July 3

AJKAI & IOBK’s Summer Seminar 2013 on August 9

The American Jiu-Jitsu Karate Association International and the International Okinawan Budo-Kai present their Summer Seminar 2013 on Friday, Aug. 9, featuring tentative guest instructor Terry Wilson.

Shihan Wilson is a five-time Emmy Award-winning television producer, director, writer and personality. In fact, he’s the only person to ever receive an Emmy for producing a martial arts special, 1976′s “Karate Kung Fu & Arts of Self-Defense.” His new book, Life’s Too Short and So Am I, is available now.

Other instructors include Hanshi John Chatwood, Hanshi Matt Molineux, Hanshi Vera Harrison, Shihan James Gifford and Hanshi Kevin Chatwood.

Styles represented include Shinto Yoshin-ryu jiu-jitsu, Shinmei Shorin-ryu karate, tae kwon do, Hakutsuru White Crane, as well as other Chinese, Japanese and Okinawan martial arts.

These instructors will be teaching…

  • principles of jiu-jitsu
  • entering and controlling techniques
  • chokes
  • takedowns
  • hidden techniques in jiu-jitsu
  • entering and blocking methods
  • joint locks
  • releases
  • transitioning and countering
  • and more!

The seminar will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at First English Lutheran Church, 725 E. Forrest Hill Ave., Peoria, IL.

The cost is $50 for the day, with discounts available for those who attend the Friday night seminar with Col. James Gifford, Jr., and/or the 2013 Douglas Grose Memorial Martial Arts Tournament, taking place the next day.

For more information, please contact Hanshi Vera Harrison at 309-251-8588.

Mr. Bockler’s Commentary

I am always happy to include information about tournaments and seminars located in the Peoria area.

I have not attended one of these seminars before, so I’m looking forward to attending this year.

April 28

Master Phillip Koeppel: Pay Attention to Details

During 2013, I’ve made a personal goal to attend as many seminars as my schedule (and budget) allows me to.

One I wanted to make sure was on my radar was a seminar taught by Mr. Phillip Koeppel and hosted by the Springfield Karatedo Budokai.

Mr. Koeppel teaches kyu ranks at his 10th annual seminar in Springfield

Mr. Koeppel teaches kyu ranks at his 10th annual seminar in Springfield

Peoria-area martial artists should be familiar with Mr. Koeppel. He opened his first school in Peoria in 1960 and, from what I can gather, has been in or around town ever since. He’s also the founder of the United States Karate-do Kai, an international organization consisting of karate schools of different styles whose headquarters is in Peoria.

Metamora Martial Arts students should associate Mr. Koeppel as a senior student of Master Robert Trias, with whom he trained for 22 years.

“I was the first shichidan (7th-degree black belt) he ever promoted,” Mr. Koeppel said in an interview with H.P. Henry. “He promoted others later on to this grade, but as far as I know, and as far as I am concerned, he never graded anyone above the rank of shichidan.”

(The interview is great, by the way. I suggest reading it. Mr. Koeppel talks about training with Master Trias in great detail, as well as his entire martial arts career, and led him to leave Shuri-ryu and begin taking up Matsumura Seito Shorin-ryu, with which he developed his own style, Matsumura Seito Shorin-ryu Koeppel-ha.)

Upon his arrival in Peoria in the mid-1970s, Mr. Hawkey trained at a dojo owned and operated by Mr. Koeppel and received instruction under one of Mr. Koeppel’s instructors, Mr. Randy Holman.

The seminar itself was intriguing.

Mr. Koeppel, 75, started by running the attendees (mostly black belts) through Ryu Sho Ken. I quickly realized I was one of the few who did not know this form. With the help of Mr. Loyd Shults and his son, I was able to keep up. Mr. Shults looked at me at one point and said, “I can tell you don’t know this form.”

I really liked what was described as the “Four Winds Kata.” I found my phone and recorded a group of attendees practicing the form so that I could review it later.

As he was throughout the four-hour session, Mr. Koeppel was a stickler for details. He described how the feet should move in two motions instead of one, and how the hands and feet should be at 35-degree angles. He illustrated exactly how the hands should swing down for the opening motion.

