Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

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Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

Postby paulg » Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:35 pm

This is a question I have had for several years, and I have put off writing about it because it seems like it violates a sacred taboo to even state it. That is; have we been training for years and years to do a stake that is, for almost all of us, impractical if not out and out injurious (to us)> When I began to study, at age fifteen, I learned sanchin first as we all did and then the other forms that followed from it and were based on it. We were told that the principles of sanchin carry over into the more advanced forms We were not told that sanction was a specialized exercise meant to establish a strong foundation BUT NOT NECESSARILY MEANT TO BE APPLIED IN A PRACTICAL APPLICATION. We were left to figure that out for ourselves. When we learned the subsequent kata we faithfully performed our nukite strikes, did prearranged kumites and bonkai that included nukites (but never with real contact). When early on I expressed some hesitance or skepticism about being able to actually strike with a nukite I was told to stick with it. The strength would come eventually with years of practice. I believed my teachers, practiced as taught and even did the supplementary pushups and grips, etc to strengthen my hands and fingers. But now I am at fifty-two years of study, sixty-six years of age and it is only in recent years that it has dawned on me that I would not trust myself to try to strike hard into someone's body with my extended fingers. Eyes or throat... maybe, but the situation would have to be quite desperate to do that. And those limited targets are quite small and hard to hit under the stress of real combat or self-defense. I had an ah-ha moment when I was walking on a trail in the woods and slipped and landed on the outstretched fingers of my right hand. A perfect nukite into the ground! My fingers, strong as they are, bent back almost ninety degrees. Sprained, but luckily not broken. Got me thinking... Why have I been repeatedly practicing something that really does not work, at least not for me? Well, my answer was the classic answer 'because that's the way I was taught,' and of course it was unthinkable to question what I was taught. My teachers, the reasoning went, and the masters before them must have known the secret power of the nukite, and I would be an ungrateful renegade to question them. I started to look at the kata. Season in particular if just full of fingertip strikes. I love season. It is probably my best kata. But to think that more than half the moves in seisan wouldn't really work for me gave me pause. I started to experiment
with some changes. hiraken fists or palm heels in place of the nukite. Feels so much more practical and simple.

But this raises the difficult question of who has the right to mess with the classical (sacred) forms? At what point would we actually DARE (that feels like the right word) to make a formal change in the way a kata is taught? Part of the problem may be that sanchin itself is so sacrosanct, and since 'everything comes from sanction' it would seem I was messing with the foundational exercise itself if I did not follow-it through on the higher kata. But does this have to be the case. If we recognize that sanchin is in a class by itself, meant as a foundational exercise and not directly applicable as a fighting form (though many principles translate well) we may be able to allow ourselves some latitude that brings us closer to practicality.

I would like to read what others think about this. Looking forward to your replies.
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Re: Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

Postby Van Canna » Fri Feb 01, 2019 11:20 pm

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the post. Here's a good link to the question and training solutions.

http://ryukyuma.blogspot.com/2013/04/sm ... rally.html

and here is an amazing training video[pushups] https://youtu.be/aBr17GgG6m8

But we need to be practical in these matters.

I recall Mr. T saying nukite strikes should be aimed at 'soft targets'...it makes sense...like the throat/eyes...but in the chaos of combat, you miss the soft target and strike bone, and you will sustain an injury that will hamper your safety and disable the hand from going to a weapon.

Also as you point out...using such strikes will place you in great legal jeopardy, as there will be an additional 'Mayhem' charge to an excessive use of force complaint.


Will they be effective on soft targets? For some practitioners yes and for some not, as in all things.

Also open hands in any type of clash, are subject to bad sprains, breaking, dislocations and easy joints manipulations...and...even worse...presenting 'appendages' to an opponent with a blade that will make his day...

anytime you extend your fingers in a fight you run the chance of having them sliced off your palm.

As teachers we have an obligation to keep our students safe, and the nukite strike is not safe for the most part for the average dojo students and teachers.

