DESCRIPTION OF DRAGON SEN-I JUTSU
I began working on the basics and fundamentals of Dragon Sen-I Jutsu from the first street fight I ever had to the last martial art I mastered. I just didn’t know it at the time, but I always felt that each and every individual art that I studied, (Dorku-Te, Sport Judo, Half Circle Jujitsu, Kung-fu, Wado-ryu, Kyusho Jutsu, American boxing, Military basic combat and Isshin-ryu), Was limited in some way or another. They were like promises of superior enlightenment that was still lacking a final piece of its promise for the “complete” system. This was a monumental undertaking at my age. Maybe I should have been satisfied with my accomplishments to date. I had developed a School in Nashville that became a renown fighting school and produced seven Isshin-ryu Hall of Famers. I had another ultra successful dojo with fighters that exceeded that of even the Nashville group. I was sixty and a Ku-Dan. I had almost forty years in the arts. But I knew that my students were getting just enough to think they knew a lot. As street fighters they were good at kumite and grappling. Some were better street fighters before they joined. I had systemized and programmed them to fight like a cookie cutter karate person. Watching boxers and wrestlers I knew that we were inferior to both. So I started the long, humbling, experience of teaching my guys and myself the same system at the same time. My only contribution to them was the vision of exactly what I wanted and a lot of training to expedite it. The more I watched the mma bouts, the more I knew that what I was teaching was relevant. I had all the dots. I just had to connect them all. Granted, I couldn’t just go into a room and dream it up. There was in fact a lot of on paper applications and techniques. But that was all theory. I needed practical application. That would have been impossible were it not for the help of the Red Dragon black belts, who have pushed themselves and me, into another realm of training and understanding. This dedicated group has taken every old school thing I have thrown at them and have demonstrated the ability to get “contact real.” If we could not do that, then training in Sen-I was irrelevant. We closed down our commercial dojo and moved into a fitness center aerobics room. No padding, just a rug. But it was private and offered solitude for serious training. The ten of us, took four years to hone out the finishing basic and fundamental attributes of Sen-I Jutsu. Each theory was put to the test with practical application. We attended point and full contact tournaments to see how our stand up compared and if it stood up against karate, boxers and kick boxers. We were more than satisfied with the results. We attended countless jujitsu seminars and training sessions. We competed at our training jams and seminars, against jujitsu people with much more experience and knowledge. We were proud of our results there also. There are also some hard working, incredibly knowledgeable, martial artist and supportive friends, who have educated and encouraged me for lo these many years. A special thanks to Master Clyde Stanley, who gave me the idea to do this and Master butch Hill and Willie Wilson who encouraged me when I was having a hard time with the decision. In truth, after almost forty plus years teaching Isshin-ryu, I was becoming stale. For me, it was like teaching the last twenty years, what I learned the first twenty. I noticed that a lot of the Isshin-ryu bunkai and kumite required skills that I no longer possessed. I then began to notice that in the rough and tumble style of Sen-I, I could hang with any of my students. Common sense told me at sixty five years of age, that if it worked for me and extended my ability to physically train on a competitive dojo basis, then it would work for everyone. So a good bit of the motivation for this system was to extend my own career physically, and a rejuvenation of passion for me and my students for training.
There have been many legendary Martial Artists who have worked with me to broaden my scope of knowledge and give me what I could have not acquired by myself. All have had a profound effect on me. Grand Masters; Harold Long, along with Bruce Lee, and Cecil Paterson (Wado-Ryu), have all shared knowledge and leadership. None more of course than Mr. Long. His finger prints will be all over this system. Master’s Butch Hill, Clyde Stanley, Joe Laney, James Ogle, Tony Williams and Willie Wilson, as well as Ju-dan Toby Cooling, have spent many hours in the “cross training” service of my students and me. Also, the Masters and black belts who have attended the Dragon and ICA Jams, have made a positive contribution. It gave me a mirror to hold up in front of myself and immeasurable knowledge for my students. Probably nothing gave me more “up close and personal” experience than the first Nashville group( !965 to 1978). It was before safety equipment and some of the training was an organized gang war among ourselves. Even Mr. Long commented often on the ferocity of which we fought. . . The realization of life and death my military experience taught me; and the combat training that is used in my system. taught me the value of closing out an attacker. All of this in my background, has caused me to push the envelope and strive to develop a system that I feel a calling to do. I hope it is not perceived as a condemnation of Isshin-ryu its past and present leaders or an insult to those who have made it great. I am also not trying to appear arrogant or indicate that I know something, or more than my counter parts, or earlier sensei’s. I just feel a calling to step outside the box where many others have gone, and create my own concept of street fighting defense.
