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Sensei Norm has written a number of Isshin Ryu articles over the years. Sensei has graciously given his permission for revised versions of four of his articles to appear on Hope Yama Dojo's website.


IR Body Mechanics

Sensei A.J. Advincula's opinions on Seisan and Seiunchin kata during his one-day seminar hosted by Sensei Norm Losier at Hope Yama Dojo in October 1998.

Seisan, Seiunchin, Naihanchi - Kata, Okinawa Style

Impressions of a weekend seminar conducted by Sensei A.J. Advincula, co-hosted by Sensei Norm and Sensei Mike O'Leary of the Abbotsford Kakure Dojo.

Your Benefits of Drilling

Sensei Norm explains the many benefits of drills.

From Stance to Stance

A warm-up activity, incorporating upper body basics and kicks, followed by the "13 point stance drill", done by students at Hope Yama Dojo.

IR Body Mechanics
Copyright 1998 by Norm Losier

This article is excerpted from a letter sent by Sensei Norm to his students after a visit to Hope Yama Dojo by Sensei A.J. Advincula.

Sensei A.J. Advincula visited our Hope Yama Dojo on October 31, 1998. He worked on the Seisan and Seiunchin Kata of Isshin-Ryu. The idea was for him to discuss body mechanics, stances, drills and bunkai relating to the two forms. It also gave our Dojo an opportunity to show Sensei how we do the forms and get his ideas on how we can improve.

Here are a few things Sensei Advincula shared. To begin with, let us say that Kata is broken into segments. These segments can be practiced and drilled to increase efficiency. Segments of the Kata are called sets. A set is a cluster of moves that fit together when initiating an attack or defending against one. It is also a sequence that allows transition from blocking to countering and the transition from attacking to defending should your attack be blocked.

Protecting Center of Mass

When practicing Karate, whatever style, one common principle is protecting the center of mass. Sensei Advincula explained the marines teach you to shoot at the large part of the body.

This is attacking the center of mass. In Isshin-Ryu the primary target is the solar plexus area. When your center is attacked, crossing your hands in front of the body protects and keeps your center blocked. When performing many Kata movements, the arms and hands are crossed in front of the body for a split second. This technique of protecting the center of mass is in part explained by redirection in blocking and striking.

In the opening sequence of Seisan we use redirection to set up a left side block. Looking at it for that split second will allow us to see the arms crossed in front of the body, protecting the center of mass. In the second line of the Kata we see again redirection used to set up a block. This time we use the palm up open hand block. By redirecting we are again in the position of protecting the center of mass. On the palm up redirection and block you must put chinkuchi in the palm up block - chinkuchi is the coordination of muscle tension, breathing and body mechanics to produce power.

Closer to Mass - Stronger the Technique

You can make the technique stronger by bending your hand at the wrist. This puts tension in your forearm, turning the block into somewhat of a strike. To test this theory, try pushing your partner's hand down when your hand and wrist are in line. Now try it with the bend in the wrist and you will see that it is stronger. The second line sequence is a 1-2-3- movement. 1- is the palm up block, 2 - is the sudden expansion of the hand as you turn you hand over palm to the ground, 3 - is the pull in motion to get your arm closer to your body. This is done because the closer to mass the stronger the technique.

On a wrist grab we can use the pulling back motion to work against the thumb and break the hold. In Seisan the opening sequences of punches and side blocks are misinterpreted as side blocks. They represent a way to free oneself from a wrist grab. As you pull back, you bring the arm closer to the center of mass and it makes the technique stronger.

The Power of the Wedge

The power of the wedge is the principle used when breaking a double lapel grab with two high blocks. In Karate you strive not to break a technique but to break a person's balance. Have your partner grab your lapels, shuffle forward to close the distance. Using your whole body, rise up from the ground, driving your arms up in a double high block. The last one fist length of the motion is brought to full tension or sudden expansion. This technique is designed to break your opponent's balance in a backwards motion.

Next you can snag the arms with your closed fists and draw them down in a circular motion as you knee-kick the midsection. If you simply break the technique your opponent may have a chance to counter your defence. In Karate we strive to break the opponents balance using ballistic methods like punching, striking and kicking.

