Steve Morris

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Steve Morris

Postby Bill Glasheen » Sun Apr 25, 1999 6:39 am

I am posting this for Mike DeDonato as requested.


Dear Bill,

Until the technical problems are worked out I've asked JD to forward my messages to your forum re; Mr. Morris. For those of you, who wish to read for yourself what this man has to say you can reach his web site.

In some ways, his views reflect those of our own esteemed colleague, Mr. Van Canna. It is obvious from his postings that Mr. Morris has no patience for those karate instructors who do not teach or practice effective fighting techniques. His reputation as a fighter and technician is
estimable and there is no question that he is proud of his accomplishments.

I find it disheartening that this man has chosen to generalize on certain topics, based upon his own personal experiences. From my own perspective Mr. Morris makes three controversial points which call for dialogue:

1) He states that Uechi and Goju Sanchin is practiced with valsalva breathing. Our esteeemed JD, Bill Glasheen and Steve Goss, all medical experts and senior Uechi practioners, categorically deny this to be the case. I will leave it to any of these individuals to expand on proper Sanchin breath control.

2) He states that he was unable to find any Okinawan or Japanese instructor who was worth his (Mr. Morris' time). Please note that this my own paraphrase of Mr. Morris' words. Feel free to go to his web site and read his postings directly. I would personally be interested in whether Mr. Morris visited with any master level Uechi instructors such as Mr. Nakahodo, Mr. Shinjo, Mr. Takara, etc.? I suspect not, and if that is the case I wonder if his opinion would change if he saw these gentlemen in action?

3) Mr. Morris has established the following membership guidelines. I find the last item on this list much too restrictive and am having difficulty understanding the basis for this particular rule. It appears that Mr.
Morris is attempting to unduly control his students and that, IMO, troublesome.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>ORIGINAL FORM BOXING MEMBERSHIP GUIDELINES

• Submit a letter of commitment stating your personal reasons for wanting to join Original Form Boxing.

• £100 lifetime membership fee*. Membership is for adults only (16 and over) except in special cases as the practices are not suitable for children.

• Submit a passport-sized photo for the Original Form Boxing National Directory to be published in major martial arts magazines and on the Internet.

• Original Form Boxing has no grading structure as it is impossible to standardize attributes as they vary from individual to individual, as do the methods by which to enhance them. For as that requisite of information upon which interaction depends changes, so do your internal and external objectives and the form by which you seek to cause a specific effect or prevent one, as the form is the consequence of what you are attempting to do, not how you are attempting to do it. The substance being far more important than the form something which current karate practitioners seem to have forgotten, being far more concerned with how they appear to be crossing the finish line than with when they are crossing it.

• All members are students of Steve Morris; there is no hierarchy within the membership.

• Discontinue training under any other instructor. As long as you continue to practice ineffective and outmoded methods, you will prevent yourself from making the rapid progression you would otherwise achieve by Steve Morris' method. This includes ceasing attendance and promotion of outside seminars and courses. Instructional videos and written material will be made available to members for use only within the group, and not to be distributed outside the organization. Violation of this policy will result in the revocation of all membership privileges.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I hope that Mr. Morris accepts Mr. Mattson's inviation to join us in these forums as I believe that he does have valid points to be discussed.

All the best,

[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 04-25-99).]
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Steve Morris

Postby Igor Prasnikar » Sun Apr 25, 1999 6:20 pm

It's true I haven't read all the previous posts on Mr.Morris in great detail (I have now and there are still no substantial comments on the substance of his page...apart from retorics and membership clauses).

My "jumpy" comment was heavily influenced by three beers, previously consumed in a circle of a good old friends and inspired by Mr.Cecil's categorisation of Mr.Morris into the our legion of kindergarten karate "dudes".

1.Retorics (or whatever is it called)
I do not give a damn **** about Mr.Morris proficiency with words. For one good reason. I haven't learned any single karate skill by means of words but by B,S&T(ears). Being a frequent visitor of Okinawa, I can assure you there isn't much retorics going out there too. I might even say that most probably, the late (and rest in peace)Uechi Kambun, wouldn't be in the front echalons of these forums...and I have met one too many "instructors" who were so eloquent on karate at the table and disproportionaly poor on the Dojo floor (No offence to any of this forum participants, if we agree that Fighting Arts are still to be judged by demonstration of fighting skill not words..but this is already one of the main issues of Mr.Morris).

