A few more recent group pictures from various seminars:
Fürth, Germany, May 2015
Jena, Germany, April 2015
Sweden March 2015
Belgium - Autumn Camp 2013
7/8/9 June: US Summer Camp
As every year we hold the US summer camp in the Kissaki honbu dojo in Marlton, NJ. This year in particular was an excellent event with a lot of visitors from the UK, Ireland, Canada, CA, AZ, CO, GA, NC, VA, DC and CT.
As special guests we had Sensei Chuck Merriman, the head of Jundokan and Sensei Elmar Schmeisser, treasurer of ISOK.
Training literally kicked off at a fast pace on Friday evening with basic Kissaki training by Sensei Vince Morris and Sensei Matt Knorr to introduce and reinforce the basic concepts and rules of combat and get the hips moving. Saturday was held at the Blue Barn Rec Center and for the main part dealt with weapons defenses. Looking back historically,
the need to defend against weapons would have been been a major concern for anyone practicing self-defence in rural Japan or Okinawa. The fact that karate is an empty hands defensive art does not mean that it only deals with empty-handed attacks! Sensei Steve Montgomery taught the importance of movement, tai sabaki and the flow of power.
Sunday morning training, held by Sensei Steve Montgomery and Sensei Vince Morris, was a little gentler on the by now tired bodies and included some flow-drills, where the emphasis was placed again on smooth movement versus strength alone.
Above: The last men and women standing on Sunday. We would also like to congratulate Sensei Maziar Kakhi (back row, 4th from right) to his Sandan, Sensei Robin Short (bottom row center) to his Nidan, Sensei Carl Dann (back, 6th from right) also to Nidan and Scott Underwood (bottom, 4th from right) to his Shodan in Kissaki. They have truly understood and mastered the principles of Kissaki and have integrated it into their art and their teaching.
11/12 May 2013 in Fürth, Germany
The area around Fürth is one of the bunkai centers in the otherwise still very exclusively sport karate orientated Germany, and right from the planning stages it was evident that the organisers knew what they wanted: Saturday morning was spent introducing some Kissaki principles and techniques and then straight on to bunkai: Saturday afternoon was spent on the Heian Kata, then on bunkai from Jion. Sunday was entirely dedicated to Gojushiho Dai (in the local dojo's system called Gojushiho Sho). The participants had a wide-ranging background from Shotokan Karate to Ju Jitsu, but it was clear that most had already encountered 'realistic' bunkai and were following the techniques presented eagerly and with great skill.
This was the first seminar Sensei Vince has held in Germany for many years and it turned out to be a very well-attended event, where it would have been impossible to ask for a warmer welcome or a better host! We would like to thank Sensei Joachim Merkl and the TV Fürth 1860 again for holding this course and we look forward to seeing everyone again soon.
More pictures can be found here:
Mini-Seminar in Marlton, NJ
The popular Mini-seminars in the Marlton (NJ) dojo have become a bit of a regular feature by now. Roughly every other month we have what can be called an 'open mat' for regular Kissaki students, as well as practitioners from other styles who would like to try out Kissaki. Training consists of three sessions: Friday night, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon, for a minimal mat fee. Participants who have travelled from further afield can also stay overnight in the dojo to save on hotel costs. Not only has the Marlton dojo seen a regular stream of visitors from DC, but also from other places, even as far away as GA. We will continue this tradition in the New Year and welcome everyone to take part. Please check out the 'Seminars' page for the next date.
Mini-seminar Dec 2012
Mini-seminar August 2012
Eastbourne, UK, October 2012
Many long-time Kissaki karate-ka as well as a good number of martial artists new to Kissaki Kai enjoyed the day's training. The techniques covered a variety of defensive situations as well as some new bunkai from the kata Jion, focussing on manji gamae.
"Many thanks for a fantastic day of karate yesterday. I greatly enjoyed it and (I think) learned a lot; Thanks also for the warm welcome your kissaki guys give us; their patience and eagerness to help us newcomers is amazing."
And many thanks to those who regularly travel far to attend these seminars for supporting Kissaki-Kai.
