Humility & The Humble Bow by Matthew Sylvester


Every martial art has at least some tenets or ideals that promote ‘goodness’. By goodness, I mean that they require the student to follow a set of morals and ethics, which would generally be viewed by the majority as good. These usually include humility, the ability to keep going no matter what (indomitable spirit), honesty/ integrity, and perseverance in the face of adversity, and finally honour.

Students are more often than not asked to explain what each of these means, and to give an example of how they themselves have experienced these tenets. I was asked to do this at a grading for example.

Humility is a good one to start with. If one is humble it means that not only should you avoid over-estimating your own abilities, but also underestimating another’s. It also means that you accept, or listen to and give consideration to, advice and views offered by others of both higher and lower stations than yourself. A graduate working in a cheese packing factory for example, might well have to ask someone who left school with no qualifications whatsoever, to show them how to pack a certain cheese a number of times, and still find themselves unable to do it. I did and felt more than humbled when I still struggled to do such a simple thing.

Humility further means that you are modest and ready (if not willing), to acknowledge when you are wrong, or have been defeated in a fair match. The latter would apply in sparring. If you are a black belt and a white belt gets a point in, stop sparring (or back off) and acknowledge and praise the point. It does not mean that you blitz them into the ground for making you look bad.

I once organised a club where people could meet and train with other styles, without having to worry about politics. In this club, if a white belt offered some advice, or had a view on something, then they were listened to, and their view was considered. It was even put to the test and, if it worked, accepted and practiced. This not only broadened our outlook and knowledge, it set a good example for the student and encouraged them at the same time. Hopefully they would develop into broad-minded instructors who are more than willing to listen to ideas.

I once went skiing with my school. I was 14/15 and looking forward to trying out this new experience. Imagine my terror when I realized that not only could I not steer myself, I had trouble stopping. It was when a toddler skied over my skis as I careered out of control that I realized there was far more to skiing than I previously thought. I was also far less confident in my ability to master this skill than I had been whilst on the dry ski slope at home. The same applies to the martial arts.

There are always students who think that they know it all, and that all they have to learn is how to fight. Some might even think that they know how to fight, and that all they need to learn is how to fight more effectively. There are other students who have studied in other schools and other arts, and who think that they are right (I’ve been told that I come across like this without meaning to) and hate being told that they are wrong. All these students lack humility. Using another personal example; I was sparring my instructor (a Mr Paul Smith of the TAGB) and, at yellow belt level, thought I was pretty good. I was blocking his kicks, or else taking them on my stomach. The last kick that I took, hit me so hard I thought my kidneys were going to leave through my back. Everyone heard the sound of all the air in my body leaving in a split second. That one thing taught me never to disrespect my instructor in such a way again and also taught me never to take a kick again.

There is another class of students that lacks humility as well. These people generally stand in the front line of the class and wear black belts. Before I go any further, I must say that these people are in the minority and that I must generalise in order to get my point across.

I have a fear of failure and exams. As a result I do not like grading, nor do I like being labelled as a white belt, or a red belt etc. Both come hand in hand with each other. As a result, I studied TKD for four years and only reached 7th Kup. This did not reflect my ability. Because of the colour of my belt I would face people in organised sparathons who would spar with me as if they were taking it easy, and doing me a favour by keeping their guard open or throwing slow kicks etc. One person even sparred with me whilst wearing a baseball cap. Imagine her surprise when I kicked it off her head and followed through with a blitz to the back of her head.

Another time I was in Holland training under Luigi Melis in WTF Tae Kwon Do and fought a black belt. Because I was used to punching, I kept throwing fakes to the head and then punching to the chest. As a result I started to build up a good lead and he built up a good temper. All he looked at was the colour of my belt (white due to the fact that I had not graded in WTF), rather than the person he was fighting.

The point of these two examples is that, no matter what we felt because of the way that we had acted, at the end of both confrontations we bowed and shook hands. The most common way of displaying humility in the martial arts is through the bow. We are bowing not only to acknowledge the knowledge and skill of the person we face, but also to thank them for giving us the ability to fight and train with them, without facing the possibility of serious injury. The black belt should bow to the white belt with just as much humility as the person to whom they are bowing, because both parties have (or should have) learnt or will learn, something from the experience.

But is that all there is to the common bow? Aside from a sign of humility and thanks, is there any other way that the bow, whether from a standing or kneeling position can be used? Does it have any more significance than that? From what I have been shown, the answer is a definite yes.

Imagine that someone has come from behind and grasped you in a bear hug. What should you do? Well, you could always acknowledge their superior strength and skill. After all, they did manage to get behind you.

In fact such is their skill that they deserve the deepest bow possible; the kneeling bow. With the kneeling bow, you must ensure that you land as near to their feet as possible in order to disrupt their balance. The picture shows the defendant starting the drop to the ground and the following one shows the attacker already at a disadvantage as he bends to move with the technique.

Note that the hands of the defender are placed on the ground just as he would do were he bowing normally. Moving them into this position slightly eases the grip of the attacker, and helps to stop the defender from planting their face into the ground. It is essential to remember that the technique is performed almost exactly as it would be were the practitioner in a normal class.

