Friday, March 24, 2006

Hobby Horses

Hobby Horses

by Vince Morris, 7th Dan

You know, it's a funny thing but you can always spot people riding hobby horses - they tend to stick out in a crowd!

Now, all things considered, I'm quite in favour of the odd idiosyncrasy - indeed it has been whispered that I myself have been held to hold the occasional odd notion.

However, when, out of the blue, a hobby-horse rider sees fit to launch a few barbs in my direction no-one should be surprised that the old defensive instincts gather themselves together and clamber creakingly out of the old war chest!

Sitting happily and inoffensively in front of my trusty (what a joke) laptop a while back, I found myself subjected to a discourse from a woman who vehemently objected to the fact that on the website there is a photo of a senior instructor using a firearm.

Now being a courteous and civil person, I naturally tried to understand the reasons behind her objections, which - as I recall - seemed based upon the argument that firearms had nothing to do with teaching `traditional' martial arts, and, as such, this photograph was completely out of place on a website which was connected with such `traditional' arts.

I attempted - reasonably I thought - to point out that:

1. That Kissaki-kai was founded upon the reality of karate as a proper, fully sufficient method of self-defence.
2. As such it was necessary to deal with attacks by modern, as well as `traditional' weapons ("Cherish the old but embrace the new!" Funakoshi)
3. Kissaki-kai is a world association with many connections through its subsidiary (Law Enforcement Training Services International) with military and police training, much of which utilises modern weaponry.
4. Even in the UK there is a significant rise in the criminal use of firearms against innocent victims and a working knowledge of the threat could be useful here in the UK.

It seems, however, that riding hobby-horses causes deafness.

The response I received was so implacable that it was obvious that no-one was listening to any argument, but simply waiting for the moment to state the same points over again.

At this point I generally switch off, as life is too short to become involved in endless debates with those who are determined that the world is flat and the earth is the centre of the universe.

However, this time I feel it reasonable to bring the Kissaki-kai philosophy to a wider audience, as I believe it be important that the underlying moral basis is clear for all to see.

I spent what seemed like a life-time training in what is generally termed `traditional' martial arts, only to become painfully aware that mostly they were anything but traditional, mainly being sports based and formulated since the 1920s, existing through a set of rules which diluted the self-defence element, and inculcating the ego-satisfying desire to win medals and trophies.

The bedrock of Kissaki-kai is that the techniques and tactics must be fundamentally effective in self-defence terms, and must be taught in a milieu which encourages respect, civility and self-awareness.

This has meant questioning and changing some of the training methods which were handed down to us by the Japanese masters which they had altered from the concepts and precepts upon which the art of karate was originally based, taught by the Okinawans.

The fact is, much of what the Okinawan masters taught was and is much more appropriate in defensive effectiveness than is much of what came to be taught in the Japanese-based sports-centred styles.

Now, I in no way denigrate or decry anyone who chooses to follow this way! Indeed there are many in Kissaki-kai who also train mostly for competition, and much can be gained from this.

However, we place a great emphasis upon understanding the defensive paradigms and principles of the Kata, and place personal defensive effectiveness for all ages and both sexes above the acquisition of sporting success by fairly few - mostly young and athletic - karate-ka.

In truth, if anyone wishes to train in a system which actually does utilise the old traditional weaponry, then they will find no greater supporter than me.

I do object, on the other hand, to anyone telling me that learning defences against modern weaponry is wrong!

All the `traditional' weapons were once new and contemporary!

The basis of training in the use of old Japanese and Okinawan weapons was to be able to defend against them or use them as defences against other weaponry current in the society of the time.

Do you imagine for one moment that if Uzis had existed at the time they would not have been included in their practice?

In fact, the Japanese themselves eventually even took to using the firearm. Nobunaga a Daimyo (lord), at the Battle of Nagashino in 1575, for the first time in the history of Japanese warfare, made tactical use of muskets, which had been introduced by the Portuguese in 1543.

To claim, then, that including firearms in defensive training is wrong is not only logically questionable in light of the fact that many Kissaki-kai members throughout the world carry firearms on a daily basis, but flies in the face of historical fact!

I think a concluding comment by this particular person indicates that clarity of thought is not to assumed!

If my memory serves me correctly it was along the lines that she wood stick faithfully to training with `traditional' weapons.


And the next time she is attacked outside a nightclub on a dark night and she just happens to be carrying a rice-flail, Okinawan oar or indeed a piece of stick a metre or so long, I'm sure she'll deal magnificently with the situation!

In fact, the success of Kissaki-kai not only with martial arts students of all ages, but particularly in law enforcement circles, is that it does indeed deliver training which is fundamentally technically and tactically sound, which is a vital factor in life-threatening circumstances.

The real world generally cannot be found in the Dojo.

I will add this following passage from a student as an example of what hobby-horse riders seldom have to confront.

I tell you this story that happened to me and a few cops in my city Leuven (Belgium) after the week's special training with you in the police academy of Antwerp

I try to tell it in my best English but I am sure you will understand it.

We had a call to go to an apartment in the city because a young person (age 25) had got psychological problems.

It was night and dark . The emergency medics got there first

My partner and I arrived immediately after them.

The incident happened in an apartment on the first floor of a building.

When we got there, the young man was lying on the ground trying to commit suicide with a knife.

On the floor there were already 3 knifes covered with all over with blood.

While he was lying on his back the young man stuck the knife in his throat and there was blood all over everywhere.

He already cut his throat and there was a big hole in his neck. The knife stuck into his neck and with two hands he tried to force the knife deeper in it.

A normal person would not have lived through this (his gullet was cut wide open) but this young man had taken a cocktail of cocaine and heroin and he was very strong.

