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Victor
10th March 2002, 03:41
In the 1925 text, "Karate Jutsu" by Funakoshi Ginchin, Funakoshi Sensei demonstrates two different fists, one with four closed fingers and one with the index finger kept straight back with the last three folded.

Most of the references to this fist are in texts in the Shotokan line. Mutsu's 1933 text demonstrates both positions, and calls it the fist originating in Shuri (though I agree his book itslef isn't necessarily evidence of historical 'truth').

Hidy Ochai demonstrated it in his 1980 text 'The Essence of Self Defense' and John Hamilton (A Senior Shorin Ryu practitioner) gave the most detailed instructions on its formation in a 1982 issue of 'The Bujin'.

Yet, that is all of the documentation I can find to date, and almost all of it a simple description on the fist.

In my own studies I was taught it by a Shotokan instructor (who changes the intermediate Black Belt over to this fist in his tradition).

I'm interested, outside of vague references, can any of you steer me to which Okinawan systems may have used this fist or not?

I'd appreciate the assistance. I'm working on a small article on how to form the fist, and I'd like to understand its history as well as possible to give some context to its use.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Victor Smith
Bushi No Te Isshinryu

Mark Tankosich
11th March 2002, 03:53
Hi Mr. Smith,

First let me say I've enjoyed much of what you've contributed here, and it seems we share some common perspectives.

As for your question, I was actually planning a similar article (as a longtime student of the John Hamilton whom you mentioned, I've always wanted to explore the history and any advantages/disadvantages of the fist) but now you've beat to me to it!

In my "as-time-permits" search, I've turned up only one other mention of the fist so far. That was in Nathan Johnson's "Barefoot Zen." Interestingly, he claims it is not a fist intended for striking at all!

I also saw the fist represented in a picture and on the cover of an historical publication (a Shorei organization's anniversary publication?) displayed in Hokama Sensei's museum in Okinawa.

Anyway, good luck with the article, and let me know if I can be of any help.

Oh yeah, by the way, have you met Sensei Hamilton?

Best regards,

Mark

Victor
11th March 2002, 04:17
Mark,

I have met Sensei Hamilton, though long long ago, and once was even given a tour through his remarkable house with all its different levels of dojo.

But living in Scranton I actually saw much more of Vince Ward's people, and competed regularily against them.

Unfortunately tournaemnts don't give much time to get close. Can you share the lineage of Shorin No Tora for me, I'd like to place the historical context of your most excellent system.

Hamilton Sensei's article is the most advanced I've found describing the fist formation and usage. In my own background I spent 10 years training with Tris Sutrisno and was taught the fist through his Shotokan background.

Feel free to contact me at isshim@mediaone.net should you wish.

Thank you for sharing.

Victor Smith
Bushi No Te Isshinryu

Mark Tankosich
12th March 2002, 04:16
Mr. Smith,

Thank you for the complimentary comments regarding our dojo and our ryuha. Incidentally, Hamilton Sensei uses "Shorin no Tora" to refer to the dojo, not the system. The system he still calls "shorin-ryu."

Briefly explained, the lineage of Hamilton Sensei's art is: Shimabuku(ro) Eizo to Sam Pearson to Glenn Premru to John Hamilton, with some influence from others, such as Hohan Soken.

Actually, I'll be seeing Hamilton Sensei in a couple of weeks, so if you'd like more detail, or have other questions, don't hesitate to let me know, and I'll pass them on to him. I certainly can't speak for him, but in my experience he is always willing to help in any way he can.

My best,

Mark

Patrick McCarthy
14th March 2002, 21:07
Dear Victor,

Sorry about the delay in responding but I had been away teaching in Belgium and returned to a hoard of correspondence, an overdue publication date for the Motobu project, and a classroom full of eager students:-)

Other than what you already know about this fist configuration (1925 Funakoshi publication) I understand that it is but one fist-type in a larger *box-of-tools* used in 19th century Southern-style quanfa. By configuring the fist in this way the index knuckle becomes a powerful tool for circular-style impacting and the nakadate-ken (middle knuckle-finger) becomes an effective tool for pressing. This (Shorei-)style fist also serves as an effective tool for pounding (Emperor stamps his seal.)

