The Bubishi and Escapes

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The Bubishi and Escapes

Postby Victor Smith » Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:42 pm

It seems a long time ago now I began to look at the Okinawan Bubishi, its translations and possibilities of meaning to its text. I always found its existence interesting, but I also came to the
conclusion it is almost universally ignored when it comes to training practice. Perhaps there are people and programs that are trying to utilize this material, but if so I suspect they are very rare.

Of course almost none of us can hope to read/translate the original text. That leaves us to deal with specific translations. It's practices may or may not be reflected in our own studies. Sure the
Big `8' for Isshinryu came from there, but which version?

I'm going to take a little time to look at one section of the `Bubishi', Methods of Escape. My source will be the recent translation of Funakoshi Ginchin's `Karate Jutsu', translated by
John Teramoto.

I chose this translation solely because it was Funakoshi who was first to share the Bubishi's existence to outsiders, and he included this material both in his original book and later in his Karate Do Koyan, but left it in the original Chinese. One wonders if the emergent JKA from Funakoshi Sensei's teachings ever paid attention to what was shared?

The section is pertinent from the perspective escape from an attack is still as much as an issue today as it was in the past. Most obviously these comments are escape against unarmed attack.

Note: All kata referenced in my analysis are the Isshinryu versions


The section I’m looking at is the Methods of Escape

1. If you want to attack east, first strike west.

This section is an obvious reference to the use of diversion. If your enemy is looking to the east they may not be checking out the west, leaving them vulnerable.

I attended a seminar by a senior Judo-ka, long ago. He presented a technique his Japanese instructors waited 20 years to show him, but he didn't keep the same restriction. While grappling, he would use both hand to really pull the opponent downward to the right.

The opponent would automatically counter pull to the left, and then he fell backwards throwing them over his left shoulder. First East then West.


2. If you want to stamp forward, bring up the rear foot as much as possible.

I interpret this as inching forward on your opponent. Keep your front foot stable as your rear foot inches forward. That means you have to cover less distance when you stamp forward and can do so more quickly.

Kata leads us to standardize our technique, but when facing an opponent subtle shifts and deceptive openings to set up our response are useful, even if not formally seen in the kata.

Of course I may be assuming too much, such that the stamp is with the back foot, it may be the front foot. In that case sliding the rear foot forward actually places your center closer to the attacker allowing the front foot to reach in further.

What does stamp mean? Is it a cross stomp kick?. Stamp might be interpreted just as is says, a stamp to the instep of their foot. Trying to break it and paste them to the floor. That stamp may be
accompanied with upper body technique done at the same time, and becomes a force multiplier among other uses.

Even more simply, the stamp might be nothing but a big owie, creating a distraction to escape (keeping with the section title.

3. If you want to rotate your body, intensify the soft power.

Keeping your body rigid inhibits your ability to rotate, slows you down and decreases the power that can be emitted from the technique. A great example are the turning techniques in Naifanchi Kata. Keeping the torso soft allows quicker rotation. In fact the turning technique developed in Naifanchi is the same turning technique used with greater rotation in Chinto.

Rotation is much more subtle than the large turns. It also involves the smaller turns used in technique movement. An example are the rotations of the knee during knee release to move a technique into the optimal zone of entry to an attack Reinforcing that soft becomes hard.

Interesting choice of words, intensify the soft power? Sounds like a contradiction doesn't it.

4. If your hair is being pulled, use kyogeki (literally a large halbred. Kyogeki here might mean "Spear Hand". Another suggested reading is "Thumb Attacks".)

Several time's I've been shown how to press both hands on the hand grabbing your hair to neutralize their grab, but putting your hand into their throat works for me Thumb attacks seem too complex when your head is being jerked around, imo.

5. If you want to strike your opponent, destroy his tenchuu (Ch: tianzbu, this is central supporting pillar, ... here the meaning might be to attack the opponent's center line.)

Again sound advice on how to strike. I was shown no matter where you face an opponent find the centerline of their body and strike towards it. At times trunk rotation can spin off attacks to the
bodies outsides, but the center line as a target remains true. You also have a great many targets of opportunity on the centerline.

6. When the opponent falls to the ground, pin his head face down and you will win.

A common approach in many arts is that an attack isn't countered until the opponent is immobilized on the ground. Face down, kneeling on their arm is a good way to conclude their attack. One of the Sutrisno Aikido concepts is as the individual is going down, utilizing a wrist lock to roll the opponent into that position no matter which way they originally fall.


