Karate Topics



[Lester Ingber]



Lester Ingber, 8th Dan

Note that in karate.html all cross-references have been kept local, so you can use your local browser after downloading the HTML source of this file.

Most information has been dated when entered, in the format #yyyy_mm_dd#. So, if you want to check any entry made on 16 May 1995 search on #1995_05_16# (which happens to be the earliest date entered), or to find all entries in 2009 search on #2009 , etc.

The latest entry is #2009_12_01#

Below are some edited replies to postings and e-mail. I usually have taken out any identification to specific people. The CONTENTS can be used to search on keywords. I haven't yet decided on a global organization for these various topics.


@@Physical Studies Institute Terms
@@Soft Focus, Hard Tuchus
@@State of Our Knowledge
@@Suggestions for Theses
@@Physics of a Punch: I. Some Basic Physics
@@Physics of a Punch: II. Utility of Physics Approach
@@Physics of a Punch: III. Rationale for Other Training
@@Dimensions of a Punch
@@Importance of Rotation Dynamics
@@Kicking Form Keri No Kata
@@Measuring Impact
@@Physics Applications
@@Tough Training: Sport and Life
@@Control in Sparring
@@Conscious Sparring
@@Shotokan: Translating Across Cultures
@@Fluid Movement Versus One Motion?
@@The "Corkscrew" Punch and Variations
@@Advanced Applications of Basic Techniques
@@General Throwing & Locking Techniques
@@Feinting Techniques
@@Open Nonlinear Stochastic Karate
@@Comments on Kanku Sho
@@Large Numbers of Techniques?
@@Physics, Metaphysics, and PhDs
@@Ki vs Science
@@Mental Correlates of Focus
@@Training No-Mind
@@Kata vs Combinations
@@Outside- and Inside-Tension Stances
@@Value of Kata
@@Teaching Free Sparring
@@Sparring Simplified
@@Not Teaching & Morality
@@Value of Teaching
@@Self Defense
@@Defense in Self-Defense
@@Hard Training
@@Personal Workouts
@@Social Consciousness = Good Business
@@Use of "Sensei"
@@Karateists or Trekkies
@@Cross-Training Martial Arts
@@Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
@@Fees for Classes
@@Handicapped Students
@@Peer Review
@@Setting Grading Standards
@@Grading, Including Children
@@Teaching Instructors
@@Critical Review in Karate
@@Levels of Exams and Instructors
@@Dealing With People-Problems
@@Emotions, Intuitions and Stress
@@Free and Easy Karate
@@Attention and Karate -- My Reasons for Training
@@Abilities of Aging Instructors
@@Types of Instructors
@@New Organizations
@@E-Mail Interview
@@Personalities of Karate People
@@Meyers Briggs/Keirsey Temperament Test

@@Physical Studies Institute Terms

Physical Studies Institute LLC (PSI) develops projects and consults/contracts in areas of expertise documented in the ingber.com InterNet archive. Terms of use and downloading policies are discussed in the file https://www.ingber.com/ingber_terms.html

There is no charge for downloading and using codes or files in the ingber.com archive. In general, I have retained all rights such as copyrights to these codes and files, but they may be freely used by any person or group independent of affiliations, e.g., independent of academic or commercial affiliation. It is assumed that standard professional references or acknowledgments will be given when any of this material is used in other projects. For example, this is a major component of the License that comes with the ASA code.

Physical Studies Institute LLC




A physics analysis, of all major karate techniques, was published in
%A L. Ingber
%T The Karate Instructor's Handbook
%I Physical Studies Institute-Institute for the Study of Attention
%C Solana Beach, CA
%D 1976
%O This is an OCR-scanned text-only version of this book. URL https://www.ingber.com/karate76_book.txt
The 134 combinations and 16 two-person combinations in Appendix 4 are representative of over 5000 combinations I created and taught from about 1969-1985. Unfortunately, the collection was lost in one of several moves, along with many other documents. This includes the loss of multiple manuscripts, e.g., Principles of Nature, described in the Epilogue to this text, which ran quite a few hundred pages in length. On 5 Nov 2008 I added the Epilogue which I scanned from one of the few remaining texts in my possession.
https://www.ingber.com/karate76_book.html permits viewing illustrations included as .jpg files.

%A L. Ingber
%T Karate: Kinematics and Dynamics
%I Unique
%C Hollywood, CA
%D 1981
%O ISBN 0-86568-025-6. This is an OCR-scanned text-only version of this book. URL https://www.ingber.com/karate81_book.txt

%A L. Ingber
%T Elements of Advanced Karate
%I Ohara
%C Burbank, CA
%D 1985
%O ISBN 0-89750-127-6. This is an OCR-scanned text-only version of this book. URL https://www.ingber.com/karate85_book.txt

https://www.ingber.com/karate85_book.html permits viewing as a series of .jpg files.

Only the 1976 and 1981 books give any detailed physics.

The original ideas were first formally presented in
%A L. Ingber
%T Physics of karate techniques
%R Instructor's Thesis
%I Japan Karate Association
%C Tokyo, Japan
%D 1968

There are many useful parallels that can be drawn between the teaching and practice of karate and the teaching and practice of other disciplines. This was the core of an 8-year project I undertook, funding, administrating and teaching in a complete alternative school. One paper in my archive deals with how these ideas were tested in a UCSD Extension set of courses.
%A L. Ingber
%T Editorial: Learning to learn
%J Explore
%V 7
%P 5-8
%D 1972
%O URL https://www.ingber.com/smni72_learning.pdf
In another paper, some of this methodology is described in karate81_attention.pdf (a link to smni81_attention.pdf).
%A L. Ingber
%T Attention, physics and teaching
%J Journal Social Biological Structures
%V 4
%P 225-235
%D 1981
%O URL https://www.ingber.com/smni81_attention.pdf
Appendix 5 of my 1976 karate book contains 6 representative karate problems along the lines of over 2000 problems created by myself and other teachers, as described in karate81_attention.pdf. These too were lost in one of several moves.

The 1981 and 1985 books are out of print, and the publishers do not have any copies in their inventories. Similarly, I do not have enough 1976 books left to offer any for sale.

I have placed OCR-scanned text of the 1976, 1981 and 1985 books in my archive. (Permissions to do this for all books were given by the publishers.) Note that the 1985 book relies very much on photos to convey its messages.


Re understanding the physics of karate, and teaching along such an approach: I feel, given my experience, that this methodology is so natural that the exercises (formulas not essential -- I taught this to 5-yr old's as well as to top fighters!) are readily assimilated, and cuts down the time to creative movement by several years. However, this is not a lecture approach. I often have had the dubious honor of being called the hardest instructor by my own instructors, peers, and students. I have no mercy when it comes to demanding hard workouts.


NOTE: I would like to see the combinations in Appendix 4 of the 1976 book proofed and corrected. There are some combinations I have already corrected in the text now in my archive, which can be used as a guide. I suggest using some ASCII code for the arrows. For example,

I would like prefer to have the updates in "diff" form, so I can just patch the current versions, but even ASCII is OK as long as I can just replace the current sections with revised text. Acknowledgments for completed projects will be placed in the book file.

I have to admit that all this work would be unnecessary if I had not lost a computer tape containing files for all three karate books (and my wife's book Ballet: The Art Defined and another book Tennis Dynamics) circa 1986 during a move. No need to kick me; I do that often enough. I just wish I had the time to do all these corrections myself, but this is turning out to be a healthy rewarding project.






Here are VHS converted tapes of a karate camp with five 1st Dan Black Belt students in the Summer of 1982, emphasizing sparring exercises which were eventually published in Elements of Advanced Karate, https://www.ingber.com/karate85_book.html. To make these files reasonable size they were converted to 320x240. (The files still are quite large at about 200MB each.) The sound is quite a bit out of sync with the video a lot of the time due to the device used to capture the VHS recording. The sequence of files below follows the order of training sessions, each about 1.5 hours, in this special camp.

These videos can be downloaded from my archive, where they have been conveniently cut into playable parts less than 50 MBytes each:


These videos also can be viewed on my youtube account, where they have been cut into playable parts less than 14 minutes each.


@@Soft Focus, Hard Tuchus


I had often proposed the concept of "soft focus, hard 'tuchus'" prior to 1976, but I believe that the first published mention of that concept was in my 1976 book

This concept relates to reflecting on the necessity of complementing a diffuse visual field with a feeling of (somatic) centering, both when doing karate and physics problems.

Here I discuss how this affects control of proper breathing.

The issue is that the lower abdomen, e.g., the psoas (the primary hip flexor, assisted by the iliacus) is typically kept with some tension to have the hip area as a central control of karate techniques.

However, the upper abdomen, e.g, the diaphragm, should control breathing. Not only should the chest not be expanded or contract to control air in and out of the lungs, but this would provide valuable information to an opponent. For example, a professional singer very well understands and trains to control breathing using the diaphragm. (My wife was a professional singer as well as a professional ballet dancer and I have checked out this information with her!)

Without proper training, it is difficult for most people to separate control of these muscle groups in the lower and upper abdomen. For example, this can be highlighted by kicking a heavy bag, which should keep the arms quite relaxed during the entire technique. In fact, such exercises can be used for feedback to train proper "hip" control while still maintaining proper breathing control.

I believe that for most people, this issue is a major part of the mental problems they have, at least when doing karate techniques, in maintaining "soft focus, hard 'tuchus'".


@@State of Our Knowledge


I think there is an enormous lack of (A) knowledge of karate as well as in (B) teaching karate.

(A) You and I might agree on several underlying basic physical principles underlying karate techniques, but you only have to read and listen to so many other different opinions and poor descriptions of these techniques to realize that there is no such agreement of what constitutes these physical principles among the mass of instructors (not trainers). This implies that either (a) the problem reduces to better presentation at several levels appropriate to the different backgrounds of many instructors, or (b) you take a more humble approach and admit that there is insufficient testing of these principles to satisfy any reasonable "scientific" certainly of their validity.

In either case, (a) or (b), the appeal to have instructors at least codify by writing or videotaping their own insightful explanations is an important and still missing element to document the body of knowledge you claim exists, to be put forward for concrete objective critical review.

(B) There hardly is any clear understanding of how to best teach people from many different backgrounds, in just about every discipline, much less karate. It is much harder to work with many people who are not obviously a priori so talented that they would gain high creative levels in a given discipline no matter what instructor they have, than being a coach to a few top athletes.

This is an area of research that similarly demands more concrete documentation and input, if for no other reason that to grow data that can be used by future critical analyses.

In this context, I think classification of phenomena many times is too far from understanding the nature of these phenomena, to the extent that one wants to do more than just achieve crude statistical reproducibility (e.g., assuming "bell-shaped" curves, etc.).

For example, some mathematicians (those perhaps too removed from physical realities) have been content to claim that a very general understanding of the world is achieved as soon as we understand that most physics can be encapsulated by generic second-order differential equations. This missing the point of what it takes to understand most phenomena, e.g., to the extent you can demonstrate that your knowledge is sufficient to use the basic equations to the extent it can be applied -- building a ship, radio or TV or transistor, etc.

To be more specific and to the point, just classifying karate techniques typically is insufficient to train most student to learn to perform decent techniques or kata, to utilize these techniques with proper timing to achieve success in sparring, etc. This may not mean that these classifications are wrong, albeit they probably miss some essential features, or that they are not useful, albeit I would be suspicious if they did not lead to some tangible tools for actual combat, etc.

It's easy to say in hindsight that one must know one's enemy and oneself, etc., but more critical analyses of combat does not bend itself to the classifications you cite (criticize?). For example, even a postmortem analysis of a tank battle (filtering a lot of nuances through steel and explosives should make this analysis of combat simple?) is terribly difficult and often subjective even among experienced officers. Just claiming a technique is a feint is light years away from being able to demonstrate the nuances of such a technique to the extent you can regularly teach feints to most students.



@@Suggestions for Theses

This is a good place to record some suggestions for future theses.



> Mr. Ingber, I would like to ask for your advice on what would be a
> interesting thesis for karate, i.e. subject, content in general lines. I
> would appreciate very much your ideas.
> Thank you.


Hi. I guess there are lots of open topics.

An interesting thesis that could benefit from and interest people in
other physical disciplines might be some statistical correlation of
(speed of acquisition?) of rank with how students cope with at least
several stress events over a few years in and out of the dojo -- e.g.,
even a history from interviews might be OK. You might have to set up
some kind of 1-10 scales to measure adversity (e.g., the personal
perception of such adversity) of events, etc. The idea is to be able to
draw some conclusions about the importance of motivation and
perseverance to triumph over adversity/stress. I this kind of analysis
would be more beneficial to most students, rather than peppering them
with glorious anecdotal stories of how a few individuals triumphed over
their adversities.

I would like to see some reasonable analysis of how popular (TV and
events) "cage fighting" is helping or hindering the martial arts, e.g.,
specifically karate. In (my) theory, eventually this should prove a
good statistical testing ground for techniques and various Arts, and
better training for true martial arts (not so much sport arts) should be
developed. However, public displays of "reality," driven by commercial
success, can have a way of poisoning any well or art, and so it would be
interesting to try to follow a few students in several dojos, with a
subset of some of whom participate in cage fighting, over 2-3 years, to
see if anything interesting can be ascertained.

Another topic might be to try to analyze if and how rigorous training in
basic skills (like "old school" was for me and others), like stance,
rigorous training of punching and kicking dynamics, etc., contributes
(statistically, over many individuals), if at all, to advanced sparring
capabilities (say at sandan and above). I mean this in a rigorous
technical sense: take video and analyze movements of such sparring,
correlated to degree of rigorous training (that might be graded
according to kata performance?), to see any influences of that training
in sparring, e.g, which can be somewhat separate from timing and
fighting mentality, etc.



@@Physics of a Punch: I. Some Basic Physics


I think the posters are basically correct.

I have stated in my karate.html notes, and i still believe, that the "pulling hand" is a useful tool especially for pre-(2nd or so)Dan students to aid large-torso initiation of techniques, by "pre-initiating" reaction forces to the torso.

For example, if a "direct connection" under the arm (along the ribs and back, etc.) is maintained, the pulling hand can help to turn the hip in the same direction -- this is obvious if you pull a heavy object.

If a reverse-rotation connection is maintained, this is similar to walking wherein the arm takes up reaction forces from a slightly rotating torso. If this connection is maintained, then the pulling hand can be used to "reverse" the flow of such forces, and act on the torso to help initiate powerful techniques.

For most people, the pulling hand is a convenient device until they can truly feel and initiate powerful motions directly from the torso. A rough approximation to the time when someone can do this is when they can body-feint effectively, i.e., broadcasting false moves as well as not broadcasting large techniques by such auxiliary movements.




Just to put the discussion below, a couple of years ago on physics of karate techniques, in perspective, I have added the following.

Maximum power is not always the goal of every karate technique. Well-rounded training includes smooth linear and circular body-shifting, sweep-block defense blocks, eye and groin and throat attacks, superb feints, good timing to flow with or against an opponent(s), etc.


Subject: Re: physics of a punch?
Reply-To: ingber@caa.caltech.edu

There are two basic kinds of techniques, thrusting and striking, used for both hand and foot techniques, and you have roughly described both.

The thrusting techniques rely on a "compromise" In the initial phase of the technique, speed is generated by "spinning" the arm or leg (transferring momentum) off the torso, sometimes the torso off the stance (usually using the legs against the massive floor) as when the body is shifting. A heavy mass (making the body rigid) is locked behind this projectile in the late stages, causing some slowing down of course. (An alternative is to use torques from the floor to rotate the torso, etc.) There is a short time duration, during the "focus" of the technique, while in contact with the target, that an optimal momentum can be transferred. This is "ideal" for impact against targets the same approximate mass as the final projectile. With some experience (usually 7-10 years), the amount of mass locked behind the projectile can be somewhat optimally matched to the target, maximizing momentum transfer.

The striking techniques transfer momentum from large masses (stance against the floor, torso, upper arm or leg, etc.) to smaller masses like the fist or foot, in a whip-like sequence, getting a very fast moving projectile that is not very massive (not being locked onto the heavier body parts like the torso, as performed with the thrusting techniques). This is generally used against hard heavier surfaces to generate shock waves in the target. There is an "intermediate" kind of strike, strike-lock techniques, whereby the projectile is locked rigid to the torso during the focus on impact, which is useful for some heavier targets; this is used quite often in blocking techniques which usually are delivered at right angles to attacking projectiles and therefore typically do not require much massive momentum to deflect.



@@Physics of a Punch: II. Utility of Physics Approach

Subject: Re: physics of a punch?
Reply-To: ingber@caa.caltech.edu

Physics certainly has much to offer in the examination of body movement, as evidenced by its influence in changing the coaching/instruction many body activities. Much of karate is still taught in "guru" style that inhibits questioning and advancement of the art. I certainly agree with your previous posting that there is no substitute for rigorous training in the fundamentals of karate -- no different than in any bona fide activity.

Yes, an understanding of karate in terms of the physics of motions _plus_ hard training offers a superior training to just hard training. Given that it typically takes 7-10 years to become "creative" in sparring (e.g, "speaking" in paragraphs or combinations of techniques in sparring, instead of just simple reactions), the role of any good instructor is to seek ways to help more students get "creative" in a shorter time. It helps an instructor as well as his/her students to train more effectively if they can understand what they are doing in more than one rote approach.

I don't plan on stepping on any toes by comparing one school to another, but suffice it to say that the JKA places great emphasis on having instructors advance from level to level by producing quasi-rigorous theses on quasi-original topics -- just like theses in other disciplines. They are fair game to their share of blame and are open to attack for the political mess karate is in, e.g., in contrast to the way the Kodokan is run, but that's another matter. One of the strengths of the JKA is such peer review, that is quite absent in some other schools, and students are at the mercy (often without realizing it) of accepting by rote what a teacher instructs, because there is no objective methodology to examine some training issues. Science definitely helps here.

Why have most schools like JKA periodically altered the Kata, the Kihon, the Kumite training? It's because such masters as you cite were not perfect, as you would have us believe. I'm all for conservative institutions, not necessarily to belong to them, but to have a governing body decide on changes in such methodology. You can't run any discipline by changing at the whim of every novice, but you have to set some standards. If you run a religion, then you accept the preaching of (sometimes) ancient prophets. If you run a dojo, then you should be responsible to your peers and governing body of your affiliation. When you are recognized as a Sensei, and have paid your "dues," then it is your turn to add insight into this governing body. At least in JKA, it is recognized that physics can aid the teaching of many of the basic body techniques, certainly not all the aspects of karate. This does not mean everyone attends physics classes (my students never had a moment to doubt that they were training as hard as they could while taking my classes). This also does not mean that every JKA instructor is a physicist, or even understands this particular aspect of karate techniques.




In reply to:
:You *can* learn karate from a book. It's just a question of how you
:go about it. Most people with zero self-discipline can't imagine how
:it could be possible, but those of us who self-teach computer
:engineering, foreign lingos, and JKA karate know that it is quite
:possible, and nothing to be sniffed at.

Yes, of course you're right. Furthermore, people at any level can learn much from the written word even in karate, provided of course there is some flesh and blood follow-up. For example, my 1969 third Dan certificate is signed by Shuji Masutani (President JKA), and Masatoshi Nakayama (Chief Instructor). I had briefly met these men after they had read my Instructor reports, and they gave me very nice feedback with enough detail I could tell they had read and thought about what I said. That certainly made me appreciate their signatures even more.



@@Physics of a Punch: III. Rationale for Other Training

Subject: Re: physics of a punch?
Reply-To: ingber@caa.caltech.edu

While this newsgroup seems generally focused on issues other than these, I'm glad to see there is some interest in these subjects.

I'm also glad to hear of the methodology you have adapted in your classes. I required written and physical tests at each level.

Before too many joints get out of line, let me state that most people did quite awful initially in their written exams. However, the important point to make is that by the time black belt exams were taken, all people who had trained regularly really did perform better than most other Kyu students, even those without high school education and language impediments. Just as the body can be taught to move, so can the mind.

What has mind got to do with body? Well, of course there are the standard citations from Bushido, etc. However, this can be more practical for many people. To give an example of how approaching a subject from many angles can offer more alternatives to people with different learning strengths, a large part of the physical training I gave not only included Kihon, Kata and Kumite, but also Combinations. Learning at first to perform 8-12 step Combinations, composed of 2-4 sub-patterns, and later to perform 2-person Combinations (sometimes 3/4-person Combinations) -- being aware of your patterns as well as your opponents, also was difficult for most at first, even visiting black belts from other schools. However, just as they learned to perform in their written exams, so students (ages 5-70) also learned to perform their Combinations.

Dan exams required people to perform new Combinations made up on the spot by more advanced black belts. Higher level black belts had to submit (small) written theses and to compose and perform their own finely-tuned Combinations.

It can be surprising how much body technique improves by adding this additional discipline. Once people can learn to become their own critics, many of them can be as ruthless for detail and perfection as their instructors. Also, the ideas they try out in writing, first appearing slowly in their minds as they struggle to get them on paper, begin to flow more creatively and spontaneously with practice, just like their physical techniques. Such abilities can be quite important in sparring.

The result of all this, I believe, was that my students shaved 2-3 years off the usual 7-10 years normally required to achieve "fluency" in sparring with patterns. I regard sparring as an essential test of any "ideas" in karate, even though I believe that much more is taught in any good school.

On this later subject, of a "full" education, I likely have a number of disagreements with many people. I do not think much is proved by calling on the names of great Samurai. That era illustrated, to me, that while people can be greatly disciplined -- as they most certainly were under their Lords, they also were not very self-disciplined when their Feudal system broke apart. There are many parallels in today's society as well. I think is proper and important to instill self-discipline, not just rote discipline.

Also, I think there is a clear line between training students to perfect character versus teaching morality. While this is quite difficult to bear, it really is line with the ideas of the developers of many martial arts who stated that the ultimate goal of karate should be the "perfection of character." In practice, I believe, this means giving people (sometimes "extracting" it from them :>)!) the physical and mental tools to develop their own confidence and wisdom to determine their own morality. True, there are many many "bad" people that start karate, but really very few of them retain their initial rotten attitudes after many years of training; I realize that a lot of rotten attitudes persist even through the ranks of instructor level, but we must accept the statistics of what can be realistically accomplished.



@@Dimensions of a Punch


Re: Snapping Punch

: XXX: ... however there is no snapping punch , but pushing punch
: - which punch is more effective in your opinion and why?

A lot depends on the target, similar to what I mentioned before re striking. I do not think the term "snapping" punch makes much sense. This is probably (a) a punch with a focus close to the surface of the target, whereas (b) other punches might focus deeper in the target. Punch (a) against a hard target represents a sharp impact, typically with shorter duration of focus/transfer of momentum than (b). With (b) you have to take into account the difference in velocity of the punch on the trajectory during focus.


An attack should "match" the target. Consider hitting a small light hanging punching bag versus hitting a floor-based heavy bag. You want to focus at different depths into the target. When attacking hard objects, the goal typically is to have a sharp focus just deep enough to create a strong enough pressure wave to damage/break bone -- momentum transfer considerations apply. When attacking soft meat, the goal typically is to deposit enough energy during focus to impair/tear tissue -- energy transfer considerations apply. This means adapting the focus depth, time of focus, and trade-off of mass and speed in the attacking object. See my description in my karate books on the trade-offs of mass and speed during focus.




Subject: Re: information about kizami tsuki- gyku tsuki combination

You have to account for the difference in emphasis between basic vs sparring contexts, and some instructors do not make this clear enough though they may be performing their techniques exceptionally well (but differently) in these contexts.

In "basics" the idea is to align bone as much as possible to lay a foundation for more complex tensions created by musculature, to help teach the correct tensions, etc.

In "sparring" one must study techniques in their contexts as members of combinations, and so one must explore possible variations from "basics" with respect to the beginnings and ends of techniques, etc.

OK. I' ve given everyone a nice excuse :>).

I assume we're talking about a "short punch" followed by a "counter punch" all in front stance, using direct rotation on the punching arms.

To get maximum rotation force, tensions should flow across both legs through the hip during the entire combination. Concerning production of the hip rotation per se, the back leg need not be straightened if the puncher can control tensions around the leg-line, rotating one way then the other. Some people may find it easier to develop these circular tensions by not having the back leg completely straight. I see no reason to completely "relax" the back leg at all during this combination, in that some primary (not the circular) tensions should flow through the hip at all times.

Now, some instructors reasonably train to add some additional linear hip momentum into the punches, in addition to the circular rotation forces. Then, the first short punch might even be done by driving a bit into the front leg, bending the front knee more acutely during that punch. The next reverse punch could even drive off the back leg, permitting the front foot to slide a bit under the previously acutely bent knee.

Obviously, depending on various factors like the distance form the target, there are multiple alternatives that can be practiced. I recommend using this doublet technique within various combinations that stress different contexts, e.g., distance, face versus stomach attacks (different momenta transfers required), etc.


: Hello Prof. Ingber
: my name is XXX I am a second year sport sciences
: university student in London but first of all a ISKF shodan. I would
: like to know what you think about my dilemma:
: In dynamic Karate (master Nakayama) and in another relevant Italian
: publication by Sensei Shirai is written that in the combination above
: cited the kizami tsuki is performed pushing the rear leg and
: straighten it, then the leg relaxed and then straighten again in
: performing the reverse punch.
: In a very good video (EB productions), video invaluable for the
: information provided and the ability of the instructors in the
: same combination in doing kizami the leg is bent and it is straighten
: only in doing gyaku tsuki. I Tried both and I think the Shirai and
: Nakayama's kizami is strong.
: what do you think?
: regards
: XXX ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



Hi. I agree that it is unfortunate that Nishiyama started publishing some questionable analyses some years ago.

Leaders in many disciplines have learned to value analysts that have at least demonstrated both some empirical mastery of their discipline as well as other complementary analytic disciplines.

To be fair, however, I have seen leaders in military, business, medicine, and specific academic fields, use quite poor judgment in picking poor analysts and/or in not heeding the advice of their analysts.

Let's examine the specific issue.

Nishiyama's explanation clearly is incorrect, and I won't even attempt to salvage that error. However, I know for sure that he is a smart man and that he very well understands body technique.

So, perhaps he is trying to describe some aspect of physical movement most low-level black belts do not seem to appreciate? In this case, I think this is true.

My take and experience on this is that body timing is an essential aspect of transferring maximum momentum to a target on impact. For example, using a simple thrust technique like a punch to the head versus to the body calls for different body timing.

I see no reason to doubt that the basic mechanics of transfer of momentum between objects of different masses is not at least an important zeroth order issue here. I.e., between simple marbles, maximal transfer takes place when the projectile and target masses are equal.

In addition, the depth of focus into the target clearly is an issue, as to the body timing to put mass behind the appropriate technique; i.e., focusing on delivering shock to a bone versus tearing into meat calls for different kinds of focus of the projectile.

Both you and I, and probably many others by now, have dealt in more detail in the above issues I've just stated here.

My point is that I certainly also can feel Nishiyama's "feeling" within one's own body when sloppy technique is performed. There is no transfer of momentum across the joints and a lot of power never makes it to the projectile.

Similarly, if you are not connected strongly across joints you definitely will suffer some consequences: Just punch a very heavy object, like a tree, with a loose shoulder, and you feel the reaction force in your shoulder. Just punch a very heavy object, like a tree, with a loose torso, and you feel the reaction force in your belly. Just punch a very heavy object, like a tree, with a loose stance leg, and you feel the reaction force in your leg. Just punch a very heavy object, like a tree, with a loose ankle, and you feel the reaction force in your ankle.

I hope no doubts these facts, as they are self-evident. The issue is really one of propagating momentum across joints into a projectile, and then properly tensing across muscle mass and joints, e.g., ideally in smooth arcs of tension, to be able to withstand reaction forces, especially against a heavy target.

If this sounds too simple, then I suggest it is simple enough to see how someone can misconstrue these feelings as "shock" in the technical sense.

BTW, are we clear on what "shock" is in a technical sense? Shock typically is caused by a pressure wave deposited in a medium in a very short time; if it travels along grain or impurities, it can cause breakage. Pressure is Force/Area. Force in the above context is the change in momentum at impact during focus.

Now, if we can easily "jar" our own bodies by inefficiently using body techniques, and we can feel such "slop" in various parts of our body, then why can't a layperson simply refer to this as "shock"? (I do not consider a recognized teacher of a physical discipline a "layperson.") Or, are we getting too picky on some technical language and missing a bigger picture relevant to karate?

Again, I do not defend poor analysis. I also do not defend poor judgment.


: Date: Sun Jul 1, 2001 11:34 pm
: Subject: Re: Power Punching
: > > :-) There was an article in The Shotokan Magazine some time back
: about
: > punching that made me cancel my subscription. In it the author
: quoted
: > from one of Nishiyama's books, in which Mr N talked about "shock"
: > travelling down the body from a punch, and bouncing off the floor
: back
: > up the body into the target. This struck me as just silly, so I
: showed
: > this to my brother-in-law (a mech. engineer who designs jets) and he
: > just laughed. Mr N is probably a very good karateka, but I would
: take
: > any of his physics with a pinch of salt.
: Most, if not all of what Mr Nishiyama ever knew about
: physics (at least the correct part) was through his former
: student, Mr Lester Ingber, who is a member of this list.
: Too bad Mr N doesn't check his physics with those who
: understand it, before making claims like these...
: There may be something to be said for this "shock" that
: "travels down to the floor and back again." Anyone on
: this list have a scientific explanation that can validate
: these claims? For those unfamiliar with this idea, it
: is the concept of creating a stable technique through a
: stable stance. (That part is fine) The idea is that upon
: impact, a shock wave travels back through the body of the
: attacker, into the ground through the back foot, returning
: again to the point of contact with the defender. Does this
: seem logical? If there is, in fact, a "shock wave" moving
: around the body, how does it actually work?



Well, I think I understand what both XX1 and XX2 are saying.

XX2's statement of what should constitute proper analysis of any claims of unusual techniques is of course correct -- hell, that should be where such a group as this should bring their domains of expertise.

I have seen close-up a remarkable demonstration by Okazaki where he performed multiple punches within a second to be sure, against I believe XX3. I personally have not witnessed such rapid execution of excellent body dynamics since then, probably circa before 1968.

The body dynamics were smooth, powerful and focussed. However, the punches were more like strike-snap techniques, in that there was a definite trade-off for speed in favor of mass at focus. The momentum being generated by his body transferred to his punching hand, mass x velocity (speed), was definitely that of a well-trained karate expert.

Inasmuch as any such strike-snap technique has the potential to inflict damage, I would unequivocally state that any of his rapid-fire punches could inflict damage, though not necessarily the same damage as a punch focussed within the opponent's body. A "standard" punch, if actually focussed in the opponent's body, of course will transfer momentum (and energy) into the target, making it rather difficult to impossible to repeatedly quickly muster up energy for repeated techniques, to deliver multiple such punches within a second. When I was at my prime, my body-hand techniques were especially strong and fast, and I did have experiences of delivering 2-3 multiple *full* punches into actual targets within a second -- not the level of speed I witnessed in Okazaki, but also differently focussed techniques.

That is, strike-snap techniques (not really the punches under discussion -- I'll get to that), are whip-like techniques that clearly cause most damage against relatively light-mass and hard targets like the head, where light-mass projectiles can maximally transfer momentum which can set up shock in bones (high pressure waves measure by large forces delivered to small target areas).

Now, the punches under discussion which I witnessed clearly used what I describe (now years behind the times I guess) as excellent execution of body compression-expansion, wherein excellent body timing is used upon focus of a given technique, to smoothly switch to large muscle areas with opposing contracting forces to generate new techniques (e.g., not letting the partial execution of one technique impede the flow of the next technique), using any reaction forces available from the previous technique for the next technique (e.g., what basic stance is all about), etc.

So, in summary, yes, I believe that a highly trained expert can deliver multiple effective punches within one second, but those multiple punches will not be effective if they are focussed deep within a target (sapping energy). Each of the multiple punches definitely will not have the same effective momentum transfer into deep body tissues as a single "standard" focussed punch. However, the concert of punches raining on the opponent (I like that!) may well have more cumulative damage/stopping power than the single punch, but definitely depending on the targets selected.




I think a "corkscrew" punch is useful for delivering extra "shock" on impact to harder lighter targets as you say. However, an important component of the effectiveness of the punch is its "quality." Hitting a lighter target is most effective if the the momentum of the punch trades off a lighter mass for more speed on impact. This can be contrasted with trading off a heavier mass for less speed on impact to a heavy target. The depth of "focus" here also is essential for maximum deposition of power into the target.

So, I think there are several well understood dimensions to a "punch," that can be developed by specific training exercises.

Form is important to most beginning students. They require a skeleton of form around which to develop the additional "dimensions" of matching their timing and body power against a moving thinking opponent.


@@Importance of Rotation Dynamics


In response to:
XX1 wrote:

:....This form of "Shotokan" is confusing me, e.g. before my blocks were
:all delivered with
: the shoulders at 45 deg. Now I am told to keep everything square!!! I
: thought I was flexible and open to suggestion, but I am having a hard time
: terminating an instruction I held so close and doing the complete
: What has happened to Shotokan and is this "reluctance to change" normal
: for me??

I've seen this thread continue for awhile, but I have not seen anyone explain how keeping the body square, not using "pulling hands," and avoiding similar JKA-Shotokan training devices are suitable for teaching, generating, or applying any body dynamics or special techniques.

If this is just style, then I say junk it. I'd be interested in hearing some defense of these styles that makes some sense. I do not believe that any sound defense exists, but I'm open to hearing any?



In response to:
XX2 wrote:

:No, it really doesn't do either. It retracts the hand in preparation for the
:reverse punch, not much else. Rotating the hips in the opposite direction
:from blocking (in the case of inside, and downward blocks) actually *weakens*
:the block by reducing the amount of body mass involved in the motion and
:preventing the transfer of momentum along the joints.
:In the upper level rising block, the hip rotation has no effect one way or the
:other, since the blocking action is upward and the hips are moving latterly.
:In the outside block, the hips moving in the same direction of the block
:increases the strength of the block due to the increase in mass of the
:mechanism moving.

I don't agree. For most people, e.g., lower than say 2nd dan, the use of the pulling hand is essential to maximize instigation and synchronization of large torso muscle groups that then effect the technique, i.e., the block in this case. While maximum power for each technique is not the only issue in sparring, it certainly is for basics.

Reverse-rotation and direct-rotation dynamics execute quite different effects on arms and legs for techniques, and proper training should include both kinds of dynamics.

How the main center of the hips are moving is not the crucial issue in deciding whether one can perform direct-rotation or reverse-rotation techniques. Just about any circumstance in just about any stance (or during accelerations which have definitive forces reaction forces in play) and can generate and use either kind of rotation dynamics independent of the main line of shifting, e.g., by using auxiliary tensions. (It certainly usually makes sense to use one method over another, but here I am just addressing the issue of what can be performed.)

I consider the above points to be an essential part of Shotokan, most certainly JKA-Shotokan, training.

:What does this mean to us?
:The motion does not aid in evading an attack, either, unless the attack was
:specifically aimed at your rear-leg hip while your hips were facing forward.
:You'll notice that we usually spar from the side facing position, again to aid
:the punch, so the hip rotation is not taught with the intent of creating an
:evasion technique.

Well, it is of course true that any specific hip dynamics is not taught with intentions of advanced use such as feinting, but the ability to feint intended techniques with a complete arsenal of such dynamics is definitely an asset.

:You'll also notice if you look in a mirror that your body is not going
:anywhere. The front leg side stays where it is, and actually presents weaker
:ribs to the attack when turned to side-facing than are presented as targets
:during front-facing postures.
:In fact, from all of this, I would venture to go a little further. Hip
:rotation is a weakness in Shotokan in that it compromises many aspects of our
:karate in order to do only one thing with crushing force: punch.

Not true at all. You have to consider its use in generating power, in transitions between techniques, its partial use to generate effective power in combinations (not requiring complete overt turning, etc.), etc.



In response to:
XX3 wrote:

:$ I've seen this thread continue for awhile, but I have not seen anyone
:$ explain how keeping the body square, not using "pulling hands," and
:$ avoiding similar JKA-Shotokan training devices are suitable for
:$ teaching, generating, or applying any body dynamics or special
:$ techniques.
:Lester -
:This is my understanding. Returning Hand was always a part of the
:... the blocking was different in the shoulders. The older Shotokai believed
:that by turning the hip into the block that it was much more effective and
:consistent with their one technique ends all belief (even in the case of a
:block), this put the shoulders at a front facing position. I don't know if
:Mr. XX4 and SKA still hold to this but that might be where it was seen.
:The JKA on the other hand didn't focus as much on finishing the opponent
:with the block as setting him up.

I just posted a contrary reply to XX2's posting on this thread that I will not repeat here, but I think it is relevant re some of the details of the importance of rotation dynamics. I think "returning hand" is a bit misleading (and "pulling hand" probably is not so hot either), in the context that most often this hand is used to start large muscle activity that then generates other techniques (all this takes place within a tenth of a second or so), while "returning" implies some post actions.

When I trained with XX4 (before Nishiyama came to the US), he did stress rotation dynamics. To my the best of my memory (which has a large error with respect to this issue at that time), I do not think he stressed reverse-rotation. I do recall well that he did not break down the dynamics as well as other JKA instructors at that time. In fact, the clearly superior teaching techniques of body dynamics by JKA instructors was a prime force in my decision as captain of the Caltech club at that time to have Nishiyama stay as instructor there, as I felt it would be best for most students to have a well-schooled set of instructors lead the class for years to come. (After I left, other allegiances took priority in the minds of future captains.)

As an aside, in the early years in the US, Nishiyama did often mention using a block as with attack purpose, but mostly did teach as you state. He did not teach sweep blocks very often or in any depth. Yaguchi was (is) quite a master of the use of sweep-blocks, and the use of these blocks in sparring really improved the timing and effectiveness of combinations in sparring for most students in later years.



In response to:
XX2 wrote:

:On 23 Jan 1997 12:16:41 -0500, Lester Ingber wrote:

:>I've seen this thread continue for awhile, but I have not seen anyone
:>explain how keeping the body square, not using "pulling hands," and
:>avoiding similar JKA-Shotokan training devices are suitable for
:>teaching, generating, or applying any body dynamics or special
:>If this is just style, then I say junk it. I'd be interested in
:>hearing some defense of these styles that makes some sense. I do not
:>believe that any sound defense exists, but I'm open to hearing any?
:The second paragraph is clear. Rephrase the first. Do you wish to hear
:defenses of Shotokan's penchant for pulling hands and such? Or, do you wish
:to hear justifications for ignoring those topics?

Since I do not have any political agenda to advance, I simply state my own support for rotation dynamics, which also is detailed in my texts.

:The rotating hip thing I should have summarized. I'll add content here and
:reduce my posting stats all in one swoop:
:The blocks and hip rotation interact in the following ways imnsho:
: * Assumptions:
: 1. The hips are rotating in a front stance and the blocks are used
: front leg side
: 2. There is no advanced style shifting or stepping involved.
: 3. Standing in place

Well, OK, this is the most basic white-belt description. However advanced use, even at green belt stages, requires more flexible and more general use.

:UPPER: (AGE):Not at all due to horizontal vs. vertical motion

No, the generation of even an up-block quite often can be _initiated_ with the same dynamics as used to start a reverse-rotation short-punch (punching with the same hand as the leading leg) or a counter-punch (e.g., if counter-blocking to the open corner, etc.).

:OUTSIDE - IN (SOTO): Complementary, increasing force, transferring more

Well, often in sparring a shortened version of an outside-block is performed, in which direct-rotation is not used primarily to transfer momentum to the block, e.g., as might be done for a punch, but rather to more rigidly attach the block to the hip, effectively executing a more massive "body block." Admittedly, I'm just being contrary and annoying here for the sake of it, just to make the point that there are many contexts that arise in sparring, and so it is good practice to practice all basic body dynamics.

:INSIDE - OUT (UCHI): Not at all (reverse action may weaken the motion)

Not true. Reverse-rotation is in fact used to transfer momentum, and since the timing of such techniques most often means that there is less time to "re-attach" body mass to the technique during focus (since typically the body and the arm or leg are in the beginning and middle of the technique going in opposite directions), then transfer of momentum is most vital. Even consider the second and fourth knife-hand block from back-stance in Heian 1: I think it's terrible when people teach students to rock the hips back just to try to effect some direct-rotation in these techniques; they should be using reverse-rotation.

:LOWER (GEDAN): Not at all (possible weakness.

This too depends on the angle of attack, but here typically the block is against a more massive punch (with the opponent's weight driving into the attack) or kick, and so any attack-block that is used, even though it s usually executed close to right angles to the attack, should be relatively massive to have some effect. So, in line what I said just above, I would agree that here reverse-rotation blocks would not be as effective.

:Notice that the four basic blocks reveal so much when grouped and looked at
:this way. The upper block is the only single motion block. The others
:require a stack-up / fold / preparatory-action. However, if you start reverse
:punching, then there *is* a stacking action required from the opposite hand in
:order for the upper block to launch from the hip/cocked position rather than
:simply shooting upward.

I don't agree with this categorization. I think what I have said here and in my just-previous postings at least give my rationale for my disagreements.

:Notice that when stepping forward, the hip "rotation" actually moves the front
:leg hip *forward*, still not in the direction of any of the blocks. This may
:eliminate the useful effect it has in outside-in blocking (soto ude uke).

Generally, the rotation hip dynamics of the block is effected with circular tensions around the legs somewhat independent of tensions shifting the hip center.

:Notice that many people naturally begin swinging hips and shoulders in the
:direction of the down block when you first teach them Heian Shodan. They must
:be untrained before they can slide the hips sideways and block against the
:"rotational tension" that occurs when you force the hips this way. The
:natural inclination is toward strength. The rules of the kata are weakness.

They also must be trained to execute sophisticated hip dynamics for their arm and leg techniques, independent or complementary to the movement of their center of mass!

:Again, the emphasis here is pure fundamental action. Advanced students will
:of course short cut all of these.




In response to:
XX5 wrote:

:Ok - let me wade into here and have a go at it as well.
:<assumptions postulated>
:#UPPER: (AGE):Not at all due to horizontal vs. vertical motion
:Partly right and partly wrong, imo. As I teach it, the rising block
:trajectory is not a simple upwards movement of the arm, but has rather a
:more circular path (somewhat distorted, but a slanted curved nonetheless).
:Especially the initial contact point of the block (when used as a block,
:other applications are a different thread) has the blocking arm moving
:forward into the attacker. This forward push is supported by the advance
:of the leading hip. The final part of the block is a circular rolling over
:type of deflection that is supported by the rotation of the forearm and is
:structurally stabilized by advancing the body center to be more "under" the
:blocking arm than it would be if the hips remained square, i.e. it reduces
:the cantilever problem.

