August 2013

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Kenji_Yamaki_150px-OPTby Raymond Horwitz
Photo by Peter Lueders

Now available from Black Belt Magazine Video is the 2-DVD karate set from kyokushin-techniques master Kenji Yamaki! Titled Full-Contact Karate: Advanced Sparring Techniques and Hard-Core Physical Conditioning, this exciting collection demonstrates karate moves that Kenji Yamaki often teaches his advanced students.

Kenji Yamaki was one of the top kyokushin karate competitors in Japan. Upon immigrating to the United States and setting up shop at Yamaki Karate in Torrance, California, Kenji Yamaki began teaching his own style of hard-core karate, which he dubbed yamaki-ryu.

Having trained extensively in a system made famous by Masutatsu Oyama’s intense striking techniques, Kenji Yamaki’s style favors kyokushin techniques laced with kicks that are frighteningly powerful and lightning fast.

Surprisingly, this 6-foot-2-inch heavyweight moves and kicks as rapidly as a bantamweight. After all, his heavily muscled frame looks more like a linebacker’s than a kicker’s. However, watch him begin to demonstrate the karate moves on his 2-DVD set, Full-Contact Karate: Advanced Sparring Techniques and Hard-Core Physical Conditioning, and you’ll see how this giant moves nimbly and precisely.

KYOKUSHIN TECHNIQUES VIDEO

This 2-DVD collection, Full-Contact Karate: Advanced Sparring Techniques and Hard-Core Physical Conditioning, covers karate techniques from Kenji Yamaki’s yamaki-ryu system, which are inspired by hard-core kyoksuhin karate moves. This forthcoming collection includes the following:

Karate Techniques: Counters Against …

one-two punch
body strikes
hook punch
front kick
high kick
low kick
middle kick
back kick
Karate Techniques: Feints With …

punches
kicks
Karate Techniques: Attacks

double attacks (kicks)
double attacks (punches to kicks)
attacks beginning with side stepping
Karate Moves: Drills for Strengthening …

front kick
low kick
roundhouse kick
back kick
ax kick
front-kick balance and control
kick-combination balance and control
… and more!
Conditioning to Improve Karate Techniques

toe crawl
base-leg rotation exercise
spider crawl
hammer swing
body-shield drills
advanced stretching techniques
… and more!
BONUS! Kenji Yamaki: The Black Belt Interview

Kenji Yamaki sits down with Black Belt for an exclusive interview in which he talks about:

the meaning of respect for self and for the art of karate
how students should behave in the dojo
bullying and how it affected him as a child
how meditation can impact karate moves
his goals as a martial artist
how his school came into being
… and more!
Learn more about Kenji Yamaki and his journey from bullied child to master teacher of karate moves in these articles and videos — only at BlackBeltMag.com!

Learn 3 Kyokushin Karate Kicks From Kenji Yamaki!
Teaser Video for the Kenji Yamaki 2-DVD Set, Including a History of the Kyokushin Karate Techniques Instructor!
How Kyokushin Techniques Expert Kenji Yamaki Endured the 100-Man Kumite — Includes a Timeline of His Martial Arts Journey!
More About Kyokushin!

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Shimabukuro03_150x150Written By Raymond Horwitz

“The fundamentals of cutting with the short sword are the same as the fundamentals of the long sword,” says samurai weapons expert Carl E. Long, “except that we use the arm as an extension of the first part of the blade.”

In this samurai weapons demonstration with the short sword, Carl E. Long and the late eighth-dan swordmaster Masayuki Shimabukuro describe and portray how a single rolled tatami can be cut with the most refined technique and accuracy.

SAMURAI WEAPONS VIDEO
Samurai Sword Master Masayuki Shimabukuro Shows You How to Cut Using the Short Sword

“In a long sword, we might have 30 inches of blade — but in a short sword, we may only have 20,” Carl E. Long explains. “So you want to extend the sword out from the hand and use the entire arm to cut rather than just the elbow. If you use the elbow to cut, you don’t get nearly as much speed or force. So keep the blade extended, kissaki (tip) up, and use the entire arm as the sword as you cut.”
In Samurai Swordsmanship: The Batto, Kenjutsu and Tameshigiri of Eishin-Ryu, the top-selling samurai weapons book he co-wrote with Masayuki Shimabukuro, Carl E. Long writes:

Distance and geometry are the key factors that must be understood to successfully perform test-cutting. Each individual has a unique physique, range of motion and experience level. The differences in structures of the human body will not affect the geometry of cutting if the basic principles of correct alignment and distance are observed.