7. When you fall to the ground, take advantage of your
opponent's sense of superiority.

There are so many variations of the lower body combinations. The one
I began with included kicking from the ground with front thrust
kicks and side thrust kicks. If you've been downed, they have to
reach down to get you, and if they didn't ride you down to remain in
control, their inexperience can be used to counter them.


8. If grabbed from behind, attack to the rear with your elbow.

All chambering is a rear elbow strike. The double roundhouse strikes in the upper body combinations (from the Lewis lineage) are as much double rear elbow strikes as roundhouse strikes.

9. If grabbed from the front, attack his testicles.

Works for me.

10. If someone grabs your [head], attack his throat. (victor.smith. - perhaps related to concept 4.)

Note there is a principle here. The throat is extremely unprotected.

11. If your opponent forces mud into your mouth [as a final insult after your defeat], attack his throat.

An opponent who is using defeat to punish is making a amateur mistake. If they were professional they would just finish you off. If they haven't their hubris might be used against them, and the action described might well leave their throat open for attack.

12. In close combat, use your elbows.

One wonders if the addition of elbow/forearm strikes in Wansu and SunNuSu were specifically added for this reason.

13. In distant combat, use a reverse stamping kick.

The reach of the leg being a deciding factor to use the kick. Note the use of stamping, as if the use of the kick is to immobilize the opponent. It really reminds me of the kick being used in the To'on Ryu Seisan Kata. A whole body leg stamp, very different from any other style.

14. If you want to damage the opponent to your right, lower your
right arm.

I presume this is tactical thinking. If your opponent is on your right, lowering your right arm might be an invitation for them to attack a perceived weakness. In turn you create that weakness to
counter that attack. More a tactical theory than a tactical lesson.

15. If you want to stamp forward, use the spear hand.

This is similar to the concept shown to me in our version of Wansu. In this case the spear hand would appear to be too short for a scoring stroke, but a following leg underneath the arm has a much longer reach if they go to attack against the spear hand.

16. If you want to kick high, first bring your rear leg up as much as possible.

I think this might be interpreted in the sense where the knee points the foot follows. So to kick higher the higher you first raise your knee, the higher the foot will go.

17. If your hand is twisted, bend your elbow.

This is advice how to counter a grab. Grab's work when they are applied in a very specific angle of attack. Often bending the elbow will remove that line of attack, allowing further counters.

18. If someone grabs your sleeve, use gekisho (literally, tip of halbred).

I would suggest a counter fingertip strike to the throat against an arm grab.

19. If someone grabs your hem, use your knee to escape.
20. If he tries to stomp you, just use a strike.
21. If you want to kick him, by all means use your knee.
22. If he is short, do not use your legs.
23. If he is tall, then slip inside.
24. If grabbed from below, attack him from above.
25. If grabbed from above, lower your body immediately and attack from below.
26. If he pulls your hair, raise both arms as if removing armor (and seize him by his pressure points).
27. If he is choking you, attack with shuto (spear hand).

28. If someone approaches with shoulders swaying, be prepared to block his kick.

I see this as interpreting the swagger as a sign an attack is coming. Professionals work not to give out signs, so there is less chance of counter.

29. Your hands and feet (stance) must never fail to be aligned in the proper direction.

I find this most interesting. This is the crux of the alignment theory we follow, to increase the power of our techniques, to give no sign of weakness for the opponent to support. This doesn't just apply to the hands and the stance, it covers the entire range of motion potential. Even the eyes looking in the wrong direction affect a correct technique.

I don't find this a surprise. My own understanding arose from my tai chi studies and then was applied to my Isshinryu. But the secret is just doing Isshinryu 100% correctly every time.

Each imperfection decreases from your power. Kata then becomes the most important tool to help craft our shape in response. But it still is just a tool and other tools are required, that and never ending work.

So some sound tactical theories, IMO, from the Bubishi.

Does this suggest additions, corrections, new directions of thinking.

I believe one summary you might make of these escape techniques is that they are ways to deal with a less trained attacker. They work with using the attackers focus against them. Lead their mind in one direction and then counter in another.

respectfully submitted,
Victor Smith
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Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Apr 24, 2007 3:10 pm

There's a lot here, Victor.

This is very difficult, because I believe the translations aren't all that great. But if you squint your eyes, you can sort of see what they're talking about.

I'm going to draw these out a few at a time.

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Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Apr 24, 2007 3:20 pm

2. If you want to stamp forward, bring up the rear foot as much as possible.

What does "stamp" mean? It could mean nothing more than slide-stepping. What you do after advancing is entirely your choice.