This of course is just one trajectory for the up-block. There are "punch-blocks" that have straighter trajectories, and other trajectories effective against other attacks can be generated simply by timing the turning of the wrist which effects the direction of the entire arm as it accepts the momentum being transferred from the torso.

:#OUTSIDE - IN (SOTO): Complementary, increasing force, transferring more
:Sure, among other things.

Yes, a point I tried to make as well.

:#INSIDE - OUT (UCHI): Not at all (reverse action may weaken the motion)
:#LOWER (GEDAN): Not at all (possible weakness.
:These two are actually the same in the method of their dynamics and share
:the same concept space as knife-hand block. They can be done for power
:(requiring direct hip rotation) and thus ending more square than slanted,
:or they can be done by "slipping." This second form also uses the
:advancing nature of the block and hip to "enter" (aikido terminology) the
:opponent's technique. If you want a different analogy - with these two (or
:3 if you include knife hand), you can pull the opponent with direct hip
:action, or push the block into the opponent with reverse hip action. The
:reverse hip requires better timing and must be started earlier because it
:_is_ "weaker." It's advantage is that it is faster (not discounting the
:setup for the following technique either, btw). The unbalancing (kuzushi
:in judo terms) produced is in different directions for the 2 methods, and
:you choose what you want to do (assuming you have the time and ability to
:choose, of course).

The third method of course is to simply generate a fast block while in motion which can be useful against most arm attacks, e.g., the use of the second and fourth knife-hand block in back-stance as I mentioned in my previous posting.

:#...The others
:#require a stack-up / fold / preparatory-action.
:That is only if you look at the "stack up" as only a preparatory action.
:It is a technique in and of itself, i.e. the stack is a block and/or grip
:escape, and the "block" is the counter (remember the pullback hand? Do
:something with it during the stack up, and during the pullback...)


:#Notice that many people naturally begin swinging hips and shoulders in the
:#direction of the down block when you first teach them Heian Shodan. They must
:#be untrained before they can slide the hips sideways and block against the
:#"rotational tension" that occurs when you force the hips this way. The
:#natural inclination is toward strength. The rules of the kata are weakness.
:Only if you have no idea of the bunkai. If you view the kata movement only
:as single technique kihon, you are perfectly right - the reverse hip is
:horribly WRONG.

I disagree. A reverse-rotation or direct-rotation hip action is as much a part of the technique as is the use of the stance that provides the forces for the hip dynamics.



@@Kicking Form Keri No Kata


Here is a kicking form generated out of the following correspondence:
:I appreciate the kind request from XX1,
:: Lester, is there anything you would like to recycle? I would like to hear
:: your thoughts about shotokan karate training and how it needs to be, or can
:: be, modified for the "more mature" person(like me<G>).But anything would be
:: fine.
:that perhaps I could contribute an article before the grim reaper takes
:possession of what remains of my wretched soul. I probably could come
:with an article of the pros and cons of training into one's last twilight
:years, but perhaps there may some juice left for a better contribution?
:I enjoyed the piece by XX2 on the kicking form/practice, in response
:to XX3's lament about the lack of "kicking kata." Of course, we all
:have practiced using and developing lots of kicking exercises, and so
:this seems pretty reasonable.
:In my prime (before most of you were imagined), I was pretty much
:acknowledged as a master of creating excellent combinations. I'd like
:to take a shot at creating a nice "combination" of perhaps 20 steps.
:I hesitate to pre-name it a "kata," not out of any false sense of
:reverence, but because it may not fit in with the other themes represented
:in the other 26 or so standard Shotokan/JKA kata.
:I will write up my "kicking form" in English. From my days in karate
:in 1958, I refused to participate in what I (correctly or incorrectly)
:perceived as disrespect for my teachers by talking to them in pig-English.
:I just talked slowly in full sentences. In later years I refused to
:participate in what I (correctly or incorrectly) perceived as disrespect
:for my fellow American peers and students by running classes in Japanese
:-- these were times of strong resentment when it was (correctly) assumed
:that our Japanese instructors were reluctant to accept us as as being
:at least as good as other upcoming Japanese instructors, e.g., with
:regards to promotions, responsibilities and respect in developing our
:own dojos, etc. Therefore, in classes and in my books, I used English.
:By now, I hardly remember the Japanese translations, so my contributions
:will be in English. My apologies to present company, no apologies to
:previous company.


Several important refinements have been made on this form as a result of communication among a small world-wide private network of advanced karate people, the Shihan-Kai forum, particularly John "Genjumin" Versteeg. Keri No Kata, https://www.ingber.com/karate00_keri_no_kata.html, is also on their webpage http://user.netomia.com/srsi/


Well, I generally share XXX's enthusiasm in this or any similar creative team activity.

I would only add some cap on further exalting ourselves above previous artists. After all, pioneers in any discipline are just that -- pioneers -- and this often implies tearing at the walls of conservatism (a good thing, to "filter" out the noise of everyone that thinks they are a pioneer :>)), as well as getting ripped apart by the conservative establishment (a nuisance at best and death at worst). Let's give credit where credit is due. They would have been quite miserable teachers if we could not be led to improve on their own work!

I would rather prefer to say that we appreciate the value of openness in the creative peer process -- putting it all out there for critique-- while our predecessors (in many disciplines) preferred to only give out remnants of their finished products, cheating us of learning more of the creative process itself.

To be fair, I was quite surprised how Nishiyama and Nakayama in particular, in just a few years of my interactions with them, by the time I was an Instructor they reversed their pedantic stances, and showed this kind of openness to the creative process (of course, only up to the critical point :>)). If they, or some previous instructors had been raised in our time, I would like to think they too would have acted as we are now.


I have added a format for interpretations as XXX suggests, within {...}. I have added just a couple of lines under Choice 2 for the staff interpretation. I like the idea of having a "standard" two-person form for regular practice as well a one-person "standard" form. It is possible we might want to develop "formlets" or "katalets" of relatively alternative combinations we could publish/update as commentaries on the main form/kata. A requirement would be that any such katalet be able to be presented as a viable two-person combination. Of course, let's first work to get this one in as good a shape as possible.


Now, that's the spirit I really appreciate! Instead of criticizing an old system, it's so much better to do something superior that simply puts the old system in its perspective/place as pioneering but also inferior to the new new system!

When I started creating two-person combinations circa 1970, with any sophistication beyond simple sparring exercises, they were very hard to develop. The analogy is learning chess well enough to do one move at a time, perhaps seeing ahead 1-1/2 moves. A master must be able to see ahead at least a couple of moves -- this is so hard for a computer but humans deal with this by developing patterns. This leads to the ability to think in "paragraphs" of the language, as I addressed in a previous email.

While true single-person combinations of 8-12 techniques, with a 2-3 subpatterns are a big level above regular training exercises, two-person combinations with 2-3 subpatterns require an even bigger jump. It certainly requires that the developer have the absolute skill to perform all karate techniques as well as be highly skilled in timing, etc. Perhaps the hardest part was getting up the confidence to just dive in and trying to develop this kind of exercise.

Then, it was daunting to see if students could actually learn them. I found that once my black belts learned to do a few, a class of brown and black belts (and sometimes some good green belts) could get into the frame of mind to every advanced training period learn and perform these two-person combinations, executed with speed and rhythm that embarrasses canned action on TV or movies.

I would expect that the "greed" to milk this form dry, to include all techniques in every martial art and dance in recorded and hearsay history :>), will instead take the path offered by XXX: Hell, just put in the work to create new forms worthy of "kata." This will require a strict review board to give some critique, rejections or modifications, weight and integrity, to pass judgment and recommendations.


I think a reasonable point of contention can be raised relative to the standard 26 kata. They of course have varying levels of "themes" and sophistication, but I think the point can be made that most of them (not all of them) have some kind of recurring theme they return to several times within the kata; many of the themes may involve repeated attacks against a (supposedly) retreating opponent, like 3 step-in-punches.

The only case for a "recurring theme" in this form is perhaps a repeated tempo of intense back and forth combat, emphasizing kicks and leg control, at several levels of distance between opponents and from the floor, in flurries a bit longer than basic training exercises but not longer than most sparring or fighting matches?



(a) In other words, some of the 26 standard kata are relatively simple training exercises in stance and balance, while other have more interesting themes. In either case, note that there are relatively few different techniques in any given form.

(b) The challenge/opportunity I saw with Keri No Kata, https://www.ingber.com/karate00_keri_no_kata.html, was to have to a form that contained many different kicking and other leg techniques in a context of full sparring interactions, e.g., including a reasonable sprinkling of stances, hand techniques, and different kinds of timing and distance.

I think there are definite tradeoffs between (a) and (b). I think both succeed to a large extent in what they were intended to offer. I think most of most kata in (a) suffer by not addressing some features of (b), but it might grate some people to call (b) a "kata" if (b) does not fall within the constraints offered by (a). I see no harm done whether (b) is called a "kata" or not, but I see value in better articulating a somewhat formal creative process that any excellent Instructor can follow to create forms for training on a regular basis. When I first formally published some two-person combinations in 1976 I said:

TWO-PERSON COMBINATIONS. For advanced students, I have created two-person combinations to bridge the gap between combinations (the study of the interplay between the body and imagination) and the strategic interplay encountered in sparring. Because they are quite difficult to do, mistakes often occur. However, when both partners react correctly with each other, tremendous feedback pertaining to attention and physical techniques is available.

So, perhaps two-person combinations and "official kata" serve different purposes, but I think both kinds of training are at the least mutually supportive. Or, perhaps (b) can be improved to have fewer themes to be considered in the context of (a)?

I have altered Choice 2, adding more leg motions and sweeps, that enable A and B to move together in sparring synchrony even when moving slowly using these grappling techniques. This is the sense of some stick exercises I offered in my 1985 book:

Water Sparring

To give students conscious feedback on subtle sparring points, this tai chi type of exercise is performed by having opponents spar slowly, with all four hands sliding along and softly holding a stick about 30 inches long. The idea is to move to thrust or slice with the stick, but only with control of rhythm, not power. The center of the stick should move only at a constant smooth speed, e.g., a walking pace. Opponents should pay attention to project the force of their bodies through their hands, and not use only their arms or shoulder muscles. Although rarely will an attack ever be finished, as the defender can usually finally evade the coming thrust or slice, the battle becomes one of continuously trying to capture the leadership of their mutual rhythm. (1) Both partners begin by gently holding a stick between them. (2) One opponent begins with an attack, initiating a slicing technique, while the defender begins to circle-shift away. (3) The defender circle-shifts away from the attacker's technique, and (4) gaining control, attempts a thrusting attack from which the attacker shifts away as (5) both come back to their neutral positions.

Water Sparring Applied to Knife Defense

The movement practiced in the tai chi stick-sparring, can be used in practicing knife defense. (1) As the attacker attempts a slicing attack, (2) the defender circle-shifts away. (3) The defender sweeps down to grab the attacker's wrist while exerting torquing pressure on the elbow. (4) The defender twists the knife away from the attacker. (5) The defender then thrusts toward the disarmed attacker who (6) shifts away from the attack, being careful to keep contact with the knife hand. (7) The disarmed attacker shifts past the back of the lunging defender, and (8) both return to ready-positions.

In Keri No Kata, https://www.ingber.com/karate00_keri_no_kata.html, prodded by XXX, I saw an opportunity to practice slow smooth movements, which I consider an important part of training, with these large throwing movements, so I'm inclined to leave it the way it is, but adding the note below "*Slow Motion*"; the comments in curly brackets {...} already prompt auxiliary training to complete these techniques fast.


@@Measuring Impact


Under @@Control in Sparring is a plan to measure impact along with control.



XX1 wrote:

:Lester Ingber (ingber@ingber.com) wrote:

:: I agree that XX2's point is most cases is more important than the use
:: of breathing to enhance power. (I would think by now that there are
:: many much more sophisticated instruments than my 1968 impactometer for
:: measuring components of force -- mass, velocity, contact time during
:: which momentum is being transferred to the target, etc.?)
:This raises a question that I have raised before under the general
:heading of karate physics. What is the single most relevant physical
:measurement for gauging the quality of a strike?
:The nominations are:
:Peak Force
:Impulse (force x time) or Momentum transfer
:Work (force x distance)
:Peak Pressure
:Speed at impact
:I will volunteer the opinion that peak force is the most generally
:useful quantity. Other ideas?

I think that the the most useful quantity is target dependent.

I agree that if the object is to break bone, then the peak force generated by the projectile/technique is very important, but even here this is not sufficient. The mass of the projectile on impact is as important, as this determines the momentum transfer into the target, as discussed in my texts and by you as well in previous writings.

In other cases, like tearing of meat, energy deposition is more important than peak force.

Thus, for a given force that can be generated, there are several tradeoffs to consider in which techniques to use for a given target, in addition of course to the usual tactical and strategic issues involved in sparring.

For such reasons, I thought it reasonable to simply measure the three aspects of force during impact onto a given target: effective mass of the projectile during contact (1/2 width?) effective velocity of projectile during contact (1/2 width?) duration time of momentum (mass x velocity) transfer

These measurements should be made for different masses and compositions of targets, as well as for different striking and thrusting techniques.




XX1 wrote:

:My experiences with kicking and punching have caused me to take
:a dim view of momentum transfer. Big, strong, slow people who
:push more than strike have *excellent* momentum transfer. They
:can make the heavy bag swing like crazy, but when it's time to
:break 3 measly boards things don't go so well: thud..........

A slow massive projectile against a light target like boards might as well be a much lighter projectile (given the same velocity) as there will not be complete momentum transfer. Against a relatively light target, say lighter than most people's effective mass behind a "typical" punch, the important variable becomes speed on impact (during the focus of the technique, or while the board is soaking up the vibrations to break, etc.).

However, against a massive torso as the target, mass is relatively more important. I've seen many shocked faces on attackers who kicked the torsos of opponents, only to fall back on their own butts when they bounced backwards, independent of whatever damage they may or may not have done to their opponents! Usually their kicking legs had little connectivity to their own torsos, and they usually had little stance behind their kicks as well. The same is true of course for similar poor punches against a much more massive object.

The "optimal" mass during impact for a thrusting technique is on the order of the mass of the target, to effect maximal momentum transfer into the target.

The optimal mass for a striking/snapping technique usually is the lightest mass possible, as those techniques _should_ be the result of several momenta transfers along joints to get the maximum velocity possible of the projectile at the time of impact.

The time measuring impact/penetration into the target also varies according to the nature of the target, e.g., bone (perhaps measuring during peak force makes sense here) or meat (perhaps measuring during peak force makes sense here) or meat (perhaps measuring throughout the distance of penetration as energy is being deposited makes sense here). To some extent, this time also depends on the nature of the projectile, e.g., using a soft palm will more effective into meat than it will to create maximal breaking force against bone, etc.


@@Physics Applications


In reply to:
:I would greatly appreciate it if Mr. Ingber would provide two examples
:of strikes with weapons that qualify as momentum transfer and two that
:qualify as pressure. Please describe the damage to the body, the
:advantages and disadvantages, etc.

Sorry, but I don't have time to prepare a full thesis here. The free texts in my archive give more information on the physics of karate techniques.

Momentum transfer takes place when you walk with your arms swinging freely. While some weirdos may walk with their arms following the legs, most people find it natural for the arms to swing opposite to the their leg motions. This is a case of reverse-rotation forces, helping to keep balance in this case -- no damage done, and some momentum from the body is transferred to the arms. The body, being much heavier than the arms does not effect any near-complete momentum transfer under usual walking conditions. Of course, with more hip dynamics, reverse-rotation can become an important dynamic force for blocking, striking, punching, etc.

As an example of momentum-transfer to a target, if you back-fist strike-snap to the face of an opponent, it is likely that the momentum-transfer will snap back his/her head, illustrating that momentum has been transferred from your fist to his/her head. I pick the strike-snap to illustrate this, as the focus generally is not deep into the target or at least does not follow the target, and so it is clear that the head is snapping back due to momentum transfer and not "pushing." Often there is damage incurred in the target, such as broken bone caused by extreme pressure at the point of contact.

Momentum, force, pressure are not different variables as suggested by the question, but rather are related to each other. Impact force is often best described as the transfer of momentum divided by the short time momentum is being transferred. Pressure is the force divided by the area over which it is acting. Another variable, energy, is the one-half the square of the velocity times the mass. Momentum, velocity and force are "vectors," which means that you also must specify their direction (punching does no damage if it misses your opponent). "Pressure" really is more complicated, and should be included in a "stress tensor" which takes into account shearing as well as compression forces, any of which can cause damage depending on the nature of the target.

If a thrusting technique happens to deposit all its energy into a target, then it may be possible to reasonably calculate the energy deposited into the target as one-half the square of the velocity of the projectile times its mass. For example, large impact forces can rip meat, and the damage done often can be measured by the energy deposited which would include the kinetic energy imparted to the parts of the meat, the heat generated, and the energy required to rip fibers, etc.

Bone often is broken by large pressure waves. In the above example, if the striking hand were open instead of a fist, whereas there might have been enough pressure from a knuckle of the fist making contact with the face, it is likely that on impact the same force would be spread over a large enough area so that there would not be sufficient pressure to break bone, though the momentum transfer likely would be comparable to cause the head to snap back as well (allowing for some additional momentum not present that would have gone into the momentum of broken fragments of bone in the case of using a fist).

The above gives some general description of the nature of momentum and pressure acting in a karate technique.

Lester (Mr. Ingber)



In the context of a reply to a query on angular momentum:

Yes, reverse rotation or direct rotation of the hip, can be accomplished by using stance to exert torques on either hip or the center of the hips; most training involves torques about the center of the hip.  For example, this might be used to adjust a few inches of distance to a target; just try doing an arm strike this way with either hip and either arm.  The actual torque and angular momentum given to the arm is determined just at the end of the technique when the strike is released to the target.



In response to:

:> The roundhouse kick (if you call it that in your club). This kick is
:> part of the Shotokan doctrine (at least I've been told that it is.
:> But I've never seen a kata that contained this kick.
:I was just thinking this myself. Actually, I'm greatly relieved that
:it's not because I can't do this kick worth a damn. My leg won't stay
:parallel to the ground and my heel won't go high enough. Are there any
:exercises that would help?

Of course Unsu has a couple of round kicks.

While there are ballet-barre-type and kicking-over-the-chair-type, etc., exercises to get the proper trajectories, ultimately you have to use the hips properly supported and driven by the stance leg to generate the kick; otherwise the reaction forces from the kicking leg will just upset your balance and destroy the kick itself. The hips must generate the direction (parallel if you wish) and magnitude of the momentum that is transferred to the leg.

So, it is wise to practice round-knee kicks as well to try to isolate the hip feeling as much as possible. Then, you can let the momentum of the round-knee kick transfer to the lower leg for a full round-snap-kick, much the same way the front-snap-kick is performed. In fact, in this context the kicking leg itself is really performing the same kicking dynamics, just being driven by different hip and stance dynamics. If you can do a proper front-snap-kick you are only a bit away from successfully doing a round-snap-kick.




: >the shotokan kata unsu
: >has a couple from the floor level,
:They are labeled round kicks (mawashigeri), but to me they are just
:more front snap kicks. The implementation of *round* in Unsu is very
:conservative, at best. The foot formation is the same, but the hip
:action is different.

As I mentioned/argued in a recent post, the leg itself pretty much has the same dynamics in the front-snap and round-snap kicks. The basic difference between them is the hip dynamics. In the front-snap kick, the stance (leg if standing, arms if from a chair, etc.) cause the hips to shift (roughly around the solar plexus as a center) into the target and to generate momentum for the kicking dynamics. In a round-snap kick, the momentum is generated from some stance to rotate the hips to create momentum to be transferred into the kick.

Now, look at Unsu. You're on your side on the floor, rolling from side to side for the kicks. How can you shift both hips to create momentum for a front-snap kick? I do not think you can, at least not very effectively. Rather, it makes more sense to consider that you are using the side against the floor to generate some rotational dynamics in the far hip to generate momentum for the round-snap kick.





In reply to:
:>Kanazawa emphasizes breathing quite a bit. The first few practices here
:>in Japan, the instructor would make fun of me if I continued using
:>Kanazawa's breathing techniques. (he stresses a deep breath and exhale
:>after the completion of a technique and returning to a natural position)
:>I no longer do it, and I (like the rest of his students) seem to have more
:>of a stamina problem then I did before. At the last seminar about one
:>year ago with Kanazawa, he was doing some pretty strange breathing
:>exercises where you would push your hands up and down in the air on an
:>exhale. Whatever the purpose of that is, it escapes me completely.
:Diaphragm control george ... raising the arms high above the head,
:stretching upwards enables you to fully extend the diaphragm and breath
:correctly. Likewise ... lowering the arms whilst exhaling, until the
:hands meet in Horan no Kamae and the air is fully expelled.
:The arm bit means nothing, but to people who don't correctly use their
:diaphragm in breathing, lifting their arms would artificially (without
:muscular contraction) enable them to extend their diaphragm ... they can
:feel the difference that it makes.
:Once diaphragm control is learned, you can utilize the muscles in the
:torso to achieve the same effect, you don't need the arm movement it's
:just a teaching aid.

This movement of the arms, usually coordinated with some other body movement is common throughout T'ai Chi forms. For those unfortunate that have not studied any of these forms, you might look at the long Wu form (108 movements)
%A S. Delza
%B Body and Mind in Harmony T'ai Chi Ch'uan
%I Cornerstone
%C New York
%D 1974
or the short Yang form (32 movements)
%A Y. Ming-Shi
%B Illustrated Tai-Chi Chuan for Health and Beauty
%I Japan Publications Trading Co
%C Tokyo
%I Japan Publications Trading Co
%C Tokyo
%D 1976

I reference both these books in my 1981 book
%A L. Ingber
%T Karate: Kinematics and Dynamics
%I Unique
%C Hollywood, CA
%D 1981
%O ISBN 0-86568-025-6. OCR-scanned text-only version of this book. URL https://www.ingber.com/karate81_book.txt where I illustrate how I have used some of these ideas in karate training.

In the context of this thread, it should be noted that Nakayama and Kanazawa wrote of their high regard for T'ai Chi training, and in particular for Ming-Shi in the inside cover of Ming-Shi's book. It should be noted that at the time of his writing, Ming-Shi also was a sixth Dan JKA Instructor.

It would be too simplistic to isolate the hand movements and the breathing from the full body movements and timing as illustrated in T'ai Chi forms, without at least also appreciating how these techniques relate to transitions in movements. In this important sense, T'ai Chi is complementary to Karate training, where too often and too long in Karate training the student is drilled in isolated techniques without also training in transitions -- the latter being of extreme importance in sparring!

Lester ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


XX1 wrote:

:On 25 Nov 1996 13:01:44 GMT, XX2 wrote:

: >Without real physical measurement methods like Lester's impactometer, this
: >cannot be answered cleanly, but I would suggest that there is a secondary
: >goal for breathing that the above discussion is missing -- vulnerability.
:My method current is still better then, since my breath will not be
:happening in synch with my techniques, nor will it be as visible,
:hitting me on a particular breathing point will be darn near

I agree that XX1's point in most cases is more important than the use of breathing to enhance power. (I would think by now that there are many much more sophisticated instruments than my 1968 impactometer for measuring components of force -- mass, velocity, contact time during which momentum is being transferred to the target, etc.?)

I consciously trained during my first decade or so to have all forces generated from my "hip center" (a somewhat nebulous point on a line spanning the naval to the tailbone, depending on the technique, etc.). drawing from forces from stance acting on the torso, etc. Therefore, I find it natural to be exhaling on most techniques that are producing power, even within combinations, as forces tend to flow better along compressed muscle groups. (I do not favor tensing muscle groups in the lower abdomen while performing "high" breathing in the upper abdomen and chest.)

XX1 wrote:
:balance? - Don't know, haven't tried. Further, have you looked at reaction
:time to technique focus at different points in the breathing cycle (i.e.
:get a trigger randomly and measure time to hit & force transmitted as a
:function of breathing point)? I haven't -- Lester, any data in your
:impactometer studies? Did you do any reaction triggers? Breath stuff?

No, I didn't in those early studies, and you are correct that this should be done.

However, in an EEG study I did at SUNY SB with XX3 in 1969, we recorded strong EEG correlates of short-time reactions _only_ among some strong instructors (I'm glad to say I just made the grade then!). In this context, sitting or standing in very relaxed ready positions, the breathing of course was not being forced due to any prior techniques, so this may not have any relevance to optimum breathing during much of sparring.



@@Tough Training: Sport and Life


Another but similar set of views as mine on the kind of intense proper training we had in the 50's and '60's is given by Hank on http://home.att.net/~jkakarate/




I think the concept [of a certain karate organization's rules] is correct. I think the rules miss the mark.

I had a "rule" in all my classes beyond beginners, that anyone that dropped out could not re-enter that session. If I told someone to sit down -- sometimes their health truly might be at risk, I reserved the option to let them come back in again. I consider this in part training for hard sparring and combat, wherein dropping out is not an option unless you totally surrender. I'm willing to let each class session be considered an independent life event.

My classes were the hardest, and I have no apologies, even in face of a lot criticism. I also haven't seen many of my critics take out a lot of their own time and money to accommodate the handicapped and very sick, or run special classes for them. If someone is of (reasonably) sound mind and body, I won't sanction their quitting for lack of a strong spirit.

The "mark" I alluded to above is my own belief that good instruction promotes learning proper mental and physical skills, without laying on a morality trip. Statistically this seems to work out OK,. Furthermore, I'm willing to admit that my own sense of "morality" is a product of my own culture and damaged synapses.





Among several good points you state:
: Student safe training from warm up through to warm
: down must be paramount.

At first glance this is hard to reconcile with an Instructor's class. We were always sparring hard, with each other and with our instructors. Yet, no one had to drop out because of any truly crippling injury (of course this is relative to what other students might expect :>)).

The key is to give superb instruction, detailing the proper way to execute each part of each technique, and to reinforce these lessons with extreme repetition -- repetition made "interesting" and given important context by the performance of hard basic combinations and demanding basic-sparring combinations.

Classes must insist on extreme focus of each technique and the control that is required to achieve such foci. This must be insisted on in basics, kata, and sparring. Any deviation brings swift discipline to the entire class.

Soft classes lead to hard injuries.

I think that these are the "unwritten" elements of any good Instructor Class Syllabus.

I know there will be a lot of disagreement, but I've just stated my opinion, and do not disrespect other opinions offering other consistent teaching methodologies.



Subject: Re: Q: Tough Training or Normal?
Reply-To: ingber@caa.caltech.edu

Below is a correspondence which reflects on some differences of attitudes towards training. I don't really disagree with you or this other person (whose first lines begin with ":"), but I do have a different point of view.

: a long time ago to prevent injury and speed up
: flexibility achievements. It seems to me that
: Europe is also more competition oriented in
: traditional Karate so that sports medicine
: came into Karate much earlier than in the U.S..
: (this is astonishing somehow because the U.S.
: are quite advanced in sports medicine in general).

Probably right. My advanced training was geared to more of a Samurai mentality. Since my interest for all these years has been to use karate as tool itself to study such phenomena as attention, this training was particularly useful to me. It also was very useful for many of my students. I was never particularly interested in formal competition; the stakes were usually higher in dojo sparring. Most importantly, I did not like the "sports" mentality that relied too much on "rah rah" and on taking it easy between tournaments, rather than continually trying your best. (I'm not saying that all sports training has to be that way; it's just the way many Americans use it.)

: If you have a look which countries are the leaders
: in competition Karate it's Britain, France, Spain,
: Germany and Greece, all European countries. I don't
: say that competition is everything but the twist
: Karate has made in Europe is very good in my
: opinion because things shifted from the more
: dogmatic and overly tough way to a more sensible
: way of Karate. (E.g. few people in Germany believe
: in breaking boards, on the one hand they don't strike
: back and on the other feats like that can severely
: damage your health).

We didn't break boards much either. We were into strong dojo sparring and very hard self-disciplined training. I was disappointed however to see how many other JKA classes were run in the States, especially among the new generation of JKA instructors. Many turned the hard training from a spirit of self-discipline into more of a punk fighting spirit.

I appreciate your comments, but I do not fully agree with them. From your last e-mail, (realize that I only have info from our short e-mail conversations) you equate non-sport karate with breaking bricks, or just basic/kata training (which is present in most schools that do not know how to progressively teach good sparring over a period of years), but I suggest you may not be aware of other forms of hard training that also are intensely competitive. I am not a fan of Japanese culture, but some aspects of Bushido are worth preserving.

Sport karate is certainly the most popular form of karate practice, but it is not the only way. Life may imitate art, but sport is not as deep. Individuals in any discipline of course may be quite profound, but here I am discussing what the method of training has to offer. Concern by a youth about his/her physical limits is common to sport, but a true devotion to life may require much higher thresholds (and of course beginners must trust the instructor to be aware of such thresholds). Competing for a point under the watchful eye of a referee, who also can serve to terminate a match after a point is won, is hardly reflective of the challenges life can offer or often presents. Sport practice often embellishes the "rah-rah" support of teammates and an audience to help a competitor push a bit harder. More self-discipline is required to push a bit harder in silence, whether or not in the presence of others.

I have always felt that karateists whose goal it is to parade around wearing a gold medal should at least enter a stronger and more rewarding sport at a true Olympic event. I have no doubts that I and others have reached the same physical prowess as Olympic athletes, but if its an award they want they should at least go for true gold.

All this of course misses an explanation as to why all the other people who clearly cannot/won't win gold should bother training as a sport, except of course for simple recreational pleasure and some distraction from other aspects of their lives. Rather, training as a self-discipline can offer any practitioner a path, and that path can become as steep as the levels of courage and perseverance as he/she can muster.

I believe, in somewhat of a Bushido tradition, that sparring is a means to an end, not an end in itself. In my training, and in the training I gave, opponents bow to each other to acknowledge that they are honored to accept fierce combat as means of further sharpening their perceptions of nature. I believe karate, with its strong offense and defense, with a usual distance between opponents requiring decisions just outside automatic reflexes, is best among the martial arts to give feedback on attention and human nature. (I'm _not_ saying it's the _best_ martial art.) When two people fight to their utmost ability, the victor doesn't do a dance on the body of the defeated opponent; both people bow again to signify their appreciation for the life's moment of intensity and wisdom they have mutually gained.

This isn't just philosophy; a lot of blood and sweat flows. Training must be hard and often; the only limits on hard training should be that you still can train often.

: I agree that
: competition runs in a somewhat safe
: environment, but how far should you go ?
: Should you thrive to face death or
: mutilation ? It surely will give you more
: insight into life and your own personality
: (that's what bungee jumpers, free climbers
: etc. are also trying to get) but is it
: worth it ? I cannot tell. I truly believe
: that there is much more to discover,
: especially concerning the powers of the
: mind. I have to think about it.

You raise a good question, one that each person must answer for himself or herself. The bungee example, I believe is easily parried in my above context: What is being gained by the jump? Yes, just facing death perhaps gives some insights, but intense sparring gives much more feedback than that.




Another side of this kind of training was touched on in another posting:

My own training over the years included lots of hard sparring, often leading to accidents (eventually breaking most major bones in my body in addition to tearing lots of meat!) but I always considered it an error in training to condone such sparring and to pass off these accidents as proper training. Bad teaching attitudes lead to bad training lead to accidents or even worse -- promoting lousy technique which just lightly injures most everyone. Proper technique, in most Shotokan schools, if full contact is made with proper focus, should lead to massive injury, the same as unleashing any lethal weapon. The only way to properly train such technique if to exercise control in focus, not "pushing" or "pulling" techniques.



@@Control in Sparring


I always get irritated when hearing about the slop in tournaments, slop that causes injuries, and slop that further promotes bad karate techniques, leading to promoting bad karate.

Yes, enforcing rules would definitely help, but I do not think that goes to the core of the problem. The problem is crappy technique taught by crappy instructors -- no matter what is the personal level of the instructor.

I avoided tournaments because I felt the "rah rah" spirit was against all that I believe regular daily maximal training should be about. I did not at shy away from hard training or competing with opponents; I just did not like the tournament concept.

Then, when I developed my own excellent brown and black belts -- I even had a green belt make the international team in 1970 (Nishiyama and the other judges were pissed and made the poor fellow compete against just about everyone -- they finally made him wear a black belt at the tournament), I saw how sloppy the tournaments had become, and I could not even recommend them to students who wanted to enter (I would have supported their wished if there were decent tournaments).

I believe that the essence of slop in karate can be encapsulated by "lack of focus." That is, if the jerks who like to hit people were properly potty-trained to understand that they could inflict even greater damage by working their butts off to polish their technique so that they could deliver maximum momentum into their targets, they would learn to appreciate that this requires precision of exactly where their techniques are to be focussed. Then, and only then, if such jerks realize they will lose points if they hit in tournaments, they will they control themselves.

But what's the point of taking away points if the contestants are not even jerks, but just poorly trained so that they cannot execute techniques with proper focus? The "points" should be taken away from their instructors!!

I don't think anyone should be allowed to compete until they pass some tests on the day of the tournament -- not really hard to make up, are they! -- to test their focus of at least a punch and kick. That means at the minimum that they can deliver a measurable agreed-upon minimum level of some momentum to a small region in three-dimensional space without extending past that region!!!



I'd like to be more specific about a couple of issues I took on in my last posting.

: But what's the point of taking away points if the contestants are not even
: jerks, but just poorly trained so that they cannot execute techniques with
: proper focus? The "points" should be taken away from their instructors!!

Example (modify at your own whim):

After a given number of points deducted from students from a given dojo within a year, in all (listed) recognized tournaments, the entire dojo should be disqualified from competing for the entire next year.

: I don't think anyone should be allowed to compete until they pass some
: tests on the day of the tournament -- not really hard to make up, are
: they! -- to test their focus of at least a punch and kick. That means
: at the minimum that they can deliver a measurable agreed-upon minimum
: level of some momentum to a small region in three-dimensional space
: without extending past that region!!!

Example (modify at your own whim):

Potential competitors must do a punch and a kick (three trials each) through four pairs of crossed laser beams +: The second pair an 1/8 or 1/16 inch behind the front pair; the third cross a half-inch or so behind the front pair (depending on your tolerance to slop); the fourth pair an 1/8 or 1/16 inch behind the third pair.

The technique must break the first pair of beams, but not break any one of the far third pair. This establishes control.

I assume that if the near pair of beams is broken, the second pair also will be broken, and a simple oscilloscope or some other piece of equipment can be used to determine the velocity (speed) of the technique through the first 2 pairs of beams. This establishes velocity.

Now to get mass, we need a target; something has to get hit. The target should be light enough so that it will not reasonably impede the technique so that we can get a good measure of control at the third pair of beams. We can use the formula for momentum transfer between a projectile and the target. Now, momentum = mass x velocity I'll use large M for the projectile's mass (effective mass at focus), and small m for the target's mass, large U's and V's for the projectile's velocities just before and after impact, and and small u's and v's for the target's velocities just before and after impact. and we have M U + m u = M V + m v If the potential competitor hits a still target, then u = 0. A little thought shows it is very hard to deduce M just from this information, especially if we want to keep the beams in place to measure/enforce control.

That's why I have a couple of other suggestions to at least measure the quality of force and to set some minimum requirements, e.g., based on statistical sampling of different levels, etc. Let the third and fourth pairs of be offset from the line passing through the crossing of the first and second pairs of beams, to make a square hole of about 1-1/2 inches on each side:

                |       |
                |       |
                |       |
                |   X   |
                |       |
                |       |
                |       |

In the center X, extended straight out from the wall a few feet in from of the candidate and the crossed beams, up to just behind the first two pairs of crossed beams, a pole is extended with either a spring that has some apparatus to measure imparted force, e.g., even a simple measurement of distance compressed (Force = constant x distance), or an accelerometer (which I used back in 1969) to measure acceleration of the instrument when it is struck.

The idea is that a fist or extended foot will break a beam in the third or fourth crossed beams, but the target will not be impeded.

If the spring idea is used, the measured imparted force is simply related to the momentum imparted by the projectile. If we set some minimum requirements for *both* the velocity of the projectile, as above, and the force, this would suffice to be sure some minimum level of force was generated with some minimum level of control.

If the accelerometer idea is used (mounted on a hard-rubber 1-inch stopper seems best to avoid "ringing" on the oscilloscope) a bell-shaped type pulse is generated. The peak is a measurement of the maximum acceleration, and the 1/2 width of the pulse (say, measured across 1/2 up to the peak) is a measure of the contact time -- e.g., the time during "focus." If we set some minimum requirements for *both* the velocity of the projectile, as above, and the acceleration, this would suffice to be sure some minimum level of force (Force = M x acceleration) was generated with some minimum level of control.

I know of course that this is not the same as control with a real opponent, but if the putz can't do it with a standing target, let's not give him/her the chance to do it with a living person!

Now we have an easy measure of a minimum level of powerful and controlled techniques.




The reason for including some of these excerpts is to give some context for the concept of control in sparring. While I have X'd out names, these stories have been published in many magazines over the years, so I do not think any confidentiality is being violated.

:Nope. Not true. In his prime XXX was one of the top karate men
:in the world (as relates to kumite)(And he's still one of the best, if
:even half the sh*t I've heard about him is true!)
:The JKA had to send XX2 over to take him down. Sorta like having a
:high noon shoot-out with an uzi-wielding opponent and all you've got is a
:revolver. (Especially when you factor in the political issues and the
:respective ages and experience levels of the two shooters.)

I agree about XXX's abilities. I completely disagree about your interpretation of the scenario with XX2. This happened while I was training at this dojo, though I did not see the actual incident.

XXX pushed everyone, and was well-known for violating repeated caution not to keep breaking people's teeth and bones. He just pressed XX2 hard; XX2 lost control himself and broke XXX's jaw. For what's it's worth, immediately afterwards, XX2 was severely reprimanded by Nishiyama and the other visiting senior Instructors present. At least at that time the last thing JKA wanted to do was to give the impression they were bullies, etc. As far as I could tell afterwards, XXX had no hard feelings towards XX2, although his jaw was wired for several weeks.



:Lester, how much of XXX's supposed fighting skill would you chalk up
:to other's fear that if he got one in he would damage them? I
:certainly would fight a very different match if I were certain that
:the other guy were trying to injure me.

I strongly argue that you should always run a class as hard as you can, the limits being that people have to be able to come back to train the next day if they so choose; how else can you train a class? There is an obvious line between allowing or even encouraging contact and permitting regular damage.

I think it is clear that XXX regularly stepped over the line. I agree that this gave him an "unfair" intimidation factor. I say all this in the context that I liked XXX as a person very much, not because he was a strong fighter, but because he had a straight-forward and deep character.

However, each case has to looked at individually. In XXX's case, I think it clear that he also had very polished technique, speed, and strength, and great timing. He had the additional necessary attributes of any great fighter in any age, even accounting for the fact in your previous posting:
: Remember, at the time, only XX2,
: XXX, Ingber, and a couple of other guys even *existed* at that level
: outside of Japan.

: Today, there are tens of thousands. I think XXX would have been just as great a fighter even if he had regularly exercised control.

: Also, did XXX ever get sued
:by anyone for smashing them up? I would have sued the bejesus out of
:him, Nishiyama (for negligence as person responsible for teaching and
:controlling activities), the club, the AAKF, and everyone else I could
:have found.
:I'm surprised at the number of people who think that it is a sin to
:sue the irresponsible instructors that they have had.

Of course today there would law suits for such behavior all over the place, and I think the overall climate for training now is much too weak as a result. We have passed through any small window that would have presented any reasonable balance.

XXX's methods were not endorsed by Nishiyama or other instructors, but of course you have to take into account he was perhaps a bit stronger many would have liked to see a Westerner become at that time. They just didn't know how to handle him. They wanted a strong AAKF representative, but they would have preferred someone in their own image. It's no secret how they often misjudged tournaments in favor of their pets. With XXX, his techniques were so obvious they most often had no choice.

For example, while I trained up to about Instructor's class, in the dojo there was no way I could beat XXX; XX3 sometimes could get in, perhaps less often also could XX4. By the end of Instructor's training, well I'll just only say that I improved a few orders of magnitude. Nishiyama asked me if I would stay another year since he thought I could eventually regularly beat XXX and be the kind of representative he wanted for AAKF. I thought this was poor (and I had to leave anyway), in that it was my credentials outside karate that looked good to attach to my karate. Also, as I said above, even with his faults I thought XXX had superb character and his techniques were all the articulation required for him to express himself. He worked hard to get to his level and he deserved to be treated better for that, just as he should have been better reprimanded for regularly violating the trust in dojo sparring that is what bowing is all about.

Lest some people think a great fighter has to not be concerned with control, I would like to point out that Yaguchi regularly sparred and whipped all of us, including XXX. He also exhibited the expected control, just making you feel a bit sick for the short time his foot was planted inside or through you. I remember the day about mid-year in Instructor's school when I resolved not to back off one inch from him anymore. He just blinked as he saw my resolve, and proceeded to unload with both feet and hands all over me as I unleashed my own attacks. I remember a moment during all this, in a kind of out-of-body experience, watching with disbelief and awe that I wasn't dead or dying; his control was remarkable. He set a good example for us to follow if we so desired. I think I imparted this to my students as well.

Under my instruction, such intolerable behavior as regularly exhibiting lack of control would be nipped in the bud; either they shape up or ship out. This simply requires the application of professional integrity, independent of any political or personal considerations.



@@Conscious Sparring


In reply to:
:I trained both ways. Usually when fighting without the conscious part (which
:is how the military teaches it) you are taught to shut off all emotion.
:After a fight usually this person is an emotional mess sometimes shaking
:and crying uncontrollably and has only sporadic recollection of what
:happened. Karate training IMHO tries to add a level of consciousness too
:this without bottling up the emotions. I'm still studying on this. The
:situation of this reaction in Karate only occurs rarely to me right now,
:usually when it happens it seems that time slows down the decision making
:process doesn't take into account consequences at all.

I'm not sure which military institution you are referring too, but most of them rely on training heavy doses of teamwork, loyalty, "gung-ho," e.g., all of which tap limbic-system emotional sources.

I think somewhat clear lines can be drawn between acting on "conscious" selective attention versus acting on emotional states. Both selective attention and emotional states may be conscious activities, but they often are independent sets of states.