BTW, I remember John Hamilton (and Randy Schubert, too) as a student of Glenn Premru. He used to put on one heck of a demo back in the early 1970's with Premru sensei's "Meeting of the Samurai" demo team. Wow! That's a long time ago.....giving away my age again:-)

Hope this helps a bit?

Patrick

PS Tried to e-mail you at isshim@mediaone.net but it bounced!
PPS Thanks for the continued updates on your most recent translations. Keep up the great work.

Hank Irwin
23rd March 2002, 17:04
One of HamiltonSan's students, Jim Catroneo,(nidan) trained with me for about a year at my Dojo in Atlanta. Same fist. It evolved around the grip of the Bo from what JimSan told me. I have that article somewhere around here. I WILL find it and post it here asap. I found the fist a disadvantage. Could be broken, and makes the bottom side of fist weak and loose when clinching quickly. But, that is just my observation. It reminds me of Isshin fist in "feel". I worked with this punch for awhile, preferring the "standing fist" instead.:D

Victor
24th March 2002, 20:11
Hi Hank,

Thanks for your comments. Yes Hamilton Sensei's article referenced how the bo grip was similar.

While an Isshinryu stylist myself, when I practice my Shotokan technique I use it as I was taught.

I do feel it offers stronger compression over the first two knuckles. One thing which might aid its use is the manner in which I was taught to form it. I'm including it in the article I'm working on for FightingArts.com.

I found once I got over the discomfort of its formation, the earlier fist didn't seem correct.

But I agree with you, in the sense that every fist formation has its weaknesses, and of course its strenghs too. No doubt the issue is being skilled to push the latter.

Thanks for your observations.

Victor Smith
Bushi No Te Isshinryu

Mark Tankosich
25th March 2002, 00:13
Hank-san,

Having been with Hamilton Sensei for about 24 years now, I'm surprised I don't recognize the name of the student you mention. Did he train directly with Hamilton Sensei, or with one of his students?

Best,

Mark

Joel Simmons
25th March 2002, 10:37
Aloha all,

I noticed this fist in Funakoshi's and Nathan Johnson's books as well. When I asked my sensei about it, he gave me the same answer that is proposed in one of Johnson's books. Supposedly by leaving the index finger straight, you can better concentrate on developing the grip of your thumb, middle, ring and little finger.

If you were to strike a makiwara with this fist, you would break your index finger's large knuckle. Obivously, it is not meant for a "head-on" strike. If I remember right, I was taught to practice it while doing the Naihanchi, Naifuanchi, whatever you want to call them katas. Supposedly the Naihanchi have some grappling applications...anyone care to comment on the use of this "fist" in regards to grappling?

Hope this helps.

Hank Irwin
25th March 2002, 14:09
MarkSan, he "said" he was student of "Wolf" Hamilton Sensei. I believe he said he studied upstate, not exact on where upstate. He was ok nidan I guess. He had a hard time coming around to Shorinji-ryu, a little hard for him. We do a lot, I mean a lot, of conditioning. Some do not wish to go there unfortunately. Kumite is done with Bugu gear and he wasn't too fond of that premise either. He said the style was Shobayashi, is that correct MarkSan? Do you guys do Pinans? He didn't know them. Did know KusanKu though. I find that kind of odd. One thing was kinda funny but distracting, when he'd kia it sounded like he was saying Pizza!! The fist we are talking about I think could have been an offshoot of middle knuckle fist. We do it just the same way, the fore finger cradles under the middle finger. If you don't cradle the fore finger, when you strike the middle will collapse, lapping the finger over in this manner helps with shock to the hand and strengthens the middle finger for striking. But as with anything, practice makes perfect. Little knuckle strike is quite effective also, side of ear, throat and such soft targets. The hand is my sword( not a plug for the screwy-roo folks either) I guess. If your hands are conditioned properly a closed fist doesn't have to be closed all the way to do damage, but the more controled it is the more damage it definetly will do. Just my 2 bits worth, 2 cents doesn't go very far nowadays.