You will also notice that the attacker has both hands ‘free’ in these pictures. Imagine what would happen if the defender were to grasp one or both of their hands. Break falling would take on a completely different meaning, as has the bow. Imagine the defender had first broken the grip and brought the attacker’s arms straight over his (the defender’s) shoulders, palm upwards. Both arms would be severely damaged if not broken and the technique has not even been applied yet!

So, to summarize. Humility is an important aspect of the martial arts and life in general, and is something that should be learnt by all. This does not mean that you should be falsely modest or constantly underplay your successes. To do the former would result in people viewing you as shallow, and to do the latter would mean that you were constantly overlooked whilst those who made some noise about their achievements advanced.

The bow is the universal symbol of humility within the arts and some oriental cultures, and should be practised and learnt as much as possible. Humility should be displayed at all times, especially when in the face of adversity and, when appropriate, so should the bow. Both of them could well enable you to escape from a bad situation. The hidden aspects of the bow should show those that thought they knew everything, that there is always something that they can learn, do not take anything at face value. Even this article should be questioned or expanded upon.

Copyright © Matthew Sylvester 2007

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Kushanku / Kanku / Kosokun from Ian Abernethy website

Kushanku kata (also known as ‘Kanku-Dai’ and ‘Kosokun’) is one of the most popular forms in modern karate. It is a physically demanding and visually impressive form (when performed correctly) and it is one of the most popular kata in modern competition. As well as being a popular form with kata competitors, it also has a great deal to offer the practically minded karateka. In this article we will briefly look at the history of the kata and examine some of the key concept relating to its application.

The kata is a record of the combative techniques and concepts formulated by a Chinese martial artist who went by the name of Kushanku. Some karate historians believe that ‘Kushanku’ was a military title rather than a personal name – a breakdown of the individual characters used to write Kushanku would seem to support that – nevertheless the kata is named after a specific martial artist from China.

Kushanku is said to have come from China to Okinawa in the 1750s with other military personal at the request of Okinawa’s king. There is a document called ‘Oshima Hikki’ (Note of Oshima). This document details a ship running ashore in Oshima bay and includes interviews with the crew of that ship. In one of these interviews the captain of the ship tells of an extremely impressive grappling demonstration he witnessed that was given by Kushanku. The interview tells us that Kushanku was not a physically strong man and yet he defeated much stronger opponents with ease. We are also told that his methods involved placing one hand on the opponent whilst striking with the other hand. We are also told that Kushanku also made use of effective ‘piercing’ leg movements (#).

One person who became a student of Kushanku’s during his time in Okinawa was Tode Sakugawa. Tode Sakugawa began studying the martial arts after his father, who had frequently been the victim of bullies, had encouraged him to do so (see ‘The Weaponless Warriors’ by Richard Kim).

Tode Sakugawa began his study of the martial arts under Peichin Takahara (‘Peichin’ being a title as opposed to a name) and eventually became one of his best students. It was Takahara who said that Sakugawa should adopt the name ‘Tode’ (which was an old term for karate) in recognition of his outstanding fighting skill. Peichin Takahara is said to have seen Kushanku demonstrate his fighting prowess and was greatly impressed by him. Takahara then encouraged Sakugawa to seek out instruction from Kushanku.

Tode Sakugawa studied under Kushanku for a number of years and he eventually formulated Kushanku kata as a means to record the combative methods Kushanku had taught him. Tode Sakugawa was the first martial arts teacher of the legendary Soken Matsumura; who was the chief bodyguard to three Okinawan kings. Matsumura became Sakugawa’s student whilst he was still a child. Matsumura was in turn one of the teachers of Anko Itosu. It was Itosu who is credited with creating the ‘Sho’ (lesser) version of Kushanku. Today, some karate styles practise both the lesser and greater versions of the form (Kushanku-Dai and Kushanku-Sho); whereas others only practise the main version. Itosu was also the creator of the five Pinan (Heian) kata, and it is obvious from their many similarities that Kushanku kata heavily influenced the development and the subject mater covered by the Pinan series.

Gichin Funakoshi (founder of Shotokan) – who was a student of Itosu’s – gave both versions of Kushanku the Japanese name of ‘Kanku’ (meaning ‘to view the sky’) when karate was introduced to mainland Japan as part of his drive to make the art more accessible to the Japanese. Kushanku / Kanku-Dai was said to be Funakoshi’s favourite form.

Kushanku is one of the longest forms and it contains a wide variety of techniques. There are no detailed written records of the techniques that Kushanku originally taught Sakugawa. We have the kata itself of course, but we have no definitive answer when we ask what the original applications of the form were. The applications of the form are therefore open to interpretation.

From the Oshima hikki we do know that Kushanku was a skilled grappler, that he used one hand to control the opponent whilst striking with the other hand, and that he used ‘piercing leg movements’. We can therefore confidently say that the kata contains plenty of grappling. Certainly my own breakdown of the form includes many throws, takedowns and locks.

The use of one hand to control and locate the head whilst the other limb strikes it is most definitely a key methodology of old style karate. Essentially the non-striking arm has two jobs in kata. The first is to locate and control the head during the chaos of close range combat so that the accuracy of strikes is improved. This is a method I personally refer to as ‘datum setting’ and Oshima hikki suggests that this was a key part of Kushanku’s methodology. The second use of the non-striking limb is to clear obstructions i.e. if the opponent’s arms get in the way of the target, one hand will move them so that the target can continue to be struck by the other hand.