Seisan means 13, which can be explained as North, South, East, West, the four corners, rise and fall, push and pull, your center, equilibrium or hara. All Isshin-Ryu Kata are intertwined. To do one is to begin to understand another. In Seisan Kata you lower your body to use all your weight. This is the principle of rise and fall where one uses his whole body weight to create power in a block or strike.

Avoiding Collision

The worst collision is a head on collision. Two cars doing 50 miles an hour will produce a 100 miles an hour impact. If we start from Seisan we can then revert to the 15 upper body basics and do a different technique to finish off. The double high block sequence can be finished off by using two open hand grabs and bringing your opponent downward to the rising knee-kick. The lower part of the foot should be relaxed, allowing maximum energy in the rising part of the move. If your foot is up when you knee-kick, it may be snagged by your opponent. With the foot relaxed, it will slip off the block and you can still complete the rising kick. It's the subtle things that make the difference. In Seisan understand the principle of rise and fall, use the whole body and not just the arms.

Principle of Evasion

After the double high block sequence you employ the principle of evasion. The question at the Dojo is: "What do you do when the trains coming?" The answer is: "Get off the tracks." This represents the principle of evasion. Moving away, stepping to the side, bending one way or another just enough not to get hit are all evasive movements. After the double high block you turn left 180 degrees, and for a split second, you again protect the center of mass by crossing your hands in front of the body. This posture is a Kamae or combative engagement stance or posture. From this position you can block the three primary areas, high, middle, low and counter.

Kata Teaches

Kata teaches body mechanics and application. A Kata is developed for many different reasons. One reason is for exercise. How many people would do Seiunchin if they didn't have to? The system forces you to do a Kata like Seiunchin, which teaches the low stance and you get stronger doing it.

In Seiunchin you learn to break an opponent's balance. From a front grab if you simply drop into Seiunchin you will not break the opponents balance as you are working into his power. We must learn to step to the side as we drop and spread his grip so we can break his balance to one side or the other and make him weaker. When you open your hands and repeat this technique you give yourself a little more separation on the opponent's arms, making him weaker yet by taking his arms away from his center of mass. If he catches us lower on the body, by jumping back into a cat stance we again break his center by bending him forward. On a bear hug we slide into the grabber. As we move into a cat stance it elongates the body making it harder for him to hold us. To repeat, the three primary things that Seiunchin defends against are front high grab, front middle grab and rear bear hug under and over the biceps area.

Kata forces us to use certain muscles. It also teaches us to develop combat application and physical application and mental application.

Mind Body Spirit

Kata teaches us not just fighting. If we go by the Bubishi and the Kempo Gokui, when Tatsuo told you the explanation for it, he gave you two. He gave the combat application and the real life application. Since we are doing more real life than combat, Gichin Funakoshi said "The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat but in the perfection of character."

Karate is a way of life. It is not only about punching, striking, kicking or grappling. Each Kata teaches a different aspect. That is what is so beautiful about Karate. We can all develop it for different reasons. When doing Kata you are not always in combat. In the old days Kata was a style. Most styles taught a Kata for three years.

In the Seiunchin uppercut and back fist combination, the uppercut has to come straight up so your opponent's head stays in place for the backlist to the neck area. The nice thing about the uppercut is that gravity helps us out. If your opponent weights 100 pounds we can say that he has 100 hundred units of energy holding him down. Gravity helps. As I uppercut, I can put more energy into my target so more energy is absorbed. When I uppercut I drive his head up and expose his neck area for the back fist. This technique can be used with the principle of push and pull. When you are attacked pull down on the arm and it will bring the head housing group down. This will make the uppercut more effective.

