Sunday, August 22, 2010

Shorin-Ryu Karate Training Memories


Daniel San - "All right, so what are the rules here?"

Mr. Miyagi - "Don't know. First time you, first time me".

Daniel San - "Well, I figured you knew about this stuff. I figured you went to these before. Oh great, I'm dead. I am dead. You told me you fought a lot".

Mr. Miyagi: - "For life, not points".

A few years ago, two yudansha (black belt students) from the University of Wyoming Campus Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo Club took it upon themselves to test the effectiveness of atemi. This is not recommended as it could lead to serious injury and I would never have condone it, but now that it has happened, it is a reminder to all of us as to the power to traditional, non-sport karate. Luckily, neither was injured, other than having their brains rattled and they obviously suffered concussions. It could have been much worse - at these two could easily have ended up with a broken jaws.

Many of us already have a good understanding of atemi and its purpose. For those who train in jujutsu, this is a very important part of ki (energy) designed to unbalance or knock out an attacker prior to throwing. In the heat of Arizona, it is almost a must, as hanging on to a sweaty aggressor before a throw, is very difficult. This may be one example of the superiority of karate particularly in the Phoenix valley. It is easier to punch a person than to throw when that person is dripping is sweat.


According to the Overlook Martial Arts Dictionary, atemi is a Japanese term that directly translates as "body strikes‟. It refers to "…a method of attacking the opponents pressure points".

In A Dictionary of the Martial Arts there is a more detailed description. It defines atemi as strikes

"…aimed at the vital or weak points of an opponents body in order to paralyze by means of intense pain. Such blows can produce loss of consciousness, severe trauma and even death… …the smaller the striking surface used in atemi, the greater the power of penetration and thus the greater the effectiveness of the blow".


In jujutsu classes, atemi is used to provide a distraction of an attacker and allow one to lead to a finishing throw, joint lock, or choke. This is done by redirecting an opponent into a throw by attacking a vital point to cause pain and/or loss of consciousness before throwing. In other words, it is much easier to throw an unconscious attacker or one who is already moving in the direction of the throw.



This is particularly true in Phoenix Arizona where we recently learned due to another worthless Federal government stimulus grant that people in Arizona sweat more than in any other state. Now that was definitely worth spending our tax dollars. Because of being sweaty in Arizona, its hard to grip someone without slipping, thus it is best to hit them first. One common atemi we use in karate is a palm strike along the jaw line, the ear, or the neck.

Getting back to the story, these two black belts were both very well trained in jujutsu and karate, and they had black belt ranks in both disciplines. In the test, Scott held onto Jason’s wrist with both hands using a tight grip. Jason struck Scott along the jaw with his palm. Scott reported he let go of his grip as was temporarily paralyzed and Jason could have had his way over the next few minutes. Next, Jason held Scott’s wrist with both hands. Scott is very powerful due to his work as a professional fisherman in Alaska, lifting lots of salmon during the fishing season. As it was relayed to me, Scott struck Jason across the jaw. Jason related that it was about a half hour later before he knew what was happening. 

In other words, Jason was unconscious although still standing on his feet. So atemi works and there is no need to try it on one another - just ask these two students.
Sensei Hausel demonstrates how a scholar should use his head

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