That being the case, there's a little trick that the good sport fighters learn. You can slip that rear leg up a bit before doing your sliding lunge, and do so without showing your hand. It's particularly easy to do if you throw a little "noise" in with the signal. In other words, have a little random bobbing, weaving, and shuffling the way a boxer does in-between flurries. With the signal-to-noise ratio reduced, you can work in that back leg scootch totally undetected. Then you advance on your opponent quicker than they think possible.

There's a corallary to this in going backwards. My left front big toenail is permanently messed up from years of people stepping on it in prearranged and freeform fighting. If someone had taught me that front leg scootch before back slide step, I'd probably have a decent-looking toenail today.

Oh well...

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Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Apr 24, 2007 3:49 pm

3. If you want to rotate your body, intensify the soft power.

****

Interesting choice of words, intensify the soft power? Sounds like a contradiction doesn't it.

It's that nasty, inexact chi-speak. On the other hand, the whole yin-yang principle is universal. It's all in how you articulate it. In this case, they mean something somewhat complex, IMO.

Turning is something people really need to work on because "it" is where the core power comes from in most movements subsequent to the turn. For the Average Joe doing kata, their idea of a turn is what you do when you run out of space in the dojo and/or want to face another bad guy. To the experienced fighter, the "turn" is where you get off the line of force and/or generate the neuromuscular energy in the core which you deliver to your periphery. You pre-stretch muscles with high dL/dt, and rebound off of the dynamic stretch reflex.

But then again... I know my kinesiology jargon makes the chi-ster eyes glaze over. :lol:

We work a lot on breaking movements down and building them back up again in my classes. The last "layer" I will put on a movement is the turn which often preceeds the movement. Only when done in this way - as if "the whole" means something - will a student get it.

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Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Apr 24, 2007 6:04 pm

4. If your hair is being pulled, use kyogeki (literally a large halbred. Kyogeki here might mean "Spear Hand". Another suggested reading is "Thumb Attacks".)

Several time's I've been shown how to press both hands on the hand grabbing your hair to neutralize their grab, but putting your hand into their throat works for me Thumb attacks seem too complex when your head is being jerked around, imo.

I am one of the unapologetic proponents of Uechi Ryu's "pointy" weapons. But FWIW, this wasn't an overnight epiphany for me.

Part of the problem lies in the very shallow "striking" view of what is going on in Okinawan kata. In my opinion, many have a fairly simplistic view of karate as something you do to a punching bag or striking pad. That works for sport karate. But sport karate isn't self defense.

And they don't grab your hair in the sport ring, do they? ;)

As for how to use the boshiken (thumb fist), well I believe we can learn quite a bit from the old school jiujitsu people. And note I did NOT say BJJ. I mean the really old stuff like Rory's style (Sosuishitsu Ryu).

A thumb is best applied in a careful, deliberate manner the way a climber takes his fingers and grabs for crevaces and creases on a climbing wall. Once you train your thumb to work in myriad degrees of freedom of motion with strength, there are all kinds of fun things you can do with it. And it's not something that a striking pad is going to help you understand.

This takes a bit of one-on-one time to teach.

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Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Apr 24, 2007 6:13 pm

5. If you want to strike your opponent, destroy his tenchuu (Ch: tianzbu, this is central supporting pillar, ... here the meaning might be to attack the opponent's center line.)

Again sound advice on how to strike. I was shown no matter where you face an opponent find the centerline of their body and strike towards it. At times trunk rotation can spin off attacks to the
bodies outsides, but the center line as a target remains true. You also have a great many targets of opportunity on the centerline.

How about a slightly different interpretation. Instead of centerline, could he mean center?

I talk a lot about "taking the starch out of an opponent." When in Sanchin, we Uechika like to think we're pretty bad. (Except of course against bullets and knives... 8O ) It's that armour we put on with our training. But sometimes either a physical or a mental technique will make the person relax, lose balance, or lose control of the center. When that happens, the body is a LOT more vulnerable to strikes.

This applies to groundwork as well. Even when on the ground, a good martial artist has contact points with mother earth used to maintain control of center and to serve as a reaction to actions. Mess with the foundation, and you take away the ability of the opponent to defend and deliver.

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Postby Victor Smith » Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:46 pm

Hi Bill,

I agree this is difficult, and I haven't muddied the waters by using the various translations I have, this one seems more than useful for a beginning discussion.

For a starting point I tend to use the literal terms being described.

I totally concur with you about the soft power relating to turns. I have long considered the use of turns an important technique in thier own right. In such light I consider kata 180 turns as counters aginst an attack from the rear.

I also think your use of the indivdiual's center versus their centerline is reasonable. It does tie into the 29th Bubishi point.

