View Full Version : Technique will beat strength?

5th May 2004, 23:42
Dear All


So many threads in one:

arrogance is the product of a lifetime's work of wanting too much,

excellence is so easily defeated through injury,

winners will lose...beaten by age.

If you get someone who rejects the teachings, and reality, of these very simple truths...what do you do?

Indulge them?

chase the lost sheep?

or chase the bird in the hand?


Tripitaka of AA
6th May 2004, 06:31
my motto is "ignorance is bliss".

I'm wondering if Ade's motto this morning is "pass the alka-seltzer".

Tripitaka of AA
6th May 2004, 06:34
But in answer to the thread title, strength is only useful if you know when to apply it and in which direction. A good techician can trick you first one way, then the other, with such alarming ease, that you feel as helpless as a baby lamb on ice.

Resistance is futile...;)

6th May 2004, 08:17
Dear All


Didn't finish work 'till nearly midnight.

Thread prompted by a returnee, 25 years away from training, decrying the demise of strength over technique with the rejoinder:

" it's a lot more technical, it never used to be like this..."

Thoughts please.


PS Dave's typing fingers are very highly skilled though!

Tripitaka of AA
6th May 2004, 09:29
Ade, you are a One! :nono:

You start a thread with a riddle, then gradually leak out the real details in subsequent posting. How is anyone supposed to know what you want to talk about if you only speak in half-sentences... :rolleyes:

Now then. The guy came back and said "this is too complicated, why can't I just hit him"? or did he say "Do I really have to know all this jargon, can't I just twist and drop him?"?

I'd love to hear some views of a returnee, can he come and give us a go, on E-Budo. Or have you damaged his fingers too much. I do hope you didn't break him... I remember Steve saying that he broke Colin Haig when he made an attempted return to training. These old faded Kenshi are fragile things, to be treated with kid gloves, for in most cases, they are finding it hard to accept that they have lost so much of their youthful conditioning. :(

Mike Smith Ichi
6th May 2004, 15:52
Gassho all

I have to be careful here as I am only 4th kyu thus inexperienced, but I have a weak side on my techniques, one where strength rarely works thus technique must. Can this returnee make their strength work both sides for a technique? If not then surely this is a good agruement for the failer on relying on strength.

It seems to me even at older age technique never changes (apart from get better) as your strength fades and correct techniques work regardless. When at training courses I am always careful of the one who looks like a fragile old man.


Mike Smith

David Dunn
6th May 2004, 16:30
I've always had 'technique over strength' instilled into me, from the first day I went to Cailey's dojo. I soon found out that Cailey got this from Jee Sensei and of course Mizuno Sensei's mission statement is about reducing strength. Has it really changed?

Perhaps he or she meant 'more theoretical' than it used to be? I would say that yes, that's the case. Since hombu made the computer graphics video and Mori Sensei became widely known I think there has been a definite movement to understanding the techniques on a more theoretical footing. What's the problem, unless you're a bit lazy and/or big and strong and never met anyone stronger? Also let's not forget that in 25 years our senior instructors have continued to hone their technique, as well as their teaching methods.

It's obvious to anyone who looks properly that Shorinji Kempo waza are meant to be strength-free techniques. Use of strength is a 'natural' reaction, and in some ways the one thing to try to lose, because ultimately you'll come unstuck, not to mention miss the point.

Michael Bland
6th May 2004, 18:22
In the 20 or so years I have been training various martial arts, all of my teachers have told me that good technique will beat strength and size.

Yet, all of my teachers have been very large men, where they never had to worry overmuch about the opponent's strength and size. I am not a large man.
I have found in my experience, that in general - bigger/stronger wins over smaller/weaker, no matter what technique you have. Relatively equal or close to equal size, then knowing a few more tricks than the opponent seems to be a good advantage.

Much of the technique I have more recently learned in the past few years works better by utilizing your body weight rather than trying to "force" strength into it, if that is what you mean...

