Kosho Principles

"All Kosho has as its core these principles...glue them to your eyelids; they're vital! -Keep MOVING -AWARENESS -TIMING" ~Kraxberger Shihan (Kraxberger Shihan asked Troy Soles Sensei if there was anything else he would add to this, and he said "ATTITUDE", I think this may be included in the AWARENESS category though personally)

The 3 Core Facets of Internal Energy Work: 1) Control Of Breath ( Everything else works off of breathing ) 2) Posture/ Alignment 3)Connective Tissue *Working the connective tissue pumps the lymph nodes, circulating lymph throughout the body. Lymph removes/ stores/ filters toxins from the blood stream.

Settling

Settling is the act of settling of the weight naturally toward the earth, breathing out with the movement. It is a simple matter of dropping your butt toward the floor, either greatly or slightly, depending upon immediate need. "Why in the world would I want to do that?", you may be asking yourself... The answer is, for any number of reasons. For instance, when your partner or opponent strikes at you and you block, in Kosho, you follow up that movement by settling. Your partner has thrown a strike (and missed)  and is so far already overbalanced and over-extended. While he's still in motion, at the tail end of your block or parry you "settle", further exadurating his unbalance. He now has to work harder to get back to you, his target, and it is now much easier for you to manipulate what he's going to have to do next in order to get to you.

Settling is useful in pretty much every other area too. Striking, grappling, kata, iaido, even shiatsu and shodo employ settling constantly in order to correctly work these arts. When pressing on your partners tsubo or pressure points for healing, you settle into them, breathing out, channeling Ki into them. When doing shodo, you settle and breathe as the brush moves accross the paper.

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Escaping

Escaping is the first thing my Sensei teaches, and we use it in everything else, forever. It is based on the Octagon diagram (eventually I'll get an image up for visualization). Basically the octagon tells you where to move next, based on where you and your opponent are at in relation to eachother at any given moment. Your opponent, if he is enraged enough to engage you physically at all, is probably trying to hurt you physically, so it is your job to not be there when he comes to you. No matter what he plans on doing, (grab you, punch, poke, kick, bite, what ever), he will be giving 100% to occupy the same space you now hold. You must give up that space as soon as you see him begin to move (see peripheral vs. focal vision below).

Say he punches at you. If he means business, he's going to have a lot of power behind that punch. The instant that you see him even hint at movement, MOVE!!! STEP off of the line between him and you, to an angle of about 90 degrees (so that now you are facing his right or left ear, the side of his body). Since he missed you, expecting an object to absorb his power, he is going to be very off balanced and over-extended. You could probably push him over with your pinky if you took the right angle with the right timing.

Now, you have just "escaped". If you have coupled this with a block while you stepped "off line" then you likely still have body contact with him, which is what you want. Continued light body contact will tell you exactly where he's going next (toward YOU!), and exactly when. Rinse and repeat. Don't be there. Move off line again and again, driving him further and further into contorted body alignment and off balance. At any one of these escapes you have the choice to flee, or to strike as you escape. Which ever you choose, do it while he's in motion, not while he's at rest. You should always be one step ahead; you decide where HE will go next. It's your ballgame. This is all about manipulation of your opponent's senses and posture.

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Secondary Rotation

While escaping, you always let your opponent make the first move. You are counting on this because you need his aggression to get him to over-extend himself. After that first attack, he must then attack with the other side, right or left. One projects, the other retracts. There cannot be one without the other. Once you have him overdone with one side, your manipulation of his posture and movement is easily done via his retracting side of the body when he moves again. In my opinion, the side that will be attacked with is where all of his attention will be; it's his weapon. One side is always in masculine/yang mode and the other in feminine/yin mode. The side he just struck with and missed was masculine, and now will be feminine while he switches sides (to punch with the other fist). If you blocked or parried his first strike, you still have contact with it. As soon as his projection moves to the opposite hand, you can manipulate it by interacting with his now feminine limb. As soon as you feel the strike comming, move his arm, push it or pull it then settle. This does NOT need to be any overt action, the slightest movement on your part can usually have a HUGE effect on his form. It's like you are at the center, making a small wave, which expands into a big wave when it gets to the outside (his projecting side of the body). Great time to strike or throw.

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Breath Control

All bodily motion should move with the breath. Breathing should move in and out from the hara or abdominal region. The mind follows the breath. The body follows the mind. Direct the breath first.

