Proper boshiken/bushiken (spelling and striking surface)

Live True

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Okay, I had posted this to the Uechi Ryu Forum, but i'm interested on what perspectives we'll come from uechi and other Martial artists on this forum.

Im going to use the spelling boshiken, as that is what is on a website I maintain for a former teacher, but Im open to discussion on proper spelling and why.

Now, on to usagebeen doing some conditioning work, and Im curious as to the proper striking surface for a boshiken, particularly the thumb strike surface.

I did some web research as well as trying various things, and found three mainly noted options, one of which is just wrong (IMO). Of course, I am only trying to work and figure out things, so Im looking for the opinions of other newbies as well as experienced Karateka and teachers.

The first was pulling the thumb back so that it was just fingertips and tip of thumb that are the striking surface. That just seems wrong and more of a palm strike to me (or I've been advised that is more of a kakushiken or "crane's beak").

The second was the the first joint of the thumb. So the striking surface is the finger tips and the point where your thumb joins the hand. I can see and feel strength here as it seems to align the bones in your hand and wrist. Its a bit harder to get the angle right if you are striking forward and seems to lend itself more for striking up and/or in (like the double boshikens in Sanchin). But it looks like it could encourage risk of a sprained thumb injury through force of impact, similar to but in a different direction from skiers thumb, as noted here: http://www.nigoalkeeping.com/Home/Treatment.htm
(about 翻 way down this long page under sprained thumb injury explained
Thumb1w.jpg


The third option was the fingertips and second joint of the thumb (bend of 1st metacarpal and 1st proximal phalanx, as best I can tell from this diagram):
anat20.gif

This seems to be easier to align the joint and support it with the palm, but easier doesnt always mean right. I can also see the risk of jamming the thumb as well. In practice, I found I had to really hold the thumb firmly against my palm or it simply felt...wrong and could hurt like crazy!

It occurred to me that womens hands, on average, tend to be smaller and sometimes longer/thinner. Im not sure that equates to more fragile, but its something to consider.

So what, in your opinion, is the proper striking surface on a boshiken, for strength and proper application? Ive been taught both of the last two methods and seen both and a few other variations used by the same karateka in a single kataso is one more right than the other? Is it as much application as what "works" for the karateka?

Glad to have time to post again and hear from the great folks here!
 

Chris Parker

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Hi Shana,

As you've put this in the General section, I'll add a Ninjutsu perspective, hopefully it may assist you with yours.

Within our various systems, particularly the Gyokko Ryu, a boshiken is a relatively common strike. It also goes under oher names, most often Shitoken, but sometimes Yubi Ken, or Moguri Ken depending on usage. The way we use this strike is to form a fist, with your thumb on top, then extend the thumb forward, pressing down against your index finger (with the first knuckle pushed forward to support and strengthen the thumb for the strike). The term appears to simply refer to "thumb fist/weapon".

I personally have a theory as to the use of this fist, as without serious hand conditioning it is not a fantastic choice for striking a number of targets. As a number of our systems come from wearing armour, this presents a problem. If a thumb strike is rather delicate, and you are using it to strike an opponent wearing armour, there is a good chance of injuring yourself. So I personally think the actual use of it is as a method of pressuring certain spots on an opponent, once you have them grabbed. Not knowing how yours is used, all I can say is that that works perfectly with every technique I have tested within our art.

A quick google search, for what it's worth, gave similar descriptions for the Uechi Ryu version (thumb pressed against the index finger to strike with the thumb tip), so hopefully this has helped in some way, or at least not bored you thoroughly!
 

xJOHNx

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I've always been taught the way Mr. Parker explains it.
In jinenkan we only use it against soft targets (where muscles originate, anatomical weaknesses, and so on...). Same goes with shinkanken.

And the guys who invented the technique suppossedly drilled it against wooden boards...
 

Bruno@MT

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Ditto for Genbukan, at least to my understanding.
 