Victor
25th March 2002, 17:20
Hi Hank,

Well as an Isshinryu stylist, who runs forms from Shotokan, Goju, Ueichi Ryu and various Chinese systems including Yang Tai Chi Chaun, I tend to float between a variety of fist formations, finding relevence in each.

The 'alternate' or 'older' fist came from 10 years I spent training in Shotokan, and my instructor used it like a demon, posessed. I have no doubt of its usefullness, but I'm an equal opportunity performer too.

One think, the method I was taught to form it seems to make a great deal of sense. Instead of trying to close the entire fist in this formation, instead begin rolling the little finger, followed by the ring finger then the middle finger. Finish with the index finger folding back unrolled and the thumb crossing to lock it all together.

I've found after a week of difficulty, it became quite natural, and using the rolling closure of the fingers became a very fast fist to form.

In my experince when I'm using a closed fist it feels vastly stronger (admittedly a feeling isn't proof), than the four folded fingers.

But with 28 years in Isshinryu, I'm still most natural with the vertical fist too, but I strike with the standing ridge of knuckles.

So many fists, and sometimes not enough fingers.

Victor Smith
Bushi no Te Isshinryu

CEB
25th March 2002, 19:00
Originally posted by Robert Rousselot


Actually it won't break your finger................I just tried it.

Good thread, very interesting. I've used this fist in the past and I really like it. I learned the fist from Sensei Phillip Koeppel.

It is possible to break the index finger if the fist doesn't get packed properly. I know a couple of people who have done it. It is the result of carelessness, but it can happen. Sensei Koeppel and some of his senior students still use this fist method. Mr. Koeppel was originally a member of Mr. Trias' USKA so I thought the fist was a carry over from Mr. Trias' Shuri Ryu. One of Mr. Koeppel first teachers was a man from Hawaii name Adriano Emperado. One of Mr, Koeppel's senior students told me the fist came from him. I didn't know the straight index finger fist had such a history. I originally thought it came from Arizona. Again, thanks for the educational discussion.

CEB
25th March 2002, 22:14
Originally posted by Robert Rousselot



I would have thought breaking your hand/finger would be possible regardless the type of fist if you were careless.

Amen!

Mark Tankosich
27th March 2002, 01:08
Hank-san,

Yes, we are Shobayashi-based. I'm wondering now if the guy you're referring to is the kid we all knew as "Rocky." A real good guy who learned at a small state college north of Pittsburgh. I heard that he moved to Atlanta at some point. But not liking conditioning doesn't sound like Rocky; he was a tough kid. (Maybe age -- or all that partying -- took its toll :( ) Also, him not knowing the Pinans would be REAL strange. Our very first kata is Pinan Shodan! (And we don't have Kusanku.) Incidentally, I think I did your style of Shorinji-ryu (the bogu gear is the tip-off) when I was living up in Sapporo in '83. Ever heard of a hachi-dan named Ikubo? I'm still in touch with him.



Robert,

Thank you for your insightful and accurate (if understated!) responses. :cool:

Mark

Hank Irwin
27th March 2002, 21:16
I met JimSan around '93 I believe. Not sure about the nickname, but for some reason it rings a bell. He showed me a closed fist Sanchin with a ? kick in it, ok.. but he was mainly interested in what I was teaching. He did Naihanchi for me also. I like to see all of a kata a person knows especially when they say they are NiDan. He was very vauge in most of what he recalled. I know he told me he had a vehicle accident a few years before he came to see me. JimSan was good student, sucked up everything I showed him. He and his wife got divorced a couple of years after I met him and it preyed on his thoughts. Wasn't long after that I lost the lease on the space I rented and started teaching from the house. He won a Harley from a local radio contest and was in the wind all the time, and less time from training. JimSan still JimChan Haha! I have seen him couple times last year, he drives for Frito Lay, said he was gonna drop by... oh well. Might still be chasing skirts. You goils have a drastic effect on us unsuspecting guys.(if you ladies are lurking out there, no offense)I may try this week to find him again, he's good guy.

