I just returned from taking Prof. Clark to the airport, and I thought I would write down some thoughts about this weekend’s seminar.
Saturday July 28th 2007
Saturday’s seminar was held in San Francisco, with fifteen attendees. Since the class was largely composed of people familiar with Mr. Clark and what he teaches, Mr. Clark bypassed his normal introduction and proceeded right to the techniques.
These techniques ranged from striking specific points to several forms of joint locks. However, they all shared one thing in common; they were all painful.
The most notable one–which will require a lot of practice to become proficient in–was a method of locking up the thumb. While difficult to do, this technique is clearly utilized in several Aiki and Jujutsu techniques. However, while this method is most likely widely applied to some degree or another, I don’t think many practitioners who utilize it are even aware of the fact.
Another interesting technique Prof. Clark taught was a specific point located on the back of the hand. Not only was it painful, but when properly done one’s opponent can not make a fist. Or, if one’s opponent is holding a weapon, this point can be struck to make them release it.
Now I realize that anyone reading this will say there is nothing really interesting or ground breaking about striking or pressing a point on the back of the hand, but chances are this point isn’t the one most martial art practitioners are familiar with. Even Prof. Clark stated this was something new he was investigating.
Overall, I think those that attended this seminar had a good time, and left with several new concepts and techniques to mull over–not to mention a few bruises to recover from.
I know I had a good time on Saturday. Not only because I enjoy learning new things, but also because several old friends I haven’t see in a long time were in attendance.
I also want to thank my student Chad for allowing us to use his office to host this seminar. I know a couple of people had a little problem finding the place, but it worked out really well.
Sunday July 29th 2007
On Sunday we traveled to Dixon, California where Jim Ernest, the owner of Ramtown Karate, hosted the seminar. Fourteen people attended this seminar that focused on various applications found within karate kata (forms).
I don’t practice karate, so I rarely have a clue when Prof. Clark discusses various katas karate practitioners do. But I enjoy watching and learning his interpretations of the various kata movements.
The most interesting thing I’ve observed is how similar many of the movements in kata are to those movements practiced in Aiki and Jujutsu arts. For me, the more similarities I see within different martial arts, the more I really believe that in some point in our training, we all end up doing the same things. Only the approach, and the specialty a particular style focus on initially is different.
What I really like about seeing Prof. Clark’s interpretations of kata movements is that he makes sense of some movements I’ve often questioned, such as double upper blocks. I for one have never believed the most common explanation, which often says the movement is designed to block two attackers who simultaneously paunch to your head. My main reason is that the chances of such an attack occurring would be so extremely rare.
Certainly, there would be karate practitioners who would debate Prof. Clark’s interpretation; however, the technique he showed for that particular movement makes a lot more sense. If nothing else, it shows a deeper examination of a commonly practiced movement.
I think Prof Clark’s approach of “thinking outside of the box” to explain commonly done techniques is why I continue to invite him to the San Francisco.
Another element that was interesting during this seminar was that there was attendee who didn’t feel or react to any stimulus intended to cause pain. I mean nothing worked on him at all
I have always taught my students that pain is never a goal of martial art techniques, just a pleasant by product when and if it happens. That no one should wait for a person to react to a painful stimulus, since they may be very disappointed when it doesn’t happen, and worst yet by waiting put their safety in jeopardy.
Prof. Clark agrees with this theory, and makes it clear that the techniques he teaches are a supplement to all ready viable techniques. He makes it clear no one should rely on these techniques alone. This is unlike some other instructors who teach seminars such as these.
I think Sunday was another successful day, and that everyone in attendance left with a lot of information to process and play with.
I want to thank Sensei Ernest for co-hosting Prof. Clark, and for allowing us to use his school. He has a great school, and his students were a pleasure to meet and work with.