Plus as one ages the hand structure continues to weaken.
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Re: Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

Postby Josann » Sat Feb 02, 2019 11:31 am

paulg wrote:This is a question I have had for several years, and I have put off writing about it because it seems like it violates a sacred taboo to even state it. That is; have we been training for years and years to do a stake that is, for almost all of us, impractical if not out and out injurious (to us)> When I began to study, at age fifteen, I learned sanchin first as we all did and then the other forms that followed from it and were based on it. We were told that the principles of sanchin carry over into the more advanced forms We were not told that sanction was a specialized exercise meant to establish a strong foundation BUT NOT NECESSARILY MEANT TO BE APPLIED IN A PRACTICAL APPLICATION. We were left to figure that out for ourselves. When we learned the subsequent kata we faithfully performed our nukite strikes, did prearranged kumites and bonkai that included nukites (but never with real contact). When early on I expressed some hesitance or skepticism about being able to actually strike with a nukite I was told to stick with it. The strength would come eventually with years of practice. I believed my teachers, practiced as taught and even did the supplementary pushups and grips, etc to strengthen my hands and fingers. But now I am at fifty-two years of study, sixty-six years of age and it is only in recent years that it has dawned on me that I would not trust myself to try to strike hard into someone's body with my extended fingers. Eyes or throat... maybe, but the situation would have to be quite desperate to do that. And those limited targets are quite small and hard to hit under the stress of real combat or self-defense. I had an ah-ha moment when I was walking on a trail in the woods and slipped and landed on the outstretched fingers of my right hand. A perfect nukite into the ground! My fingers, strong as they are, bent back almost ninety degrees. Sprained, but luckily not broken. Got me thinking... Why have I been repeatedly practicing something that really does not work, at least not for me? Well, my answer was the classic answer 'because that's the way I was taught,' and of course it was unthinkable to question what I was taught. My teachers, the reasoning went, and the masters before them must have known the secret power of the nukite, and I would be an ungrateful renegade to question them. I started to look at the kata. Season in particular if just full of fingertip strikes. I love season. It is probably my best kata. But to think that more than half the moves in seisan wouldn't really work for me gave me pause. I started to experiment
with some changes. hiraken fists or palm heels in place of the nukite. Feels so much more practical and simple.

But this raises the difficult question of who has the right to mess with the classical (sacred) forms? At what point would we actually DARE (that feels like the right word) to make a formal change in the way a kata is taught? Part of the problem may be that sanchin itself is so sacrosanct, and since 'everything comes from sanction' it would seem I was messing with the foundational exercise itself if I did not follow-it through on the higher kata. But does this have to be the case. If we recognize that sanchin is in a class by itself, meant as a foundational exercise and not directly applicable as a fighting form (though many principles translate well) we may be able to allow ourselves some latitude that brings us closer to practicality.

I would like to read what others think about this. Looking forward to your replies.


I have been taught that the reason for the open hand and wrist was to be sure that the wrist was rigid and to train the wrist to remain strong and not buckle on contact. In the dojo, I always trained sanchin like everyone else, but on my own almost never. Sanchin and kata teach concepts and principles, not unbendable movements. When I first started training in 1991, Walter Mattson had a downstairs dojo in Framingham where many of us would workout after class for hours, trying out all kinds of applications to discover what worked for us. I remember one time he came downstairs and saw us and we all kind of froze, as what we were doing wasn’t in the kata and therefore “not uechi.” He explained in an explanation I never forgot. He said that, “I teach you how to train, that’s it. My karate is not your karate, nor should it ever be. We train the same, but we apply it differently based on what we can actually do. If you want to know what works for you, test it out. Make your karate your own.” A lot of guys would do the 90 minute class and leave, but a core group of guys would hang around after working out downstairs and see what worked. Many a Saturday after class we would be there a couple of hours banging it out after class. Walter never discouraged us, as long as there were some senior students there. You knew you had his approval when he would ask you to be the guy to lock up the dojo when we were all done. This is the difference that makes karate self defense and a dance. As Van’s posts point out very well, most are content to be dancers.
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Re: Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

Postby paulg » Sat Feb 02, 2019 11:52 am

Van, thank you for your thoughtful response. Those videos were truly impressive. I know very few karateka who actually develop those exercises. But what about my related question: at what point should we break with the old tradition and modify the kata to fit our practical, modern needs?
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Re: Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

Postby paulg » Sat Feb 02, 2019 11:54 am

And thank you, Josann, as well
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Re: Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

Postby Van Canna » Sat Feb 02, 2019 2:39 pm

Josann
I have been taught that the reason for the open hand and wrist was to be sure that the wrist was rigid and to train the wrist to remain strong and not buckle on contact.


I think that is a good advice and the open hand sanchin does help indeed. I recall Tomoyose sensei showing his great fingers/hands strength which he told me he developed by sanchin practice alone.

