Finding parallels between Koryu Uchinadi and Jeet Kune Do, part 5

Note: This is a continuation in a series of posts, be sure to read part 4, or you can view the whole series by looking up all posts under the Koryu Uchinadi/Jeet Kune Do comparison tag.

Now, these principles aren’t unique to either of these philosophies, and neither represent the “golden egg” when it comes to finding your path to enlightenment when it comes to martial arts. What they do represent is a different view on “classical” martial arts, and as well-rounded and well-thought individuals, I think it’s important that we don’t dismiss these at face value. Every system has a weakness, most systems have their strengths. I find that Shotokan Karate (and by extension, I’m hoping to gain out of Koryu Uchinadi) was suited to me, as (a) I wanted to learn a traditional form of self defense with historical significance to Japan owing to my interest and tertiary study into Japanese history and culture, (b) wanted to learn an applicable form of self defense with an emphasis on respect and an end result that also improved physical fitness, and (c) learn a style that can be utilised/adapted to my existing physical condition. So for me, karate, whether it by a hybrid style (what I previously learned), “classical” Shotokan (which is probably my primary influence) and Koryu Uchinadi (broader syllabus with anthropological overtones in its development), are what have been right for me at this stage of my development.

At the end of the day, I like that both systems don’t explicitly say they have the answer, but offer opportunities and encourage a mode of self-developed insight into reactions to physical violence. Hanshi McCarthy is of course well-known and respected for the development of his HAPV model (Habitual Acts of Physical Violence), which aims to build a practical foundation for techniques taught within the system, and complements the constantly evolving nature of the system, bringing a modenr, scientific approach to karate that forms is base upon pre-Japan Okinawan kenpo. While not as succinct, I believe Lee was shooting towards the same goal with Jeet Kune Do, in that a martial art should not be a static object, but something that can react to situational changes and notes this should be implicitly explored. Like that classic interview, Bruce’s analogy of being like water is a great concept, and as martial artists, is something we should always consider in our training. Ultimately where Jeet June Do and Koryu Uchinadi meet is in this guiding principle – don’t get so bogged down by tradition that you can forge practicality out of physical or written philosophy.

This is the final post of this lengthy discussion – you can view a full list of the posts by using the Koryu Uchinadi/Jeet Kune Do comparison tag. Thanks for bearing with me as I know it was lengthy, and I hope you got something out of it!!

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Finding parallels between Koryu Uchinadi and Jeet Kune Do, part 4

Note: This is a continuation in a series of posts, be sure to read part 3, or you can view the whole series by looking up all posts under the Koryu Uchinadi/Jeet Kune Do comparison tag.

The “dirty” or more flexible techniques, the more holistic syllabus, isn’t missing from karate – a lot of it is hidden in kata, something I’ve waxed lyrical about in the past. But the fact that it is in there suggests that these techniques might have been taught once upon a time. Where Koryu Uchinadi has it strengths is that it aims to go back to before a lot of the controversial techniques were extracted from karate to make it more “palatable” to the audience it was intending to instruct.

So thus, it aims to present classical karate in a light that broadens the “formal” syllabus, teach application-based principles and asks the participant to open their mind to different ideas and applications. Just like Jeet Kune Do, it is as much a principle as it is a form of combat. The difference is that this has been achieved through anthropological research into old traditions and only after this, more contemporary experience and research has been used to formulate this into something coherent. In contrast, Jeet Kune Do applies the “melting pot” theory and takes various other forms of combat and applies their strengths atop a base created upon the principles of wing chun. While their method with which they reach their conclusion is different, arguably there is a similarity of parallel between the overriding rationale being presented by these approaches.

This ends the fourth part of this lengthy discussion – keep checking throughout the week to keep up with the latest, or simply check it using the Koryu Uchinadi/Jeet Kune Do comparison tag.

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Finding parallels between Koryu Uchinadi and Jeet Kune Do, part 3

Note: This is a continuation in a series of posts, be sure to read part 2, or you can view the whole series by looking up all posts under the Koryu Uchinadi/Jeet Kune Do comparison tag.

So, to recap – Jeet Kune Do was critical of “classical” martial arts because they were more interested in maintaining tradition or the establishment of the “religious temple” (as per Lee’s previously mentioned paper), and would overlook the practicalities of combat in order to fuel old practices.

This is a fair point.