Clearly this day was about perfecting. Not introducing.

After Ryu Sho Ken, we went over gokui waza. In talking with Mr. Shults, Mr. Koeppel created the gokui waza to be short snippets of kata. In other words, Mr. Koeppel would extract essential points in kata for shorter, more direct waza. These are similar to our ippons, taezus and kihons.

Again, more detail. Raise the arm up vertically instead of rotating it out. Step out of the line of attack. And so on.

My favorite part of the session was a Chinese form that I understood to sound like Ba Bu Lin (I’ve seen other spellings online, including Ba Bu Lian or Lien. Somebody help me understand which would be proper).

Mr. Koeppel said he learned this form from Patrick McCarthy, translator of the famed text, Bubishi, in 1997. “I’ve dedicated my life to learning it,” he said to me afterward.

The form appears briefly in the Bubishi under the name Happoren. It is also apparently a predecessor to Tensho, a tension form for advanced ranks in Shuri-ryu.

As a practitioner of Chinese martial arts, I instantly loved the form and am working on memorizing the movements.

Again, Mr. Koeppel emphasized details. The traditional Chinese opening of the form. Breathing when releasing the tension in the hands. Releasing energy on a movement known as “fire hands.”

Overall, this was a great seminar to attend. Mr. Lucky Phillips hosted it at his home dojo, a beautiful space in a Morton-style building. And, if the seminar wasn’t enough, Mr. Phillips cooked a big cauldron of chili for everyone to enjoy afterward.

April 14

Iain Abernethy’s 4 Principles of Kata

Kata boils down to four main principles, according to a world-renowned martial arts expert.

Mr. Adam Bockler with Mr. Iain Abernethy at his seminar in Chicago

Mr. Adam Bockler with Mr. Iain Abernethy at his seminar in Chicago

Iain Abernethy professes practical kata application all around the world. Though British, Iain says both his surname and the spelling of his first name are Scottish. He’s traveled to many countries to teach martial arts seminars, some of which include Ireland, Scotland, Germany, the U.S. and Canada.

When I asked him where he’d like to teach but hasn’t yet, he replied, “Iceland.”

Last week, I spent a weekend training with Mr. Abernethy at Enso Studio in Chicago’s financial district. I started following him around 2006 or 2007 after reading Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder’s The Way of Kata for the first time. I liked Iain’s quotes the authors included in their book, and made the effort to like his page on Facebook and eventually follow him on Twitter. After several years of occasionally messaging and tweeting back and forth, it was great to finally meet him.

Martial artists, mostly black belts, came from all over North America to learn more about applying new ways of thinking to their forms – Texas, New York, Florida and even Canada were locations I remember hearing.

Kata Principle #1: “Karate is not merely practiced for your own benefit; it can be used … as a way of avoiding injury by using the hands and feet should one by any chance be confronted by a villain or ruffian.”

This is a direct quote from Anko Itosu, who plays a significant role in the development of Okinawan martial arts after bringing karate to the Okinawan school system, and his 10 precepts of karate. (A special thanks to Mr. Abernethy, by the way, for posting this translation for free on his site.)

In other words, karate is meant for self-defense against someone else who isn’t trained in karate. It isn’t meant for sparring, necessarily, but as a means of avoiding an attacker or defending yourself.

Kata Principle #2: Both hands are active.

During the Friday night portion of the seminar, Iain talked about the nine throws of Gichin Funakoshi. Some of them he talked about in context of a kata, but only mentioned them briefly. (Jesse Enkamp also has some great photos and descriptions.)

In short, Iain explained that many people think katas are only about what the “active” hand is doing, as if it’s singular, whether it’s a shuto, a block, a punch, etc.

Instead, he said, think about the hikite, the hand the comes back to the waist or the chest. In his analysis of kata, the hand that comes back to the waist will typically have the other person’s wrist. The hand that comes back to the chest will usually have an elbow locked.

Some throws worked better than others. The upside-down hammer, for example, resembled a move that would likely look good in professional wrestling with two people working together to make it look effective, but would not work well for someone who didn’t want to lose a fight.

Kata Principle #3: Stances represent the way you need to shift your weight.

