Step Thru vs. Cross

KGS BBS

White Belt
Joined
Apr 10, 2006
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
True Dan, now that you mentioned it. When I see the old black & whites of Funakoshi his stances are more upright and nautural and look much like Motobu's stances but when I see pictures of his descendants they are always in the very deep low stances. Good point! 'Joe'
 

Doc

Senior Master
Joined
May 12, 2002
Messages
4,240
Reaction score
180
Location
Southern California
The evolution of the Japanese arts are all rooted in actual fighting from the Chinese and Okinanwan's. However there is a historical distillation process that was the basis for their many "do" or "way" arts, that emphasized the 'spirit,' and cultural 'codes' over practical or even effective applications.

Jigaro Kano was an educator who distilled Japan's fighting discipline jiujitsu, down to the sport ju-do. ("Do" means "way").

Morihei Ueshiba, also an expert in jiujitsu, sword, and spear wanted neither a competitive sport or destructive fighting art, and created the neutralizing "do" art Aiki-do. As a holistic art it was to be a conduit for the connection between the mind, body and spirit.

Gichin Funakoshi introduced his "karate-do" to Japan after migrating from Okinawa, which originally consisted primarily of only 'kata' training, and no sport sparring. He insisted that his "do" art not be turned into a contact sport, emphasizing instead self-perfection through kata.

Ken-do (ken=sword, do) or "way of the sword," developed during the relatively peaceful Edo period (1603 - 1867), when the military rulers insisted the samurai study the martial arts. During this period all japanese martial arts came under the influence of Buddhism and the emphasis of developing good character. The goal of study shifted from preparing the body for the battlefield to cultivating mental discipline in all of the nationalistic arts. This changed kendo too, and was the catalist for creation of the shinai (babmboo sword), and practice body armor or "dogu." The kendo that has gained recognition is not the martial art of feudal Japan, but a sport-like physical training system.

With the emphasis shifting from fighting to culturally ritualized rule based competition, and/or the cultivation of personal discipline and 'inner peace' through this type of training, practical application of fighting was not the emphasis. Thus many methods seen in these and other arts have questionable application in modern street scenarios, and the disciplines have given rise to "how" you perform as being more important than application. It was much later in Japan when contact sport sparring took hold, as well as the Asian melting pot of Hawaii where the Japanese arts began to drift back toward a physicality of application, and methodologies were question under the light of tough streets.

Migrating from there to mainland America first as a sport, when the market was discovered to be ripe, all of the arts became 'self-defense' vehicles instead of sports. I remember when they were called "karate-players, as the dropped the "do." Now they are all "the ultimate in self defense." The Parker/Tracy influence again.
 

eyebeams

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 18, 2005
Messages
381
Reaction score
16
Doc said:
The evolution of the Japanese arts are all rooted in actual fighting from the Chinese and Okinanwan's. However there is a historical distillation process that was the basis for their many "do" or "way" arts, that emphasized the 'spirit,' and cultural 'codes' over practical or even effective applications.

Not really, no. The do/jutsu split is an arbitrary and historically inaccurate one, since the do suffix was used as part of curricula that are considered koryu, and there were koryu that were created after the collapse of the Tokugawa bakufu. Daitoryu Aiki is one example of an art with a koryu structure that was developed when every art was supposedly a "Do," art. Choki Motobu emphasized practical karate and an entire school -- Uechi-Ryu -- developed in the modern period.

Meanwhile, plenty of Japanese arts persisted through Meiji and afterward. The Toyama-ryu was a swordmanship school that became a standard part of officer training during WW2. Meanwhile, Kendo formally began in 1912, not before. Some techniques were codified in the mid-19th century. It's also worth noting that Aikido and Judo both gained popularity not as methods of inner cultivation, but because their exponents defeated people in duels and impromptu demonstrations. This is actually how Judo spread in the UK and South America, and it wasn't through sikmple Judo-rules contests, either.

