Angeles with my lead black belt, Bill Rooklidge, and we shot the pictures in one day. Ed Ikuta, the photographer, told me that he‟d never seen anyone so organized. I had everything written down exactly how I wanted each sequence to be seen. We shot roughly 1200 photos which got edited down to about 750 or so. I have written roughly 50 books and DVDs since then. You can find these on my website www.superdanonlinelibrary.com. 290
RG: I used that book as one of the „textbooks‟ for my own MA school in the 80‟s…I looked at it as one of the first mixed martial arts books on the market. Was that your intent? DA: Not really. The MMA game was brought to the USA from Brazil in 1994. One of the things that wasn‟t known about me at the time is that I was a voracious student and observer of other martial arts. As a competitor I knew the rules inside and out. I always looked for an edge. One of the edges I found was that karate people were uncomfortable at the inside range. I would use knees to the groin (until they were banned) because other karate people didn‟t train that way. It was the same with clinching and hitting on the break. Throwing had always been a part of my training, so I included takedowns in the book. This was way before MMA, but it is interesting that it is looked upon in that way. RG: Do you still refer to your program as American Freestyle Karate? DA: My main curriculum for karate is American Freestyle Karate. I also teach a classical karate program (Kong Su Do) as well as Filipino martial arts - MA80 System Arnis/Eskrima. RG: How important is style/curriculum to your program? DA: Style/curriculum is very important as far as I‟m concerned. What is considered a “style” is better stated as “system.” We Americans are used to a step by step progression to skill or knowledge in anything. That is a “system”. As karate is a martial “art” rather than martial “science”, it is subject to personal interpretation, i.e., style. A system is dictated by the methodology by which one presents the material. Style is dictated by view-point. So, as an example, we could be from the same system, and yet my style might be different than yours. RG: You were such a famous competitor during the tournament karate era. Seems like you were in every martial arts magazine I picked up during those years. How critical is competition in your view? DA: For me, not at all anymore. The one thing good about competition is that it will put you under the stress of having to hit first. This is whether you initiate the attack or counter after the defense. Whichever way you go, you are the first to land a blow. These days that is the only thing they are good for. I‟ve gotten very disenchanted with tournaments these days. The rules and targeting and types of techniques you can and cannot use are so restrictive that the game really restricts sparring skill. Unfortunately, many schools teach their sparring skills around what is allowed in tournaments. Back in the day, this was fine because sweeping, throwing, hitting below the belt, etc. was allowed. These days none of that is allowed. Here is a funny example. I took my 9th degree black belt test three weeks ago. In my first free -fighting match, I hit my opponent no less than 6 times with the groin kick. This was in less than 2 minutes. I hit my third opponent in the groin as well. The only person I didn‟t hit was Ray McCallum, who knows how to defend against it. The two others weren‟t used to defending against it and this is because of present day tournament competition. You‟re bringing out the crabby old man in me (smile). Here‟s an aside regarding my match with Ray. We fought completely different. Head butts, knees to the groin, holding and hitting, were what we did. We fought down and dirty. We used to be able to do that in a tournament back in the old days. Oh, well…
You can temper these comments with something I read one time in a book about boxing. The writer said that there‟s only one thing old fighters and old sports writers agree on. “Things aren‟t as good these days as they used to be.” I laughed when I read that because I saw that I found myself in that category. The funny thing is that talking to fighters that preceded my generation thought the same thing so I even take my own viewpoint on competition with a grain of salt. RG: Who would you say was your toughest opponent? DA: That would depend on which era you are talking about. In the beginning it was Rich Mainenti. He was a kajukenbo fighter from San Leandro, California. He was the first heavyweight opponent who was crafty. He drove me nuts! In the Pacific Northwest, heavyweights were big guys who didn't move as fast as I did. He was as slick as they come and used head games as much as I did. In my top twenty era it was Howard Jackson. Howard was quick. Think of him this way - his initial take off was so quick that he could get inside of Bill Wallace's chamber for his kick. I fought him twice, and he handled me easily. In my top ten era it was Keith Vitali. Keith and I were like fighting a mirror image of ourselves. The only differences between the two of us were I was ambidextrous, but he had the greater desire to win. Each of our matches were decided by only one point. They were all tough but those were my toughest opponents. RG: Did you go the Professional Karate, PKA/WKA route? DA: In the early days of the PKA I trained for full contact karate for a short while. In the Pacific Northwest there was nothing to speak of regarding fights so I gave up on that fairly quickly. I couldn't see training as hard as you had to in order to properly prepare for a full contact match just so you could possibly win $500. Not worth it. I was rated in Professional Karate magazine's top ten world lightweight fighters without having fought a single match. These were the early days and I was rated based on promise rather than actual accomplishment. Oh well. RG: How much contact is right for competition? DA: Strong to the body and light to the head. You‟ve got to be able to bang to find out if you‟ve been hit or not. Then you can figure out how to defend and know that you have to have defensive skills. You also need to know how to take a hit without you getting scattered. This is huge for self -defense training. I am big on protective hand and foot gear but I think the helmets are ridiculous. With too much padding you can get the false idea that you don‟t have to develop any kind of defense. Tournament karate has really gravitated towards offense and very little defense except for footwork. This is fine until you get into a corner. Then you have nowhere to run. I‟m getting crabby again. Time for another question. (smile) .
RG: What do you think was the impact of MMA (mixed martial arts)? DA: MMA was a severe wake up call for those of us who were stand up fighters who knew best. I wrestled for a very short time so I thought I knew how to handle a grappler and the double leg take down. The Gracies put on the first UFC and dumped ice water on our heads. They were brilliant in the marketing aspect of it. They put on a competition that is unknown in the US but has been going on for decades in Brazil. They put in the little brother who is relatively unknown to compete for the family. He's smaller than everybody else. They put fighters on the rest of the bill who have no experience (except for Ken Shamrock) in this kind of competition and then bill it as martial art vs. martial art. Absolutely brilliant! Then after several competitions they get out of the UFC before anyone can catch up to them, exiting with the PR that Brazilian Ju Jutsu is chocolate cake with both the ice cream and cherry on top. Brilliant! That being said, it was a severe wake up call to those of us who didn't pursue the ground game at all. Here is a funny story. You'll like this. My experience with Brazilian Ju Jutsu is this. A friend of mine had a set of the Gracie tapes, and I borrowed them and began learning from them. I then experimented on my students to see if I could apply what I'd learned. The techniques worked. Fast forward to 2004. I was teaching at Portland Community College as a substitute for an instructor who was having minor surgery. I was demonstrating a joint lock as a restraining move. I mentioned to the class that you could either restrain or break to wrist. My partner was a student who was a wrestler. He looked up at me and said, "Or not." I said, "Okay, move." He moved. He moved much faster than I anticipated and took me down. Whoops. He pinned me to the floor and said to me, "I've got you pinned." I looked at him and said, "So?" I lifted my right leg up over his shoulder and curved my back. He fell for it. He bridged and then began to try to submit me buy bending me like Gumby. Thank you very much. I wrapped my leg around the back of his neck, locked it in for a triangle choke and began to arch my back. He held the bridge and then began to tap out. Not yet. He started it. I'll decide when to finish it. About ten seconds later he dropped to one knee. I released the choke and he fell onto his back. I went over to him and said quietly, "You made one mistake. You were out to pin me. I was out to get you." "You got me, coach. You got me." This took about a minute or thereabouts. The whole class is standing there with their eyes agog. I stood up and announced that we weren't working on that today and we'll continue. That was fun. RG: With the growing popularity of MMA, how relevant is a single -style martial arts system; i.e., karate? DA: Utterly relevant! MMA is a sport, a rugged sport, but a sport none the less. It is not martial arts. It has moves that come from martial arts and that‟s all. It‟s a modern-day version of Roman gladiator fighting. Martial arts are governed by a martial culture. The pillars of martial culture are honor, discipline and respect. Cross training, as in MMA, is a good thing as one should be versed in how to defend yourself in all sorts of situations. Any system of karate, taekwondo, kenpo or kung fu has, besides skilled fighting ability, the development of the individual as a human being. This is the yin to the yang of fighting ability. Otherwise we are training merely fighting. I feel this (merely fighting) is the path of MMA.