Certain Amount of Symbolism

When you do Kata you have to understand that there is a certain amount of symbolism attached to it. Remember that we are learning an Asian martial art and in Asia there is much symbolism. The closed fist is symbolic of hard where the open hand is soft. Just because it's referred to as a soft technique it doesn't mean it won't hurt when you get hit with it. The manner of drinking or spitting is either hard or soft. The Goju- Ryu people use that to mean breathing in or out, one's hard and one's soft. In theory, hard techniques done slowly are supposed to bring out this intrinsic energy. So the theory is if we do some techniques really hard and some really fast, that between the two it's just right. So it's symbolic. In the opening of Kusanku the circular hand movement is symbolic of the moon. It can also represent heaven and earth because it starts at the top and ends at the bottom. Upper and lower. So many techniques have more than one symbolism. The elbow strike to the open palm is symbolic of using the elbow to impact your opponent. It's like the explanation mark. By hitting your own body you show what body part your attacking with. Some people don't know it and start making creations for that thing.

Example, Angi Uezu said that there is a curtain and in Kusanku your bending forward to open the curtain to avoid being kicked. Yet, I've been to Okinawa many a year and I've never seen curtains in a house. For that reason I don't believe that interpretation.

Kusanku is a night fighting Kata so the circular motion is also symbolic of heaven and earth. We can also be showing the moon. The high block and low block is symbolic of shielding the moon. Can it be used against an attack? Of course it can. Can we use it to shield the eyes against the sun? Of course we can. This is where people lose the symbolism.

In Seisan Kata we use the large circular motion and pull the hands back to the hips to create an opening. Symbolic. In combat you never make such a large circle or you get zapped.

When you keep your hands high, it sets a trap. You often do this so your opponent will strike low. It's symbolic. When somebody teaches you this, you understand. Samurai movies show this symbolism to the extreme. One goes into a high Kamae and the other goes into a low Kamae, they play with that. Karate stances actually have a purpose. If I'm in a certain stance it's hard to penetrate. If I'm in a different stance it's easier to penetrate. So for me, instead of fighting you from the same stance all the time, I move from stance to stance hoping to set a trap.

Boxers do this all the time. Some boxers do what? They play like they are hurt and then baam! Well in Karate, Gojushiho is a drunken style. So they play like they are what, like they are drunk and they are not. That is deception, in Karate there is a whole philosophy dedicated to deception. What's real, what's perceived? It's never just one, it's all together.

Yin/Yang describes this. Where is the Yin /Yang in the Dojo? Camouflage and concealment! Where does it come from? Yes, China. In Yin/Yang we have the circle that is half white and half black. You notice that there is a white comma within the black and a black comma within the white. This represents that nothing is ever completely soft or hard. We always look at it as a solid circle, half white and half black. You have to look at the Yin/Yang as a ball of gases, as a sphere. It's not just round, it is intermingling and intertwining, and if we look at the intricacies of Karate we see that everything is blending. Nothing is just straight, nothing is just circular, everything is blended.

Changes In Isshin-Ryu

People always ask why Tatsuo changed things in Isshin-Ryu. I don't know, but some of it is because Okinawa was at war in the 1940s. In 1943, the war began to affect Okinawa and most Okinawans stopped practicing karate. They had more important things going on, like staying alive. They were being bombed by the Americans. One third of the population of Okinawa was killed. Look at the United States and figure what one third the population is.

The war ended in 1945, and reconstruction started. In 1947, Tatsuo opened his first Dojo. During the previous 4 or 5 years Okinawans had not practiced Karate, now they learned again their Karate and went back to teaching as best they remembered. Some forgot and some innovated. Who gives a damn, the thing is that's why some are closer, some might are farther. Today we look at Isshin-Ryu and we have 20, 30, 40 branches and they all have different interpretations. Another thing is that the Okinawans had no videos. Today everyone tapes - this is one reason things have changed.

Out of China

Two schools of thought came out of China. One is the Yin/Yang and the other is the five element theory. The Yin/Yang theory was the more sophisticated one with the merchants. They had the hard, soft, yin, yang and the blend. The other was the farmers and the peasants. If we look at the Yin/Yang we have heaven and earth. Within our own symbol we have heaven and earth. Where is heaven depicted in the crest? The Dragon represents heaven and the Tiger represents earth. You will see a lot of Chinese art with the Dragon and the Tiger. Now if we have something square and something round, which is heaven and which is earth? The round represents heaven and the square is earth. Miyagi had heaven and earth in his symbol. All of the philosophy goes into each branch of Karate.