If my bigger/stronger opponent has no clue how to fight, I have overcome them with technique fairly easily. And I have occasionally seen the rare individual with exceptional talent who has overcome bigger/stronger opponents who knew how to fight...

But I still think the general rule applies that bigger/stronger wins over smaller/weaker. Isn't that why we have weight divisions in most contact sports?

6th May 2004, 18:28
Size Matters

6th May 2004, 23:50
A year or two ago, I wrote the following in my "notebook" (okay, it's a computer file) of miscellaneous Shorinji Kempo thoughts. It speaks to Ade's thread topic.

In a straightforward combat situation--that is, excluding factors like surprise and dumb luck--two factors will determine the advantage: first, physical gifts; next, training. Physical gifts come first because they are innate. Barring all else, your average healthy six-foot-five male is pretty much guaranteed to whup your average healthy five-foot-nothing female. Narrowing the gap, a 6-foot, 175-pound guy holds a slimmer but still hefty advantage over a 5-foot-nine, 150-pound guy, assuming equal dexterity, eyesight, etc. between them. The question is, how much of a disparity in training is required to level the playing field in the above examples? The 5'9" guy doesn't need all that much, but the 5-0 lady needs a hell of a lot.

Technique/training is not useless, but I think we tend to forget just how much of it is required to make a real difference. I'd guess that hypothetical 5-foot-nothing lady had better be a good, fit 5-dan in order to stand the proverbial snowball's chance of defeating the 6'5" bloke. What do you folks think?

Fortunately we do Shorinji Kempo for purposes other than beating big people.

7th May 2004, 06:15

Strength and size gives you an advantage in martial arts and self-defence in general but it is not everything. If we look at sports like boxing, MMA, jujitsu guys like Roy Jones Jr. and Royce Gracie have shown that size is not everything. They have won fights against opponents 15 –30 kilograms heavier than themselves. If the tallest man were always victorious, the National Basketball Association (NBA) would begin losing athletes to professional boxing. If the strongest man were always victorious in boxing, bodybuilders would dominate the sport. So in many of these sports SKILL is important.

In self-defence I am a believer of the idea of acting (hit) first before they can hit you.
In martial arts circles everybody seems to talk about the popular word “aliveness” which is to always practice with an alive resisting partner in a sport-like manner. That’s okay. In self-defence my personal opinion is to always try to avoid “aliveness” at all costs. Even the US military want to avoid “aliveness” by using stealth airplanes to blind their opponents before attacking. No police in the world want a kidnapping situation to become alive where the kidnapper starts to shoot people. They all want to end it before it starts. Why? It has a greater chance to limit the damage for both “fighting” parties. I believe if you think this way size, strength, weight or age are not so important.

Johan Frendin

7th May 2004, 10:42
Being flipped by a 4'6" 70 year old man makes you think that skill is more important that strength. But then which technique are we talking about? Some of the techniques do work when strength is applied but work equally well when proper technique is used. So you can imagine the result of perfect technique and power :D

David Dunn
7th May 2004, 13:13

7th May 2004, 13:32
Dear All


This thread is raising some very interesting questions.

But it is splitting into a "will size beat skill?" discussion.

It's a valid question but it's another thread.

My; albeit obtusely phrased, original question was about how Shorinji Kempo teaching and practice has changed.

Am I the only one that's postulated on how Doshin So's original form in techniques would be viewed today?

I've never been a subscriber to the deification theory of "master of all forever" because I believe that Doshin So wanted, and designed, Shorinji kempo practice to be naturally evolving, keeping up with technology and advances, now so evident in studies such as kasushi, otoshi, hasushi, (yes Tony, it's spelt wrong!) emphasised, and taught, on screen through computer graphics in the Japan 1997 Taikai.

So I think my question is: how do you answer the student; who questions from this attitude; without snapping their wrist off and reinforcing every doctrinal utterance by clubbing them upside the head with the bloody stump of their own carpal tunnel?


PS As to the size thing I have observed that big blokes don't usually start fights whereas the vertically challenged are more aggressive and go looking for it.
I'll cite Napoleon as evidence, (allegedly 5'2" according to who you listen to.)