Without years of training, many combatants find it necessary to maximize their emotional energy, e.g., just to overcome fear. In advanced sparring, it usually is best to not draw upon, or at least to control, emotional states. Such states are of relatively long time-duration and inflexible; hence, they can be used against you by a worthy

Selective attention can be exercised within tenths of second, and permit some conscious decision-making to be brought to sparring. However, such states are capacity-limited, so they are best exercised by utilizing feinting and exercising distance-timing strategies to quickly develop one to several patterns of attack or defense-attack combinations that might be immediately executed.

In some cases, e.g., against a very superior opponent(s), even the use of selective attention can be a drain on your resources, and inhibit timely execution of techniques that might help you to win/survive. In such cases, sometimes it is best to rely on your previous years of training to "spontaneously" develop resemblances of previously rehearsed actions and reactions against such an opponent(s). This means shutting out conscious interference. Sometimes this works well, but of course sometimes it does not :>).




In response to:

:Okay. Lester's gonna like this one:
:How is it humanly possible to develop concentration ? My greatest
:disadvantage in sparring is that at some point, I just seem to tell to
:the other guy "excuse me while I kiss the sky"... Experienced
:fighters see this, and bang - IPPON !
:This usually, of course, happens in a slow fight, where we do mostly
:feints and little real attacks, or when I fight lower ranks (but they
:usually don't take advantage of it, thank god). This also happens
:frequently after an exchange where I saw a flaw in the other guy's
:defense that I plan to attack...
:What can I do to develop my concentration capacity (and especially
:endurance) ? Are there any drills, tips ? Does it only come with
:experience, when you no longer need to think that much... ?

Yes, of course I like this one! :>).

There are certain genetic constraints we all must face, even re our powers of concentration.

However, even within our own constraints, there is much we can do to train optimal use of our "concentration." For the most part, "concentration" in karate/sparring is largely an issue of learning _what_ to concentrate on. To a large extent, we can learn to pay attention to various levels of abstraction so we can function more efficiently and robustly.

For example, when learning a new language one gets stuck on the meaning of individual words, "concentration" cannot span the meaning of groups of sentences, etc. Similar for beginners in karate, one gets stuck on just trying to do reasonable body techniques and reasonable reactions to perceived attacks/openings for attack, etc. Learning to think in spatial-temporal patterns of movement, of course assuming that the components have been well-trained and can be depended upon, makes it easier and faster to react more appropriately to evolving interactions between and your opponent(s). This is the crux of most of the methodology I have developed in my classes and written in my texts. There's much more to say, and even much more to train!




My resolution of the "state of mind" problem was/is to take a mental position quite literally about midway between my opponent(s) and myself, viewing actions from all people more as a full set of parts/limbs, with the distinction made between people that my body tries to win. This creates a new (abstract) person I'll just define as the "mediator," and refer to "it."

I do this for several reasons. For example,

(A) This state permits me to keep a fair awareness of both my opponent(s) and my own space-time position. Too often in sparring people get too fixated on their opponents (intended) actions or on their own (intended) actions, without taking into account that the interaction of all people can quickly lead to a new set of (intended) actions not well understood by such separate fixations. An alternative explanation of this state is that proper sparring requires a synchronization between a global attention/open awareness of your opponents space-time dynamics with a focussed attention to your own space-time dynamics; these are quite different states of attention that require a good balance for effective sparring. The mediator perceives and tries to control both kinds of attention states.

(B) I found that there are some definite benefits to enhanced timing, especially effective against opponents who have superior fast reflexes. The mediator can view both opponents as part of one (pretty fast changing) rhythm, and in this view it can act on "phase differences" in the rhythm which is faster than trying to match two (or more) rhythms against each other.

(C) I find this state "peaceful" to the extent I can cut off emotions that tend to constrict attention/perception, but yet permit it to act with complete objective attention to fighting/sparring. In a real sense, this is the most violent kind of activity, one that good commanders (should) try to install in their battles, wherein all purpose and attention is objectively given to destroy the enemy. The usual perception of violence is to get all worked up and run in screaming like a maniac (which is not much different in my estimation as "rah rah spirit") but, while this may permit a weak spirit to feel reckless and murderous, it in fact often impedes the direction of attention towards the actual violent actions required, especially against skilled opponents.

(D) This state permits me to resolve the issue of how to "feel" in sparring with a classmate versus street fighting for ones life. I simply alter the direction given by the mediator to focus on skin instead of into meat or through bone, etc.

(E) I started this kind of "state training" in the late '60's by a kind of mediation, which to another observer looks the same as mediating in a normal kneeling position. However, instead of just a relaxed focus on breathing or brain activity or whatever mnemonic most people use, I first mentally place a mirror image of myself a few feet away, then put the mediator on top of both bodies as an external observer. The mediator is the entity actually meditating.

(F) Often there are more peaceful ways to win conflicts than always going into combat mode. The mediator state can permit an objective assessment of a situation, to better decide on a course of action in situations of conflict. This state gives at least an external appearance of calm (while violence is an immediate option), which often can calm an opponent, thereby avoiding physical conflict.

(G) I hesitate to teach this state of mind to many students. I think too easily it could lead to a detached abstract view of sparring/fighting. In many ways many people maintain a "civilized" composure by having a deep sense of compassion at some level for other people, at least for themselves!, but the mediator state readily dismisses these considerations. I rather prefer to rant and train students hard without mercy giving them critical feedback to remove emotions as they at the moment impede their training. This perhaps could lead them to a mediator state (if they are as convoluted as me! :>)), but at least it would be through years of hard training.





In karate sparring, I embraced the concept of finding a good distance between self and the external world to find reasonable interactions. I a crude sense, feinting in sparring attempts this, but I would like to see this kind of training expanded. I could maintain a sense of observing myself and my opponent, where I would place "my self/ego," virtually projecting a physical sense of myself in the air above myself and my opponent, attributing only a remnant of my ego to this virtual entity sufficient to look for "winning" situations among patterns of movement, creating one sort-of rhythm merging both our (intended) movements, enabling me to act and react faster on beats on this one rhythm, rather than trying to jump back and forth to assess both our rhythms. My daily composition of two-person combinations for my classes and myself provided additional training for this skill.

At an early age I decided that competition with my own goals was superior to competition with others. This sense of self-competition is another manifestation of having some objective distance between ego and purpose.

I often generalize this tool to imagine "my self" someplace between my physical body and that of a Martian. Now, in that place, how can I/we determine a justifiable and righteous existence? How would a Martian judge our actions -- by how "successful" we are in piling sand on our mounds, by how we help our wounded, by how we throw sand back at the Martian?

I know this seems trite, but it sometimes give perspective to how we judge ourselves and others.

I think that for a long time, my teaching included some degree of competition with the focus to have the student learn as best as possible as fast as possible. After a decade or so, I decided that the "fast as possible" part was not so important; the other aspects are still there.


@@Shotokan: Translating Across Cultures

Subject: Re: SHOTOKAN
Reply-To: ingber@caa.caltech.edu

This is a reply to a posting:
:Here is a sort of esoteric question that has bothered me for
:nearly a decade: At the top of the old SHOTOKAN tiger logo
:there are a pair of kanji characters. I think one is the
:character for "dai" and the other resembles the greek
:letter tau. You might see these on the old SKA patches (i.e.
:the black and gold) next to the tail of the tiger. On some
:of the more modern patches, the characters have been abbreviated
:with just a simple character that resembles a cross. The modern
:JKA logo :) uses the latter character.
:I've looked through some of the old SHOTOKAN manuals and documents
:and *of course* nothing is mentioned. Has anybody had an instructor
:who talked about the details of these characters and their meaning?
:Sensei Ingber?

On page 13 of
%A H. Nishiyama
%A R. Brown
%T Karate
%I Tuttle
%C Tokyo, Japan
%D 1960 the meaning assigned to the characters I believe you are describing (which also are on the cover of this book) is "empty hand." On the back cover of
%A G. Funakoshi
%T Karate-Do Kyohan
%E T. Ohshima
%I Kodansha
%C Tokyo, Japan
%D 1973 there is a comment that Gichin Funakoshi changed the translation of Chinese characters from which these are derived, from "Chinese hand" to "empty hand."

I'd like to mention that neither my first instructor Tsutomu Ohshima (for a couple of years, 'till he left for France for a few years), or my second instructor Hidetaka Nishiyama (for over 10 years) specifically dwelled on the historical aspects of karate. While I agree this sounds a bit strange, to put this into perspective, one of the strong points I always sensed about both instructors (at least during the time of my training) is that they stressed the philosophy of karate as it could be embedded in Western culture. At that time, this in fact was their mission. E.g., read the Forward to "Karate" by Nishiyama and Brown.

In turn, I have always viewed karate as a training for people independent of culture. It's not that I'm not interested in such issues, but especially in the earlier days of karate, it was easy to fall into the trap of talking "pig-English" all the time, seeking a lowest common denominator with Japanese instructors, expounding all things Japanese as superior, etc., trying to mimic instructors instead of trying to learn from them. I view self-respect and self-discipline as important traits if one is to strive for the highest levels of any discipline, and my way of dealing with these early trends was to speak slowly in my native tongue while paying careful attention to every word and movement of my instructors. I regard a recent comment made by Nishiyama to someone about me to be one of the highest compliments I have received, that I was his "most disciplined student," even though it was over 20 years since I had left the JKA/AAKF in 1970.



@@Fluid Movement Versus One Motion?

In reply to:
:From what I have seen of Shotokan, it has a philosophy something like, "Leap
:in, deliver one incredibly deadly strike, then leap out and [see if/hope that]
:it worked." What I've seen is very square, low, powerful, blocky, strength-
:oriented. Please forgive my EXTREME simplification of the style.
:My question is, is Shotokan an exception to my notion that all martial arts
:begin to resemble one another at the highest levels? At the highest levels,
:does Shotokan begin to incorporate a "deliver multiple techniques with one
:motion" philosophy? Does the motion become more fluid?
:Or at the highest levels is it still a one-strike philosophy?

The short answer is yes, this is an "EXTREME simplification of the style."

While a particular school usually is influenced quite strongly by the individual instructor, in most Shotokan schools there is regular training in many Kata, multiple-step sparring, and many hard combinations in basic as well as in free sparring. I can't imagine anyone seriously studying any kata or combinations in sparring and coming to the conclusion that somehow fluidity of motion is not being stressed?

In my own classes and texts, I stress the importance of fluidity at several scales, e.g., during focus, between techniques, preparing or feinting prior to contact, etc.

Probably what can be correctly stated about Shotokan styles, e.g., versus some other styles, is that the beginner levels are very focused on studying individual strong techniques, albeit kata and multiple-step sparring are studied as well. The emphasis perhaps is close to what you state.

Eventually, at advanced levels, the emphasis is on a "state" of continual movement, punctuated by focused feints, blocks, attacks, etc. By "state" I mean that the movements may be quite overt with large shifting movements, or quite subtle not so overt movements that can serve to keep a body awareness of the interplay of rhythms of your opponent(s) and yourself.



@@The "Corkscrew" Punch and Variations


I have been following the discussions of the "corkscrew" punch (a new word for me for this technique) with great interest, particularly because it has elicited a lot of interesting responses from many angles and disciplines. I would just like to add my own perspective on this technique, based on my own JKA training and analysis. While some of the responses already have said much of what I have to say, I think it useful to some students to present a reply in my terms.

From one point of view, the punching arm is really just an extension of the body, at first receiving most of its momentum from the momentum gained by the torso -- e.g., by the power methods of body shifting, (reverse-)rotation, or snapping (vibration) -- in turn using forces and torques generated by stance, etc. At the later stages of the punch, e.g., during focus in the target, the punch becomes a rigid extension of the body, adding mass to the velocity gained during the previous stages; of course, making the punch rigidly attached to the torso slows it down. This "compromise" is a feature of the focus of the punch, e.g., one of the features that distinguishes it from snapping techniques. That is, during the short time scale of focus (which I measured with some equipment years ago to be on the order of a tenth of second), some velocity is "traded" for mass. This is used by advanced practitioners to match the "impedance" of the target, to maximize the transfer of energy into the target. For example, a heavy target, like the torso, often might be attacked with a "heavy" punch, while a lighter target, like the head, often might be attacked by a relatively lighter and faster punch. Of course, strategy, the hardness of the target, etc., present other considerations to take into account. For example, against some targets, there is an additional "shearing" power that can be achieved by twisting the fist into the target upon impact. This "extra" shearing rotation/twist also is useful as a "timing" device to coordinate all the body muscles to focus into the target.

That stated, in this view, the initial and middle stages of the punch should permit the arm to most freely accept the momentum transfer from the torso. If the deltoid or arm biceps or triceps are stiff, then this process will be impeded. When your hands are close to your body, e.g., when placing them in front of your face, there is less tension in the arm when the palms face towards you. As the arm is extended, there is less tension in the arms when the palms turn away from your body. Therefore, if the purpose of the arm position is to facilitate receiving maximum momentum transfer from the torso, the hands/fists should be at first facing towards you, then start to turn as the elbow clears the hip, then turn over as the arm becomes extended. During these three phases, there is an opportunity to focus at various distances: (a) punch close, the "back-punch" with the elbow still at the hip; (b) punch to some intermediate distance, the "vertical punch" with the elbow one or two fists' width away from the hip; (c) punch fully outstretched, the "standard" punch. Note that during the focus of the back-punch, the shearing rotation is usually most naturally performed outwards, i.e., in the opposite direction to the rotation performed for the fully outstretched punch. Of course, these three punches require adapting to different timings of the body, etc.

The "hook-punch" to the opposite side of the punching hand, also rotates upon impact, similar to the regular punch. This punch is "guided" by a sense of horizontal body compression above and below the punching course, creating a channel for the flow of the technique.

In contrast to the hook-punch, the "rising-punch" is "guided" by a sense of vertical compression to both sides of the technique. This punch is facilitated by rotating the punching hand immediately as the elbow is clearing the hip; the extra tension along the top of the upper arm helps the rising action of the technique. The early rotation of the fist, a "bug" in the regular punch, is a "feature" in the rising-punch.



@@Advanced Applications of Basic Techniques


The role of momentum as being most important in _most_ attacks (e.g., energy is likely at least as important as impulse/momentum when damage to soft deep tissue is involved) is already written up in a few ways by others. Yes, pressure is most important to understand just how transferred momentum can break bone as well as rip into soft tissue.

There are some details that you have not quite taken into account. The time t in your above explanation cannot be controlled exclusively by the attacker for arbitrary times. The focus time during which momentum can be transferred is determined as much by the nature of the target as it is by the projectile (the focus time of the attacker during which the velocity and mass in mv are effective).

Theoretical speculation aside, many advanced people (including myself in my prime) in many martial arts/sports can generate speeds in a short jab that rival the speeds in many other people's longer punches. Yes, it also is important to realize the role of excellent body focus to "attach" a heavy mass to this kind of punch especially when it is being focussed into a heavy body target.

Whatever "strange way" might exist to hold one's fist prior to a special short punch is a new idea I have never heard of. That is, a well trained person can generate a strong punch from a picking-the-nose position.

:Hi Lester (and All)
:You mention the serious bit, behind the joke, in your second paragraph
:below:- ...
:>An advanced expert is able to bring a limb such as an arm or leg from
:>any position into an efficient trajectory that will maximize mass and
:>velocity prior to focus. Basic training emphasizes complete
:>trajectories to maximize such power and control, and more advanced
:>experts often just require only the final paths to generate strong and
:>effective techniques. ...
:I notice that many people seem to have a problem with either:
: 1) Not being able to throw a punch without chambering from the hip.
: 2) Not chambering.
:I think that of the two problems, ALWAYS coming back to the hip is the
:bigger problem, as it opens you up to an attack (given that the opponent
:is within distance and quick enough), however those who fail to chamber
:a punch properly (even when time and circumstances allow) do generally
:deliver much less impact. I don't believe that the extra distance
:gained by chambering is the issue, I think it's to do with the mind set
:of the person. If you DO chamber, it shows greater ability to maintain
:concentration and focus.

I think "chambering" (a new word for me) is more physical than mental. It takes quite a bit of training before you can rely on the large torso muscles to properly transfer momentum to the arms and legs. Pulling hands (chambering), idealized trajectories, are excellent training aids to maximize the chances of all this occurring. For example, the most usual reason for loss of power when the elbow does not follow the fist close to the hip in a basic punch is that the shoulder is tensed, creating a line of tension along the outside the arm which tends to make the elbow come out. The reason this usually gives rise to a weaker punch is that this often signifies that the torso is not driving the arm by connections of muscles under the arm to the chest and back muscles; i.e., you are punching with your shoulder instead of maximally using power derived from stance and hip dynamics.

Of course moving along these trajectories does not guarantee that you are using the proper muscles and proper dynamics, but it helps. Once you get some good results, with more training you can get these dynamics to produce good techniques without always having to rely on basic trajectories and timing aids.



@@General Throwing & Locking Techniques


I think perhaps there is a class of throws/locks not covered very well by the standard kata or Funakoshi's book that deserves a technique or two in new kata. These karate-like techniques focus on developing levers across the opponent's body line from the feet/floor to the upper body, but not using the attacker's own body line in parallel with the opponent's.

For example, a standard class of throws/locks use the attacker's (A's) upper body to lock/engage the opponent's (B's) upper body while using the A's feet against the B's feet/lower body with both people's spines at first roughly along the same vertical line, then using A's hip rotation/shifting to effect throwing/toppling B using hip power along the lever-line of attack.

The concept of using **dynamic** karate-type stance+hip power against a created lever-line of the opponent can be generalized quite a bit. I first became impressed with this idea while practicing knife-defense in Instructor's School. An effective technique against a lunge was to drop to a kneeling position, driving a block to the shin of the opponent just as he was executing a step-in lunge, while using the other hand to block the attacking hand, then rotating the opponent's body on the floor to rotate him in the air. Nishiyama did this so well against Yaguchi in one demo, that he landed so hard he was knocked out for several seconds.

Over the years, I introduced several variants of this in my own instruction, emphasizing general body dynamics instead of "tricks," or just simple variants of classical Judo and Aikido techniques (which certainly are great techniques in their own right). For some other examples: In my 1985 book I have a technique kicking/locking a standing-opponent's outside ankle from the floor, while pulling on his arm, effecting a lever on the opponent's vertical axis from his side. I did this spontaneously against an attack (during a Dan exam) after the command to stop sparring, throwing the insensitive fellow to the floor. In Keri No Kata, there is a move (in the slow part) to time locking of B's heel inside A's heel, to effect a lever against the A's vertical line, driving A's upper body back while pulling A's lower body forward; this is effected while while A is trying to effect a throw against B, by attacking B's neck and rotating the top of B's body across A's hip using power generated from A's changing stances.

In summary, basic karate techniques have been demonstrated to be well analyzed by basic physics-type principles, permitting a better understanding of similarities of body dynamics across many techniques. For example, it now is clear how angular momentum around different body axes effects front-snap-kick, side-snap-kick and round-kick. In my 1981 text, I introduced a stick Tai-Chi-like sparring exercise to promote using minimal but effective force against the linear and angular momentum of the attacker, illustrating how these concepts can be studied in a dynamic sparring-type context.

I think that these approaches at least permit complementary approaches to instruction and applications to locking and throwing techniques. Using ancient animal metaphors are great for conveying intuitions, but they are sorely lacking in promoting creative instruction and applications.



Basically, karate-type techniques offer some complementary throws/locks, in addition to their use for "setting up" an opponent: Forces can be generated from many angles, distances and levels (floor, mid-level, high-level, etc.), relatively independently of any relative positions of opponents' spine alignments, stances, etc. Such forces can act in combination with other such dynamic forces and/or "standard" holds/pushes to develop levers on several weak body axes of an opponent.



@@Feinting Techniques


In reply to two posters (":" and ":.."):

:....I think part of it is the type of blocking being done. Bone breaker vs.
:..deflection - nullification - re-direction of force
:That is a valid point that I have not considered. Perhaps after these years of
:training, the premise of a breaking-block has become alien to me. I generally
:attack while ignoring the opponent's attempts or simply deflect and face-punch.

I think it is common (perhaps not universal) teaching practice, that after a few years of getting down timing with basic blocks in basic sparring, a student can more effectively move on to sweep blocks, etc. The difference largely is along the lines I introduce in my 1976 (& 1981) text:
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> UNTIL <<<< BELOW >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
BLOCKING, A further digression into blocking illustrates an important use of rotation movements. Hip rotation is useful for attack-blocks, which are designed to break the opponent's rhythm and balance as a prelude to a counterattack. When facing in a given direction, you can effectively direct power perpendicular to an attack over an extremely wide angular region. Attack-blocks are used to defend the face, solar plexus, and groin regions.

Another method of blocking, which is smoother but requires better timing, is sweep-blocking, in which the attacking momentum of the opponent is controlled along a line tangential to the attack. The blocking hand glides along the attacking limb, exerting a gradual sideways force that smoothly deflects the attack. This method of control, used to a great extent in Judo and Aikido, is utilized in some of the timing exercises in chapter 3.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< FROM >>>> ABOVE <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

:..Don't we all! But I'm a little different. For me, I try to move at the
:..last possible moment, step back with a strong initial hip action - from my
:..front hip going back - and simultaneously block/deflect. Now here's
:..where it gets screwy/complicated. At some point in the step-back, I try
:..to transition my emphasis from the front hip going back to become the back
:..hip... to the back hip becoming the front hip... and moving the new front
:..hip forward to put my body into hamni. And I'm trying to finish the block
:..and final front hip action at the same time -- as I land. The harder the
:..hip actions, the quicker I can move back. And the
:..stronger/smoother/cleaner the block.
:That is something that I have never tried........I just got up and
:tried it. I can't do it and follow my tech that way. Either you've
:got something funny in your hips, or I'm missing something like my
:teachers always said I was...

Such techniques can be trained and utilized quite effectively, by a quite general use of "body expansion and compression." As I mentioned in a previous post in a different thread "Moving the Feet/Legs," For example, stepping in just after a counter-punch will likely use greater tensions across the legs than just stepping in from a more relaxed stance. I have a few notes on stepping in my texts. That is, as XXX similarly reports, the end of full body technique that properly uses stance often sets up increased momentary tensions across the legs that can be used to advantage, like a coiled spring, to move in any other direction, not just the same or reverse direction from the just finished technique. Furthermore, similarly, there are similar compression and expansion techniques in the torso that can be used to advantage to generate the next technique from a previous technique.

At a somewhat more advanced level, these ideas can be used effectively in feints. For example, moving your body from feinting position to feinting position can be used as a "cover" to generating tensions in the stance and torso similar to those generated when performing full techniques. These expansions and compressions, albeit smaller than those developed during full techniques, can of course be done at higher frequencies, to cut into your opponent's rhythm at more vantage points, while masking the beginning of a full attack.

Success in the above feinting strategy is great training for teaching timing at more advanced stages of "softer" feinting requiring even less commitments to generating your own body forces, while conveying intended threats or non-threats to your opponent to set up advantageous attacking positions and moments. Often these techniques are used effectively with sweep blocks, as described above, requiring smaller forces in your stance and torso than the use of attack blocks. At this stage, you can give the outward appearance of no-motion or some intended motion, while keeping forces flowing internally at very high frequencies ready to create attacks.

:I generally step back with my hips forward, then finally rotate them as
:late as possible for maximum connectivity with the arm motion.
:I cannot make my hip go forward for two reasons:
: a) My front knee would necessarily have to go forward, and it is
: already over my toenails OR
: b) My front foot would have to slide forward a little.

Try to set up tensions across both legs into the floor, independent of knee position, e.g., by increasing some tensions across the insides of the legs. Then you can better perform the methods I describe above, relatively independent of your knee position.

:..So I'm using the front hip going back for my initial step back and the now
:..coiled spring back hip becoming front hip during the step back as the
:..kicker on the block.
:..Does this make sense boys and girls?
:To me it does, though I cannot fathom the process physically. I'd
:love to see it.
:..Why? If just standing in place, why not move the front hip forward with
:..your block?
:See A or B above. Front knee going too deep, foot sliding forward.
:One or the other is necessary, unless you are perhaps allowing a lot of
:knee activity to occur?
:..I'm sorry to disagree. The rear hip can stay in place. A coiled spring
:..effect ensues because you're not moving it back. Which you then can
:..utilize in conjunction with the front hip for blocking. Yes the hip does
:..move back, as it's connected to the body. But not necessarily in terms of
:But, even if the hip were to stay in place until the step connected with the
:floor, the rear hip is would swing back, using the front leg hip as a
:pivot point out of simple mechanical necessity (again, granting no knee
:movement from front ------>back.)
: ...

I think all, or at least most, of this can be explained/trained using the methodology I describe above.



In reply to:
:At what kyu/dan level would you all expect to see people using
:a "softer" style of block on a regular basis? Clearly it requires
:more skill at timing one's response than a striking block does.

Of course this is very person-dependent. Many kyu-level people can sweep-block many punches, but I think it usually takes a good 2nd or 3rd dan to regularly sweep kicks. The reason is that sweeping kicks, having to deal with more massive longer-reaching attacks and to be able to gain position for counter-attacks, etc., usually also involves complete body shifting; i.e., the body moves as one with the sweeping arm(s), requiring more highly trained body technique.



@@Open Nonlinear Stochastic Karate



There's some confusion here, but there also is some meat to flesh out.

We don't have to invent new terms for common aspects of karate discussed here, and some common terms can serve us fine. There is some confusion here between between nonlinear and stochastic.

Stochastic generally relates to the influence of variables in addition to those of interest which require respecting statistical aspects of a system instead of just deterministic aspects. For example, when training over many years, there likely will be many influences that cannot be precisely predicted -- weather, sickness, meteors, etc. Even in the very short term, you or your opponent might slip on water on the floor due to a drip from the ceiling due to a heavy gust of wind opening the roof a bit, etc. Probably the best you can do is to say that if you train regularly, then typically you will improve, and typically you can beat Joe Schmoe if you don't slip on any water on the floor.

Nonlinear generally relates to the possibility of several outcomes to some initial conditions. Manytimes, chance brings out these possibilities. For example, if you kick, your opponent can side-shift or circle-shift to either side -- this can be considered a nonlinear consequence of your kick. Also, as your opponent starts to shift, your body can prepare to follow with another technique; an advanced opponent may sense this and react by shifting to the opposite side -- this can be considered an example of nonlinear feedback in the systems comprised of you and your opponent.

Being prepared to use karate for "self-defense against surprise attack" generally requires that you are prepared (better than you would be without training) to make the best of situations that may drop on you from many places. This is the stochastic nature of life. I have created combinations that fork, requiring people to try to set up "surprises" for themselves that require taking one of 2 or 3 well-defined fork in a combination. This helps to make the best of reacting against stochastic influences with well-defined nonlinear responses.

I find it very useful in advanced sparring to take the mindset of setting up a single system comprised of myself, my opponent, and a detached observer hovering someplace in an abstract space above both of us. The observer integrates the movements and barely perceived intentions of both combatants, and I add the luxury of permitting the observer to fork out nonlinear alternatives to me that tend to make me win over my opponent -- a vestige of ego of sorts. This has some very practical consequences. For example, a sporadic and transitory but nevertheless marked rhythm composed of the two combatants often can be discerned. By causing my body to change the phase of this rhythm I often have a better and faster chance of catching the leadership of our mutual rhythm than if I took the mindset of interacting via two opposing rhythms.

XX2 wrote:
:XX1 wrote:
:>Fighting is something complex and 'interactive' enough to be called
:>nonlinear. It is also a 'system', since it has units and parts that
:>are linked together. Changing one/some of these units or the relation
:>between them will have an impact on the others. The entire thing also
:>exhibits effects that are different from the sum of it's parts (Robert
:>Jervis, "System Effects" -- Princeton.).

Yes, there is a science of "synergetics" that mathematically articulates the physical consequences of emergent phenomena from individual constituents. The example I gave above illustrates how considering combatants as an emergent system may offer some practical advantages.

:I read the definition of system & decided I not really sure I
:understand the word.
:a combination of interrelated interacting elements designed to work as
:a coherent entity
:Fighting is a verb, people fight. Fighting really means conflict. But
:I assume you mean fighting as in Fist Fighting, or Karate. Any
:describable subset of human conflict could be called a system. What
:does this gain us. Lets stick to karate, karate is a system of
:>This system is non-linear because:
:non linear is often used instead of "unpredictable", I like the more
:common term.

No, I don't agree with these specific points. The "common" and the "scientific" terminologies do not need to differ here. There is a difference between "unpredictable" and "nonlinear" systems. You can have neither, both together, or one without the other. In addition, one must consider closed systems versus open systems, the latter being influenced by external forces to the defined system.

Karate should train us to better deal with nonlinear, stochastic, open systems in the world. Too often the practice is mindless, and for all practical purposes the training can be quite linear, deterministic, and closed.

:Most fights are predictable to some extent, the more information you
:have the more predictable it becomes. If I study a fight (after the
:fact) & can step through it frame by frame, I can usually predict
:weather or not a blow will land. If my combatants were covered with
:sensors I could probably tell you more.

Yes, up to a point. However, I would argue that there typically are both nonlinear and stochastic aspects of most complex sparring engagements, even if they are not so obvious to an audience of onlookers.

:>1)Chance is a major factor in fighting.
:I hate the word chance. A simple form of combat is Chess, there is NO
:chance in chess, people make mistakes, or chose less then optimal
:responses, this is not chance.

Chess has so many combinations of moves that for all practical purposes masters in fact do not deterministically figure out all the possibilities, but rather use patterns of intuited moves which can better be appreciated as stochastic responses that statistically work better with practice by masters.

In karate, there are additional forces beyond simple calculations of possible punches, kicks, blocks, and strikes. There is a practical continuum of time, and other external influences that may come in at any time to change the interaction.

:What makes fist fighting Chance based? I guess from your point of view
:it is chance that I decide to launch an upper attack , not knowing
:that you have never practiced defending your head. Again this is not
:"chance", it is actions taken without your foreknowledge. Not really
:the same thing.

No, there are many other better examples of chance in fighting.

:>2)You cannot predict the unpredictable. Therefore you need to be able
:>to adapt to it as necessary. This means that you need to understand
:>general principles in order to apply them under any situation.

You can prepare for the best responses to most likely situations. There is no excuse for running off into the sunset crying that the sky is falling because their is no chance of absolutely predicting if the sun will rise tomorrow.

:>3)General, flexible 'rules' will help you more than specific 'truths'.
:If there were "truths", ie something that is true despite the
:situation, then they would be more useful than flexible rules. I doubt
:there are many truths so we make do with axioms.

"Truths" perhaps is too strong or too inappropriate a word. I prefer flexible physical, attentional, motivational techniques that have some reasonable underlying structures, permitting learning the basic dynamics that can lead to many many more alternative actions and reactions.

:>4)A reliable concept is one that will exhibit self-similitude at any
:>level of complexity.

This is taking simplicity to the extreme and ignores the importance of appreciating the differences among complex systems. The fad of self-similitude is beginning to wear thin in many scientific circles, albeit is has led to many interesting observations, and I suggest it is a poor metaphor for enlightenment.

["Self-similitude" refers to invariance of dynamics under changes of scale. So, this would imply that interactions between white belts are the same as interactions among black belts?; I think not. Would this imply that interactions between people are similar to interactions between armies? Perhaps only in its most simplistic form, involving decisions among individual leaders. However, armies have different dynamics at quite different scales, e.g., platoons are quite different from brigades. See some of the combat... papers in my archive, where I have performed such modeling for DoD, based on actual data from the field.]

:>5)The more time you give to a non-linear system to evolve, the more
:>complex and unpredictable it will get. Short confrontations are safer
:>if you are in control of the system...
:Not necessarily, a baseball game is non-linear. Would you rather
:predict the results of an Inning or of a series of games. The longer
:the confrontation the more likely that advantages will tell. If major
:factors are in your advantage (size, speed, physical conditioning,
:training) it may be to your advantage to concentrate on defense, let
:the fight drag out, don't risk everything on one attack just to end
:the confrontation.
:Perhaps the longer a non linear system evolves the more you will
:recognize patterns in the "chaos".

It is easier to predict less far into the future. This is not the same statement as saying that it is possible to statistically infer the distant future. In many systems, the far future contains contributions from so many entities that the system is easy to statistically infer than it is to infer the interactions in the short time among a smaller set of its components. I see no paradox here.

:>1)The simpler a mechanic, the more reliable it is... And what is
:>simplicity? It is the relatively small amount of units/parts of a
:>system. Shotokan has a small amount of reliable parts. Gung Fu has
:>many, many, many parts, and they are not all too widely reliable...
:>Isn't the kendo model better adapted to non-linear fighting, since it
:>gets rid of complexity-boosting details?

Nonsense. That is, the rule that simplicity leads to more reliable systems is a nice wish, but your sense of simplicity and that of some supposed divine being might be quite different. Yes, it is useful to seek simplicity, but often this requires working in an abstract language that leaves uneducated people looking for mantras instead of wisdom.

:This certainly sounds reasonable. It contradicts the "linear systems
:are unpredictable, be flexible" concept. If you have a very limited
:skill set your reactions are necessarily limited as well. We love the
:example of punching a WTK student in the face, but how about kicking a
:shotokan practitioner in the knee or groin, game over.

Yes, limitations certainly simplify the interactions that are possible in a bad match.

:>Other Questions:
:you have said that fighting is a system (I am missing something
:because I don't see how this helps at all), and that it is
:unpredictable. Lets stay away from extremes. It is impossible to
:gather enough information to predict something so complex completely,
:but as folks who handicap boxers can tell you unpredictable is a
:relative thing.

I do not see the problem in dealing with nonlinearity or stochasticity in karate. Neither necessarily leads to sheer unpredictability.



@@Comments on Kanku Sho


In response to:

:I'd be interested in reading some alternate bunkai descriptions for
:some of the techniques in Kanku Sho. I'm about to go into this a bit
:at practice. While it is usually very difficult for me to visualize
:bunkai from written material, I'll do my best if you submit something.

This does properly address your query as I am not specifically addressing applications. However, I think that one of the defining combinations of Kanku Sho is the most beautiful and educational of all the other combinations in the other kata:


turning to the back in front-stance (L leg forward) [fast until R elbow clears hip, then slow] counter-sweep-block face-level (R hand) and sweep-block across the top of the counter-sweep-block (L hand) both hands are straight-knife-hand block positions

This requires direct-rotation for the counter-sweep, until after the hip turns square, at which point the hip dynamics turns to direct-rotation for power, and continues until the line from the back leg to counter-hand is fully stretched across the entire body

The main front stance still is mostly outside-tension, and the hip position is reverse-half-body upon completion

pull back (opponent's arm) (R hand) [slow] the L hand knife-hand also pulls, as if using the R hand as the target, as it pulls on top of the R wrist

both pulling hands are directed back to the R hip, with the elbows close in line with the hips

The main line of the feet are in front-stance, but the back leg (R leg) is in inside-tension pulling the arms

this part of this technique continues until about when the R elbow comes to the R hip

somewhere about half-way back to the hips [fast] pull back both hands to the R hip in fists (L on top) & simultaneously front-snap-kick

the change in tempo to this fast move should be triggered from a "randomly" imagined opening in the opponent's defense, within the short time the above slow technique is ending

continue the momentum of the front-snap-kick into back-fist-strike-lock to face (R hand) R leg in front, L leg crossing close behind it half-body position

drive L leg back to inside-forearm-block reverse-rotation, front-stance

counter-punch (L hand) direct-rotation, off this compression follow with punch (R hand) body vibration

turn to back-stance (L leg forward) down-block to front reverse-rotation & simultaneous inside-forearm-block (R hand) to the R side using reverse-rotation drive into front-stance (L leg still forward) counter-palm-thrust to groin & simultaneous sweep-defense face level to your R cheek

pull back L leg to high front-stance [moderate speed] down-block ready position (no power in execution)

Clearly, this combination has much to teach in the subtle and powerful use of the body and in timing.



@@Large Numbers of Techniques?


Yes, of course I agree that just trying to practice thousands of techniques, as is done in some schools, is not practical for sparring. However, just what is a technique? Should we see how many Shotokan techniques we might have, just _conservatively_ counting the combinations based on body dynamics? Let's see, just quickly, and I know I'm missing at least a factor of two here for some of the categories, even though there is some double-counting:

7 basic stances 4 basic hip dynamics 4 basic thrust kicks 4 basic snap kicks 3 basic sweeps 3 basic elbow 6 basic punches 5 basic hand surfaces for punches 2 basic strike-lock hand techniques 2 basic strike-snap hand techniques 7 basic hand surfaces for strikes 5 basic blocks 3 basic throws 4 basic joint techniques

I get over 200 million. I bet if I spent more than this 30 seconds, I could get over a billion.



In response to:

:You are talking combinations of these basic techniques are you not?
:Imagine how many combinations these guys with 2800-3000 techniques
:must have then?
:I'm not easily convinced that you would have to train these techniques
:in *ALL* of the combinations to be effective. Besides it's generally
:accepted here that not all (very few) techniques are going to
:be truly effective in a real situation. So I think you could trim
:this number down quite a bit if you were looking at strictly just an
:effective technique.
:But even if we have 200 million to work on in our lifetime, these
:other guys (with 2800-3000) must have 200 BILLION or more (I don't
:wanna do the math, that's why I'm a computer tech)

Yes, your point re the practicality of all these combinations is correct, and my numerology was to illustrate how ridiculous it can be to count the number of techniques once it gets past at least a few hundred. When dealing with such a large of objects, where they can be utilized within time spans even as short as tens of a second, it is obvious that one need only a large number of techniques which can be statistically sampled to extract what is reasonably required for a given situation.

I say that once you get into hundreds of techniques, they are in fact useless to you unless you have developed a reasonable "language" to access these techniques within tenths of a second. Learning body dynamics is one method, where only a few principles can quickly create or at least recreate reasonable techniques in short times. That is one of the strengths of shotokan training which emphasizes body dynamics instead of a long list of techniques. If you are training individual techniques, without understanding at the level of "body" language of any connectivity among these techniques, then I say you are wasting your time if you expect to draw upon any large fraction of these in sparring.

The human brain works this way. We can give selective attention to at most 5-9 auditory or 2-6 visual objects at a time. The reason we can think or perform many combinations of activities under conscious direction (which of course can tap many more potential activities stored but not at the moment under conscious control) is by having the ability to create many levels of abstraction, so some high-level abstraction can include and tap into many lower-level concepts. There are several reasonable ways of organizing karate body language for such purposes. I have found that training (not just citing) the physics of karate techniques can eventually give a reasonably minimal and complete set of abstract tools from which to spontaneously create or recreate techniques required in sparring, similar to how people everyday converse with each other in their native tongues.

I have said as much in karate85_book.txt in my archive:
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> UNTIL <<<< BELOW >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
For example, teaching a new student of a foreign language to memorize a list of vocabulary words does not really prepare him to converse, read, or write in that language. The sense of idioms, sentences, and paragraphs can be acquired by the trial and error experience of repeatedly attempting advanced activities with others already competent in the subject. This usually is a painful method, especially for an adult, to learn a foreign language. This particularly includes the body language of karate! In academics and the fine arts much research and experience is finally producing a curriculum that tends to do a better job in preparing students to engage in their future professions.

I believe that a good teaching method should have at least three constraints:

1. The method should teach the details of the subject correctly. In karate, this means that punches, kicks, blocks, and strikes should be properly presented, using correct stances, hip dynamics, and arm and leg coordination.

2. The method should also teach the process by which the person interacts with the subject. This is more subtle, but just as important. Short term memory, roughly measured by how many different items you can remember simultaneously, is typically limited to five to nine items. To a new student of a language, a single word may already measure a single item. However, an item can also be an individual concept, e.g., as might be expressed by an entire paragraph. If there are only a handful of basic principles (seven plus or minus two) which are fundamental to all techniques in the subject, the student can acquire these principles immediately. The objective of good teaching stresses fundamental principles that "package" information to be processed as fewer individual items. These individual items may be at extreme branches of connected information, but if there are basic principles that permit easy access to the branches, then many items are readily accessible.


It should not be surprising that basic principles exist in all disciplines, although it may not always be clear that there is one "best" set of such principles. A comprehensive set of principles consistent with the basic vocabulary can be quite abstract, but once learned, it offers the student a practical guide to perform spontaneously and creatively. This is why I am committed to principles of physics and attention, scientifically tested fundamental principles of body movement and perception, as the base on which to organize the basic techniques of karate.


You must also be able to possess some variation in your theme or attitude of sparring, to most aptly engage variations in opponents: small or large, fast or ponderous, smooth or stochastic. In Chapter Four, an organization of some important variations is developed using the basic elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Void. These principles are similar to those presented by Miyamoto Musashi in his The Book of Five Rings, originally written in the 17th century. However, when dealing with attitudes and themes of sparring, these concepts are not as well researched, nor may they ever be as well defined. They are equally important to learn to become creative and expressive in any discipline. Therefore, I am committed to principles that have evolved over the centuries and have been demonstrated as being workable. These time-tested principles permit a comprehensive adoption of all karate techniques that are not too abstract for the average student and that are few enough to be used flexibly and spontaneously by a person's short-term memory.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< FROM >>>> ABOVE <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Lester [To-Top-of-Karate-Topics]

@@Physics, Metaphysics, and PhDs


In reply to two posters (":" and ">" in the first column).

: Snapback, makes techniques look snappy. But where will the momentum go if
: you snap back? Golf, Base ball, Tennis, do they snap back? When you hit
: those balls, if you snap back the balls will not fly away well. Yes, they
: use snap, but they let the momentum keep going to the direction of target by
: follow through. Specially Ken-do practitioners think that this follow

No, momentum does not keep going by "follow through," but it of course must get transferred if the technique is to be effective. The concept of snap-back is best applied when the striking limb is meant to be as light as possible, to carry as much speed as possible, to the target. Snapping techniques also are useful in sparring during transitions, when there is little stance _or_ body momentum to support thrusting techniques, etc.

: Do not change the direction of momentum by snapping back. Let the
: momentum keep going forward for ZAN-SHIN.

You do not change the direction of momentum during focus into the target by snapping back, the same as a whip does not retreat from inflicting damage until just _after_ it's collision with its target. If you try to snap-back by purposely pulling back your techniques, then you are "pulling back" and not "snapping back." Snapping back should be the natural result of the technique being performed.

: Sports Karate cuts its momentum by snapping back because it looks like
: techniques have more snap, but there is no penetration of force lead by KI
: any further.