The final methodology referenced in Oshima hikki is ‘piercing leg movements’. It is not clear to me if this refers to kicking or driving in with the legs to disrupt the opponent’s balance and posture. Both methodologies can certainly be found within Kushanku kata.

We can therefore say with a good deal of certainty that the motions of the form should be applied in a way that includes grappling, datum setting, kicking and driving in with the legs to disrupt the opponent’s balance and posture. Sadly, that is not how the kata is commonly interpreted in many of today’s dojos. The most common interpretations of the form frequently have the ‘combatants’ using unrealistic techniques, in an unrealistic way, at an unrealistic distance. However, if we approach the kata armed with the historical information we have access to, and with realism and pragmatism there is no reason why we can’t unlock the techniques and concepts that the form was originally meant to record. It is simply a case of analysing the kata from the correct perspective and in the correct way. Indeed, in many cases it is blindingly obvious how the motion of the kata is to be applied. And even where our interpretation may vary from the original then at least, if we approach the kata in the right way, we are ensuring we stay true to the original intent which was practical fighting methods for use in a civilian environment.

Understanding the applications of the forms isn’t particularly difficult if you have an understanding of the nature of combat and have a grasp of the ‘language’ of kata. Indeed the active study of the kata (as opposed to just practising them) is something that all karateka should engage in.

My own study of Kushanku has revealed strikes, traps, throws, takedowns, joint-locks, chokes, strangles, etc. Of particular interest to me was the way in which the ‘opening salutation’ records a flinch that you may instinctively employ during the opening stages a fight if taken by surprise. The opening part of the kata also examines how that flinch can be used to gain control of an opponent’s limbs and create openings for strikes (see the 3rd DVD in my Bunkai-Jutsu series for more details). This flinch is presented in a very formal way in kata; as can be seen in the photograph of Gichin Funakoshi performing the opening motion of Kushanku kata (Above). However, in combat the flinch will of course be instinctive and rough around the edges.

It should always be remembered that kata is a record of information and as such it can be compared to a collection of recipes. We need recipes to know how to cook good food … but we don’t eat recipes! Similarly, the kata gives us the information needed to fight and this information is presented in a formal way. However, we should never mistake the formal instructions for the actual fighting skills those instructions are supposed to develop. The kata is always formal and precise. The live application of the kata in the chaos of combat will be far from formal and precise! As Funakoshi himself wrote, ‘Always perform the kata exactly; combat is another matter’. Kata tells us what methodologies we should drill and take into our live training. The solo kata should never be considered as an alternative to, or substitute for, that live practise. Sadly, that is a very common misunderstanding about the purpose and nature of kata.

It seems to me that the opening movements of Kushanku kata deals with the opening stages of the actual fight. The other movements toward the start of the form are also quite easy to apply. Could it be that the kata records Kushanku’s ‘syllabus’ in the order it was taught to Sakugawa? Certainly my own interpretation has the more physically and technically demanding techniques (in actual application, not solo performance) towards the end of the kata, and the simplest and most immediate techniques towards the start.

The final technique of the form records a rather advanced throwing technique that requires good timing and a good degree of physical strength. Throughout the martial arts, it is common to teach the simplest techniques first, and teach the techniques that require a better understanding of the basics later on. Kushanku kata contains many throws and takedowns. The fact that the most demanding throw in the form is the last technique recorded would again support the idea that the kata may record Kushanku’s syllabus in the order it was taught. Again, we have no way of knowing for certain, but the idea is certainly worthy of consideration.

The last three moves of the form see the practitioner step around with their left leg (Figure 1), assume a low stance as the arms are pulled in (Figure 2), and then straighten the legs as the arms are brought upwards (Figure 3). The application of this sequence is as follows. Turn to the side and take your arm underneath the opponent’s lead leg. Lift the opponent’s arm just above your head as you step across (Figure 4). Pull the opponent’s arm downward so that they are loaded onto your shoulders. At this point your legs should be bent, and your spine should be straight (Figure 5). Straighten your legs to lift the opponent into the air. You can then dump the opponent onto the floor in whatever direction is appropriate (Figure 6).

As motioned previously, there are numerous throws recorded in Kushanku kata (i.e. neck-ring, tackle, hip-wheel, etc.) but this throw is definitely the most advanced and its advanced nature is very likely to be the reason why it is the last motion in the form. The kata starts by working with our instinctive reactions and steadily progresses through more technically demanding methodologies. It is my view that not only does the kata provide the syllabus of a holistic combative system, it also records the correct teaching / training order in which to develop competence in that system.

Kushanku (Kanku-Dai) is frequently said to be one of the most important forms practised within the various karate styles. History tells us that the kata is a record of the highly effective techniques that were designed by Kushanku and then subsequently recorded by Tode Sakugawa. It is a very important kata and as such it deserves to be studied deeply.

(#) – An in-depth discussion of Oshima hikki and its impact on our understanding of the development of karate is found in the book ‘Motobu Choki and Ryukyu Karate’ by Iwai Kohaku – Gavin Poffley provided the author of this article with an English translation of the section on Oshima Hikki).




