Where is the Principal???

Where is the Principal???

“Methods are many,

Principles are few,

Methods Change,

Principles stay true”


I have collected many quotes over the years.  Whenever I heard something that struck me as important or meaningful I wrote it down.  The only problem is for some reason I did not write down who said the quotation.  So I will state right now that none of these quotes are my original thoughts but thoughts of others that I felt important in some way.  If I remember where they came from or who said them I will acknowledge it. If not if someone out there knows, tell me and I will be glad to share the information with everyone else.  It just seems a shame not to share these words of wisdom that have had a big effect on my training and my thought process.

As I mentioned in my last blog I am going to talk more about looking for the underlying principles that make different techniques work.  I will give some simple examples and try to explain them the best I can. I will do my best to convey these ideas since I only have the written word to convey them.

The Principal of Push/Pull, Force on Force/Going With The Force – There is an old saying “When they push you pull, when they pull you push.” If someone directs a force at you such as a simple push or shove the natural reaction is to push back against the force.  The obvious problem with this natural reaction is that the larger of the two forces will always win!  If someone is willing and unafraid to come up and push you my guess is they are probably larger than you are.  In Kali they refer to this a “Force on Force”. Instead of trying to push back or stop the force if you “Go With The Force” you can both show the oncoming force no resistance and you can also add your force in the same direction as the oncoming force. Then you will be redirecting the force in the direction you would like it to go. You can try this simple experiment. Stand directly in front of your partner with your feet spread parallel a shoulder width apart. Have them push your chest with both hands. As they make contact grab under their triceps behind the elbow and at the same time swing the right foot behind the left so that they are still the same shoulder width distance apart. At the same time pull slightly downward with your right hand while pushing slightly upward with your left. Instead of knocking you down they should go right on past you losing their balance and falling to the ground. The quicker your reaction as soon as you start to feel the force of their push the better the result of the technique will be.  So in this case you applied the “Push/Pull” principal with both your body movement (tal sabaki in Japanese) and with your hands.  At the same time you applied the principal of “Going with the Force”with your body.

Now try the opposite experiment and return to the starting position where you and your partner are facing each other and your and their feet are a shoulder width apart and parallel.  This time have your partner grab your arms and pull.  As soon as you begin to feel the pulling energy step forward with one foot and push with both hands on your partners chest.  He should go flying backwards as if someone much larger had pushed them.

So the idea is as you perform a technique like this take your time and analyze how and why it works.  If you can discern the underlying principals you can then apply them in other situations where the same conditions apply.  One example is in a clinch or grappling situation.  You can provide “Force on Force”and“Push”giving resistance to the opponent.  As soon as you sense them try to increase their force to overpower you suddenly change to “Pull and “Go With The Force” and send them to the ground. This idea can be applied in a multitude of ways which is the point I am trying to make.  Once you understand the idea behind these principals you can use them as the situation arises in real time in ways that you have not practiced before.

The Principal of the Trangulation point – This is something I learned specifically in Shorin-ji Kempo but that I later found expressed in Kali and Kuntao as well. Again have your partner stand in front of you with their feet parallel a shoulders width apart. Draw an equal lateral triangle through you opponents two feet and then to a third point directly out in front the same distance as the two feet are apart.  This are your opponents’ “forward weak point”.  If you move your opponent towards this point they will fall easily. Grab their wrist and pull it slightly down and toward this point they will lose their balance. One leg will come forward to try to regain their balance. It is like a three legged stool, they need a third leg in that position to stabilize them. If you do this movement quickly before they can compensate with moving their leg, because the leg is not there they fall like a three legged stool with one leg missing.  As the one performing the technique don’t position yourself at the point of the triangle or you will become their third leg and actually support them.




Have them return to the original position with feet parallel.  Now draw the same triangle to a point directly behind their two feet the same distance as their feet are apart.  This is their “rear weak point”.  Now with just two fingers push against the middle of their chest slightly downward and toward the point of the triangle to the rear.  Again they will lose their balance and have to move one of their feet to the rear to make the third leg of the stool.  There is always a “forward” and “rear weak point” and this works no matter what the orientation of their feet are.  The Panchar I have at the beginning of the Shu-Ha-Ri blog has dashed lines in the middle that if you were to connect them forms a circle.  Place your feet on any two opposite dashes.  The two dashes that are perpendicular to where your feet are become your weak points.  It does not matter which two you pick to stand on there are always two perpendicular points that are your week points.  Once again this principle can be used in a multitude of ways.  When performing any throw or take-down moving the opponent in one of these two directions will make the throw or take-down infinitely easier and much more powerful.  If you are striking and you use some triangle footwork so that you are punching or kicking toward their weak point it will seem as if you multiplied your power many times.  Lastly if they are doing a high kick and are up on one leg the weak point becomes a circle and they are weak in any direction. (one of the down falls of high kicks!)

Shorin-ji Kempo and Kuntao use body mechanics extensively to appear to magnify your power many fold.  Shorin-ji in particular is designed so that the smaller the defender is to the attacker the more effective (and painful!) the techniques will be (within limits of course).  The important thing here is not to focus on the individual technique here but to see how the principals that make it work are found in other techniques and how you can apply them to create new techniques.  You are only limited by your imagination.

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