Summer Camp NJ June 2012
Every year the Kissaki USA honbu dojo holds a summer camp. Invited are Kissaki members from dojos world-wide as well as Martial Artists, who are not directly affiliated with Kissaki, but are interested in the special approach to karate that our organization takes. This year we had a truly international attendance: Visitors from Belgium, UK, Ireland, Canada, and of course from other states in the US, namely AZ, TX, MI, OH, and DC.
Training started on Friday evening June 1st with a sweaty class held by Sensei Matt and most enjoyed a qui-et drink afterwards. Saturday’s training was located in the Blue Barn as the dojo would not have provided suf-ficient space. The first two segments were taught by Sensei Vince and comprised basic Kissaki techniques and some self-defense applications based on kata moves. This was followed by a short lunch break and a test for adults from the Marlton dojo as well as some visitors. We are congratulating a number of students on their new kyu grades, but especially Sam Stolyar on achieving his shodan, Kathy Brosof and Eva Morris on yondan, Tim Parker and Phil Oakes on godan! Very well deserved promotions!
After this interval the Belgian Head Instructor, Sensei Guy Janssens taught the kata Aragaki Seisan as well as bunkai from it and the day finished with knife defenses taught again by Sensei Vince. The well-deserved evening meal turned out to be a long drawn-out affair with many celebratory drinks consumed. The 7am start on Sunday morning scared off all but the die-hards, who enjoyed a couple of hours’ instruction by Sensei Steve and Sensei Phil Oakes from Michigan.
We here in Marlton are spoiled by the presence of so many good karate-ka who are expert in the Kissaki-Kai system, so you may be interested in the thoughts of Scott from Arizona, who does not get to train with us so often and is a member of the ’Distance Learning’ website:
To this day, my memories of that first night at camp are still hazy at best. When Friday night class was dis-missed, I realized that Kissaki-Kai and the other attendees were the real deal. This was much more intense than anticipated. Sensei Vince would later tell me that I looked shell shocked! I arrived for the Saturday training, full of humility, keeping my mouth shut and trying my best. I found cogni-tive thought within my grasp by the middle of the day. Somewhere along the line, realization that I was begin-ning to absorb a lot of information and technique set in. The camp was structured perfectly. Every new lesson, built upon the last. I can't name a favorite day, lesson, technique, or teacher, but I can tell you that at Sunday's post training breakfast, I found myself deeply sad-dened. I didn't want to leave. I wanted to call my Sensei back home, and start writing down all the things I wanted to share before they were lost. I also wanted to call my supervisor and put in for an immediate trans-fer to New Jersey…
Want to know what Kissaki-Kai Summer Camp was like? Gichin Funakoshi already wrote about it when he stated: "You cannot explain the taste of blowfish to a man who has never tasted it."
For more pictures of the camp, please visit our photo gallery: http://x.co/l8jO
Washington DC, April 2012
The DC Shotokan club has added the study of bunkai to their syllabus for quite a few years now. A number of students regularly embark on the 3 hour journey to the Kissaki honbu dojo in New Jersey for the Friday / Saturday Mini Seminars to immerse themselves in Kissaki. They in turn regularly practice what they have learned in their own club on Tuesday nights under the tuition of Maziar Kakhi, 4th dan Shotokan, 2nd Dan Kissaki Kai.
Above: Sensei Vince is demonstrating a sequence with Maziar.
Eastbourne March 2012
As on most seminars, Sensei Morris showed a number of applications from kata. Above and below: Empi
Phoenix AZ, January 2012
After several years Sensei Morris came back to Arizona for a seminar this January. The attending martial artists came from a wide variety of backgrounds, but shared the wish to make their art more effective. Sensei Morris presented an overview of Kissaki techniques and how, together with the Rules of Combat', these can be used in self-defense situations.
Other aspects of the training dealt with kata bunkai and how the moves in kata are often misinterpreted due to historical loss of meaning, obfuscation or simple ignorance of what works and what doesn't. Below a few comments of participants: "Thanks so much for trekking to Phoenix this past weekend. I enjoyed meeting the both of you very much, and the seminar was just fantastic. I felt very privileged to be there."