Now you can argue that, in one case, Gichin Funakoshi taught karate using a particular structure that was not ingerently suited to self-protection, but that would require more than surface level knowledge of the art. Plus, of course, Funakoshi didn't take particular care to hide applications; photos of Funakoshi using grappling techniques, throws and entries exist in his own texts. But to understand where that fits in to Shotokan, you have to understand the role kata, ippon and sanbon kumite and kihon play in karate's technical corpus. Since this is totally different from how American Kenpo does things, looking for EPAK values in karate fails, but says nothing about karate's practicality.
 

eyebeams

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 18, 2005
Messages
381
Reaction score
16
Danjo said:
The exaggerated crecsent step is mostly from Shotokan as it was developd by his students. The Karate that Funakoshi personally used was more up-right in it's stances as witnessed by his earlier manual featuring himself performing the techniques. Motobu favored the Nihanchi stance twisted to the side for fighting more than the forward stance. But the step through punch/forward punch, was common to all of the Okinawan Karate schools and the Northern Shaolin styles (as witness training tapes featuring Kam Yuen etc.), though many did not use the crecsent step.

Northern styles don't use the bow so much for that kind of thing. It uses it sometimes, but it's more common to use a more dynamic step (that can be a kick) and end up in a horse. This is how you get your power lead hand in.

High-level Shotokan pactitioners tend to use higher stances in application. Using deep stances is a lot like altering frame in Tai Chi. You can make karate or Tai Chi postures quite extreme in order to train strength and exaggerate problems with your structures that are more easily disguised with higher stances, but everything in application gravitates toward a natural posture. Nishiyama's karate series demonstrates this, where "plainclothes" applications don't use the deep training stances.
 

Danjo

Master Black Belt
Joined
Mar 31, 2004
Messages
1,378
Reaction score
60
Location
Fullerton, CA
eyebeams said:
Northern styles don't use the bow so much for that kind of thing. It uses it sometimes, but it's more common to use a more dynamic step (that can be a kick) and end up in a horse. This is how you get your power lead hand in.

High-level Shotokan pactitioners tend to use higher stances in application. Using deep stances is a lot like altering frame in Tai Chi. You can make karate or Tai Chi postures quite extreme in order to train strength and exaggerate problems with your structures that are more easily disguised with higher stances, but everything in application gravitates toward a natural posture. Nishiyama's karate series demonstrates this, where "plainclothes" applications don't use the deep training stances.

When Motobu showed up at Funakoshi's school and threw him to the ground three times in front of his students, he said it was to show that Funakoshi's Karate was not good for fighting and that it was only window dressing that looked good on the outside and had no real fighting applicibility. I don't know how much of this was true or how much was merely Motobu running down Funakoshi because he was successful, but he did claim thta there was a lot wrong with Shotokan in terms of it's use in fighting.

"Funakoshi's karate is fake. He could only copy their elegance by performing the outer portion of what he was taught and used that to mislead others into believing he was an expert when he was not. His demonstrations were simply implausible. This kind of person is a good-for-nothing scalawag. Funakosi is very good at talking, in fact, his tricky behavior and eloquent explanation easily decieves people.To the naive person, Funakoshi's demonstration and explaination represents the real art! Nothing is more harmful to the world than a martial art that is not effective in actual self-defense. If that stupid person opens a dojo then let him fight with me and I'll make him go back to Okinawa. This would be a real benefit to the world!"---Motobu Choki
 

eyebeams

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 18, 2005
Messages
381
Reaction score
16
Danjo said:
When Motobu showed up at Funakoshi's school and threw him to the ground three times in front of his students, he said it was to show that Funakoshi's Karate was not good for fighting and that it was only window dressing that looked good on the outside and had no real fighting applicibility. I don't know how much of this was true or how much was merely Motobu running down Funakoshi because he was successful, but he did claim thta there was a lot wrong with Shotokan in terms of it's use in fighting.

"Funakoshi's karate is fake. He could only copy their elegance by performing the outer portion of what he was taught and used that to mislead others into believing he was an expert when he was not. His demonstrations were simply implausible. This kind of person is a good-for-nothing scalawag. Funakosi is very good at talking, in fact, his tricky behavior and eloquent explanation easily decieves people.To the naive person, Funakoshi's demonstration and explaination represents the real art! Nothing is more harmful to the world than a martial art that is not effective in actual self-defense. If that stupid person opens a dojo then let him fight with me and I'll make him go back to Okinawa. This would be a real benefit to the world!"---Motobu Choki

Well, there was some bad blood between them for a couple of reasons:

1) Motobu defeated a boxer, but popular accounts confused him with Funakoshi (this wasn't Funakoshi's fault).

2) Motobu's family was more highly placed than Funakoshi's in the Aji/Pechin system. Funakoshi was seen as something of a culture traitor and presumptuous, besides.