RG: What do you think is in store for MMA...is it sustainable? Will it supersede boxing? DA: MMA is going to be the new World Wrestling Federation in popularity. It definitely has the potential to supersede boxing. RG: Is point-style karate still marketable? DA: It was never marketable, not the point fighting aspect of it. Point-fighting is a player sport, not a spectator sport. That‟s why MMA has totally swamped it as a spectator sport. It is so hard to tell a winner from the loser in point -fighting. In MMA, the loser gets whupped or submitted. Now if you‟re calling traditional karate or American karate “point karate”, then yes, it is marketable because of the benefits beyond the physical training a student derives from the art. RG: Let's talk about your other martial arts path...how did you get involved in Arnis? DA: My good friend, Fred King, would bring various senior martial artists to his school for seminars. As I was a cocky point -fighter at the time, I would have no interest whatsoever. He told me about this “professor guy”. No interest. He even had this “professor guy” stay with us at the California Karate Championships in 1979. I kept attempting to shine him on and blow him off but he was persistent. He finally demonstrated a self -defense technique to me, and it was then that my martial arts world changed. I‟d seen all sorts of confidence in the ring. What he had was way beyond that. Right then I decided to keep my eye on this guy. About 6 months later I got to train with him. This was Prof. Remy Presas and the art was Modern Arnis. This art opened up the rest of the martial arts world for me. RG: I noticed that you are rated as a GM in Arnis…that‟s very impressive…how long have you trained in FMA? DA: I‟ve been involved in FMA since 1980. I spent the first 21 years training exclusively under Remy Presas. After he passed away in 2001, I had the wonderful opportunity to train under Manong Ted Buot in Balintawak Eskrima. Manong Ted was the only student of the founder of Balintawak, Ancion Bacon, allowed to teach in his school. Manong Ted taught in the old style – one on one. I have also had the opportunity to train with Mark V. Wiley. I haven‟t gotten to spend much time with Manong Ted as he lives in the Detroit area, and several years ago he had a stroke, but his influence on me is tremendous. It is the same with Mark. I‟ve trained with him even less, but what little I have, it has changed how I do my art. From these influences I have moved from doing strictly Modern Arnis to my own curriculum, MA80 System Arnis/Eskrima. I have taught my blend of arnis/eskrima all over the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Philippines as well as authoring over 20 books and DVDs on the subject. When it comes to training these days, this is the art that I love to practice. I have a ways to go.
RG: Can one blend karate and arnis techniques? DA: Beautifully so. What was missing from my initial training in karate was actually what was taught back in Okinawa; the joint locking, throwing, body management applications taught in the kata, weapons applications. They are all in arnis/eskrima. The first thing that Prof. Remy got across was that the arts could blend and be compatible with each other. RG: What benefits have you derived from arnis? DA: The first benefit from arnis training is that I went from a karate competitor to a martial artist. Arnis is far more than stick -fighting. It has empty hand actions, joint locking, throwing techniques, blade-fighting in addition to stick work. The second benefit is that it is based on the flow rather than ballistic action. This is very important in both transitioning from one technique to the next, but also as you get older, your joints don‟t appreciate the hard and fast ballistic actions of modern day karate, etc. RG: Your style of freestyle karate seems so alive and spontaneous; however, you also train in Kongsu Do…doesn‟t that have kata/patterns training? How important are these patterns? DA: Kong Su is Korean -ized Shotokan karate, so yes, it does have kata. How important are the kata? Very important if you train them “correctly”. Correctly is a matter of viewpoint, however. For me, if one just trains on kata without martial application, they become the same as mainstream Tai Ch‟i – great exercise but don‟t expect to fight using what you learned. RG: How do you free yourself from patterns? Do the patterns have combat application? DA: First of all, kata is not free-fighting. So what we need is a little history lesson here. I‟ll be brief as I cover this in depth in my books on combat applications for traditional kata (The Anatomy of Motion and Itosu‟s Legacy). In Okinawa, karate training is kept secret from the Japanese. In ~1903 Anko Iotsu begins teaching kata in the school system. Kara te (China hand) is exported to Japan. For whatever reason the applications are not taught or taught sparingly. Pioneers like Gogen Yamaguchi and Masatoshi Nakayama experiment with Kumite (free hands) because they are being taught “the dance” endlessly. Nakayama even said that the karate taught by Funakoshi lacked the combat feel of judo and kendo. Kumite or free -fighting, as far as Japanese or Okinawan history are concerned, is a relatively recent development. This brand of free-fighting is exported to America. America is a boxing/wrestling nation. We are used to combat sports. Kata doesn‟t make that much sense. Then a wiseguy Chinese kid comes out in Black Belt magazine and says that performing kata for fighting purposes is like swimming on dry land. We know that kid as Bruce Lee. He has two things in his favor. He can move fast and he is a TV personality. America says, “Finally! An authority who will let us fight!” and off we go. The golden years of free -fighting development occur and kata is thought of even less. Later in the 1990s, practitioners like George Dillman, Seiyu Oyata, Patrick McCarthy and Iain Abernethy resurrect interest in kata by showing combat applications.
What is easily forgotten is that kata was a mainstay method of training in combat karate when karate couldn‟t be trained in public. The key point is that when kata was opened up to the public, the applications weren‟t taught or were taught very watered down. Karate was for self-defense, not for sport or gentlemen‟s dueling. That being said, if you restrict yourself to the set pattern (just the moves alone) of a kata, well, there is little combat value. If you don‟t understand how to translate the kata moves into self-defense, again there is little combat value. The trick on this is how one uses the kata in application for self-defense. This is what I use kata for. Free -fighting is one application of karate techniques. It is one training exercise, out of many, for self -defense use. Karate free -fighting, however, is dueling. It is not self defense, per se.
Self-defense, in my opinion, is not about dueling or winning the fight. It is about getting the hell out of there. You use fighting techniques to facilitate an escape. Self-defense is not a Jackie Chan movie. You don‟t do battle for 10 minutes to defeat your opponent in combat. The longer you stay in a combat situation, the greater that chance for you to get injured. This is what happened to Adriano Emperado‟s brother. He took this guy down. The guy pulled a knife on him and stabbed him. Killed him. If I take somebody down, I‟m out of here. How do you apply the “patterns”? Simple. The usual translations of the kata actions are based on not under-standing what the heck they are. Example: the rising block is taught as a defense for a punch to the head. In a kata you step forward and execute the rising block. How screwy is that for application! If someone is going to punch you in the head, they are coming to you. Why are you stepping forward to chase down the punch in order to block it? Totally backwards. So, what is the motion involved in the “rising block”? One arm pulls down while the other one rises. Okay. If I grab my assailant‟s arm and move forward and ram my forearm into his neck, I‟ve got a simple and applicable move for the “step forward rising block”. My application of the kata is based on what I call Motion Application. I have written two books on this subject alone. Once you have this concept the moves of the kata become very apparent and street applicable. RG: Does your style/academy/curriculum feature any ground fighting techniques? DA: We have enough to get ourselves off the floor. I am of the Kelly Worden school of thought regarding ground fighting. You don‟t know if your assailant has a boot knife ready to shiv you when you are on the ground. Also, I am into cheating whenever I can. Example: I was at a seminar demonstrating a choke technique and got involved in a little horse -play. The guy I was demonstrating with took me down to my back. He got in a ground and pound position. I pulled him close to me for a defense. He made his mistake thinking I was going to grapple with him. I bit his stomach. He rose up and gave me enough distance to reach under him and grab him by the groin. Silly fellow wasn‟t wearing a cup. I picked him by the groin and tossed him to the side. He was off to the side kneeling in pain when I said to him my motto, “I cheat.”
The current vogue is MMA. MMA is a sport, a very rugged sport, but a sport none the less. In MMA even the weenies are tough, but they are governed by rules, many that are inhibiting in a self -defense situation. I‟ll teach enough ground fighting so that a person does not freak out when they hit the floor. But it's more important to get off the floor than to finish the fight on the floor. Your attacker may have buddies who have nothing better to do than stomp you while you‟re dealing with his friend. RG: I see that you tested for 9th dan last month in Texas. Isn't a rank that high usually awarded after so many years in the martial arts? Why did you test for this? DA: First of all, in most systems a 9th dan is awarded for length of time in the art as well as contributions to the art. I had that pretty well locked, but I wanted to do something else for the art. I wanted to be a role model for those of us over 50. Martial arts are supposed to contribute to a person's longevity. I wanted to undergo a test to prove that one can do a test like that in their "advanced" years. That was the first reason. A second reason is that I have a strong senior -junior ethic. To me it is extremely improper to award yourself higher rank. There is a colleague of mine who, when I told him that I was going to test for my 9th dan, said, "Why test?" Well, that might have been okay for him, but for me, no. For me to continue on up the ranks it must come from someone other than myself. RG: You seem to have accomplished a great deal…what additional goals do you have in your MA journey? DA: After my 9th Dan test, my next personal goal is to change my own free -fighting style. I am 60 years old (at the time of this interview – I was awarded my 10 th dan in May 2017) and “Super Dan” is someone who existed 25-35 years ago. I don‟t have the body to execute all the cool moves I used to do. Not a problem. My experience in the ring is such that recognizing what comes at me is not a problem. I am transitioning from a sport fighting base to a continuous, street based type of sparring. My students are adjusting to how I free-spar them. RG: Will you pursue 10th dan? DA: Up until my test, 10th dan was never a possibility in my eyes. My understanding of the AKBBA rules I will have to have 50 years participation in the martial arts until I would be considered for 10th dan. That's four years away. I'll think about it then. RG: How do you stay fit? Is karate/arnis enough, or is supplemental training needed? DA: How I stay fit is I keep active. I am not “in training” per se. In training is what I did when I competed and I am far from competition shape. I found that my preparation, cardio wise, fell short of what was needed for my 9th dan test. I got winded quite fast and then relied on experience and determination to get me through the rest of it. For me, keeping active is enough. I keep the body relatively supple through my arnis/eskrima training. If I were competing then it would be a different story. My cardio and initial move quickness would be have to be supplemented by modern training exercises such as plyometrics and so forth.