2. Mr.Morris clauses on membership
I am not at all so shocked by them as you are gentlemen. Mr.Morris is simply on line with good all practise that is going on in Okinawa and elsewere for century or so.
a)How many traditional okinawan students do you think are engaged in cross-training between the Dojos?
b)How much valuable instruction (not counting social workouts or occasional beating for a present to take home) one may expect to receive in Okinawa if travelling from one Dojo to another?
To my experience, very little or none. It is just that Mr.Morris proclaimed this publicly and in Okinawa it is unwritten rule. Everybody knows where he belongs and that's why all the politics..see current Okinawa Masters Tour...
..and one more reason..should one not take him seriously, why the heck should he deal with all the "dudes" coming from time to time with all the same questions to steal his time (he explained his motive is not earning easy money on hundreds of members).

3. His hard critique of Top Okinawa and Japan Masters
The critique itself is again nothing extraordinary apart from being public. It has been a common practise in Okinawa and Japan Martial Arts circles for centuries with the only exception that it is conveyed in inner circles. I have heard it personnaly (in bewtween Kyoshi, Hansi and Hanshi-sei),the Uechi-Ryu is marked by a famous letters during Uechi Kanei hospitalization,Mark Bishop also wrote on this subject, so what the fuss. Of course, it is not polite to come out publicly with such statements (but as he describes, other haven't been to polite with him too).

4. Empty skins, robotics, unnatural, grotesque movement patterns, etc...
I do agree totaly with Mr.Morris when karate is to be judged from the actual life and death fighting stand-point. And I believe he talks from that perspective. He is not talking about karate for everday folks - kids, business (wo)men, old grannies, sport tournaments, etc., etc...I believe any kind of karate is good enough for them which does not produce harm to health and misconceptions about efficiency in life and death encounters.
Karate has many faces but the pity is, even the last dude in white dress will claim he is practising self defense martial art, that is karate.
I could not agree more with Mr.Morris that Karate ceased to be Fighting Art at the turn of the century, when it went publicly, was introduced into schools, colleges, etc. And it was right it ceased to be such. Its essence and training methods had to be changed to suit such a large variety of consumers. The mistake is - that remained to be called fighting (martial art). They added the DO to it, but how many do eally understand the difference. Karate-Do, Kyu-Do (the art of releasing the arrow from the bow). Does the Kyudo has any relevance to fighting and defending oneself with the help of the bow&arrow. Can you imagine some average Tokyo citizen, who is practising and benefiting from Kyudo, being thrown into a theater of wild animals and he is to defend himself with what he practised diligently for years. That is Karate...from the Fighting art it remained just a skeleton which was further modified into thousands of ways, only because there is no ACTUAL LIFE&DEATH CONTEST to be judged upon for true efficiency.
Nowadays we have similar differentiation going on between "traditional-DO" karate and sport tournament karate. No one can win a tournament by practising Kyu/Dan Kumite and with this same training tool he is an easy victim on the street(and his Sensei should tell him so at the end of each training session).

So, I believe Mr.Morris is quite right when saying he could not find much of a true TOU-DI JUTSU anymore in Japan and Okinawa. He is not the only one to claim so. It has been gone long before seventies. Some traces are still to be found here and there and Uechi-Ryu is also lucky to have a form with some traces of substance still left.But the animals are all made of paper. What is the tiger and crane in our Kata? If you are exposed to genuine chinese animal form than you can judge how great the modification of Uechi-Ryu has been from China to Okinawa.
Karate has gone through many changes It is only to be wished that Instructors could CLEARLY define the framework and limitations of what they are teaching publicly. But I ask you how many do know what are they really teaching? And what purpose does such teaching serve?

