Grappling with the Hambo

Dr. William Durbin

When it comes to bludgeon type weapons that are actually handy for self defense, there is none better than the Hambo, or half stick. Known actually by many different names, this weapon is one of the best all around, practical items of self defense. Some styles refer to it as the Tambo, short stick, and among police officers that train in Japanese law enforcement tactics it is known as the Keibo, simply, police stick.

The reason this weapon is so practical is that the techniques practiced with a stick ranging from one foot to three feet, according to which style you train in, can be applied to many everyday items, such as, a ruler, an umbrella, a rolled up newspaper or magazine, small gardening tools, hammers, and many more.

Striking

Primarily, weapons such as this have one main emphasis, the striking of an opponent. In too many situations people try to go into advanced grappling skills without realizing that if a person is not stunned or disabled before hand, they will be able to fight a grappling attempt off fairly easily. It takes a lot of precision to enter into a grappling technique, without having first loosened up the opponent with some type of strike.

Even when one has mastered such grappling skills, it is still best to weaken an opponent first with strikes, but they can be directed at the limbs, rather than the body. However, if there is any question as to whether or not a person can be handled, then strikes to actual vital points should precede any grappling attempt.

The Aiki Flow that Prevents Injuries

Dr. William Durbin

In the rush of developing effective martial arts skills, especially those designed for true combat, including self defense, there are those who forget that there are many situations where it is best not to hurt or kill an opponent. Anyone who has been trained in real combat martial arts knows the necessity of learning lethal responses, but those who have walked the streets in law enforcement know that restraining techniques are much more in demand on a daily basis, than killing techniques. Those who have worked in institutions for the mentally ill, retarded, or substance abuse, will tell you that the people they deal with, while many times very violent, are actually good people who have problems that need to be controlled, and not the kind of people that need physical abuse added to their already pressing problems. And for those who have had to deal with irate family members, or a loved one high on drugs or alcohol, any response that would seriously injure or kill is emotionally and spiritually unacceptable, but the situation must still be dealt with.

Thus for those situations, it is necessary to be able to use some type of restraint, that will safely control, but not seriously injure, the violent party. This begins with what can be called Aiki skills. Aiki skills are those joint techniques and body unbalancing methods, that allow a martial artist to control and/or throw an assailant. It must be understood that the skills associated with Aiki were combat techniques, originally designed to damage and kill on the battlefield.

It is a common misunderstanding that Aikido is a totally safe martial art which can be used on an attacker without doing harm to him. But this is a total misconception. Thanks to Steven Seagal, this is one misunderstanding that is being cleared up. Aikido master Seagal has shown in some of his movies the devastating results of many of the Aikido techniques carried to their fullest combat extreme. What people need to realize is that while they may intend to apply a technique gently to an attacker, hoping to exercise soft control of the person, without doing any damage, it is possible that the aggressor will react and move with resistance, so that they actually become injured.

Aiki’s so called gentle techniques are designed to damage joints, break bones, and tear ligaments or muscles. Remember, the art was developed for use against a sword wielding opponent. To not do damage to the attacker was to invite death by the blade. Thus the original purpose of the techniques was to damage or kill. But as time passed, as Samurai were called upon to guard castles and people, they were required to be able to control and capture people rather than kill. At this point the art began to develop changes in the application of the skills so that the damage was avoided or minimal.

This happened both on Japan and Okinawa. In example, Sokaku Takeda was told by his master, Tanomo Saigo, that the time of the sword was past and that the time of empty hand control had come. This is the art that Morihei Ueshiba learned from Takeda and so influenced the control and gentleness of Aikido. In Okinawa, the Motobu family was involved in protecting the Okinawan king, as such their skills needed to be exemplary. Since they were responsible for maintaining security and peace, they were just as likely required to capture and interrogate an assailant, as to kill him. The art of the Okinawan royalty was known as Bushi Te, the warrior hand, and was composed of deadly striking skills, superb weapon skills, and grappling techniques. In modern times the Okinawan grappling techniques are currently being taught under various names, some being; Gyakute, Torite, Tuite, and Toide. Thus the highest level of the ancient art was considered the ability to seize and control a person without resorting to hitting. Both arts have devastating strikes, both arts were developed so that one blow could kill, and both arts felt that the highest level of skill was in not having to use a single strike to begin with.

