One Strike One Kill in Karate but not Kenpo.

Discussion in 'Kenpo / Kempo - Technical Discussion' started by Danjo, Nov 25, 2007.

  1. Danjo

    Danjo Master Black Belt

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    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?
     
  2. IWishToLearn

    IWishToLearn 3rd Black Belt

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    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!
     
  3. stone_dragone

    stone_dragone Senior Master

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    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.
     
  4. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    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!
     
  5. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Grandmaster

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    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
     
  6. Danjo

    Danjo Master Black Belt

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    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.
     
  7. jks9199

    jks9199 Cause of War & Destroyer of Civilization Staff Member

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    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!"
     
  8. SL4Drew

    SL4Drew Green Belt

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    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."
     
  9. Danjo

    Danjo Master Black Belt

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    Was this against a static or moving person wearing the armor? Was the wearer trying to hit him with a sword at the time?
     
  10. Makalakumu

    Makalakumu Gonzo Karate Apocalypse

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    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.
     
  11. exile

    exile To him unconquered.

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    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...
     
  12. SL4Drew

    SL4Drew Green Belt

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    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.
     
  13. kidswarrior

    kidswarrior Senior Master

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    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.
     
  14. exile

    exile To him unconquered.

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    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....
     
  15. LawDog

    LawDog Master Black Belt

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    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.
     
  16. Nomad

    Nomad Master Black Belt

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    In my view, the one punch, one kill is a philosophical ideal that aids in training. The idea is to develop your sense of timing, distancing and power to the point where you could deliver the one punch that stops your opponent in their tracks and ends the fight. It is not meant to be something readily obtainable, though I suspect all of us have seen it at one time or another in sparring; the one move which looks absolutely flawless and drops the person is ikken hissatsu.

    It is always emphasized at our school that each move should strive for ikken hissatsu, but never rely on it... always have followup moves and keep going, because the reality is the first one is not likely to finish the fight. However, each move should have the potential to do so.

    I also doubt that in karate it is meant to be taken literally; although it is possible to kill someone with one well-placed blow, I believe the term came from kenjutsu where the results were more likely to be fatal. I've also heard it as "one sword, one life" and similar translations.
     
  17. kidsasuke

    kidsasuke White Belt

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    Okay, I've heard people go on about "one strike one kill" over and over all over the place. Some people are logically reasoning with it, while others just peacock their own martial art and go "Well, WE can't do it, so they're just silly", and yada yada.

    I was basically raised on Meibukan Goju-Ryu Karate-Do, one of the 8 original forms of Okinawan Karate. Our crest symbolizes the sun and moon (meaning hard and soft/strength and gentleness/etc.) with a line down the middle that signifies "One punch, one life". The whole thing is basically an overall philosophy of combat, as well as life in general. You can take it many different ways:

    1. Literally meaning one strike to kill: You can, under the right conditions and with the right training, carve your mind and body into such an efficient weapon that you could finish many encounters with a single blow. It's not always about killing, since you're only supposed to defend yourself and cause the least amount of damage required to end the battle; you can also knock them out or otherwise disable/control them with a single move. You can easily kill a person by striking them in areas such as the throat with full force, collapsing the trachea and/or pinching off the carotid artery or jugular vein. You can also deliver seriously hard blows to the skull, which can cause massive brain trauma and hemorrhaging.

    It's very difficult to do with standard/modern training techniques. Traditionally, the Okinawans would strengthen their hands and feet by striking into pots full of hot sand and such. Try looking at the hands of a 6th-8th dan sensei. They're visibly mangled, but practically made of steel when it comes to striking. If you tried to strike a hard surface with full force without strengthening, you'd likely snap a few (or more) of your own bones. However, with the proper training, you create striking surfaces that can withstand MUCH greater forces. Your hands and feet are composed of a multitude of tiny bones. Fusing pieces together and forcing the bones to grow thicker gives you a much greater advantage combat-wise.

    2. The chances of losing/winning a battle: Another way to look at this statement is the fact that you can win or lose any encounter at any given moment. The slightest hesitation on either side can end it all. Think of every encounter like a game of chess: Pawns and other pieces can move around for what seems like hours before the killing/ending blow is delivered. Sometimes it's a drawn-out war of attrition, other times it's a quick clean kill. Your pawns can represent, say, how you try to deal with the situation before it turns violent. You try to reason with them or simply ignore them/walk away. They come back with their own moves, following you and continuing to harass. You set them up by bringing them into a bottleneck or confusing situation, perhaps vanishing for a moment into a crowd. You then escape if it's possible, or come back out through the crowd from behind them and either subdue them or knock them out if needed....checkmate. You always do whatever is needed to not resort to violence, but sometimes people just won't back off. You can't hesitate or fear when that moment comes, but you always try to avoid it.

    3. Applying both of these concepts to general life....metaphorically, of course. Every situation can be ended at any given moment. Even life itself can end without notice. Hesitation increases your chances of having these things happen. Even if you don't know what to do, you can't stop and panic.
     
  18. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Grandmaster

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    Let me amend my point. Because the villagers weren't allowed weapons, it was really the bandits that they were left "Almost" defenseless against. :)
     
  19. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    There is a HUGE gap between the original okinawan karate and what later became japanese karate, both in terms of techniques, but also in terms of philosophy. Many okinawan students adopted ideas from the japanese and applied it to what they were doing (sport style sparring, belts to name a couple).

    When Funakoshi brought karate over to Japan, he had to differentiate it from Judo, and de-emphasized the locks/throws/grappling techniques found in the original okinawan karate. He also looked at Kendo and some of it's training and adopted from them also. One of these concepts was the "one strike, one kill".

    The problem is people ONLY look at it from the offensive side of the art, NOT the philosophical side which Funakoshi still preached. Look at it from the other side for a moment. Every time we get into a fight, there is the chance that WE may be hurt and/or killed. Okinawan philosphy was to train to fight to the death and not fight (Chotoku Kyan). Meaning that you trained yourself with the worst in mind and be prepared for the worst, and understanding that do everything you could to avoid getting into the fight. I think that is part of what Funakoshi was trying to impart that has been missed.
     
  20. ninjanoir78

    ninjanoir78 White Belt

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    In okinawa, funakoshi was not seen as a karate master by others..

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