Chris Parker

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Just to add to my earlier comments, as said, boshiken refers to a thumb strike, or more accurately, a thumb tip fist or strike. Now, this, as in many martial art forms, is often taught primarily in a strict fashion (here is how you hold your fist, here is where you strike etc), however it is really little more than a principle in action. So realistically any time you use the tip of your thumb to attack an opponent (whether striking, pressuring, or other use), that could be said to be a boshiken even if your hand doesn't form the "traditional" fist.

Within the various Ninjutsu-related traditions there are a few examples of this idea, and I'm going to give some from the Kukishinden Ryu Dakentaijutsu, a system based on fighting in armour. As said, if you try to strike someone wearing armour with a thumb tip strike, you are most likely going to injure yourself (and not do much to the opponent!). However, the boshiken turns up rather frequently in the Densho, particularly in the final book, the Shirabe Moguri Gata.

Many of the kata in this book are based on a similar set-up, with the opponent attacking, then moving in to attempt a hip throw (some versions I have seen have Tori attack, and Uke responds with the attempted throw). Tori blocks the throw, by shifting their weight, jamming into the opponent's hips with your hand. Then the technique says to apply a boshiken to the hip. Now, here you don't strike, instead you press your thumb into a kyusho point to weaken the opponent's stance and give you the time to perform your defence. So no strike there in the typical sense, and the boshiken is usually an open palm, with the thumb being used independantly (no typical fist being formed). In fact, in one of the kata (Yama Otoshi), some versions have the technique saying that after the opponents throw is defeated, and they turn back, "boshiken below the nose (jinchu), then kick up and back to throw (uchigake nage)". If you try to just hit to the point below the nose it can be rather difficult, so this method is actually to grab the opponents head with your right hand, your fingers grabbing along the jaw below the ear, and your thumb presses hard under the nose. Again, not a strike, and not a typical fist.

My main point here is not to get too concerned about absolute formal aspects in all cases. It could very easily be that each different version you presented are all accurate and viable, but in different uses. Provided the contact point is the tip of the thumb, it is a boshiken.

Oh, and xJohnx, I actually train that strike, as well as koppoken quite often in my hand conditioning work. I have used trees, and brick walls to do so, and frankly, don't really recommend it... damn well hurts! But when I hit one of my guys with it, even what I consider gently, it has a definate effect!
 

xJOHNx

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I can believe that!

Sensei boshikened my lower back this afternoon at seminar. Still burns! :)
And I need to condition my thumb. I cannot keep it straight enough to impact.
 
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Live True

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Thank you Chris for a great and detailed answer. In Uechi, as I understand it currently, the boshiken is often a strike that can easily and often lead into a grab. We tend to do more of an open fist, not quite a palm strike, with fingers curved in a claw fashion. So you are actully hitting with fingertips (or first few joints of fingers if curved over) and thumb joint. I think we tend to use the joints or side of thumb more than the thumb tip, but again...that could be usage as well. In our kata, Sanchin, we do double boshiken strikes in a strike/grab fashion that I believe is meant to target various pressue points (heart and kidney for example). I've seen this lead into grabs that are controlling and might actually pick up and move an opponent in some instances.

In conditioning on my makiwara and the heavy bag, I find that I have a harder time with some variations over others because of the thumb strenght and support involved...I will have to add your variation in practice and see how that goes. Thank you!
 

Chris Parker

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Glad to help. We have double boshikens ourselves, within the Koto Ryu. Most typically, it is to the neck, so I tend to do that by grabbing the shoulders and just pressing in with my thumbs, although I have regularly seen it as two traditionally fisted strikes.

If I am reading your description correctly, I have seen this version as well (just not commonly with us). Build up the conditioning slowly and gently, but it can be done. Think of it like a thumb jab, if you watch WWE style wrestling, it turns up quite a bit in the form of "a blatant thumb to the eye!". Within boxing, a few less-than-sportsmanlike actions include this as well... when punching, turn the fist flat, and "miss" the head. But as you miss, extend your thumb to the eye. A number of fights ended with detatched retinas until it became standard to have the thumb sewn into the rest of the glove later... to protect the thumb, obviously....
 

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