--- Kaneshi Eiko
"The bushi uses the natural way and the natural way is
to use a straight punch without a twist."
Kana was born, according to the Nengo or Japanese counting system
which uses an era associated with one emperor, in Meiji 41 in
the year of the Monkey in the Chan settlement, Okinawa.
On the 9th
month, 19th day, of the year 1999, Tatsuo would have been 91
years old. Throughout his life he was known as Shinkichi, Kana,
Kanahi, Sun nu su, Sunsu, and Tatsuo. He would go by the family
periods of time, he was a farmer, tax collector, bodyguard,
karate instructor and sumuchi or fortune teller. When he died
on May 30, 1975, he was still doing fortune telling. Before
Tatsuo studied karate, he was learning to be a sumuchi from
his uncle Ganeku Shinko who later would teach the young Shimabuku
shaolin-zi style of karate that he learned in Fukushu (Foochow)
of the history of Tatsuo has been fabricated. The style he created
is drastically being changed by those who never studied or who
briefly studied with him. Many are changing what was a punching,
striking and kicking style into a grappling style. Even today,
after all these years, some still mistakenly call Tatsuo the
Dragon Boy when it should be Dragon Man. His birthday an be
found on the internet and in books with the wrong years, (1906)
or wrong day (September 9). Instead of correcting their mistakes,
they constantly perpetuate them.
to teach the lost kata of Isshin-ryu like gojushiho which Tatsuo
never liked and stopped teaching. Still others claim to teach
kobudo such as kama (sickle) or nunchaku they say they learned
an erudite who could read and understand the ancient writings
found in the ancient books from China such as the "I Ching",
yet he was a humble, non-pretentious man who like to joke. Shinsho,
he second son, says, "My father was natural. Look at all the
pictures of him standing and you will see that he is relaxed
and natural. Watch him doing kata and you will see my father
doing it in a natural way."
with reverence, in an interview said, "When I close my eyes
I can see Shimabuku's body doing kata. I'm proud of Shimabuku."
Eiko further states that during the January 15, 1956 meeting
that Tatsuo called to change from the twist punch to the vertical
punch, Kaneshi explains, "The bushi used the natural way and
the natural way is to use a straight punch without a twist.
So we all decided to use the vertical punch."
Eiko is right that the bushi uses the natural way, then shouldn't
we do Isshin-ryu the natural way? When Tatsuo came to the United
States in 1964 and again in 1966, he was filmed doing sanchin
kata using a twist punch. In all the years while studying with
Tatsuo on Okinawa, I never saw him do sanchin using a twist
punch. Maekawa, better known as Major Mike , on his view about
which punch was better in sanchin says it best, "The use of
the twist punch in sanchin is for exercise, but the vertical
punch is for combat." And contrary to what some say, Isshin-ryu
sanchin is used for both; as an exercise or for combat.
In 1969, I
asked Tatsuo which punch did he want us to use. In the past
he allowed us to use either the twist or vertical punch. The
reason was to appease some of his old Okinawan students who
disagreed with him. Tatsuo then told me either punch was ok.
I again repeated the question. "But which one do you believe
is the superior punch?" Again he said either was ok. Again I
asked, "But which one do you think is the best?" Tatsuo answered
the vertical punch was the best punch because it was faster
and more natural.
stupid, I said to myself, it's his creation. It is one of the
things that make Isshin-ryu. The vertical fist is the trademark
of Isshin-ryu and can be proved to make the wrist stronger.
To test this, all you have to do is get a person to try and
bend your wrist while make different fists. The further the
thumb comes down along toward the middle finger, the weaker
vertical punch is superior to the twist punch. Now I'm talking
about a karate straight thrusting punching. It is faster and
for all who do not understand, faster is better. In scientific
terms, force equals mass times the square of the velocity. Not
only do you get more force, you can throw more vertical punches
than twist punches in the same time span. it takes less energy
to user vertical punches than twist punches and doesn't karate
teach to be efficient by using economy of motion?! It is natural
and bushi uses the natural way.
The muscle block again
is the stronger block. You don't see them breaking 2x2's
over the bone of the forearm do you?! They always break
over the muscle
is natural and inevitable, you don't make change for the sake
of change or to be different. Today some Isshin-ryu practioner's
do a six count bow but Tatsuo did a two count bow. Why do a
six count bow when the purpose of a bow is for courtesy?!
numerous techniques against grapplers or judo techniques. He
would say, "Judo man do this, karate man do this." For the last
few years certain people that teach grappling techniques are
incorporating them into Isshin-ryu. I have no problem with grappling,
having studied combat judo since 1946 when I was eight year
old. I also teach grappling, but not in Isshin-ryu as a part
of Isshin-ryu. Tokumura Kensho said Tatsuo told him not to grab
anyone with two hands because it ties up your hands. Against
multiple opponents, grappling is not the best solution.
did some grappling techniques like grabbing the throat, groin,
or flesh around the waist. Also blocking and grabbing an opponents
arm but notice in over ninety percent of these techniques end
with a counter punch, strike or kick. I once attended a tuite
seminar and in a span of four hours, four techniques were taught.
I couldn't make them work. The seminar was filmed and years
later, one person in this style told a friend of mine that he
saw the films and said, "Advincula couldn't even do the techniques."
My friend replied, "And Advincula is not an idiot." In other
words, if it is too complicated remember Murphy's Law.
was not a complicated man. He was practical. He took what he
thought was the best of Shorin-ryu and Goju-ryu and added his
own innovations. He eliminated kata and techniques he did not
like. Shinsho says his father taught shiatsu te so he would
have understood pressure points. He taught some, but when he
demonstrated on you, he hit you in the tried and true basic
targets like the solar plexus, throat or kidney, or kicked you
in the groin, or grabbed your groin or ribs. At that point,
you knew you were in trouble. And to this day, no one will be
able to convince me that there are better targets than the prime
targets; eyes, throat, temple, base of the back of the neck,
solar plexus, kidneys or groin. Most of these targets, if hit
properly, can cause death. As for disabling, what is better
than the elbow, knee and back of the hand or top of the foot,
or bending joints in the opposite direction? In the tuite seminar,
a person was knocked out with a two finger slap to the side
of the neck. This happens a lot to drivers of autos who are
slammed hard against the crossover seat belt hitting the large
veins knocking off blood supply to the brain. The difference
is someone volunteered to stand and let himself be hit. Wow!
Now let me say this, I might not be able to knock you out with
two extended fingers, but does two knuckles of the fist count?!!
What I am saying
is, let's get back to the basics. If you can't follow the teachings
of Tatsuo's Isshin-ryu, then change the style you're teaching
or at least don't say it's Isshin-ryu or an Isshin-ryu technique.
When I teach what I learned as combat judo, I say it came from
combat judo. When I teach a Hindiandi technique, I give credit
to Hindiandi. When I teach something I created, I say it is
Advincula-do. Give credit where credit is due. There is nothing
wrong in teaching your own techniques or other styles, but to
say that Isshin-ryu has tuite in it is wrong.
Let us get
back to teaching Tatsuo's creation and style. Isshin-ryu. Let
us honor his style and if you can't, at least have the guts
to change the name. Tatsuo did. He said he did not always agree
with his teachers and had his own ideas and when he had his
vision of the Megami and she told him to incorporate his own
techniques, he did. It was the natural thing to do.
gave us the following:
this September 19, 1999 on the 91st anniversary of his birth,
let us remember and honor our founder. I'll drink to that.