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Thread: One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

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    One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

    In an article on Kata in the latest Classical Fighting Arts magazine, there was someting quite interesting mentioned. The article titled: The History and Evolution of Karate-Do Kata , by Harry Cook says:

    "According to Chomo Hanashiro's student Hiroshi Kinjo, (born in Shuri, Okinawa in 1919) most modern karate "experts" have little or no understanding of the real nature of traditional karate....Kinjo observed that while the concept of "one strike one kill" is perfectly valid when applied to the Japanese sword, the adoption of this concept to karate has led to a profound misunderstanding of the realities of a "personal confrontation without weapons when actually seized by an opponent. More often than not, in an effort to subjugate an attacker, a defender must impact a subordinate target in order to set up a more anatomically vulnerable zone to traumatize, before dragging that person to the ground, or, conversely, being dragged to the ground." (pg. 18)

    I find it interesting how much we uncritically accepted about karate from the original Japanese teachers that brought it over here. The one punch one kill concept that we have taken to understand as a vital part of original karate, was, it seems an attempt to have karate conform to the same concept as kendo, whereas the original karate from Okinawa was more similar to what we understand as Kenpo and Kajukenbo etc. in terms of it's use of multiple attacks to vital targets with finishes on the ground. It appears that karate had moved quite a ways away from it's self defense origins and into the academic asthetic phase before it even landed on our shores.

    Given that in Okinawa the words Karate and Kenpo were used interchangebly, I wonder if the insistance on Kenpo as the name wasn't in part due to the fact that many Okinawans didn't like what they were seeing of the very popular Japanese Karate and so gravitated more toward the name of Kenpo so as to distinguish it from what they were seeing as an unworkable martial art?
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    Re: One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

    Very interesting excerpt, thanks for bringing it to the board. I too think it's interesting that what I've been led to understand by the 3 "japanese karate" style instructors I've had about the development of the one punch one kill theorem is according to this article, false. I'd been questioning the logic behind that belief for a while...but in retrospect it could be also argued that the one punch, one kill is only meant to mean the final dropping shot - Doc Chap'el turned me on to a much more efficient thought process of setting up your opponent through accessing their anatomy to set up the dropping shot...it seems that the one punch one kill could be that drop shot...instead of (to my experience at least) merely only one attack is thrown and that one is the proverbial magic bullet.

    Thanks again Danjo!
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    Re: One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

    The idea of the "one punch kill" is a function of a desire for perfect efficiency as inculcated by a culture that lionizes a single "perfect" way of doing something...i.e pouring tea, painting a kanji character or delivering a killing blow with a sword or fist.

    In pre-Japanese Okinawan karate, I would assume that the preference for this single way of achieving the goal was not emphasized until becoming a part of Japanese empire.

    You can see this Ippon concept in the organizational forerunner to karate, Judo (organizational meaning that karate ranks and pedagogy were designed in part after judo) as well.

    Just a thought or two.


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    Re: One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

    Quote Originally Posted by stone_dragone View Post
    In pre-Japanese Okinawan karate, I would assume that the preference for this single way of achieving the goal was not emphasized until becoming a part of Japanese empire.
    This is my guess too--the grappling came to be de-emphasized and the single-shot idea took greater hold. I too find it hard to believe that rational people built an art around the one-punch KO concept.

    Interesting discussion!

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    Re: One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

    From what I have been told the origins of one punch one kill came from the idea that an unarmed fighter must hit a soldiers wooden armor hard enough to bust through to cause injury. Obviosly this requires a lot of focus and conditioning. This is more of a "one chance one kill" idea given the opponent is holding a sword.
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    Re: One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

    Quote Originally Posted by Touch Of Death View Post
    From what I have been told the origins of one punch one kill came from the idea that an unarmed fighter must hit a soldiers wooden armor hard enough to bust through to cause injury. Obviosly this requires a lot of focus and conditioning. This is more of a "one chance one kill" idea given the opponent is holding a sword.
    Sean
    I'm not sure how much of that is pure myth though. The Samurai used Jiujitsu for hand to hand, and most Okinawan's wouldn't have been going up against a Samurai in full armor either. The Bubushi was concerned heavily with targeting vital points on an un-armored person according to the drawings.
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    Re: One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

    You know...

    I've always been skeptical of the "punch through armor" idea.

    When you wear almost any sort of armor, it consists of several layers. You have the "hard stuff" that's supposed to stop the attack. That's the steel (plate or rings or chain) or lacquered wood/bamboo or boiled leather or Kevlar (in modern soft body armor) or whatever. You have stuff to tie the hard stuff together; that's ribbons or leather or sometimes, like in chain mail or Kevlar, it's the hard stuff. Then... You have padding. Without padding, you might turn the edge -- but you're still gonna get THUMPED. (OK, even with padding, you get thumped... but you know what I mean.)

    So... Let's say you punch hard enough to go through armor. You still have to get through the padding to actually hurt the guy.

    And that's without the whole separate issue of "I've punched through this armor plate, and now I'm stuck in the plate!"

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    Re: One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

    Believe it or not, I actually knew an 'old timer' that could punch Kendo armor and have the punch hurt the wearer. (He was directly under S. Nagamine.) Of course he had 'toughened' his hands such that there were no longer individual knuckles on it. I doubt striking the Kendo armor would have done anything than break the hand without the years of makiwara training.

    But even still, I never heard him advocate "one punch one kill."

