return | email | Part I

A Personal Evolution Part II

The first half is my one and only experience as a street fighter, because of this incidence I found the true way of karate. Second half starts from "WHY?" and explains my search for true karate.

Let me omit the cause of the fight since all fights occur for stupid reasons and start with the confrontation:

The Incidence
It was 1996, on a bright and sunny day. I had a quarrel with a guy and, at all places, at a favourite gathering spot for his goofs. Stupid huh? I somehow remember they liked to meet at a fruit stall outside the entrance of campus.
Our voices got louder in the argument (over what was simple enough, but its not important in this story ... just so that you understand we had a serious falling out). The racket attracted some other guys who came in and tried to mediate. One fellow, Smiley Face, told me to leave him alone, the one who quarreled with me started to get hysterical and yelled out loud to provoke me. I said to the one who mediated "see?", because until this moment I had no intention, or mental preparation to fight. Which I should have considering that one must always be alert as a karateka.
Next thing I know, a new troublemaker throws an egg at me but misses. I spot him (about 15 feet away), but when I walk towards him (my blood was boiling at this point) Smiley Face tried to stop me by getting in the way. This guy is 6'2 and pretty big even though I was only a couple of inches shorter. I pushed him aside and that was it, Smiley Face went ballistic. The second time he touched me I pushed him so hard he stumbled back. Instinctively, I knew a fight was about to break out. Quickly looking around, I discovered my worst threats: one guy on left holding a stick, five on right spoiling for action (the fruit stall goofs), and this big guy alone in front of me.

Kiddy fight
My first thoughts were to finish the one with the stick, an observation only took half a second. Because he launched. I stepped to my left, sweeping the stick away with my left hand (so this is what wood's like!) and punched him in the face with my right hand. Unfortunately, our beautiful and quite inspiring ballet was interrupted. Another jerk behind me jumps at me with a "flying kick", but before straightening his kicking leg I managed to stop him with a right sidekick. Another fella behind him runs to me to contribute some "kicks" of his own, but everything flies off-target and I countered him in the end with a roundhouse kick, striking his left temple.
OK, up till here you may think I defended myself beautifully, but to me what I did was bullshit and crap. I was supposed to finish the first few guys with one blow, an elegance which I was taught - Ikken Hisatsu. But I unconsciously pulled back, as if this was a big sporting tournament just as how Bruce Lee and Mas Oyama put it: a false sense of distance.
The third guy I countered didn't turn out properly, I started panicking. When Smiley Face comes after me it became a kid's fight - I swung my "punches" and so did he. It was messy; guys started holding me from the back. I struggled, got free and "punched" back. We tumbled until someone yelled "police!" then everything stopped. Surprisingly I only ended up with 2 bruises on my forehead and 1 cat-slash mark on my chest.

After the fight I was only thinking "Why?" even though my friends were worried because later, a joker tried to make money out of this (not the same ones who fought with me, weird huh?) who brought out his "gangster" leader. Later I brought in the real leader of their community, but that's another story.

What was the main problem? I was thinking hard "Why couldn't I finish it easily? I could deliver a powerful reverse punch when training, I sparred with Tae Kwon Do black belts and handled them easily, and I could do single hand pushups too! Why??"
At that time I thought I didn't train hard enough so I went back to my old "traditonal training", this time telling myself "no pull back" in a fight. I punched the bag harder, took a year to condition my shin in order to break sticks. In the end, some sticks turned out to be so hard (quite unbreakable) but I didn't really feel pain. I convinced myself that it's good every time I went for training and did the same punches and kicks like the past 8 years.

Until during one training session, I got fed up while sparring with a partner. I controlled not using the hook even though he only protected his center. Using my hook would have allowed me to attack from the side, whacking his jaw and knocking him out. (In sports karate only straight punches are allowed). I know that this can never enable me to protect myself against a full contact fighter like a kickboxer although I had trained so well and so hard and was sure that I could kill all those guys in that kiddy fight if it happened again. But that wasn't what I wanted.
A year later I discovered Kyokushinkai, and I admired the way the karatekas trained which combines karate spirit and full contact techniques. But later I found Kyokushinkai was heading toward the sport direction, and as a result the quality of concepts deteriorated (that's probably why Tadashi Nakamura left and formed Seidokan).
True martial art should teach a person to face and conquer any adversary, regardless of size, age and sex. The bigger don't always win. In sports karate a 55kg 18-year-old girl can never beat a 75kg 25-year-old male. In true martial art she will.
So I began looking for a martial art that deduces one's self defence ability is not determined by age, sex, and size; How do you block a Mike Tyson punch? How does Bill "Superfoot" Wallace fight with up and coming 20-year-old kickboxers (well, he said he rather not in his article in Black Belt magazine). Can you punch Arnold down? Perhaps you can, but can your sister? Can she? If she can't then the martial art you've both learnt is only confined to a person like you.
All these questions spurred me on to determine if a martial art is good, I don't want to learn something and train so hard for it but can't use again when I get old.
What about you? You may break sticks with your shin like I did, but can you do it when you're 50? Maybe you can, but you have to keep conditioning your shin, and one day you'll break your leg because it no longer heals as fast and complete as when you were younger.

Kissaki Kai
vince morris I heard about Kissaki Kai 3 years ago from a martial art magazine featuring Vince Morris. It stayed in my memory because I was impressed that sets of movements in karate can actually be used in the street. And the fact that he teaches the police. But I was sceptical towards this claim (street prowess). My disappointment in karate was quite deep.
Two years ago I saw my former karate instructor Vince Choo advertised in the paper under Kissaki Kai. To my memory he was a strong believer of "traditional" (sport) karate. I thought "Nah, sure another new style teaching the same old thing." Because a 4th dan black belt holder like him probably won't accept the fact that sport karate is impractical. Like some of my seniors in previous training halls, to them even if they get killed on the street, it'd be because they didn't train hard enough, not because what they learnt is crap.
Two months ago I received an email from Vince. After an exchange of views I found him a lot different from the Vince Choo I used to know. He seemed critical of the old stuff so I was inspired to visit his training session. It was a big impact for me. I saw with my own eyes how he applied movements from kata (sets) to simulated street-fighting. I joined without hesitation.

Note: In sport karate and taekwondo kata is considered a graceful and useless dance.

Everything in Kissaki makes sense and fulfills my requirements - that a true martial art isn't determined by age, sex, or size. It may look fancy from photos (that's how I found it when I knew about Vince Morris), but only when you witness it you know its no joke.

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