When you hear anything that says there are only five directions, they are referring to North, South, East, West and the center or equilibrium. The Chinese also say there are only five tastes and those 5 make up all the tastes in the universe. In Chinese philosophy one represents being united - all things begin with one. When we hear two, we think Yin/Yang, heaven/earth, hard /soft. If we talk three we think of mind/body/spirit, heaven/earth/man. There will always be sets of three, one, two, three. If we talk four we talk of the four corners, we talk about the four primary directions. It just keeps going on and on. If we talk five, we talk five elemental theory or the five tastes ...

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Seisan, Seiunchin, Naihanchi - Kata, Okinawa Style
Copyright 1998 by Norm Losier

This article was written by Sensei Norm after he and Sensei Mike O'Leary of the Abbotsford Kakure Dojo co-hosted a weekend seminar conducted by Sensei A.J. Advincula.

Saturday morning a small group of 14 were treated to two hours of Hindiandi Gung Fu training. Sensei Advincula covered some Hindiandi basics and introduced partner drills to better help us remember and understand the movements.

Saturday afternoon's seminar ran four hours. Training centred on the first three kata of Isshin Ryu: Seisan, Seiunchin and Naihanchi. The following will be my attempt to convey what instruction took place, and to stand as a record of this seminar to use as a reference.


Seisan can be translated as thirteen. Sensei Advincula explains it as the four cardinal points: North, South , East, West, and the four corners which add up to eight. The eight directions of the wind. Push, pull, rise, fall and your center or your equilibrium.

Under Sensei Advincula's watchful eye, the group did Seisan kata a number of times so he could see the different ways it was being performed. This led to drills and applications in partner training.

Doing kata - Sensei Advincula stressed - means performing a number of movements in sets and these sets have a certain rhythm or cadence. Doing Seisan kata by the numbers - as Sensei demonstrated on Saturday - gives us 20 sets of movements.

Seisan By The Numbers

1. The opening movement of Seisan is a left side block (on guard position) that is sometimes referred to as Seisan Kamae or Kyan Kamae. A question was asked about whether the opening had a redirection to the side block or was it simply a left foot forward side block with no redirection. The reply was as evasive as Sensei Advincula is when he is demonstrating stance transitions. The conclusion I have come to is (and this is only my opinion) that there is no redirection in the opening of Seisan as taught by T.S. And there is a redirection as taught by A.J. Advincula. I believe Sensei Advincula does both according to time and place and who he is teaching will also play a part in the way he performs the Kata. The Hope Yama Dojo will continue to do the redirection as we are students of A.J. Advincula.

2. From the left side block position the right reverse punch extends almost fully and pauses momentarily then draws back in a simulated wrist grab breakaway.

3. Step right foot forward and left reverse punch, again fully extending then pausing before pulling back.

4. Step left foot forward to a right reverse punch and pull back.

5. Shuffle forward and double high block. The right punch before the double high block sequence should not be drawn back to the hip but should high block from that position. (Principle: Not going backwards to go forward, economy of motion.)

6. As you turn 180 degrees you create an evasion from a back attack. For a split second your hands cross the center of mass and your Kamae is able to defend an attack to either of the 3 areas, lower middle high. The double shuto to the sides should be directed on a 45 degrees angle to the front sides.

7. Step right foot forward and use your left hand to redirect the attack to a right palm up block. Turn the right palm over to grab the wrist and pull. The distancing is such that an elbow check is not needed here. The opposite hand low block is again blocking a kick from the 45 degrees frontal area. The palm up block wrist grab and pull in sequence is done on a one, two, three count.

One is the redirection to the palm up block, which should be about half way between the shoulder and the waist. This is done to the front in keeping with the fighting forward theory (push and pull principle). Bending the wrist towards the floor will put tension in your forearm and make the technique stronger. Two is the sudden expansion of turning your arm over to grab the wrist. This produces a rotation in the hand that will drive the attacker's arm away. Three is the grab as you draw your hand in to your body (closer to mass, stronger the technique). Maintain the elbow to hip distance to one of your fists.