Australia and New Zealand are famous for their love of sports and, in particular, sports with a high degree of physicality.

It is no coincidence that two of the most popular sports in Oceania – which encompasses Australia and New Zealand – are Rugby and Australian-Rules Football, games for which toughness is mandatory and constant heavy impact is the order of the day.

In total, the four Antipodeans making up GLORY’s unofficial ‘Team Oceania’ contingent have scored 113 KO’s from 158 wins – that’s an incredible 71% finish rate.

These guys come to bang and they all feature on our next two cards. Corbett, Moxon and Adesanya are fighting at GLORY 15 ISTANBUL on Saturday April 12 while Edwards is fighting at GLORY 16 DENVERon Saturday May 3.

Nathan ‘Carnage’ Corbett (57-5, 45 KO’s)

Light-Heavyweight (209lbs/95kg)

The nickname says it all – Corbett is a fighter who has a well-deserved reputation for going to war in his fights, most of which end with his opponent mangled and him victorious. For years dominant on the native Australian circuit, Corbett has also fought and beaten many top international names.

Billed as a Muay Thai stylist – he has long fought under Muay Thai rules – Corbett’s original background was karate.

The Japanese art has a very specific mindset in which each strike thrown is required to be as damaging as possible. Corbett brought that idea with him when he switched to Muay Thai and as a result, his is a modified version of the Thai art.

He has dispensed with the various techniques, which are used to stall an opponent, keep him at bay or just score points. Corbett’s training focuses only on these techniques designed to do maximum damage. For example, he never uses the push-kick but his low- and body-kick techniques are ferocious.

Corbett did suffer a setback when he faced Tyrone ‘King of the Ring’ Spong in a highly anticipated grudge rematch at GLORY 11 CHICAGO in October. Their first fight ended in a controversial No Contest. This rematch ended with Spong blasting Corbett out of the fight with a killer left hook.

At GLORY 15 ISTANBUL on April 12, Corbett will take one of the four spots in the Light-Heavyweight World Championship Tournament. The winner of the tournament will be crowned the GLORY Light-Heavyweight World Champion.

Spong is in the line-up and they could possibly meet in the final – at 1-1 against each other, the pair would be fighting for legacy as well as the championship belt and the cash grand prize.

‘Stone Cold’ Steve Moxon (34-6-1, 23 KO’s)

Lightweight (70kgs/154lbs)

Moxon’s nickname is a reference to his killer instinct, but he could just as easily be nicknamed TNT. Short and stocky, Moxon is packed with explosive power and has bombs in both hands. When they detonate, people fall over.

At GLORY 11 CHICAGO he finished the young Muay Thai prodigy Reece McAllister with a crushing third-round right hook, which earned him a Knockout of the Year nomination for 2013.

Moxon’s favorite fighter of all time is Mike Tyson, who – like Moxon – was also among the shorter fighters in his weight class. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and so Moxon has been emulating Tyson’s crushing knockouts throughout his six-year career.

His next outing will be at GLORY 15 ISTANBUL on April 12, the same card his countryman Corbett is on. Moxon is facing Niclas Larsen, a Muay Thai fighter and champion in his native Denmark.

Larsen debuted at GLORY 10 LOS ANGELES as a late stand-in against Andy Ristie and put on a very spirited performance. His rangy, creative style will make for an interesting match with Moxon’s close-quarter power punching.

Ben Edwards (36-9-3, 31 KO’s)

Heavyweight (+209lbs/95kgs)

Australian power-puncher Ben ‘The Guvnor’ Edwards loves tough sports. He is a former professional rugby player who made the switch to kickboxing when he went in search of an even more physically demanding challenge.

Edwards packs 256lbs (116kgs) into every punch and has an incredible 88% KO ratio. In his ten years as a professional kickboxer he has won two ISKA titles. He also has also ventured into professional boxing, where he has amassed a 3-0-1 record.

Among his KO wins are the likes of Mighty Mo, Raul Catinas and fellow GLORY heavyweight Daniel Sam. In 2010 he stopped three opponents in a combined 3:28 during a regional K-1 tournament, breaking Jerome Le Banner’s long-held record of 4:04.

The biggest win of his career came at GLORY 12 NEW YORK in November, when he had a hard-hitting back and forth war with the enormous Jamal Ben Saddik.

The two battered each other around the ring before a final surge from Edwards scored him a knockout in the final moments of the match.

Israel ‘Iz’ Adesanya (31-1, 14 KO’s)

Middleweight (77kgs/176lbs)

New Zealand native Israel ‘Iz’ Adesanya recently signed a multi-fight deal with the GLORY World Series and is the only ‘Kiwi’ on the roster at present.

New Zealand has a small population but a rich heritage in the fighting world. Aside from the warrior tradition of the native Maori culture, New Zealand has given the world Ray Sefo and Mark Hunt, two of the hardest-hitting fighters ever to step into the ring.

Adesanya has long been a dominant force in the rings of his native New Zealand, where he has captured several national titles. Fighting out of CityKickboxing in the city of Auckland, the orthodox Muay Thai stylist has fought around the world but is now in the globe’s premier league.

