Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, August 15, 2022

How to Take a Punch

Over at The Art of Manliness, there was an article that would be useful to martial artists: How to Take a Punch. Below is an excerpt. The full post may be read here.

 Typically when we imagine ourselves in a fight, we visualize ourselves pummeling our opponent, while somehow emerging from the melee unscathed. 

The reality is that in most fights, the other guy will give just as much as he takes, which means you’re going to get hit. 

So how do you take a punch so that it does the least amount of damage possible? 

Below we provide guidance on the answer. As is obligatory to state in every self-defense piece: the best way to take a punch is to prevent a punch in the first place. Avoiding fights and de-escalating conflicts should always be your first move. 

How to Take a Punch to the Head

When you’re fighting, you want to keep your hands up, and hopefully use them to block shots to the head. But punches will still get through. When they do, these other tactics will help mitigate the damage they cause. 

Keep your head steady (by strengthening your neck muscles). The thing that causes knockout punches to the head isn’t usually the punch itself. Instead, it’s the force of its impact whipping your head to the side and causing your brain to slam against the inside of your skull. 

To reduce the whiplash from a punch, you need to reduce the amount of movement that happens to your head after the punch. One way to do this is to strengthen your neck muscles so that you can hold your head steady when it takes a hit. 

Deadlifts and shrugs can go a long way in strengthening the trap muscles at the bottom of your neck. Shoulder presses can also work the traps. 

If you’re really serious about strengthening your neck, you can include neck harness exercises. This allows you to basically lift weights with your neck. MMA fighters and athletes in contact sports like football, hockey, and rugby use neck harness exercises to strengthen their necks so that they can better handle the blows to their noggins. 

Clench your jaw and press your tongue up to the roof of your mouth. This reduces the chance of your jaw getting broken when the incoming fist meets your face. Also, clenching your jaw flexes your neck muscles which will help reduce the whiplash from a punch, and the subsequent sloshing around of your brain. 

Roll with the punches. Imagine a speeding car running into a rigid concrete wall. The result is total destruction as the energy from the speeding vehicle is suddenly arrested. Something similar happens when you stand stiffly and let an incoming punch hit you. 

Now imagine a speeding car running into an air mattress. The air mattress “gives” to the force of the vehicle, dissipating the energy from the collision. 

When you take a punch, you want to be like that imaginary air mattress. You want to give a bit to the punch so that you dissipate its energy.

You can do this by rolling with a punch. Rolling with a punch simply means moving your head and body in the same direction as the punch’s trajectory. If a punch lands as you’re rolling with it, the impact won’t be as jarring.

Rolling with a punch takes some practice, but it’s an effective tool in surviving a punch to the head.


Friday, August 12, 2022

Three Crows

Over at Kenshi 24/7 was a post about three famous kendoka who were the best from their dojo; the "three crows."

An excerpt is below. The full post may be read here.


Late afternoon summer 1930, Hongo-shinmasago-saka (in modern day Bunkyo-ku). A tallish slender young man, about 19 years old, walked up to the entrance of Yushinkan, the dojo of Nakayama Hakudo. Dangling on the shinai bag that was resting heavily on his right shoulder was another bag with his bogu in it. In his left hand he carried a further bag, filled with clothes and other sundry possessions. Putting his bags down, he slid open the door and called out “gomen kudasai.” After a few moments a young man appeared. 

“My name is Nakakura Kiyoshi. I’ve come up from Kyushu to join the dojo.”

“Come in, sensei has been expecting you.”

As the time for keiko got nearer, more and more people started appearing at the dojo. Nakakura dropped his stuff off in his allocated space in a room on the second floor. He changed into his keikogi and took his bogu down to the dojo. Being new there he didn’t know anybody, nor the routine. 

A young man who looked to be a little bit older than Nakakura approached him:

“My name is Nakajima Gorozo. I teach kendo at keishicho and before that I lived in this dojo and studied under Nakayama sensei for years.  And who might you be?”

“Oh really? How about a match then?”

Nakajima had been a live-in student (uchideshi) at Yushinkan for six years before – at Nakayama’s recommendation – being employed at keishicho. An “old timer” if you like (despite being only 22), Nakajima was incensed at the impertinence of the newcomer. He might have been tall (for people at the time) but what he had in height he lacked in manners. His thick regional accent probably meant he was from the middle of nowhere, meaning his kendo would almost certainly be terrible. Even though it was his first day in the dojo, he needed to be taught a lesson:

“Wait here.”

He motioned over to his good friend Haga Junichi, who was eyeing the encounter from a distance. Haga had joined Yushinkan four years earlier and, being the same age, he and Nakajima had become good friends. Haga was currently teaching at the Imperial Guards and was notorious both for his rough, even violent, keiko as well as his gruff manner. Nakajima spoke:

“This guy needs a lesson in manners.”

Haga nodded. 

“New guy, put your men on.”

What followed was not as Nakajima had imagined. Yes, Haga was full on – vicious tsuki, strong katate-han-men, full on taiatari – but Nakakura was mostly coping with it, and even striking back. In the midst of it one threw the other and they were both lying on the dojo floor grappling. The battle was going on forever, and neither looked like they would concede defeat. After a while Nakajima stepped in and stopped it.

Taking his men off Haga turned to Nakajima and said:

“Well, he seems like an interesting guy.”

This article will very briefly talk about the “sanba-karasu” or “three crows” of Yushinkan: Nakajima Gorozo, Haga Junichi, and Nakakura Kiyoshi. “Three crows” was a sort of nickname given to the three strongest individuals in a field, and in this case it was the three best (young) kenshi in Yushinkan. They not only sparred and competed together, but they formed a close and long lasting friendship. 

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

A Grande Arte

The movie, A Grand Arte (also titled "Exposure") puts street knife fighting front and center unlike in any movie I have ever seen before. 




Saturday, August 06, 2022

Seisan Kata for Goju Ryu

Below is a video which examines the history, performance and variations of the Seisan kata in Goju Ryu.



Wednesday, August 03, 2022