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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Finding parallels between Koryu Uchinadi and Jeet Kune Do, part 1

I’ve just finished reading Bruce Thomas’ 2002 revised edition of Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit for the third time (well, second time – I read the 1994 first edition back in ’97 when I was 15 and discovered the revised edition a year or two after it was published and have read that twice, so that makes it three times I’ve read through the publication in general 🙂 ), and in combination with our club’s recent move to Koryu Uchinadi Kenpo Jutsu, my brain has been contemplating a few things.

I won’t delve into book review territory here, but Thomas’ biography was a great study into this legendary figure in the martial arts world, but also happened to be reasonably balanced in avoiding the gloss on some of the less appealing aspects of his personality/history. However, having studied some of the precepts of Koryu Uchinadi, either through formal class, seminars or through principles Sensei has passed along during class, I’m finding that “true” (and I use that term quite loosely) classical martial arts actually called on a lot of the precepts that Jeet Kune Do was so infamous for.

Now that’s a pretty controversial statement that I’m sure some commentators will take me to task over – and hey, that’s fine. I’m no expert, I’m just putting some thoughts out there that I’ve had in my mind, and by all means, even the foundations of those thoughts could be argued. But this is the internet, this is my blog, and sometimes it helps to thrash these ideas out loud.

This ends the first part of this lengthy discussion – I originally had this as one entry, but it got pretty wordy so I’ve split it up. 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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Making progress on the bench

Just a quick post on the progress of my supplemental training – I’ve started throwing in some freestyle work on the bag before hitting the bench to work on my ability to move in and out of fighting range, throwing in some kicks and working on elbows, punches and backhand attacks. I’m actually not sure how effectively I’m training though, and I keep meaning to check out the videos and guides Wim’s added to his blog as the previews I’ve seen look fantastic.

Anywho, in addition to this I’ve also been working on gradually increasing the amount of weight on the bar and have got it up to 60kg now, but I’m only just managing one rep, and it’s not all the way down to my chest either. It does make me think that I might be starting to hit a bit of a threshold, but I’m pretty strong in my conviction to get to my body weight (70kg). Mind, I don’t know how much the bar weighs so I don’t know how much over 60kg I actually am, but I’ve decided I want to load the bar with 70kg, so that’s what I intend to do 🙂

Looking back though, I remember that the first time I pushed 53kg on the bench I struggled, but now I can do multiple reps, so it’ll come down to simply continuing to work on it. I think I might give myself another two weeks at 60kg, then start pushing it 1kg a week at a time again and see how I go.

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