In order to use the skills in such a way that the assailant will not be hurt, it is first and foremost important to learn how to feel the flow of the energy of the attacker. In Aiki parlance that is to feel the opponent’s Ki. Once you can feel the energy flow of an attack, then it is possible to Ryu Ki, flow with the energy, in order to take control of the attacker and down him/her. When the situation is a straight forward defense, without regard to the safety of the aggressor, such as in a life and death situation, then the move is carried through to it’s natural conclusion. In many of the techniques, such as Kotegaeshi, wrist reversal, or Ikkyo Udeosae, first teaching arm press, this can mean that the joint is dislocated, the ligaments holding it together are torn, and bones can be broken. This is especially true when the attacker fights against the hold, there comes a point where it is impossible to break a properly applied technique, and resistance only causes extreme damage to the restrained person. A story in relation to this is that of a police officer applying the Ikkyo on the arm of a person being arrested. The officer intended to take the man down and handcuff him. As the officer applied downward pressure to put the person on the ground, he forcefully stood up, however the arm broke.

But there are times, whether making an arrest or dealing with some other type of situation, where it just is not considered appropriate to allow that type of result to occur. In that situation both advanced Aiki and Bushi Te skills teach the ability to flow from one technique, into one that is at the opposite extreme of movement. In example, if a defender were to apply a Kotegaeshi, wrist reversal, on an attacker, if the person were to try and push out of the technique, the result, if the lock is applied properly, would be a broken wrist. However, if the defender is a high level martial arts practitioner with Aiki or Bushi Te skills, then as the assailant began to resist the technique, the defender would feel the resistance, flow in the direction of the newly generated force, and blend the movement into a new lock, such as a Wakigatame, armpit lock.

The value of this skill is self evident. If a person can flow with the force generated by an attacker, then it is possible to keep from having to hurt or damage an assailant, and yet maintain control of the person, regardless of what s/he does. This skill would be of obvious benefit for people in all walks of life. Police officers, nurses, therapists, and other people in situations where they work with people who are prone to violent behavior, could have a confidence in taking care of and controlling the people under their care, without injuring them.

Moreover, with the current situation in the world, if parents could learn these skills, then they could deal with violent children without having to harm them. In a day in age where many children are literally overly violent towards the parents and grandparents, this would be a very special gift that could provide a level of protection and security for all people involved. In just the last year, in the author’s area, a daughter has stabbed her mother to death, a granddaughter beat her grandmother to death, a wife had her husband killed by a third party, and a man beat his fiancee to death. While these events cannot be guaranteed to be stopped by martial arts training, it does give us pause to think of how Gichin Funakoshi, at age eighty six, was attacked by a young man, wanting to rob him, and with one simple technique, he

Meditations on Kiyojute Ryu

Bob Pruitt

I open this brief meditation with an apology. It is a self-serving manuscript. I have been meditating a great deal as of late on the Shihan (master level) pretest in Kiyojute Ryu Shogei Toitsu Kempo. As I arrive at this stage in my martial arts sojourn, I find myself wanting to share where I’ve been, what I’ve learned, and to communicate the richness of the true Toyo Kempo Bugei. Consider it the story of a typical martial artist in the United States during a time where the silly competitions of relatively untrained gladiators are the buzz of the moment. I began training in 1992 as an utter child of eleven years. I did not seek training but sort of fell into it when my younger brother was put in a martial arts program to help him conquer his shyness. I still remember walking into the school for the first time when an extremely large blonde man greeted us and took us through an introductory class. I was enraptured by the students running about in crisp, white uniforms and wearing a plethora of multi-colored belts with stripes down the middle and on the tips. My brother joined, and I joined because he did. After five years I was a second degree black belt, and I knew everything that the system taught. I say this not to be ostentatious but as a statement of simple fact. Every solo form, every two man set, every basic movement, I knew. To advance, I needed one crucial thing—age. The way the system was set up you were not allowed to test for certain ranks until you were older. For example, you had to be twenty to be a third degree. As such, I was sitting perfectly still, staring into the growling maw of a four-year-wait for my sandan test in which I was to learn absolutely nothing new. In such a situation, what is an inquiring mind to do?

Advanced Training with the Hambo:  Grappling with the Weapon

Dr. William Durbin

When it comes to bludgeon type weapons that are actually handy for self defense, there is none better than the Hambo, or half stick. Known actually by many different names, this weapon is one of the best all around, practical items of self defense. Some styles refer to it as the Tambo, short stick, and among police officers that train in Japanese law enforcement tactics it is known as the Keibo, simply, police stick.