The same could be said for the length of the sword itself, with only slight adjustments to your approach being necessary to accommodate for a successful cut.

However, as Carl E. Long says, those adjustments would be necessary to avoid a failed cut:

Japanese katana are designed to cut as the blade moves in an arc. This geometric configuration of the sword allows the blade to make contact with the target at a single point along the cutting edge as it passes through the target material. The geometry of the blade is such that any misalignment of the body of the target during the swing of the sword will result in a failed cut.

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Japanese-Samurai-SwordWritten By Jon Sattler – August 19, 2013 (2 days ago)

Samurai Facts vs. Samurai Myths and Legends
From the medieval epics of Akira Kurosawa to the space operas of George Lucas, the samurai have long inspired us with stories of their legendary swords and superhuman skills. Nowadays, when we think of samurai, we imagine invincible warriors like Miyamoto Musashi nimbly wielding super-sharp swords, slicing through ninjas and catching blades with their bare hands.

But how much of that is actually true? To test these myths, we asked Samurai Swordsmanship authors Masayuki Shimabukuro and Carl E. Long to answer the most common questions we receive about Japanese swords.

Enjoy part one of our ongoing series on samurai myths, and check back frequently to see which legends we’ve confirmed or debunked.

Samurai Myth No. 1: A good samurai sword will slice through a silk scarf that’s dropped on the blade.
Samurai Fact: The katana and other Japanese swords are designed to slice objects as the blade is pulled across the target. If an object is simply dropped on the blade, it’s very unlikely that any slicing action will occur. That’s why so many exhibitions that involve walking on swords are possible. As long as there’s no sliding action, the blade rarely cuts. If a scarf is allowed to slide across the edge, the material could be cut. This myth has been carried over from a story about a Damascus blade owned by Saladin.

Samurai Myth No. 2: A katana can chop a regular sword in half.
Samurai Fact: Any steel sword can break if it’s struck at the wrong angle. Chopping one in half, however, is highly unlikely.
Samurai Myth No. 3: In battle, Japanese swordsmen would use the edge of the blade to block their enemy’s attacks.
Samurai Fact: The edge of the blade was often used to block an opponent’s attack. However, most swordsmen would fend off an attack by launching a pre-emptive strike or receiving the attack on the side of the blade. This was preferable to blocking with the ha, or cutting edge.

Samurai Myth No. 4: It’s possible to stop a downward sword strike by trapping the blade between your palms.
Samurai Fact: This is highly implausible and definitely not recommended.

Samurai Myth No. 5: Thinking that it’s better to lose an arm than lose his life, a samurai was taught to block a downward slash with his forearm held overhead at a 45-degree angle.
Samurai Fact: A katana or tachi is quite capable of slicing through an arm in a single stroke. At that time in history, losing an arm usually meant death.

Samurai Myth No. 6: In ancient Japan, samurai often fought against ninja.
Samurai Fact: This is more myth and legend than fact.

Samurai Myth No. 7: A samurai wasn’t allowed to place his sword back into its scabbard without first drawing blood.
Samurai Fact: Not true.

Samurai Myth No. 8: The steel in some swords is composed of thousands of folded layers.
Samurai Fact: Each time the sword smith folds the steel, the layers are multiplied. It’s not uncommon to have as many as 32,000 layers.

Samurai Myth No. 9: The bo hi (often translated as “blood groove”) is designed to channel blood out of the opponent’s body.
Samurai Fact: This is a common misconception. The bo hi is designed to lighten the blade while maintaining a large degree of structural integrity. It was sometimes used to hide flaws in a defective blade.

Samurai Myth No. 10: Thousands of samurai swords were thrown into the ocean when Japan surrendered to the United States at the end of World War II.
Samurai Fact: Many blades were destroyed by Allied forces at the end of the war. Some of them may have been cast into the sea from aboard ships, as were many other weapons.