David Dunn
7th May 2004, 15:31
I think it has become a lot easier to learn the theory of the techniques. The preponderance of books and DVDs is not limited to Shorinji Kempo. Rupert discusses it in his book, and explains that every day in the papers there are photo by photo explanations of how to play golf shots or pitch a baseball correctly. It has clearly led to a lot of exercises and training methods designed to make learning more rational.

Anyway, to answer the question, you teach how you like in your dojo and if someone doesn't like it, then it's a free association of members and all that :)

7th May 2004, 16:53
Dont forget the idea behind Shorinji; doesnt matter how big, small, fit, how many fingers or arms or even legs you have (one armed shorinji is amazing) Shorinji can be adapted to you. In the end we all do it differently and interpret it differently.

Next time you meet a new sensei ask them to look at your gyakugote. Its a good learning experience.

BTW, great video :D

David Dunn
7th May 2004, 16:57
Originally posted by Ewok
BTW, great video :D

The late, great Doki Mori Sensei. There's an article about his theory of nage on the site too.

Gary Dolce
7th May 2004, 19:10
Originally posted by Ade

My; albeit obtusely phrased, original question was about how Shorinji Kempo teaching and practice has changed.
Yes, I agree your original question was very obtuse. :D

So I think my question is: how do you answer the student; who questions from this attitude; without snapping their wrist off and reinforcing every doctrinal utterance by clubbing them upside the head with the bloody stump of their own carpal tunnel?

I would describe this as the "back in the old days when things were tough" syndrome.

Not being one to resort to violence unless absolutely necessary, I would point out that his or her perception of Shorinji Kempo 25 years ago, was just that - a personal perception, probably based on limited experience with a limited set of teachers. I started Shorinji Kempo in the early 1980's, but I would not presume to generalize based on my experience in the early 1980's how Shorinji Kempo as a whole has changed since then.

Did this person practice Shorinji Kempo in Japan or in the UK 25 years ago? If it is the latter, I would also point out that the depth of instruction has very likely changed substantially in the UK in the past 25 years. Senior instructors gain more experience, more senior instructors come up the ranks, more people are exposed to different instructors, etc. This has certainly been the case in the US, and I think it has had a major impact on the way we teach now, vs the way we taught when we were younger and less experienced.

From my own personal experience, Shorinji Kempo always had a very high emphasis on approaching technique in a very rational way. In the beginning, this is what appealed to me the most about practice. I have always been fascinated by the underlying principles of physics and anatomy that form the basis of the techniques. For me, techniques are like puzzles that can be solved first by understanding in my head and then trying to get my body to implement what I understand. I think that is one of the reasons that Shorinji Kempo seems to attract a lot of very smart people.

Perhaps your returning student never saw it that way the first time around and isn't willing to see it that way this time. If the student isn't willing to invest the time in understanding the techniques, it is his or her loss. I wouldn't waste a lot of time trying to convince the student otherwise. But if he or she is hurting other kenshi with this approach, I would be quick to say "change your approach or leave".

Am I the only one that's postulated on how Doshin So's original form in techniques would be viewed today?

I've never been a subscriber to the deification theory of "master of all forever" because I believe that Doshin So wanted, and designed, Shorinji kempo practice to be naturally evolving, keeping up with technology and advances, now so evident in studies such as kasushi, otoshi, hasushi, (yes Tony, it's spelt wrong!) emphasised, and taught, on screen through computer graphics in the Japan 1997 Taikai.

Yes, I do think that the collected wisdom and experience of many teachers has continued to contribute to Shorinji Kempo, perhaps most importantly in coming up with different ways of teaching things. I also think it is reasonable that techniques and ways of teaching evolve over time. I will go so far as to say I have the impression that there is an older style of doing techniques that was generally more painful (not any less technically skilled, just a different focus) based on sessions with older Japanese teachers. But having only seen a few short clips of Kaiso, I think it is very difficult to draw accurate conclusions about what was always there and what has been added or how things have changed. I doubt that any of us are really qualified to make that judgement.