8. Step left foot forward and repeat #7.

9. Step right foot forward and repeat #8 (palm up block) as you pull into your body to finish this movement stack your hands on your right hip and look left to your next point of attack.

10. Turn left 90 degrees and left side block, reverse punch, straight punch, right kick and reverse punch. As you complete the punch stack on your left hip and look right.

11. Turn right 180 degrees and right side block, reverse punch, straight punch, left kick and reverse punch. As you stack on your right hip look left.

12. Turn left 90 degrees and left side block, reverse punch, straight punch, right kick, reverse punch to a left side block. As you side block drop to a Seiunchin stance by pivoting on your right foot. (Note that on #10-11-12, re-establish your Seisan stance after the kick before you reverse punch.)

13. The next transition is from Seiunchin stance to a cat stance 180 degrees to the right (look, evade, counter and evade). Evade by moving to a cat stance and counter with a back fist as you step to a Seisan stance. Slide back to a cat and drop your elbow into a Seisan Kamae to block a rib attack. This sequence of movements has four stance transitions. Seiunchin to cat, to Seisan to cat stance.

14. Cross over step to a reverse cat stance (Chinto stance). Right front kick and land forward in a right Seisan stance to a low block reverse punch. Right side block as you drop to Seiunchin stance. A good drill is to reverse punch in Seisan stance, transition to Seiunchin and side block as you pull your reverse punch back to your hip. This is an example of the rise and fall principle.

15. Look left as you slide to a left cat stance and stack both hands on your right hip. Back fist in a left Seisan stance and slide back into a left cat stance.

16. Cross over into a reverse cat stance to a left front kick. Left Seisan stance to a low block and reverse punch. Left Seisan stance to a Seiunchin as you side block. (The fist of the blocking hand is one fist higher than the shoulder due to the drop in height from the Seiunchin stance.)

17. Look right 180 degrees and move to a right cat stance. Step to a right Seisan, back fist, low block, reverse punch and side block. This evasion transition does not extend as far as the other two. The movements go from Seiunchin to cat stance to Seisan stance to Seiunchin as you stack back fist low block and reverse punch and side block.

18. Step back with your right leg back to left cat stance as you block open hand with your left hand. Kick right leg.

19. Right reverse punch. (Kiai) The benefits of a Kiai are lost if you do it on a kicking technique. Distancing is an important factor in the use of a Kiai. Physiologically, the Kiai adds more to a punching technique than it does to a kicking technique.

20. Shuffle back as you make two circular movements with your arms which is symbolic of inviting an attack. Cradle the foot with your left hand and push down with your right. Feet together right open hand behind left open hand at the height of your center. Down in front of your groin area. Hands to the side and bow out.

Seiunchin Kata

This Kata is useful in breaking your opponents balance using the principle of push and pull. The Kata was done repeatedly in an attempt to standardize the form. The Saturday seminar was represented by seven different clubs so there were a variety of Seiunchin Kata for Sensei to look at.

Some points to consider when doing the Kata:

1. The opening open hand palm up blocks are close to the body and not a strike to your opponents neck area. They can be used as strikes to the neck in a self-defence application. You are breaking your attacker 's balance to the side your stepping to. The opening sequence is a set that has to be broken down to be understood properly. After the breakout you could finish with an elbow or a knee depending on the circumstances. The two low blocks are referenced over the knees and the arms remains slightly bent.

2. The palm up block and grab sequence is similar to the one found in Seisan kata, only now it is done to the side and the grabbing hand is pulled all the way to the hip. This is done in an attempt to break your opponents balance. These movements are performed on a 45 degree angle to the side.

3. Seiunchin to cat stance, as you hook a kick and back fist the instep. T.S. taught the back fist and Sensei Advincula teaches the hammer fist.

4. Seisan stance punch right hand. No big wind up on the transition from the cat stance to the Seisan stance. The fist is in place from the back fist or hammer fist. Turn the left hand over the right as a block and punch under it from this point. The open hand block follows the punch and ends up on the back of the wrist in an augmented position. This combines a straight punch and a shuto to make the technique stronger.