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Scott_Sonnon_kettlebell_150px-OPT1Written By Raymond Horwitz

Scott Sonnon Shows You Kettlebell Routines and Other MMA Workouts (Including Clubbells!)
One minute you’re in a striking match. Then you’re trading kicks before your opponent shoots in for a takedown.

Now you’re on the ground, using every ounce of strength to keep him from getting the submission!

Can you get out of it and turn the tables?

Your overall conditioning, rather than any specific fighting skill, may dictate your chances!

This is where consultation with an MMA conditioning specialist and regular engagement in MMA workouts would have come in handy — had you started the regimen months ago, of course.
If today’s the day to start, there are, of course, many options for MMA workouts at gyms, in books — even online.

But rarely would your MMA workouts be as thoroughly instructed for maximum MMA conditioning as they are in Scott Sonnon’s exhaustive (and exhausting!) Ultimate Conditioning DVD/video-download series.

Three previews from this MMA conditioning series follow, showing brief excerpts from far-more-elaborate MMA conditioning programs geared specifically toward strikers, ground fighters and kickers and using everything from kettlebell routines to sandbags and Clubbells!

MMA WORKOUTS/KETTLEBELL ROUTINES VIDEO
Scott Sonnon Coaches You Through the Kettlebell Push Press

Ultimate Conditioning — Volume 1: Strikers includes a structured selection of guided workouts that use bodyweight, kettlebell routines, medicine balls and Clubbells to improve upper-body strength, overall endurance and striking ferocity!

MMA WORKOUTS VIDEO: USING CLUBBELLS® FOR MMA CONDITIONING
Scott Sonnon Coaches You Through the Deck Squat/Diagonal Crunch Using Clubbells

Ultimate Conditioning — Volume 2: Ground Fighters includes a variety of workouts designed to use bodyweight, sandbags, kettlebell routines and Clubbells to improve core strength and grappling skills.

MMA WORKOUTS VIDEO: HOW TO USE BODYWEIGHT FOR MMA CONDITIONING
Scott Sonnon Coaches You Through the Jump Switch

Ultimate Conditioning — Volume 3: Kickers features Scott Sonnen’s guided workouts using plyometric boxes, sandbags, bodyweight and Clubbells to improve leg strength, lower-body endurance and kicking skills.

More About Kettlebell Routines Expert and Clubbells Inventor Scott Sonnon

Multi-sport national and international champion Scott Sonnon has served as the U.S. National Sambo Team coach and as a top-level referee. He was the first American to study behind the Iron Curtain with the USSR’s national and Olympic coaches and went on to earn the Honourable Master of Sport diploma.

Scott Sonnon was appointed chairman for establishing the rule structure for sambo’s mixed-martial arts competition in the 1990s. Additionally, he has trained Alberto Crane, Elvis Sinosic, Jorge Rivera and Egan Inoue.

Not merely a kettlebell routines expert, he has worked as a training adviser for the National Law Enforcement and Security Institute, the U.S. Army Combatives School, Italian counterterrorism units, Australian law-enforcement personnel, Russian and Israeli special forces, the Norwegian military security forces, and the Office of Air and Marine.

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Jerry_Beasley_150pxby Dr. Jerry Beasley
Photo by Rick Hustead – August 5, 2013 (2 weeks ago)

Dr. Jerry Beasley’s Top 10 Martial Arts for Self-Defense
I selected 10 systems that I’ve practiced and found to be self-defense worthy. It’s hard to say just one art does it all. The best advice is to try them all and get in combat shape.

Ultimately, it’s not the art that’s important; it’s the individual. It’s not the technique that makes the difference; it’s the delivery. A smooth stone that hits its mark is going to be more effective than a .44 Magnum bullet that misses.

Train with purpose; the more you sweat in the gym, the less you bleed on the street.

Arnis

This Filipino art contains the most street-lethal knife skills available. Read a profile of modern-arnis founder Remy Presas!

Kyokushin Karate

If you complete the 100 fights required for a black belt in kyokushin karate, you possess the attributes required for self-defense. Learn how kyokushin karate master Kenji Yamaki endured the 100-man kumite!

Kobudo

A street-savvy warrior will take a weapon over his empty hands every time. When you become an expert with traditional weapons, you have an advantage in real combat.