I also agree with Walter in the ways of training as per Takara sensei.

Walter also told me that master Takara expects individual personal applications in any bunkai practice in addition to the standard that is taught.

The mark of a great teacher.

And 'application' wise...my view is that there is nothing better than the 'testing out' of whatever skills we think we have developed, against random attacks taken from the Patrick Mc Carthy HAPV...

1. Swinging punches
2. Straight punches
3. Downward strikes
4. Upward strikes
5. Swinging kicks

6. Straight kicks & knee strikes
7. Head-butt/spitting
8. Biting
9. Testicle squeeze
10. Augmented foot/leg trips

11. Single/double-hand hair pull from the front/rear
12. Single/double-hand choke from the front/rear
13. Front neck choke from rear
14. Classical head-lock
15. Front, bent-over, augmented choke (neck-hold)

16. Half/full-nelson
17. Rear over-arm bearhug (& side variation)
18. Rear under-arm bearhug (& side variation)
19. Front over-arm bearhug (& side variation)
20. Front under-arm bearhug (& side variation)

21. Front/rear tackle
22. One-handed wrist grab (same & opposite sides-normal/reversed)
23. Two-handed wrist grabs (normal/reversed)
24. Both wrists seized from the front/rear
25. Both arms seized from the front/rear

26. Single/double shoulder grab from front/rear
27. Arm-lock (behind the back)
28. Front arm-bar (triceps tendon fulcrum up supported by wrist)
29. Side arm-bar (triceps tendon fulcrum down supported by wrist)
30. Single/double lapel grab

31. Single/double-hand shove
32. Garment pulled over the head
33. Seized & impact
34. Single/double leg/ankle grab from the front (side/rear)
35. Ground straddle

36. Attacked (kicked/struck) while down


It makes sense for one to familiarize oneself with at least the most common attacks out of that list...keeping the responses very basic, so that the monkey brain feels comfortable with execution...with emphasis on off line moves and counters that carry some decent [safe] stopping hits.[ most students don't practice any striking...and if they were to impact upon opponents, they'd hurt themselves more than the assailant]

The offline moves ingrain the ability to 'get away' thru 'open spaces' instead of rooting in place as we are taught, for good reasons...

1. Legal [You must show defense and walk away....not a fighting engagement that will be seen as 'mutual combat']

2. Safety [ingraining the 'rooting'/blocking/then counter, etc., places a student at risk of serious injury or death, when he finds himself up against a more powerful, larger/armed opponent...or against multiple attackers, very common today]

~~

There I speak from experience having survived an attack by five punks, armed with sticks and stones and glass bottom jagged weapons.

Unless someone has been thru such an attack, they will have difficulty understanding what I wrote.
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Re: Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

Postby Van Canna » Sat Feb 02, 2019 3:16 pm

paulg wrote:Van, thank you for your thoughtful response. Those videos were truly impressive. I know very few karateka who actually develop those exercises. But what about my related question: at what point should we break with the old tradition and modify the kata to fit our practical, modern needs?


Yes, Paul, you are correct...not many students will ever even attempt such conditioning...and we can understand why...time constraints and requiring great dedication...which also does not guarantee anything in a street fight.

Kata 'modification' is a thorny issue and we should be able to understand why.

I think the best approach for most students is to concentrate on the applications as Walter teaches as per Takara sensei.

I would not eliminate a nukite strike from the kata, but modify the application of it.

For example the nukite strikes to the ribcage in any bunkai application can easily convert into 'shovel hooks' with the closed fist or palm strike. This needs to be practiced against the 'bob dummy' best for targeting, as well as with a partner in slow motion...this goes to 'operant conditioning' somewhat.

One example of it here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfEPRvPNiYQ

Safer to apply blunt force with the fist to the body_ or with the open palm...this can easily ingrain as all you need to do is bend your wrist so the base of the palm makes contact with that fragile portion of the ribcage, where you would aim the nukite.

But it must be worked against the 'Bob' for feedback. It is quite the blunt trauma.
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Re: Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

Postby trose » Wed Feb 20, 2019 4:34 pm

Good Morning Van Sensei,
Great topic! This Isn't a nukite but along the same idea.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua7gOYlZgxA

Thank you
T. Rose
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Re: Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

Postby Van Canna » Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:11 pm

Hi Tracey,

Always a pleasure to see you on my page...looking good my friend.