"It was a very great honor and pleasure to meet you and Eva at the seminar last Saturday. It was a real eye-opener for me. I learned a lot, and I realize now that I certainly need to learn a great deal more!"
"It was well worth the trip from California for this training. Sensei Morris was unbelievably down-to-earth, and truly enjoyed sharing his knowledge with the rest of us. Safety of everyone was high on his list, our thirst for knowledge was e...xpanded by his openness, willingness, and friendly demeanor of not only him but also of his wife. I truly enjoyed myself obtaining more knowledge in the martial arts and being able to meet such a nice down-to-earth, no-nonsense, martial arts instructor."
"Great seminar. I also believe it was worth the trip from California. Finally many of my question were answered. Looking forward to another seminar. OSU"
Many thanks to those who took the trouble to travel many miles to attend.
Pictures courtesy of OJ Guerra (bottom row 1st left), who must be menioned for his exceptional photography.
A big "Thank You" must also go to the organizer, Sensei Rod Elliott, who made everyone feel extremely welcome and who even threw a little party in the evening. And "Thank you for your friendship" also to Sensei Chuck Merriman and for his support of the event.
Firearms course, Marlton NJ, January 2011
On Jan 31st and Feb 1st 2011, participants came from the South (Georgia) the North East (New York) the UK , Michigan and local New Jersey to take part in the first Basic Firearm Skills course in Marlton, NJ, USA. Some attendees already had familiarity with firearms, others came with no experience at all. The purpose of the two-day training was to introduce them to a number of different types of weapons (revolver, semi-automatic) in different calibers, in a safe environment under the control of an expe-rienced NRA certified instructor, Jose Morales. However, the first part of the course (day one) was devoted to developing defensive skills in two areas: Weapon retention and weapon disarming. Beginning with plastic guns, the participants practiced disarming an attacker from various posi-tions and scenarios, leading to training with special replica firearms that actually fired plastic ammunition. This later enabled the defenders to gain confidence in their abilities to disarm an assailant without getting shot, and being initially struck by the plastic ammo added an urgency and realty to the training! (Obviously, proper protection was worn for this exercise).
The second day was spent learning familiarity with a variety of guns, then at the range with each person having to achieve a passing live-fire score and answer a series of questions to gain the NRA basic certificate in firearm competence. All the participants gained this award!
Weapons Defence Seminar with Sensei Don Came, January 2011
Ok, so here I am tired and carrying the usual bruises after a typically effective seminar by Sensei Don Came; this time on the subject of weapons defence. He held it at his own dojo (www.karateacademy.org.uk) in Eastbourne, UK and it was filled to the brim with eager students with loads of different experience levels.
The three hour course focused on knife defence, it being the most likely weapon that you could be attacked with here in Britain. Don outlined angles of attack in both slashes and stabs before systematically approaching methods of attacking the weapon-wielding limb.
"Attack" being a critical point here, in that you aim to destroy the opponent's arm rather than simply blocking his attack. It's a much less passive response and is infinitely more practical when dealing with a weapon threat.
Sensei Don utilised natural physical responses, such as the flinch reflex, and turned them into powerful weapon stopping blows that avoided messy, complex and dangerous grabs and locks. Opting instead to damage and trap the attacking arm at the same time as delivering strong percussive strikes with whatever 'weapon', head, elbow, fist, knee and so on, was closest to an appropriate target on the aggressor.
He kept the arm stopping techniques to simple variations on kosa uke (seen, for example, in the second move of Heian Sandan) thus jamming and simultaneously attacking a limb. Then easily trapping it whilst your free hand does damage elsewhere on the attacker. Speed, domination and not stopping till it's over were emphasised and reinforced by a line up drill at the end of the day where we were attacked in turn by the rest of the seminar class.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves; we all picked up useful skills and drills; plus the pizza dinner post-seminar was delicious! Looking forward to the next course in February, covering Bassai/Passai and Tekki/Naihanchi.