Krav Maga

The gun and knife defenses taught in krav maga are perhaps the best in the field. Video: Darren Levine demonstrates how to use krav maga to survive a knife attack!

Muay Thai

Muay Thai’s a realistic combat art with an emphasis on training and conditioning.

Kano Jiu-Jitsu

The forerunner of judo, this early 20th-century art developed by Jigoro Kano was more streetwise than ringwise.

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

It’s been proved effective in street combat in the toughest cities in the world. Watch six Gracie Jiu-Jitsu videos!

Extreme Self-Protection

It was designed by Mark Hatmaker to cover all ranges of combat. Video: Mark Hatmaker on martial arts training roadblocks and solutions for developing a practcial, diverse and effective technique palette.

Dirty Boxing

While many fights end on the ground, almost all fights start standing up. Dirty boxing, aka “clinch boxing” or “trap boxing,” prepares you for strikes that work in stand-up grappling and moves that are illegal in the boxing ring.

Jeet Kune Do Unlimited

Created by Burt Richardson, it’s perhaps the most combat-efficient interpretation of Bruce Lee’s method of “scientific street fighting.”

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By Raymond Horwitz
Photo by Robert Reiff – Today

Leon_Wright_150px-OPTMCMAP Instructor Leon Wright Demonstrates Self-Defense Moves Against a Roundhouse Punch
Leon Wright was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as its 2010 Self-Defense Instructor of the Year. This was not a lightly granted honor for the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) expert, as his martial arts credentials and expertise in the field of self-defense moves are impressive.

With more than 40 years of experience in a range of Asian fighting styles, Leon Wright is a 10th-degree black belt in and the founder of souseiki ryu sekkinsen shigaisen, an art that is formally recognized in Okinawa and Japan, as well as the United States.

SELF-DEFENSE VIDEO
MCMAP Instructor Leon Wright Demonstrates Self-Defense Moves Against a Roundhouse Punch

Leon Wright’s post-U.S. Marine Corps life has been spent serving the United States’ men and women in uniform, overseeing daily operations of numerous coalition forward operating bases in Afghanistan. It’s during this work that he volunteers his free time to teach the self-defense moves of souseki ryu to a growing group of students.

In addition to that already impressive roster, Leon Wright is a fifth-degree black belt in MCMAP — a rank one step higher than the maximum fourth degree normally available to gunnery sergeants. Additionally, Leon Wright is a certified MCMAP subject-matter expert, authorizing him to teach the MCMAP program as a civilian.

While the name of Leon Wright’s martial art — souseiki ryu sekkinsen shigaisen — may seem complicated, it’s actually based on simplicity, efficiency and realism. Souseki refers to “time of creation,” ryu to “school” or “way,” sekkinsen to “close combat” or “infighting,” and shigaisen to “street fighting.”
According to MCMAP instructor Leon Wright’s website, souseki ryu is a “non-classical, American martial art focusing on self-defense and realistic street situational training” technically derived from a variety of martial arts disciplines, including the following:

kung fu
jujitsu
muay Thai
kyokushinkai karate
shotokan karate
judo
In the above video depicting self-defense moves from Leon Wright’s extensive training in a variety of styles — including MCMAP techniques — the Black Belt Hall of Fame member shows you, the viewer, how to defend yourself against a roundhouse punch.

In the video, Leon Wright assumes the ready posture in front of his opponent. When the opponent throws a roundhouse punch (or, as Leon Wright calls it, a “haymaker”), the MCMAP instructor executes a high elbow block, then steps into the opponent’s personal space to deliver an elbow strike to the jaw.

Next up in his sequence of self-defense moves is the application of pressure to the knee to get the opponent off-balance. The MCMAP and karate expert then overhooks the man’s left arm just above the triceps before sweeping the leg in question. Still holding the opponent’s arm, Leon Wright executes a standing armbar while drilling his knee into the opponent’s ribs.

If this sequence of self-defense moves has not finished the attacker, the MCMAP instructor has a couple of finishing moves at his disposal. If he’s armed, the MCMAP techniques expert can put a knife to the attacker’s throat. If empty-handed, he can apply choke pressure or fire a straight punch to the opponent’s face.

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