5. On the augmented side block do not retract the right hand in a big wind up before the side block to emphasize economy of motion. This is also an example of not going backwards to go forwards. By bending the wrist back on the support hand you can make the technique stronger.

6. When you uppercut and back fist make sure the uppercut goes straight up under the chin. The next movement is a back fist to the neck area.


1. From the ready position look left, pivot on left foot as you turn left 90 degrees to Seiunchin stance. Double open hand palm up break out block, low block over knees, right palm up block to right on a 45 degree angle, turn right hand over and pull in to right hip as you spear hand with left to ribs.
2. Turn right 180 degrees and repeat sequence #1 with left hand.
3. Turn left 180 degrees and repeat sequence #1.
4. from Seiunchin stance slide back to right cat stance, left hand open in front of groin and right hammer fist in open left hand.
5. Step forward with right to right Seisan stance, augmented right punch.
6. Shuffle forward to right elbow to open left palm at shoulder height.
7. Turn right 45 degrees to a right augmented side block.
8. Step through into a Seiunchin stance and low block over left knee.
9. On the same line step back 180 degrees and low block over right knee.
10. Turn left 90 degrees and transition from Seiunchin to left Seisan stance and left augmented side block.
11. Step through into a Seiunchin stance and low block over right knee.
12. On the same line step back 180 degree. and low block over left knee.
13. Step back with left leg 135 degree. and open right hand low block, left hand open by left ear.
14. Step back 180 degree, open left hand low block, right hand open by right ear. Right palm facing right ear.
15. Step forward to a right Seisan stance and right hammer fist to elbow. Bring your left open hand to your right elbow.
16. Shuffle forward and right uppercut. (Kiai)
17. Pivot on left foot and turn left 225 degree to a left Seisan stance and left side block and right low block.
18. Transition from left Seisan stance to Seiunchin by shuffling forward and left uppercut and left back fist (heart guard with right hand).
19. Low block with left hand and retract the heart guard.
20. Step back 180 degree to a Seiunchin stance and low block with right hand.
21. Turn left 180 degree and transition to a left Seisan stance, left side block and right low block.
22. Step forward with right foot to a Seiunchin stance and right uppercut and right back fist (heart guard with left hand).
23. Low block with right hand and retract heart guard.
24. Step back 180 degree to a Seiunchin stance and low block with left hand.
25. Left foot back 135 degree to a right cat stance and bear hug break.
26. Right foot back to a left cat stance and bear hug break.
27. Right punch to front of groin with left hand open in front of solar plexus.
28. Step forward with right foot to a right Seisan stance, block down with left hand and right back fist to face.
29. Shuffle back with left foot bringing both arms up in a circular motion with your palms facing the rear. As you shuffle back rise into a right cat stance and drive the elbows outward as you drop to a Sanchin stance Step up with left foot and right closed fist in open left hand and bow.

Seiunchin Bunkai

Defence for a double lapel grab. Drive your left shuto into his right arm at the mid point between the elbow and wrist. This will cause the predetermined response of stretching his neck. Drive your high block into the neck cavity. Bring both your arms up over his head and double shuto to the neck in the area of the trap deltoid insertion.

Naihanchi Kata

Naihanchi teaches us how to fight side to side. This however is not to be taken literally. There are actually only two attacks to the sides and they are the double punch sequences at the mid point and end of the Kata. The rest of the Kata directs its focus to the front 45 degrees to each side.

Some of the points we played with on Saturday:

1. The palm up block is a little lower than the shoulder.
2. After the leg lift the low block comes down with the leg.
3. The sequence of side block to low block, opposite elbow and back fist is done to a three count.

One is the open hand side block where the hand is facing the shoulder. Points to remember are that the elbow be one of your fists away from your body. Fingers a bit higher than the shoulder. This allows use to use the same body mechanics as a side block. Two is the down block with one arm and the rising elbow with the other. Three is the back fist to the face area.

4. The side blocks and hammer fists are to the front 45 degree area.
5. The double punch sequence is a block with the hand closest to the body and a punch with the extended hand.