Where I draw the parallels between Jeet Kune Do and Koryu Uchinadi is that the latter also calls for a breakdown of “traditional” (or rather, modern or post-modern depending on your interpretation) ideas on karate as a system of fighting derived from Okinawan or Ryukyu methods of combat. When is a punch a punch? When is a block a block? What does the aforementioned gedan-barai/oitsuki mean and how many ways can it be applied? Mind, this isn’t a unique concept to Koryu Uchinadi as plenty of other karateka from various styles, both “pure” (shotokan, goju, shito, etc) and hybrid styles have considered bunkai and oyo as an essential part of their training syllabus for a number of years. Where Lee would apply modern thinking and holistic methodologies to look past accepted dogma, Koryu Uchinadi calls to look at accepted forms by reverse-engineering and looking at the forms and principles before they were exported from Okinawa and massaged into a format that gelled better with mainland Japan.

Thus, the block/punch could by a downward strike to the arm, followed by a wrist grab to the same arm that was just struck, pulling the opponent back to you when retracted the arm whilst simultaneously striking the opponent. That’s an application that’s probably a pretty common one when looking into things a little deeper – not too out of the ordinary. But the “classical” karate syllabus lacks the extension of these techniques, in a formal sense, to include eye gouging, biting, spitting, headbutting, groin strikes/manipulation, throwing, groundwork, the dirty stuff. Apply these same techniques to the above example and think about broader application of the movement, empty your cup so to speak.

Consider lowering the oitsuki to spearing the groin, or more creatively, using the gedan-barai as a strike to the opponent’s throat with the forearm, pushing through and wrapping/trapping the opponent’s head/neck in your arm pit, curl your hand around and grab the wind pipe and lower your weight to place greater pressure on the areas affected by the seizing action, and you should be in a position that loosely resembles the end point of a gedan-barai. Consider the follow-up oitsuki – palm strike to the jaw to dislocate the neck, strike the exposed rib, or simply use it to grab/seize the opponent and initiate the turn/gedan-barai/oituski combination that generally follows with whatever techniques spring to mind.

In other words – open your mind to the applications and don’t accept even simplistic combinations as one-dimensional. Sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not.

This ends the third part of this lengthy discussion – keep checking throughout the week to keep up with the latest, or simply check it using the Koryu Uchinadi/Jeet Kune Do comparison tag.

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Finding parallels between Koryu Uchinadi and Jeet Kune Do, part 2

Note: This is a continuation in a series of posts, be sure to read part 1, or you can view the whole series by looking up all posts under the Koryu Uchinadi/Jeet Kune Do comparison tag.

So, let’s rationalise a few things here. I noticed in Thomas’ text that he mentions a paper Lee wrote titled “Free yourself from classical karate”, and a hop-step-and-Google revealed that someone has digitised it. From what I’ve read there, and from my understanding of watching various documentaries on Bruce Lee and JKD and reading up on the style, rather than a systematised/formalised style per se, it is very much a concept, and this concept presented some radical deviations from established forms taught both in the Chinese community, and Japanese styles taught to the West (yes, this is a simplified view, but stick with me on this), as at the time, martial arts appears to have been taught in a rigid fashion with an eye for secret preservation rather than holistic exploration or tuition. For example, when performing something as “simple” as Heian Shodan, you were taught that the gedan barai — oitsuki combination was formulating a response of block-punch. Should Lee have looked at this, he might criticise it on a couple of levels – a strict, long stance typical of Shotokan karate does not equate to practical self defence, and the block-punch as a reaction is a very limited interpretation of the movement. Thus, if one takes a JKD approach that asks you to “empty your cup”, you would shorten your stance to something more practical and lighten your weight, the block-punch would be executed simultaneously or adapted to suit the situation as appropriate.

State this kind of concept in the West at the time where we were still reeling from post-occupation Japan’s gift to the West in the form of martial arts instruction and a tiny wellspring of interest in Chinese martial arts by Westerners, and this would be considered blasphemy. After all, karate was a mysterious martial art still relatively new to the West (and to be honest, given Okinawa only translated Okinawan kenpo [or karate] into a form easily digested by mainland Japan in the 1920s, the form was arguably still only out of the woods by that point as well in the grand scheme of things), and it was considered presumptuous to criticise the style when it was already such a dynamic change to traditional Western pugilism. After all, with such a leap, why throw all these new forms and concepts out the window?

This ends the second part of this lengthy discussion – keep checking throughout the week to keep up with the latest, or simply check it using the Koryu Uchinadi/Jeet Kune Do comparison tag.

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