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Creasing, Folding, Skeletal Freezing

This is all about the form of the human body while in motion. Thinking of the body as though it were a piece of clothing or paper, you can see where it "folds" and "creases" and where it doesnt. These are the major joints of the body. In reading the section on escaping, you can probably see mentally how, if someone punches at you, but you are not where he thought you'd be, he will be over extended (creased at the knees, hips, neck) and fairly twisted up. At this point you should be in contact with his body in one or more points. Have your partner stop at that uncomfortable position for a few moments while you see how a small nudge in any direction, by rotating and settling, can compound these areas where he's creased even further. He'll reach a point where he's in a skeletal freeze, where if he moves any further in that direction he'll either break something or just fall over. Practice this and then picture what happens when you speed it up.

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Seven - Ten

Seven-ten. This is an amazing principle of Kosho. Bruce Juchnik, Hanshi of Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo is always saying, "Always move twice". No matter what, if you move, move twice. When you block, when you strike, when you kick, when you walk, when you look at your watch, move twice. Never does this have to be large motion. Kenpo is all about being subtle. So far I've mentioned a few times that having a slight bodily contact with your opponent tells you beautifully when and where he's going to move, well this goes both ways if he's paying attention. By moving twice every time you move, you rob him of his ability to adjust to what you've just done. You rob him of his comfort zone and balance and strength.

That is moving twice, but what is Seven-ten? It's not exactly the same thing but it stems out of moving twice, so I put them together here.

Seven Ten is the principle of projecting with the force of seven, then you must retract with the force of ten. Read that a few times. Then apply that to always moving twice. Apply this to blocks, strikes, kicks, all weaponry and kata. Block with the force of seven? Then Settle with the force of ten, and watch your opponents posture. Bruce Juchnik  Hanshi frequently says that every block is a strike and every strike is a block. Really its all manipulating your opponents motion, so subtly.

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The Body Follows the Head

This really doesn't require too much elaboration. Your spine grows down from your head, the rest of your body is attatched to your spine. The same is true of your opponent. When you are both in contact with eachother, if you are the one directing his motion, he also follows your head (and eyes, where you look). If you're throwing your opponent, look where you want him to go, point your head that way, point there too whith your throw, he'll tend to land right where you were pointing your head, also he'll tend to go head first.

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Peripheral vs. Focal Vision

The eye has inside of it a collection of cones and rods, which they use to gather light and send impressions to the brain to be interpreted. Rods collect details, like textures, individual nuances. Cones collect generalities, like movement.

If you are looking directly at something, like the words here written, you are using "focal" vision, which is basically using the rods of the eye. They collect lots of detail about your subject, and thus takes more time for the brain to interpret and make a decision about.

If you turn slightly away, not looking directly at it but still having it within your vision, you are using "peripheral" vision, which is performed via the cones of the eye. They notice things like general shape, speed and direction of movement, generalities. Far less data is being interpreted with focal vision, so response time is practically immediate to things like movement. Cats have more cones in their eyes, which is why their night vision is so great, and why they are good little hunters, they see movement without looking, and are on it in a flash, without stopping to think about what to do.

When you think you may be in a dangerous situation and may be attacked, stop, look slightly away, curl in the shoulders slightly and bend the knees. My Sensei calls this the "old man" posture and this is how you should be standing while escaping. You can see about 270 degrees around you this way, all peripherally, so you can key in on movement from almost any direction. If you're surrounded you can see who moves first and second and respond the instant that they begin to move, or even think about moving. Using the octagon you should know which direction to go, and always be one step ahead. You always have the option to flee, and using this you have plenty of time to fully escape. Before they realize what just happened you can be 20 feet away at a full run.

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Awareness

We all like to think we're aware, but, come on...Like Buddha we all need to wake up just a little more to what's really happening.

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Practice

This goes without saying. Especially with Kenpo, the aim is to make this all so natural (because Kenpo is the study of natural law and natural motion) that we don't have to think about it, we just do it. This isn't going to happen unless we practice all day, no matter where we are or who we're with. Kenpo is everywhere and we can practice the basic principles of Kenpo all day if we just try.

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Timing

This comes with Awareness (above), and Practice. Timing is one of those things that the veterans have, that makes Kenpo look so effortless. When we're standing there watching our Sensei perform some feat that looks so easy to him, makes him look fast even though he's not moving quickly, it's usually their timing that makes it look like effortless speed. Timing is the fruit of awareness, and practice. Years and years and years of both of them lol.

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Body Alignment vs. Muscle Strength

There are many martial arts that depend upon using ones strength against your opponents strength to overcome them. Your opponent comes in with a punch to your head so you stand there and absorb it with an equally forcefull block. This to me is just too egoic.

Instead of using muscle against muscle, just don't be there. Give up your ground and take up different gound. Move (twice!). When you're not face to face because you've escaped off to the ninety degree angle, you have the advantage of having access to most all of your opponents openings, and he has very few advantages. All because he wanted your ground. Now you have the opportunity to use your natural body alignment to be strong instead of using the force of muscle to be strong.