PS As to the size thing I have observed that big blokes don't usually start fights whereas the vertically challenged are more aggressive and go looking for it.
I'll cite Napoleon as evidence, (allegedly 5'2" according to who you listen to.)

Here we go again with yet more evidence that heightism is one of the few remaining socially acceptable forms of prejudice. :D

I will point out that in citing Napolean and your personal observations, you have not produced any statistical evidence that the majority of people with problems with aggression are short. If that were to prove to be the case, perhaps the explanation is a lifetime of crap from tall people. :p

Seriously though, as a short person myself (could you guess?), I have a few personal observations the other points in this thread. Being short and not particularly strong (I could add non-athletic and not particularly graceful to the list) does make things harder in Shorinji Kempo. But I have tried to view it as an advantage. Most of the time, I can't get away with making juho techniques work just based on strength. I think this has forced me to work harder at understanding and applying the underlying principles. In goho, so much time dealing with taller people has done a lot to improve my understanding of distance and my ability with footwork. I will even go so far as to make the generalization that shorter people tend to have better footwork because they are forced to (of course I am making no claims about my footwork vs. anyone else's). But of course I have no statistical evidence to back up that claim. ;)


7th May 2004, 19:54
I think something that some folks miss out on in this debate is that technique also includes force training. Since force developed during force training is not reliant on size and strength the force from strikes would be based on skill.

It seems quite obvious that size will matter to those who arn't sufficiently skilled.

Tripitaka of AA
8th May 2004, 09:41
Gary, I wish we could tempt you away from the Dojo long enough to wrte more often. Thou speakest great wisdom, and I wouldst hear more.;)

Obtuse. Harrumph! Bloody confusing, more like!

I think the video answers most of the tehnique/strength questions. It only remains to draw the comparison to real-life situations, where physicality usually grows from words. The choice of words, looks, body movements and escape strategy all offer ways to avoid the need for technique or strength. Again, the smart and the careful can triumph without the need for the gift of SIZE.

Then there are the dumb oxe BIG BLOKES that everyone wants to pick a fight with, just to prove themselves. Sometimes being big can put you at a disadvantage from the start.

tony leith
8th May 2004, 12:16
The strength vs technique debate is a perennial one in martial arts. In terms of practicality, there isn't much disputing that in a fair fight, a good big 'un will defeat a good little 'un. Handily, as I've heard Mizuno Sensei say on umpteen occaisions, self defence is not fair. Most combat sports are set up so as to ensure the participants fight on more or less fair terms - reasonable enough. Shorinji Kempo isn't premised on having an advantage of superior size or weight over an attacker. Ade's prejudices against us shortarses notwithstanding, I have found that larger people are not necessarily more pacific. As I've said here before, strong as I might be for my height, I can't compete on terms of strength with people who are simply much larger.

Where this comes back to Adrian's initial point is that I think the direction of Shorinji Kempo is over time to be less reliant on sheer physical strength. I'll try to be tactful about this - this probably does reflect the fact that the most senior instructors are getting older, and are finding that their technical understanding means they can continue to practice very - perhaps more - effectively. They are then passing this insight along to the rest of us in the hope that we can short circuit the thirty or forty years of hard graft to reach this level of understanding for ourselves.

This is not to deny that effective technique does depend on using the strength that you have. Again, this isn't assuming you have a hugely developed musculature, just that you can use that combination of timing and the use of your own body weight to maximise the impact of your technique.

Tony leith

8th May 2004, 17:35

A weak person with poor technique can also kill you, when you don't pay nessesary attention or when your mind is somewhere else.
But I think this is zen and another thread ;)

Time to present my eBudo sig, because I think it fits in here.

<orx />

9th May 2004, 06:04
Nice sig, Dirk. :cool: <--Morpheus smiling?

Tony, thanks for a response that speaks to the point I was trying to make: it takes a LOT of technique (e.g. our elder senior instructors) , not just 'a fair bit,' to overcome a significant physical mismatch.