Agreed. Sports karate is in trouble; I hope the practitioners are crying all the way to their banks.

: I have many students with Ph.D. degrees. I presume they once had (probably
: even now) a dream for science and exploring new frontiers in their fields.
: But after they get their Ph.D. degree, they have tendency to try to
: understand everything with their limited fields or experience. So their
: progress in Karate is very slow compared to others. If you get a black belt
: degree from a group, you will have tendency to see things from that narrow
: field and often become blind to the rest of the world.

Different people can learn differently in different ways across many disciplines. If there are alternatives open to students, then they can choose the method they think is best for them. If they do not have a choice, or the knowledge to make a good choice, then this will not be ideal for them. A good teacher will try to deal with as many kinds of students as he/she is presented with, but I see nothing wrong with a teacher stating that his/her method of teaching is his/her own, and that the students should try as best as possible to adapt.

However, it seems a bit strange to blame slow learning by your PhD students because they question more than other students. Why don't you just tell them you don't want such questions during class (it seems you don't?), and that you may or may not be available afterwards to answer their queries?

I see no reason for you to try to teach differently, especially if you and your students believe that you are teaching effectively. However, I do not agree with the implication that teaching more "scientifically" by some other instructors is inferior to your own teaching methods. At least, I see no arguments that support that premise.

The explanations that followed are just wrong, as pointed out by XXX. At best they are metaphors for the uneducated. I do not diminish the importance of the skills they are intended to explain. In fact, I do not diminish the value some of these explanations might have to serve as even a (false) metaphysics to motivate students. However, at some stage we all realize there is no Santa Claus (I'm not sure about the Easter Bunny), and a better understanding should be imparted.

: What you said in that argument, some parts are very true, and many Japanese
: cannot say that way because of our customs. But I wish you do not become
: like my Ph.D. students and copy Ph.D. customs.

Just what is a PhD custom? I feel sorry for you if you have been cursed by some strange statistical sampling of PhDs that are all nerds or horrible people. However, I find the ratios of Saints to Sinners, and most other ratios in other categories, to be the same among most all groups of people, independent of their levels of education _or_ training.

> I don't have a problem with Zanshin, I have a problem with your > application of the term Zanshin to defending a physical action. > Leaving your heart in the technique after the technique is over and > leaving your hand hanging out with the moment of collision is over are > two distinct things. > > It is important to understand things scientifically.

I of course agree. False metaphysics may have a transitory benefit of gathering allegiance to a guru by his/her masses, but will not stand the test of time unless it attains the status of a religion that is specific to domains ruled by an Almighty.

> Your understanding of KI is rejected by most Japanese, though, isn't > it Mr. X? Just as most Americans believe that they have a soul that > will go somewhere when they die, this is a belief that is unprovable.

This is the domain of religion, as mentioned above. I often prayed some people would go away, but they didn't.

> Absolute religious rubbish.

Rubbish yes. However, let's be careful about religion. I believe in an Almighty universe, not a personalized God as given by formal religions, and I respect most of the phenomena they all try to make comprehensible to us Earthlings with our limited capabilities. If the intention is to call Ki an Almighty force, then this too is false metaphysics, and does Science, Religion, and Karate a disservice.



@@Ki vs Science


While I strongly disagree with many para-science descriptions of Ki, I have always taught that proper flows of force and momentum can be trained and are important for strong karate techniques.

I would not have taught this ever on the basis of my training in physics, but rather because of my training in karate. My training in physics after was _then_ helpful in articulating these ideas.




:As the very spirit of discovery dies and we hide our heads once again in
:the middle ages....XX2 who told you that "that which cannot be proven is
:not true or does not exist," you didn't get that out of a book, maybe you
:should look at quantum mechanics because by that admission it doesn't
:really exist (Heisenberg's uncertainty principle by any chance).

I've been following all this as long as I could, but now I'm out of cereal.

There are quite reasonable reproducible requirements for phenomena to be recognized as experimentally determined events. Ki fails these.

There are somewhat more sophisticated requirements to establish truth, a lot of which is not really concerned with older rigorous philosophical issues. That is, there are quite reasonable practical standards by which we view our world, albeit these are not set in stone, but these require some formal education to appreciate. Ki fails these too. An excellent reasonably rigorous text that deals with these "practical" issues is:
%A M. Jammer
%T The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics
%D 1974
%I Wiley & Sons
%C New York, NY

Here you can see how important a part of our truth is modeling of nature, which has lifted us from sheer empiricism. This also shows how hard it is to break paradigms to which we are accustomed. However, ki has not produced any evidence that merits any such investigations. Acupuncture did, and we learned and are still learning from this practice, and are bringing _some_ aspects of it into the scientific fold -- so far no magic!

This at the least puts XX1's comments above out of touch with quantum mechanics (no slight here, as this requires quite a bit of expertise in quite a narrow subject). While the subject of the deepest issues in quantum mechanics are not resolved, quantum mechanics is as much a part of rigorous Science as any other aspect.




In the context of stating that the mystical concept of ki is not scientifically defensible, which I too assert, to be fair we should not imply that the scientific method is _in practice_ 100% defensible, especially with respect to evolving interdisciplinary studies (where peer review is extremely weak and quite often subjective to an extreme) and to phenomena that are as yet outside the reach of good experimental data (such any rigorous neuronal basis for "consciousness").

There is an interesting debate among several letters and reply in the January 1997 issue of Physics Today, a monthly magazine that goes to members of the American Physical Society, where some of these issues are present, i.e., among established scientists. Yes, Science often depends heavily on consensus and on good data, which may be missing in many scientific disciplines.

The problem is that many people tend to see a defect in a system, e.g., Science, as cause for denying all tenants of that system, or as a way of slipping in their own pet theories or data without going through the same rigor as other tenants of that system.

So, Science is not perfect, but it better than sheer empiricism (just collecting all data in the world without any connectivity) or to mysticism (which anyone can believe in but not necessarily have any reproducible method of proving to others). Ki certainly falls in this latter category. Furthermore, mystical explanations of ki are indefensible as I believe any reproducible ki phenomena can be simply explained by our current Science quite well.




In reply to:
:>This at the least puts XX1's comments above out of touch with quantum
:>mechanics (no slight here, as this requires quite a bit of expertise in
:>quite a narrow subject). While the subject of the deepest issues in
:>quantum mechanics are not resolved, quantum mechanics is as much a part
:>of rigorous Science as any other aspect.
: I am no expert on these matters as you are, but I would have thought using
:Quantum Mechanics as a springboard, and considering the theories of XX2 and
:XX3 where a brain will construct our own realities from frequencies from a
:another dimension of time and space. In other words Holographic theory. I
:must admit I am influenced by XX4's work. ...
:Using this concept the door is thrown wide open here.

Sorry, but I think this is pretty much nonsense, in that the likelihood of consciousness having any direct basis in quantum mechanics is as improbable just as is any other really bad guess. Even bright people that propose these ideas are just playing with quantum theory, but they have made no effort to do their homework to investigate the nonlinear and noisy nature of neuronal interactions on the actual large scale at which consciousness most likely resides. The holographic theory in particular is really poor, as it requires the kind of linear coherence that is only contrived in machines, not the real brain.

Good Science requires the application of probable likelihood to make judgments on what is most likely true and what is most likely false. This is not religion.

I do not see any open doors here. This is like talking about ki as some mystical force, just because it sounds like a good idea, but without any rigorous efforts to either collect data or to work out the numbers of any realistic theory, not some theory that has nothing to do with the real brain.

It's this kind of reckless speculation that undermines public confidence in Science. I do not propose silencing people who have any ideas. Quite the contrary, when their noise level becomes high enough to infiltrate the press or when they start raking in lots of dough on their crap, then I'd like to see public debates among reputable scientists to cover all the details in public view.

If you are serious about this subject, see a few other reputable papers/books that have passed peer review that illustrate the nonsense in the quantum approach to consciousness. This won't stop people from crying that their ideas are not getting fair respect, but instead of crying they should do more homework.

I think that many non-mathematically inclined (as well as many so inclined) people do not put Science into a "reasonable" perspective. That is, when they hear there is room for doubt they think this means the door is wide open to all speculation. They should pause to consider whether they would drop 10K or 100K at Las Vegas, or whether they would take other financial or physical personal risks even when it is clear the odds are quite against them. Good Science helps to put extremely low odds on theories or data that it can call "false," and extremely high odds on theories or data it can call "true."

Did you believe XX5 really bent spoons with his mind? Quite a few smart "scientists" did, but only "good" scientists went to the source to look at the details (aided by a master expert magician and skeptic) and found the hoax. Do you still believe in bending spoons with your mind?

Were you fooled by the self-righteous integrity of XX6, even after it was discovered he spent taxpayer money for his own benefit (very clearly a no-no to all government employees)? Do you believe the incredible small odds of all the explanations of events that gave fodder to permit the XX7 jury to convince themselves they should acquit him?

Would you believe a guy with a Nobel prize in physics who now tells you to believe in quantum consciousness, even though he has not demonstrated to his own peers that he can measure or calculate anything about consciousness even with his superior talents and experience?

Just how far are you willing to accept non-expert opinions from people who may be expert in some fields but not in the field in question, or who profess one thing but practice quite another? Is it relevant to what their true experience or integrity is, or is it just important to you that they exposed you to an idea that you can choose to believe in or reject for your own reasons? Are you willing to put in the years of homework necessary to become expert enough to back up your ideas, if not to others at least to your own self be true?

The above circumstances call for a mix of varying degrees of science and judgment. Where do you draw the line? Do you take karate classes from a white belt who talks a good talk and seems to have good ideas, perhaps because she is a PhD in physiology or astrophysics, but clearly has no tested experience in karate? Does your instructor just wear a black belt but really is a white belt in disguise?




I am not stating my own preferences, but giving examples where it is clear that just about everyone knows someone who would take either side of any of these examples. However, the scientific approach would certainly weigh most heavily on specific sides, while taking a popular vote might go either way.

To make their case for ki, many people drag in terms from other sciences as metaphors, borrowing terms/jargon from one discipline to give give unwarranted support to "convince" people in other disciplines of their ideas. The point here is that saying these words is not sufficient. Actual technical work must be performed. This is true in all disciplines, just like karate! In the context of this forum, we have seen how the reduction of technical information to a few phrases has left many inquiring students in a lurch about martial arts. Real knowledge requires real work.

If you are willing to accept an expert's opinion on a subject, then yes of course a short popular summary is preferable for educating public awareness. What if you hear different "expert" opinions? Well, then _you_ have to do more work to figure out your acceptable answer if it's important to you. My point is that I see citings of well-written texts of well-known people that are garbage because the authors did not offer any technical support at the level that is present in the actual disciplines they paraphrased and trivialized by metaphors -- just as I see here re "ki."

I often see the same kind of approach being taken to discussions on karate per se. Some people do not like mention of physics of karate, etc., and similarly many people do not want to be immersed in the "details" in any subject. That is their choice. However, when someone starts quoting nebulous sources and hearsay as evidence for concepts like ki, that indeed can make a difference in the way people train, then I think it's appropriate for other people to point out the reality of what is required to believe in such ideas as the same level of rigor as ideas that are put into other technical efforts.

Yes, I already have stated and agree with the gaps of current knowledge, but this does not give license to anyone to insert any wacko idea to fill the void. We certainly should not spend lots of time and funds on ideas that cannot meet reasonable criteria to establish that they can be tested, so that the outcome can be fairly judged. This does not exclude high-risk ideas, as long as the risk can be reasonably described and estimated. I even believe it extremely likely that there is some kind of "life" that most people would agree is "life" on other planets in some far-away galaxies, but this does not influence my judgments on what I think humans are capable of on this planet Earth.

Large-scale funding is not given to ki, for which you cry out, in spite of _thousands_ of years of hearsay evidence, because it cannot muster up the details sufficient to make its case.

I have worked professionally with many people who have ideas on mental force akin to ki, but who have brought their own expertise and experiences to the table; I respect them and can work with them. I can't see discussing such ideas with someone who runs to the most convenient name in a book index to support his argument.




Here, I think the thought processes behind these kinds of proposals of ki are indeed relevant to karate. Just what is reasonable to teach and still be called a viable school? I find it ironic that many times the same schools that are "fundamentalists" with respect to holding on to antiquated techniques also are the most radical in teaching concepts that have essentially zero content and support. It seems they take either extreme just to avoid dealing with current ideas and ideas that are open to testing and question. This is what I am arguing against. This effects real training of real students; it is not hypothetical. This has little if anything to do with having an "open mind," and does not call for any vows of allegiance to any contorted sense of absolute truth from any sides of these issues.



I think my training and insights lack some of the context that could be imparted by a deeper sense of the history of karate. I might disagree with your relative weighting of this history, but I do not deny its importance.

However, I do not accept all my instructors and training partners were as ignorant as me about this history. I do not think that the lack of concentrated study of this history and philosophy reflects any superficiality of the knowledge of Karate per se, just as I do not think that the lack of concentrated study of Western history and philosophy of Science reflects any superficiality of the knowledge of Science per se.

I think the main loss suffered from the lack of such concentrated study is the depth of appreciation of history and philosophy per se. In fact I did take out a few years for such study, but it was self-study which in fact was a lot more superficial without the guidance of a good instructor than my self-studies in Karate and Science which I could undertake and self-test with relative ease -- it's hard to "test" philosophy, one of the weakest areas of such a discipline.




In reply to:
:: I think I understand the concepts of "no contact" and "light contact,"
:: but what, exactly does "full contact" mean?
:: I suspect it means different things to different people, so I'd
:: appreciate it if a few practitioners could explain what *they* mean by
:: the term.
:The term "full contact" has been debased by some martial arts in
:an effort to create an image of macho sparring intensity. To me,
:full contact means you hit as hard as you are capable of hitting,
:holding nothing back. The target may be limited in practice to
:specified areas or padding, but the intensity of the blow is unrestrained.

I agree, and would like to add that the concept of controlling focus of techniques is important in these contexts.

Too often it is not appreciated that "focus" is a well-trained method of maximizing momentum of techniques, often trading off mass for speed depending on the nature of the target, to maximize the effectiveness of techniques. This leads to maximum power of techniques within small regions of space, millimeters, and short intervals of time, tenths of a second. Without well-developed focus, the efficiency of techniques is drastically minimized. Often "full contact" degenerates into poorly focussed, "pushing," techniques that in fact would be poor applications in self-defense situations.

Perhaps ironically, the training of proper focus also permits the training of proper timing and self-defense attitudes under quite safe even if tough sparring conditions, albeit only under extremely disciplined training environments often avoided by the impatient. Well-trained individuals can spar very hard without pads and without injuries (most of the time) by focusing their techniques just on the skin, instead of inside their opponent's bodies.



@@Mental Correlates of Focus


In 1968, after several months of Instructor training, I knew I still wasn't getting anything close to good "focus." I always spent the few available hours not in class or in sleep going over how I could best change my physical, mental, and emotional approaches. One night I decided I would try to mentally place myself about equidistant from my body and the target, as a kind of objective viewer of the world, permitting only a vestige of ego such that in all relevant cases my own body was to try to win over the environment. (I found this concept/approach to sparring to always be extremely useful since then.) The next day, I started our thousand-plus counter-punch warm-ups with this concept. I.e., when I heard the count for each counter-punch, I would (mentally) short-circuit that sound to trigger my own (not my instructor's) command to control my own fate/counter-punch (as I had generally practiced since my beginning days in 1958), but now my counter-punch was the act of unifying my punch with the target instantaneously. (Of course, with more training, I soon discovered plenty of time-space in such moments, and then I had to train harder and longer to smooth out such "instants.") The difference was truly incredible! In fact, the only day of that year, my instructors were so impressed they shortened the class period. My body movement was so new and powerful, that a few hours later I was in the UCLA Emergency room, as my body had completely cramped up. Luckily, I was in great shape, and like all injuries that time of my life, "healing"/toleration was rapid, and I returned for night class.



@@Training No-Mind


The issue is how to train people in more than just physical techniques.

Some instructors rely on trying to substitute a karate technique reaction to the stimulus that previously elicited the non-productive reaction.

I think this doesn't make for the best defense reactions, or for advanced karate sparring. People have to learn to think on their feet as well, especially in most situations where emotions are driving most of their reactions.

Some other instructors try to simply substitute training one emotion to mask/replace another. E.g., simple combat basics: instill/install (false) confidence to get everyone to charge with their bayonets to take out the machine gun at the top of the hill. A lot of karate classes do this with a lot of "oooses" and "rah, rah, let's go"!

I think part of any core curriculum must teach people to enhance their attentional processes. My courses, e.g., with simple illustrative examples given in my '76 and '81 books, did just that. When people learn that they can cut off emotional states (too long-lived and inflexible, not to mention usually inappropriate) by focussing in on paying proper attention to their own bodies in synchrony with their opponent(s)'s movements, they are on the road to learning their physical techniques in ***parallel** with these attentional skills.

I.e., they have to learn these physical and attentional skills as packages, not as isolated separate workouts and discussions over beer. Otherwise, you produce better physical development without developing better attentional skills -- the talented stay talented, the untalented still react the same way but with stronger techniques!




From: Lester Ingber <ingber@ingber.com>
X-URL: https://www.ingber.com/
Reply-To: Lester Ingber <ingber@ingber.com>
Organization: Physical Studies Institute LLC

:I have only had the experience of launching a technique without
:thinking and actually have it do something once. I'll never forget
:that day, and I have never recreated it. I think that this line of
:thinking about kumite is OK for some people, though not universally
:useful. In another post, XXX, you mentioned hypnotism not working on
:some people, and I agree with that, too. I think the two effects are
:similar. ...
:It is POSSIBLE to condition people this way, but all people so
:conditioned inevitably go to jail for murder or battery. Conditioned
:responses are inferior in more ways than uncontrolled releases of
:violence. ...
:As far as the legend of NO MIND (mushin) goes, I'll say what my
:favorite professor used to say, "Liberals speak of the union of body
:and mind. There is no such thing. The body contains the mind always,
:and they are always one. When they are not, the clinical term for
:this new condition is 'death'."
:The same is true of no-mind. If you cease to think, you cease to
:move. There is no such thing as Zen, and every move I have ever made
:in kumite, victor or loser, was a carefully planned, conscious choice
:with no reaction or reflexivity whatsoever. I win just enough to be
:convinced that even if there were such an ability, I don't need it. I
:lose just enough to certain kinds of people to realize that even if I
:had it, I would still lose that that kind of person.
:There is no Mushin. Call it Fu-Mushin (no such thing as No-Mind) and
:count me in as XXX as being a Kyu rank.

I disagree with the low or nil role you give to what can be included in the term No-Mind. I realize that this can cover insight from aliens, but I do not mean that. I mean the role of subconscious, albeit programmed activity.

In sparring, often decisions on patterns of movement/intent perceived and to be executed must be made on order of tenths of a second, within reflex times. There is not time for planning, since before the planning stage would be over, the action must have been performed. Of course, with lots of practice, and against inferior opponents, there often is time to make reasonable guesses as to what an opponent might do, and so there is lots of time to plan. This is not usually true against a peer.

The role of setting up your subconscious to make a reasonable decision can be experienced in the manner in which I often taught combinations. If an intense session of 15-30 minutes is given to practicing several variations of a pattern of movement, e.g., two-person combinations, then immediately after students are placed in semi-free sparring situations which are designed to call for something like such combinations to be used, then the best or a reasonable alternative is usually used in the latter context. This is not true if the students are first just thrown in the semi-free sparring situation. The semi-free sparring situation can be made demanding enough so that no "planning" can be performed.

An expert in sparring does not have to first physically rehearse such alternatives, but can often just imagine some reasonable context at the moment that will enhance the chances that one of a class of reactions is ready to perform, e.g., bring up a set of patterns within short-term memory storage ready for use. I claim that planning any specific move in free sparring is as often detrimental as just relying on a single-technique reflex to some unknown attack from behind.

I have had similar experiences in trying to solve hard problems in research. Many times, after weeks or months or frustration, I have programmed myself to be concerned with the problem before going to sleep or while going on to something else. When this (lack of) effort was strongly applied, very often the solution, or a viable approach to the solution, would emerge within the day.

I also have often demonstrated the knack of "solving" very hard hand problems, like blocks of wires puzzles that have to be manipulated into some solution. I have surprised many people (and myself every time as well), by not looking or thinking about the puzzle, talking to distract myself, while my hands were busy feeling around for solutions. This activity is quite stressful, as I cannot predict if it will work or not, and I do not feel that I have any control on the outcome!

My explanation is that when faced with a complex problem, e.g., because of abstract or time constraints as in sparring, conscious thought, which I loosely associate with selective attention constrained by well known rules of short-term memory capacity and duration, may exclude some vital regions of the best solution space. In such circumstances, if one has done one's "homework" in prior training very hard to master tools that can be useful, it is often most useful to trust one's intuition, and keep the mind clear ready for the solution to appear.

I do not think what I have described is the same as training your mind to run on empty! However, as you train more and more, and have better and stronger tools readily available to immediately bring up to working conscious memory, you can trust your intuition more and more, and not use conscious "planning" in situations where it cannot be realistically applied.

Note that I avoid using popular "right-brain/left-brain" references as I think these are too simplistic and can be misleading. That is, just about all complex activity in normal brains requires both parts of the brain. With training, many people can use either side of the brain either way, of course still limited by well-known constraints of specific processing areas like speech formation, etc.



@@Outside- and Inside-Tension Stances


Here is a reply to a query on the stability of stances.


The one word "stability" is misleading, since it should take into account the forces on the stance.

Front stance is very stable to forces from the front. Angular side stance is moderately stable to forces from any direction, but for example clearly not as strong to forces from the front as front stance. Stability against the ground shaking perhaps is another kind of stability, and there the points you raise about the center of gravity are more appropriate.

Inside-side tension stances must also be considered. At the equivalent angles of similar outside-tension stances, they are not as stable against forces pushing on them from an opponent, though they may be more stable to forces pulling from an opponent. Also, inside-tension stances have other purposes, e.g., generally associated with generating smoother generation of torso momentum than their associated outside-tension stances.

In a strong stance, in general, I do not think the issue of center of gravity is often as important as the strength of the tensions across the body, which should be more important than just the center of gravity. So, even in front stance, it is possible to more stable against a pull from the front or a push from the back, when compared to an angular side stance.

Also, dynamic stability must be considered. Too often stress on technique is given to static stances, when in fact in most actual fighting the body is in motion. Then, stability and strength of issues and must be considered in the context of the generation of power and the focus of power on the opponent, while controlling one's own momentum, which of course may refer to two completely stances during short but important instances while in motion when power is first being generated and then focused.

Also, if the power method is (snap-)striking, versus thrusting, the stance on focus is not as important, since the momentum transferred to the arm or leg as the projectile is the main issue on focus.

Also, momentum into the target on focus can easily apply additional force, or compensate for reaction forces, so that stance on focus here also may not be as great an issue.


> Lester, I have a question for you about stance. Nakayama said in his book
> that the stability of a stance is directly proportional to the square area
> encompassed by the stance. This would mean that zenkutsu is more stable
> than kokutsu. However if you analyze sochin dachi and zenkutsu dachi, the
> square area is the same, but I feel more stable in sochin dachi. Is it
> that your center of gravity in sochin, because of the weight distribution
> will now fall more in the center of the square area that makes it more
> stable, as opposed to zenkutsu where because of more weight distribution
> on the front foot will result in your center of gravity being thrown more
> forward, less centered and less stable??



Yes, for many people who do not have a "natural" athletic sense of movement, bobbing the head is a core source of the problem in smoothly stepping.

The head bobs because of reaction forces when the upper body is lurching with different forces and reaction forces to compensate for lack of driving forces from the stance. Of course even if the stance is properly driving the body, the student often still must learn to relax the upper torso unless and until it is part of a focused technique into the target.

Especially for "classical" instructional purposes, stepping from a front-stance to a front-stance is best effected by starting with the legs pushing out. When the front leg changes to pulling in (inside-tension feeling), at that moment both legs contribute to forces driving the body forward. The front leg continues to pull the body until the legs cross, at which point it changes to an outside-tension feeling to push the body into the next stance.

Now, I often see that the first transition, from changing the front leg to pulling in from pushing out, to continue pulling the body forward, can be quite a jolt and not developed smoothly. This tends to cause extra unnecessary forces and reaction forces in the body to compensate, as well as to unfortunately telegraph the intended motion to an opponent.

I have experimented a bit with starting in a "softer" front stance, wherein more even tensions are across the legs, keeping all legs muscles relatively more sensitive to initiating a motion -- e.g., ready for an inside-tension or an outside-tension execution. This seems to have the desired effect of having a smoother start, and a total faster step into the full technique. The smoother start will help avoid "head bobbing" as well.

An extreme example is to just note that many athletes -- in martial arts as well other physical disciplines -- continually bounce on both feet in preparation to initiating a full technique. This keeps all possible tensions "active," ready to move in several directions. The tradeoff -- relative to "classic" karate techniques, is that a relatively weaker slower single technique is executed, than by using the standard methodology I describe (and modified) above.

For what it's worth, my opinion is that students should be instructed classically first -- until black belt levels -- after which they should be prompted to explore variations more suitable to their own body strengths and weaknesses, and to fill in more subtle gaps to spar more effectively.

The key control in advanced sparring is more to control movement, than initiate movement as is the case for classical training. For example, beginners spend more actual real time in stance than in motion, whereas advanced students should be training so that they spend more actual real time in motion than being relatively still in stances.

This is relevant the present thread, as "corrections" and improvements to movements may be reasonably handled differently by the instructor, depending on the level of the student. In other words, the initial awkward start of a step might be "covered" by jumping around like a frog, without ever addressing the technical corrections that might be made in the transitions of a complex movement. I favor teaching beginners the latter first.




:>I have experienced the same. Outside tension stances are crap in the
:>water...but the inside tension stances work. Neat, huh? We'd need a
:>civil engineer or an architect to tell us why.

These are interesting points. I too emphasize the differences between inside- and outside-tension stances, e.g., when teaching combinations as in IIB-5. Stance Combinations in my 1981 text karate81_book.txt.

However, I think that there are at least complementary points to those you present which should be considered. Consider the basic use of each stance:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> UNTIL <<<< BELOW >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Exercise IB-3

c. SIDE-STANCE. The front-stance is easiest for beginners to learn because it faces forward and because the back leg directly pushes the hip forward via the reaction force from the ground. This is a familiar feeling when walking or running. The side-stance is somewhat more subtle.

The distance between the feet is the same in the side-stance as in the front-stance. The tension across the legs and hips allows the body to deliver power to either side. In the side-stance, the knee and lower leg (actually the smooth curve inside and across the knee) push out, and the floor pushes back. When doing side-stance, be sure to keep the outside of the feet parallel and the hips tucked in. An outward circular tension exerted around each thigh will keep the back and inside of each leg tense and drive the hips forwards.

Exercise IB-6

f. HALF-MOON-STANCE. This is the inside-tension analogue of the outside-tension angular-side-stance. The distance between the feet is the same as in angular-side-stance. The back ankle is turned in almost forward, and each knee is pulled towards the inside of the opposite ankle. More correctly, smooth curves of tension pull towards each other, from the soles of the feet up to the imaginary extensions of the legs meeting at the solar plexus. Be sure the hips are tucked under to lock these two tensions together.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< FROM >>>> ABOVE <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Outside-tension stances generally have a "locking" quality to the angles which they present to the ground and to the body joints; they are best used for sharp generation of power. However, inside-tension stances have more flexibility and are not so sharply defined; e.g., the angles of "smooth curves" of tension described above are quite loosely defined, dependent on the forces applied all along the foot-to-hip lines, etc.

For example, in the context of Sec. IIB-5, when side-shifting with the right back foot of front-stance to the right-back corner, it usually is best to focus a technique from another outside-tension stance. However, when circle-shifting with the same leg around to the left-back corner, it usually helps balance and control of the next technique to take an inside-tension stance.

I suggest these considerations also are important for the phenomenon you have observed.

As I have said previously, I think creative combinations are most often better vehicles to train points in patterns of movement than most older basic exercises. However, I think that all basic kata and stances should be taught to students. The question of the utility of all basic stances and kata I think is best dealt with in terms of their priority and frequency in training.

I have said that kata at least present formal exercises to help standardize/judge movements across different schools. This is not a bad reason at all. Kata also present students with exercises they can safely practice themselves with criteria reasonably clear to guide them for correct execution of movements, etc.

The case for inside-tension stances is quite clear. Many students have difficulty becoming aware and controlling especially the back and inside leg muscles, as well abdominal control, etc. Inside-tension stances definitely are helpful exercises here. Also, as I have stressed in my own courses and texts, even a simple step-in-punch requires aspects of both inside- and outside-tension stances during the course of its execution. This is true of many major dynamic body motions.

For example, I have seen terrible students, e.g., green-belt and brown-belt level, in schools taught by well-recognized instructors that would have had many improper techniques remedied by a broader training in inside- as well as outside-tension stances. Indeed, I've been shocked to see how awful some students flail in such classes, while other students who have learned to mimic their teachers look a lot better; a clear case of lousy teaching by instructors who have forgotten their own fine training. We need more publication of teaching material (as we have in many other disciplines for similar reasons!) to help teachers select among alternative methods of teaching to help their own students.




XX2 wrote:
:XX1 wrote:
:#* It destroys the outside-tension nature of the stance, and leads the
:#front knee inward, as well as pulling the back leg inward for the
:#wrong tensions - making hip rotation impossible to master.
:This is not necessarily true - hip rotations can be mastered with inside
:tension stances as well (witness Hangetsu). The hips rotate quite freely with
:inside tensions stances, and somewhat more easily than with outside tensions.

I have too often heard people complain that low stances and strong techniques lead to damage to joints. Just exercising a lot will lead to wear on joints; that is a choice to make. However, proper training goes beyond considering the body as sticks and stones. Good stances and good dynamic techniques flow along arches of tensions across joints, and do not necessarily insult the joints. Furthermore, to produce powerful techniques to flow into targets, such arches are necessary.

The proper use of inside-tension stances is such an example. Here, the stance requires a more sophisticated use of tensions since the structural guide to tensions offered by outside-tension stances is not as apparent.



@@Kata vs Combinations


My take on good bunkai/applications of kata is that, in most cases, this is more a testimony to the instructor's/creator's creativity, than any reflection on "hidden" (or, in many cases, even "implied") meaning in the kata per se. It is more like using some basic idioms and vocabulary (in the kata) to create new phrases in conversation (bunkai). The meaning of the new phrases are not really implied by the basic idioms and vocabulary. It certainly is important to have an understanding of the basics/kata to create new phrases/bunkai.



In the correspondence below, XXX is saying that most if not all we have to know and learn about karate is in the traditional kata -- 26 in Shotokan karate. I do not agree, but XXX is a smart high-ranking karate Instructor and I value his opinion.


We clearly have different weights given to different aspects of karate, but I truly appreciate the openness and frankness of this discussion. I also appreciate your stress on the importance that can be given to at least some kata based on the fighting experience of their creators. I do not believe that was stressed strongly enough in my own training, although once in awhile some information was dropped about a particular piece of a kata.

I would encourage some people going for their 4th, 5th or 5th Dan levels, that require a thesis as part of their exam, to develop and publish a text based on the history of the all the basic Shotokan kata. I think this would be difficult but very important. They would likely have to tap the memories of some Instructors who sort of remember what their Instructors were sort of told from their Instructors, to piece together some credible accounts of the development of all 26 kata.


> Hi Lester, I never thought that you did not think katas are important. You
> have the body of a martial artist and you look like a man who is still
> hard at training; especially kata. I have always admired your karate
> career; even before I actually met you.------XXX
>> P.S.:
>> Obviously I think the kata are important. I do them all at least once a
>> week.
>> Lester
>>> XXX:
>>> New combinations -- that's what I call them, not kata -- are typically
>>> made from standard techniques. Most standard techniques taught in most
>>> Shotokan classes are in the kata. Of course, only recently have round
>>> kicks been added, and lots of hand techniques even in Nishiyama's and
>>> Nakayams's first books are not in the kata. Also, I do not believe that
>>> all the kata in fact were derived from fighting experiences -- just
>>> doing the kata shows that would be quite a stretch.
>>> So, we are not taking about really inventing new techniques on a daily
>>> basis. What is left are the patterns and combinations within the kata.
>>> Everyone admits that not all kata techniques are for self-defense, and
>>> that many are there to stress some body feeling or to provide
>>> transitions to other techniques. Many of the kata techniques were
>>> against or with weapons, so these are not necessarily the best to use
>>> without weapons (timing and distance issues are important, etc.). Many
>>> of the kata techniques clearly are for education of beginning students.
>>> I do not see that creating new combinations that stress situations not
>>> fully covered in the kata -- again using "standard" techniques -- cannot
>>> but improve fighting abilities, in contrast to only studying kata and
>>> there bunkai. Furthermore, I do not think that just practicing bunkai --
>>> typically 1-2 techniques at a time -- provides as much fighting training
>>> as performing 2-person combinations.
>>> Lester
>>>> Lester, For what it's worth, here are my thoughts. The traditional
>>>> katas that were handed down to us by the masters include techniques
>>>> that were tested on the battle field in life and death situations. The
>>>> mere idea that these masters were able document their techniques
>>>> through the katas meant they survived the encounters. I am sure many
>>>> other techniques were used in life and death situations by some martial
>>>> artists who unfortunately did not survive their encounters; as a result
>>>> they were not around long enough to pass on any techniques. I would
>>>> hate to have to put trust in new katas knowing that their sequence of
>>>> movements were never tested in life and death situations, and because
>>>> we live in such a civilized society, it is hardly likely that
>>>> sufficient encounters of such would take place that would warrant the
>>>> formation of a new kata. As Nakayama said--It would take a lifetime to
>>>> just master the basic 15 kata and we have approximately 26 katas in
>>>> Shotokan karate.It looks like I might need another lifetime just to
>>>> even get the feeling for any new katas.
>>>>> XXX:
>>>>> Some further thoughts on traditional kata:
>>>>> I do not believe that any viable mental or physical or religious
>>>>> discipline has not benefited from considering new ideas and additions
>>>>> to their own "rituals," although clearly this can take longer in some
>>>>> disciplines than in others. Even Newton and Einstein have had
>>>>> corrections made to their work. Just looking at physical disciplines,
>>>>> including all major dance forms, it is clear that the best schools
>>>>> regularly teach new combinations to stress new as well as old themes
>>>>> and movements. I have found that too many Shotokan teachers
>>>>> unfortunately do not bother to regularly develop new creative
>>>>> combinations.
>>>>> Of course, different schools of karate -- Goju Ryu, Shito Ryu,
>>>>> Sankudo, Kyokushinkay, Shorin Ryu Shotokan, Wado Ryu, Shotokai, etc.,
>>>>> all have kata quite different variations of Shotokan karate. Do we
>>>>> really believe that **only** Shotokan karate kata has all the
>>>>> necessary and sufficient movements and combinations necessary to learn
>>>>> all of karate? I think NOT.
>>>>> Even if anyone wishes to consider his Shotokan karate a religion, with
>>>>> kata being its own catechims, as with all major religions, catechisms
>>>>> themselves most certainly do not delve into the depths of these
>>>>> religions. Many volumes are required to deal with circumstances not
>>>>> covered explicitly in their bibles and interpretations of explicit
>>>>> passages still are required.
>>>>> As an aside, note the comments I have made in file
>>>>> https://www.ingber.com/karate.html the Section

>>>>> @@Kicking Form Keri No Kata :

>>>>> I would only add some cap on further exalting ourselves above previous
>>>>> artists. After all, pioneers in any discipline are just that --
>>>>> pioneers -- and this often implies tearing at the walls of
>>>>> conservatism (a good thing, to "filter" out the noise of everyone that
>>>>> thinks they are a pioneer :>)), as well as getting ripped apart by the
>>>>> conservative establishment (a nuisance at best and death at worst).
>>>>> Let's give credit where credit is due. They would have been quite
>>>>> miserable teachers if we could not be led to improve on their own
>>>>> work!
>>>>> I would rather prefer to say that we appreciate the value of openness
>>>>> in the creative peer process -- putting it all out there for
>>>>> critique-- while our predecessors (in many disciplines) preferred to
>>>>> only give out remnants of their finished products, cheating us of
>>>>> learning more of the creative process itself.
>>>>> Lester
>>>>>> Hi Lester, Hope all is well. I have been pretty busy since I returned
>>>>>> to YYY. Keep doing your research on Karate technique, your
>>>>>> contribution to the art is priceless and future generation karatekas
>>>>>> will reap the benefits of it.-----Sincerely--XXX
>>>>>>> XXX:
>>>>>>> I agree that traditional kata should remain just that --
>>>>>>> traditional. They help to preserve the style and a common language
>>>>>>> across generations.
>>>>>>> If someone has some new ideas for kata, that's great. They can make
>>>>>>> up their own combinations or kata, etc. Just leave the traditional
>>>>>>> kata as traditional.
>>>>>>> Lester
>>>>>>>> XXX1, What should be also pointed out is that many of today's
>>>>>>>> karatekas have taken liberties in making up their own kata. This is
>>>>>>>> very disrespectful to the memories of past traditional masters and
>>>>>>>> borders on being sacreligious. The masters of the past did a
>>>>>>>> fantastic job in covering good body kinetics in all of the various
>>>>>>>> traditional kata. There are enough traditonal katas that will take
>>>>>>>> a lifetime to master. Why the need for new kata? Is it to massage
>>>>>>>> their own ego or is it that the jump in Unsu etc, is to difficult;
>>>>>>>> so rather than practicing diligently they cop out an invent a form
>>>>>>>> with no meaning or substance. Also it should be noted that as you
>>>>>>>> age while kumite training may tax the body considerably, kata can
>>>>>>>> still be practiced by those well into their 80's and beyond e.g.
>>>>>>>> Funakoshi. The elderly can still reap benefits of flexibility,
>>>>>>>> coordination, cardiovascular training, bone density maintenance and
>>>>>>>> relief of stress in the sanctuary of kata.-------------take care
>>>>>>>> --XXX



The following is an outline of a recent class I prepared.

The introduction covers:
Language is more than a list of words.
Interactive conversation is more than reciting sentences and paragraphs.

Karate language is a body language, not a visual or verbal language.
Beginners learn karate vocabulary as sets of individual "planted" techniques.

Advanced interactive karate language is free-sparring.
Sparring language is mostly dynamic in motion, with spots of planted techniques.

Combinations bridge gap between individual techniques and dynamic connections between techniques.
Two-person combinations bridge gap between individual combinations/kata and free-sparring -- must adjust timing and distance adaptively, while "feeling" both your body and your opponents at the same time.

Learn to do all combinations/kata like sparring with imaginary & tougher opponents.

I teach an easy two-person combination:
N Default
S Default

N front-snap kick stomach
S step back two-hand sweep

N step into punch face (R)
S short-step back up-block

NE side-step (R) leaning front-stance reverse-inside block stomach (L,N)
S drive into counter-punch stomach

N round-snap kick stomach (L)
SW back-leg (R) circle shift circle shift to back-stance two-hand counter-sweep

N (L) leg back to feet close, (R) leg back & drive into counter-punch stomach (R) K!
S side-step (L) & drive into counter-strike-snap face (R) K!

I have developed this two-person combination to be taught easier than my usual two-person combinations: Each side can be taught separately with repetitions. Some explanation of each technique and of transitions between techniques helps to develop the idea of karate being a dynamic and adaptive language.

When the students then face each other, they do repetitions each taking the same side of the sparring. This combination is set up so they come back to about the same starting positions. Then they change sides with more repetitions.

In advanced two-person combinations, I have the sides switched after each set of combinations. This is harder to learn and harder to perform interactively since they have to constantly switch thinking and feeling both sides of the sparring -- just like free-sparring. Yes, I still enjoy tormenting their powers of attention :)!

When I was teaching regularly, even green belts soon were able to learn my 10-12-step one-person and two-person combinations quite quickly, of course with varying degrees of proficiency depending on their ranks. I taught new combinations every class. I had over 5000 of these written down at one time, and I lost those papers along with a couple of thousand pounds of papers during one of our many moves.



In my experiences, just as you start to think you're finally learning more and more, you usually can see some "inner dynamics" which leads to a sort of "less is more" sense of the discipline.

This isn't just senile prattle, which it might be if I didn't already explicitly start training this way in mind back in 1958 (too young to be senile!). Some years later I enjoyed some conversations with Nishiyama and Okazaki on similar subjects.

Hard and long practice of many combinations of many techniques can be developed as regular training towards deeper understanding of say stance, hand and leg techniques, hip power generation, on to timimg with different opponents, affective overlays to fighting styles, etc., to a point where you can feel comfortable in a "natural stance" (Void), confident that you can spontaneously create techniques as required, drawing from the tree of techniques you have built over the years. It doesn't hurt that this kind of training motivates/"tricks" students into putting in the typically required one million or so techniques to reach acceptable high performance.

It's more like being comfortable talking to someone or yourself in paragraphs of a common language, confident you can come up with the words (i.e., techniques) as required to fill out the ideas you wish to convey. Yes, you do need to develop a reasonable vocabulary of words or techniques, but to be useful you also have to learn to think and move fluidly in the language, beyond mere recital of common idioms.

I don't think most people can get much depth in a discipline by just practicing rote exercises, without some internal or external pressure to be challenged to to go deeper into other physical and mental nuances of the subject. I think it's not only arrogant but incorrect to think that you can learn deeply without having your art or science tested in more and more demanding environments.

In this context, I do not believe on just piling on more techniques in training, but rather to present many instances within training combinations of common body themes that may have many creative variations. This is what I think can be most useful in self-defense.




Subject: Re: 10 principles of kata

I prefer to view kata as formalized patterns of movement created by generally top experts. I would simply accept one to perhaps a few interpretations of the "meaning" of these movements, and prefer taking the simplest interpretation wherever possible.

That is, kata are not God-given, and the energy and time an Instructor might put into esoteric interpretations most often could be better spent creating combinations to stress the point(s) to be made. While this requires reasonably high levels of training and creativity of the Instructor, I think the results usually are much better than straining to achieve similar results from just kata practice/interpretation.

I do not imply that the kata should be junked, not at all. They form an important set of exercises and body of knowledge developed by other experts, and at the least afford one standard measure of performance across different schools.

So, while I generally agree with the comments made by XXX, XXX and XXX re kata, I have my own emphasis which is to consider combination training on an equal footing with the "usual" basics, kata and sparring training across all Kyu and most Dan levels. My own experience is that combinations of 8-12 techniques with 3-4 sub-patterns is a good length to get across most points.