Igor Prasnikar

Bill, I assure you I keep my memories of USA and Virginia visit among the top. I intend to participate in the August Okinawa World Tounament so will be absent in the middle of August but please e-mail me more details on your visit in Germany.
Igor Prasnikar
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Joined: Wed Mar 03, 1999 6:01 am
Location: Kranj, Slovenia

Steve Morris

Postby Bill Glasheen » Mon Apr 26, 1999 2:37 pm


First of all, your English is much better than my Serbo-Croatian. I admire your ability to carry on such a debate in a language that is not your own. It's obvious to me that you have traveled widely since we last met.

I second many of the points you make. But I do have my reservations.

* The evolution from karate-jutsu to karate-do to karate aerobics (and tae bo, etc). This is a VERY hot topic on many public and private forums. It is the main thrust of Van Canna's forum, and the reason he sees commonality with Mr. Morris. It is the reason why I put myself through several years of intense training (and a shoulder separation) working with a karate instructor and former green beret who - yes - saw REAL military duty and - yes - REAL hand-to-hand combat. Did it make me change my training methods? A little. Mostly it made me change the way I think about what I already do in karate practice. There is absolutely nothing wrong with kyu or dan kumite. What is wrong is the way people practice it. In my book it takes about 10 years (and not one year ten times over) to get everything out of an exercise like that - if you know how.

Furthermore, this gentleman's combat training did not shake his belief in traditional martial arts. On the contrary, it strengthened it. But I find it interesting that this gentleman stop training with one of the people Mr. Morris disparraged, and started practicing the same style with someone else. And that "someone else", by the way, happens to regularly appear at our summer camp.

One more point. My experience with this former green beret validated the training that I do outside the dojo. Yes, we all have seen the outdated training methods. So for god sake, go to a good trainer and update them!!! Go to the library or the bookstore and start reading! No need to fall into another blind allegience.

Which brings me to my second point...

* Closed dojo doors? Yes, some are still closed. And some are open to those who come with their mouths closed and there ears open. But that was never really the point in the first place. The original point was the logic presented as such: 1) Others practice outdated methods or have lost the essence of karate jutsu, 2) people blindly follow such false masters, 3) make me your instructor and cut off all ties to the outside martial world. That, my friend, is a little bit different.

On the whole though I now see where you are coming from. And I am thankful that there are practitioners out there like you and Van who understand the essence of budo and do what they can to instill it in their students. Constant reality checks are a healthy thing for all of us in the martial arts.

And I will not try to repeat other points made much better than I by the good doctor (above).

-- Bill

[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 04-26-99).]
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Steve Morris

Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Apr 27, 1999 7:44 pm


Thanks for the historical updates. I recall you were now part of Slovenia from some recent e-mail discussions with your students, but I was lacking in some details about language and culture. I'm impressed with your language skills. Here in the United States, it's difficult to find people who have mastered even one language.

I agree with many of the specifics of your posts. I make these comments irrespective of the presence of Mr. Morris. Yes, information has been withheld. Yes, not many understand how to apply what they do. We really need to get you to one of our camps. Martial arts is alive and well in pockets of the world. Some of what you speak of can be found in many places today among folks who are as eager to learn as you.

A comment or two about the demonstrations. I'm sure you've heard of Michael Jordan, one of the best basketball players ever. In the United States Michael makes lots of money endorsing products on TV. Gatorade, a sports drink compay, has an add with a song that states I want to be like Mike. Well I'm sorry. No matter how much Gatorade I drink, I'll never be able to dunk a basketball like Mike. No matter how many "secret" basketball camps I attend instructed by Michael, I'll never be able to play basketball like Mike. All I will do is pay him (and Gatorade) a lot of money worshiping him, and I will remain a mortal. No matter how many sessions I attend in Yonamine's dojo, I'll never try to break baseball bats over my shins. And no matter how many years I practice in Mr. Morris' exclusive gymnasium, I'll never crush a tennis ball or nut or other helpless inanimate object.

Mr. Morris may be a unique physical specimen. That's genetics, not knowledge. Heck, Babe Ruth used to drink and "do the deed" with a prostitute all night long, and then come in hung over the next day and hit home runs. Wait, maybe I need to change my training regimen.....

Some people need a hero to worship to make them feel better. I don't. I'm interested in how to take knowledge and make myself - and my students - the best martial artists possible. I'm much more impressed when I see someone take a person with average ability and make the very most of them.

