Philosophy | Methodology | Historical Precedence | Martial Arts Training Methods and Techniques
Most of our established Martia Arts styles or systems are an amalgamation (collection) of a number of open hand systems or styles and included kata or forms derived from other systems or made adaptions to existing forms for clarity and established themselves as a new system or style. This is best illustrated in the history and origins of Shotokan and Isshinryu Karates. In the early 1920’s Funakoshi Gichin and his son Gigo blended the forms and fighting styles of Shorei-ryu and Shorin-ryu Karate the outcome was the establishment of Shotokan and Shotokai Karate. In January of 1956, Tatsuo Shimabuku synthesized the forms and fighting techniques of Shorin-ryu karate, Goju-ryu karate, and Okinawan kobudo to produce Isshinryu. It can be said that there is really nothing new under the sun, as Soke George Anderson taught; our limitations are based on the number of appendages we have, their range of motion and each person’s flexibility and physical limitations (Hands and feet). Thus unless we grow another appendage or two then we are limited by what the Masters discovered before us.
Capturing the past - In the years prior to the forming of the American Institute of Martial Arts in 1977 and the years following the formation of the A.I.M.A. the Karate that was taught was based in Shotokan and Isshinryu, you could say that what was being taught was a Bonacci or Ciscell version of the original styles. In the ensueing years after leaving the tutelage of his instructors Shihan Palko joined the U.S. Navy and began training with a large number of varied teachers. His decision to formalize not only his original training but synthesize that training with what he has learned since leaving the F.H. Buhl Club and YSU Karate Programs. Soke Palko not only included aspect of his original training but also innovations that he has taught to his students at the Gales Ferry Karate program eventually developing it into a formal semi-traditional style. The use of Shotokan, Isshinryu, Kenka Aiki Jutsu and Yamanni Ryu Kobudo will provide the direct link to Gichin Funakoshi and Tatsuo Shimabuku as well as our founders as innovators in their respective systems.
Historical Precedence - In our current culture we have loyalties to sports teams, colleges, High Schools and other organizations but none come close to the fealty that existed in Europe in the middle ages or the culturally driven focus on honor and a strict sense of etiquette that existed in India and Asia during that same period and the centuries preceding. The United States does have its pockets of such loyalty but nothing that is so ingrained into our culture. There are pockets of such loyalty in the martial arts community but for the most part martial arts as they stand in the world is more driven to sports applications though there are rare instances where the warrior culture is prevalent in the teaching. In the years that Sensei Palko taught Total Quality Leadership for the Navy it was based on a series of overreaching themes. One of the themes was that quality was to be incorporate into every task that was to be undertaken. The second was that change was not only expected but inevitable. That the strength of an organization was not only to view what was going to happen in the future and plan for it, but to also manage the change that was going to happen and there are volumes of historical and cultural references to the resistance to any change that may be proposed.
The trend of providing resistance to a new style or system is only a recent phenomenon; prior to the Meji Restoration and up to the 20th century in China (Pre Maoist Regime) it was a common occurrence for the most talented student of a style of martial arts to either inherit the system from his Father or Mentor or the student was encouraged to leave for the big world and begin a new style of their own. After the Meji Restoration, the now jobless Samurai needed a way to ply their trade and many systems were developed to accommodate that need. During these periods it was a regular occurrence for a Student to create a style, for the style to gain notoriety or popularity and after a time the style would eventually fade away. Only to be replaced with a style that resembled the original with a new slant this was driven by the ever changing theories of sword play that was prevalent in the early years of Japan. Unfortunately this precedent is no longer prevalent, and the Major styles or systems have become stylistic juggernauts trademarked and stamped as the only "expert". Organizations like the Japan Karate Association, Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association and Shotokan Karate of America; established styles like Isshinryu, Taekwondo, Tang Soo Do and so many others that it would fill volumes if I were to name them all.
Expected innovation - In his Autobiography Gichin Funakoshi stated that if he should come back in the future and look at what became of Shotokan he would expect to see something very different. So if he were to return I think that he would rather disappointed that the style hasn't progressed further than it has and would be confused at the number of systems that have lost their effectiveness because they were made to look aesthetically correct and are so locked into the traditional tournament based techniques that all effectiveness is lost to stylistic modification that make forms easier to judge. Stances that are relegated to practice and forms training are relegated to the concept that stances are great for training but poor for fighting. The bottom line to any fighting system is that the focus is to provide the proper execution, focus and control to the executed techniques and be able to adjust them accordingly to allow the practioner be able to disable or neutralize the opponent as quickly and effectively as possible.
Unless we grow another appendage that changes the flavor of fighting then Okina Kashi no Ryu is not unique in its look or feel as a system or style, its innovation is derived from going back to the roots of the system and drawing a line to the modern day. One of the strengths is using the sciences of Sports Physiology and Kinesiology to maximize application and execution of techniques. As identified in another section it also uses the modern teaching methods to maximize its training effectiveness.
Okina Kashi no Ryu focuses on the application of kata focusing more on the practical aspects of the kata if applicable. Kata are viewed as an early database of applied technique and are used to draw a correlation between and in the system though they are not new or unique, provide the student and instructor with a link, best viewed as a historical information database of tactics and ideas. These forms have proven over the long term to be effective and efficient.
Making the Leap - In this modern day and age the proliferation of styles that you see in the trade papers or on television are usually an off shoot of a sport like the Mixed Martial Arts/Ultimate Fighting Challenge phenomenon or a as result of a fad or trend in the Martial Arts/Fitness business. These styles or systems are normally accepted as a new way to market what has captured the eye of the public at large and is generally understood that they will last only a short time. A Traditionally based Modern Martial Arts Style is usually the result of the founders recognizing that there is a need for the new style to exist in the first place and that is the hardest hurdle to overcome is not figuring out what they are doing but the backlash that occurs from self-appointed watchdogs who are more interested in creating controversy than looking at the system at hand and making intelligent informed decisions. Traditional systems generally don’t give much credence to new systems as they are locked into their established way of performing.