I believe these constraints are "natural" too, as I've mentioned in my karate texts, and discussed as well in terms of specific attention exercises. Short-term, or "working," memory is generally considered to have limits of "chunking" up to 7 +- 2 for auditory memory, but is 4 +- 2 for visual chunks, the sensory medium likely used by many people in karate. I don't claim I invented all this, but rather I developed karate-specific exercises to help teach this in class settings.

In my archive I have a couple of relevant paper. One deals with how these ideas were tested in a UCSD Extension set of courses.
%A L. Ingber
%T Editorial: Learning to learn
%J Explore
%V 7
%P 5-8
%D 1972
%O URL https://www.ingber.com/smni72_learning.pdf
Another paper documents how, working with a bunch of dedicated people, I extended these ideas from my karate exercises to an entire academic curriculum.
%A L. Ingber
%T Attention, physics and teaching
%J Journal Social Biological Structures
%V 4
%P 225-235
%D 1981
%O URL https://www.ingber.com/smni81_attention.pdf



@@Value of Kata



Yes, I agree that the beginning of nijushiho could be applied this way.

My feeling on such applications, if they are actually useful in combat -- which I agree this one is -- can of course be motivated by other ideas/bofy feeling without having to necessarily invoke a specific kata. On the other hand, many sets of movements in kata clearly can be interpreted as motivating many other kinds of combat applications.

At some point, while much of kata can be usefully examined to teach combat applications, I do not believe that even all 26 basic kata should be interpreted as some kind of definitive karate encyclopedia. While most kata movements should be understood and taught with some applications in mind, I do not think that too much should be read into the minds of the creators of kata -- that they have envisioned practically all applications.

Instead, I view kata much the same as movement forms arise in many physical disciplines, ranging from classical and modern dance to meditative disciplines. I think they are best appreciated and studied as important styles to maintain the discipline, similar to a set of good basic vocabulary and idioms of a good language, and they serve to encourage creative expressions in applications, like spontaneous conversations -- as I have discussed previously. I think true combat against strong worthy opponents requires such spontaneous creative expression, not relying of trying to repeat phrases from kata per se.

I understand and respect that you give greater weight to kata than I do. As I said previously, I certainly still regular train with kata.




See the 2009_10_24 addition to the Section
@@Kata vs Combinations.


: Within the shotokan kata are all the locks etc., that you
: could wish for. What ever is in a different style, ju-jitsu, aikido etc.,
: can be found in kata if you know what to look for.

I agree. The kata offer a lot, but only if the interpretations are actively practiced.

: Unfortunately, too few shotokaners are willing to try another art to
: compliment their own and so they don't recognise this..

I agree, but results vary depending on one's skill level at the time:

Before I started karate, while still in Brooklyn circa 1952 I took about a year of ju-jitsu from an Air Force instructor across the street. That didn't do me much good in my first karate training. When I started karate in California, I also took judo for about a year, until I decided to spend more time in karate per se. That judo helped a bit, and I started to see how applications of the kata could be interpreted as ju-jitsu and judo techniques. When I went up to Berkeley in 1966 about 8 years later I took about 1/2 year of aikido and I found that discipline very interesting and useful for my karate training. Some years later circa 1978 a performance-artist friend set up a "happening"/workshop in which I participated with a well-known t'ai chi master. I spent some time with him later as we joined each others classes, and I continued practicing the Wu and Yang forms thereafter. I find t'ai chi to be an incredibly great complement in many ways to karate, but I doubt I would have appreciated it back in Brooklyn!




In reply to XX1:

: Hi Lester,
: At 05:58 25/03/00 -0600, you wrote:
: >Yes, I sort of mean that. Of course, well-rounded training includes
: >smooth linear and circular body-shifting, sweep-block defense blocks,
: >eye and groin and throat attacks, superb feints, good timing to flow
: >with or against an opponent(s), etc. So, well-trained body dynamics does
: >not always mean "kick the sucker in the face before he gets out of his
: >chair," etc.
: After receiving training in Judo/Jujutsu/Aikido and Tai Chi.. did you
: find you could recognize grappling and throwing applications contained
: in the kata?
: I ask as my Jujutsu training helped me enormously in this regard.
: XX1

I assume you are asking me about my understanding of such interpretations at a reasonably deep level, not just at some superficial "cocktail conversation" level?

Well, as I had mentioned in a posting back to XX2, my other training did give me some "intuitive" capabilities in grappling and throwing. However, I did not understand those techniques to the depths I eventually understood karate techniques, and so I think I did not fully appreciate the nuances of grappling and throwing simply by virtue of being exposed to the "usual" simple interpretations of kata.

To appreciate the difficulty of "understanding" techniques, e.g., to extent you feel comfortable generalizing and modifying them to appreciate/test their nuances, you have to put yourself in the usual position most of us find ourselves in, of being able to do the techniques, but not being able to detail why they work. This is of course what has taken place throughout many centuries. In the past, until the past century, this led to tight controls on small classes of guarded teacher-student interactions, not conducive at all to further evolution of an art, but certainly sufficient to ensure that at least the workable techniques could be passed on to future generations.

Similar to what I said in the context of my comment on XX3's recent posting, you really had to be doing karate in the late 50's and early 60's to appreciate that this was a time when this Art was starting to spread fast across the States, in universities, etc., causing a stir among people to better understand this art. I personally knew many scientists who were fellow karate students, some of them extremely bright, who had lots of theories about what were the body dynamics in karate. I had the advantage of getting to a high enough level first, so that I could feel the techniques to be sure they were being done correctly at a peer-tested deep level of performance. This was was my first lab so to speak, and the analysis that were conjectured could then be tested in detail in some simple but confirming lab tests, new teaching methodologies, etc. As it turned out, just about all the previous ideas I and others had before I reached that level were always flawed in some respects, just showing that any reasonable Science must rest on good (or at least reasonable!) data.

I had to lay this out to make it clear that I think I did not then truly recognize many of the grappling and throwing applications in the kata because I did not either: (1) take time away from my concentrated physical studies to perform/understand karate techniques at a master level to serve my quest for intellectual knowledge -- it took me a full 11-12 years of purposefully working out harder than anyone else in my classes before that quest reached any reasonable level of fulfillment; or (2) take similar time away from my other academic pursuits at the time to investigate grappling and throwing techniques; or (3) have some teacher insist that I spend a large portion of my time practicing and understanding these grappling and throwing techniques. I doubt (2) would have led to much understanding anyway, unless I also could have put in the time for (1). I can only conjecture about what might have been the outcome if I had been trained more along the approach in (3).

There is another interpretation that I must state before someone else here gets the chance to stomp in :>): (4) I might have been so physically, intellectually and emotionally challenged that it's a true miracle I could live long enough, just armed with the sole virtue of perseverance, to get any knowledge of these techniques through my thick skull!




I didn't think kata a waste of time even for kumite, as my general approach was to become "fluent in the body language" of karate. I view kata as another complementary form of training to achieve that end. The kata form a body of knowledge that contain movements particular to a given style, e.g., Shotokan, and I accept that a good education in most disciplines should have a conservative base.

If indeed there are grappling and throwing (GT) interpretations to techniques in kata, the paranoid authors of these did a good job of keeping them there at a second-level of interpretation. There are some obvious GT techniques in the kata, but you and others feel that these are just the surface of other deeper techniques.

If this is true, then karate is sorely in need of new kata to better explicate these techniques, not only for elementary drills but also to preserve the nuances of all these techniques in explicit movements.

In the context of creating new forms to preserve good technique for future generations (I see good technique rapidly disappearing on TV!), I note that you and others are now talking of creating more formal exercises and kata along these lines. This indeed is the next logical step after you have either "discovered" techniques buried in kata, or have been motivated by the kata to interpret new techniques, or whatever.

I took an approach to formally integrate a lot of physical and timing skills not at all explicit in the kata, by developing 1-person and 2-person combinations. However, as I wrote in the the file of my scanned 1976 "The Karate Instructor's Handbook":

"The 134 combinations and 16 two-person combinations in Appendix 4 are representative of over 5000 combinations I created and taught from about 1969-1985. Unfortunately, the collection was lost in one of several moves."

If anything is to be learned by my dumb loss of these 5000+ combinations, it is that perhaps a few longer kata would serve to record most of these techniques. Therefore, I jumped on the chance to develop Keri No Kata, https://www.ingber.com/karate00_keri_no_kata.html. (I sprained my ankle a couple of weeks ago, and probably today or tomorrow will be the first time in awhile that I'll be able to go through it in any detail.)

At the very least, my experience in developing 2-person combinations and the 2-person Keri No Kata, https://www.ingber.com/karate00_keri_no_kata.html, can suggest a methodology some people may prefer to create kata for GT techniques?




Kata always is a favorite topic of conversation among karate people from different schools. I guess it serves as a somewhat common language to further discuss techniques and philosophies of training.

In practice, I think most schools do not spend more than a 1/4 to a 1/3 of their actual practice time on kata. A lot more is spent on other topics, ranging from basics to sparring to competition to just lecturing.

I think spending at least 1/5 time on kata is important if only because most younger instructors can too easily get lost in their own views of karate and lose touch with some basic essentials. Even if we agreed that practicing kata is a relatively inefficient way of studying some particular aspects of karate -- whether this includes basic techniques, various styles of movement, etc. -- I do not think many (or any) instructors would do well to ignore kata.

However, at the risk of seeming heretic, I would claim that kata are just the tip of the foundation of good karate. They represent a few good themes developed by (usually) a few talented experienced instructors. This is akin to having a few good books as a guide to any well developed discipline -- they are at best a guide to a few important areas of study.

I see that a few people on this list have webpages that point to a small number of texts that represent a good body of knowledge. That's a good start. I think karate has a long ways to go, and this should present some exciting opportunities to many talented creative instructors. Unfortunately, this will require these already talented people to study a bit more on how to write up or at least video their lessons so that their lessons can be critiqued for many years after they are gone.



In reply to XXX:

: >I think spending at least 1/5 time on kata is important if only because
: >most younger instructors can too easily get lost in their own views of
: >karate and lose touch with some basic essentials.
: I'm not sure of your meaning here Lester, could you clarify that for me?

Well, I don't expect most people to agree with everything I say (or do), but I hope most agree with most of what I have to say :>):

On one hand, I think it takes a long time to get depth in any discipline, usually a lot more than a decade. On the other hand, after just a few years of practice, many people already can generate a lot of insights. Especially in karate, there are no standards for review of new ideas -- typically even peer review in the Sciences suck when applied to new interdisciplinary subjects as reviewers' egos get in the way of objective reviews. So, it is easy for a new instructor to get the false sense that since some of his/her ideas are better than his/her teacher's, he/she should just drop all previous approaches into the waste basket. Here, kata serves at least as a solid basis to keep a thread of conservative teachings to get these new instructors on track. [I probably should modify the above to include "old" instructors :>)!]

One of the faults of having students repeatedly practice techniques and kata over and over again, is that too often the instructor is content with having the students do just that. Repetition is fine, in fact required for successful practice, but not if it is performed mindlessly. I think the role of the instructor is to force, cajole, motivate, trick, or do whatever necessary, to get students to pay attention to what they are doing while they are repeating techniques and kata. That is not easy, so too many instructors just take refuge in saying that their students must simply repeat their exercises until they are "ready" for the next level, which means they get off their butts and show their students a few more techniques.

Some students have the self-discipline to pay attention throughout the hardest and longest workouts over periods of many years. I think that was my strongest feature. However, I think that many other students are lost, to the detriment of themselves as well as the discipline, because they lack or have not yet acquired this self-discipline. Some people without this self-discipline respond well to external discipline, e.g., from the instructor, and especially for these students the role of an interactive and astute instructor is extremely vital.

That said, to put kata in some other (my) perspective, I've had the opportunity to work as a colleague with some of the very best practitioners of my time in several disciplines. I do not think I am denigrating their "greatness" by objectively pointing to their weaknesses and errors. I do not think that most of the instructors that came before them were necessarily any greater gifts to the human race, **including** those that created the kata we now practice! Just repeating the practice of kata as mantras just doesn't make much sense to me.

: >I see that a few people on this list have webpages that point to a small
: >number of texts that represent a good body of knowledge. That's a good
: >start. I think karate has a long ways to go, and this should present
: >some exciting opportunities to many talented creative instructors.
: >Unfortunately, this will require these already talented people to study
: >a bit more on how to write up or at least video their lessons so that
: >their lessons can be critiqued for many years after they are gone.
: >
: Are there any step-by-step guides to teaching karate.. I think not!

Yes, I have said the same, perhaps differently. I do not think kata holds all knowledge of karate past nor all of knowledge karate present nor all knowledge of karate future. I think new ideas must be critiqued and tested, but they must be made available to the mass of all karateka to have this happen.

: >The above doesn't address how to deal with the few students that
: >are motivated to stick it out for some years to become really good
: >instructors. Here, their instructors must be good enough to set a path
: >for them to achieve their goals. I think this is a delicate area, one in
: >which I tended to not sacrifice training for the full journey to permit
: >many students who just wanted an exciting but short course of study.
: >I can appreciate this latter path, and I found it challenging to help
: >many people carve out some control of their lives even if they did not
: >train as hard or as long as I would have liked -- I just didn't organize
: >my classes around their goals: Poor business, but I think good karate.
: >
: As YYY wrote in another post, there does seem to be a need for a
: system to cater for 'outer' and 'inner' students.

I certainly appreciate the importance of alternative abridged education in many disciplines. For example, Masters degrees serve such a purpose in business and military organizations, to give people with talent and/or experience and/or responsibility additional education in their disciplines within relatively short time periods. I think the case must first be made that such a necessity exists in karate, a discipline that too easily can encourage violence and false confidence when studied without depth. Without reservation, I accept that short courses in self-defense, which I consider to be a separate subject from karate per se, is an important course to offer to the general public.


In reply to ZZZ:

: A note on kata.While I cannot disagree with the ideas presented here, I
: do believe that kata can become almost the sole vehicle for training
: after a certain level, if and only if you take everything you learn in
: kihon, kumite and self defense training, and plough it back into the kata
: practice.
: Usually , of course, this is not done, and usually it is correct that no
: more than a certain minor percentage of a class is composed of kaa
: training or practice.

Yes, I was just being cranky about repetitious practice of kata for the sake of exercise, while having student roll back their eyes in a trance expecting to be magically imparted with the wisdom of the ages.



@@Teaching Free Sparring


In reply to:
: I can see that happening. I don't allow free sparring in my club, so
: that takes care of that. Personally I think it has more to do with
: the experience of the sparring participants. Frankly, I avoid
: sparring with anyone with less than a decade under their belt for that
: very reason (injuries). Brown belts and shodans tend to do stupid
: things that get me, them, and the referee injured. Tournaments are
: another injury source...I avoid them like a bad disease, though, and
: consider myself vaccinated! :-)

Unfortunately, I have seen many good schools and instructors take one of two extremes with respect to teaching sparring. Some schools simply do not practice free sparring. Other schools do not really teach it, but rather just let their students smack each other around between bows; those students that can learn to copy the teacher or more advanced survivors may (or may not) pick up good sparring skills, while the rest just quit or continue to perform miserably. This is truly unfortunate, as I consider the teaching and practice of free sparring to be an essential and creative component of karate.

One of the contributions to teaching methodology that I'm proud of is that the programs I outline in my books are a reasonable graded approach to free sparring. That is, I found that stressing and methodically teaching combinations in basic exercises and programmed sparring exercises, together with progressive attention exercises in sparring, creates a natural development of free sparring.

When brown belts and 1st Dan (and some 2nd Dan) black belts would spar, I required and taught them to spar smoothly without a lot of power or speed (just enough to retain a sense of focus); for them especially my sparring combinations gave them the taste of intensive sparring without all the problems you mention and which I too avoided like the plague. More advanced black belts sparred with control and speed.




In response to:
XX2 wrote:

:XX1 wrote:

:>I am not talking about lack of control you morons. I am talking about two
:>consenting advanced karate freaks saying, "hey, lets play for keeps."
:C'mon guys. Everyone here has pounded someone at some point, right? I *know*
:Lester has popped someone for getting aggressive with him before. Sparring
:with XX3 and XX4, I'm almost *sure* of it.

Yes, of course I've "popped" people before, in and out of the dojo. That has nothing to do with exercising and teaching proper control in regular classes. I have several times stopped sparring when the head instructor called an end to the sparring, only to be hit by some jerk who lacked any discipline. In such a situation, rather than join the jerk and continue such sparring without discipline, I always have preferred to wait for some other opportunities (plural) to make my point.

It has been my interesting experience that schools that lack class discipline (I don't mean just "oooosssss'ing" every time there's a chance for a breather) -- and therefore have little disciplined control when they spar -- most often also lack the discipline to regularly train hard, train often, and just shut up and pay attention while training!

There definitely is a common profile of many such schools. Too often the black belts in such schools are too busy strutting around or telling other people what to do, rather than seriously training themselves. Their claim for respect stems from intimidation of lesser ranks and people who are prone to be so intimidated, rather than from their abilities per se or from any wisdom they might have to impart. The top black belts in such schools most often have learned by being able to imitate the movements of their instructors, but since they know so little of what they are doing or what they are not doing, they are of little use to the rest of the class.

In many of these schools, when I have been a guest instructor, the head instructor has asked me not to train his class too hard, or he has complained of my teaching techniques his students never learned, but should have learned. That usually pissed me off, leaving me somewhat frustrated, since I had enough respect for the head instructor as an individual expert to even consider being a guest instructor, but I could not respect his class or the way they were taught and trained.

I trust I've put in enough politically correct "many" and "most often" comments to permit anyone to believe the above has nothing to do with their own school. On the other hand, if you take offense at my remarks, look within your own self and your own class for the reasons for your frustration and anger.




In response to:

:> >What is so wrong about teaching sparring early ??? As long as you
:> >still teach proper technique, I see no side effects... although minor
:> >injuries can occur.
:In my own training sparring was not introduced until 3rd kyu. I felt this
:was a little too late. I think we lost some good students who wanted
:more contact work, didn't get it, and went elsewhere.

Any instructor that introduces free sparring as part of regular instruction before brown belt has admitted that he/she has no clue how to teach and/or has nothing to teach.

There are many creative exercises that can be developed to give many of the experiences of free sparring. This of course provides safe training, so more people than just the few who want to get off on smashing others can train regularly -- thereby of course providing better sparring partners at later dates -- called delayed gratification!. Even more important, free-sparring thereby becomes part of a bona fide curriculum teaching sparring, avoiding the well-known (I thought!) poor training wherein students quickly "learn" to adapt to lousy awful techniques just to squeeze in a wimpy attack or to defend themselves without developing good techniques first.

Once in a while an athlete with fighting experience but only a short time training in karate might be useful to himself/herself as well as the rest of the class if permitted to free spar with advanced belts. Yes, there are some exceptions once in a while. I've already posted the story of one of my green belts who literally fought his way onto the first AAKF Olympic-demo team, beating out many other black belt contenders.

I also have memories of supposed great fighters starting free sparring early, only to finally get really whipped and then quit because they got their egos as well as their bodies badly bruised.

It takes time, measured in years, for people to change themselves in their body and mind interactions with their internal and external worlds -- in therapy, sparring, etc. -- and karate is one of the relatively few physical disciplines that offers a true novice as well as an expert in other disciplines a true path to follow to acquire the skills that are emphasized by a particular karate school.

That is, I recognize that there are many quite good karate schools whose Instructors offer somewhat different programs -- some even exclude free sparring. I happen to emphasize the importance of free sparring, viewed as the truly creative language required for karate interactions. However, just like many other mental and body disciplines, a number of years in a reasonable program is required to master these skills even if just to the degree of free-sparring. I introduce exercises and drills even at white belt, and I have never had anyone at any belt level complain that my classes were not demanding, including the sections on sparring. At brown belt and even for some black belts, I enforce slow sparring (roughly defined as just enough speed necessary to execute proper body dynamics for all techniques, but no extra force -- easier to see in person). At about 2nd or 3rd Dan I expect someone to be able to handle themselves in hard sparring.



@@Sparring Simplified


In reply to:
:Actually what I said was more like ---> I like Kusanku better than
:Kanku Dai. Kanku Dai is too simplified, and the Shorin-Ryu kata looks
:more like fighting. They removed all of the dangerous stuff from it
:to make Kanku-Dai, but that is also why JKA technique is so highly
:developed. The less-dangerous techniques that remained were studied
:until they could become dangerous again.
:The fighting style has changed. The Okinawan method seems to be more
:complicated and relies more heavily upon combinations. The JKA method
:relies more upon one-shot purity and the skill to do that. They are
:two different approaches, and I do not currently believe that they can
:successfully be combined. Each requires too much time.

Isn't this a bit _too_ simplified? I rather would say that the "JKA" method relies on 1-3 step combinations. Perhaps more important, at advanced sparring levels, there are an awful lot of techniques that are _implied_ and set up (e.g., by feinting, distance control, timing, etc.) but not executed prior to contact, e.g., in somewhat the same way a chess master sees ahead at least several combinations prior to committing to an actual move.



@@Not Teaching & Morality


In reply to:

: In a contest, it is natural for the strongest to be the victor, but a
: contest is only a contest. In Karate-do, there are neither strong nor weak
: people. The essence of the art is mutual cooperation. This is the ultimate
: in Karate-do (the way of Karate).? - Shigeru Egami,

Well, I'm not sure this is such a good description of karate. Let me take a pretty contrary position for awhile to see if it makes sense ...

This description misses other complementary elements that distinguishes karate from other activities more obviously requiring teamwork. That is, a group of students will learn more over a longer period of time if they all show up regularly and support each others' training, etc.

However, the essence of the training, especially in advanced sparring, is to present the best opponent/competitor to your fellow peers. This is a more subtle interplay of Marx & Locke, an interplay of classless cooperative participants and a strong capitalist aim-to-win mentality bounded by some rules to keep the engagements non-fatal?

The above just covers training. I do not think any of this should apply to studying karate as a "means of self-defense against surprise attack" -- a definition of karate used by JKA for many years. I do not see mutual cooperation between myself and some jerk on the street trying to rob or kill me or my companions -- not on this planet anyway. (As I've said before, I'm always open to reviewing my stance on any person after a long enough time has elapsed :>).)

On a day to day basis, it is clear that you get out of karate, or many other disciplines, pretty much depends what you put into it, and to what long-ranged goals you aspire to that give shape to your daily training. My reasons for training, as a tool to learn about Nature, were and are a lot different from a lot of other people's reasons. I'm happy for what I got/get out of my training, and I hope (most) others are similarly satisfied.

If Egami's motivation for training worked for him and works for others, hey that's a really good reason for their training! I just don't think it's a broad enough or even a proper motivation for most people that train.

More to the mark, even if this is your motivation for training, I think that it will not generally cover the motivations of your training partners. I do not favor using an ethical filter to weed out students, at least not early in their training. I prefer to have confidence in most people and in the discipline of karate, that regular hard and proper training will give most people the tools to see and decide for themselves a better path for their lives and others with whom they interact.




In reply to:

: If we really want to be blunt about it, what group of people do you know
: who get together on a regular basis to purposely train in methods that can
: traumatise, maim and kill? Most democracies have laws against such groups.
: We would probably call them thugs or worse. Yet all of us on this list do
: just that. Are we really any better?
: IMO, the only thing that sets us (legitimate karate-ka) apart from "thugs"
: is our "code of ethics" (dojo kun). There really isn't anything else.
: Without this code of ethics and principles we cannot justify our purpose or
: existence in terms of karate-do. These principles are everything, without
: them we become nothing.

Yes, we teach the tools to inflict such damage. Yes, we are better than, and worlds apart from hired guns to teach thugs to kill better. We teach in a context of self-defense, in a context of competition, and in a context of respecting our class opponents. I hardly think this needs any defense. When I was teaching in colleges, there were more injuries in football, more hateful fights among sports athletes, than in karate classes. Self-defense and competition are abhorrent to superior Martians I know well, but here on earth we must do the best with what we have to work with.

Every teacher can decide for himself/herself how to guide people towards becoming better human and social beings. I have never had as many and as deep creative challenging artistic experiences as I have had helping people of all ages to develop themselves according to what I think any majority of people would vote for as being positive.

That all said, I personally am absolutely against imposing a religious standard on the ethical behavior of others. I do not think we need more religions -- there are enough good ones around for people who want to join one. I have seen a lot of damage done to people in the incredible self-righteous name of setting "standards" for controlling "proper" behavior of others. I do not think many Saints have done as well as history has falsely recorded, and I do not think many of us are up for Sainthood. I have seen many of my "peers" preach in broken Japanese-English to students on how they should behave, then pass out drugs and brag of their terrible behavior at the party after training. What ever happened to just setting a good example!!!????

Some of the great advantages of a good education in academics, fine arts, and physical disciplines -- in fact some of the important attributes that give them strength to be recognized as classical disciplines -- is that they clearly offer a knowledge base that supersedes ethical overlays. They contain the better essence of the capabilities that humans are capable of achieving. It is a rare devil that will train for years to acquire such knowledge simply to hurt other people or society. In such rare cases, yes, then I think we have the responsibility as Masters of our Art to take a strong stance against such devils. However, I think it is absolutely outrageous and guru-some to set up systems that assume everyone is a devil and has to be controlled by our own perverted cultural sense of proper "ethics."




In reply to:
:> Why not give it away? Why keep it secret? Would you hold this
:> information back from your students?
:> Sorry but I find this concept especially annoying. Many bust their ass
:> for a long time trying to discover all they can about a technique or kata.
:> The idea that there are those in positions to pass along knowledge and do
:> not, is outrageous.
:I don't necessarily disagree with this, but why should we think we're
:entitled to this knowledge?
:Does paying your money and showing up *entitle* you to the whole enchilada,
:or just as much as the instructor wants to give you? Does this
:consumer/vendor relationship change if the instructor is teaching for
:little or no compensation, and what responsibilities change with it?
:What do some of you think the responsibilities of an instructor are to
:their students? To society, if any?
:This isn't just a "if you are a good instructor you'll teach everything"
:discussion. One could be a very competent teacher, but also be selective.
:Are there any compelling reasons to be selective? (I'm not, I'll teach
:anyone who appears to be reasonably sane, somewhat interested in karate,
:and not too much of a pain in the ass...)

I would not a priori exclude anyone from my classes. I teach basic classes according my curriculum, not my students'. At advanced levels, I am open to students' suggestions and will try to include classes on subjects that I feel competent to teach or that I believe I can learn to teach more quickly and better than my students, e.g., experience often makes this possible in karate as well as in academia.

I reserve the right not to teach sparring or kata to someone if I think they are not ready for the level required. I avoid making this "personal" by having clear requirements for examinations and for entry into various levels of classes.

I jump on students who violate trust in sparring, and given enough damage to others I would throw out such students. If someone exhibited criminal activity outside of class, which would cause severe damage to the school, I would consider this as a reason to throw someone out.

I do try to answer queries when I have the time, e.g., before or after class, like I do on the InterNet, but I do not guarantee that I can take the time to tutor someone outside of class on his or her specific interests just at their request.

I avoid trying to teach morality. This is in the spirit of my scientific approach to karate, e.g., as I mention in my karate85_book.txt, Similar to some other karateka, and sometimes contrary to many others, I am dissatisfied with religious or metaphysical descriptions of body, attitudinal and attentional classifications. This is because they are not testable, and therefore fraught with misinterpretation and subject to the many opinions of as many teachers. Indeed, religious or metaphysical and moral views should be left to the individual to evolve for himself, as these will be strengthened with the previously mentioned skills. I am more willing to admit that some phenomena are as yet not clearly understood, than to seek a "quick fix" by metaphysical (mis)interpretations. However, as I have shown in my previous writings and classes, and as I try to develop here, not only is much explained by a scientific approach, but this approach also leads to specific teaching methods to help the average student become creative in the art.

As I mention in the karate.txt file in my archive, Also, I think there is a clear line between training students to perfect character versus teaching morality. While this is quite difficult to bear, it really is line with the ideas of the developers of many martial arts who stated that the ultimate goal of karate should be the "perfection of character." In practice, I believe, this means giving people (sometimes "extracting" it from them :>)!) the physical and mental tools to develop their own confidence and wisdom to determine their own morality. True, there are many many "bad" people that start karate, but really very few of them retain their initial rotten attitudes after many years of training; I realize that a lot of rotten attitudes persist even through the ranks of instructor level, but we must accept the statistics of what can be realistically accomplished.




In response to:

:There are of course moral implications in teaching Karate. As an Instructor
:you are in a position of authority that the people in the class look at
:(hopefully with respect). They will see the Instructor as a role model.

Yes, this is more along the lines of affecting the character of students by virtue of your position, which they may strive to emulate. This is still different from teaching/preaching morality per se. I do see a line between them.

: And if you teach in a purely scientific method (which from
:a technical side is OK) how do you develop the heart of the club? And as in
:any physical activity heart is extremely important. How does an Instructor
:that is a heavy drinker affect the club?

You are incorrectly equating teaching techniques scientifically with teaching as a robot might. "Heart" is taught to a large extent by motivating and expecting students to put out their very best efforts all the time. There is no need, for example, to appeal to any religious or cultural or sexist manifest to effect this. (Just to be avoid confusion in this thread, I'm not claiming you or any one else does the latter -- I haven't even seen you teach.)




In response to:

:People who accept you as their role model do so because *they are already*
:attracted to your behavior and lifestyle and wish to emulate it. Children use
:Barkley as a role model because he is rich, famous, happy, and getting women.
:He is a champion athlete, and he is good looking.

Yes, I agree that teaching people mostly by invoking role models really sucks. They will mostly just jump to the role model that excuses their own behavior or intended behavior.

:If someone considers you a role model, and then you behave badly, are you
:telling me that you are responsible when other's behave badly? Excuse me, but
:doesn't that pretty much fly in the face of the premise of freedom of choice
:embraced by nearly every society on Earth? If you get drunk, and I think you
:are cool, and I do it too, you are saying that it is partially your fault
:because as my role model you should have behaved better?

However, my above comment does not excuse an instructor from being a lousy role model. Quite the opposite, a good instructor does have a responsibility to be an exemplary role model. A better instructor will point the way beyond his/her own role.

:Newsflash, fellas. My idea of *good behavior* and yours are probably fairly
:different. I might be an excellent role model in my own opinion. That's not
:for you nor anyone else to decide.

You cannot avoid that impressionable people will tend to look at role models, and that fact means that if you do drugs or act mean or act like an asshole in or out of class, then many students will take this as an excuse to act similarly. Life isn't fair, even for instructors, and instructors have to face up to the reality of the effects of their behavior on others.

I still agree with you that you should not enforce or teach behavior of students by appealing to your status as a role model; quite the contrary as I have stated here and in my previous postings in this thread.



@@Value of Teaching


In response to:

:No I am not assuming that the best teacher is the competitor, I've met
:plenty of excellent teachers from both sides, the statement was mainly
:concerned with the desire at such a young age (a peak point for human
:physical performance) for karate-ka to train to reach the highest
:ability possible. As the karate-ka ages his physical ability starts to
:wane and he looks for something that keeps him going. Perhaps
:something more achievable than mawashigeri jordan maybe?
:Yes. It is very satisfying to see a student, that you personally have
:taught, progress. Furthermore you are forced to re-examine your ideas,
:the approach to technique and to people of varying ability. However by
:offering students all of your knowledge and effort through teaching,
:your own ability will begin to suffer. It is difficult to train
:yourself and to teach within the same classes! Too early in your
:karate (career) will prevent *you* from reaching *your* highest

Well, if you only have three hrs/week to spend in karate, then yes, of course your own training will suffer if you spend part of that time teaching instead of seriously training.

However, if you dedicate yourself to spending a few hours/day to karate, which I assume you are doing since you do not wish to waste all that valuable top-physical prime time you now possess :>), then teaching at some level even starting at 1st dan (or even helping at some level at brown belt, e.g., with children's classes) typically is vital if you wish to reach any high level of expertise. This is true across all disciplines, physical, academic, etc., i.e., that for some large portion of your training life you have to step outside your own cloistered student-shell and objectively deal with the techniques and problems of your discipline across some statistical sampling of people.

Furthermore, especially in karate, where part of your training is (should be) geared to sparring with other people, there hardly is any better substitute than teaching, as a complementary activity to regular sparring, for acquiring some kinds of knowledge about the strengths and weaknesses of others.

In the process, you likely will learn (if you have an open mind, or at least one with a crack to let in some light) other valuable training and life lessons, e.g., diligence, patience, the value of study, perseverance, responsibility, not among the least worthy of them. All this is in addition to engaging in an endeavor that can be (unfortunately not always for many teachers) a creative interactive art form, helping to shape other humans as you work on yourself.

I started teaching as a green belt, just leading drill exercises in the absence of our instructor, and I did not regret it. I taught regularly from circa 1960-1987, and I do not recall having wasted any energies or coming up short of any vital juices in the process, even though I was quite busy in other activities as well. As part of my own Instructor training, we had regular classes and tutorials assigned to us. It was clear that this was vital to our own self-improvement as well as for our education as instructors.

It's a shame to see one so young tire so easily :>).



@@Self Defense


Unfortunately, many classes do not impart a working knowledge of basic body dynamics, albeit they may well teach and drill single basic techniques.

For example, students should be trained to understand and feel the flow of power created by the central torso, usually aided by some kind of stance (which may include feet or arms on the floor, utilization of momentum created by a previous technique, etc.), driving through the limbs into a target opponent. Then, in response to an attack not precisely covered in the "textbooks," it is relatively simple to defend using variations of such body dynamics.

Specifically, against close attacks as being discussed now, such as a choke, it would be quite "natural," after proper training, to use knees and elbows as effective counter attacks. The problem is that most training lacks training in fundamental body dynamics, so that most students so (un)trained cannot develop great power over short distances with truncated limbs -- unless they have spent many moons training specifically with elbows and knees. The ability to focus a punch, strike or kick at various distances, without relying on just running out of arm or leg to reach (thereby usually just performing a sloppy relatively weak focus of power), is one mark of advanced control of technique. Of course, if students spent so much time specifically training in close distances with stress only on specific techniques, they likely would be victim to not understanding how to fight from distances up to 1-1/2 times their reach, etc.

Of course, just training in body dynamics is not quite half a decent education. At least half must be spent in learning basic dynamics of aspects involving another person, e.g., including attention, timing, feinting, choice of targets, etc. So, instead of grabbing and choking an opponent, which has been pointed out to take as long as 5 seconds to control an opponent, why not just elbow-attack the throat and go on to another target or opponent?

I think the most efficient and effective way of teaching the above sets of basic body, mental and opponent dynamics is via combinations, both in individual basic exercises and in sparring, of sufficient length to include 2-3 sub-combinations, e.g., optimally 10-12 steps total, to capture the sense of creatively interacting in paragraphs of body language. Here, I think kata presents a set of nice prototypes upon which an instructor can draw to further develop additional complementary combination training. Then, sparring can become more of a natural language, than merely reacting to a (large) set of possible attacks with a (large) set of previously planned responses; the latter "strategy" spells doom.




In response to some postings with ":" and ">" people ...

:20% of a skill is useless. It will not manifest itself under pressure
:(something that you apparently have not experienced) unless it is 2nd
:nature - just like driving your car. 20% of driving skills will get
:you...where? Killed?

I'm not a psychologist, but after training a few thousand people, I certainly agree that 20% of a skill just makes you dangerous -- to yourself.

If you're mean, quick, and blindside the guy, you can win without technique.

The self-defense aspect behind training must be taken at its obvious face value: Long years of training should result in a given individual being better prepared statistically (over a large number of fights -- good luck!) for self-defense than he/she might otherwise be; otherwise, the training has been lousy. All other guarantees are untrue -- buyer beware!

The real issue involves "ingrained" technique. Learning the body language of karate is similar to learning any new language in many respects. Just memorizing a vocabulary list won't help you to converse in a foreign country (assuming they even speak that language in that country -- similarity to karate "training" obvious here!). When you get to the stage you can utilize techniques within combinations in sparring situations, you are closer to the context of being able to communicate in ideas/packages of techniques, which is required in being fluent in a language. Then, such techniques have a chance of being used spontaneously is such situations as self-defense. The methodology and the intensity of training can play very important roles in so ingraining techniques.

For example, How well a brown belt can have any technique "ingrained" is extremely person-dependent. A 2nd Dan black belt, on the other hand, should be expected to have some simple punch and/or kick pretty well encoded in his/her nervous system. As a researcher in brain activity, I'm accustomed to referring to the entire brain and its peripheral organs as the nervous system. Here, I reasonably meant the cerebrum (sensory, motor, higher cortex, etc.) and the cerebellum (motion, many motor skills, etc.), etc.




In reply to:
:Despite popular belief, this is the law in America as well. Makes
:sense English common law is the foundation of both systems. You can
:injure & kill while defending your life, you may NOT in defense of
:your property.
: ...
:I think no matter what, a jury will understand overreaction on the
:point of the victim & will give a LOT of slack to same.

Self-defense, even for an expert, is still a game of chance, and no matter how much the odds are in the favor of an expert, he/she should not have to take *any* chances when placed in a self-defense situation. Whether or not true, a statement attributed to Funakoshi was "after 80 years of practicing up-block, I am confident I can apply it correctly 80% of the time." I think this is a reasonable attitude to take to self-defense.

My best solution always has been to cross the street or change direction when punks are coming the other way. For many years I have not entered bars or walked at night in neighborhoods with reputations for violence, etc. Aside from legal issues, my conscience would be quite clear if I were forced into a position to defend myself by using deadly techniques. This philosophy is translated into my state of mind during regular practice. I think this mentality separates training in sport karate from training in the discipline of karate.




In reply to:
:I wholeheartedly agree to the attitude part. You can never be too
:careful. But if Funakoshi was sincere about the reliability of the
:up-block, I think it means something: we should question the
:efficiency of this block <g>.
:* Good distance evaluation and simply an arm put between the opponent
:and you will make most attacks miss. You can also ignore most
:* Blocking in a traditional way exposes you a lot
:* Traditional blocking is slow, even if you take shortcuts

Yes, I agree with all these points. I should mention that I was told the Funakoshi anecdote by Nishiyama in the context of discussing the application of powerful techniques with proper timing, not in any context of application of basic techniques.

I once wrote a piece (lost long ago I guess, unless the JKA has kept all their archives of Instructor's reports) on the goal and definition of "Karate is a means of self-defense against surprise attack." By delving into the several nuances of this definition, you can "derive" the utility and necessity of basic training and disciplined attitudes as important aids to accomplishing that goal.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ #1997_10_26#

In reply to XX1:
:Lester Ingber wrote:
:$ I think this mentality separates training in
:$ sport karate from training in the discipline of karate.
:Lester -
:I think this is a good point. Since this is something that has been in a
:few other threads I think it could use some elaboration ie. How does one
:train this mentality in a practical manner? How does this differ from
:the sport mentality in the way that we practice?.

I've already seen XX2's reply (posts get mangled here regularly), and I concur with him:
}The sportster "rules-hacks", and trains to win over others by using the rules
}to their fullest extent. The disciplinarian trains without any such
}restrictions on their mental outlook.

I just replied to a a posting by XX3, where I stated:

I once wrote a piece (lost long ago I guess, unless the JKA has kept all their archives of Instructor's reports) on the goal and definition of "Karate is a means of self-defense against surprise attack." By delving into the several nuances of this definition, you can "derive" the utility and necessity of basic training and disciplined attitudes as important aids to accomplishing that goal.

This is relevant here too, as the elements of "surprise attack" and the levels of "risk" are not as pronounced in sport versus self-defense.

For example, in "Elements of Advanced Karate"
I illustrated how "attitudes" can be used as contexts for developing "styles" of fighting. I think I can argue, perhaps with varying degrees of success to different audiences, as described in that text, that while the metaphorical "elements" of "Earth," "Air," "Fire," and "Water," are typically applied successfully in sport karate, only an advanced development of "Void" can (statistically) be most successful in using "Karate as a means of self-defense against surprise attack." However, in the context of a closed arena against one opponent, I do not think that "Void" is as (statistically) dependable as the other four "elements," e.g., simply because risk is minimized and success of grabbing the winning point is maximized by so often being able to plan ahead against particular opponents in particular situations.



@@Defense in Self-Defense



In response to XXX1:

: Dr. Ingber:
: From a medical perspective, I stated many reasons why I felt this
:supposed assault could not have happened. For my last post, I wanted to
:look at the physical trauma allegations strictly from a biomechanical
:perspective, to determine (and show) whether the accuser's claims of
:choking, punching, hitting, pinching, kicking, etc., in a small bathroom
:with 3 large adult males against one hefty sized female, would have even
:been logical, much less feasible.
: I wanted to be able to show, according to basic physics, how much
:force would be involved in (approx) a 5'5, 150lb female, getting hit in
:the face by (approx) a 6'4 +200 lb male's fist; also, what type of
:injury, & would it correlate with what we would expect to see. In other
:words, I would expect to see contusions, abrasions, bleeding, red,
:swollen eye, etc., from a certain amount of force impacted with the
:woman's face. In mathematical terms, what might that force be?
:Since you're involved in both biomechanics and martial arts, I was
:interested in your expert point of view. Any opinions you can give
:would be greatly appreciated.
:Forensics Talk: http://www.harfordmedlegal.typepad.com

This kind of damage to people is very difficult to estimate. I have seen many instances of people punching and kicking each other without any apparent injuries, and I have also seen many instances of people getting seriously damaged by what seemed like little force. Here is some kind of explanation by example of how such different cases can occur.

Many times "inexperienced" fighters or even very strong attackers do not "focus" their attacks very well. This means that damage to internal organs typically requires deposition of lots of energy to tear meat by driving deeper than skin level with missiles like punches and kicks, while damage to bone typically requires lots of momentum on contact to cause sufficient pressure to create fractures. Just shoving someone most often only causes damage if the victim falls and has secondary injuries.

On the other hand, both experienced and non-experienced fighters can often cause damage, even in small rooms or without throwing long punches or kicks. For example, the use of elbows and knees, if just delivered at "reasonable" speed can cause lots of damage if they hit targets correctly, since those limbs are close to the torso and will generally carry lots of mass. It takes some experience or "luck" to throw long punches or kicks that will have a lot of body mass behind them when they are delivered to the target (or within the meat of a soft-tissue target.