A recent fight with the highly-regarded Simon Marcus of Canada brought Adesanya considerable attention. The two had a war and while Adesanya didn’t get the win, he did earn the respect of world-ranked Marcus and everybody who saw the fight.

Adesanya joins a middleweight division which is home to top contenders such as Artem Levin, Joe ‘Stitch Em Up’ Schilling and Wayne Barrett. In his debut fight he will face Filip Verlinden at GLORY 15 ISTANBUL.

Verlinden lives and trains in Belgium and in 2012 he was fighting in the heavyweight division because it was the most lucrative at the time.

This fight will mark his middleweight debut, a category much more suited to his frame. His experience and solid technical style will be a tough test for Adesanya

How A Technique From Tensho Kata Saved My Life On The Street By Detective Glenn Cunningham

As an undercover detective, this is just one of several stories I could tell based on this assignment. Let me introduce myself. My name is Glenn Cunningham. I was an undercover Police Officer/ Detective for the NYPD. I worked the streets of Brooklyn South for five years looking to buy any kind of drugs and guns. During this assignment, I used my knowledge of the Martial Arts to save my life in every situation you can possibly imagine. Let’s take, for instance the tight situation I found myself in while performing a 7 AM to 3 PM tour. Just try to picture this as a martial artist.

You’re in a small hallway, in a small housing project, five stories high, trying to buy some crack (cocaine) from some people you know are definitely dealing. How do you know? You ask! You ask the guy who just walked away from them with a big smile on his face. He tells you everything you want to know, from the brand name to the amount. So you’re all set. Just go into the hallway, hand them the money and leave. But not today! Today these guys are feeling a little nervous. They don’t know who you are and want to ask you some questions and feel you out to see if you’re the man (police officer).

Now the last thing you want to do is get into a shouting match with these guys. This raises the suspicions of the dealers. Drug users usually do whatever the dealer says, because they want their drugs fast. So now all this is going through my mind and I now find myself in the hallway with some money in my hand. I approach a guy in the hallway and asked him if he was “doin.” This means if he or anyone else was selling drugs there. He then signals yes and calls his boy over, who’s standing under the stairs, to see if he knows who I am. At the same time the guy who was standing in front of me snatches the money out of my hand and a struggle ensues.

Now picture this: I’m 6’4” about 215 lbs. with hair down to my shoulders and have been studying the martial arts, (Goju-ryu Karate) at that time for about 15 years. I was 29 years old and what I considered at the time to be in pretty good shape. It was the afternoon, but the hallway was dimly lit. The guy in front of me grabs the money and we started struggling. I reach for my weapon since this has now escalated to a robbery and I was in a life-threatening situation. My undercover weapon was drawn.

Let’s face it; these guys weren’t there to talk about the weather. As I point my weapon at this undesirable, he grabs the revolver in such a way that the hammer of the gun won’t go back to fire. He’s holding the cylinder. He begins to twist the weapon to the left and my arm is being twisted because my fingers are still holding on. At this point it was still only a fight between him and me. I know that if he gets my weapon I’m a dead man.

As an undercover you have to choose if you want to wear a bulletproof vest, but the good U/C’s never do. As we’re struggling a huge woman comes into the hallway from behind me and I figure great, some help. No way. She just happens to know this person and decides to jump on my back and start to scratch and pull at my face. Now remember the guy under the stairs? He also begins to jump in, hoping to take me to the ground and take care of me. So now it’s three against one.

Let me stop here for a minute to explain to you what kind of training I’ve gone through as far as conditioning my hands. I was taught to constantly train your hands to be ready for any type of situation. Hitting the makiwara (a striking board or post that is often padded) is a big part of the training. Proper hitting strengthens the hands, the wrists, the forearms, the hips and the shoulders. It teaches how to correctly throw a punching technique with kime (focus). Training these parts of the body takes complete dedication. Most students are over anxious and start out too quickly, resulting in injuries, and they never train on the makiwara again. But with proper supervision and correct technique, you will learn how to focus for proper hitting during jyu-kumite (free sparring). The makiwara isn’t the only training I’ve done but it’s the constant.

Other training included: several thousand push-ups, smacking stone with both sides of the hands, forearm conditioning and some iron palm training along with nirgi-game (clay gripping jars) and chi-shi (stone weight). When you put this together with years of training with kata and free sparring, also several ippons, I’m told you start to become a martial artist. One last thing I want to point out before we go back to my situation: Tensho kata. Miyagi Chojun Sensei (the founder of Goju-ryu karate) developed this kata to complement Sanchin kata. It is referred to by a couple of different names, such as the “breathing hands” and the “whipping hands”. It is softer than Sanchin kata in breathing and in its fast smooth movements. The movements were taught to me by DeBaise Sensei when I was his uke (the attacker in two man practice drills) and on the end of vicious strikes of Tensho kata. At my dojo this kata is done after Sanchin kata. And Tensho was the first thing that came to my mind during the encounter in the hallway (since its moves perfectly fit the needs of confined space combat).

Now remember this is all happening in a matter of seconds! Something happens to you when you’re fighting for your life. You change somehow. I don’t know how but something happens to you. Your spirit seems to become very strong. (If you know what I’m talking about, at the end of this article I’ll leave my address, drop me a line to confirm what I’m talking about).