Yes, you are right. There's a good chunk of martial knowledge that many never get to. But some do! Good for Mr. Morris if he is there! My experience is that there is a lot of talent out there to be had if you look hard enough and train long enough.

-- Bill
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Steve Morris

Postby Igor Prasnikar » Wed Apr 28, 1999 5:43 am

Gentlemen (by all means including Dr.X)

Off the record 1:
Dear Bill, I admire your historical memory. It was truly from Yugoslavia that I came to visit you in 1980 but since 1991 I am citizen of independent new country, member of UN, etc. - Slovenia, the country were I was born and live since, speak its native Slovene language since the first vowel A (Serbo-Croat, a mixture of two nations lang in former YU is my second language and English only comes as the third, not to list the others..)

Off the record 2:
Dear Dr.X, I fully agree and suport your substance in previous post with the only exception that you have a slight tendency of jumping conclusions too fast (sometimes).

I DECLARE I AM NOT OFFENDED BY ANY OF MR.MORRIS CLAIMS IN HIS ESSAYS. In fact I fully agree, he is clearly dissecting some of the most acute misconceptions and behavioral practices present in our beloving art of karate.

Mr.Mattson has rightfully remarked that Mr.Morris is not just another 19 year old dude (or may I add just another "mooney" (I can not resist, damn it)). Man of obviously extraordinary abilities and talent diligently submitted himself to most strenuous training regime according to information and karate instructors available and the way they were advertised in the sixties. Come on, wasn't Oyama advertising his karate as the very best knock-out karate and pulling tricks with wrestlers in USA and drugged bulls in Japan. If Kyokushin top Sensei claimed their supremacy in such an idiotic way, wasn't Mr.Morris rightfully entitled to leave marks of his egg-like knuckles on their chins or should he politely stay into line and wait another ten years to exercise his supremacy on poor white belts according to their common practice.

He than proceeded to Japan in search of true karate and immediately won the heart of the very top Japan's authority Yamaguchi Gogen,10.dan, Goju-Ryu, and his admiration of Mr.Morris superior performance and abilities. But at the same time not been able to jump out of his Japanese skin and delegate appropriate authority to Mr.Morris in Europe ( year 1999: in Europe all the leading mainland Japan styles are still represented by chief and superior Japanese, except functions in sport karate where Europeans are superior - Japan teams are loosing on regular basis). So, was he politely to bent his head as so many has and wait until 1999 to be still positioned as an assistant instructor or was he entitled to refuse as a honorable man such a humiliating gesture.

Being aware of his own capabilities and having a true zest to discover the best of karate he proceeded to Okinawa, sampled some Uechi and Goju Dojos, including Yagi Meitoku, 10.dan and ended up at Miyazato Eiichi, 10.dan, who acknowledged his extraordinary abilities by offering him a black belt after one training lesson. There was NOTHING MORE TO LEARN THERE and he proceeded to homeland of TOU-DI, China. Now, are we to be offended because he did not sample Master Kanei Uechi Dojo or master Shinjo Dojo to see his mistake and get some enlightenment on true karate? Leave this to speculation. It was quite possible that when he entered Futenma Dojo there was only Master Uechi Kanei there, teaching local kids (as so often was the case) and Mr.Morris might nod with his head and acknowledge that as a legitimate and valuable service but he was in search for more challenging sights. He might stumble upon Kadena Dojo and one might soon see both (at that time young Kiyohide and Steve) fighting in the dust in front of the Dojo with Seiyu Sensei separating them. Than Shinjo's would perform shin breaks and Morris would crack the nuts with his fingers and break the Dojo floor and...the story goes on...