RG: As we get older some of the more athletic skills become more challenging…have you modified your program/training approach compared to your younger days? DA: Boy, oh boy, are we ever getting older! I am relying less on athletic ability and more on the flow I got from my arnis training. For the longest time I thought I was getting lazy because I wasn‟t pushing the body as hard as I used to. I then read a series of interviews with senior karate players and they each spoke about how training changes as you get older. To a one they agreed that you can‟t train in the same manner as when you were 20 years old. Ahhhh, vindication. Don Schollander, the first swimmer to win 4 gold medals in the Olympics has a descriptic phrase I love. He trained like a madman for the 1964 Olympics and pulled off the impossible for that time period – 4 gold medals in a single Olympics. He then went to college and didn‟t have the opportunity to train as hard as he had. He still competed. He called this “living off of past excesses”. This means he relied on that past training for competition in the present. (If you can find his book Deep Water, get it. It is a terrific read.) I have done that to the extreme. I haven‟t competitively trained for 20 or so years. My body has been trained, however, to the degree that I can still execute more than your usual 60 year -old martial artist. I demonstrated that last month on my 9th degree black belt test. That being said, I do not compare myself to the current tournament fighter, body wise. They can do things these days I only dreamed of. What I can do is move within the restrictions of an older body and move with a flow rather than explosive, ballistic action. This is where the arnis training comes in. The arnis training has extended the longevity of my martial arts training beyond what many others are doing at my age. My wife is keeping me eating fairly healthily. Spiritually, my participation in Scientology is keeping me on a very even keel. All three aspects work hand in glove to keep me active in the martial arts. Dan Anderson - Round two [Five years later Ron submitted a number of questions to me. This was shortly prior to my promotion to 10th dan.] RG: 10th Dan? Wow! Tell us about that process. DA: This one was a surprise to me. I tested for 9th a number of years ago to show that one should be able to perform at some level when they reach their 60s. After I passed my 9th, I put together a thesis for 10th dan. It was a combination of several of the books I had written all detailing research I had conducted over the years. I firmly believe that there should be nothing left to faith regarding martial arts skills or performance. There should be no holes in the works, no mysteries. I hate loose ends! One of the books I wrote was my discoveries about where the street defenses skills lie in the kata. Another was how kata could positively affect your free -fighting and vice versa, how free -fighting could help your kata become better. Yet another one was how effortless martial arts could be explained and attained. I compiled the print version of these along with my memoirs so that one could have a running timeline of my personal history and created a thesis out of that. Yes, I was a splendid tournament
fighter but if that was all I was, I would have quit the martial arts a longtime ago. Tournament fighting was a part of my history but I‟ve done a lot more than that and that is what I should be judged on. So, the intent of my thesis was to show the “overall Dan Anderson”, so to speak. I submitted that to Mr. Allen Steen, Mr. Roy Kurban, and Mr. Keith Yates and labeled it, “For when you think it is appropriate.” About a month and a half ago (April 2017) I got ahold of Mr. Steen wanting to get his blessing for a high dan rank I was going to promote (Melody Shuman to 7th dan). The first words out of his mouth were, “I read your thesis. When do you plan on moving forward?” Well, I had submitted a cover letter to him regarding the high dan promotion I was doing so I thought he was referring to that. It took him saying that a third time to get me to realize that he was talking about me. Then I went speechless. I finally replied, “Sir, you tell me when and where and I‟ll be there.” It‟s taken me a month and a half to get used to the idea but I‟m there now. It‟s fascinating in that what I had to get over was my upbringing. I began karate when I was 14 years old. The karate masters were ancient! They were, at least, 50 years old! LOL Well, now it has been 50 years since I began training in karate. Well, I don‟t feel ancient. It was a mindset that I had to get over. Whether I was worth it or not is not my call. It is the call of my seniors. Whether I am ready to accept it is my call. And as I said, it took me a month and a half to feel comfortable with it. My view of the promotion is it is a Lifetime Achievement Award. Every year in the Academy Awards there will be a recipient of a lifetime achievement Oscar for an excellent body of work over the years. The person receiving it may not have ever won an Oscar for a single role or film they directed but the quality of their work over the years has been exemplary. This is what 10th Dan means to me. I have spent 50 years in the martial arts and I have done far more than just tournament fight, even though that is what I am primarily known for. I have trained in and achieved high rank in Filipino Modern Arnis, run a school for 32 years, have authored 50 books and DVDs on martial arts. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. 10th Dan is an acknowledgement of what I have been doing for the entire 50 years. A favorite saying of mine is “The first five stripes are for what you take from karate. The last five stripes are for what you give back.” That says it all for me. It‟s the give back. RG: Which skills/skill sets will be featured at the testing? DA: 1. It will be a presentation, not a test. 2. I decided that I will demonstrate some of the results of my research, mostly in the area of kata and effortless self-defense. RG: Who will be the judges? DA: The primary judges are Allen Steen, Keith Yates, Roy Kurban, and the American Karate Black Belt Association High Dan Board.
RG: How long did it take you to reach black belt in the first place? What was the training like when you first started out? DA: 3 years and two months to make black. The training went from traditional kata, the usual partner line drills, and then free -sparring. The style I began in was Kongsu. This was a Korean version of Shotokan karate and predates taekwondo. The instructor of the organization trained with Taky Kimura for 6 -12 months so he began to introduce some of the modified Wing Chun into the curriculum. It made for an odd fit at the time. By the time I made black belt a lot of the training was predominantly free-sparring and bag work. RG: What is the rank progression like at your school? DA: At my school the rough progression is White, Yellow, Orange, Blue, Purple, Green, Red, Brown and Black. It takes roughly 3-5 years. RG: What overall skills are needed to reach black belt at your school? DA: Strong free-sparring, street defense skills, and some kata. RG: How about in FMA? DA: A strong familiarization with all the basics and basic options. When I say basic options I am looking at application at different ranges. It is all too easy to work one range and then find yourself in a pickle if your partner gets too close or doesn‟t let you get close enough. RG: I have visited martial arts schools which some have called black belt factories or strip -mall dojos. How do you rate the quality of the neighborhood dojo these days, and is it too easy to get a black belt? DA: I don‟t comment on other schools. The odd thing is that one man‟s “McDojo” is another man‟s dream. A key point to make here is that all martial arts styles are “orientation points.” How do you orient yourself in the chaos that is known as fighting? Taekwondo people orient themselves through kicking. Thai boxers have a different orientation. Master Ken restomps the groin. These are all orientation points to handle when the ca -ca hits the fan and you‟re in a fight. So, why is one dojo a McDojo and another is legitimate? Is the guy who is calling “school A” a McDojo from a Kyokushin background? Heck, in Kyokushin even the weenies are tough! Is the guy from the McDojo calling the hardcore training guys Cobra Kai? It ends up way too much in the way of finding ways to make someone else wrong. That sort of attitude is a complete waste of my time. My time is better spent finding more ways make my school a viable place to train to pay much attention to other schools and whether they are McDojos or not. RG: Now that MMA and the UFC have become so prominent, is there still room for traditional martial arts schools? DA: Absolutely! When you look at any business you will find that each business attracts a certain kind of clientele. An MMA school attracts people who want to ground and pound. Traditional or American martial arts schools attract people who want to get into martial arts for different reasons. Actually, I find it has helped me to have a BJJ school and MMA school in my area. I don‟t have to explain why I don‟t do these disciplines to people who want to train in them. They already went to the other schools.