This move from Tensho kata was used to strike the assailant in the side of the head with one hand after the assailant had grabbed Detective Cunningham’s other wrist and revolver. Before striking the assailant in front Cunningham had first quickly withdrawn the same arm to his side, a move that provided an elbow strike into the person who had jumped onto his back.

OK, so it’s three against one, how not to get killed? Undercover time is now over, you’re a police officer and your cover is blown. What I remember, I’ll try to explain as best as I can. The woman on my back was suddenly off my back and screaming, running out of the building. As for the guy who grabbed my revolver, I remember striking him twice with my left hand (a move from Tensho kata where the practitioner hits forward and down with his palm heel from a high chamber position) into the ear location, which forced him to release the grip he had on the revolver and drop to his knees (this was the move that saved my life).

The guy behind him threw a punch at me but only grazed me. I countered with an upper cut that did not catch him solid because he was moving backwards. He then took off up the stairs. Remember this is all happening within seconds with no room to move! Now the guy who first went down from the strikes of Tensho is now grabbing my legs and trying to bite me. These street people don’t give up easily. At this point the back up team is starting to move onto the block. There are some things that I cannot talk about. For instance, how did they know when to move in just then? Sorry CONFIDENTIAL.

At this point, I don’t know how or from which kata it came or what I exactly did, but the guy trying to bite me ends up with his head through the glass part of the door and his ear is hanging on by a thread of skin. The back-up team arrives and they arrest the woman. They come into the building and seal it off. Eventually they catch the guy who ran upstairs and collar him too. The guy who went to the hospital was screaming something about seeing the devil and that he (the devil) took his ear. I, as an undercover, was screened so as not to be seen too much in the area (yes, I too was handcuffed).

I was a little curious about why the woman who was on my back suddenly went screaming down the hallway. One of the cops later told me that she was pregnant and that she was in pain from me hitting her with my elbow (a reverse elbow backwards is part of Tensho and many other kata when the practioner is doing another technique to the front). She should not have jumped on my back. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not superman and don’t pretend to be. I just did what I was trained to do – survive.

My final thought is that if I had not been trained properly in the martial arts and the bunkai of Tensho kata (and other kata too), this situation would have ended differently. The main attack was with the guy who grabbed my weapon and if I had not trained both sides of my hands to hit equally (using the palm heel strike) he could have pulled my revolver away from me and I would not have been able to write this article.

This was an actual undercover operation for the New York City Police Department. It took place in the confines of the 72nd Pct. by the Brooklyn South narcotics Bulldog team, March, 1993.



What is it that creates a champion? Why are some people high achievers in their field while others can never hope to do better than average?

The question is relevant to all walks of life and all aspects of human endeavor, but in the sport it is particularly pronounced. The lives and achievements of standout athletes are almost mythical in their quality.

Mythical they may be, but science lies behind it. The latest research indicates that there is a very definite physical factor separating the elite from the herd. It has to do with the brain and, more specifically the pre-frontal lobe.

This is one of the most important regions of the brain, with a huge impact on everything from personality, decision-making and social behavior to cognitive behavior and problem-solving. A high-functioning pre-frontal lobe makes for a high-functioning human, and vice-versa.

In essence it is the brain’s computer, or at least a key part thereof. The basic activity of this brain region is considered to be orchestration of thoughts and actions in accordance with internal goals.

Like all computers, processor speed is the key. And those of the human populace with the fastest processors – Intel Inside, if you will – are at a distinct advantage.

Research from the prestigious universities such as John Hopkins in Baltimore has shown that the highest-functioning examples can process information twice as fast as the average and often possess a working memory (‘hard drive’) bigger than the standard.

Individuals with a high-functioning pre-frontal lobe often display certain personality characteristics as well. They tend towards wanting to control their environment and activities, are very analytic, have a huge drive and a capacity to ‘think outside the box.’

You’re reading this on the GLORY website and so you might be wondering, ‘What does this have to do with kickboxing?’ The answer is ‘Performance.’

When you watch GLORY you are watching the best kickboxers in the world, generally fighters who have dominated their weight class in their homeland and have earned a call-up to what is the world’s premier league of stand-up striking.

What separates them from their fellow fighters is reaction time. This becomes particularly apparent if you ever see them fight lesser opposition. They are able to attack and evade so precisely that it appears to the onlooker that they have had advance notice of what the opponent intended to do or where he intended to be.

It looks this way because they process information so much faster than their opponent. This leads to an enhanced sense of timing, which, among other things, gives them the ability and confidence to execute those spectacular ‘out of the box’ techniques, which are the hallmarks of top martial artists and fan favorites.

When you watch the best fighters in the world, you are watching a very analytical, fast-processing human who combines that with a high degree of athleticism. Because of this, you’ll often hear them describe fighting as “easy” or find that they cannot explain the things they do. It’s because it comes naturally.

An obvious example is Giorgio Petrosyan. A winner of prestigious GLORY and K-1 tournaments, his record is 76-2-2. That is incredible, and even more so when you note that he has faced and beaten the best opposition his weight class has to offer, often more than once.