In closed quarters, excited attackers could possibly be simply flailing their arms and legs, without delivering enough force to do damage. I would put the chances of this in the scenario you describe as pretty low, but still possible. However, if there are several inexperienced attackers in a small space, no matter how strong they might be, they could actually impede generation of truly destructive missiles on the targets of their victim -- again with low but still non-vanishing chance -- by getting in each others' way.

Right now I do not have at my fingertips (or even know where to send those fingertips :)) the data I collected back in the 1970's on forces created at targets from punches and kicks from experienced as well as non-experienced fighters. I know that the attacks from the non-experienced fighters most often could only have done damage if they happened to have hit targets just at precise locations, which most often did not happen.



In response to XXX,
:Lester Ingber <ingber@ingber.com> gave birth to this complex chain of
:|"Soft" blocks typically "ride" along tangential to an attack, and the
:|accumulated sweeping motion deflects the attack (i.e., a small force
:|over a longer distance, relative to a stronger focused attack-block);
:|this of course is very useful against a heavy attack such as a thrust
:|kick. However, I disagree with XX1, in that typically it is the class
:|of "sweep" blocks that requires better timing than the "attack"
:Blocking is for when you are already almost dead. Blocking is a
:last-resource technique. Blocking is for when you have lost your
:distance and for when you do not control the fight anymore.
:Besides, "blocking" as we traditionally learn/teach it is an
:over-reaction (either pushed or focused). Just a light deflection
:with the hand is sufficient for arms attacks. And powerful legs
:attacks can't be blocked with much efficiency anyways (if they are
:done with real intent). Try blocking a full-power chudan mawashi geri
:without moving away enough... A cubitus is naturally smaller and much
:more fragile than a tibia, even with training. Distance, timing, and
:attacks are better than blocks for defense. Blocks are offensive
:tools, period.

This really is sheer nonsense. Any technique considered in isolation from a typical sparring/fighting engagement likely cannot be properly analyzed. At the least, combinations of interactions are required.

Anyone who has trained and taught others to train for many years should not doubt that there exists a very large class of techniques that are derived from basic training -- look at all the interpretations that can be given to even simple kata. Typical sparring combinations, and many kata, exhibit the importance of considering and interpreting blocks as well as other basic techniques in the context of full engagements.

Blocks, and their derivative techniques of all kinds, are important tools to be considered in such combinations. Timing, shifting, feints, etc., as well as "standard" punches, kicks, strikes, etc., are to be considered in the set of such tools. In this sense, of course blocks can be considered as part of offensive tools/combinations in most circumstances.

In other circumstances, total offense may not be at all part of the solution to controlling a bad situation. Suppose your brother, son, or father, had a drug dumped in his beer, and went wild, hurling attacks on you. Would you immediately attack to crush his throat, fracture his skull, rip out his heart, pierce his eyes, rip off his testicles? How would you control these attacks without using blocks as part of your efforts to control him. Similarly, you could attacked by a pregnant woman, a crazed child, etc., circumstances which arise daily in many cities. Application of deadly force is not the only "means of self-defense against surprise attack," which is a very good definition of karate.

Another point to made is that even the most experienced and expert professional in any physical activity sporadically experiences some failure of technique, whether from internal or external influences -- like slipping on ice. Especially such circumstances are the true test of the mettle of any expert, e.g., more so than when the expert is confronted by inferior opponents under situations favorable to the expert. In a discipline that is supposed to be training in life-death conflicts, there is even less margin for error.

Apparently, you did not take seriously my posting
} Self-defense, even for an expert, is still a game of chance, and no
} matter how much the odds are in the favor of an expert, he/she should
} not have to take *any* chances when placed in a self-defense
} situation. Whether or not true, a statement attributed to Funakoshi
} was "after 80 years of practicing up-block, I am confident I can apply
} it correctly 80% of the time." I think this is a reasonable attitude
} to take to self-defense.
even when you replied
}: I wholeheartedly agree to the attitude part. You can never be too
}: careful. But if Funakoshi was sincere about the reliability of the
}: up-block, I think it means something: we should question the
}: efficiency of this block <g>.
I think you take your jest re his up-block too seriously.

Only a self-centered fool would train only by excluding all blocking training, believing that in 100% of all future engagements, there would arise no circumstances with any class of opponent that such blocks, or their derivatives, might not be necessary as part of an engagement.

You have proven yourself to be well-educated and socially aware, in general and specifically in karate, in this forum. I have to believe that this recent posting is an aberration wherein you have rushed in to criticize some kinds of training not well suited to you or your particular taste. My strong response is in the context of what I believe to be any instructor's ultimate responsibility to the well-being of his/her students and those that might interact with them.



@@Hard Training



In fact I used to do all 26 without stop, with the same gusto I would put into short combinations. At some time, for a few years I would also do each kata again in mirror image. I had run a few marathons, best time about 2 hrs 40 mins, and I know I was in anaerobic zones when doing those kata -- I knew the difference between anaerobic and aerobic zones.

If kata is practiced as we discussed at our dinner here, by reacting fresh to imagination presenting patterns in real time, it is like sparring.

It's been a really long long time since I trained in anaerobic zones. I do believe that proper training has to hit those zones regularly.


> Lester: Karate training has always been defined as more
> anaerobic than aerobic, because of the short explosive bursts of power
> that would take you to near -maximal heart rate in mere seconds; but do
> you think if kata was to be practiced without kime it would cause you to
> stay in your aerobic zone for an extended period of time. For example, if
> you performed twenty Kanku-dai non stop without kime, you would be
> functioning more aerobically than anaerobically, as opposed to the fact
> that if you did one Kanku-dai with full kime it sends you into your
> anaerobic zone as you will be functioning at about 90% of your maximum
> heart rate?



I believe in hard karate training. Some explanation might be helpful, in the context of recent postings of how harmful it can be to your physical, social and emotional life to train too often.

I certainly believe in scientific training. That is, much has been learned the past 5, 10, 20, 30 years about optimal physical training for many body disciplines and sports. All great coaches and trainers continually experiment with their own new ideas for enhanced training. Of course, as much as possible of this information should be acquired by and utilized by the karate community as well.

However, there is more to training just the body in many body disciplines, ranging from dance to karate. There are attentional states, e.g., as involved in timing, which must be practiced as much as possible (often even creatively imagining exercises/situations can help). There are emotional states that must be brought in or cleaned out of the context of karate/sparring activity; this can amount to an intense prolonged therapy over many years for many people.

Many people can progress over the years by training on average three times a week. I think it nonsense for most people to worry about "over-training," e.g., given the way many classes are run with different training on different days, given that not all activities like sparring are equivalent to stressing all muscle groups, etc.

Furthermore, some people do very well by appreciating that there are short-term and mid-term trade-offs that might be ultimately beneficial over the long term, e.g., by training as often as possible. While some body physiology may suffer, in some cases there are general attentional and psychological benefits to be gained by training 4-7 times a week. The fact that I and many other people did train every day very hard for many years since 1958, e.g., for over 30 years, means that it is possible. I do not regret that that has caused some "normal" deterioration in some joints, e.g., as occurs on average when over one million hard techniques/"insults" are performed on a given joint, so that now I cannot train as hard as I once did; I am reluctant to call my daily workouts "training" these past years since I stopped training full-out. However, I do consider the way I regularly interact with my environment to be training in some aspects of timing and awareness.

For many people like myself, the means is at least as important as the ends. For me, training is not just a means to an end, it is a way of life; this does not mean that karate is my only life. Life is short, and there are many ways to find intensity, satisfaction and enjoyment. There is no one best prescription for everyone. I would like to see the day when there are more good schools with different philosophies of training available to all students.




This is my reply/comment to a letter to the Wall Street Journal, "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" in http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html

The author's dedication to her children is of course commendable. However, she misses a few very important aspects of excellence in people, perhaps blinded by the excellence achieved by her own family.

I have lots of experience teaching karate and physics. In my karate classes I was as ruthless as she describes, but even though all students were graded objectively, they were not expected to all be excellent. They were expected to try as hard as I expected they could, which most of the time was harder than they expected they could. In physics classes, with students at undergrad as well as grad levels, in universities or in military schools, I was often blocked by administrators who felt that some students' self-esteem might be compromised by my expectations of their performance. I was willing to give credit for "trying" as well as for objective performance, but I still required their trying -- which basically put off some administrators who objected to brow-beating students where were not trying as hard as I expected.

For younger students, especially in systems where so many peers of these students are not compelled to try so hard, I expect that my my results and the author's were quite similar.

However, we differ on what kinds of performance these students likely achieve as they grew older. The author would raise children to accept nothing lower than A's, whereas I would require their discipline and perseverance -- without being so concerned about their grades per se. Differences appear when these children grow up and perhaps some actually enter environments where ALL their peers are excellent, whether by possessing some magic gifts of truly exceptional talent or by years of prior preparation for these environments. Such environments always exist in schools like my Alma Mata Caltech. There, many students where were always expected to get A's could not, since students in such environments are typically graded on "curves." Students who were raised to deal and persevere with the frustration of dealing with hard problems, trying as best they could to solve these problems, could always do well, even if not get all A's.

Too many students who were raised to only get A's suffered such great embarrassment and guilt, they dropped out of Caltech and out of pursuit of excellence as people thereafter. This of course must be considered a tragedy for these students as well as for society. I think the people to blame are parents like the author's, who do not understand how to truly prepare their children for life, but only to satisfy their own pursuit of excellence as disciplinarians

If children are raised to persevere and maintain discipline in demanding and complex situations, those with great potential will do very well even if they enter environments with peers as good as themselves. Those without the same high level of physical or mental potential will also do well and excel in their future environments.

So, I maintain the difference between the approach I suggest versus that of the author's is likely most relevant for the bulk of very good students getting A's throughout most schools that have enough slackers so these students continue to get A's. However, for the top students who enter truly competitive environments with their peers, most raised with her approach will likely fail -- fail themselves, fail their parents, and fail society.

I leave as an open question what kinds of people are raised under these different approaches? What kinds of social framework is being established? What kinds of managers of other people are being raised? What kind of world would we have if every musician only played the piano or the violin? For example, "Creativity" is not as neatly defined as is "intelligence", the latter often some kind of crude measure of learning information, not producing it. Are we satisfied merely raising people to absorb information, and rewarding only those who absorb more than others? Doesn't and shouldn't society reward dreamers and risk-takers who create new systems? I do not imply all these objectives are mutually exclusive, but I do question whether the author's approach comes close to achieving most of them.


@@Personal Workouts


I organize my personal kata workout into three main sets, each having two subsets, which I think carries the general flavor of the sets. I agree that there is no rigorous way to organize the kata, and that their development and evolution was not standardized according to any rigorous criteria (thanks for that! -- this would carry even more unnecessary structure!). I leave it as an exercise to the group to figure out their own "best" ordering of these kata :>).


Heian Shodan
Heian Nidan
Heian Sandan
Heian Yondan
Heian Godan



Tekki Shodan
Tekki Nidan
Tekki Sandan






I generally follow the standards for the kata as given in Hirokazu Kanazawa's two fine books, Shotokan Karate International Kata (volumes 1 and 2, 1982). However, I use a different convention for the names Gojushiho-dai and Gojushiho-sho. I think that the convention I use (opposite Kanazawa's) is more consistent with the "feeling" of sho and dai used for Kanku and Basai kata. Also, the dai kata generally have more open-hand details. I can accept that someone else might make the case otherwise, and in fact many people do! I think the difference of opinion with regard to the Gojushiho kata arises because they both really have such similar patterns, down to similar movements in sub-combinations, albeit with different stances and hand techniques. The convention I use is the convention adopted by JKA, at least some years ago.

On any given day, I take a workout consisting of (1)-(4):

(1) stretching: e.g., from Anderson's text + "standard" karate warmups
(2) karate: selected from
(a) kata, as above
(b) 2 or 3 8-12-step new combinations
(c) 5-10 minutes continuous improvised "shadow" free-sparring
(d) basics, e.g., the Portable Karate Workout in karate85_book.txt
(3) strength: e.g., Apollo/Isorobic Exerciser (controlled-tension pulley system)
(4) anaerobic/aerobic: e.g., treadmill



@@Social Consciousness = Good Business


In reply to my posting (:>),

:>Furthermore, given the rapid proliferation of karate and the lack of a
:>sound world organizing body for Shotokan karate (JKA certainly shares
:>blame here), e.g., similar to what exists for Kodokan judo, now it is
:>hard to tell the differences from many non-JKA-derived Shotokan schools
:>and many JKA-derived schools.

XXX (:) wrote:

:I have given a lot of thought as to why each of the organizations
:founded has failed. Why don't we have a sound national body or a
:sound international body for Shotokan Karate?

I answered: XXX gives lots of interesting and reasonable criticisms and ideas for creating an organization. However, no organization in the USA has faced up to what they might offer their students (besides an occasional party) in exchange for their money. My calls for at least a regular newsletter with _substance_ on karate issues, creating some national drug program, e.g., going after funds to support instructors' teaching in their community (which I pounded some pavement in DC to start), in return for attending yearly workshops, etc., fell on deaf ears in XXXX. It's not so bad that my ideas did not gain sufficient support (I found other productive ways of spending my time and resources), but what is bad is that there were no other alternatives implemented to serve the same ends.

Sorry, but the people you would pick to lead this organization likely won't work as hard for as long as it would take to put substance into programs that would benefit a large number of students. Therefore, the students would not continue to pay dues, and therefore the business of running the organization likely would fail, as have previous attempts. The present generation of 1st-level and 2nd-level senior instructors are still tied to either worshipping or completely dismissing the teachings of their seniors to be an effective constructive force for a top-level Shotokan organization.

My constructive advice to Shotokan instructors is to continue to teach your students as best you can. When they get of age and experience to take the reigns, perhaps they won't be so handicapped by their teachers mindset to create an effective organization, provided of course that there is a critical mass of good schools left. I hope forums like this group will serve to at least help to maintain and perhaps grow such a critical mass.


XXX answered (which I have edited, as I have other postings in this file):
:However, along the lines of what Lester is talking about, I think the
:BSA is what has fouled my view of karate organizations so much. You
:see, the equivalent of the karate instructor in the Scouts is a
:Scoutmaster...eg a parent, or a 21 year old+ scout who leads the boys,
:teaches them, and gives his time voluntarily with ZERO compensation.
:That is also the job of most karate instructors.
:However, the Scouts recognize that their Troops are "customers," and
:when a Scoutmaster goes ballistic with some moral outrage or concern,
:as Lester apparently did, things *happen.* There are not
:threats..."we should come to XXXXXXX and kick your ass for writing
:that..." like I receive occasionally from some karate folk.
:Complaints from the leaders on the FRONT LINES were carefully handled
:by the Boy Scouts so as not to lose their voluntary participation and
:weaken the organization. The Scouts could easily be defeated and
:washed away by another, more "cool," more modern organization that was
:headed by some experts scouters like myself. But, we would never do
:it, because we *matter* to them. We are respected.
:The BSA is respected in America. I am a 3rd dan. I am an Eagle
:Scout. Which does the layman respect? Which comes from a nearly
:untarnished organization (with normal problems and difficulties) with
:a carefully cultivated image? Which comes from an organization that
:would say "please" to have me come *back into the fold?*
:Another point, and this correlates nicely with Lester's
:suggestions...even if you don't like drug programs...you still *need*
:a program. There must be Task Significance (your job must mean
:something in the big picture of planet earth) for you to continue
:under fire for a long time. I could not find task significance in
:karate organizations. I felt *lucky* to be a member, *lucky* that I
:wasn't pounded by a 4th dan every time I showed up late, *lucky* to be
:allowed to train at all. All of that time, I was a customer, and I
:never knew it. I thought karate students were not customers, because
:that was _The Karate Way_.
:Karate organizations *need* to do more than selfish training and
:revenue generating camps and clinics. There needs to be some
:volunteer instructor recognition, some organizational thanks, and some
:meaningful support for ideas from the bottom. Lester's idea, for
:example, should have been met with , "I'm not sure we can do
:that...let's discuss it in a big, important annual meeting, and let's
:see what we can do. If nothing else, we can all visit a nursing home
:sometime or volunteer at the Salvation Army...or something...Toys for
:Tots...something. That large an organization...tax free...doing

In general, I agree with these sentiments.



@@Use of "Sensei"


In response to:

:> $ These rules apply to "sensei" as well. You never call your own sensei
:> $ "sensei" when speaking *about* him to someone who does not know him.
:> $ You never call yourself "sensei."

Come on now, give up on this silly nitpicking. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging an acknowledged karate teacher as "Sensei," even if you are not his/her student in his/her class; I find it less pompous than calling them "Professor," simply because of what people world-wide expect of such professional titles. Since the title of this thread involves Kanazawa, hasn't anyone else picked up his kata books (1981)? Page 4, F. Takagi, Director FAJKO: "Kanazawa Sensei" Page 9: Meiji Yo, Pres. Japan Assoc Tai-Chi: "Sensei Kanazawa" etc., et.c, for other karate texts as well ...

Whether I'm teaching physics or karate, my preference is to be called "Lester." However, if I am to be addressed by a title, then I expect to be called "Professor" in an academic setting, "Dr." or "Mr." in a business setting, and "Sensei" in a karate setting. If I have to formally reference my Instructor's degree granted by AAKF and JKA, I refer to it simply as my Sensei degree, as Instructor's degree means little if nothing to most people.

What's the big hang-up here? It's simply a convenient one-word title to help place someone in a broad classification, e.g., to distinguish a beginner from a first-dan teacher from a degreed Instructor/Sensei, etc. As I pointed out above, this is used this way formally as well as informally by many Japanese in and out of the martial arts as well as by non-Japanese. The Webster dictionary regularly updates words that have become part of the recognized standard vocabulary, even though such usage might have been inappropriate just a few years previous.

These are pretty generic terms, and are used to accord some respect. Agreed, anyone who has to claim respect is usually on pretty shaky grounds, but there are many cases where formal titles are considered obligatory, especially in published materials.

: You are totally out of your depth in this topic. In writing, one does
: not refer to another as "sensei" other than in conversational tones.
: There are more polite expressions that can be attached to a social
: superior's name in Japanese than "sensei."
: As long as both of you are Japanese, I agree. Otherwise, the
: pronunciation of such all around me is nauseating beyond all extremes.
: Do you speak Japanese? No?
: A Ph.D. should know better. The English that you are reading is
: written that way to reflect *our* speech patterns by a translator.
: The translating in those books is terrible, and in the kanji, Lester,
: it is always following the name.

This has nothing to do with having a PhD or my interpretation of a language I do not speak. It has to do with having daily intense contact with Japanese in karate training over many years. I do not believe that they have shown as much disrespect to me and other colleagues as is implied by letting us all use Sensei to address other Instructors than our own, just as they have!, both formally and informally. You still have not addressed the use of Sensei in formal texts by other Japanese, who certainly can read enough English to have changed the English translation if Sensei was misused, etc., else they are irresponsible authors.

I must conclude that you are stretching a very conservative interpretation of the use of Sensei. In any case, in the Western world, as I have cited, even Japanese apparently have grown accustomed to use the title Sensei much the same as we also use "Doctor" or "Professor," etc. As I mentioned in my previous post, whether popular use of some words may be offensive to some of us, even Webster acknowledges that when words become used in certain contexts long enough, indeed that defines their "correct" usage.



@@Karateists or Trekkies


XX1 wrote:

:XX2 wrote>
: > I just wanted to pursue the point of speaking
: >the language a little. I'm impressed with the fact that you have taken
: >the time to become fluent in Japanese. But, I fail to see the need to
: >learn the language in order to become a skilled practitioner of the art.
: >Granted it will give you greater insights into the history and
: >traditions. But, how does it relate to your "martial" skills. Don't get
: >me wrong, I'm interested in learning more about the language. But, only
: >because I'm curious of the culture that brought us this art.
:It relates if you ever do any of the following:
:* Count in Japanese
:* Call out technique names in Japanese
:* Try and teach anyone anything about a Japanese word and what it means
:* Ever mention why the Japanese do something or more importantly *how*
: they do something
:* Try and explain bowing, sitting, meditating -etc in the context of
: the Japanese practice.

I agree with both of you. Some people have limited time and resources to study everything they wish. In karate, yes you can select training without having to become a Japanese citizen. After leaving Instructor's school, I taught everything in English, even counted only in English; my textbooks are in English. I do not think my students got an inferior karate education. I was not about to pretend to know enough about another culture to teach as if I belonged to that culture. While a student of karate, I also felt it would have been disrespectful to my instructors as well as myself to talk in "pig-English," and I just spoke slowly in regular sentences. I still can't believe how many American instructors teach in pig-English to "convey" their (scanty) Japanese "upbringing."

Also, while I greatly appreciate much of Japanese culture as a lay-academic, I also appreciate much about my own culture, and saw/see no reason not to use the strengths of my own culture to aid my own teaching.

Yes, without a relatively full education in Japanese culture, it would be quite difficult to understand the Japanese view on bowing and meditation. However, there are many cultures that bow as a matter of respect, and I do not have to be Japanese to sufficiently understand Japanese bowing in order to teach and practice bowing.

Furthermore, I do not think many karate instructors, including Japanese karate instructors have taken the time to study the human brain and its behavioral/psychological states sufficiently, to say they are better experts on mediation than many practitioners and scientists who are not at all familiar with Japanese culture.

Too many Japanese instructors, at least in the USA, use the fact they are Japanese as a crutch to avoid the pain and energy of trying to advance their own knowledge, or they fear being questioned to the limits of their present knowledge.

Of course, in practice, as XX1 points out, the overwhelming majority of Western students and non-Japanese instructors are essentially "trekkies." Also, of course, many Japanese instructors upon coming to a Western country quickly changed their own teaching style and even philosophy to some extent, to better "sell" karate to the pagan masses, thereby becoming "trekkies" themselves.

However, it would be incorrect to think this is some kind of anomaly to karate or to Japanese vs Western culture. I have participated in many disciplines where the "truth" or facts are so hard to get, that many students, consciously or unconsciously, adapt their behavioral mannerisms to those of their teachings, hoping of course that there will come some mystical transfer of knowledge akin to that possessed by their teachers. In fields that have not gained as much experimental and theoretical knowledge as have the physical sciences (but do not exclude the physical sciences), this "trekkie" phenomenon is even more of a disease.

All "trekkies," except of course TRUE Star-Trekkies, should be shunned.



@@Cross-Training Martial Arts


I had about a year of judo in Los Angeles before I was a karate shodan, and about a year of aikido in Berkeley after I was a karate shodan. I remember the advanced black belts as being very good and very tough, especially the judo experts.

When people ask me for a reference for a school, e.g., when they are going to live elsewhere, I often tell them to look into local judo schools as well as karate schools. A good judo (or aikido) school certainly provides better training than a poor karate school.

While most people have limited time, and should likely stick to one path to the top of their mountain (from where they can at least get a good view of the other mountains), cross-training can be very good training.

In 1964 I visited Amsterdam while living in Copenhagen. I stopped over one evening to visit a karate school run by a fellow, Anton Geesink. I saw him finish teach a judo class, then teach a karate class. I was very surprised at how smooth and excellent his techniques were in both classes. He had a very nice personal nature and a great relationship with his students. That night through the next morning he took me to bar after bar in Amsterdam -- he was a very warm and funny guy! He said he was a nidan in JKA karate, and he certainly looked very good, at least as far as I could tell just being a shodan myself.

I heard a story while in Amsterdam of how he was attacked by a gang of thugs a week or so previous. By the time the police arrived, he had crushed all of them, and some ears were strewn in the street. Of course, as many of you know, he went on to win the Men's Openweight Olympic Judo competition in Tokyo in 1964, the first non-Japanese to win this event. I think he had learned to integrate his judo and karate training very well.



@@Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)


Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is evolving from staged thuggery into a solid platform to test fighting skills across fighting disciplines. In time, as with other popular sports that generate lots of interest and money, statistics will be generated to help determine skills sets that are superior, independent of individual efforts.

Personal efforts always will be important factors for winning in any fighting discipline. The point is that until now, many disciplines have cherished the perceived superiority of their skills, as proof that a student would do best by taking their training. Now, these skill sets can be tested in a reasonably scientific process.

It also should be clear that many martial arts offer much more to many people than just fighting skills. They can offer discipline and training in human development that is way beyond training in MMA per se. For the most part, these benefits are available only to people that pursue them. These auxiliary benefits may be motivational features to help some people persevere in their training, but they are of course mostly meta-features to gaining actual fighting skills. Gaining these additional life skills should be considered their own reward.





Mixed Martial Arts was full of pretty poor techniques for some years. However, even when it first started, I felt it would be a testing ground for true martial arts, as I stated in https://www.ingber.com/karate.html#Mixed-Martial-Arts .



I am glad you think so. I was just disappointed in how defensive those Karatekas were on this Shotokan page. Everytime I question Karate, they all start attacking what I say without proper justification. I am sure none of those guys ever tested their own skills in real life situations, thats why they have no idea what they're talking about.


I agree. For example, a short while ago I was asked if a strong punch to the head could kill anyone. Of course, even mild head trauma could lead to death, but this was not the assumption in the question which assumed that a very strong karate punch to the head could always kill.

In fact, a proper strike-snap to the head often does more damage to the head than a thrusting punch, imparting more pressure to bone at the impact point and more momentum and energy transferred to the rest of the head. This is simply because a thrusting technique has a heavy mass behind it, which then imparts less damage to a smaller mass than a lighter-mass strike, no matter how much heavier the mass becomes (with a commensurate trade-off in less velocity, as the stance and body has to generate momentum for these techniques).

As you say, all this is "learned" by both years of hard practice and sound scientific investigation.



Correct. I have recently added Judo takedowns and Jiu Jitsu ground fighting techniques to my training. I always felt that knowing Karate only made me vulnerable to any sort of close distance or grappling way of fighting. Now I feel much more confident since I know how to fight standing, clinching, and on the ground. Thanks primarily due to watching MMA competitions that convinced me about the importance of knowing how to fight in various positions.

This is what I was trying to emphasize on this Shotokan page to other Karatekas, but they kept refusing the ideas I proposed and kept giving examples of Master Oyama and old Samurais and how their Karate techniques were sufficient and worked well. They never seen them fight, and yet they kept discussing how powerful they were, hehe.

To be honest I had higher expectations from this Shotokan Karate page, but I guess traditional martial artists could get very defensive when their techniques are questioned!


I wouldn't say this is typical of Shotokan people: This kind of defensive and arrogant behavior can be found from many "experts" across physical and mental disciplines! There should be appreciation for the dedication it takes to become expert in any given discipline, but that appreciation should be spread to other experts in other disciplines.

As seen in MMA, often an expert in a single discipline can go quite far in competition. Usually that is because the competitor understands (has trained some in) the other fighting disciplines well enough to adapt to each fight. You don't have to be the best in each fighting discipline to win most fights.



@@Fees for Classes


In reply to:
:Free training must be an excellent motivator! I often wonder if I
:should pay less than the other students, after all I help teach. I
:often wonder if I should pay more, I get more out of the training &
:get valuable direct attention.

I have to disagree. I've had too many experiences where I let people train for free, and they did not commit as well to the class and their own training as when they were charged.

I think people should pay a "fair" fee for services rendered. "Fair" likely will be much less for karate classes than other kinds of classes, given its culture. Also, many classes run by schools and recreation centers are essentially subsidized by taxpayers, and this tends to statistically distort what a "fair" fee should be. A part of the fees collected should go to some "scholarship fund" to help people who cannot afford to pay full fees; I favor some work-exchange program.

It's next to impossible to perpetuate the best of services if those services cannot be run in some business fashion. I know, as I tried for many years to personally subsidize a nonprofit corporation; unless you have very deep pockets, this is a bad idea.

This is not the same as saying there should be an open competition to see how much money can be amassed by a given club or central organization; rather, something along the line of a nonprofit or not-for-profit organization is appropriate.

In line with what many here are saying, I agree that often there is no need for central organizations whose main purpose seems to perpetuate themselves, not the training of their clients. As I posted previously, there are many people, like myself, who are willing to volunteer some _limited_ time to work with other schools and instructors to perpetuate the art. However, this must be tempered by realizing that there really is no "free lunch," and many people must participate in such efforts if they are going to work.



@@Handicapped Students

Subject: Re: Teaching People with Challenges Beyond the Norm

XXX wrote:

:I won't teach people who are handicapped mentally. If I were to do
:something like that, if would have to be in a special program where
:the mentally deficient person were taught in a separate class.
:Otherwise, they would end up consuming the larger part of the class
:time or end up ignored.
:By basic personal policy regarding the disabled is that I try not to
:teach people karate who really will never experience what the others
:are experiencing.
:I won't teach people in wheelchairs, because they cannot move their
:hips, and therefore cannot do the most fundamental motion necessary.
:I won't teach "special ed" people largely because they consume the
:class that the others are also there to enjoy.
:Mostly, I try and avoid teaching any "special" cases that would
:require of me special training or skills that I do not have. I don't
:even have what I consider to be normal levels of patience. I cannot
:see myself teaching in such a situation. I tell my instructor
:trainees to avoid these situations if they like. There is no law
:requiring you to accept any and all comers into your class, especially
:when you are responsible for their safety.

Well I've had some very good experiences with both mentally and physically handicapped students.

For example, I had mentally handicapped students side by side with regular and gifted students in many classes in the alternative school I ran circa 1970-1978. Most of the academic classes were self-paced, so no real problem there. In karate classes, the real issue in training is the level of emotional stability, not really intellectual aptitude, even along the lines of my own approach to instruction. Having taught people from 5 to 80 years old, emotional stability quite often (unfortunately) is not simply a matter of age or intellectual aptitude. Hell, I've had pets with more emotional stability than many adults with advanced degrees!

I have taught many kinds of physically handicapped students. I do agree that I would not integrate students in wheelchairs into regular classes. However, it is striking just what kinds of students can participate to a high level in regular classes. Again, emotional stability is important. For example, when I was travelling weekly from a class in Berkeley, CA to Stanford, CA, one student had only vestiges of arms. I modified the kata to change hand techniques to leg techniques at the appropriate level. He could participate in many, not all, of the basic sparring exercises. He did himself and the class a great service; he had a great attitude.

I admit I had more problems with onlookers and therapists who were appalled that I was as relentless in my instruction with the handicapped as I was with the regular students. However, once I saw their limits, I saw no reason to not to push them as hard to their limits as I pushed other students to their limits. These days, I'd probably have to worry about law suits.



@@Peer Review


I regret so many people with whom I've corresponded are afraid of, or do not see the merit or necessity for, true peer review in karate. I do not mean massage, I mean honest, anonymous if required, review. Otherwise, who can determine the breadth and depth of all the guru-some wisdom being parcelled out? Review has its defects, but lack of review has more defects.

(1) Yes, I believe that a karate Instructor must be more than a qualified teacher or coach. They are teaching people to fight, to inflict harm, to interact with violence! They have to have passed through some rites to earn this status.

(2) Yes, they have to learn to instruct.

(3) However, any good school requires its instructors to primarily be expert in the subject they are teaching! I see too much nonsense of teaching people to teach or to coach without requiring them to actually know their subject in depth! Instructors should be required to be as creative in their subject as they require their students to be in learning -- whether learning sparring, kata, or even historical analyses.

The Instructors course I took in 1968 had the most well-understood elements of (1), (2) and (3) known at that time. Clearly, (2) has been advanced since then. I think (1) and (3) have typically gotten worse since then regarding requirements for Instructors!




From ingber@ingber.com Sat Dec 12 09:25:37 CST 1998
From: Lester Ingber <ingber@ingber.com>
Subject: Re: https://www.ingber.com/karate85_book.html
Date: 12 Dec 1998 15:24:21 GMT
Originator: ingber@caa.caltech.edu


Basically, my take on all this is as follows:

Re my books in karate, well, there are several aspects to this.

I've spent quite a few years establishing well-recognized peer review in several disciplines. This is not a brag but a fact. What is easy *not* to see is just how hard it is to get to such a level in any discipline when you do not have the luxury of being coddled as a student through the learning process. That is, I was so coddled as a student in nuclear physics and karate, but most certainly not when I entered the worlds of neuroscience, government studies and politics, business, and most recently in finance, where there was no straightforward progression through a series of ranks once I started off as a degreed professional. After you have one degree, it is hard for many people, including myself, to start over again in another discipline where people are pretty ruthless and unforgiving, much more so even than in this forum.

I have learned to be confident that I can prevail while being patient, humble, and open while developing an expertise in new disciplines. The other side of that is that I also have the confidence that I am more right than most other people most of the time in areas of my expertise. By my nature, I am open to reasoned discussions of disagreements with my approaches to subjects within my areas of established expertise, but I'm really too busy and don't care much to waste my time with people that simply act like educated idiots, using their superficial knowledge about subjects outside the areas of their audience to convey expertise within that audience's domain of expertise. I should qualify that to document that I do go out of my way to work with people if I feel we can develop good projects and mutual respect to work on future projects.

Part of the problem I have had with many people in the subjects of my expertise is my interest in approaching very hard problems of the time with interdisciplinary approaches, to which I have assumed the years of work it took to get expertise in the several disciplines so required to go beyond simple party chatter. While I feel, and to some extent I feel vindicated by some successes, that such approaches were indeed necessary, many people quite expert in a given discipline get annoyed or threatened by having to deal in detail with areas outside their expertise at the same peer level to which they are accustomed. This most certainly is true in karate and most certainly true of most ancient instructors that have demanded they be treated as gurus.

No, people work hardest when they are challenged, not "pissed off" as you claim. When you get into really managing people I'm quite sure you will find that pissed off people spend too much time paying attention to their emotional states than their jobs.

Nonsense about my "formality." If anything, I think it fair to say that I'm noted for my informality, which has been accepted because complementary to a friendly interaction is an absolute ruthless respect for getting things done, and I exhibit leadership in working harder and longer than others. In this context, I think you do not appreciate that many people accept your rudeness because you too work hard for their causes, but it is in spite of -- not because of -- your rudeness.

Re some facts in https://www.ingber.com/karate85_book.html: I think I often enough stated/conveyed in that book essentially that some of the approaches in Elements of Advanced Karate were full-fledged experiments to bring down to earth to test some esoteric philosophical ideas preached by many teachers and students. I think that overall that set of projects was successful, but I too felt that it was a stretch in some areas dealing with emotive and archetypical training examples, independent of some of the great exercises they inspired. As stated in that book, the experiment was to examine ideas promoted since the recording of history in the context of today's Science.

I think my work in developing the first basic physics of karate techniques still is quite correct and sound, but incomplete in dealing with many other issues in body movement, that since then have been and are being addressed by other authors. Similarly, I am confident about my ideas on attention and short-term memory, as developed in my approaches in karate as well as in physics/neuroscience.

In all cases, I felt that it was important and necessary, to me as well as to my discipline and its society, to put my work together so that it could be formally reviewed, to get feedback as well to advance the state of such knowledge.

Unfortunately, in karate to be sure, there is too large a ratio of ego/talk relative to disciplined work and hard specific training to investigate these subjects by too many teachers as well as students. Naturally, I have greater respect for people who too have taken the time and effort to codify their ideas and to publish them for peer review, independent of whether I agree with their approaches.





Subject: Re: Instructor Training Model Developing

In reply to XX1:

:I'd like to suggest another area for instructor training... one that will
:probably generate a fair amount of flaming. Not my intent, but......
:Several years ago my instructor at the time talked about his instructor
:training under Nishiyama in Mexico City back in the early-mid 70's.
:Evidently quite a lot of effort was made in teaching the trainees how to
:recognize various people's racial/geographical/cultural stereotypes,
:potential impact on the training process, and how to deal with it.
:Disclaimer: Consider the following with an open mind. Taint proper PC,
:but there are kernels of truth to it. ...
:If one can put aside the issue of generalizations, I do believe that when
:it comes to training others there is something to understanding a
:student's mindset in order to be a better teacher. As such, much of an
:individual's mindset comes from that person's racial/geographical/cultural
:upbringing. ...
:I guess I'm dancing around psychology/sociology issues. But I have seen
:this issue impact numerous students in their training. Though I don't
:like it from a framework standpoint, I can't argue about it's existence.
:It's there. It happens frequently.
:So how do you folks deal with it? (Besides tell me I'm full of it and a
:racist to boot.)
:Lester... you know about this stuff? I believe you were active with
:Nishiyama at the time.

The biggest problem with such generalizations as those you state (even if you say you do not necessarily believe them) is that they are just that: generalizations. Any validity they might have are most likely confined to a much smaller set of people than you imply, and then most likely only because of a specific set of environmental factors. I am not saying this out of any sense of trying to be Politically Correct, but rather on the basis of working with and training many people. The damage done by such ignorant and arrogant bigotry is immeasurable. It enforces self-fulfilling prophecies on the weakest of people, and incites rage and other unproductive responses in the strongest of people.

Especially when dealing with an activity that requires above-average motivation and leads to above average skills, I cannot see the relevance of such generalizations; such mind-sets can only impede proper instruction and proper training. For example, while I agree with XX2 in a previous posting that good Instructors are always judging students from day one, these judgments are only soundly made on an individual basis, and are subject to continual change. I have no problem judging someone from day one, and still subscribing to the tenant that you "can't tell a book by its cover," or I might add, by its color or race or sex, etc.

The garbage of racial and religious stereotypes presented is not sufficient information to judge a person. Yes, people adapt themselves to their environments, but this is usually pretty superficial. As an Instructor, as part of my training as well as part of the training of my students, I do judge people regularly, with the same seriousness as if I were facing an opponent in battle. Only a short-lived fool would take an attack or defense position in battle based on the color or race of an opponent. The job of an Instructor in large part to judge a person under stress, wherein the "cover" is usually quickly stripped away, and then the Instructor and the student must work with what's left. This is my experience speaking, not any sense of political correctness.

I have met such bigotry all my life, in the streets and in the "highest" echelons of government, and it stinks as much no matter what its source. I certainly do not shirk physical labor. To this day, I find working hard with my spouse in a family business quite rewarding, beyond any small economic benefits. Any one who has run a small business most likely would not last long if they did not accept all work, physical and mental and emotional, as important chores to be done well. Too often, especially in our present society where large governments and institutions hire "specialists," some people too easily tend to draw Them and Us lines across every imaginable sector of people. They find humor in showing how they are inept at doing Them chores, while basking in the arrogance of being able to perform Us chores.

As the only Instructor student in the only rigorous 1-year-course in this country who really showed up every day for classes, I say unequivocally that I never had a seminar or even a class discussion on such racist topics. Nishiyama ran a first-rate school, quite different from any other classes he ran, continually challenging himself as well as the other instructors and instructor-students, the latter in turn continually challenging him as well. It's too bad this level of interaction could not be maintained after his students earned their advanced Instructor levels.

(Of course, the above comments refer to the level of instruction for a relatively short time in a specific context. This says nothing about the progression of levels of the participants in the years following. In most disciplines, many people who rise to the tops of their professions have not been enrolled in the "top" schools during their student years.)

I found many Americans just as bigoted towards Japanese (trying to "act" Japanese by acting stereotypical) as I found many Japanese bigoted towards Americans. However, when people get the opportunities to work hard side by side for long periods of time, their inner selves determine the degree of respect they may have for each other, not their race or color, etc.

I cannot speak for other high-ranking Instructors who ran/run their own Instructor schools. However, from what I saw, I would not be surprised if in fact XXXX's premise is correct regarding quite a few of those schools. (I was shocked at the low level of instruction at some of these schools.) I did not officially attend any other Instructor school classes, so that is the most I can and will say.

If your inner self is weak, then you'd better get to work strengthening it or be prepared to get dumped on. Unfortunately, many people prefer to pass their dump onto others instead of working on improving themselves. More unfortunately, the recipients of these unwarranted passed-on dumps, called scapegoats, must struggle against external as well as internal factors just to try to improve themselves and society.

I have no disagreement that it is always helpful to have as much info as possible about people. My complaint is the use of specific damaging stereotypical language in a public posting. I can handle some naive query about the important of race, color, etc., in abilities, etc., but this is not the same as using slurs (even when quoting someone else).

Furthermore, as is the experience of many instructors (perhaps not all, for various reasons ...), when you get down to the nitty gritty of training (realizing that this does not happen often in some poor classes), these issues quickly vaporize.

This is quite different to what might transpire out of class, if a student and an instructor decide to have other kinds of interactions. For example, knowing someone's background can help to guide a conversation along paths that will enhance motivation to continue training, etc.

Being a "professional" in most disciplines requires that you work with people in the nitty gritty of your discipline, relatively independent of whatever kind of relationship you might dream of having or not having with an individual outside of the context of the shared discipline.



@@Setting Grading Standards


(1) Students and instructors would like to have some kind of organization recognize their ranks.

(2) Even if most schools and students could afford all the fees (which they all likely cannot), they are reluctant to pay it to some splinter group of an organization that no longer serves their needs.

(3) It seems every new group that starts up to represent JKA or Shotokan karate soon starts trying to feed its own pockets and/or ego, without serving the basic needs of the students at an affordable price.

How about this kind of solution, to serve only the basic need of having Kyu and Dan ranks recognized by some reasonable peer body:

Have some reasonably recognized high-level instructors volunteer their services once or twice a year (I would so volunteer) to visit some regions for the purpose of testing/communicating with instructors who want to give grades to their own students. The only funds that would have to be collected would be travel + per diem expenses to pay the top level committee to visit various regions.

A kind of short course, even via mail (which would be tested during site visits to make sure the instructors did the actual work), would be required to establish some standards of testing (not necessarily of teaching -- that's too hard and probably too expensive to implement now anyway). Passing a given rank would mean that a student could perform some established test (e.g., even using the JKA "standards") at some level of performance that would be certified during the site visits (to insure that instructors are clear on just what standards are required).

Having some system of checks on instructors giving exams would at least tell students their ranks meant something. Admittedly this is not as good as some high-ranking person or committee giving all the exams, but this is cheaper and more efficient, and permits local instructors to maintain more control over their own schools. I would think it desirable that during the site visits some sample of exams be given by the committee and the instructors just to make it clear what is expected.

Some critical mass of schools would have to be willing to participate for all this to make sense.



@@Grading, Including Children


In response to:

:$ For kids I use the smaller step system to pass kids that sometimes
: It has been my experience that
:kids need much more inducement to continue training than adults. They need
:more instant gratification.

While I see the point you are both making, I have a different approach to teaching children.

Children take the same Kyu tests as adults, during their own class. Sometimes a child can get up to a Jr. Black Belt (has all the skills, but not the full body power or full technique of an adult), which I think is more common these days.