RG: Can one still earn a decent living as a martial arts instructor? DA: Again, absolutely! There are a couple of “ground rules” that you will need to follow. The first one is you have to service your clients. The days of “I am the sensei and you are the maggot” are long since gone. Back in the day when Americans didn‟t know any better you could run a school that way but today that won‟t fly. The second thing you have to realize is that the last two to three generations are not as strong at following through when the going gets tough. They‟ll quit and play soccer instead…or watch Oprah or something. So, you have to be able to set your curriculum up so that you work into skill rather than demand them. Third, in this MTV/fast food culture called the United States, you‟ve got to keep them interested. You‟ve got to be on your toes. Do you have ten different ways to work on the side kick? You had better or else they‟ll get bored and “Hey! Isn‟t Oprah on?” Fourth, realize that there are very few martial artists out in the world and hardly any one of them is training at your dojo. Martial artists are a rare breed. You will have many people training in martial arts but very few martial artists. In the USA, martial arts are one activity among many. People take martial arts classes for all sorts of reasons and give lip service to being a martial artist. Sorry to be so harsh and getting up on my soapbox but there it is. There just aren‟t many of us around. Making a decent living as a martial arts instructor has more to do with how to run a business and keep people interested than it does good martial arts. When you can marry the two, then you have a good dojo. RG: What is your philosophy about sparring? DA: Sparring is utterly essential to one‟s training but there are different kinds of sparring. Are you doing sport sparring? Are you street sparring? Are you sparring beginning with grabs? How are you doing this? Most sparring these days is done sport karate style. This will teach you one set of reactions and that is good. The key is why are you taking karate and then is your sparring matching that reason? If you want self-defense and your sparring is Olympic taekwondo sparing you‟re missing the boat. Now, do I train in sparring? No. I have done so much sparring and research into the subject that I don‟t do it anymore. Well, I don‟t do it on a regular basis. I‟ll put on the gloves and knock about with the students now and again but these days I have nothing to prove. RG: How much contact should be allowed/encouraged? Safety gear? Rules? DA: I believe in making contact. A rule that I follow when teach is that “I don‟t teach my students to miss.” I grew up I the no gear/no face contact days. We thought we were pulling our blows to the head but didn‟t realize that we were fooling ourselves once we put the gloves on. We were training ourselves
to narrowly miss the target. Once we got to smack the head we had to readjust. How much contact? I think one should be able to work up to hitting the body fairly hard. You‟ve got to make some sort of head contact no matter how light. Otherwise you can fool yourself into thinking that your defense is effective when it really isn‟t. There‟s nothing like getting hit in the head that tells you that you have to keep your hands up. Continual hard head contact I am not into. There isn‟t any safe way to condition the head. RG: I recently had a discussion with a traditional martial artist…I said that kata contained “hidden” or “secret” moves. He said they‟re neither hidden nor secret. My argument was that since hardly anyone knows about them and must be shown, then of course they‟re hidden. Thoughts? DA: How did the applications become “hidden” in the first place? I have my own theory based on human nature. The Japanese ruled Okinawa for 400 years. They had weapons and the Okinawans weren‟t allowed any. The Okinawans developed their own hand to hand combat systems and trained in secret. Then the Meiji era happens and Japan is interested in karate. After 400 years of being subjugated by Japan, I have a hard time believing that the Okinawans are going to openly reveal their secrets. I really do. So, a high block “protected” the head. A knife hand block “protected” the midsection and a down block “protected” against kicks. And the Japanese bought it hook, line, and sinker. Well, so did we. The hidden moves are in plain sight but one has to know the context. In the 1960s through the 1990s there was no context for the application of kata. The high block was supposed to block head punches. The knife hand block was supposed to block midsection punches. The down block was supposed to block kicks. They didn‟t work but that was what they were supposed to do. Then comes along Seiyu Oyata and popularizes pressure point application of kata moves. After that George Dillman takes it to the next level of popularity. Iain Abernethy (from the UK) and Patrick McCarthy (in Japan) bring forth common sense applications of kata. I had my own realization regarding kata application which I wrote two books on the subject. Without getting into a treatise on the subject, the hidden moves of kata are 1. Context of application (I use kata against contact, i.e. grabs and so forth) and 2. The blocks or parries are contained in the load up moves for the “blocks.” What we are taught as blocks are actually strikes, catches, and joint locking actions. Check out my books The Anatomy of Motion or Itosu‟s Legacy – The Mysteries of the Pinan & Naihanchi Kata Revealed. RG: Another friend of mine makes all these distinctions: Martial arts vs self-defense vs sport combat vs fighting. Aren‟t they all one in the same, just different rules? Which one is most important? DA: Well, they are different animals. Sport is sport and combat is combat. Yes, they have different rules but the old adage rears its ugly head, “you will fight the same way you train”. So, the main thing is why are you training in martial arts to begin with? Once one is sure why one is training in martial arts, then the answer is perfectly clear. If you want self -defense, “martial arts” might not be what you want. Martial arts encompasses much more than just self -defense. Do Krav Maga instead. If you are intrigued by sport karate, ten find a sport karate school. You want to fight? Go to a school that really bangs. They aren‟t so much different rules but different emphasis points. The most important one is the one you are seeking. 302
RG: Some instructors are against students cross training with different instructors or styles. Some even prohibit attending seminars. What are your thoughts? How does one keep up to date in the latest research? DA: I can see both points. I don‟t want my guys going to a taekwondo school because what I emphasize is different. I also don‟t want a student of mine going to a BJJ school and then having to make a choice and quitting mine. I wholeheartedly endorse going to seminars. I have learned so much from Remy Presas and Wally Jay and this was from going to seminars. People who rely mostly on YouTube, Vimeo, etc., for added martial arts info are really missing out on the hands -on experience of a live seminar. RG: Could/can someone be 100% self -taught, what with all the books and videos and on -line training clips? What‟s the downside? DA: Yes, but the training would be superficial. Who would correct you? The person doing something wrong feels he is doing it right to begin with. That kind of self -training will work only until you come up against someone who can kick your butt. Then it will fall apart like a house of cards. RG: How does one improve power with punches and kicks? DA: In my opinion it all starts with relaxation. Once you relax you can increase the velocity of your strikes. I worked on light, snappy delivery of both kicks and punches. I am by no means a physics major but it is common knowledge that if you double the speed of your strike, you increase the impact fourfold. That‟s what I worked on. From there you integrate your body into any strike you deliver. Since I was a little guy I was huge on getting body rotation or momentum into my strikes. Once you coordinate your body to be in action during the entire hit, then it‟s time to hit the heavy bag. Joe Lewis once said something in a seminar that resonated with me. “Your body will tell you if you hit it hard or not.” You can tell if you struck hard by the feeling you felt when hitting it. When you hit the bag correctly and hard, it feels relatively effortless. RG: What about weight training/resistance training? DA: I hated lifting weights so I didn‟t do it. RG: Do you use plyometric training? If so, can you describe this training? DA: Back in the day I never heard of it. Do I do it I these days? No. I don‟t have the knees for it. Would I if I were younger? Probably not. I always felt that to get skilled at sparring you needed to spar. If I wanted to get good at footwork I worked on my footwork, etc. I‟m kind of a dinosaur that way. RG: How did you stay in top condition back in the Super Dan days? Did you do roadwork? Resistance training? Can you describe your regimen? DA: You‟re going to laugh at this but I did nothing really special. I hated roadwork so I didn‟t do it. I was blessed with a light frame and a high metabolism so I could go and go and go. One thing I was very good was how to conserve my energy. I wasted very little energy. I could go through a line of sparring partners, pooping out each one by knowing when to expend energy and when to conserve. I did lots of slow motion kicks and lots of sparring.
RG: Seems you appeared in the Nation‟s top fighter list all the time back, as they say, in the day. You were a true celebrity and easily recognizable with that hair, that T -shirt and that Superman logo! What was your secret to success? DA: DESIRE! I came from a town of 24,000 people and began my karate training in a recreational center. It wasn‟t even a dojo! By the time I finished my first class I wanted to be the best karate guy I could be. I was voracious in my appetite for knowledge. I bought all of the martial arts magazines. I asked everybody questions. Desire. That was my personal key element to success. There is a lyric in the song Saturday In The Park by Chicago, that summed it up – “If you want it, really want it.” That was me in a nutshell. You‟ve got to want it above anything else. You‟ve got to want it beyond all the losses and upsets along the way. I didn‟t get married until after my tournament career was winding down. I didn‟t become a father until way after my tournament career was over. I didn‟t want my tournament career t get in the way of being the best husband or dad I could be but at the same time, I didn‟t want anything interfering with my tournament, career, either. Was I obsessed? Yes. Was that healthy? The jury is still out. LOL! RG: Did you ever consider going in to the movies? (I‟m not being factitious) or TV? DA: That would have been fun but I didn‟t know any contacts in the film industry nor did I know how to make them. RG: I remember attending a Fort Worth karate tournament back in the late 70s. It was wild. People were getting knocked down and knocked out left and right. One guy, and I‟m not making this up, had a head injury where I‟m pretty sure you could see the guy‟s skull! What was the toughest tournament in which you competed? DA: Probably the United States Karate Championships in Dallas. I got busted up more in that tournament than any other. RG: Did you ever get knocked out or did you ever knock someone out in a point tournament? DA: Yes to both. I got knocked out with a spinning back fist by Rich Mainenti at the 1972 Western States Karate Championships. He had done it previously and I‟d side stepped it, grabbed the back of his collar and punched the back of his head. He attempted it again. I stepped, reached out and bang! – my whole world went grey and in slow motion. I lost control of my legs and it felt like it took 20 seconds for me to hit the floor. I remember thinking about tucking my head so that I could roll backward so as to not hit my head on the floor. I watched the film of it later. I dropped like a sack of fish! LOL! Another tournament I was fighting in, around 1977 or so, I knocked out my opponent by accident. I was showboating in a match when I heard some girl shout out, “Get him, Manuel!” I turned away from Manuel and wagged my finger at her indicating that this was not going to happen. Thinking that I was not watching him, he took off on me. Well, I kept him in the corner of my eye the whole time. I spun and hit him in the side of his head with a hammerfist as he charged me and he dropped like a rock. For some reason I got the point for that. I‟ve had several incidents like that happen.