While the medics tried to help him the young man got very angry, and the medics and my partners had to leave the room very quick because it was getting too dangerous.

When I stepped up to him to try to remove the knife, suddenly he pulled the knife out of his throat, get up very fast and ran to me to stab me with the knife.

Because there was no space in the room ( it was a small kitchen 3 by 3 meters ) there was no possibility to step back and get out quickly, not even to draw my gun )

I already had my baton ready and with an X-movement I could fend off the attack and keep a little distance. ( I remembered your lessons ) So he could not touch me.

Suddenly he stopped, and he threatened me with his knife. He looked straight into my eyes while I was ready to hit him in the face with my baton if I had to. Suddenly, he turned himself round and without waiting he jumped head first out of the window straight through the glass from the first floor.

We all thought he was dead now, but on the ground in the street he was still fighting us. He could not stand up anymore because his back was broken but we still had to kick the knife out of his hand and with 4 officers we had to work on him to keep him calm so the doctors could do their work.

They had to give him several injections to stun and subdue him.

They had to take him to hospital with handcuffs on. It was very scaring to see, it was like a horror movie because his eyes came out of his head because of the pressure and everything was broken in his body and still he went go on fighting us.

A few months later he recovered and went home again. A few weeks later he killed a girl in an other city in Belgium and now he is in jail for murder.

He had a history of trouble and a few years ago they almost had to shoot him to stop him fighting the police.

After all this happened we had to do some talking with the psychiatrist to get over this all because it left us all with a very bad feeling.

The leading officer from the medics thanked us for saving the lives of his nurses. They sent a note to the mayor saying that without a few cops who were well trained, his people would not survived this at all.

This story is true and happened a few months ago. I had to tell this to you to have an example to what people are able when they took drugs. After being shot in the arm 5 years ago this was a second nightmare to me. But I am very glad I had a your good training. So it is true what you always say, cops have to train more often and harder to do their jobs better and to go home safe.

I just wanted to tell you this all.

Goodbye and thank you for the fine week in Antwerp.

(Name withheld for security reasons).

This and many situations like it happen to people trained by Kissaki-kai and LETS int.

To turn one's head away from reality and teach defences that will frequently only work in the comfortable co-operative world of the Dojo, and not recognise and prepare against the viciousness that exists in plentiful examples in today's society is stubborn and - to me - morally reprehensible.

To transcend anything, one must first understand it, be it your own weakness, your personal failures, your fears, your ego and so on.

In just the same way, it is necessary to confront the worst aspects of human nature, and transform them though understanding and by refusing to accept that the evil forces will always overpower the good.

The unavoidable principle was stated many centuries ago: `Know your enemy!'

I wrote a while ago that a contributing factor to King Harold losing the Battle of Hastings to William of Normandy was the failure of his house troops to adapt to the modern tactics and equipment used by the invaders.

They were rightly and justly feared as prime fighting troops. However, they fought anachronistically, not accounting for advances in modern weaponry (use of specially bred Destrier horses, the use of the stirrup and cavalry tactics).

In the end, they died and England was conquered.

Closing one's eyes to unpleasant facts does not make them go away; no more than training with rice flails serves to protect you against scum with a gun.

Now, lest anyone takes away from this the impression that what Kissaki-kai teaches is overtly violent, I am also appending a few remarks from a police inspector who has attended both the basic and advanced training taught at the academy:

Dear Vince,

Yesterday I finished my second week's course of your self defense training program at the police academy of Antwerp , Belgium.

It's a real privilege to be able to learn a few of your skills.

It's a great shame that not everyone understand the value of your lessons. They consider them to be violent , but it's the opposite! It prevents an officer from using excessive violence, because the opponent gets arrested within a few seconds with very simple, effective moves, without a lot of kicking and pulling.

Your training builds up my confidence and makes me aware of potential dangers.

I thank you very much and hope to see you again for many lessons in the future.

Inspector (name withheld for security reasons) Belgium 2002.

I have no desire to dictate to anyone what type of training they follow, nor have I the status or right so to do; all I ask is that argument and discussion be based upon the search for truth, not simply in order to enforce one particular point of view over another, regardless of the truth!

In other words - If you see a hobby-horse rider approaching - head for the hills!

Email or write if you would like to receive an regular newsletter by post or email.

Good training

Vince Morris 7th Dan
Chief Instructor: Kissaki-Kai & IIKR
Director: Law Enforcement Training Services Int.
PO. Box 17, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 4BY


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Blogger becky said...

I just wanted to say real quick, wow. That was an amazingly (It is a word) informative and well written blog post, I am extremely impressed with the thought and detail that you put into that monologue. Well done.

And just a little food for thought for you.

You are right, martial arts is anything but traditional now a days unless you take American Tae Kwon Do. What you learn in the american version of tae kwon do is actually the original martial arts.

Most people think that the Korean style would be the original but on the contrary due to a break off in the 1920's (As you suggested) the korean's invented a new kind of Tae Kwon Do, dubbed Korean TKD.

That makes the American TKD the actual, as close to orginal martial art. Of course to get to traditional you have to go back to China, but thats a whole different story. Once again excellent post, I loved it.

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Blogger MARKS said...

Sensei Morris, you have wrote that article perfectly. In todays society we must accept that firarms are part of street violence, and apart from running away, it is vital to include firarm defence in our dialy practice. If some people choose to ignore this then they are very naive. They dont have to traing for this kind of attack but must accept that the combat side of Martial arts is intended to keep oneself safe. I would be honoured if i could create post linking this article from my blog. Please let me know using my email address shown on my blog

Many thanks


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