As with adults, passing each exam signifies satisfactory completion of some basic skill set. My views on exams are stated in Karate: Kinematics and Dynamics, https://www.ingber.com/karate81_book.txt:
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> UNTIL <<<< BELOW >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
IIB-13. Kyu and Dan Exams

First, an analogy between karate belt levels and academic school levels will help to clarify the meaning of "levels." I consider a Black Belt to roughly correspond to a Bachelor's degree. In any college, some undergraduates are smarter or quicker than some graduate students. However, a good faculty member appreciates that an average graduate student has more academic maturity than an average undergraduate student. A graduate student may have been a "B" undergraduate student, but the "A" undergraduate student is still an undergraduate. The only objective way to run a school is to test for specific skills at each level, as defined by a peer group of faculty members. Some beginners may have more talent than some advanced students, but until that talent is specifically tested, that student must pass each test at the standardized levels. Finally, at Black Belt level, a set of basic skills have been tested, and a given student may pass at a "C" "B" or "A" level. When a student under 16 years old first passes a Black Belt exam, it is considered a I Dan Jr. Black Belt grade, because although the correct dynamics are present, usually power and sparring maturity are not. He or she continues to take the Black Belt exam every six months until the level is clearly the same as the adult Black Belt.

Second, the exam is an objective class experience for all students, and they learn to appreciate what is required at other levels as well. Since many students are nervous at karate exams, this is also a small "moment of truth" for them. They must perform, ready or not, under stressful conditions, exactly how they should be training in all their classes!

Black Belts, as part of their ongoing training, should sit up front with the examining instructor, and commit their own judgments on students to writing, to be discussed later with the examining instructor. Black Belts typically take their physical exam twice a year, instead of four times a year. They are also graded on the quality of questions they submit to be considered for use on the written kyu exam.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< FROM >>>> ABOVE <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

There are some many skills to learn, that there is plenty of gratification to give children when they achieve some proficiency in these skills. This means that for children, I make a point of telling them when they have improved, more often than with adults. I do not tell them this when they do not improve. I do not give them easier tests or give them pre-tests to insure that they will pass or not be embarrassed by failing (as they do in most schools in this DC area, where form too often is more important than substance or truth).

Karate can be a very special activity for children. With proper training, they often can become better, in many measurable ways, than adults, a very rare event in a child's world. This reality, when a child realizes that he/she has actually earned such technique on an objective basis, and is not getting a gift from from a baby-sitter, is the best confidence builder.

There are some concessions I make for children. When adults mess up, my voice gets harsher as the criticism rises. With children as the level of criticism rises, my voice goes lower and softer. I do not avoid giving proper objective criticism (which makes some parents go crazy). I take my responsibilities of teaching child karate seriously, and they quickly learn that this is a serious activity they should not take lightly in or out of class.

Many children learn faster and deeper than many adults. Those children (and adults) that do not learn as fast and deep recognize that good karate classes offer them unparalleled activities they cannot get from most other sports/discipline, a chance to train in a graded environment where they can try their best at each level, where trying can be at least as important as winning, without a sense of shame or continuous defeat.

In this context, I do not understand why children need any additional gifts/bribes/instant gratifications? This too often just sets them up to expect the same as adults, with all the attending negative emotions when they do not get what they think they deserve.

As I have stated in previous postings, my exams are not as stressful as regular classes. Students are being graded, and this of course is stressful to many of them. However, setting up an objective environment is the main purpose of the exams.

In a bit of a tangent to another ongoing thread, but also relevant to children coming from other schools, re how to handle new people of advanced ranks from other dojos, I must admit this is difficult. I think Kyu levels from other schools should take the same level Kyu tests with the regular class, and at that time they make be asked to take lower or higher Kyu exams as the instructor sees fit. For Dan levels from other schools, this is more difficult, at least for me, for reasons spelled out above in the quote from my book. For first, second, and third Dan levels from other schools, a thorough Dan exam can flesh out their proper level, and then often the real problem is whether the student can accept the objectivity of the exam.

As is true in any school (karate, academic, or otherwise), there often is some emphasis that they will not be very familiar with, relative to other students at the same or close ranks, e.g., as with the intense combinations in my schools, and they will often need more training.

With Dan levels more advanced than third or fourth Dan, well, this is a matter of how much they can contribute to your dojo, or how much you feel they have contributed to karate in general, of course assuming that their technique is at least a third or fourth Dan level. If you are teaching a definite style, then of course you should recognize advanced people from other styles, but you do not have to recognize them at that same level in your school if they train regularly.




In response to:

: Lester-
: While I agree with what you said in your post, let me explain IMHO why
: I use the small step system. It's a new system so I'm still looking at
: it as well.

I go along with trying new methods of teaching, and I agree that instructors that teach differently still can have similar positive effects on students. I still may disagree with some instructors on some specific points, but this should be placed in that context.

: 1. Often times Children need more exposure to test environments than
: adults. While these mini-exams should be de-emphasized in stress it helps
: the younger student learn how to focus while under pressure.

There is a counter-argument that children should be given fewer, not more, tests than adults. This argument has been carried into many universities that have stopped grading during freshman year, etc.

: 2. Children lack much of the attention span that adults have. Testing
: more often forces them to pay attention more.

I disagree. That is, compared to boring instruction (in general of course; I have never seen you teach, etc.), yes, testing grabs a student's attention. However, intense and content-rich classes can hold a student's attention even more.

: 3. As long as you give no outward sign of rank (no belts or actual
: stripes) the student uses this test as a test of skill not for a belt.

This is a good structure.

: 4. It serves to keep students that are like most children anxious and
: impatient to deal with a longer process.

That's why it is so important to teach techniques, kata and sparring on objective sound principles, so that when a student gets feedback that he/she has learned something, that reward is motivating to go to the next level, etc. I think this works better, is more properly self-paced for all students, than using tests for such motivational devices.

: These are my thoughts, as I watch more I'll see how this impacts the
: students. If it impacts them in a competitive or negative way I'll go
: back to the old system quickly. Thanks for your input though some of it
: was very useful.

As I first said above, I respect an open mind, and I empathize with how difficult it can be to act decisively on such thoughts, being prepared to suffer the defeat of such ideas if they do not work out as planned. We ask students to take risks, and instructors should too, for the worthy propose of advancing individuals as well as the art.

I agree that tests are necessary in a school environment. That is, teachers have a lot at stake to perpetuate a school environment :>)! However, if you take a small objective step back, and see that most schooling for most students is to "prepare" them for interactions out of school, then it becomes sinful and ridiculous to teach students to take tests rather than to structure classes to instead help them cope with problem-solving interactions/situations within and between themselves on a regular basis that more properly mirror the world for which they are being prepared.

I've done pretty well on many tests, and I think I have done a very good job preparing creative and demanding tests at many ranks in several disciplines. I still think tests often are unnecessary crap and should only be used to serve some requirements for regular objective feedback, and not be part of daily learning per se.



@@Teaching Instructors


Subject: Re: Organization and Planning of Karate Training

:>For you that have taught instructor training before...How do you
:>teach someone to "see" errors, emotional state of students, center of
:>gravity shift errors, etc.? (Or how can I at least try to given my
:>understanding and current limitations...I'm all we've got).
:This is how we run our Assessor Training Program at work. It's once a
:year during the summer since we don't run classes during June, July,
:and August. (We use to but we were having too many heat casualties).
:It's objective is to take prospective cadre and teach them using a
:standardized program to insure uniformity throughout the cadre ranks.

All the suggestions I've seen so far are pretty sound. The idea is to get black belts to think and feel critically.

I have the outlines of courses I ran in my texts. All opportunities were always taken to educate black belts towards an instructor level, just part of their education, even if they had no intention of teaching; it always helped them improve in some aspects anyway.

For example, black belts would write down all their own grades for all students at exams. Then, after the exams, I would lead a special class for the black belts, examining what they wrote down and why. They would have to defend their criticisms, illustrating how they would correct specific problems, etc. All black belts were required to submit theses each six months, as part of their own exam, which could range from teaching to sparring points illustrated with specific combinations, to longer written dissertations. They would critically review all these theses at these six-month periods. More advanced 3rd Dan and above would be called upon during 1st & 2nd Dan exams to spontaneously create combinations on special themes for the exams, etc.

I and my assistant instructors were continually called upon to be creative in implementing this ongoing education, just as we expected our students to be creatively involved in their own studies and ultimately in their sparring.

Etc., etc., without rest for the weary.




: To: ingber@ingber.com
: From: YYY
: Subject: Karate Kinematics and Dynamics
: Dear Sensei Ingber
: I was searching on Google for some links for a post I did on my blog
: and found your Karate page. I've included your link in my post 'The
: ZZZ'. You can see it at
: ...
: I would like to say that I immediately recognised the picture you had
: up on your site. I currently have your book in front of me. One of my
: old instructors gifted it to a friend, who loaned it to me when he
: stopped practicing Karate. Some of us in the American Karate and
: Taekwondo Organization have found your book a valuable resource for
: instructors. I just wanted to thank you for your insight.
: Regards,
: --
: Chief Instructor,


Hi. I appreciate the nice words. For sure, my studies in karate
reported in my 1970 thesis and 1976, 1981, and 1985 books were very
innovative and important to a few other people at that time, but I
expect that by now many Instructors have found better ways to relate
the same and deeper points to their students and peers.

In the context of your article you cite below, I think that training
in 1-person and 2-person combinations -- a new one presented in
each class -- is extremely useful to teach/train students that
Karate is a "body language" that need to be "spoken" creatively,
and this means putting otherwise isolated techniques regularly into
the context of new "paragraphs" of body interactions with opponents.


Dear Ingber Sensei,

Unfortunately, from my research in the last few years, few instructors
or martial arts authors are exploring the issues you have raised. The
only one article that I came across discussed body dynamics in regards
to Ikken Hisatsu - or 'One Strike One Kill' punches. I did not purchase
the video/book they were selling, but the few points they brought up
made a lot of sense, were as thorough as your approach, and improved my
own makiwara training.

The trend nowadays seems to be a race to figure out how to identify the
most number of esoteric techniques from kata. Few have written on the
subject from the coaching or instructional perspective - which your book
does extremely well, and which was my thought for the blog I started.

Would you mind if I copied that last paragraph of yours and place it on
the blog? It would serve as a good reminder to me and my students.




@@Critical Review in Karate


Politics has all but wrecked chances JKA had some years ago of forming a strong international karate organization that could have benefited many students.

I think peer review, albeit flawed across just about every disciplines by virtue of involving humans, is an essential feature that must be added to karate publications. Most of the karate groups I have worked with, both public and private, had balked at instituting formal review policies for fear of receiving some negative feedback.

I am not talking of sharp interactions between people re different opinions re karate. I am talking of a formal review process requiring peer review and moderation of these reviews by an established editorial board.

Below I include an edited copy of an email I sent to my R&D group in the discipline of computational/mathematical finance, dealing with their need to be more critical even in their internal review processes. I think the same issues are relevant to karate.



I've regularly but informally asked R&D people to have their codes reviewed. However, we are now producing a lot of code, if for no other reason there are more people developing projects. So, let's start now with a well understood review process.

Since everyone in R&D has a full formal education through PhD, I hope we all are familiar with review processes. If not, you will learn fast that having your work reviewed, whether by an anonymous reviewer or someone you know, is not always pleasant. Getting first papers on the brain and in finance in 1983 and into Physical Review in 1990, when Physical Review was still a very conservative snotty journal, dealing with lots of arrogant and not always knowledgeable reviewers, were in some ways pretty crummy experiences. In those sending a paper to Physical Review was the only way you could expect readers to assume that your work was properly reviewed by true experts (even if it often is virtually impossible to find experts in new interdisciplinary work).

However full of weaknesses, I fully support the review process. Authors are just human and so are reviewers. No one can be trusted to deliver or to review work without potential error. There is no absolute guarantee that any review process will uncover all possible errors, but it's clear that a guarantee of some review will provide better statistical likelihood of less errors than if there were no review.

The process I would like to follow is simple. At least one R&D person should be a reviewer for any code developed by anyone else in R&D. Usually the author can just turn to someone sitting nearby for a quick and simple check at reasonable milestones, but certainly including the final product. Even if the code is specific to some other project outside R&D, some internal sanity checks must be made independent of any other checks which I hope will be made by the people receiving our code. R&D as a group and as a company expense will be judged by all R&D work, and all of us should and will assume some responsibility.

One reason reviews are not pleasant is that a good reviewer is not put off by asking the author/developer to perform some simple, albeit perhaps time-consuming, sanity check on their work. Usually the request clearly would would be made by most objective reviewers not as expert in the work as the developer, but this does not always seem so objective to the author. This is exactly the kind of situation that exposes errors overlooked or undiscovered by the author.

I want reviews to be fair, but above all responsible, first and foremost to the product and the end-user, second in priority to the author/developer. It is expected that you will be as creative and diligent in your reviews as you are in developing your own projects. I'm sure this will not always be pleasant for you as an author or for you as a reviewer. A few jokes can help with personal interactions, but not at the expense of a reasonable review. If you as an author or as a reviewer are unsatisfied with a particular review, that's your signal to get another reviewer involved, etc.

I review several papers a month, from journals ranging from Physical Review to Behavioral and Brain Sciences to Applied Intelligence to Computer, etc. I know my own nature well enough to recognize when I've permitted my midbrain impatience and irritation at some errors to work their way into my cerebral cortex. At such times, I purposely put reviews aside for a few hours or a day until I can come back to them objectively. Please respect your authors and reviews similarly.




@@Levels of Exams and Instructors


In reply to:
: I have several suggestions, and I am sure others will post their
: improvements to these suggestions, or their previously designed
: examination upgrades in response.
: - Basics should be 50% demonstration, 50% written examination where the
: student is asked to demonstrate knowledge of the techniques and the
: mechanics, dynamics, and other factors involved with technique. Make
: sure that they understand what they are doing, not just doing.
: - The suggestions for kata are inherent above. Students should have to
: explain and demonstrate important points from the kata. They should
: also give various applications for differing techniques and tell why
: they like particular ones.
: - Kumite should be restructured along exams to begin with both one step
: /and/ multiple step drills. The drills should begin with blocking
: only defenses, then increase to counters in line with the basics. Then
: the attacker should attack from a more free posture. The next step
: could be the defender's posture moving to jiyugamae (free posture), the
: next step to incorporate shifting and feinting, the next to have
: techniques come unannounced one at a time, and lastly, true free
: sparring. This is better than the current methodology, I believe,
: though I am interested in reading other suggestions.

I expect that XXX has more to say, but much has not been said here, so it is reasonable for the rest of us to fill out this critique.

In my mind, a glaring deficiency of this critique and its conclusions is that is does not mention what is being tested. That is, especially for kyu ranks, I find that most instructors already realize that different attributes are given different priorities at different ranks. For example, while balance and the glimmer of proper technique might be most important for white-belt exams, more generation of body power definitely is important for brown-belt exams, etc.

As much as possible the level of the exam should reflect what is being tested, and here I am in agreement with the thrust of XXX's critique. My exams, even those outlined in my books, have more a gradation of difficulty than the standard JKA exams, to help objectify the priorities being tested, not to make the test hard just for the hell of it.

However, since basic body movements are pretty standard, e.g., there will be a lot of the same stances, punches, kicks, etc., at all ranks being tested, some weight must be given to how the student is performing these techniques. Instructors with many years of experience are able to see and immediately give feedback to a student on just how and where his/her technique is deficient, appropriate to the level being tested. Similarly on written exams, while raw content of answers can be objectively graded by a competent instructor, only a very good instructor can give feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the answers relative to the level of the student. I do not think many instructors below 4th Dan, even with their "Instructor's Training Essays" behind them, are capable of doing this very well, on physical or written exams.

I do not think this last feature of exams can be addressed solely by improving the level of exams, e.g., by creating new exam questions and exercises. I think this requires better ongoing instructor training.



@@Dealing With People-Problems


In reply to:
: I found that the people that seem pretty intelligent can take a basting
: and bounce back pretty quickly. Since the heart of real training is
: self-evaluation and correction, I think real karateka take flames and
: sometimes get their feelings hurt while they consider the truth. Then,
: they bounce back and come back in with both guns blasting once they've
: learned the rules.

I have to strongly disagree.

I think it is sufficient for someone to "bounce back" to have the integrity and honesty to himself/herself to accept his/her errors, and to either be receptive to an instructor or be smart enough to understand what is required to move on to corrections.

Note that having "blind faith" in another's teachings can often work, with the attending pros and cons.

On the contrary, I have seen many smart people just too mean-spirited to others or to themselves to accept their errors or to accept corrections from others or themselves.

It is necessary for someone to be sufficiently skilled/expert in an activity to be able to judge the activity in oneself or in others.

A lack of detailed knowledge can be masked by bravado or mystical zeal, but typically will not lead to specific improvements.

On the contrary, I have seen too many experts who lacked the integrity to utilize their knowledge to advance to wisdom or creativity to find errors and/or to find solutions for improvement in themselves or others.


I think that these are among the necessary and sufficient conditions required to regularly "bounce back" to achieve a level of expertise in most disciplines, or to help others to "bounce back."

Of course, there are many cases of "natural" talents, people that can achieve expert levels without much of the pain or setbacks experienced, or that would have to be experienced, by most others. Many times these expert people cannot help others, or even themselves in contexts outside their expertise, because they have no experience/expertise in the process of "bouncing back." I guess we should pity these people, or should we save that for those they come in contact with??




private correspondence

In response to:

: Lately I have had a little problem in my karate club.
: ...
: As you can see, I am pretty concerned. I usually come up with Solomon's
: Judgment for something like this, if I sit back and give it time. A week
: later, and nothing but lost sleep and pacing. Help?


We seem to have in common the awful trait of truly agonizing over our students, but sometimes reaping their anger, disappointment or scorn in return for what they perceive as our insensitivity to their problems. The problem of course is that we are constrained by the confines of the karate class to treat their problems within the context of the entire class and we are limited by the teacher-student relationship.

Such problems always arise when you tenaciously hold onto standards that conflict with easier and less stressful interactions desired by many people. Unfortunately, I see a trend over the past few decades leading more and more people to try to take the easier path, though it is clear that they most often will not achieve the same results.

I too of course have had similar cases as you have described. I have had some moderate success in bending to the attention requested by these people, e.g., giving them extra time and consideration outside of class, but most of these times (not all) this has just backfired and given them an extra weapon to dig into me during class -- they just expect more attention, and they learn how to act hurtful or nasty to get it.

When you care about people, the solution is harder than if you don't care. So, what can be done? Well, first, at this stage it would seem that she really is not going to change much, at least not from your feedback, so harsher action on your part won't work, e.g., extra exercises or suspension from class likely no longer are reasonable tools. I would just keep her exams straight-forward, but _not_ making allowances for "potential to improve" as you might when passing some other students. I would however, go out my way to compliment her on any true improvements, especially those she herself can see, to promote positive instead of negative feedback.

The plan here is to exercise "containment." Keep her at the lowest level of practice at which she has truly earned, to minimize her influence on the other students. As much as she can be a real pain, I do not see sufficient grounds to throw here out of class. However, you are not her psychiatrist, and you do not have to give her the attention she is demanding, in or out of class.

Your e-mail touches on the very non-glorious side of teaching. I have had such problems with children as well as adults in karate classes, with undergraduate as well as graduate students as well as other professors in academia when I was a professor there, with junior as well as senior officers in the military and officials in government service when I was a professor there, at all levels of business institutions, etc., etc. It is necessary to maintain an objective distance, especially within the context of the karate class, a class that often is a "melting pot" of people from all walks and levels of life.

Yes, such problems likely always will give you at least a little grief, and I would learn to bite the bullet and accept this, while also trying not to become bitter or desensitized. Consider this as part of your truly hard training in life. I'm not claiming that all this "wisdom" helps me in all such cases, but at least I can see the process in others. The bottom line should be as I mentioned in the beginning of this reply, to hold tightly onto high standards for yourself and your students. People that will persevere to maintain these standards have the potential to acquire tools to help them in many facets of their lives.



@@Emotions, Intuitions and Stress


The following is a reply I sent to a student concerned about stressful interactions:

I very much encourage you to read the short article, http://people.howstuffworks.com/vsd.htm which is a very good summary of Suzette Haden Elgin's excellent book Verbal Self Defense. In particular, her concept of Computer Mode is a vital and proper frame of mind to turn on in the midst of potentially stressful (and even dangerous) encounters.

Over many years of training and real encounters, I have found that undesirable emotions that typically arise in stressful encounters, once they surface, have their own lifetime to subside, and then they must be accommodated as best as possible while also trying to deal with situations that must be handled rationally.

However, I also have found that, with practice, you can become sensitive to the initial "rise" of such emotions, and you can learn to "cut them off" before they rise any more to achieve their own life. Going into a kind of Computer Mode is a good way to achieve this, by directing your full attention to a rationale path through the situation, a path that purposely avoids dealing with more unpleasant emotional aspects of encounters. Also, when you do this, by virtue of having exercised whatever control available to you, there will be no "guilt" with outcomes, albeit a healthy reflection afterwards on your accounts should leave to some useful critique to better prepare your for future encounters. This often require a "physical" (rather than an "intellectual") awareness of the initial rise of such emotions.


For example, during my intense karate Instructor's training, for many months I had similar concerns about being able to survive each days sparring. Each night, I mentally went over all the details of the day, consciously also examining my emotions during the previous situations as well as my current state of mind/feelings during reflections. I was preparing myself to again handle these situations somewhat differently during "free" associations during impending sleep. After a few months, this approach indeed worked well for me.

Having some control in life is, I think, a key issue. For example, even during intense karate training, I found a way to control my actions, even though I was acting in response to commands given by a harsh instructor: When he issued a command (even every simple count), I "translated" that command into my own command to move, which then caused my actions. For many years, this "translation" caused non-smooth breaks in my movements, until I finally got to the level where I could react in patterns of movement (typically in sparring) which clearly required mostly my own internal control (with the resultant positive or negative success!).


In fact, there is a lesson to learn from such extreme points of view: In many disciplines, including even Science, it is very hard to predict "success" based on previous education, tests of intelligence, etc. Very often, luck and creativity (often the product of being prepared to take advantage of luck) account for many achievements. If you believe this, simply by looking at many people around you, then you should simply work at what you like. If you do this, you may decide to practice taking progressively larger risks on projects to turn opportunities (luck) into outstanding successes (knowing you likely will need the stomach to handle some progressively larger failures. Or, you may simply realize that you can do quite well in your life by working very hard to make gains in your profession, and perhaps luck will lead you to great success without any great risks (less likely, but certainly possible).

In this context, my own feeling and thinking is that if you do not doubt yourself or your projects, then you likely are not working to your full potential. Furthermore, without doubt, you likely do not appreciate that you are in fact taking risks on risky projects. (Note: Some people seem to do fine without doubt; they can be miserable to live with, but then life is not always fair :).) The virtue of working hard to gain information, in my opinion, is to prepare yourself for moments when intuition (risk) is required to act or decide. Such moments may be a product of external lucky events (out of your control), or a product of internal events such as taking a long (often frustrating) time to mull over issues (while awake or asleep) until an intuition (e.g., a pattern for an approach that seems to satisfy an analysis built from your prior work) strikes you, or a combination of such external and internal events. "Confidence" does not always equal "no doubt," especially when you have confidence in intuitions not yet fully supported by analysis (and analysis of course can have bugs and be wrong!). In such case, this may mean that you have confidence to embark on a path in an interaction or on a project, fully appreciating the risks involved.


BTW, there's really nothing wrong with "breaking" (versus just "bending") :). I believe that, to some extent, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," although I also believe that it's stupid trying get killed just to prove that point! Bones, projects, and people break all the time. It's how you repair and go on that's really important. A better modified-Nietzche saying might be "what doesn't kill you can make you stronger, if you are determined."



@@Free and Easy Karate


Free and Easy Karate

No slight meant, but there doesn't seem to be much new happening :>). I know that's not entirely true, in that new exercises and research have made some dents in old structured methodologies, but I haven't seen much to replace the virtues of training hard and training often (assuming you're training correctly!). I always thought a good teacher should make classes interesting enough to make every one just work harder and longer; I always liked creating 2-3-paragraph combinations (e.g., 8-12 techniques) for that purpose.

I recently wrote, in a similar context, that I have nothing to add to the awful and true observation of the "free" generation(s), sucking up all they can get as quick as possible as easy as possible as free as possible. However, I support the "free" movement, to the extent that I still naively think most people can change for the better if they are given the physical, mental and emotional guidance to gain some creative control over their destiny. I think I can contribute to such social change, and a "free" medium like the InterNet supports this pretty well. I haven't figured out how the true teachers can survive this process and still be there day after day for many years to help effect such social changes.

The above doesn't address how to deal with the few students that are motivated to stick it out for some years to become really good instructors. Here, their instructors must be good enough to set a path for them to achieve their goals. I think this is a delicate area, one in which I tended to not sacrifice training for the full journey to permit many students who just wanted an exciting but short course of study. I can appreciate this latter path, and I found it challenging to help many people carve out some control of their lives even if they did not train as hard or as long as I would have liked -- I just didn't organize my classes around their goals: Poor business, but I think good karate.

I agree that students need to take a large responsibility for what they learn or don't learn, but only if those students had the opportunity to learn. Until I started karate, I was pretty stupid in being too delighted with getting away with doing much work. I was good at seeing solutions to problems, and many other hard working students were only too delighted to exchange these insights for doing their doing the hard work to work out the details. It took me quite a few years to catch up these deeper levels of many subjects later on in life.

The Buddha most often is in the details, and you have to work through these details yourself to appreciate them. That means not being spoon-fed.

In this context, I keep reading people who claim that the "old" Japanese teaching methods were superior in teaching the details. I agree they really wrote the book on how to teach through green belt level. However, they really dropped the ball on finding good methodologies of setting up "problem-solving" paths to train brown-belts and lower black belts. A lot of good talent was and is lost in this poor process.

I agree that there might be some give and take between what an instructor wants to teach and what a student wants to learn, but for reasons of developing students who you have to assume will stick it out (even if most won't). I think the "philosophy" of the "give and take" can be more "profitably" designed around the premise of what is the most efficient way of teaching the best techniques (which includes basics, kata, and sparring, etc.). I see nothing wrong at all with "efficiency." Inefficiency many times is a product of bad teaching methodology or bad teaching.

However, my idea of efficiency goes something like helping a beginner learn to spar creatively with strong technique that obeys his/her mind within only 4-5 years instead of 8-10 years.


@@Attention and Karate -- My Reasons for Training


The article below was transferred from shotomag.com to their new publisher theshotokanway.com:


This section was part of an article published in the October 2006 edition of ShotoMag.com.

My reasons for starting karate in 1958 draw from most of the reasons probably used for many people. However, the only reason that kept and still keeps me motivated to persevere in my training has to do with considering karate as an important life-tool to understand and teach attention processes which we all use to varying degrees in many daily and professional activities.

During my Instructor's training, Sensei Okasaki asked me why I trained in karate. I replied that when I was 17, at Caltech, my eyes were first opened to see that Physics was a tool for me to study physical nature, and also to see that karate was a tool for me to study human nature; he was very excited by this idea. Sensei Nishiyama told me that when he was training in Japan, several people experimented with different conditions to study influences on attention, even training in candle light; he admitted that they realized they knew too little. So it should not be surprising that some advanced karate people like Senseis Nakayama and Nishiyama were very excited and continually supportive of my research into the Physics of karate (my Instructor's thesis in 1968) and into attentional processes as used in karate. It also should not be surprising to the reader that many other advanced karate instructors could care less about such studies; they certainly train for some other reasons. I believe that these studies into the the physics and attention of karate has in fact been effectively used to develop practical exercises that have benefited many people.

Early in my training and teaching, I saw that karate, especially Shotokan Karate, possessed very fast and strong techniques for both offense and defense, and that a lot of free sparring took place at distances and time scales permitting only one or two considered or actual sequences of perception to actions, sort of like seeing ahead maybe one or two moves in a dynamic chess game. This meant that patterns, not reflexes, likely are processed by advanced fighters, within time scales of at most a few tenths of a second. This is barely in the time periods when we can generate short-term memories, which is a primary process of consciousness. I hoped that karate training could be a probe just sharp enough to probe these attentional processes underlying consciousness.

Perhaps uncovering the essence of consciousness was too grandious at that time, but most certainly the study of attention bore fruit in many ways. Those early interests grew into a fully developed theory of the physics of the brain, which I published over a period twenty years, grew into sets of karate exercises to help students understand their attention processes, and led to an alternative school I ran for eight years 1970-1978 in over thirty disciplines, using part-time faculty and graduate students from UC San Diego.

While I believe my work in physics of neocortex gives the most detailed calculations of short-term memory and is able to detail properties of electroencephalography (EEG), it only hints at some constraints on consciousness. While I believe my work in developing training exercises for karate, as well as for studies in academics and fine arts, has been extremely useful for many students, e.g., permitting insights into free sparring in only after a few years for many students that otherwise would have to have trained two or three times that time, I cannot say that those results I perceived can be unequivocally scientifically proven.

So, at least the karate exercises I developed and used for many years by a few thousand students are useful exercises for training. Sets of exercises using standard conservative Shotokan Karate techniques can be found in my karate books, which the publishers have permitted me to offer at no charge online at https://www.ingber.com/.

The approach I developed is based on the premise that there are two kinds of attention. For the purposes of this article, to keep it to the point without bringing in a lot of other research (which can be sought from my webpage or a Google search), I will simplify the descriptions. (a) Global attention is what some people would describe as subconscious processing, where patterns of brain activity flow relatively freely. This also is typically part of the "aha" experience when some detail seem to just pop out from nowhere. (b) Selective of focused attention, often controlled by conscious thought, is now considered a bona fide brain process (it wasn't back in 1970!), regulated by short-term memory and its constraints -- the ability to hold up to seven, plus or minus two, packets of information (which may be packets at abstract levels representing lots of other information) for auditory memories, and four, plus or minus two, for visual memories.

For example, in sparring, it clearly is an advantage if you can guide your visual and/or auditory senses to process incoming information as directly as possible into information that can be translated into effective somatic senses ("body" language). Most people will run several cycles of decisions (and indecision) using their auditory and/or visual languages, taking as long as seconds before committing to body action -- too slow for advanced sparring! Worse, many people permit their emotions to interfere with and prolong these attentional processes, Perhaps "permit" is an unfair characterization, since it often takes a lot of training to short-circuit emotions so that they do not interfere with faster and more required attentional processes, especially during sparring. Proper training also can help to wisely use emotions for motivation, or for demotivation of opponents.

I think most readers get the idea of why and how karate can be used as a tool to learn and teach karate, and how such study and training can give insights or at least better control over other states of consciousness -- all this while improving your ability to spar!

Here are a couple of exercises from Chapter 3 of my 1976 book, "The Karate Instructor's Handbook" available as https://www.ingber.com/karate76_book.html They are very simple and can be used for a full range of students at different levels of training. Unlike my other two karate books, in this text I decided to have a talented artist draw outline figures from photos. The idea was that readers might be able to better imagine themselves participating in the exercises. I guess the success of this strategy depends on your point of view.

Selective/Focused Attention - Exercise 1

We are so accustomed to "paying attention" to common tasks, we often do not consider which senses are being used and how they are being used. If we to further train these senses, we need to better understand them. This exercise helps to separate some of the variables involved in focusing attention on an opponent. Step-in-punch in a straight line towards an opponent who is steadily drifting away, moving from side to side. Keep your eyes fixed on the opponent so that your visual attention is occupied, and try to retain a sense of concentration on the most centered feeling in your hips that you are capable of.

In karate, hip-centeredness is essential to develop strong body techniques as well as to facilitate correct mental activity. You should strive to become aware that your hips, especially as centered about a point midway on the diagonal line that connects the navel to the tailbone, comprise your motor center. Accordingly, as you become more proficient, you will find that your body acquires a "will" of its own, and you won't need to rely on much conscious activity to support its actions. This will free your mind, facilitated by your other sensory systems, to engage in strategy.

Global Attention -- Exercise 14

This exercise trains keeping global attention open to a wide spatial field of possible attacks. This becomes obvious as the leader of this exercise exploits weaknesses in the defender. Most often, the defender gets stuck trying to "pay attention" to each attacker using attention similar to that used in Exercise 1, a strategy that typically fails. Two attackers face a center defender at a relative angle of 90 to 180 degrees (at the 10:30 and 1:30 positions of the small hand of a clock, or the 3:00 and 9:00 positions, with the defender at the center facing 12:00). One other person behind the defender (at 6:00) gives the attackers the signal to punch (see Figure 3-2 https://www.ingber.com/karate76_book/3-2.jpg). The best response from the defender is achieved if both attackers are integrated into one rhythm and variations of this rhythm excite the appropriate reaction. Each time the signaler commands an attack, the defender must block and counter (punch or kick), then be ready for the next attack if the signaler signals twice. The defender must keep awareness of both opponents, yet execute consecutive concentrated blocks and counterattacks each time.

Exercise 7

To further emphasize the utility of keeping focused attention in hips, as in Exercise 1, while keeping your global attention open to a preset range of information as in Exercise 14, another auditory-pattern exercise is to react to the command "punch" or "kick." Have a partner give you either the command "punch" or "kick" as he/she chooses, alternating or repeating them in succession, so that you do not know which one is coming. It is best to give about three successive commands, each one triggering a successive technique:

   punch                 punch                 punch
   or         +         or         +          or
   kick                 kick                 kick

Best reactions are obtained by having the hip-center react to the command as if it were a variation of the single pattern comprising both possible commands. Interpret the command "punch" or "kick" by allowing the power to travel from the hip-center through your leg or arm, respectively. If instead of centering this power, your attention flits back and forth between an arm and leg, your body will not be maximally primed to do the required technique.

If these ideas and exercises seem very simple, good! They were considered revolutionary at the time, but I expect that since then many instructors have created superior explanations and practical applications of the physics and attention of karate.

Train hard, train long ...


@@Abilities of Aging Instructors


Subject: Re: AGE, TENURE, AND TRAINING: Three different things

In reply to:
:>The ultimate key to success, in my opinion, is to be able to self-train
:>regularly and be able to face your own mistakes and correct them slowly
:>time. People that have more than 10 years of training and "need a club"
:>train in in order to progress are, in my opinion, failed karate master
:>abortions. They lack the one quality that sets the really talented
:Regarding the above quote, I have a question.
:How can you practice and improve your understanding and physical
:capabilities of more advanced levels of timing, distancing, and bunkai
:without other people?
:I.e. (extremely simplified example): from block and punch to simultaneous
:block and punch to deflect /slipside and takedown to .....
:I welcome suggestions. I just don't see how it can be done. But IMO I
:think there are times you need at least a single partner to train with
:because you can only do so much with "Air Karate".

XX2's comment on "Air Karate" has of course much merit. However, I think XX1's point re self-training has more merit. Consider the following points.

Many top athletes practice visualization of their upcoming competitions/performances. That is, the major regions of the brain that would be involved in actual combat are about as effectively trained as they would be in actual competition if they are so exercised by someone who understands and has effectively practiced and tested in combat the nuances being visualized. I do not think this level is below a good 3rd Dan. That is, below that level there are too many aspects of timing and reactions to "surprise" that have not yet been fully tested and encoded in one's neocortical system.

After a certain age, it just takes so long to heal from even minor injuries, e.g., months instead of days, so that it becomes a reasonable trade-off for an advanced Dan to forgo regular kumite with clumsy lower ranks, and just self-train. Just watching or teaching lower ranks often is sufficient for the advanced Dan to regularly capture the sense of timing as if he/she were doing the regular sparring, also without diminishing the value of kumite instruction to his/her students. Of course, at least at 3rd Dan, students require regular sparring with advanced ranks to get to any expert level. Looking back, I feel sorry for poor Yaguchi (then a 5th Dan) who was the low man in Nishiyama's Instructor ranks, and therefore it was he that had to spar with us instructor-students every day!

After a certain age, strength and body timing are of course affected relative to what they were in one's youth. However, the sense of timing improves with age, and the ability to perform techniques adequately to impart sufficient damage often can continue into advanced old age. Often this is sufficient for an advanced expert, e.g., say above 5th or 6th Dan (realizing that the physical talents often are not tested by many schools at these ranks, etc., but taking into account the value of daily self-training by a master into advanced age) to regularly control and whip 3rd Dans and below at any age levels, e.g., taking into account the two points I made just above.

The other side of this is that it should be expected that a Dan greater 5th or 6th who also is over 70 years old likely would regularly lose to 5th or 6th Dans in their prime. It is at this level of combat that XX2's points become most important. All these points of course are "statistical" in nature, subject to wide variations for any individual. Unfortunately, many advanced Instructors do not train every day, and they do not pay attention with a sparring mentality while teaching or interacting with all life around them, to their detriment and the detriment of their students. Other Instructors do continue to improve in some ways with age. You test us at your own risk! :>)




In reply to:
:Most of what you said here I like but the above I have a problem with.
:Top athletes in any sport (if you in fact view Karate from a sport
:angle) have a number of support people around them. Michael Jordan would
:disagree with the pre-eminence of self-training since it cost the
:Chicago Bulls a championship. While self-training has great merits there
:is nothing that supplants the actual work with a person no matter how
:experienced one is. This does not mean that they go at it full because
:like you said injury time at a certain age becomes a factor; but it does
:mean that the timing, distancing, rhythm and mentality of Kumite can
:only be simulated alone but only actually practiced with an opponent
:even if it is at slow speed. The other part of this is that in
:self-training even the most dedicated of us don't push ourselves to a
:certain level, to have someone there correcting our mistakes no matter
:how minor reminds us of the vigilance that we must combat our occasional
:lapses with.

I agree that, given a choice, it is preferable to have peers to train with at least on an occasional basis to refine regular self training. However, show me a few handfuls of advanced Instructors who still get along well enough to train regularly? :>)

My main point is that once you are past your physical prime (which Jordan is really not, so that example is not relevant), given that you already have reached a high expert level over years of proper training, not only can you still improve in karate in general and in actual sparring ability specifically by self-training, but self-training is by far the most important means of improving, e.g., for reasons including those XX2 and I have posted.

For true experts, while timing is not maximally trained by only self-training, it certainly is not lost by not training with non-experts. Furthermore, the level of expertise would be quite low if the "expert" could not at least recognize and correct or regularly improve upon his/her own "mistakes." Lest this be misunderstood as meaning that advanced experts don't need to improve much, quite to the contrary, the more advanced you get the more aware you become of all human deficiencies.

In this context, I have always found a story about Gichin Funakoshi quite amusing. I have heard this from several sources, and independent about what other opinions you may have formed about the man, it does seem that his self-discipline to analyze his own training was quite commendable: When he was quite old, he was to have said something along the lines that "after 80 years of up-blocking I think my up-block is now effective 80% of the time."

My experience with many experts is that if they have not already developed the self-discipline to regularly self-train beyond the discipline they accepted during their student and amateur years of training by the time they indeed they are recognized as expert by their peers, then it is unlikely they will have developed the inner strength and/or savvy to self-train afterwards. At that point they plateau out and diminish in many ways beyond physical abilities, albeit most such experts have already developed a following of people who will swear on their lives that their teacher is the Guru of gurus.




The correspondence below was in the context of past top pilots still flying jets, but the concepts are applicable as well to aging karate masters:


I realized that there are some aspects to your "reflexes" in your flying context that might overlap with a report I wrote.

The main point of some recent experiments is to discern visual processing due to "flash" stimuli vs "continuous" stimuli. Clearly, reaction to "flash" stimuli is determined a lot by reflex arcs to motor cortex, and some scientists argue that there specific circuitries in visual cortex (and similarly in other sensory cortex) that can process continuous stimuli within visual cortex, e.g., similar to reflex observations. The issue is that for continuous stimuli a lot of "prediction" and feed-forward mechanisms are required, and all this takes place in about 2/10's sec which is possible both for specific neuronal circuitries as well as the nebulous "late mechanics" often attributed to higher associative cortex, etc.

Well, my work which I've published on, off and on since 1981, details these "nebulous" processes, in great detail which I've tested on data. So, it was natural for me to write a short commentary, "Statistical mechanics of neocortical interactions: Time delays," putting that work in this context. My paper is on https://www.ingber.com/smni07_timedelays.pdf

The point here is that, when flying even at your (any my!) advanced age, you still **might** manage a lot of "fast" reactions to continuous stimuli, after a window of time to ramp up your higher cortical processing to feed into your reflex arcs, but you should expect that your reactions to flash-type stimuli will have seriously deteriorated.



@@Types of Instructors


How about a W style, which expresses yet a different blend of X and Y than does Z?

Under style W, the instructor is a micro-managing X type when dealing with classes of students under his/her direct supervision. However, when students graduate to the level of assistants and teachers themselves, they are dealt with under the more informal (not always to be incorrectly interpreted as lax or sloppy) style Y. So, a W type handles people according to X or Y interactions, rafter than according to situations (type Z). (Of course, we can create other types from a synthesis of all these.)

In my way of thinking, taking a class is an efficient way of learning something, until you get to the level where you (at least you think you) are ready to do your own R&D/teaching/leading, etc. Part of the price you pay is to go along with the rules set up by the instructor, under the reasonable assumption that this makes it easier for the instructor to more efficiently deliver his/her message.

However, once you have paid your dues, and become a more useful member of society ready to give and contribute (under a loose interpretation of capitalism this means you can still be a greedy SOB and still be a contributing member, as long as you are increasing the wealth of society at large), you have the full rights and privileges -- and the responsibilities! -- of a decision-making human being, which should not be thwarted by any other egomaniac instructor/leader. When the latter shift is not made, sometimes we see people going "postal" in reaction, e.g., as many government organizations typically are composed of managers of type X people who serve to serve their own need for power.

Another (not meant to be condescending to students) analogy is that of raising a child. I have seen many parents screw up by not being ready to make the sometimes abrupt required transition from being a "parent" in charge of their child, to becoming a "friend" ready to help their child in the real world and eventually become a partner in their lives, which usually takes place when the child is entering teen age. When this shift is not performed, the child can (1) become alienated from the parent, and distances himself/herself from all parental control, or (2) remain docile and under parental control even after the expiration date of the parent. (Sounds like some reactions of American instructors to JKA?)

One more point, which is especially relevant to karate instruction, which draws people from many disciplines and levels within their disciplines. I believe it is perfectly reasonable for a type X instructor to run a type X class for _all_ students. However, after the final bow of each class, all participants enter a different world outside the dojo, and then types W, X, Y, or Z, may be selected for other kinds of interactions among people. Some students find it quite difficult to handle a type X person as a karate instructor in class who becomes a type Y person out of class. I think that is the student's problem. The instructor too has a life, and supposedly he/she has made a decision on how he/she can best be effective in all facets of his/her own life, including maximizing his/her total effectiveness as a karate instructor.



