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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June 2010