Saturday, June 19, 2021

Elvis' karate career

 (Elvis laughing with Mr. Bill "Superfoot" Wallace and Mr. Dave Hebler after hitting Mr. Wallace in the head with his trophy.)

Elvis had studied the martial arts for many years before he began studying kenpo after a chance meeting with Mr. Parker.

Elvis was first exposed to karate in 1958 after he was drafted into the Army and stationed in Germany. His first instructor was a German shotokan stylist named Juergen Seydel who taught Elvis at his off-base housing in Nauheim. Elvis developed a passion for karate which continued throughout his life.

When he returned to Memphis, Elvis earned his first degree black belt in 1960 under Chito-ryu stylist Hank Slemansky. Later, he trained in a Memphis dojo under Master Kang Rhee, who bestowed upon him a seventh degree black belt in March of 1973 and his eighth in September of 1974. Elvis would open his own center, the Tennessee Karate Institute in the Crosstown area of Memphis in 1974.

Saturday, June 12, 2021


 Makes me think of every time we hit the mat we should be progressing, even if it is just a little bit. 

If you go to class or a seminar and you don't progress you've wasted your, and everyone else's, time.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Monday, May 24, 2021

"Speed Kills" - Your Technique

 (posted recently on Facebook by Mr. Ron Chapel)

"I'm not fast, I just use my body efficiently which creates an illusion of speed. Like the 'slow' receiver in football who always open, it's not the speed but the effective proper execution that kills you." - Ed Parker Sr.


To understand martial techniques (empty hand or weaponized), and how they function, you must have knowledge of physics. It is the study of our body and how our senses, through the use of mathematical laws, theories, concepts, and principles of mass, speed, body alignment, angles, body momentum, torque, focus, stability, power, penetration, etc., can make our body function intuitively.

An in-depth study of these theories, concepts, and principles of physics will also reveal the sophisticated basics that are contained within properly taught embryonic basics. It is interesting that the teaching of the martial arts from Mr. Parker’s perspective as I was taught, centered completely around the understanding of body mechanics first.

As teachers of bio-mechanics in interactivity, it is incumbent on those who would label themselves sijo, sensei, grandmaster, professor, etc. that they would have a fairly extensive functional knowledge and understanding of the biomechanics of human movement before assigning ourselves such labels. One must ask the question sincerely, “What do I really know about body mechanics to teach it to someone else?”

A look around will reveal most don’t even know how to make an effective fist before the interaction even begins, let alone the intricacies of stances and footwork. Some serious self-examination needs to occur before “striping up.” Anyway, back to speed which on a mechanical level has its roots firmly planted in mechanics. However, that is only a part of the action and there are things that occur well before we get to the mechanical or physical stage of acting or reacting in response.

"He who hesitates meditates in a horizontal position", is a statement Ed Parker Sr. used to imply the need for prompt action. It is a statement referring to terms related to the many components of speed. "Do it now", "I want it done this instant", "be prompt", "you'd better be fast", "be quick about it", "you must do it rapidly", "it depends upon the swiftness of your action", are terms that imply speed, or act to hasten velocity irrespective of direction or dimensions.

As we study these terms, we learn that they are in Newtonian Physics concepts related to distance and time. By definition, speed is equal to the distance divided by the time (s=d/t) it takes to act or move. Speed in totality, however, goes beyond the definitions described. Like the mechanic who uses a number of terms to describe the different types of wrenches they might use, we too, must distinguish and categorize speed to make it meaningful in our interaction as a practitioner, and understand it comprehensively as an instructor.

There are three categories of speed -- perceptual, mental, and physical or mechanical. However, although categorized separately in order to analyze what speed entails, they nevertheless function as one realistically as a single entity.

Perceptual speed is the quickness of the senses to monitor the stimulus that it receives, determine the meaning of the stimulus, and swiftly convey the perceived information to the brain so that mental speed can parlay the response. To the Martial Scientist, it is the feel of trouble, a sound that alarms or warns of trouble, a sign or gesture that suggests trouble, seeing the incoming strike, or the opportunity to attack or counterattack. Speed of this type can be increased by maintaining alertness predicated on the environment and by conditioning the senses to harmonize with environmental awareness (Infinite Insights - see Volume I, Chapter 11). But we must also be aware that our environmental senses also function independently of conscious thought and adjust themselves without our knowledge to prevent sensory overload in certain circumstances.

Mental speed is the quickness of the mind to select appropriate responses to effectively deal with the perceived stimulus. Speed of this type, however, can only be increased by practicing the various aspects of your techniques on a regular basis. This involves inculcating the techniques to a point of total familiarity and instinctive response (mental speed) in nullifying the threat. Speed, therefore, is a byproduct of mental and physical familiarity. As you broaden your knowledge of alternatives and can conceptualize the random answers that exist in your subconscious mind, your instinctive response (mental speed) increases proportionately when it is triggered by the perceived stimulus or external threat, and this goes beyond the initial speed created by Startle Reflex which too, functions independently like our environmental senses.

Physical speed (body performance) is the promptness of physical movement -- the fluency in response to the perceived stimulus. In a martial environment, it is the speed of the actual execution of a technique. Speed of this type can be increased through stretching, body conditioning, and other proper methods of training.

Stretching exercises help to increase elasticity that automatically develops reach. Body conditioning prevents fatigue and allows body speed to function for longer periods of time. Knowledge of the principles of correct anatomical movement relative to the circumstances also contributes to speed. It avoids erroneous angles and teaches you how to administer your strength (power) in obtaining the most for your efforts in the shortest possible practical and effective time which isn’t always a straight line. (A major confusion when comes to Point Of Origin).

This principle (1) stresses the importance of being relaxed when striking -- tensing only at the moment of impact, (2) makes one aware that time is crucial, (3) uses movements that follow proper indexing of the body to achieve maximum speed and effectiveness to the desired results, (4) eliminates telegraphing unless used as a means of anatomical necessity or deceptive strategy; teaches (5) continuity, flow, and interactive rhythm (a topic that needs further elaboration), (6) to respond from wherever your natural weapons are located at the time of combat (point of origin), no matter what your, or your attacker’s, body position may be at the time; (7) target accessibility and the distance, or range, that exists between your attacker’s targets and your natural weapons, ( 8 ) the time it will take to get to the target of your choice, and (9) to also consider the speed of your attacker's action or especially reaction when analyzing movement.

A concluding note -- while body speed often enhances power, it is without a doubt NOT the root of power. Synchronization of body mass and speed are only two of the major ingredients that add to creating power. The body mass not only must be present, but it must also present itself in an anatomically efficient and directionally congruent whole-body manner to maximize effectiveness in action while minimizing damage to one’s own anatomy over time. Don’t become a victim of the “Martial Curse” and fall into the trap that speed is everything. Everyone wants to be “fast.” The key is to stay “within yourself.” Never let your speed overcome your ability to execute properly with good stances, basics, and control. If your execution exceeds your basic skills, your speed is relatively meaningless in the long term. Being fast is cool. Being fast for a long time is even cooler.

“Speed is a byproduct of mental and physical familiarity.”