There are ample opportunities to study this when you study folding of the body (as mentioned above). The human body is strong at the center, and weak as it moves farther away from the center. Those arts that use muscular force to fight are largely relying on the strength of the limbs. In Kenpo, every strike, block touch, should generally occur directly in front of your center line, not off at the side angles (usually). We are not strong to the sides, but we are quite strong when our limbs are at the center (directly in front of you, straight out fromt the navel, solar plexus, third eye, a.k.a. "center line"). When you block an incomming strike, no matter which type of block it is, it should make contact exactly at this center line in front of you. If it's comming from the side or other angle, then MOVE your body and position so that your block will occur in front of you.

If someone grabs your throat to choke you, don't grip and pull away with your extremities, grip and turn your center to another direction, then settle your weight (move twice). Move HIS center off of yours, get his body to follow his head, get him over extended, move off line.

If you punch, don't punch in front of the shoulder area or off to the side, punch along your center line. When you strike many areas of your opponent in one flurry, it's not your extremities that move around so much as your center moves around. Your hands are always in front. Same with kicks, and weapons. Yes side kicks and back kicks are used but even then the posture is adjusted. On a side kick the head turns to face them, as does the center. I guess the center follows the head somewhat. In a back kick you actually  point the center down, point your ass at them and kick exactly as though doing a stomp kick on the ground, so here too you are centered up.

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Practice partner must commit

When practicing, your partner must have it in his head that he is really, really hitting you, where you are. In the dojo everything is sloooow so we can break it down and study it. This makes it all too easy for your partner to track you as you move off line to escape and counter. He may often forget that he's not supposed to know you're going to move! Just remind him to pretend you're going to stay rooted to that spot, otherwise you can't practice it correctly, it just won't work.

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Kenpo is a lower-body art

In western culture we have come to identify strength as something we carry upstairs, above the waist. We puff up our chests and flex and think we're strong. In the East, they know that real physical strength comes from the legs, hips and hara. It comes UP from the earth.

In Kenpo we practice stance work and kicks like crazy, Not because we use them in Kenpo durring any confrontation. In fact it would be a rare sight to see a Kenpo practitioner using kicks to fight, except possibly as a finishing move. Stance work and kicking are used to study balance, how the body REALLY moves, and to produce very strong lower bodies. All strength comes from the center, from the legs and hips. The strongest punch comes from the big toe.

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Light touch

I have mentioned using LIGHT touch when engaged with an opponent a few times now on this page. I'll never forget the time when my Sensei was describing this to the class, talking about the senses. There are so many things about ourselves and eachother of which we are ignorant, in general. In this class, he had me come up in front of the class and put my hand on the wall. This section of the dojo was an area where from the floor up there was wooden paneling, and then there was a horizontal line where up to the ceiling there was this wicker, woven type oriental thing hehe. He had me come up, put my hand half above and half below that line, close my eyes and push hard, and describe to the class what I felt. I felt.... "pressure", a smooth surface and a scratchy surface.

He nodded and said, "ok, good. Now, close your eyes again, and this time touch very lightly, and describe what you feel..." . When I did it I was shocked. A light bulb came on for me then, I could tell so many detailed things about both surfaces, so many details! Again he nodded and had me rejoin the class.

He showed us that when you have contact with somebody, because they are being agressive we have a tendency to want to block hard and then keep that contact with a hard touch, a rough touch. But when we do that we can't read them worth a damn. Block them as you move aside, then barely touch them (where you blocked, so they dont' really notice you), and you will know everything he's going to do, even before he moves you'll know. You'll just know. Light touch is sensitive; you'll sense what's really happening. Hard touch? You may as well just stand there and let him hit you.

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Motion is transitional

Motion is the process of getting from one position to the next, from one place to the next. You should always move. Bruce Juchnik Hanshi says that stances are stagnation and death, because they do not move. People tend to get into a stance and root there and defend that location. Really a stance is where you stop in order to move to the next place. Life should always change, be in motion, or else there is stagnation, decay and eventually death. Change is a good thing.

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Look for the similarities

This is a word of the wise from Master James Mitose, who passed on his family art of Japanese Kenpo to Bruce Juchnik here in the states. As a man who came from an Eastern culture to live in the West, it's not surpising to see him adopt this principle. He spent his life in the study of the Arts. He often told his student Mr. Juchnik to look for the similarities, and avoid the nitpickers. In general he meant in all things, politics, religion, everything. But more specifically he meant this in regards to motion, to movement of the human body, and to all martial arts. When studying the way the body moves naturally, it is said that really all martial arts are the same at their root, and only get "specialized" when we start looking at the differences. Then comes the spirit of separation.

We all have two eyes, two, hands feet, a mouth... We all have basically the same things inside and out, but people want to focus on what makes us different from them. If we think we're so different then why do we all move the same?

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