RG: Was Texas the “Wild, Wild West”? DA: Texas was an interesting place to compete at. It was the roughest game in town but it was also the cleanest game in town. Everybody was there to pound each other and that was the agreed upon game. There were never any hard feelings. I‟ll give you an example. I was in a match at Roy Kurban‟s tournament in Arlington, Texas 1980. I‟m faking that I am going to throw a side kick. My opponent takes off at me and I hit him with a ridge hand. I wound up so much on that ridge hand that I believe it began in Oklahoma and finished somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, intersecting his head without stopping somewhere along the way. I thoroughly rocked him. I got the point. He came across the ring, shook my hand and congratulated me on the ridge hand. The he came out like he was going to kill me. Did I piss him off? No. I just woke him up. Now he was ready to fight. THAT was Texas. RG: I think there was a natural progression from point -style fighting to point competition with foam safety gear to full contact fighting. Lots of guys I knew made the transition. Did you see many changes to techniques as one transitioned from one type of competition to the next? DA: Yes. The first thing that changed was people had to adjust their distance so that they were actually hitting their opponent. What was considered a controlled punch to the face was really a punch that fell short. The second thing was that many people followed the lead of Joe Lewis and adopted boxing techniques. The last thing was that most fighters stopped snapping their kicks back. Seeing that grabbing the leg and dumping your opponent was not allowed in the rules, there was no reason to retract the kick speedily so it became kick and drop. The exception, however, was Bill Wallace, but even he dropped his kicks more in full contact than he did in point competition. RG: How did the training change? DA: Everybody had to get in shape, learn how to honestly hit hard and how to take a punch. Roadwork and bag training had greater emphasis than before. RG: Some guys I know ended up with lots of injuries from their martial arts days…bad knees, bad hips, etc. How did you avoid injuries? What did you do right? DA: I remember being at a tournament in Tacoma, Washington, and seeing a classmate of mine, Tip Hanzlik, who had knee surgery from a skiing accident. This was 1968 so the scar he had on his leg was this big Frankenstein-like scar. Very intimidating. From that point on I watched what I did. I think the key things I did to not injure myself was a) relax when I trained and b) turn my supporting foot 180 degrees away from my opponent when doing any kind of lateral kicks. I think reading a lot about internal martial arts (without training in any of them, by the way) as well as developing the flow from my Modern Arnis training has kept my body injury free. RG: If you could go back in time what would you do differently? Any regrets? DA: No regrets whatsoever. I‟ve done great as well as have made some really stinker errors but I am at a point in my life where I am fine with myself. Everything that has happened to me has helped shape my current condition. If something had been different, I might not have ended up where I am now. So, no regrets, nothing I would change.
Appendix 2 - History of Karate Free-fighting (Note: This essay was originally published in The Super Dan Method of Free -Fighting. I include it in this book as it has special relevance to this expanded version) A history of free -fighting could take a multi -volume set of books if it were inclusive and historically precise. For the purpose of this book, I am taking a look as how karate free-fighting developed from the original karate of Okinawa through to the present time in the United States. Free-fighting, or kumite (free hands in Japanese) was not a part of karate in Okinawa in the early days. Training in Okinawa consisted of careful training in basics, partner exercises, kata (prearranged solo exercises) and supplementary weight and implement training. Karate was a fairly secretive affair at that time. In the early 1900s, Yasutsune “Anko” Itosu introduced karate training to the middle schools. Japan was undergoing a change from the isolationist nation that it was to becoming part of the world. In doing so, the caste system was abolished which meant the end of the samurai class. The wearing of the twin swords that symbolized their status (as well as their sanctioned indiscriminate use) was abolished. In essence, Japan chilled out. Okinawa, which was ruled by Japan for the last 400 years, was being accepted as somewhat like a county in the far corner of Wyoming, part of the country but nothing much of any consequence in their eyes. Bear in mind that in the previous 400 years the Japanese overlords banned the ownership of weapons by any Okinawan citizen. The only people who were permitted weapons of any kind were the samurai. Therefore karate training was held in secret, behind closed doors and often at night, away from any prying eyes of the Japanese occupation forces. Aside from opening up is shores for world trade, Japan was building up its military force. Okinawa saw that karate training was a good way for the youth of Okinawa to build up strong young men who would be able to fit in with the Japanese military. Karate training became public. In around 1917, Crown Prince Hirohito was given a demonstration of the art of karate in Okinawa. Those in the Japanese delegation who attended were enthralled by the demonstration. Karate was beginning to be recognized as something new. Following that successful presentation, a number of the masters got together to hand pick the teacher who would go to Japan to begin to spread their art. They picked a middle aged school teacher, Gichin Funakoshi, to be the one. Funakoshi was neither the best martial artist in Okinawa nor was he the best fighter. He was the best educated, however, and was a perfect pick to present their art. Humble, but with a fierce dedication, Funakoshi set out to popularize their native fighting art in Japan. Harry Cook‟s book, “Shotokan Karate: A Precise History”, covers this bit of history very well. An interesting point to make is that in his presentation of karate on the Japanese mainland, he only taught basics, kata, and pre-arranged one and three step sparring (strictly formalized one punch or three punch attacks that were defended against and then countered). There was no free play or unrehearsed combat training. 306
The following is a quote from Randall Hassell‟s book Shotokan Karate – Its‟ History & Evolution (www.TamashiiPress.com). Master Masatoshi Nakayama told him: “My seniors…knew only kata; it was the only thing Master Funakoshi taught them. But in my generation, things began to change. The people in my generation were required to study martial arts beginning in grammar school and continuing all the way through graduation from high school. Karate was not taught in the schools at the time, so all of us had studied judo or kendo. But judo and kendo were centered on combat – throwing an opponent or actually striking an opponent with a sword. So, the idea of combat was deeply ingrained in us, and we really needed the combative aspect that karate lacked. Master Funakoshi understood this, and he began to change his teaching methods to meet the needs of our younger generation. We needed more than just kata all the time, and he realized that things would have to change if he was going to attract young people and see his art grow.” In another camp, that of Gogen Yamaguchi and his Goju -ryu students, another rough form of free-fighting was beginning to take place. From an interview by Graham Noble: “Gosei, Yamaguchi's eldest son, said that when his father started jyu -kumite practice in the 1930s, „Other schools thought it was 'street fighting' and wouldn't spar with them... My father started free fighting when all the other styles stayed with the traditional workouts. In the Goju style my father wanted it to be more practical. He invented his own way of working out. You used your head, elbow, anything. You used what was effective." And in his 1998 book on Goju -kumite, Goshi Yamaguchi wrote of this early time that "It was referred to as 'jissen kumite' (actual fighting sparring). Therefore such dangerous techniques as tori -waza, (grappling techniques), gyaku -te waza (twisting techniques), and shime-waza (choking techniques) were used, which resulted in many injuries.‟ “ At around the same time in Okinawa, the founder of Goju -ryu karate, Chojun Miyagi, began experimenting with free -fighting with protective armor. From the same interview: In the December 1989 number of his IOGKF newsletters Morio Higaonna added this information: "It was about this time, for a period of one year between 1929 and 1930, that Miyagi Sensei PIC began experimenting with Iri -Kumi (free sparring) using protective equipment. He ordered the protective equipment, head guards, chest guards, groin guards and fist protectors, from Osaka, mainland Japan. For the most part it was high school boys who practiced the Iri -Kumi. Punches and kicks were delivered with full speed and power with no consideration for control or for limiting dangerous techniques. The fighting that took place could at best be described as rough. Miyagi Sensei's idea was not to practice Iri -Kumi as a sport, but rather to research the possibilities of realistic free sparring with protective equipment. After 1 year of Iri -Kumi training the spirited fighting of the high school boys had resulted in a high level of injuries, particularly to the neck and toes. The neck, because of the heavy head guard (which had a heavy metal grill to protect the face) which created a whiplash effect on the neck when the head was struck, and the toes, due to the metal grill on the head guard and also because of the chest guard which was a solid design similar to kendo armour. "Because of the high incidence of injury due to the unsuitable design of the protective equipment, Miyagi Sensei stopped this type of training. He decided that for the majority of students at least, as far as kumite training was concerned, it was better to concentrate on yakusoku kumite (prearranged sparring), san dan uke harai (basic attack and block training) and kakie (push hands training). This 307
type of training he decided was most important". At this point, free-fighting was exactly that, free fighting, and the point was to beat the hell out of your partner and dominate him completely. This was completely in line with the viewpoint of Japanese fighting spirit. What has been documented is that there were two groups who engaged in this early form of free -fighting development, the Shotokan group and Gogen Yamaguchi‟s Goju-ryu. This excerpt from Graham Noble‟s interview with Gosei Yamaguchi shows how the two groups developed their distinct fighting methods. (This interview took place at Potter's Leisure Resort, near Great Yarmouth. 14 July 2008, IKGA European Gasshaku [special training] and was posted on the website Hawaii Karate Seinenkai.) Graham Noble: - and they all said that the Goju fighters were very tough. Gosei Yamaguchi: Oh yes, because at that time there was no karate competition (tournaments), so my father had many good friends in martial arts, so the Asakusa dojo had good connections with other groups, I remember when they would spar, so, oh sometimes very dangerous training. GN: Did people sometimes get hurt? GY: Yes, breaks (broken arms, noses etc) sometimes. At that time Goju had a good connection with the Shotokan group. Ritsumelkan University in Kyoto had had a good connection with Takushoku University. Kanazawa sensei and many others graduated from Takushoku University, so still we had a good connection with Shotokan and Nakayama sensei. And my oldest brother, he went to Takushoku University. GN: The Shotokan people and the Wado people said the Goju students were very difficult to fight because they would use techniques like haito (ridge hand) and kin geri (groin kick), and they would fight close in. GY: Yes, very close. Now people all fight similar, but at that time Goju used to use cat stance, neko ashi, and Shotokan would use a big stance and take a long distance (to fight). So this is something funny, Goju like to come in close and Shotokan like to keep a long distance. I saw many fighting injuries. GN: So the fighting was hard? GY: Yes, we did very hard training but afterwards, when we finish, good friendships. GN: When they fought Wado -ryu and Shotokan people, how did the Goju fighters get in on them, because Shotokan is a long distance style? GY: My father used cat stance, and so (inaudible) control the distance. Also we used many low kicks like groin kicks and knee joint kicks, while Shotokan people liked to do more dynamic kicks, so when they were coming close they could not use those kicks. GN: Kase sensei and Kanazawa sensei also told me that the Goju people were good at throwing people down when they got close in. GY: That's right, throwing techniques, and they would also do things like standing on the opponent's foot, so they couldn't move - very surprising.” 308