@@New Organizations


In response to XXX:

: Some of us might have a giggle at this, but when you have guys like XX1,
: XX2, XX3 myself and we'll throw in XX4 the youngster at 48, and Lester who
: is over all of us. But this is pretty much the norm for many schools. This
: is not far removed form the original FAJKO syllabus.It Shotokan proper it
: depends on whether you are an organisational head or a JAPANESE Kumite
: Champion. Then you get a fast track compared to others.. Well a few of us
: guys like me are eligible for 8th dan. Not that we will ever reach it, but
: if we went to the butokukai we would probably get higher. Organisational
: heads would get much higher! Yet these dan gradings would be legit! You go
: to the Butokukai then jump across to the IMAF. That;s how many Japanese do
: it. Since these high dan ranks in general are long service gongs they are
: political by their very nature.Come to think of it Lester is about 9th by
: that standard! In Shotokan you might feel out of step but the problem is we
: in shotokan are out of step with the rest.

I had nightmares it would come to this: I'm being recognized for my AGE! Yes, this week I'll be 59, and I've been formally in Shotokan karate since 1958. I was usually the youngest to do this, to do that, etc. The pits ...

After 4th or 5th Dan, the rank is typically is honorary, no doubt. Even many of the 4th, 5th, and 6th Dans turned out by JKA over the last 20 years seem to me to be "honorary" as well. That is, many have not produced any interesting theses or contributions which is supposed to be the biggest part of consideration for their ranks.

You are right about Westerners being shy at assuming their proper ranks, even those that are not shy about criticizing their different-culture teachers. That is the strange part. I told Nishiyama to his face I was leaving. He had made it impossible for people of any race working with him to grow within his organization, and most left -- I have no idea if he's grown since then.

I left to do something I considered constructive in karate, to promote new teaching methodologies based on physics, attention, research, etc. I'm not claiming I was any great hero, but for sure I didn't think much of many of my peers who simply bad-mouthed JKA for many years before they too left, even then many didn't try very hard to do something constructive on their own. Most finally left when they felt they were paying too much in dues, in membership fees, etc., not much to do with karate per se.

Since as some of you know I'm used to going it alone, and I've likely had harder times than most of you because of my stances. I'm not about to do anything weird if you don't like what I've said or demote me to shodan non grata; I'd just leave and try to do something else constructive for karate. I think I've been able to well serve many tens of thousands of people via my work on the InterNet, even those just curious about karate. I certainly think more can be done, and I'd like to help anyone who sees a way to help such growth of karate.

What are the lessons I think I've learned, which I've yet to see my old comrades accept? Well, I think it is short-sighted to worry much about rank and gathering students and fees. That is, like running any *good* business, advanced people should be addressing what they can offer students and/or karate growth. Then, I would expect the ranks and the fees should follow, e.g., even if they need to team up with capable managers, etc.

I like the idea of setting up a service type of organization, e.g., to promote research and growth in general of good karate. I'm not at all concerned that there are quite a few different approaches and disagreements, as long as all "reasonable" differences are "reasonably" tolerated. I see as anti-karate other egotistical groups who clearly are intolerant of others; I do not even passively read their postings.

In the context of the above paragraph, I'd like to mention that even though it seems I've disagreed with some applications I've (mis-?)read here, e.g., my recent postings re XX1's ideas, my own might be even more weird. My research in neuroscience has developed a reasonable potential (in some future generation) to use brain scanning techniques to define elements of brain processing directly related to proficiency in many activities; such developments should be able not only to find "natural" athletes and academicians, but more importantly lead to ways of training/treating most people to rise to high levels in disciplines of their choice -- the aspects I respect most about karate!

I gave a recent review of a book, an invited commentary on "The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability" by Arthur Jensen. My commentary can be read on my own website as https://www.ingber.com/smni99_g_factor.ps.gz. Jensen has taken a bad rap as being a racist for his work. His conclusions might be wrong, but his sincerity of research and his own views on how *not* to use such research as racist applications are often lost on people. Without taking any sides on the "political" aspects of his work, I have addressed from a scientific approach how simple correlations of reaction time can be better correlated to actual brain function.

I think this kind of approach could eventually help people to train better in karate (but I do not expect this approach to help anyone for quite some time!). As I have explicitly discussed with many people since 1958, I started karate to study human nature, in parallel with starting to study physics to study physical Nature. This led to my interest in philosophy (personally rewarding, but professionally a dead end for me) and then more productively into neuroscience. I think this research has a chance of being turned back to help develop karate per se.

I would just like to see a group develop with some spine to actually try to do something explicitly to promote good karate. I consider this likely to be a complementary endeavor to all the work most of you have to do to promote your own dojos and deserved income from the karate business. I would hope that your work in SRSI would spill over into your noble businesses (I mean that) and that you will reap just rewards and kudos for your work in SRSI, but let's be honest and not expect it to happen -- certainly not soon.

Lester [To-Top-of-Karate-Topics]

@@E-Mail Interview


This is one section of an edited interview by Rod Redmond [http://www.24fightingchickens.com/shotokan/], who told me "I don't care what you do with the interview, Lester. It's shared property. You have unilateral decision making." My replies are in indented paragraphs.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> UNTIL <<<< BELOW >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Lester Ingber is one of the "old men" of Shotokan Karate in the United States. He began his training in 1958, and he's been at it for almost 40 years. He holds a Ph.D. in Physics, and a 7th dan in Shotokan Karate. He was the first American to graduate from the prestigious and rigorous Instructor Training Program offered by the JKA in Los Angeles. People like Ray Dalke, James Field, Greer Golden, and Frank Smith - he calls them classmates. Dr. Ingber has begun many karate clubs that are still in existence. He also has written three books on the topic of karate, and he offers them for free download as converted text at his web site at https://www.ingber.com/

Lester, let's start by talking about your karate training background. When, where, and why did you get involved in karate training? How old were you, and what attracted you to the school that you chose?

I was 17 when I left Brooklyn to start Caltech; I really left Brooklyn more than I entered Caltech. I was getting into too much trouble in Brooklyn. I had had just a little exposure to some Judo from an Air Force instructor across the street.

When I entered Caltech in 1958, karate had just started about a year previously, taught by Tsutomu Ohshima. Given my Brooklyn background, I was immediately attracted to the activity.

However, within a few months, my attitudes about a lot of things were changing. Starting to study about the world via Science made me question a lot about life and Nature. I began to try to piece together a world view for myself. I made a decision to major in Physics to learn about the physical nature of the universe, and to study Karate to learn about the human nature of the world. Accordingly, I dropped out of ROTC and working out at a local gym, to delve into these disciplines.

After only about a dozen years I had the framework of my present world view that I had sought, and so this program I chose worked O.K. for me.

Did you study karate under Ohshima before Nishiyama arrived?

Yes, until 1960 when he left for France.

Did you know about any of the sparks flying between the two of them over the connections to Japan and the changes in Funakoshi's technique that Nishiyama and Nakayama were working on?

Not really, not at the time. I now realize how distorted a lot of these events became in the minds of some people. For example, here is an excerpt from some correspondence I had last year with a quite deluded fellow, edited to give just my replies to protect his anonymity.

Quoted Discussion Follows.

BTW, you stated that in 1963 Nishiyama first told his American students that he was joining the JKA? Are you aware that he was Chief Instructor for the JKA before he came to this country, and that people like Enoeda, Kanazawa, etc., were his students? (Tanaka was in the next generation of instructors.) I.e., he already had quite strong ties to the JKA, and the reason he and many other Japanese instructors like Okazaki (then his chief assistant on the East coast) went to other countries was that it was understood this was their new mission and this was required for their own advancement in JKA. At least, this has been my understanding all these years.

Well, my feeling is that "spirit" training also is quite evident in advanced JKA training -- just look at the quality of instructors it produced in the generation during and just after Nishiyama; it can take you just so far. It certainly is required at the level of instructor training. In Nishiyama's and Okazaki's dojos, the sparring training for black belts was at least as intense as I ever saw in Ohshima's classes. However, "cross-school" comparisons are hard to judge, since it always is difficult to isolate the influence of a school from the qualities of a given individual. Even in the same "school" different instructors often teach quite differently. Also, note that in the '60's, the JKA schools attracted many students, and this in itself brought in many competitors.

For example, perhaps even up to about 2nd, perhaps 3rd degree black-level, a "gung ho!" mentality can compensate for technique. However, more advanced levels require technique + spirit, just like _any_ other physical discipline. Good comparisons can be made with old and new styles of boxing, even gymnastics, etc.; the newer styles often require quite a bit of guts to try new sophisticated techniques, etc.

On the other hand, thinking that spirit can conquer all can be quite misleading. Are you aware of the debacle that occurred in LA during one Nisei Week quite a few years ago? XXX was in center stage and said that mental power was stronger than physical power. He challenged anyone in the audience to see if they could lift him while he was sitting on the floor in his deep concentration. Some fellow volunteered, and then just picked him up.

End of Quoted Discussion

Did you have the opportunity to choose between the two when Ohshima returned?

Yes, I chose Nishiyama. I liked Ohshima personally, but I felt that Nishiyama had an organization and teaching methodology that was superior. As Captain of the Caltech Karate Club, I chose what I felt was in the best interests of Caltech students. After I left Caltech, the new Captain felt differently, and chose to bring back Ohshima, where he was worshiped for many years until his recent retirement.

At what point did you begin teaching karate to others, and what prompted you to think that you were ready to start instructing?

At Caltech. there was a need to lead classes in exercises a few times a week between regular instruction. I think that during my first year I started doing this since I could do it well and because I naturally assumed that role. I soon learned that teaching gave me additional purposes to be involved in karate. Teaching gave me another view of human nature of other people, and also gave me a point of objective reference to view myself.

You say, "Teaching gave me another view of human nature of other people." Exactly how do you think instructing karate and merely performing karate as a student differ in exposing one to "human nature?"

One key is objectivity, to see a bit into the inner workings of another human being. Another is robustness of perception, gathering some statistics on how people learn and perceive similar events the same or differently, etc. I felt (and still do feel) that karate can become a fine honed tool to investigate attention, etc.

Since the '60's, cognitive psychology resurrected cognitive states, and that discipline has done some fine experiments and studies. However, the context of karate still requires more interaction of many facets of people than that often obtained in lab experiments or gross statistical surveys.

Looking back, do you think that you did a very good job instructing? What would you have done differently, if anything?

Yes, I believe I did a very good job instructing. I realize that I was unrelenting and a very hard instructor; my students and other instructors always said I was the hardest instructor. I felt that many people believe that karate is a "safe" way of training for self-defense, but that this attitude is unsafe, and so I felt that learning under stress was required.

I lost a lot of students as well earned the respect of a lot that stayed. I try to keep an open mind about these negative and positive aspects, so I cannot unequivocally say I would perform the same way if I could start over again. I would have to take into account that society has changed. There are more social, legal, medical problems an instructor must take into account these days. Years ago I could teach 6 days a week, run workshops 2-3 times a year for 5-7 days with two 3-4 hour classes per day. In the early 70's I started seeing that this was no longer possible; society was changing even back then.

What kind of reaction did you get from your teachers when they learned of your background in Physics? At what point did you feel that your physics education and your karate education began to come together enough for you to begin analyzing karate using physics principles? Did you find yourself correcting their explanations of how techniques work?

I got respect from them as they tended to respect people at Caltech. However, I regular traveled to train downtown LA, and few of my fellow students knew of my other life. In fact, many years later, in the middle of Instructor's school, James Field approached to ask me if I was really a physicist as he had just heard from someone else.

I started to make some connections between physics and karate the first year of my training, as mentioned above. However, I did not think of physics during actual training sessions. I just tried as hard as I could to follow the Instructor's plan of training. I did not openly challenge the right or wrong of any of the Instructor's methods of teaching, although I began to formulate my own understanding of the physical and mental principles of karate. I felt I was a student and I had a long way to go to learn karate. I realized I was not super-athletic and that I did not have as natural a feel for body movement as other talented people around me.

However, I always tried to maintain self-discipline above being disciplined. For example, when the instructor would count, I would interpret that as a stimulus for me to decide to give myself an inner count to then perform my technique. For the first 10 years this certainly interfered with my natural reactions, but I like the results it produced thereafter.

In Instructor's school in 1968, 10 years later, I had to write weekly essays that elicited some of the ideas I had formulated. After a few months of training I started to feel the physics in my body, and could better test and correct my ideas and the ideas of others. I did not hesitate at that point to start challenging the standard methods of teaching. Nishiyama, Nakayama when he visited, and to a lesser degree Yaguchi, were quite open to the physics of karate and felt this was an important contribution to the JKA foundation.

What do you find is the most common misunderstanding of the way that techniques work? What is the most common explanation about karate techniques that you hear that is totally off-base?

The hardest thing for most people to understand physically is the importance of using stance and hips to create forces in punching and kicking. This is not natural for most people. In many schools, many student mimic the teacher's movements because it looks cool to look Oriental, but they do not understand the importance of the causal effects of the stance acting on the torso to act on the arms and legs; the causality gets mixed up and they just try to look good.

The hardest thing for most people to understand mentally about body movement is that the power developed by a technique need not have a one-to-one correlation with their perceived effort in creating their techniques. For example, aside from considerations of applications and context, if you swing your arms in wide circular arcs it takes more physical effort to create the same velocity that you could achieve by a linear punch, because of the increased moment of inertia of the arm. This is well understood by today's athletes in diving, running, etc.

The concept of ki/chi really puts training back into the dark ages. There is no such mystical force. The problem in attacking this notion is that it has many beneficial motivational influences, basically because many people are so far removed from feeling their body movements that the concept of ki/chi at least helps them to make some connection between their mind and their body; it is a very effective placebo.

You say, "The concept of ki/chi really puts training back into the dark ages. There is no such mystical force." From that comment, we can assume that you don't teach karate using explanations that involve KI. What led you to the conclusion that there is no such thing as KI?

First of all, I can teach people from 5-80 years old to move and feel at least as well as students from any other school using my teaching methodology which is spelled out in my textbooks. Second of all, many years of experiments across many disciplines have not found a shred of evidence to support the kinds of claims of ki/chi too often made by some instructors.

It is not quite true that when teaching I do not invoke some concepts that might be considered by some as roughly equivalent to ki/chi. As is evident in my textbooks, I often offer alternative descriptions and exercises emphasizing different views of the same techniques, e.g., describing techniques in terms of forces acting at each joint as well as momentum flows along lines of force throughout the body and the environment. However, the principles are still based in Science, not paranormal mysticism.

Let's talk a little about your experiences. You have been training almost as long as there has been karate in the United States. How has karate training in Shotokan schools changed from when you began your training? What do you feel is significant about that?

In the 50's and '60's many people were attracted to the martial arts as a religion. As with most religions, they put their hearts and souls into their training, risking their professional lives (I did), their families, etc., just to train. No doubt this was good for their karate training.

As the idealistic world of the '60's collapsed, so did the fervor of training dissipate. People started facing up to more social and economic problems, so it seemed to me as a founder and instructor in many schools, and their dedication to full-time training diminished.

As more kinds of martial arts appeared in the Western world, with no official accreditation or any way for a student to discern gold from garbage in schools, teaching methods became bastardized, usually but not always to the detriment of proper training in any school, including Shotokan schools.

"Going for the gold" for many tournament participants is a watered down version of "going for the gold" for top athletes in many other physical activities. Many who even recognize this don't care, as only the "gold" counts. No purpose is served in pointing this out to such people.

For most students there are alternative paths to training. This would be just fine, except for the fact that it is not clear at all to most beginners which schools can best offer the curriculum of interest.

I've mentioned that you stopped associating with your instructor at some point in the 1970's...what prompted that?

In other activities in life, after you pay your dues, gain the ranks of your former teachers, etc., you are faced with the responsibilities and opportunities to take larger and larger leadership roles in your discipline. The JKA Instructors just did not let this happen with any Western Sensei, even some nisei Japanese (second generation American). This was unacceptable to me, and I was not permitted to take a leadership role (not even requiring any absolute independence) even in schools that I founded and to which I introduced my previous Instructors.

Later, you became involved with Ray Dalke's AJKA. How did that come about? How do you feel about your experiences there?

Ray and I go way back. At some times we were absolutely best friends. Over the years, periodically, our disagreements have kept us quite apart.

In 1989 I had a research fellowship in San Diego, and I contacted Ray. He invited me to stay with him. This required of me over 4 hours of driving a day, in addition to having at least one coast-to-coast flight per week. I was up to see if we could agree on anything to further karate. He asked me to take a Director's position with AJKA. However, there was no way I could get Ray to sit down long enough to consider any new ideas.

What do you feel is the strongest aspect of Shotokan Karate training? What are some good reasons to pick Shotokan Karate?

There are many paths to the tops of most mountains. I think Shotokan training, and JKA methodology in particular, offers superior graduated teaching methods to take a beginner up to whatever potential his/her body and mind will permit.

Why might someone avoid Shotokan Karate? Could you list a few reasons?

I don't think you can classify a school so simply with the label "Shotokan Karate." Especially these days, where to train is very school-dependent. When someone asks me to recommend a school I tell them the following: There is no "critical mass" of methodology in karate, e.g., as there is in judo. That is, if someone wanted to study judo, and they found a 4th Dan or higher who has a license from the Kodokan, then there is an excellent chance that the teacher has been well trained in teaching, competition, etc. In karate, there is no such thing; JKA has come close with rigorous training for instructors, but the level and quality of instructors in the past decade or so has slid quite a bit.

This means that the burden of judging a karate school is on the student; it's not like picking a good academic school on the basis of any peer-review or wide-spread reputation. I would examine at least three levels of classes before actually signing up for any classes. I would pick a beginner's class, an intermediate green-brown belt class, and a black belt class.

(a) The most important thing to look for of course is whether the school is teaching anything. While individual people/students are always different, you _should_ notice that "statistically" the more advanced students move with better body technique, pay better attention, etc.

(b) Since you may be training regularly in this school for a few years, see whether you can tolerate/enjoy their attitudes. The strength or weakness of many schools sometimes can be seen in the cross-section of students it attracts.

Please give some advice to those people who have been training for far less time than yourself.

Well, "train hard, train long" is really the most important advice I can give. That advice is necessary for all students to achieve their potential, and sufficient for some. Many other students require other conditions to complete a set of sufficient conditions to achieve their potential.

For those other students, yes, "smart" training is essential. I have seen many karate students who have trained for over 10 years, reaching Dan levels of 1, 2, 3, etc.; yet they could not merit a green belt in my school. They trained hard and long, but they did not have any physical training that properly emphasized basic stance, hip, etc.

I have seen many schools that can teach the proper basics and kata, but only a few of their students could free-spar at all (slow or fast) at black belt level. For many students, basic techniques and basic sparring are necessary but not sufficient. I believe that the training program I developed, including attentional exercises, 1-person and 2-person (3-person, etc., at advanced levels) combinations, sparring themes, etc., is sufficient to teach free sparring.

The lessons I believe I have learned about human nature required the above as necessary conditions. However, I also wanted to use karate to learn about more than sparring, and after many years I did so. You very often get out of an activity what you put into it. There are many people who can spar very well, but not teach, who do not have a clue about the processes by which other people interact with their worlds, etc., mostly because over the years they did not want to persevere to achieve those goals.

So, not only must a student select a school that offers the necessary conditions for his/her success (good luck!!), but he/she must also select his/her own goals to round out the sufficient conditions to achieve his/her ultimate goals.

Any regrets?

None. Too bad life is so hard, but that's the way the onion peels. I admit I'm attracted to the challenges.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< FROM >>>> ABOVE <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<


@@Personalities of Karate People

[Below is an interesting series of communications, in reverse chronological order typical of email correspondence. To respect the privacy of the correspondent I have used XXX's.]

: Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2001
: Do you think the karate people who learned or mastered in their training the
: basic karate principles of "kime" (maximum power in the shortest time),
: "ikken hissatsu" (kill with one blow) and tempered by a self-control
: principle of "sun-dome" (arresting technique just before contact with
: target) are able to transfer this learning to the pursuit of their other
: life goals, e.g. career, studies, business, etc. and succeed. Is the
: transfer of learning possible? Is it effective and/or imperative?

Quite empathically, no! There are just enough people who have mastered such skills in their physical or mental pursuits to see some statistical evidence.

It is clear that such highly trained people get out of life what they put into it. If they want to be eclectic, they typically seem to have the talent and drive to be so. If they have no other such deep interests, albeit they may be quite expert in their own field, they remain quite shallow in everything else.

For some of these people, I see a defense mechanism in play. Smart people in academics may shy from physical activity; they may have seen and nourished their mental gifts at an early age, but cannot imagine putting in the effort over years to pursue a physical discipline. Similarly with many highly trained karate people: Talented people in physical disciplines may shy from mental activity; they may have seen and nourished their physical gifts at an early age, but cannot imagine putting in the effort over years to pursue a mental discipline. It seems many of these people do not see that perhaps a large part of their success is due to their drive as well as their talent.


: Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2001
: Lester,
: 1. What do you think are the specific influences or effects of karate training
: on the personality, character or attitudes of people (boys and girls, men
: and women).
: 2. Or, what particular personality changes do you think karate training brings
: about in these people?
: I would appreciate your detailed answer to the above questions. Thank you
: so much.

Hi. Wrt to your questions:

Probably the deepest influences, in a broad statistical sense, of course based on my own rather hard training, was on children, boys and girls. They are relatively more impressionable.

My wife was a ballet dancer and ran a classical ballet school, and from 1976-1985 I rented her ballet studio for my karate classes. I could see that the sense of accomplishment in a child, of learning to creatively move, and of acquiring a sense of some discipline, was similar in the two classes. That is, I do not think this had anything to do with a Japanese versus a French Artform per se.

The sense of learning to defend oneself in karate in children cut two ways. For some, this led them to an increased awareness of their vulnerability to attack, but overall I think in a healthy way that led them to be more careful in their interactions with others. For others, the classes gave them some self-confidence they could better cope in a sometimes hostile world.

For adults, I think the same was true of karate classes per se. In addition, for many adults karate gave a lot of people from many quite different walks of life an interesting perspective of other people. I think many people, from gardeners to physicians, from gas-station attendants to physics professors, appreciated coming to class as equals. These people became more tolerant of others.

On the other hand, I have seen many karate students of all ages transformed into snobs, having a sense of superior worth as a person relative to people not also training in karate.

I also have seen many students, especially those gaining ranks just past 1st Dan, e.g., 2nd Dan and 3rd Dan, nurture a "punk" mentality that could grow in an environment where they could exercise a great deal of power over to others. I have noticed this trend in more and more students (not a majority I think) as karate has been diluted more across more kinds of training. I also noted this of young instructors arriving from Japan circa the late '60's -- a different sort of group than those that arrived in early '60's.

As I've stated above, for better as well as for worse, I have seen that students training for more than 2-3 years certainly can be molded to a by their training. It is clear to me that to a large extent many people get out of the training what they want out of it. However, most all their behavior certainly can be modified, for better or for worse, depending on the teacher or clown running the classes :>).




: Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2001 00:44:05 -0700 (PDT)
: Sensei Lester:

"Lester" will do just fine.

: You mentioned several entry motivations of people in studying karate, a
: "combative" sport or discipline. With your indulgence, I will summarize
: them as follows:
: 1. they want to be identified with people in combative or just "role-play"
: being a combatant, but will avoid actual kumite or fights if possible
: 2. they have the combative spirit and find karate as a controlled sport
: where they can give vent to their aggressive impulses without getting hurt
: or hurting others.
: 3. they are curious in discovering and learning something from a foreign
: culture worth emulating or modelling after, like karate.
: 4. they would like to learn how to defend themselves in violent-prone
: society through karate.
: 5. they hope to mold themselves into better persons in their own society
: through its discipline.


: I will include these reasons as beginning hypotheses for my doctoral
: research although I personally believe these are true, given your long years
: of practising and teaching karate to people from all walks of life and of
: all trainable ages. Thank you so much for these valuable insights. No
: textbook can certainly teach me these.
: You mentioned about the "wrong reasons" why people go into karate training
: ("which even include yourself"). Can you further elaborate on this
: statement?

I think they are "wrong" in the sense that I've seen most people who stay in karate, past say a year or so, change their minds about why they are participating. Apparently, their original reasons for training, e.g., 1-5 above, change as they learn more about the discipline.

: In your personal experience, if you don't mind, how has karate
: training changed your life, or help make you into the kind of person you are
: now?

At 17 years old, just starting Caltech in Pasadena, California, fresh out of Brooklyn, New York, I was attracted to continue some fighting discipline. I had taken a bit of judo from an Air Force instructor across the street, and had been trying to learn some ju jitsu from a book.

Any discipline was strange to me, including academia or martial arts. After a few months I made some heavy decisions. I would study physics to learn about physical nature, and continue karate to learn about human nature -- my own and others. These motivations have kept me going since.

: How about your observations of other karate people in the more than 44
: years that you have been involved with this discipline? Were all those
: influences of karate positive?

No, sometimes I have seen quite negative influences on people, not only with a few of my students, but in other schools as well. Sometimes people use their training or the social setting to take advantage of others without truly benefiting themselves or their other students. E.g., punks can become more arrogant and foolish.

Typically, the source of these problems lies in just not training long or hard enough. Unfortunately, in a few cases, students may be so reckless and dangerous, that they get thrown/pushed out of the class, and they do not get the chance to train so long and hard.

: If you were to do it all over again, what
: would you have changed along the way, with reference to your karate experience?

I would not have changed my goals or persistence in training in several disciplines, though at times I have had to sacrifice much personally and professionally.

However, training and life are processes. The longer you do them, the more (you should!) learn, and so in some ways you become/evolve into a different person. I don't think I'm the same person I was when I was 17 (though some people might disagree :>)). So, I cannot simply address what "I" would have changed along the way.

With respect to some specific karate training, I would have liked to change my training along the lines that I have developed my own contributions, e.g., more methodical training in free sparring and more technical training in basics, e.g., along the lines of the work outlined in my karate books. Of course, progress is always being made by many people in any discipline, so it's a bit silly wishing that you could know previously what you know now, etc.

: Thank you once again for your frank and truly enlightening responses on my
: seemingly unending questions on the up-to-now "undiscovered" psychology of
: karate people.
: Best regards! Oss!

Good luck in pursuing this thesis. If you can get feedback from others, I think it will be interesting, perhaps important, to many people. I am including our correspondence, removing your name out of respect for your privacy, in my karate.html file. If anyone contacts me for more information on your project, I will forward their request directly to you. Even though 1/3 of the 700-1000 hits/day or so on my website are for karate info, a lot of people are shy about actively corresponding, so I wouldn't expect a flood of requests.


: At 01:28 PM 4/22/01 -0500, you wrote:
: >XXX:
: >
: >I think the actual school must be examined when trying to assess "why
: >people who have equal opportunity to freely choose between a combative
: >sport and non-combative one."
: >
: >For example, one of the truly great virtues of most martial arts training,
: >in theory at least, is that practically anyone (I've even worked with
: >handicapped students) at practically and age (I've taught people from 5
: >to 80) can start as a blank state and hope to get to a Shodan level.
: >The same is not as true to get a BA or BS from a university, without
: >lots of years of preparation for most people.
: >
: >Now, using this reasonable premise, also consider that many schools do
: >not practice free sparring. (Many do not, for philosophical reasons,
: >but more likely because they cannot teach free sparring). In such cases,
: >a **lot** of cases, people are attracted to train because they want to
: >be part of a "combative" sport or discipline (a difference), e.g., for
: >social or deep-seated personal reasons; but, in fact they do not have the
: >actual interest or will to be engaged in a "combative" sport/discipline.
: >They see other students behaving combatively, but they also see very
: >little actual combat, so it's a safe way to "play" being combative.
: >
: >On the contrary, of course, many people do have a combative spirit,
: >but they may not have had an opportunity to exercise this spirit in a
: >reasonably disciplined context. They would also be attracted to such
: >training.
: >
: >At least in the US, at least 20-40 years ago, and I suspect this is
: >true today, many people are attracted to karate, not because it is a
: >combative activity, but because it is an activity literally quite foreign
: >to anything they know. They want to be immersed in another culture,
: >and often they may take years, if ever, to appreciate the essence of
: >the activity independent of the language of the instructor.
: >
: >These days, with so many people being raised in a society wherein violence
: >can be observed in realtime anyplace in the world, wherein they often
: >learn violent social skills passively from cartoons to seamy grade B/C
: >movies (I'm sounding like a cartoon myself!), it's not surprising that
: >many kids and adults want to at least have some first-hand training in
: >martial arts. It's all the rage (pun intended)!
: >
: >I have always thought that most people start karate training for all the
: >"wrong" reasons -- in fact "wrong" by their own accounts several years
: >into their own training (myself included).
: >
: >While I've spilled out a high ratio of negative/positive comments above, I
: >do have a more positive view. No matter what purpose most people have for
: >starting their training, I believe that a good school can in fact harness
: >combative energy in most people, latent or otherwise, to be used as
: >constructive tools for positive self-development and societal development.
: >
: >I think some students sense this long-term view, and so they too are
: >initially attracted to this "combative" activity.
: >
: >So, for many students, yes, I have seen that it is true that "traditional
: >karate training will result to a more disciplined, better controlled or
: >tempered person." Certainly more so that by stewing in the boiling pot
: >of violence they are daily exposed to outside of any structured classes.
: >
: >I think many Shodans have quite an inflated view of just how "dangerous"
: >they are, similar to the context of how many military personnel are
: >"trained" in combat. Yes, they are more confident, and of course
: >confidence alone can "win" many battles.
: >
: >However, it just takes 5-10 years for most people to rework their
: >attentional and emotional systems, much longer and harder (especially
: >without proper training) than learning how to "look good" on the dojo
: >floor. Generally, the more complete capabilities come together at about
: >Sandan level.
: >
: >I do not mean to so thoroughly deprecate the importance of confidence.
: >Especially in children, who live in an adult world, the opportunity
: >to actually achieve a hard goal by quite objective standards, can lead
: >them to try and succeed at many other activities. Of course, the same
: >is true for many adults.
: >
: >Lester
: >
: >
: >: Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2001 08:33:33 -0700 (PDT)
: >:
: >: Sensei Lester:
: >:
: >: Thank you once again for your speedy reply. I checked your webpage on the
: >: matter of your taking the Keirsey test on line. I'm glad to know from the
: >: results that you are classified as a "mobilizer" like Bill Gates. When I
: >: have more time available, I may take the test myself for curious
: >: self-verification too.
: >:
: >: You are right there, Sensei, I'm not really looking for the "moral"
: >: characteristics of blackbelts. I agree that, in a given category of people
: >: to include the martial arts practitioners, the normal mixture of "good" and
: >: "bad" ones is expected statistically.
: >:
: >: I also have followed the history of karate, particularly from Japan to the
: >: US. I regret to say that politics and politicking among karate people have
: >: been the one serious cancer that has eroded an otherwise socially healthy
: >: organization. Even here in the XXX1, sad to say, the same malady has
: >: stunted karate's growth.
: >:
: >: Focusing once more on the psychology of the karate practitioner, what I'm
: >: quite interested to know is why people who have equal opportunity to freely
: >: choose between a combative sport and non-combative one, even in a university
: >: setting, would choose the former? Is it also true from your long
: >: experience that traditional karate training will result to a more
: >: disciplined, better controlled or tempered person, or this is just a myth
: >: too? From your observation, does karate training give the blackbelt higher
: >: self-efficacy feelings, meaning feelings of greater competence in dealing
: >: effectively with various life situations, and not just in the dojo or in
: >: physical fights?
: >:
: >: Best regards! Oss!
: >:
: >: XXX
: >:
: >: At 09:22 PM 4/21/01 -0500, you wrote:
: >: >XXX:
: >: >
: >: >For at least a couple of decades most Shodans most likely have come from
: >: >diverse backgrounds typical of many other disciplines. For example, many
: >: >probably got their Shodans by attending classes as part of their regular
: >: >activities at a university. As another example, a lot of Shodans may
: >: >have come from economically challenged neighborhoods. In either case,
: >: >the student might be on a quest for self-improvement, or the student
: >: >simply might be a punk looking for a fight.
: >: >
: >: >On my webpage,
: >: > https://www.ingber.com/karate.html
: >: >I was goaded into taking a personality test,
: >: > @@Meyers Briggs/Keirsey Temperament Test
: >: >I guess if enough people took such a standard test, this might be useful.
: >: >
: >: >I've worked in several disciplines with many kinds of people. For many
: >: >years I've held the opinion that the ratio of Saints to Sinners is
: >: >about the same in all these groups -- karate students and teachers,
: >: >academicians, street kids in Brooklyn, military officers, government
: >: >employees, and more recently traders in financial markets.
: >: >
: >: >However, I think that you are not looking for "moral" characteristics,
: >: >but personality per se traits. In this respect, I think it has been
: >: >useful to me to categorize Shodans as I did in my last email, similar
: >: >to those traits that motivate people in most disciplines to get a first
: >: >degree of major accomplishment.
: >: >
: >: >I try to avoid politics in karate like the plague -- I've never seen it
: >: >do much for the discipline (what's left of it after 40 years of rotten
: >: >politics :>)). However, I do know two black belts, one a Shodan and
: >: >the other a Sandan, to whom I've cc'd this email. They may have something
: >: >useful to add or disagree with me.
: >: >
: >: >Lester
: >: >
: >: >: Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2001 18:10:11 -0700 (PDT)
: >: >:
: >: >: Sensei Lester:
: >: >:
: >: >: Thank you so much for the reply you immediately made on my letter. I'm
: >: >: happy to note that you think studying the personality profile of karate
: >: >: blackbelts is interesting.
: >: >:
: >: >: It is too bad that psychologists have not given much thought to find out
: >: >: what makes a blackbelt tick. Such questions like: why did he take up
: >: >: martial arts? What made him persevere to become a blackbelt despite the
: >: >: rigors of training? What unique mental attitude, emotional and
: >: >: temperamental dispositions, set of needs and characteristic lifestyle set
: >: >: the blackbelt apart from the ordinary people? What adjustment
: difficulties
: >: >: are generally faced by blackbelts and how do they cope with them?
: These and
: >: >: many questions remain unanswered.
: >: >:
: >: >: You mentioned that a greater ego strength, determination and risk-taking
: >: >: drive are characteristics that differentiate the Sandan or Ph.D. I fully
: >: >: agree with you on these points. I can only hope and wish that you can
: spare
: >: >: me more time and information in writing about what you personally think
: >: >: makes the karate blackbelt a unique specimen. While almost all karate
: >: >: experts, teachers and writers have dealt exclusively with the art, science
: >: >: and history of karate, the personality of the karateka has not merited
: >: >: serious attention all through the years. Maybe it's time that some
: attempt
: >: >: to discover him should be made. I need you help, Sensei!
: >: >:
: >: >: Thank you very much! Oss!
: >: >:
: >: >: XXX
: >: >:
: >: >: At 02:03 PM 4/21/01 -0500, you wrote:
: >: >: >XXX;
: >: >: >
: >: >: >Well, I've plenty of experience with many people's personalities
: >: >: >(including my own)!
: >: >: >
: >: >: >More seriously, I think the study will be interesting. However, I do
: >: >: >not know of any objective tests that have been done with Black Belts.
: >: >: >
: >: >: >My guess is that there will not be much difference between say
: Shodans and
: >: >: >non-martial-art people with a BS or BA from any college. I do not mean
: >: >: >to disparage your rank :>), but while it takes some above-average drive
: >: >: >to achieve those levels, it takes more ego/determination/risk/whatever
: >: >: >to reach say Sandan or a PhD level, etc.
: >: >: >
: >: >: >Lester
: >: >: >
: >: >: >
: >: >: >: Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2001 10:26:59 -0700 (PDT)
: >: >: >:
: >: >: >: Dear Dr. Ingber:
: >: >: >:
: >: >: >: Before anything else, let me introduce myself. I am a JKA Shodan,
: having
: >: >: >: trained under XXX2, which is affiliated with the
: >: >: >: ITKF. I received my JKA certificate for
: >: >: >: Shodan in 1995 at the ripe age of 45. I'm now 51 years old.
: >: >: >:
: >: >: >: I'm a college professor.
: >: >: >: I'm now at the stage of gathering
: >: >: >: research materials for making a dissertation proposal.
: >: >: >:
: >: >: >: Sensei, the reason why I'm writing you is because I'm looking for
: related
: >: >: >: literature on the personality of karatekas or martial arts
: practitioners.
: >: >: >: The objective of my proposed doctoral dissertation is to compare the
: >: >: >: personality profile of XXX1 karatekas (blackbelts) and non-martial
: >: arts
: >: >: >: practitioners. I would appreciate very much your help, being a
: respected
: >: >: >: authority on Shotokan karate and highly-educated academician with a
: >: Ph.D in
: >: >: >: Physics, in locating any studies, articles or literature, dealing
: with the
: >: >: >: psychology or personality of karate practitioners, Shotokan or other
: >: styles,
: >: >: >: and even of martial artists in general.
: >: >: >:
: >: >: >: Any help you can extend to me will be highly appreciated.
: >: >: >:
: >: >: >: Thank you very much. Oss!
: >: >: >:
: >: >: >: XXX


@@Meyers Briggs/Keirsey Temperament Test

(See http://www.keirsey.com/.)


In response to:

:Everyone please go to the above URL and take the personality mock up provided
:there. I think we will get to the bottom of many of our disagreements that we
:never resolve. Here is my mock up (I have received the same results from
:other tests besides this one, so I think it is a good test). Post your

Rod Redmond [http://www.24fightingchickens.com/shotokan/] browbeat me into taking this test. I don't like to spend time on such tests :>). Anyway, here are my results. I even took it twice to see if it came out the same, and it did.


Keirsey Temperament Test Results

EI: 1 out of 10
SN: 13 out of 20
TF: 8 out of 20
Thinking +----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+Feeling
JP: 8 out of 20
Judging +----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+Perceiving

Your Jungian Personality type is ENTJ.


The Portrait of a Mobilizer (eNTj)

Copyrighted (c) 1996 Prometheus Nemesis Book Company.

Of the four aspects of strategic analysis and definition it is marshalling or situational organizing role that reaches the highest development in eNTjs. As this kind of role is practiced some contingency organizing is necessary, so that the second suit of the eNTj's intellect is devising contingency plans. Structural and functional engineering, though practiced in some degree in the course of organizational operations, tend to be not nearly as well developed and are soon outstripped by the rapidly growing skills in organizing. But it must be said that any kind of strategic exercise tends to bring added strength to engineering as well as organizing skills.

As the organizing capabilities the eNTjs increase so does their desire to let others know about whatever has come of their organizational efforts. So they tend to take up a directive role in their social exchanges. On the other hand they have less and less desire, if they ever had any, to inform others.

Hardly more than two percent of the total population, the eNTjs are bound to lead others, and from an early age they can be observed taking command of groups. In some cases, eNTjs simply find themselves in charge of groups, and are mystified as to how this happened. But the reason is that eNTjs have a strong natural urge to give structure and direction wherever they are-to harness people in the field and to direct them to achieve distant goals. They resemble SJtes in their tendency to establish plans for a task, enterprise, or organization, but eNTjs search more for policy and goals than for regulations and procedures.

They cannot not build organizations, and cannot not push to implement their goals. When in charge of an organization, whether in the military, business, education, or government, eNTjs more than any other type desire (and generally have the ability) to visualize where the organization is going, and they seem able to communicate that vision to others. Their organizational and coordinating skills tends to be highly developed, which means that they are likely to be good at systematizing, ordering priorities, generalizing, summarizing, at marshalling evidence, and at demonstrating their ideas. Their ability to organize, however, may be more highly developed than their ability to analyze, and the eNTj leader may need to turn to an eNTp or eNTp to provide this kind of input.

eNTjs will usually rise to positions of responsibility and enjoy being executives. They are tireless in their devotion to their jobs and can easily block out other areas of life for the sake of their work. Superb administrators in any field-medicine, law, business, education, government, the military-eNTjs organize their units into smooth-functioning systems, planning in advance, keeping both short-term and long-range objectives well in mind. For the eNTj, there must always be a goal-directed reason for doing anything, and people's feelings usually are not sufficient reason. They prefer decisions to be based on impersonal data, want to work from well thought-out plans, like to use engineered operations-and they expect others to follow suit. They are ever intent on reducing bureaucratic red tape, task redundancy, and aimless confusion in the workplace, and they are willing to dismiss employees who cannot get with the program and increase their efficiency. Although eNTjs are tolerant of established procedures, they can and will abandon any procedure when it can be shown to be ineffective in accomplishing its goal. eNTjs root out and reject ineffectiveness and inefficiency, and are impatient with repetition of error.









Copyrighted (c) 1996 Prometheus Nemesis Book Co.

RATIONAL NTs, being ABSTRACT in communicating and UTILITARIAN in implementing goals, can become highly skilled in STRATEGIC ANALYSIS. Thus their most practiced and developed intelligent operations tend to be marshalling and planning (NTJ organizing), or inventing and configuring (NTP engineering). And they would if they could be wizards in one of these forms of rational operation. They are proud of themselves in the degree they are competent in action, respect themselves in the degree they are autonomous, and feel confident of themselves in the degree they are strong willed. Ever in search of knowledge, this is the "Knowledge Seeking Personality" -- trusting in reason and hungering for achievement. They are usually pragmatic about the present, skeptical about the future, solipsistic about the past, and their preferred time and place are the interval and the intersection. Educationally they go for the sciences, avocationally for technology, and vocationally for systems work. Rationals tend to be individualizing as parents, mindmates as spouses, and learning oriented as children. Rationals are very infrequent, comprising as few as 5% and no more than 7% of the population.




Arts & Entertainment/Sports/Journalism/Literature

* Steve Allen
* William F. Buckley
* Ayn Rand


* Thomas Jefferson
* Abraham Lincoln
* Dwight D. Eisenhower
* Douglas MacArthur
* Peter the Great
* Margaret Thatcher


* Bill Gates
* Steve Jobs
* Buckminster Fuller


* Albert Einstein
* Richard Feynman
* Nikola Tesla
* Charles Darwin
* David Hume
* Adam Smith
* Madame Curie



Lester Ingber <ingber@ingber.com>

Copyright © 1994-2021 Lester Ingber. All Rights Reserved.

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