3) Motobu didn't like Funakoshi's teachers, specifically Itosu.

As for the two men, Motobu was definitely the better fighter. Funakoshi was a schoolteacher and was also lighter and about eight inches shorter. Motobu was a giant among Okinawans of his time because he was about six feet tall and incredibly muscular, and the closest thing around to a professional karate fighter. He didn't have much respect for anyone that didn't practice for combat full time, and had an equal amount of contempt for Chinese arts. Then again, Choyu allegedly chucked him around with Palace Hand techniques, so there were definitely some limits to his skill.

But this is kind of like saying that Rorion Gracie is a better fighter than a high level judo coach. It's true, but said teacher doesn't spend all of his time practicing judo for competition. It doesn't say much about the actual techniques. For contrast, note that the technical base of Kyokushinkai started with Shotokan, and Mas Oyama credited Funakoshi as his "true" teacher.
 

Danjo

Master Black Belt
Joined
Mar 31, 2004
Messages
1,378
Reaction score
60
Location
Fullerton, CA
eyebeams said:
Well, there was some bad blood between them for a couple of reasons:

1) Motobu defeated a boxer, but popular accounts confused him with Funakoshi (this wasn't Funakoshi's fault).

2) Motobu's family was more highly placed than Funakoshi's in the Aji/Pechin system. Funakoshi was seen as something of a culture traitor and presumptuous, besides.

3) Motobu didn't like Funakoshi's teachers, specifically Itosu.

As for the two men, Motobu was definitely the better fighter. Funakoshi was a schoolteacher and was also lighter and about eight inches shorter. Motobu was a giant among Okinawans of his time because he was about six feet tall and incredibly muscular, and the closest thing around to a professional karate fighter. He didn't have much respect for anyone that didn't practice for combat full time, and had an equal amount of contempt for Chinese arts. Then again, Choyu allegedly chucked him around with Palace Hand techniques, so there were definitely some limits to his skill.

But this is kind of like saying that Rorion Gracie is a better fighter than a high level judo coach. It's true, but said teacher doesn't spend all of his time practicing judo for competition. It doesn't say much about the actual techniques. For contrast, note that the technical base of Kyokushinkai started with Shotokan, and Mas Oyama credited Funakoshi as his "true" teacher.

Motobu studied under the same people as Funakoshi as well as some others. He was still on friendly enough trerms with Itosu to discuss his changing of Chanan to the Pinan kata later in life. Motobu was also only two inches taller. The six feet tall was wrong, there are far too many photos of him standing next to people of known height. He was, according to on eof his students in McCarthy's book 5'5" (165 cm) tall. I even have a picture of him next to Funakoshi where it's clear that they are very nearly the same size. Funakoshi was fairly muscular too. He even has himself flexing his muscles in his first book to show what Karate can do for your muscular development etc.

Anyways, the point is that Shotokan was criticized early on concerning it's usefulness in fighting and I'm wondering if it's not due to what Funakoshi emphasized in terms of the stances and footwork. But, like I said, it could have been largely due to Motobu's hatred for Funakoshi since other Okinawan karateka criticized Motobu for teaching a karate that was too focussed on fighting.
 

Hand Sword

Grandmaster
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Sep 22, 2004
Messages
6,545
Reaction score
61
Location
In the Void (Where still, this merciless GOD torme
Sound like it could be plausible. Looking through these forums, the debate of what should be the focus of the martial arts is still raging. No system should be looked down upon, they are all valid. I'm sure that Funakoshi could have defended himself quite well, if needed.
 

eyebeams

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 18, 2005
Messages
381
Reaction score
16
Danjo said:
Motobu studied under the same people as Funakoshi as well as some others. He was still on friendly enough trerms with Itosu to discuss his changing of Chanan to the Pinan kata later in life.

His disagreements with Itosu on things like the technical elements of Nahanchi were well-known. His being on friendly terms was probably largely because he was several social classes higher than all of his teachers.

Motobu was also only two inches taller. The six feet tall was wrong, there are far too many photos of him standing next to people of known height. He was, according to on eof his students in McCarthy's book 5'5" (165 cm) tall. I even have a picture of him next to Funakoshi where it's clear that they are very nearly the same size. Funakoshi was fairly muscular too. He even has himself flexing his muscles in his first book to show what Karate can do for your muscular development etc.