Known for a super-analytical fighting style, dozens of writers have likened Petrosyan to a computed. He often seems able to mind-read opponents – when they attack he isn’t there. When they adjust to his new position, he’s already gone again. Petrosyan seems nine steps ahead and he capitalizes on opportunities that most aren’t even capable of noticing.

One of Petrosyan’s best friends is the soccer player Mario Balotelli, another world-class athlete with a reputation for brilliance and innovation. This isn’t a coincidence. Exceptional people are drawn towards one another; Petrosyan and Balotelli have been firm friends since their first meeting and both are very appreciative of the other’s skillset.

GLORY’s roster is packed with fighters who are headline names in their own right and champions in their own country. The fascinating thing about GLORY is that we get to see top fighters face off and determine who really is the best of the best.

In April we might get to see that happen in the light-heavyweight division. Tyrone ‘King of the Ring’ Spong (73-6-1-1) and Gokhan ‘The Rebel’ Saki (79-17-0-1) are two outstanding talents and are on opposite sides of the tournament bracket. If they end up facing off in the final, fans worldwide are going to have their prayers answered.

Both are known for speed, creativity and an ability to ‘read the game’. They tend to dominate their opponents and have that ’mind-reading’ ability which marks out the top-tier. Both have been competing since their teenage years so by now they have it all: experience, dedicated training and natural skill.

Five years ago they met in a tournament for the first time. The fight was very close and went to an extra round, during which Saki managed to land a KO on Spong. But these days it is clear that Spong is in his absolute prime. So is Saki. If they meet at GLORY 15 ISTANBUL on Saturday April 12, that fight will be the true test.

And that isn’t forgetting Nathan ‘Carnage’ Corbett (Saki’s semi-final opponent), a champion in his native Australia, or Saulo Cavalari (Spong’s semi-final opponent), a champion in his native Brazil. All four are capable of winning the tournament.


Improving your Focus and Concentration by Shihan Howard Collins

Improving your Focus and Concentration

When I was preparing for a competition big or small I would sit down and write a training routine for myself. I would have a time schedule, what must be done in a certain time, how many exercises etc. whatever was necessary. Then whenever I trained I would try to improve. Sometimes it would be a particular skill, other times I needed to improve my stamina, I set goals for myself and focused on them.

How should you improve your focus? Give your self a training routine which can be done daily or on those days you may have that important meeting.

•Mental routine

•What do you want to achieve

•How to achieve it

•Do not allow other thoughts to cloud your aim

•Prohibit thoughts that are not relevant

•You find your self day dreaming

If you have read the definitions of focus and concentration at the beginning of my home page you will see that there is a thin line between them, in a way they need each other. Focus is what you are doing now, reading this for example. Although we can focus on what we want to do, our goals, plans etc. they are not happening now. Concentrating is what you are doing now in order to achieve something, to put aside thoughts and feelings that disturb you concentrating on what you are focusing to do.

Mental routine Start a mental routine, before you enter that important meeting check that you have everything you need, notes, paper etc. Go through your presentation or whatever it is you must do in your head, trying to look for all the problems you may have.

What do you want to achieve Have it clear in your head what it is you want.

How to achieve it If you have gone through one and two you will have the answer, preparation is the answer. “When you are prepared for a thing, the opportunity to use it presents itself.”  Edgar Cayce 1877-1945

Do not allow other thoughts to cloud your aim If there is anything else you must do that day, then think about it and put it to one side keep focused on what you have to do.

Prohibit thoughts that are not relevant This covers all other situations, clear your mind of all distracting thoughts.

Daydreaming When you find yourself daydreaming make a note of it, you should always carry a pen and notepad. Write down what you were thinking about and what you should have been thinking about or doing. People will look at you strange but by writing things down as they happen will help you remember those moments more clearly.

Why Kata Is Important By Jason Armstrong

Too many karate-ka today relegate kata to a secondary status behind practice of kumite. This is a mistake. This view, I believe, represents a profound misunderstanding of kata’s role and purpose.

Kata should instead be the foundation of karate training. Why? Three Points of discussion:

– Philosophy & Zen
– Relationship to sports karate
– A time chest of advanced self defense techniques for black belts

Kata allows students to share a pool of knowledge which the greatest karate-ka of the past, and present, have used to study the Way. The kanji (Chinese character) for kata can be interpreted as a pictograph representing a bamboo lattice window. Sunlight can shine through such a window leaving a pattern which is defined by not only light but also the presence of shade.

This “Yin-Yang” essence in kata is noted in such opposites as fast/slow, hard/soft & still/movement. For example, at the end of any given combination in kata the particpent should pause before moving to the next direction to create Zanshin (continued alertness) and a Yin/Yang event (i.e. often kata are rushed, and practitioners do not pause long enough before changing directions – the pause creates the moment and contrast to movement and speed).

When studying in Japan several of my teachers (including Sotokawa 8th Dan Shito-ryu, Uetake 7th Dan Shito-ryu and Iba, 8th Dan Shito-ryu) would emphasize a slow count of 1-2-3 before changing to the next direction, or set of moves.

Each kata represents an archived library of self defense techniques. Often the application of each motion within kata is not well understood within many Japanese karate dojos unless the effort has been made to dive into the Okinawan and Chinese roots. One should aim to understand and practice at least one bunkai (breakdown of movements) motion for each action in a kata (probably no one can know all and be proficient in all bunkai variants).