The reason this weapon is so practical is that the techniques practiced with a stick ranging from one foot to three feet, according to which style you train in, can be applied to many everyday items, such as, a ruler, an umbrella, a rolled up newspaper or magazine, small gardening tools, hammers, and many more.

Striking

Primarily, weapons such as this have one main emphasis, the striking of an opponent. In too many situations people try to go into advanced grappling skills without realizing that if a person is not stunned or disabled before hand, they will be able to fight a grappling attempt off fairly easily. It takes a lot of precision to enter into a grappling technique, without having first loosened up the opponent with some type of strike.

Even when one has mastered such grappling skills, it is still best to weaken an opponent first with strikes, but they can be directed at the limbs, rather than the body. However, if there is any question as to whether or not a person can be handled, then strikes to actual vital points should precede any grappling attempt.

One other point that needs to be definitely emphasized is that grappling techniques with the Hambo should not even be attempted in a multiple attack situation. Rather the person should practice avoidance techniques and seek to deliver strikes to vital points on each person that comes in range. To attempt a grappling technique, when another person could move in on you while you are engaged with another, is suicide.

Chushin--The Extreme Need for the Middle Mind

Bob Pruitt

I’ve been quite struck as of late by the absence of the middle mind in the world today. The middle mind, or chushin, is of great importance in martial arts practice; chushin teaches the martial artist the importance of avoiding extreme reactions and imbalanced thoughts. It also teaches the impartial consideration of all information when assessing a situation or making a choice. While any number of examples could be used to lament the ubiquitous extremism of our day, let us narrow our consideration to the martial arts world. For example, there are martial artists who practice only for health. In fact, the art of taichichuan, an ancient and effective martial art, is now touted almost solely as a method of exercise. On the other end of the spectrum, there are martial sports—those arts practiced only for competition and contest with little or no regard to health or personal development. The middle ground, which would be populated by those practitioners who train for health and self defense, is rather difficult to find in the current martial arts climate. As this type of narrow training is becoming the standard of the modern age, let us consider the specific ramifications of this splintered view of the martial arts.

Competition

Bob Pruitt

Perhaps no other idea is so ingrained in the United States psyche as that of competition. For a long, long time it has been the driving force in economics, politics, classrooms and playgrounds across the nation. The essential notion is that if all relevant factors are left free to exert their power over situations, competition will foster and generate the best possible product, whether that product be an impressive toaster, a brilliant schoolchild, or a fair and egalitarian political system.

Motobu Palace Tradition

Dr. William Durbin

One of the most influential martial artist of the twentieth century was Choki Motobu. Yet unfortunately many people do not recognize that name, or if they do they have a warped image of the great Okinawan Kempo Karate master. Choki Motobu came from an aristocratic family and this is what hurt the man’s image for many people. What is little known is that Motobu inherited a vast and rich martial tradition which goes far beyond what is thought of as typical Karate.

Nicho Tanbo: Okinawan Weapons Excellent for Self Defense

Dr. William Durbin

There is a legend that goes back many centuries, which tell stories of the Sohei and their incredible capabilities. It is said that some of the Ninja used mechanical devises to reproduce the actual abilities that the warrior monks could do naturally. In example, some of the devises that the Ninja used for climbing trees, castle walls, or mountains, the simply duplicated what the Sohei could do with their bare hands and feet.

Ninjutsu: A Different Perspective

Dr. William Durbin

The terms Ninjutsu and Ninja are very well known all over the world, yet in the 1960s very few people outside of Japan, and the special forces of England, had ever heard the words. The special forces in England were reportedly the first non-Japanese t o use Ninjutsu in training their men for espionage missions, whether it be true or not is a matter of conjecture.

Koshi Nage-The Hip Throw of Ancient Jujutsu

Dr. William Durbin

Many people do not understand much about the ancient styles of Jujutsu. What many people do not realize is that much of what we think of today as Jujutsu is greatly influenced by the great master and founder of Kodokan Judo, Jigoro Kano. In ancient times, martial arts systems were not nearly as organized or set in a definitive curriculum as we see now. This was one of the greatest contributions which Jigoro Kano actually made to modern martial arts.

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