I feel whatever we get from this is helpful to see one set of tactical answers, and gives us something to consider in our own training.

Good posts,
Victor Smith
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Postby Stryke » Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:00 pm

5. If you want to strike your opponent, destroy his tenchuu (Ch: tianzbu, this is central supporting pillar, ... here the meaning might be to attack the opponent's center line.)


I read this as destroying his alignment , it can mean much more thsn striking , I prefer to think manipulation of the spine .

It`s kind of the opposite of

29. Your hands and feet (stance) must never fail to be aligned in the proper direction.


good thread !!!

And Bill I`m sure you can learn lots from BJJ 8)
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Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:07 pm

We are saying the same thing about #5, Marcus.

Stryke wrote:
And Bill I`m sure you can learn lots from BJJ
8)

Already have, thanks to Joey.

I've had the good fortune to be involved with a number of different branches of JJ. One of my student's students is highly ranked in Nippon JJ and also has trained in BJJ. You may see him on these forums on rare occasion as "Bornsinner." He is scary good, and quite the entertaining instructor.

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Postby Stryke » Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:14 pm

Good stuff Bill , I was just hacking on ya , I just didnt feel the not BJJ thing was necessary , but no harm .

I think that spine manipulation is very Uechi which is why perhaps we see it that way , something about being close in and grappling .

good thread .
Stryke
 

Postby Bill Glasheen » Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:39 pm

7. When you fall to the ground, take advantage of your
opponent's sense of superiority.

There are so many variations of the lower body combinations. The one
I began with included kicking from the ground with front thrust
kicks and side thrust kicks. If you've been downed, they have to
reach down to get you, and if they didn't ride you down to remain in
control, their inexperience can be used to counter them.


This is where BJJ shows its stuff. While I do not recommend anyone stay on the ground when there is ANY risk of a many-on-one encounter, there are a lot of fun things one can do on the ground and on the way back up again. I agree that you can take lemons and make lemonade if you know how.


8. If grabbed from behind, attack to the rear with your elbow.

All chambering is a rear elbow strike. The double roundhouse strikes in the upper body combinations (from the Lewis lineage) are as much double rear elbow strikes as roundhouse strikes.


This is hidden in the Seisan bent-over shokens. Why do three when the first one works? :?: :idea: :idea:

9. If grabbed from the front, attack his testicles.

Works for me.


Yea but you can't stop there. Pain doesn't always work - especially from a drugged opponent. Not only that, but you have a chance to create a raging bull.

It's always best to anticipate the human flinch response here, and be prepared IMMEDIATELY to take advantage of it. The best thing to do next is attack the head/neck area either with grab/chokes or with strikes.

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Postby Victor Smith » Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:42 pm

Hi Bill,

I find your comments on the Bubishi Escape Techniques, from a Uechi point of view very interesting.

I consider the Bubishi simply an advanced (or perhaps not too advanced) students notebook from their training. In that context these particular notes are perhaps just individual points picked up from one's instructor(s) and never the whole picture.

In that context, the groin strike counter wasn't meant as the whole response, but perhaps just the opening movement. Even striking the groin might mean different things to different people. One answer might be to the point just behind the groin, but the same words may still apply.

Unfortunately that spot, the hun yun point (directly in the middle of one's bottom - the opposite of the point in the center of one's head) is much more pertinent and also extremely painful, as opposed to just the groin. I know because I've been on the receiving end of a light purposeful strike to that point. Pain that makes you want to hang on the ceiling.

In the Shorin kata Gojushiho, some of the versions show an upward crane finter tip strike that would comfortably strike that point. Other strikes would be a straight finger tip from the floor into that point.

On the three reverse elbow strikes (found in all chambering movements) as the three bent over shoken's in your Seisan, within Isshinryu (depending on variation) we can find single, double and triple strikes using them.

One done correctly may well be the answer, but I can see the rational behind practicing multiples. An attack from the rear is likely based on surprise. Your first or 2nd might not be accurate enough, but still 'dent' the opponent till a 3rd has the desired effect. I think the multiple practice makes sense in the 'overkill' variety. You may not need them, but it can't hurt practicing them to develop the skill just in case.

Of course the technique might be originally designed against rear and front attackers, and you're using the striking motions in each direction.

I don't particularly see kata as just one answer, but ranges of answers to work with.

I look forward to more discussion on these points.

pleasantly,
Victor Smith
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Postby Bill Glasheen » Fri Apr 27, 2007 1:52 pm

10. If someone grabs your [head], attack his throat. (victor.smith. - perhaps related to concept 4.)

Note there is a principle here. The throat is extremely unprotected.