From the bow, left hand over right in front of groin. Feet come together and the legs bend to drop your center.

1. Look left and cross over, right leg in front of left moving left to a Naihanchi stance.
2. Left palm up block 45 degrees to the left. Left palm at shoulder height, right hand closed on right hip.
3. Right horizontal elbow into left palm (fingers on left hand face forward).
4. Bring both closed hands to the stack position on your left hip.
5. Raise the right leg in front of the left.
6. Low block with right hand.
7. Spear hand to right side with left hand.
8. Cross over left leg in front of right, moving to the right.
9. Left side block with an open hand palm facing towards you.
10. Left hammer fist low block.
11. Right rising elbow as you bring you right hand to you right ear.
12. Right back fist to the face as you bring your left hand under your right elbow.
13. Lift your right leg.
14. Twist right and side block on the right side.
15. Lift the left leg.
16. Twist left and hammer fist to the left side.
17. Stack both closed hands to your left hip.
18. Lift your right leg.
19. Punch to the right side with right hand and left hand is closed in front of solar plexus. (Kiai)
20. Right palm up block 45 degrees to the right.
21. Left horizontal elbow into right palm (fingers on right hand face forward).
22. Bring both closed hands to the stack position on your right hip.
23. Lift left leg.
24. Low block with left hand.
25. Spear hand to left side with right hand.
26. Cross over left leg in front of right, moving to your left.
27. Right side block with an open palm facing towards you.
28. Right hammer fist low block.
29. Left rising elbow.
30. Left back fist to the face.
31. Lift your left leg.
32. Twist left and side block.
33. Lift your right leg.
34. Twist right and right side hammer fist.
35. Stack both closed fists on your right hip.
36. Lift your left leg.
37. Double punch to your left side. (Kiai)

In closing, I would like to acknowledge my gratitude to Sensei Advincula for always sharing his years of research with us. You can't read it or have someone tell you how it works or feels. The Martial Arts can only be experienced with hard work and sweat. We must use our creative minds to drive our bodies physically in an attempt to elevate our character.

Sensei Advincula has always encouraged me to study other systems in an attempt to better understand Isshin Ryu.

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Your Benefits of Drilling
Copyright 1998 by Norm Losier

Why do we drill?

We drill to improve kime or focus in a safe environment. The benefits are numerous. Development of body mechanics (Kata), coordination of breath and movement (Chinkuchi), toughening of limbs, hands, body (Sanchin), and creating the much needed hands-on experience of actually making contact as opposed to pulling your punches (Bunkai).

Let us begin by looking into our upper body basics and examine the open hand block or redirection in O Uchi O Uchi, a technique added to the upper body basics after Sensei A.J. Advincula discussed it with Master Shimabuku.

In most styles, Karate practitioners are taught to block over the lead leg to take advantage of the distancing between the attack and the defence. How much of a block or redirection needed to do the job depends on our body movement in relation to the block.

The blocking techniques should be learned and practiced before introducing any body movement. At the Hope Yama Dojo the standard for this block or redirection is one half the distance between the sternum and your shoulder at the height of your solar plexus. The blocking arms elbow (chudan uke) is usually one fist away from your floating rib. With the block at shoulder height (fist in line with top of shoulder) the length of your forearm is used fully while not being to close to the body. The Advincula theory of diminishing returns (more on this at a later time).

At the Hope Yama Dojo we teach the basics with the point or reference being the little finger of the closed fist on the hip bone (crest of Ilium). As Ippon Kumite is introduced that point of reference is moved to the body's centreline or Seisan Kamae. Seisan Kamae is lead leg hand forward, in a side block position, rear hand in line with the elbow and your center (solar plexus).

Kotekitai #2

Left Seisan stance, left side block on a reverse punch. Block is non preferred as you want to expose the center of your partner's body. As you complete the left side block drive your right hand under his extended arm (Chinto style x block). This allows you to tegate barai his arm with your right hand, to your right side, as you fold your left blocking hand on your chest. After you have the arm to the right, your left hand is in a position to shuto (shuto uchi shuto uchi) from your chest down to his arm. This is done in a static position to a series of reverse punches from each practitioner. As you become proficient at this drill, you will notice that the redirection will make the block more effective.