Why is so difficult to believe that WHAT MR.MORRIS WAS SEARCHING was hardly possible to find even on Okinawa? My answer is simple. It wasn't there anymore (or it was but in very limited quantities). During my visit of Okinawa I have had the pleasure to speak with a Okinawan Master of Kyoshi rank and true gentleman who also speaks fluent English. Although having being serving for decades to world famous Hanshi-sei, 10.dan, he ceased to practice for the very similar reasons Mr.Morris states, until he just recently discovered another gentleman who still has the knowledge how to manipulate one's body to transmitt one's energy without obstacles. How come? Are all those existing Hanshi lacking this ability? Much to the opinion of this gentleman that is a fact. IS IT BAD? To my opinion not at all. Karate has gone through many changes. To become safe and valuable discipline for the general public it had to be modified in many ways. You teach Kyusho over the net for the kids to play??? Hey folks! The deadly karate is not for general public, can't you see that? Give the firearms to the kids and you get the school slaughters. The Okinawans were much wiser in this respect and above all much more peacefull society than one you have in USA!

I repeat: Do we really understand the purpose of the exercises we engage ourself in on daily basis?

Yours sincerely
Igor Prasnikar
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Steve Morris

Postby Steven Goss » Wed Apr 28, 1999 7:30 am

In reading these posts, I've got to wonder. Under what guise do we practise?

Most of us have come to the realization long ago that the practise of martial arts has become watered down in many ways, depending on the individual practitioner and his/her teacher.

Clearly, martial arts in this modern age has changed in many ways from practise past. Digging into my limited knowlege of MA history, it occurs to me that the term "Do" was coined by the Japanes, along with beltranking systems, in an effort to "mainstream" the practise of MA. "Do" as opposed to "Jutsu"--the purely practical application of combative techniques.

In order to train effectively with each others, we temper our attacks and use techniques that will not cause lasting damage (albeit bumps and bruises are commonplace for those who train with any intensity).

When training with each other, should we take eyes out, reverse the flexion of elbows, break legs? After all, that was the intention and purpose of martial arts practised in the past --the PRACTICAL application of techniques.

We must be aware of how to use techniques in devastating ways, but, of course, we shouldn't try to inflict lasting damage to each other.

So, then, where's the argument? Refences to Kyu/Dan kumite being ineffective AS PRACTISED may be true, but then, in budo kumite practise, the full circle block is not used, only small parts of it. My point--We practise techniques to better understand how the techniques can be broken down into PARTS to make them effective.

The are very few of us that can practise techniques in such a way that they can be constantly put to the test. Let's face it, the days of hand-to-hand combat are pretty much over. We do not leave the dojo floor and go out into the field for practical application against a warrior on a horse armed with a spear.

So all of this becomes academic. Many of us can stand on a soapbox and claim the practise of karate is only a shadow of what it once was. Many of us have met Okinawans that, we felt, did not have a lot to teach us (but then again, I personally have met some of them who have a LOT to teach me). Okinawans, Japanese, Americans, Slovenes--we're all people with our own strengths and weaknesses. Anyone who has been to Okinawa realizes the Okinawans don't possess "magic". Some of the train hard, some don't.

Some of us train at a level of intensity that we feel makes a system (any system) effective, or so we would hope. We tend to seek each other out and, perhaps, do not have a lot of tolerance for those that would wash a system out just to keep those checks coming every month. I would hope, that upon training together, we would learn from each other, recognize skills, and treat each other with respect, rather than try to inflict lasting damage on each other. Any adult with even limited strength and a measure of understanding of body mechanics can inflict lasting damage to another person. That's not the point.

Steven Goss
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Steve Morris

Postby Igor Prasnikar » Wed Apr 28, 1999 9:17 am

Dear Mr.Steven Goss,

This kind of reasoning is so much lacking on these forums which are overloaded with thousands and thousands of technicalities of how to better submitt, maim, cause damage, etc.
It makes me wonder if people who post such elaborations do in fact practise Uechi-Ryu Karate-DO or some weird mambo-jumbo-jutsu.

Especially because some even claim that by going into all these details will enable them and their students (AND THIS IS REALLY ALARMING, CAUSE IT SIGNALS THAT INSTRUCTORS ARE POSTING SUCH RUBBISH (sorry))to be better prepared for somekind of defense against "outer aggression".

Now I claim that to be the HUGE discrepancy between okinawan understanding of WHAT PURPOSE this exercises (kata, hojo undo, kumite, conditioning) serve AND what prevails on these forums (not to menthion the KYUSHO).


Very best to you

If anyone feels there is any inconsistency with my previous post on Mr.Morris, feel free to reply.
Igor Prasnikar
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