Such were the beginnings of kumite, free -fighting, in Japan. In 1957, the Japan Karate Association (JKA - the group the Shotokan karate practitioners formed) decided to hold a tournament among themselves. This was the first All -Japan Karate Championships won by Hirokazu Kanazawa. An interesting note to make at this point is my researching and figuring out why the JKA school of karate fought with the stress being on delivering the rear leg front kick and straight punch as their primary types of attack to the exclusion of all else. It baffled me for a long time. What I have found out is that the beginnings of this came out of Japanese military training in World War II. From Graham Noble‟s article, “Master Funakoshi‟s Karate, The History and Development of the Empty Hand Art Part III”: “Taiji Kase, who trained at the Shotokan in the last year or so of the war, remembered that emphasis was placed on strong basics and intense practice of kumite (especially jiyu -ippon) with much physical contact. Kase, a person not given to exaggeration, described it as "very hard". Tatsuo Suzuki told me that the well -rounded pre-war training gave way to practice on "fighting", and he stressed "fighting" rather than sparring (jiyu -kumite). I had heard stories (without details) of Yoshitaka Funakoshi and Shigeru Egami teaching special troops during the war. I asked Harada sensei about this and he told me what he had heard. “The institution concerned was the Nakano School, a training school for military espionage analogous to our MI5. Trainees were on a one year course covering undercover work, guerrilla warfare and so on. Unarmed combat was also included and the original teacher for this was Morihei Uyeshiba (of Aikido). Uyeshiba himself was good but when the students tried to apply the techniques they couldn't make them work under real conditions. In a way, Aikido had too much "technique" for the limited one year of training. The military leaders decided to look at karate as an alternative, and they observed the different styles, such as Goju, Wado, and Shotokan. “Goju-ryu, with its heavy stress on sanchin training, did not seem to have the practical application necessary, at least in its initial stages, and Wado -ryu technique seemed too "light". However, the Shotokan style as demonstrated by Yoshitaka (Funakoshi) looked impressive, and he was asked to teach at the Nakano School. Unfortunately, he was too ill and it was Shigeru Egami who did the actual teaching. Egami concentrated on two techniques: choku -zuki (straight punch) and mae -geri (front kick), and when he began teaching a class he would pick out participants and tell them to attack him as hard as they could. In this way he was able to prove the validity of his technique. Injuries were frequent. Kicks were often delivered to the shins - and this was while wearing boots.‟ “ This was the first point where free -fighting had to be performed in a certain way. It was karate based on combat efficiency being mass produced, so to speak. The emphasis was on front kick and straight punch. This is what could be taught quickly. This morphed into karate free -fighting and later into tournament competition in Japan. These two techniques became the basis for karate free -fighting and if you didn‟t do them in a tournament, it wouldn‟t gain you a point in the match. Herein lies the beginning of the influence tournament competition had in the development of free-fighting.
When karate was transplanted to the USA, the first tournaments were Japanese influenced with the “reverse punch” being the prevalent being called for a point. Note: a “reverse punch” is a mistranslation of the term gyaku tsuki – “opposite punch”. The mistranslation caught on, however, and became a standard term. The reverse punch is analogous to a cross in boxing, a punch delivered with your rear hand. Front hand strikes such as a jab or a hook were not called for points because they were “not karate”. They were boxing. Kicks were delivered with the rear leg because of the power they could generate. If you wanted to successfully compete, these were the parameters you were stuck with. A key factor in early tournaments was that your strikes had to be delivered with enough power to, at the bare minimum, be able to stun or knock out your opponent if they landed with full force. There was no protective padding worn on the hands or feet and the contact was hard. For the first 5 -7 years, injuries were part of the game. It was not uncommon to draw blood with punches to the face or to knock the wind out of your opponent with a body punch. A very good example of the above was a match between Fred Wren and Chuck Norris at the US Karate Championships in Dallas, Texas, that (Norris student) Bob Barrow told me about. I believe the year was 1969. In one of the first exchanges Wren caught Norris with a punch to the nose, breaking it. Norris was given time to recover. Wren got the point. In the next two clashes Norris hit Wren to the body so hard that the first time he knocked the wind totally out of him and dropped him. The second time he hit him so hard in the body that he knocked Wren out. Norris got the point for both punches and was awarded a point each time. Norris won the match 2-1. This was how it was in Texas in 1969. 1970 saw the beginning of what was to be known as “the Johnson Rule”. Pat Johnson, a student of Chuck Norris, and a very good competitor in his own right, instituted a “no face contact, no blood” rule in a tournament he promoted. The rule stated that if you drew blood from face contact you were immediately disqualified. This rule was adopted by many tournament promoters and soon became the norm for competition. You now had to control strikes to the face. The body was still open to hard contact and it varied from tournament to tournament exactly how hard you could hit there. From 1964 to 1974 there was an unprecedented development in karate skills across the United States. This began with Chuck Norris competing in a Japanese style tournament and being beaten by Tonny Tulleners. Norris had trained in Korea in a style that emphasized kicking, Tang Soo Do. Tulleners smothered his kicks and beat him with punches. So what did Chuck Norris do? He did what is common place now but was unthinkable back in the 1960s. He cross -trained. He sought out Fumio Demura, Hidetaka Nishiyama, and Takiyuki Kubota and worked on developing his punching techniques and went on to become dominant in tournament competition. Roughly from this point on, the development of free -fighting (in America if not the world) went from karate style -emphasis and dictates (such as how Shotokan players fight as opposed to Taekwondo or Kung Fu players fought) to the directions tournament competition were taking. This is an important point to make as, in many schools, karate free -fighting mostly resembles the tournament game being played in their area rather than skills that will help you in a self -defense situation. This holds true for each major division of Oriental striking arts, taekwondo, Japanese karate, kung fu, not just American karate. 310
With a combination of the “Johnson Rule” and the success of Chuck Norris‟ cross-training, free fighting skills began a period of unprecedented development. Joe Lewis introduced the lead hand strike (both the back fist and front jab). Lewis was a heavyweight competitor who moved with the speed of a middleweight. He demonstrated how hard you could hit with the front hand and front leg (on several unfortunate opponents in the ring) and these were added to what could score. Skilled kickers such as Skipper Mullins from Texas, John Natividad from California, Michael Warren from New York, and Bill Wallace from Indiana began using their legs as adroitly as other fighters used their hands. This began the implementation of using double or triple kicks (kicking two or three times before setting the kicking leg down the floor) successfully in competition. To add to this there were several other influences that affected free -fighting. The first of these was that Black Belt magazine began a Top Ten ratings system and published the results annually. Now, there was more incentive to compete. Tournament karate was never a big money sport, but instituting national recognition was something that appealed to the American competitor. The popularity of Bruce Lee was another influence. Lee was in a television show called “The Green Hornet” and he played a role where he was the Kung Fu fighting chauffeur of the hero. His moves were crisp and dynamic and he looked authentic. In a two -part interview in Black Belt magazine he uttered martial arts blasphemy – that the practice of kata would not help you learn how to fight. This datum that you could not learn how to fight without practicing kata, was something that was preached incessantly by the teachers of Japanese karate to the American student. Well, here was an Oriental martial artist who said the complete opposite. This was taken and run with by many karate players in the US. Free-fighting changed from the limited straight punch/front kick approach to one where any technique, as long as it could hit hard, could be used for competition. The targeting was pretty liberal. You could strike anywhere on the head and neck, to the body front and back, and to the groin (if you weren‟t wearing a protective cup, well, that was your fault). You could grab your opponent anywhere on his body, arm, leg, or jacket, to deliver your strikes. You could sweep your opponent‟s legs to take him to the floor and hit or kick him while he was on the ground. You would only be penalized if you didn‟t control his fall and he got injured when he hit the floor. As far as scoring techniques, it was now open season. Techniques and counter -techniques were being developed weekly, as each fighter in the Top Ten ratings were working overtime to outdo each other in the next match. In 1973, Jhoon Rhee developed the first free -fighting hand and foot pads to be used in American competition. These were the Saf-T-Punch and Saf-T-Kick (™). They were developed so that one could make contact to the head with both kicks and punches. It took several years for them to catch on across the US, but catch on they did. Free -fighting changed again. Now contact was being made to the head and it was beginning to be easier for officials to call scoring points. The competitors‟ sense of distancing was becoming more acute as pulling punches to the head often resulted in them being ever so slightly out of range and actually missing the target.