This may best be explained by illustrating the principle.

For example, in order to maximize the effectiveness of a wrist lock, you might step back into a front stance while yanking down on the attacker’s wrists.

Kata Principle #4: Angles are where you should be in relation to your opponent.

Rarely did Mr. Abernethy show a technique in which he was standing directly in front of his attacker. Instead, he often shifted so that he was still able to move in on his opponent, while his opponent was put in a bad position.

An easy way to imagine this would be cutting to a 45-degree angle. Your focus is still on that person, while that person is still headed in their original direction. Another way to think of this would be to get your nose out of the way, as Mr. Hawkey likes to say.

Thanks and Shout-Outs

Thanks to Sensei Jay, Sensei Denise, and everybody from Enso Studio for hosting the event at their beautiful dojo.

Thanks to Bill for picking up Sal and I at the dojo so we could get dinner.

Thanks to Jay Herbst and his daughter Nicole for being great to chat with about martial arts and letting me know I need to learn more about how Shuri-ryu helped form Shito-ryu. If you’re in the Fort Myers, Fla., area, support the new dojo Jay has recently opened up as part of Kurokawa Martial Arts.

And finally, thanks to my partner whose name I did not catch the spelling of. If you read this, please comment so you can get your proper credit.

Iain Abernethy’s Upcoming Seminars in the United States

At dinner, Iain said he had bookings through September 2014. I wanted to post his two listed U.S. seminar dates here for anybody reading who is interested in attending.

May 31-June 2 – Madison, Alabama

September 13-15 – Lenexa, Kansas

January 17

Women’s Self-Defense Seminar on March 3 in Peoria

Kim AldusMrs. Kim Aldus – along with her husband, Mr. Steve Aldus – will be hosting a women’s self-defense seminar from 10:30-3 Sunday, March 3, 2013, at the Contemporary Art Center in downtown Peoria.

Throughout the class, Mr. and Mrs. Aldus will teach self-defense awareness and techniques that could save your life. You’ll learn how to use your hands, elbows, and knees as weapons in order to avoid or escape a predator.

Attorney Joseph Borsberry will also be on hand to outline the legal aspects of self-defense according to Illinois law, after which will be a Q and A session.

Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable clothes to work out in, such as sweats and a T-shirt.

The cost of the seminar is $40 per person if you register and pay by Feb. 22, or pay $50 at the door. Call Mrs. Aldus at 309-648-4528 in order to register. Space is limited.

The contemporary Art Center is located at 305 SW. Water St. (2nd floor), Peoria, IL.

December 28

Upcoming Karate Tournaments and Seminars

The martial arts calendar for 2013 is already filling up. In this post, I’ll provide a list of tournaments and seminars happening in the Peoria area that I know about today. If students are interested, I would be more than happy to begin organizing trips to these events.

Unfortunately, two events I was hoping to compete at (and bring other competitors to) this spring are taking place on the same day. I haven’t decided which event I’d like to attend yet, but I want to make sure to promote both here as they’re great events.

February 2013

Feb. 1-2 – The 48th Annual AKA Grand Nationals are taking place in Chicago, Illinois. I may be attending on Saturday only as a spectator.

TBA – Mrs. Kim Aldus will host a women’s self-defense seminar in Peoria, Illinois. I will post a separate blog entry for that when more information is announced.

March 2013

March 16 – Mr. and Mrs. Bill and Patty Auvenshine host the Auvenshine’s Taekwondo 14th Annual Martial Arts Tournament in Springfield. I have competed several times at this tournament, first in 2007 and then every year since 2010.

March 16 – Mr. and Mrs. Frank and Patricia Fink host the annual Supreme Way Challenge at the Moose Lodge in Pekin.

April 2013

April 20 – Hanshi Phillip Koeppel will host a seminar (PDF) at the Springfield Karatedo Budokai from 10-2. Master Koeppel shares our lineage.

May 2013

May 5 – Star Martial Arts Studios hosts the 20th Annual North American Grand Nationals in Rockford, Illinois. I competed at this tournament in 2006, taking 3rd place in sparring and 1st place in forms. I would like to return to the event this year.