11. If your opponent forces mud into your mouth [as a final insult after your defeat], attack his throat.

An opponent who is using defeat to punish is making a amateur mistake. If they were professional they would just finish you off. If they haven't their hubris might be used against them, and the action described might well leave their throat open for attack.

Whenever you see things repeated in kata, it's often telling you THIS IS IMPORTANT.

All your points are spot on, Victor.

It's worth adding though that there was a discussion about three Uechi black belts who were surprise-attacked behind a bar just around closing time. Of course they were probably all a bit compromised from alcohol, and the 3 attackers had the element of surprise. Like the scenario suggested above, they were mean bastards. They were slamming bodies up against trucks, dislocating shoulders, dragging a person by dislocated arm across a parking lot, etc., etc.

One of the three noted that he "saw" the throat of his attacker during a sustained barrage, but he couldn't pull the trigger.

Can our "safe" training teach good people not to do what they need to do when the poop really hits the rotating blade?

There's a time for everything... This is a time to go for the jugular, so to speak. To me the direction is a metaphor, and meant to tell you to get down and dirty. This is a time not to hold back.

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Postby Victor Smith » Fri Apr 27, 2007 2:15 pm

Bill your story reminds me of a childrens version.

When I was studying with Charles Murray, who was teaching at his church (before he returned to the USAF), we had a group of children we were teaching together.

One day one of the boys came to church to train, clothes torn, hair mussed and a shiner.

He told Charles how he was attacked after school and how he knew he could have struck them in the groin, etc. but was proud he didn't do any thing.

While we don't want youth to have to defend themselves, Charles gave the boy a long talk about how taking a beating wasn't necessarily the right response when you could have defended yourself.

Striking the throat, sticking fingers in a nose or into the eyes, can be found in our kata studies. Having the authority to go ahead and use them against an attacker is more involved than striking air.
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Postby Bill Glasheen » Fri Apr 27, 2007 3:15 pm

12. In close combat, use your elbows.

One wonders if the addition of elbow/forearm strikes in Wansu and SunNuSu were specifically added for this reason.

13. In distant combat, use a reverse stamping kick.

The reach of the leg being a deciding factor to use the kick. Note the use of stamping, as if the use of the kick is to immobilize the opponent. It really reminds me of the kick being used in the To'on Ryu Seisan Kata. A whole body leg stamp, very different from any other style.

Taken individually, I see mundane suggestions. Taken as a whole, the two reflect on a concept I talk about to my students. I talk about concentric rings of offense and defense that an individual and their opponent have.

Way back in my early sparring days, I had this hapkido black belt in my Uechi class. I was fresh out of a Japanese dojo where people did a lot of sparring. The two of us sparred lots - like cats and dogs. All for fun and learning, of course... 8)

One thing I learned about my hapkido black belt friend was that I was in the most danger in a ring around him where he could use his legs. While I never got seriously hurt sparring him, several in the class ended up urinating blood days after sparring him. He had this killer side thrust kick.

I knew where I was strong. My Japanese karate training taught me to get inside, hold on, and punch until they dropped. All I needed to do was charge through that danger ring that Lloyd had around him. I did find a way. I would start the charge from a distance, and come flying in with lifted knee. I learned it quite by instinct in my Japanese karate class. It turns out to be a great application of crane-on-rock. Uechi's Seisan has a similar "ramped" lifted front leg in the "jump" posture.

I owned the very dangerous Lloyd because I knew how to get where I was strong and he wasn't.

Going a step further... The problem with "contemporary Uechi Ryu" is that we spend a lot of time with middle-distance sparring. That's great for building confidence and creating a safe jiyu format, but... Unfortunately it's defanged Uechi. We have all these elbow and knee techniques througout the kata, and no jiyu format to use them. I do scenarios where elbows and knees are used. But my students on occasion have been scolded on their dan tests when they break out into elbow techniques and head butts. Oops! :roll: :twisted:

The Thai boxers do this inside game very well.

And the grapplers go in to take you down. You see that in kata as well - if you look for it. The "that's not Uechi" crowd laughs at me when I tell them there are shooting trechniques in Sanseiryu. But if you look, it's right there. It just takes a little imagination.

When teaching throws for sparring in my classes, I constantly have to remind my students that they need ONE MORE STEP to get where they need to be. Throwing involves basic laws of physics. If you want to rotate two bodies around a point in space, it takes less effort if the two bodies are as close as possible. Conservation of angular momentum.

The directions above are simple. But you can go far investigating all the possibilities in these concentric rings of offense and defense.

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