In 1974, with the advent of PKA (Professional Karate Association) full contact karate, a line in the sand was drawn. The PKA was the brainchild of Mike Anderson, a taekwondo black belt under Allen Steen from Texas. It combined karate kicks and punches with the rules of boxing whereby one could win by outpointing your opponent or knocking him out. Anderson, along with financial backers Don and Judy Quine, scored a major coup when he arranged for ABC‟s Wide World of Sports to televise the first world championships on television. Karate was shown only one time before on that program in 1964 where Mike Stone PIC knocked out his opponent in a point fighting match. ABC declared that it was too violent to be shown on television. In 1974, the four major point fighters Joe Lewis, Jeff Smith, Bill Wallace and Howard Jackson for world titles. The game changes… With the PKA garnering national attention, the bulk of rated point fighters left the point game to test their fortunes in the full contact game. The point game began its slow shift from a strong game of free -fighting to more and more of a game of tag. And once again free -fighting in America followed suit. Tournaments began to change the rules in an effort to make point karate more spectator friendly. Kicks to the groin were the first tactics to go. This was followed by no striking the back of the head or spine. Then takedowns became illegal. From there you could get two points for a kick to the head instead of the usual one. You would no longer be penalized for running out of the ring or dropping to the floor to avoid an attack. By the mid -1980s points were given for speedy techniques which touched the target regardless of the power they were delivered with. The game shifted more and more in the direction of “karate-tag”. And it continued in this path for decades. On November 12, 1993, there was a televised event that shook the karate world. The first Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) was broadcast to a pay per view audience. The UFC was the brainchild of Rorion Gracie from Brazil. A number of different fighters from varying disciplines came to fight it out in an elimination tournament. The rules were very simple. The only tactics that were prohibited were eye gouging and fish -hooking (putting a finger in your opponent‟s mouth and pulling). The objective was equally simple. You fight your opponent and either knock him out (by strikes or chokes) or cause him to submit (give up signified by tapping the mat or your opponent). It was an organized street brawl with a referee. This one event changed and shifted the course of martial arts across the world. A fighter found out what worked and what didn‟t. Grappling, which had been shunned by many, many karate fighters (myself included) was shown to be extremely effective against fighters who only kicked and punched. This brought on a new kind of free -fighting which included punching, kicking, takedowns, grappling, arm locks and chokes. This new sport was not for everyone but it became an outlet for those who wished to train harder and make stronger contact. Taekwondo… (Note: I include Taekwondo free -fighting because of the influence Japanese karate had in its formation as well as there were many Taekwondo/tangsoodo style players who competed in American karate competition.) The evolution of Korean Taekwondo free -fighting is not strongly documented. There are, however, several points in the evolution of it that are broadly known. Taekwondo was the brainchild of General Choi Hong Hi. In pre -WWII Korea it was fashionable for Korean families to send their children to Japan to go to university there. Choi Hong Hi was one of those who went to Japan for university training.
It was there where he trained in Shotokan karate and earned a 2nd degree black belt. Taekwondo history is thoroughly documented in Alex Gillis‟ book, “A Killing Art: The Untold History of Taekwondo”, page 22: “Choi practiced diligently in Japan, keeping the wrestler in mind, and within two years obtained a first-degree black belt. He stayed in Japan for four years… At the age of twenty -four, however, after finishing middle school and gaining a second-degree black belt…he returned to the village.” Choi returned to Korea and decided that Korea needed its own martial art and this eventually became Taekwondo. The Taekwondo that General Choi developed emphasized kicking far more than punching, even to the point where it was considered an insult to punch someone in the face but totally okay to kick someone there. Taekwondo instructors immigrated to the United States with notable instructors as Richard Chun, Ki Whang Kim, S. Henry Cho relocating in New York City and Jhoon Rhee and David Moon in Dallas, Texas. The fighters they turned out were powerful fighters and strong kickers. Texas Taekwondo fighters were especially fierce. I remember my instructor, Loren Christensen, telling me something interesting when I was a young under belt. Loren went into the armed forces in 1968 or thereabouts. He ended up being stationed in Vietnam as a military policeman in Saigon. He told me that there was only one group that the Viet Cong were afraid of – the ROK (Republic of Korea) Tigers. I remember reading a feature article on the ROK Tigers training in an issue of Black Belt magazine. This was very serious taekwondo training meant to be used on the battlefield. This runs parallel to how the Japanese infantry trained for World War II – no nonsense training for man to man combat. This is the Taekwondo that was brought to Texas by former Korean army captain, Jhoon Go Rhee. It was this hard core training that Allen Steen underwent and spread throughout the Lone Star state. In the 1970s, Taekwondo was a full -contact game that allowed full power kicks to the head and body with head punches being disallowed. I fought in several of their tournaments and it was rugged. The only protection allowed was a torso protector (with a helmet being optional). Everything was bare fist and foot. The champions were strong fighters. The first American World Champion in Taekwondo came from the women‟s division. Marcia Hall of California won her division two years back to back (1979 & 1980). In 1988 Taekwondo was admitted into the Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea as an exhibition sport. Taekwondo was already popular around the world but this helped boost it in popularity even more but something was amiss. As it had been done with American point karate, Taekwondo rules were changing to a point were in the 2016 Olympics, former Olympic champion Herb Perez was comparing it to modern day point karate. All the fight went out of it and what was left was a game of foot tag. Japanese karate... And what about where it began - Japanese style competition? I fought in the Japanese rules AAU karate tournaments in 1983 and 1984 and briefly reprised my role in it in the 1990 Seattle Goodwill Games. One of the things I liked about it was that you had to be very clean with your technique and had to have power in your shots in order to score. Good, solid points were the order of the day. It was a bit of a throwback to what I had learned back in the 1960s -early 1970s. Over the years, it has also become a game of tag where the punches are fully extended (meaning they touch instead of make an impact) and you now can score with head kicks and so on. 313
Just as in American point karate and current day Taekwondo, the athletes are amazing but most of the actual “fight” is out of the game as currently played. The point is… Why am I making a fuss about the history of free -fighting? It is to show the history of the development of free -fighting (as taught in many schools) follows the path of martial arts tournaments. No more, no less. Free -fighting started out as a rugged mock -fighting or testing of skills and has developed into a fighting -esque preparation to a game of tag which is less related to self-defense than it ever has been. Targets that were once plentiful have now dwindled down to precious few. Tactics that embraced practitioners of any body type are now slanted to the young, long-limbed, and limber. Free-fighting, in karate, is now a specialized sort of activity that is exclusive, rather than inclusive. (That being said, there are schools who do not follow the “game of tag” approach to free-fighting training but go the opposite way. The Kyokushin school is a very good example. It has a rugged, full contact kind of free-fighting that is a very arduous affair. Certain kung fu schools train in San Shou/San Da full contact free -fighting.) My own personal emphasis lies in the all -inclusive approach. Training -wise, I reside in the middle ground, neither full -contact nor game of tag. I value strong free-fighting with an element of safety.
