Lost techniques of Shotokan: Crouching Dragon Hidden Tiger

This post was inspired by a single picture which I feel sums up the Bushinkai approach to Karate. Many time when I teach chokes, pressure points and the like I’m told “but that stuff’s not Shotokan.” So it is wonderful to be able to prove it is, with the help of a picture of the very founder Gichin “Shoto” Funakoshi himself.

In this single picture he is utilising what I call the Koken choke and what some people call Dragon Toe.

I was taught both of these techniques by Hanshi Terry Wingrove in around 2006. Let me rephrase that – I already knew these techniques but he taught me to value them and taught me to turn the pain level up to the proverbial eleven.

Let’s take a look at the Funakoshi image:

Gichin Funakoshi shows the Koken choke and Dragon toe

Gichin Funakoshi shows the Koken choke and Dragon toe

First let’s examine the Koken choke. I call it this for two reasons 1) because Ko Ken in Japanese is “tiger fist” and 2) because Ko Ken (back of hand) is a Karate technique of which this is an application.

So why a tiger? In Chinese martial arts tiger’s mouth can be the space between thumb and first finger. The essence of this technique is making a strong tiger’s mouth with the thumb and finger perfectly level. Here I am teaching this technique in about 2010:

As I'm seizing Joe with Tiger's mouth you can see the student on the left observing the hand position

As I’m seizing Joe with Tiger’s mouth you can see the student on the left observing the hand position

My student Ben employing the Bushinkai relaxed breathing technique to resist the choke

My student Ben employing the Bushinkai relaxed breathing technique to resist the choke

The thumb and fingers seize near the glands between the wind pipe and the arteries (I’m sorry – I know what they feel like I don’t know what they are called) and upon squeezing the fingers then slide down to beneath the glands, this gives the appearance of the Koken technique.

When I trained with Terry he demonstrated that the front of the windpipe could be hardened but the rear of the windpipe could not, therefore the fingers must come right round the windpipe and seize of the rear of the windpipe.

Terry Wingrove 9th Dan Hanshi demonstrating this choke

Terry Wingrove 9th Dan Hanshi demonstrating this choke

Now take a look at my students cinching in the technique:

The fingers wrap around the windpipe

The fingers wrap around the windpipe

The key points with this technique are:

1) Precision
2) The two directional movement

Just as Gichin Funakoshi is doing on the picture this technique not only strikes when the opponent has launched an attack but it also prevents further attacks. The pain from this technique is so great that the opponent’s body goes into the foetal position.

Now let’s look at the second technique, the feet. Mr Funakoshi once again please:

Gichin Funakoshi shows the Koken choke and Dragon toe

Gichin Funakoshi shows the Koken choke and Dragon toe

This technique once again is about precision and the toe (rather than the fingers this time) goes in the vulnerable point on the top of the foot.

Here I am teaching the technique a few years ago:

toe toe2

And here is Terry Wingrove performing the technique on an opponent who was not usually the submissive type:

Terry teaching the toe technique in Gdansk, Poland

Terry teaching the toe technique in Gdansk, Poland

So why do I mention me having learnt the technique from Wingrove Hanshi? Well when I first trained with him (I attended seminars in Gdansk, Manchester, Wigan, Birmingham, Wigan) I was affiliated to Kokusai Budoin IMAF and held the grades of 3rd Dan Shoto Ryu Karate, 2nd Dan Nihon Jujutsu, but I wanted to look outside my systems for techniques that were more devastating. And so I learnt of the Karate Jutsu and Yawara (Jujutsu) of Terry. In 2006 he had studied Karate for 50 years and 20 odd of those had apparently been in Japan where he studied unusual old school arts like Yawara, Uechi Ryu, Kanken Toyama Karate and more. He discarded punch-kick-block Karate and collected only the most painful waza.

But what I have come to realise is that the student need not step outside of Shotokan for these techniques, they are in the system but sometimes they are hidden in plain sight!

Now movements such as this in Empi (Wansu) start to make sense...

Ah it was there all along!

The Bushinkai Academy teaches a method of Karate called Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu. It is Shoto Ryu based in kata but its applications are from the oldest most combative methods of Karate and Jujutsu.

8:00-9:30pm
Thursdays

Van Dang Martial Arts (Hakutora Dojo)
Newton Street Manchester
Contact: kaicho@runbox.com

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