Kenpo Budokan Karate: White Belt: Lessons: 3 – The 8 Core Self Defense Techniques of the White Belt

Hapkido holds many throwing techniques in comm...
Hapkido holds many throwing techniques in common with judo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Goshin Jutsu (八護身術) – Self Defense Techniques

As a white belt, or someone who is just starting out study of a martial arts, there are a million and one things you get exposed to, and all of a sudden everything seems so overwhelming. It’s like a kindergartner being thrust into the middle of an advanced quantum mechanics symposium. This is really where the lessons and cirriculum come into play – when working with an instructor or a set lesson plans, your instructor (or the lessons on this site) are designed in such a way to gradually introduce themes, concepts, techniques, and forms so that by the end of the entire process, you will have learned the CMATOS system and should be effectively able to defend yourself.

Notice the heading of this article – 八護身術 – it signifies the 8 (hatchi or hakko 八) self-defense (goshin – 護身) techniques (jutsu -術). Unless you’ve studied Japanese or another Japanese based martial art, it seems foreign and strange – confusing. Hold onto that confusion and remember how you felt when you first saw the Japanese. Although there are some Japanese terms used throughout CMATOS, the vast, vast majority of everything here is in English (aside from the Traditional form names for the other styles). If you are keeping a training journal, you should write your thoughts on the language confusion so you can refer back to it in a few month’s time when everything starts to seem to click.

Rule #1: Don’t rush things.

Yes all CMATOS material is up on the website (or will be if it isn’t already) and you can spend a few weeks going through all the material. But rushing through the material and techniques before you actually have become technically proficient in them is a very bad choice – which will only lead to further confusion. Take your time, work through the lessons as they come, and ONLY after you feel comfortable with the material in a lesson should you really go onto the next lesson. The lessons here, as mentioned, are designed to take a lot of the confusion out of the practice and ensure that you are advancing at a pace both you and your instructor are comfortable with.

Calming the Storm

It may seem an insurmountable bit at this point, but in reality you only have 48 self defense techniques and 11 forms that need to be perfected in order to attain your black belt within CMATOS. These 48 techniques are broken down into 32 base techniques, and 32 extensions – so by the time you get to the extension, you should be very confident with the base technique itself. In addition, the 11 forms have been relatively simplified from the standard Kenpo Forms, and should be easy enough for you to pick up and perfect.

White Belt Focus

The whole focus of the white belt level is getting down your basics as well as starting to understand the techniques and movements within the CMATOS system. It should be challenging. It should push your limits – if it doesn’t then something might be wrong. In many styles, the first lesson is all about basics, and then after punching in the air for 3 months, you finally move on to learning something practical. In CMATOS, the material starts with some relatively complex movements. While we don’t specifically teach each of the movements or baseline punches individually, the idea is that as you start learning the self-defense techniques, you will start to pick up the movements. Since the material is reviewed at every level, the goal is to build in a gradual proficiency as you continue to practice the forms and techniques.

Rule #2: Don’t get frustrated.

Think back to the Karate Kid. Daniel had to do all these seemingly meaningless chores, while in the background, his muscle memory started to develop until he was proficient enough to be able to defend himself with a half broken leg and some vapor rub. You aren’t expected to master these techniques overnight, in fact, the standard student takes anywhere from 3-6 months at this beginner level to really start showing proficiency in the material. Slow the videos down. Pause them. Watch yourself perform in a mirror. Get a partner and practice them together. Send us your videos of the material so we can give you tips and pointers on how to improve. Better yet, find an instructor in the CMATOS system and study under them, or contact us for an in-person lesson.

Rule #3: Practice makes perfect.

You are only going to get out of the system what you put into the system. Daily practice is highly recommended, but at a minimum you should set aside two 30-60 minute training windows per week for you to work on your material and go over the lesson materials. Don’t be afraid to go back and review previous lessons or materials so you can ensure that if you missed something or didn’t catch something on the first go around, you can pick it up the next go through.

Rule #4: Find a training partner.

At a very, very, very minimum – if you are looking to advance through the ranks and achieve certified ranking within the CMATOS system, you will need someone to be your partner during the video testing. A much better situation to find yourself in is you have a partner who you consistently are practicing and training with. Use your significant other and take the lessons together, use your child, use a co-worker or gym buddy. Find someone who you can work on the techniques with on a consistent basis. The best benefit of having a partner is that you can work to correct each other’s mistakes and learn as both the attacker and defender. When you attack someone and have them perform the defense against you, you know and feel how your body reacts – this gives you a much better insight into how an attacker will react when you perform the movement on them. In addition, you can work out more “What if” scenarios than just walking through the motions in your head or in an empty room.

Rule #5: Be consistent.

One of the major problems with distance learning and video learning courses is that most individuals who enroll do not spend the time or effort working with a partner and do not set aside the necessary weekly training periods to properly advance through the ranks. To combat this, we offer the distance learning membership – it is a financial commitment, but studies have shown that the greater your financial investment in something, the more likely you are to stick to the plan. Our goal is not so much to make money, as it is to encourage you to stick to your training and achieve a high level of success with the CMATOS system. With the commitment, you are more likely to set aside a training period each week, and are much more likely to find a partner to work with so you can advance through the material much quicker than working alone.

Rule #6: Do what works

The base CMATOS material is based off Kenpo Karate which is based off the Kosho Ryu Kenpo Karate system founded in the 1200’s. This stuff has worked for many individuals over many millennium. However, just because something worked in the past and worked for someone else does not mean that something is going to work for you. The fundamentals will remain the same, but the actual technique and application is a purely individual basis. In addition, remember the previous lesson on self-defense awareness – things need to be dynamic, you may not be able to step back in a particular movement, you may be stuck behind a wall, you may slip and fall…. There are only 48 base self defense techniques in CMATOS (out of the 750 some odd techniques from the various kenpo systems), so there is A LOT of room for additions, extensions, and modifications to the material to make it work for you. This especially applies if you are facing any physical challenges. Even people who are wheelchair bound can benefit from the CMATOS training – there will just be any necessary modifications to make the material work for you. If it’s not working for you, you aren’t doing anything wrong, you just aren’t doing enough right.

Concluding Thoughts

If you ever get stuck, always remember you can reach out to us for guidance. Your focus here isn’t getting things “perfect” but your focus is understanding the basics and on reaching a level of “proficiency” through which you should be able to defend yourself in several specific situations. Focus on these few basic techniques and you will be well on your way to CMATOS mastery.



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