Excellent comments on the 'shoken/shotgun' :) and I agree...well presented.

I think of the shoken as the 'sudden weapon' one deploys without chambering...and from a 'fence' position that looks non aggressive to a witness...

An open hand placed up as a 'fence' between you and a potential target...can quickly transition to the 'rock hard' shoken in the bat of an eye...

I like the way you show to clench that fist as the supporting platform for the shoken...in our dojo we love to practice impact training with the shoken against the 'bob'....the shoken gets much stronger with continuous conditioning against the BOB....

One of the problems I have seen over the years is that most students don't hit anything, yet feel their strikes are destructive...

The major part of my classes now revolve against impact training...safely...with the Bob...as opposed to endless kata/kumites...that as useful as they are, they lack the conditioning and programming of targets...

I next have the students work on using footwork and evasive action against the most likely ways of attacks on the street...then firing those shots at the targets with control.

I have always felt that once a student decides to hit someone in self defense, he is going to be in real danger, unless his hits are of the stopping kind...

If not...he is really going to piss-off the opponent...who will have the excuse of stomping him to death.
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Re: Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

Postby trose » Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:48 pm

Thank you for the kind words
As usual I totally agree with you. What you have described is our Friday night classes.
Any technique that you must rely on must have a high percentage of working and a low
percentage of leaving you in a hole if it doesn't. When some mutt on the street is trying
to hump your leg, there is no room for maybe(s), foo foo dust, magic and bullshit.
The only way to trust your technique is to train it with impact!!! I prefer hand pads over static
bags ... "Movement is King but Power Rules". Once you have the technique
down then you must be able to deliver it. The best way for that is contact sparring.

Thank You Again and I would love to come visit you and your class!
T.
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Re: Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

Postby Van Canna » Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:19 am

Hi T>>>

In total agreement as we have always been in the past. I know you do lots of impact training, and that is the best way to give a student the right kind of confidence because he has had some feedback from his strikes.
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Re: Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

Postby paulg » Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:57 pm

Another way to look at this issue is to ask what strikes people have actually used in a self-defense situation. Not in the dojo, not while training. Not what you saw someone do in a movie... what have people actually done under pressure and emotional arousal? I would guess that there were few, if any, nukite and many punches and palms.
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Re: Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

Postby Van Canna » Thu Feb 21, 2019 8:32 pm

paulg wrote:Another way to look at this issue is to ask what strikes people have actually used in a self-defense situation. Not in the dojo, not while training. Not what you saw someone do in a movie... what have people actually done under pressure and emotional arousal? I would guess that there were few, if any, nukite and many punches and palms.


And this an excellent observation.

With some exceptions, generally the body will respond with gross motor movements and 'safe' movements under the stress of the confrontation...

I think the primal brain, which is now in control, senses that some techniques will put the limb and the person at risk, and automatically discards them despite the training.

This has been proven time and again with the 'bulletmen' scenarios where martial artist of various levels were adrenalized by the bulletman, and then attacked.

In all cases the response action was gross motor moves.

I kind of wonder if in the 'old days' there were enough documented instances of 'masters' using nukite strikes in self defense even after years of conditioning.

I keep telling my students to try to ingrain safe techniques so as to not compromise their hands/fingers...they will need to survive an encounter...

As to 'conditioning' you will hear about 'well if had conditioned the right way' BS

Despite conditioning, one never knows the kind of opponent he will be up against, and in most cases the fingers will collapse under impact, break, dislocate...leaving a person unable to access a weapon of opportunity, or even work his way past obstacles, open doors/and make a phone call.

Fingers are good to use for twisting/ripping etc. but not for striking from a distance...not for the average student today.

When I fought tournaments I made sure to have my fingers safe by closing my hands and only opening them after initial contact for take downs etc.

You might recall the great number of broken fingers/dislocations we have seen in students of the old Mattson academy in years past.

The 'open hands' we wave about ...will also set us up for finger grabs and breaks[small circle ju-jitsu] and more ominous...losing them to a sudden knife 'swipe' by an opponent.

It is just plain senseless to extend fingers in combat chaos.
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Re: Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

Postby Art Rabesa » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:01 am

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Re: Do I dare question the utility of the nuke?

Postby Van Canna » Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:37 pm

Most excellent, and the way I also use it...no need to generate 'ramp speed' for the pointed strike to be effective...as Rabesa well points out.

The 'Bob' practice also conditions the hand...
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