I'd like to see the picture. 5'5" is correct, though. On the other hand, it would be a real stretch to say that they were the same size.

Anyways, the point is that Shotokan was criticized early on concerning it's usefulness in fighting and I'm wondering if it's not due to what Funakoshi emphasized in terms of the stances and footwork. But, like I said, it could have been largely due to Motobu's hatred for Funakoshi since other Okinawan karateka criticized Motobu for teaching a karate that was too focussed on fighting.

It depends on what you mean by "fighting." Funakoshi's view was that karate had to have a greater purpose because its techniques were primarily designed for lethal struggles ("One two tigers fight, one is bound to be injured, while the other will be killed"). But in terms of the style, Mas Oyama's appreciation of Funakoshi more than compenates for Motobu's opinion.
 

eyebeams

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 18, 2005
Messages
381
Reaction score
16
Hand Sword said:
Sound like it could be plausible. Looking through these forums, the debate of what should be the focus of the martial arts is still raging. No system should be looked down upon, they are all valid. I'm sure that Funakoshi could have defended himself quite well, if needed.

Funaoshi probably wasn't the fighter Motobu was. Then again, there are plenty of exponents of good systems that vary in taolent despite similar amounts of time training.
 

Hand Sword

Grandmaster
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Sep 22, 2004
Messages
6,545
Reaction score
61
Location
In the Void (Where still, this merciless GOD torme
I hear Ya! I just responded because it seemed that Funakoshi was getting dumped on, or his Karate was not legit because of his personal philosophy. I just don't think that is fair, if it was the case. (If I read it wrong, I apologize!)
 

Danjo

Master Black Belt
Joined
Mar 31, 2004
Messages
1,378
Reaction score
60
Location
Fullerton, CA
Hand Sword said:
I hear Ya! I just responded because it seemed that Funakoshi was getting dumped on, or his Karate was not legit because of his personal philosophy. I just don't think that is fair, if it was the case. (If I read it wrong, I apologize!)

Hey, I'm not dumping on him. I have a brown belt in Shotokan and found the training very good. However, I did notice that the exagerated stances etc. always had to be adjusted in order to free-spar. That seems like a waste of time to train that way now. Same goes for the crescent stepping. But to each his own. I don't think karate would have been nearly as popular without Funakoshi's inovations in terms of popularizing it for the masses.
 

Doc

Senior Master
Joined
May 12, 2002
Messages
4,240
Reaction score
180
Location
Southern California
Danjo said:
Hey, I'm not dumping on him. I have a brown belt in Shotokan and found the training very good. However, I did notice that the exagerated stances etc. always had to be adjusted in order to free-spar. That seems like a waste of time to train that way now. Same goes for the crescent stepping. But to each his own. I don't think karate would have been nearly as popular without Funakoshi's inovations in terms of popularizing it for the masses.
You mean kinda like Parker did with "motion Kenpo-Karate?" :)
 

Danjo

Master Black Belt
Joined
Mar 31, 2004
Messages
1,378
Reaction score
60
Location
Fullerton, CA
Doc said:
You mean kinda like Parker did with "motion Kenpo-Karate?" :)

It'd be a lot less people on this message board with out that particular inovation :)
 

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
15,196
Reaction score
4,856
Location
San Francisco
Danjo said:
However, I did notice that the exagerated stances etc. always had to be adjusted in order to free-spar. That seems like a waste of time to train that way now.

How do you feel about the idea that the stances are exaggerated to build strength and stability, and when they are relaxed for fighting, this gives you greater speed and mobility from training from a more difficult position?

In Wing Chun, we use a bizarre, knock-knee stance that I think is sometimes call the "goat clamping stance". It is painful and works the hell out of the legs. nobody would try to fight from this stance but the training builds a lot of power and stability. Once we move into a fighting stance, speed and mobility is better because of this training.

Kind of like running with ankle weights, but you take them off before the actual race.
 

Danjo

Master Black Belt
Joined
Mar 31, 2004
Messages
1,378
Reaction score
60
Location
Fullerton, CA
Flying Crane said:
How do you feel about the idea that the stances are exaggerated to build strength and stability, and when they are relaxed for fighting, this gives you greater speed and mobility from training from a more difficult position?