Jon Sloan, 2nd Dan Kissaki Kai, Jan 2011
Kanku-Dai: An Odyssey of Kata Application
A Review of Sensei Morris’s Double DVD set
by Maziar Kakhi (Washington DC Shotokan Karate Club).
Kanku-Dai is the longest Kata in the Shotokan system and its study is particularly important because it can be considered as a hub for many of the techniques found in other Shotokan Katas. This also means that understanding the principles of the Bunkai behind the major Waza in Kanku-Dai opens numerous doors towards a clearer interpretation of related moves found in other Kata.
Sensei Morris points out that the current double DVD set supersedes its predecessor in order to account more adequately for the ‘Rules of Combat’. These rules are a set of principles that apply to any martial art (whose primary objective is self-defense, not competitive sport) and when adhered to, ensure that any technically plausible interpretation of the Kata moves is rendered combat effective. If it isn’t combat effective, it will only work in the Dojo under simulated (and invariably unrealistic) conditions.
Describing this DVD set as an ‘odyssey of Kata application’ is an apt characterization due to the breadth of ground that is covered. The various applications for just the opening (signature) move of the Kata take up the first twenty minutes of disc 1 and focus on the flinch reflex response which typifies the so-called ‘Kanku-Dai paradigm’. This also highlights how inappropriate it is to dismiss the opening move as merely a “salutation” or “greeting”, as described in certain publications devoted to Bunkai .
Sensei Morris’s approach to teaching Bunkai incorporates a unifying theme by virtue of the Rules of Combat. For example, “once you gain control, you never give it back” constitutes the guiding principle for all of the drills where a joint lock is performed. As Sensei Morris points out in his seminars, the Kata moves are symbolic and their Bunkai should be interpreted as a box of tools that by no means have to be applied sequentially to satisfy the step-by-step choreography of the Kata. In other words, it’s perfectly acceptable to apply two sets of Bunkai in one drill stemming from moves at the start and the end of a Kata, as long as it takes care of business efficiently. Furthermore, it is essential to add Ko-Waza (e.g. head butts, slaps, eye gouges, elbow/knee strikes, etc.), where appropriate, to ensure that the (major) O-Waza can be applied in a real-life situation.
Hip/shoulder/neck throws, take-downs, arm bars, joint locks and thigh kicks (a non-exhaustive list!) occur repeatedly in different applications. By way of example, I will refer to the straight punch, inside block combination near the beginning of the Kata (Choku-zuki, Uchi-uke). One application scenario assumes the assailant grabs your lapel and is preparing to strike you with the other (free) arm. As always, all of Sensei Morris’s applications make use of at least one or more Rules of Combat. In this case, the primary response is to shift to the side (at 45 degrees) from the danger posed by the assailant’s free arm which is ready to strike. At the same time, the Choku-zuki is enhanced by use of Nakadaka-ken-zuki (middle finger knuckle strike) either to the floating ribs or the solar plexus. This straightens the assailant’s grabbing arm and exposes the lung-5 pressure point. The innocuous ‘Uchi-uke’ in the Kata is interpreted, at first, as a strike to the lung-5 pressure point. This naturally forces the assailant’s posture to be compromised and, in turn, exposes the side of his neck. Consequently, the drill instantly follows-up with an immediate strike to the gall bladder 20 or large/small intestine points on the neck. None of the moves in this drill are redundant. Furthermore, they each depend on the successful execution of their predecessor, and if performed correctly lead to a knock-out very quickly and with little effort on the part of the defender. The final strike to the neck is likened to the opening move in Bassai-Dai. This exemplifies Sensei Morris’s understanding of Bunkai as a holistic body of knowledge and reinforces the observation he makes in his Nijushiho DVD, namely, that you don’t need to know a multitude of Katas to perform good effective applications. The same applications are very often seen over and over again.
To go into the detail of all the various Bunkai conveyed in this double DVD set would transform this review into a very long thesis. It makes much more sense to watch the DVDs. I highly recommend it to any serious practitioner of Karate who aspires to understand how his/her ‘martial art’ is worthy of that designation.