Today is October seventeenth, two thousand and thirteen. Today I made sixty six years of age. That means I am no longer young. Actually I haven’t been young for a long time now. Being a senior citizen means I can get away with saying some things that a younger person couldn’t get away with. People have a tendency to chalk up older people’s indiscretions to advanced age; Maybe a little senility or dementia. So if I say something offensive blame it on old age.
This month also marks my fifty sixth year in the martial arts. In all that time I should have learned something. Considering how opinionated I am I need to have at least a tiny bit of wisdom. I tend to be a prolific if not an insightful writer. That being said let me comment on yet another observation. If I offend someone in the process please remember I’m an old man. Please also remember that this old man could very possibly knock your hat around backwards.
In my several years of involvement in the martial arts I have seen trends come and go. I have watched the martial arts evolve in America. In the process we’ve learned more but understand less. We’ve developed a lot of pretty good practitioners but fewer really effective technicians. More emphasis is placed on the art than the martial aspects of the martial arts. We’ve grown more esoteric while losing much of the combat effectiveness in our various arts. I am convinced that the martial arts were developed for self defense and combat. Its development of body, spirit and mind is a happy byproduct but was never the intended purpose of those arts. They were a means of conquest and survival. Remove those aspects and you lose much of the effectiveness of the arts.
How many of you remember the popularity of point karate in the sixties? No contact was allowed because we were convinced that our techniques were too deadly for contact fighting. In those days we were determined to forge our hands into lethal weapons. We beat our hands on padded boards and thrust our hands in sand, gravel and iron shot. The kung fu stylists beat their hands on iron palm bags and then tried to minimize the damage to their hands with various lotions and potions. Some of us even broke our hands so that they would grow back stronger. I question the wisdom of all of that, but we were serious about being deadly.
We conditioned our bodies even as we conditioned our weapons. We trained like real athletes and not like weekend warriors. In those days a Black Belt meant something.
When I was aspiring for a Black Belt in the early sixties we were taught a hand full of pressure points. Not the dim mak or kyoshu jitsu that is taught today. We were taught about ten target areas to disable or even kill an opponent. With the knowledge of those easily assessable targets and hand and body conditioning when we hit a person they had a tendency to stay hit. Now we teach over a hundred nerve centers, pressure points and chi meridians that are said to disable an opponent. Being of limited intelligence and burdened with a growing learning disability I am overwhelmed with the intricacy of the arts that have developed around all of this knowledge.
Being the dim witted individual that I am I embrace the ‘more is less’ philosophy. I have taken the time and made the effort to learn if not perfect several martial arts. With the time I’ve invested in these arts I have managed to accrue advanced rank in several of them. I found many of them to be a bit top heavy. Many of the techniques they taught were more traditional than practical. I’m sure that they were more than efficient in dealing with the challenges that they were created to address but things have changed radically since those days. We no longer need flying kicks to unseat an opponent on horseback or techniques to address a sword or spear wielding adversary. Consequently some of what we were taught had little or no applicationaccording to the challenges of today.
In the systems that I’ve developed and teach I adhere to that same ‘more is less’ theory. I teach a combat system that I feel is more applicable to the needs and challenges presented by today’s society. I love the traditional systems but I don’t claim to teach them as such. Many of my students have been police officers, personal security specialists, prison and mental health workers or worked in other high risk professions. The art that I developed and teach reflects their needs and the challenges presented by the mean city streets that many of us grew up in.
My concept of pressure points and nerve center strikes is based little on chi or acupressure points. I teach a handful of critical targets. They attack vision, breathing, consciousness and foundation. My philosophy is that if a man can’t see he can’t fight. If he can’t breathe he can’t fight. If he can’t stand he can’t fight. And of course if he’s unconscious he can’t fight. Several of the said targets can be lethal but we try to avoid killing or seriously injuring an opponent. For control we use a number of jiu jitsu and aikijitsu techniques. By the way, I teach both the striking and grappling systems separately but I blend them into a practical cohesive system that transitions from striking to grappling. We teach a handful of karate/kempo kata to teach basic balanceand flow but we teach more with waza and scenario based training. Our Kukeren Gojute Kempo ( Dan Te Ryu) and Jute Ryu Aikijitsu are modified systems that are purely combat oriented.
Many of my peers teach dim mak and kyosho jitsu. I’ve studied the systems myself. I admire them for what they do and I wouldn’t dare question or criticize them or the arts they teach but for those of limited ability and minimal retention the arts that I teach are a perfect and very effective alternative.
Combat isn’t rocket science. There’s nothing scientific about gouging someone in the eye or kicking them in the knee cap but those kinds of crude techniques can bring a fight to a quick halt. Nothing complex or esoteric about them, but it’s hard to argue against effectiveness. I look at the challenges of combat as improper fractions. My tendency is to reduce them to their lowest terms. Makes them easier to work with and the problems that they present easier to deal with. There you have it. The Don Miskel approach to combat and self defense. Fighting made easy. Call it old man kung fu. It ain’t cute but you can bet your a–, I mean your rear most extremity, that they work.
Thank you for listening to the rambling observations of an old man. Apparently your studies in the martial arts have garnered you with both respect and patience. I appreciate both.
Train hard my brethren and go with God