Mark Tankosich
8th April 2002, 05:51
Hank-san,

Sorry for the delay in responding; my instructor was visiting me here from the States, which kept me quite busy.

No, there's no kick in our (or anybody's?:eek: ) sanchin. If you locate Rocky, could you please let me know? I hope he's doing ok...

Thanks,

Mark

Victor
12th April 2002, 05:15
Everyone,

I'd like to thank all who have discussed the older fist with me.
My efforts describing it have just been posted at www.FightingArts.com.

If you use this link you will find it:
http://fightingarts.com/content02/okinawan_fist.shtml

Thanks again.

Victor Smith
Bushi No Te Isshinryu

Harry Cook
15th April 2002, 00:35
Just a curious connection to the index finger type of fist. I was recently shown a book of photographs featuring Mohammed Ali when he was young and lived in Miami. There is a shot of Ali training in a swimming pool, throwing punches in the water, and his fist is formed with the index finger held straight as in the Funakoshi etc model. Why this should be so I haven't got a clue, but I found it interesting.
Harry Cook

Mark Tankosich
16th April 2002, 08:51
Harry,

I seem to have a vague memory of having seen a picture of Ali posing with George Dillman at one point. Perhaps that's where he got it?

Best,

Mark

PS I just finished reading your interview in "Karate Masters" and enjoyed it alot.

Harry Cook
16th April 2002, 16:17
Dear Mark, thank you for the kind words re the interview. I have also seen the Dilman/Ali photo, I think it was in an old copy of Official Karate magazine, but the photos of Ali taken in Miami would I think have been taken before he met Dilman, so Dilman as a source for the shape of Ali's hand seems a little unlikely to me. I have been looking through the old histories of the Prize ring, such as Pugilistica by H.D.Miles (1906 edition), Godfrey's Treatise on the Useful Science of Defence (1747, reprinted 1997) etc. and as far as I can tell from the illustrations the old British bare fist fighters folded all the fingers to protect them, so Ali's fist is even more odd. Of course he might simply have been punching with a loose hand, or maybe he had a sore finger!
Yours,
Harry Cook

Joe Kras
18th April 2002, 05:01
In the 80's I trained with a Shotokan group that was under Mr. Tsutomu Ohshima. All levels were encouraged to use that permutation of forming the fist, being told simply that "it was more effective".

I have not seen it used in Shotokan groups whose lineages come through Mr. Okazaki or Nishiyama.

Joe Kras
St. Louis, MO USA

Hank Irwin
19th April 2002, 03:11
Hahaha! CookSan! Sensei had sore finger in dojo last night. Saw new secret fist technique. That's funny to think of. I only know it's purpose for backing up dragon fist, without it dragon fist will collapse upon impact. Especially if you happen to hit real hard bone. The basic punch I teach has the tips of fingers pushing into the palm of hand as you squeeze. Makes for very strong hand. The "odd" fist, I will call it does expose more of the 2 first knucles, but I find the last 2 digits grow weaker wanting to drift out of line as you clench. I have found over the years that the last 2 fingers are a bear to condition without some kind of damage to eventually leave your hand possibly arthritic(?) Certain strikes to the neck area and other soft tissue areas with the smaller knuckles can do the trick. I think the hammer fist would be a preferrance for me though, Naihanchi's comes to mind. Myself, on the street side, prefer open hand anyhow. Everyone has different tastes for technique this is obvious, experimenting with technique is what we are supposed to do. What works for ourselves, works the best. heiwa!