Given the various points that everyone has made here, I'm thinking that it rather makes sense, if one is physically gifted with size and/or strength, to first 'train to overwhelm.' That would yield the greatest improvement of one's combat effectiveness in the shortest amount of time. (This is, of course, taking the standpoint that combat effectiveness is the goal, which we know it really isn't as far as the big picture of Shorinji Kempo is concerned.) After "establishing oneself" that way, the big guy would, gradually or later, shift focus to fine technique. The small person, on the other hand, might as well get started on fine technique (not to mention dirty tricks!) right from the get-go.


9th May 2004, 06:12
I disagree strongly with David: the video does NOT answer most or even many questions about skill vs strength. It's a great video?\I long ago saved to hard disk and everything?\but it doesn't show great big blokes trying to beat the snot out of Mori-sensei.

Ade, I'm guessing you can back me up on this. Does the video really have much to say about this stuff?

I reckon the Royce Gracie example that someone came up with earlier was much better.

Tripitaka of AA
9th May 2004, 06:43
Good point. My blanket comment had a few holes... well spotted ;)

9th May 2004, 08:06
If you ignore energy cultivation via force training and look purely at physical ability then i think there is an interesting point.

I think there is like a cut off point for humans based on the anatomy of the human body where after a certain height and weight the odds are similar for both competitors.

I think it is something to do with the weakeness inherent inthe human body that cannot be made up for.

I think that a 6ft 200 pound man could easily defeat a 6.5ft 300 pound man. Where as a 5.5ft 125 pound man would find it much more difficult to beat the 6ft counter part.

I'd say after a certain height and weight the techniques reach a physical peak. Height and weight above that leaves technique slowly worsening. Also, this height and weight peak gives rise to enough power to impact any body type because the human frame is inherently weak to certain forces above a certain amount. For instance the neck.

A 5.5ft man who strikes the head of a 6ft man may not be able to cause enough force to stress the neck enough to cause sufficent movement to cause a knockout. The neck has a maximum strength i think. Naturally our necks don't get all that stonger as we grow taller and bigger.

Obviously i'm talking about naturally large people. Maybe they work out but i'm not talking about Ronnie Coleman. I think, from clips, even this guy has a weak neck though.

Maybe it is something to do with the ability to vibrate the skeletal structure. I think the key here is the weakness lying in the skeletal structure.

We've also maybe neglected the mental aspect. A 6ft bloke might be able to defeat a 6.5ft bloke but he might feel initimadated enough to impare his fighting ability.

Therefore i'd say an old granny ,5.1ft, without using force re directing throws or cultivating force through force training wouldn't stand a hope in hell against anyone over 5.4ft.

Steve Williams
9th May 2004, 14:57
Technique will beat strength?

Pure technique will sometimes beat strength, but NOT ALWAYS.

Pure technique WITH STRENGTH, will beat strength.

We must all develop a "certain degree" of strength, to go hand-in-hand with our technique.

tony leith
10th May 2004, 14:23
up to a point. I think the important thing is to use to the maximum the physical resources that you have. An implication of the 'healthy mind, healthy body' orientation of Shorinji Kempo is that those resources should be cultivated by training, but this will be in a Kempo like manner. It is possible to spend a lot of time conditioning the body so it will pretty much withstand anything the hits it in terms of punches and kicks; boxers/Thai boxers etc routinely - and repeatedly, in the course of single bouts - take impacts that would very likely flatten me outright. Alternatively, you can spend that time training on avoiding the impact in the first place. I think it was Dave Dunn who pointed out that you can't condition your abdomen to deflect knife thrusts.

I still think that to constrcut self defence scenarios purely in terms of 'fights' is missing the point. We don't want to get into fights i.e. exchanges of blows with determined attackers - you are quite likely to lose those. That being said, Shorinji Kempo can evidently be effective in this context. Aosaka Sensei springs to mind. He's not that tall, he's not that hevaily built, he's not as young as he was, but I still wouldn't bet against him in a streetfight against most comers.

Tony leith