In Wing Chun, we use a bizarre, knock-knee stance that I think is sometimes call the "goat clamping stance". It is painful and works the hell out of the legs. nobody would try to fight from this stance but the training builds a lot of power and stability. Once we move into a fighting stance, speed and mobility is better because of this training.

Kind of like running with ankle weights, but you take them off before the actual race.

I understand that explaination but I'm not sure how valid it is. It seems more like a justification than an actual explanation. Here's why: The older Karate styles didn't have those low stances. They were an inovation of either Funakoshi or his students. Even Funakoshi's early stuff was practically upright compared to how Shotokan looks now-a-days. I thnk it was done for asthetic reasons more than anything like strengthening the legs etc. Muscle memory is a funny thing. It means that the nervous system has been trained to the point where it no longer requires the brain to engage. The signals simply go from neuron to the spine and back out again. When we're first learning something, the brain is constantly engaged in the process. It isnt' until it gets past that that the reflexes etc. can take over and you get real speed and power with fluidity. If you train to do something wrong, i.e., in an exagerated form, then that is what your nervous system is going to be able to do with fluidity. Now, if what your nervous system is trained to do doesn't really work in real life, then you're screwed. Adjusting your stances up from how you normally train will put you in a zone that you have no reflexive ability and you're simple back to engaging your brain before you can effectively execute your stuff. Therefore, I think that the old school Karateka were wise to train the way that they were actually going to use the stuff. Your legs are already strong enough to injure someone sufficiently if you are executing a proper kick just from walking around all of your life, you don't need exaggerated stances to strengthen them in training. One of the things I like about kempo/kenpo is that they tend to train in a more natural fighting stance. No conversion required.
 

eyebeams

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 18, 2005
Messages
381
Reaction score
16
Danjo said:
I understand that explaination but I'm not sure how valid it is. It seems more like a justification than an actual explanation. Here's why: The older Karate styles didn't have those low stances. They were an inovation of either Funakoshi or his students. Even Funakoshi's early stuff was practically upright compared to how Shotokan looks now-a-days. I thnk it was done for asthetic reasons more than anything like strengthening the legs etc. Muscle memory is a funny thing. It means that the nervous system has been trained to the point where it no longer requires the brain to engage. The signals simply go from neuron to the spine and back out again. When we're first learning something, the brain is constantly engaged in the process. It isnt' until it gets past that that the reflexes etc. can take over and you get real speed and power with fluidity. If you train to do something wrong, i.e., in an exagerated form, then that is what your nervous system is going to be able to do with fluidity. Now, if what your nervous system is trained to do doesn't really work in real life, then you're screwed. Adjusting your stances up from how you normally train will put you in a zone that you have no reflexive ability and you're simple back to engaging your brain before you can effectively execute your stuff. Therefore, I think that the old school Karateka were wise to train the way that they were actually going to use the stuff. Your legs are already strong enough to injure someone sufficiently if you are executing a proper kick just from walking around all of your life, you don't need exaggerated stances to strengthen them in training. One of the things I like about kempo/kenpo is that they tend to train in a more natural fighting stance. No conversion required.

Actually, adjustment is *required* because of the way people move under real stress, which is under conditions that restrict range of movement and produce tunnel vision and the loss of fine motor control. Making your movements larger helps you maintain fullness of posture. You see the same thing in Tai Chi, actually. If you look at the postures used in Chen style in particular you see training at these very low postures. In fact, every single CMA I have studied (Wing Chun, Hung Gar, Mizongluohan, Xingyi and Tai Chi) used this method.

I think Shotokan could stand to drop the low postures in step sparring and bunkai, but the method isn't an inherently bad one. Plus, it's been my experience that the crane or "C" walking step has lent itself to mis-execution because it's rather easy to cheat by dragging your leg to the position. It's the wrong way to do it, but it's reached wide acceptance. In fact, your front leg should be doing the vast majority of the work.
 

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
15,196
Reaction score
4,856
Location
San Francisco
I think I need to agree with eyebeams here. The Chinese arts pretty much all train with low stances, tho I cannot speak for the Japanese arts, older or newer, having not studied them.

I understand what you are saying about muscle memory, but keep in mind, low stances would not be used in every aspect of training. When it comes to sparring, and perhaps technique execution drills the stances would be higher, and this training will instill the ability to actually fight from the higher stances. Meanwhile, training kata and basics with low stances develops the power and stability in the lower body that would make fighting ability in a higher stance even stronger.
 
Top