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    Re: One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

    Quote Originally Posted by SL4Drew View Post
    Believe it or not, I actually knew an 'old timer' that could punch Kendo armor and have the punch hurt the wearer. (He was directly under S. Nagamine.) Of course he had 'toughened' his hands such that there were no longer individual knuckles on it. I doubt striking the Kendo armor would have done anything than break the hand without the years of makiwara training.

    But even still, I never heard him advocate "one punch one kill."
    Was this against a static or moving person wearing the armor? Was the wearer trying to hit him with a sword at the time?
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    Re: One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

    I believe that a detailed and historical analysis of karate kata debunks the one shot one kill philosophy. I have no doubt that some highly skill practicioners had strengthened their limbs to a point where they could kill a person with one strike, but that is NOT what kata are showing.

    In the very first kata every karateka learns, they are being taught that typically an altercation will required three to four strikes (moves) in order to settle...and this is following some sort of defensive action.

    As you advance and you learn more kata, this simple principle should be applied to all the kata you are attempting to understand.
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    Re: One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

    I've always assumed that the 'one strike/one kill' slogan was shorthand for, `aim to incapacitate the attacker via the shortest path it takes to set up a terminal strike'. The idea behind the slogan, I've always thought, is that you should be aiming to deliver a strike that damages your attacker so severely that he can no longer fight after that strike is delivered.

    To administer such a strike, though, you need to deliver the blow so that a highly vulnerable vital area is sufficiently damaged. That will, typically, be a target on the head or throat(groin and abdomen strikes could in principle have the same effect, but these tend to be harder to get clear access to). And to deliver the necessary force to such points on the attacker's upper body, you have to utilize set-up moves which force the attacker's head into a lower close-range position while depriving him of the usual protections available for such targets. This means trapping and controlling movements, pins and throws, prior to the crushing terminal strike to the larynx, or temple or other upper-body target.

    That's where the grappling/controlling moves that are so widely recognized as part of Okinawan karate come in. And the really good, realistic bunkai for kata, as a couple of people have already noted, make it clear that a typical combat interpretatation of a `minimal combat subsequence' usually involves three or four steps which lead, inevitably, no matter how noncompliant the attacker is, to the finishing destructive move. But I don't see this as incompatible with the `one strike/one kill' idea, as long as we understand that the slogan is telling you to exploit the biomechanical possibilities to set up a situation, through the use of forcing moves, where a single strike can be delivered that will damage your attacker past the point where he can stand, much less continue the fight...
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    Re: One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

    Quote Originally Posted by Danjo View Post
    Was this against a static or moving person wearing the armor? Was the wearer trying to hit him with a sword at the time?
    Static. And no sword. I don't really know to what extent they trained it in their classes. I knew him for years and all his senior students were the kind that would run through brick walls--headfirst. As aside, he did tell me some of the training he underwent when he was younger, he felt was unnecessary nowadays.

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    Re: One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

    I've struggled with this slogan, too. I don't worry too much over the history of the thing--it was what it was, and whatever that was got lost in translation (by the time it got to me).

    In my early MA days, I dismissed it as idealism (as others have put in historical context here). Through the years, tho, have seen too many times when one shot struck gold, and fight over; or one person tripped, fight over. Have settled on the kung fu san soo principle that every move must have the potential to end the fight--otherwise, it's wasted motion. This can mean even a change in stances, if I step through his space and take his balance for example, can be a take down, which either ends the fight, or allows a quick finish. Or, stepping through him could signal a soccer kick to lower leg, an ankle stomp, etc. All of which results in his incapacitation at least momentarily, allowing for the finish.
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    Re: One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

    Quote Originally Posted by kidswarrior View Post
    Have settled on the kung fu san soo principle that every move must have the potential to end the fight--otherwise, it's wasted motion.
    Yes, this is another way to express the same idea. Kane & Wilder put it this way in their rules for kata bunkai: every move must have martial significance, but I think the 1S/1K principal is even stronger than that: the idea that every move either ends the fight, or represents what is from an engineering point of view the (or an) optimal step in the process of setting up such a strike. If you cannot end the fight with one blow, then you should aim to immobilize your opponent so that the following blow will do it; if you cannot immobilize your opponent, then you should aim to unbalance your opponent... that sort of thing.

    I've had discussions with people on this point where the response was, well, sure—how else would anyone fight?? But my impression is that there are many arts where the idea that you impose control from your very first move, and use that control to set up a killing, or at least severely damaging strike, in the shortest possible number of steps, is strategically foreign. I have the sense that it's become a signature concept of karate to a much greater extent than with many other empty-hand combat arts....
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    Post Re: One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

    To anticipate or set up a one shot kill is very difficult.
    * Your angle of attack has to be exact,
    * The multi chambering / release required for this type of strike must have their power curve's aligned in order release exactly upon impact,
    * It is usually a total offense type of move thus you will have little or no defense available,
    * There is much more, to much to write right now.

    In combat, (68 - 69) I have seen many who should of died because of their injuries yet they lived.
    Yet others who received less serious injuries died.
    As a Leo I have seen this same sort of thing. In one case there was a car accident, the driver of the car was a nurse. At the accident scene she had no signs of an impact injury about her head yet she died on the scene because the steering wheel hit her in the forehead. Yet we have seen others who have had nails driven into their skulls and have lived.

    My point, everyone reacts to impact differently, some can absorb and others cannot.
    Last edited by LawDog; 11-27-2007 at 10:57 AM. Reason: Spelling of mine stinks
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