Most of the original applications do not involve the basic kicks and punches which are often given as an interpretation, but rather grabs, breaks, pressure points and close in fighting. The elaborate nature of these actions (symbolized by individual kata motions) are challenging even for black belt ranks to know, practice and execute proficiently. Once a bunkai is understood it should be drilled with partners (like drill kumite combinations) at high speed, and in repetition.

Kata demands techniques executed with precision and power. It trains the body to strike from different stances and different orientations, as is always the case in kumite. Kata trains one to move quickly, and to use precise and stable stances for the execution of solid techniques. Without this ability one will be unable to control an opponent during battle. Furthermore, if one cannot execute precise and powerful technique in kata, it will definitely not happen in the heat and chaos of kumite.

Visualization of the opponent for each move is one method of kata development that can be done as a drill. It helps bring a kata to life accentuating “kime” (focus), “penetration” and “zanshin”. This is one of many training approaches to develop kata, however one must always remember that when kata is performed in a non-training sense (i.e. its final form) it should embrace “Mushin” (no mind, no thought). “Mushin”, a high goal of all martial artists, allows the mind to be open to all possibilities in the fighting engagement with no hesitation or change of thought pattern prior to execution.

As one approaches black belt, kata must begin to feel like it is a true expression of oneself, presenting all inner and outer attributes. Therefore, when kata is performed, the presence of “Ki” (internal energy) and spirit can be felt, something which demands the attention of onlookers.

As kata is practiced year after year, some of the more difficult techniques and subtleties begin to emerge in one’s fighting. This acts as a source of continual growthfor advanced karate-ka. The integration of techniques acquired from kata into one’s fighting provides a challenge that will easily fill a lifetime (for example the ashi barai take downs in such kata as Seipai or Tekki Shodan are directly applicable to modern Sports Karate and street fighting). It requires both a combination of physical mastery and the possession of a calm mind amidst the storm of battle. In seminars we often deliberately make a point that kata has direct translations to “Sports Karate,”and using examples of strategy and sometimes technique variants, aids students in understanding this relationship. Of course not all kata bunkai can be transferred to sports karate, just selected parts or variants. However, taking students down this path often helps them understand the need to think about kata for their longer term karate and fighting growth

Why do so many stop training? by Shihan Howard Collins

Why do so many stop training?

Why do so many stop training? Perhaps it’s because they don’t have the time or family life changes, work gets in the way or they just loose interest. Commitment is probably the main reason, I think many start training with the idea that its some kind of quick fix. Train for a couple of months, learn a lot of kicks get a black belt and that’s it.

When I talk about a lifetime of training I mean just that, its not just about learning Kyokushin but keeping you healthy, which after all is important for everybody. You commit yourself to have a healthy lifestyle through training, keeping your mind and body in good condition.

I meet so many old students who stopped training many years ago and they all say the same thing, that they regret that they had not continued.

Don´t have any regrets just keep going.


How Strong is your foundation? By Sensei Marvin Saint-Cyr

In construction, a strong foundation is essential to creating a solid structure.   The more time and effort that is placed on building and securing that structure, the stronger it will be.  This is the same with Karate. Countless hours are devoted to learning proper techniques.  I have found that some students find this to be boring mundane and repetitive. They want to be able to do the fun stuff like spar, jump kicks, do back flips, learn weapons and so on.  It is however important to note that while some of these things look cool and fun, without the proper training they are useless and can result in injury.  Without learning how to execute and master the very basic techniques properly one can never really learn how to execute more advanced techniques effectively.  The repetition is necessary to help develop that foundation that can later be built on ( more advanced technique).

Developing that foundation is important, but maintenance of that foundation is also important.  Once the movement is learned, then focus can be shifted to power and speed.  The older I get and the further along I go down this path of being a black belt/instructor, the more I realize the importance of technique, speed and power. I try to put more emphasis in execution of my technique and pay attention to my stances.  These are the things that will help me continue and grow. These are the things that I attempt to emphasize in my training and teaching.  So I ask, how strong is your foundation???  How hard have you worked to reinforce that foundation??? This is the never ending process that I go through in my daily walk.


The Power of Do Mawashi Kaiten Geri (Kyokushin Wheel Kick – 胴回し回転蹴り) by

A compilation of one of the most beautiful/dangerous kicks being used effectively in Full-Contact Karate, Kickboxing and MMA.
Aside from the Spinning Hook Kick, this one in particular led me to many knockouts.

The reason this kick is so powerful and the cause of sick knockouts is because it puts the user’s whole weight into a solid strike.
The two main variations are the Front Roll (Tate Kaiten) and the Side Roll (Yoko Kaiten):
– The front roll is safer, makes you stand up while rolling and works like an Axe Kick.
– The side roll is more risky and only a select few people are capable of doing it properly in the air, but is extremely powerful and acts almost like an overpowered Spinning Hook Kick.

Wherever it hits, it will ALWAYS stagger the opponent.
The main flaw of this kick is when it doesn’t connect, as the sideways version of it puts your back flat on the ground, making you vulnerable in non-stand up bouts.

video by Strider Hien ( YouTube)