This is a drill not a competition, so work with your partner. Start slowly and perform the movements as precisely as possible. As you get better you can speed up. Break the whole movement down into segments and practice getting better at, let's say, the redirection and side block. Once that is worked out, add the reverse punch or the under the block grab. With the slow movements you will notice the development of tension in the deltoid area, the Latissimus dorsi muscles and the upper back.

Drill #1

From a left Seisan stance, we use the left open hand block from O Uchi O Uchi to redirect the attack to the right halfway between the sternum and the shoulder (blocking over the lead leg). As you complete the redirection, step forward to a right Seisan stance and side block under your redirection (blocking over the lead leg). Draw your left hand back to your centreline in a Seiunchin type heart guard, leaving your right side block in position to check your opponents elbow (Seisan Kamae) and reverse punch.

This will teach you to counter punch without winding up by changing your point of reference from the hip to the solar plexus. Stepping forward and back on the same leg will help you develop the body mechanics and economy of motion necessary to develop power.

Drill #2

Perform Kotekitai #2 alone. Seisan stance, open hand redirection, step and side block, cross under side block, chop down with other hand. The chopping hand becomes the redirection, step and side block, cross under side block, chop down with other hand.

This will teach you how to perform on both sides of the body, which I believe to be one of the principles taught in Naihanchi Kata.

Drill #3

Face your partner and have him straight punch to the chudan area. Redirect the attack and side block over your lead leg (make sure your stances are both right foot forward). As you complete the side block, reverse punch to your partner's chudan area. Your partner will block that counter with the pulling back motion taught in Seisan Kata.

We refer to this as "The punch and pull back drill." So, in short, one person will straight punch and pull back to a side block position and the other person will redirect, side block and counter with a reverse punch.

This drill is derived from the bunkai taught by Sensei Advincula in the opening sequence of Seisan Kata.

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From Stance to Stance: 13 Point Stance Drill
Copyright 1998 by Norm Losier


Chinto-Kusanku (reverse Cat stance)


Low block
Reverse punch
Palm up block
Horizontal elbow
Sanchin press
Back fist
Open hand block
Mae geri


Seisan to Seiunchin
Seiunchin to Seisan
Seisan to Naihanchi
Naihanchi to Sanchin
Sanchin to Wansu
Wansu to Naihanchi
Naihanchi to Chinto - Kusanku

I have always believed movement is one of the most important aspects of the Martial Arts. Once a student has learned the blocking, punching and kicking basics of a system (kyhon), it is time to teach him how to move his body in conjunction with these techniques. This drill is one way to practice changing body position, by transitioning from stance to stance.

13 Point Stance Drill

1. Right Seisan stance / low block over lead leg.
2. Reverse punch.
3. Use the reverse punch to redirect the attack and right side block as you drop into a Seiunchin stance by pivoting on your left foot.
4. Rise to a Seisan stance and reverse punch (note that 3-4 can be used as a rise and fall drill with a partner).
5. Use the reverse punch to redirect the attack to a palm up block (from Naihanchi) as you turn your lead foot into Naihanchi stance.
6. Left horizontal elbow into right palm (from Naihanchi).
7. Drop your right open hand down to your right thigh as your left open palm faces your left shoulder.
8. Shuffle forward into Sanchin stance as both arms turn clockwise and Sanchin press.
9. Twist left 180 degrees into Wansu stance and left back fist in line with the lead leg.
10. Right punch in line with back fist
11. Wrist right 225 degrees to Naihanchi stance and open hands up in high Kamae (Sunsu and the last break out in Seiunchin).
12. Twist right into a reverse Cat stance as you block with right (Kusanku open hand block). Chop to neck with left hand.
13. Left Mae geri as you land in a left Seisan stance and start over on the left side.

We use this as a warm-up at the Hope Yama Dojo. The upper body basics and kicks are used to get the body ready for a good class of Karate. We then do drills extracted from the kata - like this 13 point stance drill.

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