Appendix 3 - Irreverent History of American Point Karate I copied this from my book, Super Dan – A Martial Arts Memoir: *1960-1964. Mike Stone beats the hell out of everyone. Wide World of Sports broadcasts him knocking out Walt Worthy (or Pat Burleson – I forget which) on national TV. Sport karate is kept off the air for another 10 years. *1965. Chuck Norris gets his butt handed to him by Tonny Tulleners. Chuck begins the first known incident of cross training recorded. Learns to punch. Whips everyone. *1969. Institution of the Johnson rule. Face contact that draws blood to result in immediate disqualification. Texas boycotts this rule and secedes from the Union. Chuck Norris gets his nose broken by Fred Wren at the US Karate Championships. Norris retaliates by gut punching Wren so hard that Wren loses consciousness. California boycotts Norris. Norris retaliates by getting out of the point game and becoming a film and movie star. Moves to Texas. California retaliates by electing Arnold Schwartzenager as governor. California goes broke. *1970-1973. The Terrible Trio emerges. Bill Wallace, Howard Jackson and Jeff Smith dominate the point game. Meanwhile Joe Lewis goes into full contact karate full time and creams everyone. *1973-1974. Safe-T-Punch/Kick contact gear makes its way into the point game. Contact is mandatory for a point. It is considered a faux pas to cry when you get hit. *1974. Mike Anderson somehow gets Wide World of Sports to broadcast the first Professional Karate Association world championships. Full contact karate takes over from kung fu and ninjitsu as the newest rage. US team goes to Europe and pounds the locals. *1975-1977. Point karate is no longer hip. Anybody who is anybody is beating on each other for real in the full contact ring. *1978-1979. Super Dan Anderson wins the 1978 Martial Arts Ratings System Grand National Championships and the Mid -America Diamond Nationals (1979). Declares that anything which happens from this date forward to be irrelevant. Keith Vitali and a host of others disagree. The point game continues on. *1980. California heavyweight Steve Anderson runs away from Keith Vitali and even dives to the floor to keep from being scored on ushering in a new era of point karate. *1982. Super Dan Anderson quits the national point game. Nothing of note happens from that point on to the present day. That may not have been the way it happened but that„s the way it should„ve been.
Appendix 4 - Kudos It is so easy for me to forget or disregard the effect that I have made on the karate world in the last 50 years. I remember feeling a bit embarrassed when Melody Shuman referred to me as a living legend. I certainly don‟t think of myself that way but it is rewarding to know that I have made a positive impact in the lives of others. That is greater than all of the championships I have won or the belt ranks I have achieved. As I was inspired by the greats who preceded me, I am glad that I have been able to pass that inspiration over to others. “Dan, you have so much to be proud of in your competitive career. You brought a unique level of excitement and charisma with your dynamic personality to the tournament world that was reeling from losing the likes of Wallace, Lewis and Smith to full contact. I was reading articles about you when I was only a white belt and had even seen you fight on TV once. You were definitely one of my inspirations and reading about you motivated me personally to follow in your footsteps. I remember fighting you like it was yesterday. With your long hair flowing, wearing your Superman T -Shirt, you would throw a round kick to my groin and yell, “Gotcha” to the refs and all of the judges would immediately raise the red flags while the crowd cheered. I learned quickly to shake my head and to counter with a louder, “No, you didn‟t.” Your showmanship aided a flailing sport and the crowds and all of your peers highly respected you. What made you so different was that you were a thinking, strategic type of fighter who set up your moves rather than just a fighter who relied on speed and instinct. You were the only person that figured me out. You knew if I fought on my left side, I would use my back fist, round kicks and reverse punch, and on my right side, my side, hook and round kicks along with my back fist. You and I had so much in common as fighters. We were almost twins with our fighting mechanics. We were the same height, weight, and both of us had deceiving lengths with our legs. I had over 1000 fights in my career and I would say about 333 of the guys said the same to me after the fight. “Your legs are longer than they look.” I know you heard the same after your fights. You had the same ability to extend your kicks at will. You were truly one of the best of all times that every fought in the ring and definitely one of the most loved, respected and revered all at the same time.” Keith Vitali – Number 1 rated fighter in the US for 3 consecutive years
“Dan, What can I say about you that hasn„t been said or written about you. I have very fond memories of watching you compete and the honor of fighting you in competition. You were one the best competitors in a time where sport karate had great champions and heroes. You were one of the smartest and great technical fighters out there. You beat some of the best champions of our time and you always a great deal of showed class and sportsmanship in victory and defeat.“ Your Friend, Steve Fisher (Steve Fisher is a five time Top Ten national karate champion, RIP)
“Many of the champion athletes I had the opportunity to compete against during the l970„s and l98O„s possessed remarkable technical skill and natural ability. An alpha athlete, Dan Anderson was certainly one such competitor. I don‟t think, however, it was just his physical prowess or command of the ring that set him apart from the others. A healthy ego, contemptuous tenacity and predatory instinct, enhanced his love of the game and drive to win, creating the formidable champion we all came to know as Super Dan.“ Patrick McCarthy (Patrick McCarthy is one of the foremost karate historians in the world)
"Super Dan - When I first encountered you I was a young black belt trying to make a name for myself by traveling to Cleveland, Ohio for the MARS Nationals. Cleveland was only three hours from my home in Detroit, and I had read about you winning the event the previous year which told me that it was a tournament to hit. I placed second in the heavyweight division losing to Kenny Ferguson. I was impressed with how cool and calm you were in the ring. You were the first fighter that I ever saw laugh and talk during a match. While competing at the same time you were always one of the big dogs and I was an up and comer not reaching my stride until you had stopped competing. However at Tom Letuli„s LAMA Nationals you were the center judge during the finals. My second fight in the finals was against Larry Kelly, a match that Went l7 minutes! I won the match and afterward you complemented me on how patient I was during the fight. I cherish that complement to this day. Dan Anderson, one of the guys that I looked up to, read about and studied his book said something nice about my fighting. Thanks for all that you have contributed, Dan." Richard Plowden (Richard Plowden is a several time world champion.)
“You were a gentleman, clean fighter, highly regarded technician - one of the best.” Gordon Franks (Gordon Franks was the first PKA World Super lightweight champion)
"Well Dan, the way I remember it, you were the best because you fought & beat the best, usually in their own arena. I also recall that on the occasion that you weren't the champ, it was because you weren‟t ﬁghting and/or you had at least won that tournament previously. You were there with advice and a smile whether he was for or against you. Always a gentleman & a scholar, but I won„t hold that one against you, Brother! In my Book of Memories, that more than makes you just Super, it makes you SUPER DAN, a fine fighting man!" Raymond McCallum (Ray McCallum was a 5-time WAKO World Champion)
“To me what made “Super Dan” so super is not only who you were as a champion competitor but also who you were as a role model, mentor and as an influence on my own fighting and teaching career and of course, as the man who took the understanding of sparring and technical applications to another whole level. I first marveled at your ring mastery and technical ability as a young color belt. I remember watching you fight with ultimate finesse and then when you had to; become an incredibly intense, hard hitting, intimidating, win at all costs fighter. I then had the honor of fighting alongside and even against you as a black belt during the heyday of the Team Canada vs Team USA fights. As a fighter you demonstrated to me the mindset and attitude and technical approach required to become a champion. As role model and mentor, you took the time to talk to me and explain to me your approach and perspective. I remember many times, picking your brain about sparring concepts and approach to competition on the sidelines of a tournament and I‟m thankful that you were always so willing to give me your time. To me, you were the person who took it far “beyond kick and punch" and then shared your knowledge with generations of martial artists through your book “American Freestyle Karate”. Reading that is still as relevant today as it was when published 1981. I‟m now 45 and still use concepts that you taught me to beat competitors who weren‟t even born when I learned them from you! I have also taught much of what I have learned from you to my own students over the past 24 years as an instructor and still teach them to my fighters today...and they are using those concepts and approaches to sparring to win championships today! So, to me what made Super Dan so super isn't just that you were a champion fighter in the golden era of sport karate but also that you were a great personal influence on me as a fighter and instructor and to generations of other martial artists since the release of American Freestyle Karate.” Respectfully, Sukwinder Manhas (Canadian free-fighting champion and Can-Am Hall of Fame recipient) 319
For further study, I suggest you visit my website, www.superdanonlinelibrary.com. You will find many books & DVDs on Karate, Filipino Martial Arts and specialty self-defense topics.