Dragon Sen-I Jutsu means ”Dragon Spirit Fighting”. I define it as “situational street combat”. The “situation” designation, gives it a totally individualized application. It is not a scripted approach, as it depends on the situation and the individual analysis of the situation. Its approach to individual selection action and reaction, is best defined by Bruce Lee when he said, “absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.” This must be fully understood to learn Sen-I Jutsu from within. This sets up for me as the teacher, another Bruce Lee quote. “A teacher is never just a giver of truth. He is a guide, a pointer to the truth, each student must find themselves. A good teacher is merely a catalyst.” That being said, Sen-I Jutsu is not to be described or assumed to be the best of anything. It is an eclectic, composite of techniques and fighting applications, from other successful styles of combat. No style or systematic form of any martial arts is any better or worse than the person using it. Arguing the latter is for fools and people who need to believe in something other than themselves. It is an irrelevant thinking that flies in the face of progressive change. Through my experience, study, and access to the best martial artist of my time, I would state that some techniques seem to have a better chance of working for the greatest majority. It is these tools I put in the hands of my students or anyone who is interested. Become a craftsman to whatever degree you choose. Once again, “absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.”
Its physical dynamics are rooted in close combat conditions or conditions that may become close combat. Close combat is described as anything closer than kumite distance. We use a basic boxer’s stance, with open hand forward, is the anchor stance. There are few stances, with the emphasis on transitioning, without always picking up the feet while punching or throwing. Transitioning also applies to the torso and arm placements as much as the feet. The hips are the directional compass not the stance or feet. Power comes from the hips and legs. The shoulders finish by driving the striking point into the target and out. As the general distance between you and the opponent is half an arms length, maximum power, mobility and stability, must be accessed at short range. The hips are the key and the angle they provide. It is recommended that attacks and counters are done to the outside and just off the hip of the opponent. Never straight on. There are reasons discussed in training and techniques practiced that cover this aspect. All this will not be covered in written form. This is for dojo training. Kicks are low and limited to knees, ankles, shins, and groin along with leg sweeps and foot stomps. Kick are recommended as weapons only if you are a good kicker. If not, they are to make openings for your hands. In a close order street fight, picking your foot up off the ground for any reason, is a calculated risk of balance. Kicks will be best used as an interceptor strike or, if you have driven the attacked backwards at kicking distance. Punches and strikes, are Isshin-ryu, kung-fu and boxing. Hook punches, power shots with the arm close to the body, and sling over the top punches, are found to be more reliable than any other in the street. Most power strikes are followed by elbows or knees or both. Additional strikes come from the head and shoulders. All this, while maintaining a disengagement option. Blocks, are predominantly shuto (chops) to the arms for injury and control.
We will attack the arms as much as the head. They are an easier target and vulnerable to injury. Moving the head while blocking and in line with the hips is essential. Slipping punches free up both hands for punching and promotes continues disengagement. Otherwise blocks will be in the vicinity of the head and not the parallel to the floor variety that can be hooked around. Block-strikes will be for creating opening for combinations. Not defensive deflection. There is no Se- I Jutsu kata; only live practice and technique practice. There is no step one, two, or pre conditioned responses, or kata. Only combat applications from the written syllabus or personal variations are to be practiced. There must be plenty of room for a “you” in your combat responses.
As stated above Dragon Sen-I is a composite of other disciplines as most styles are. Though there are many influences in our style. We draw from mainly four.
Isshin-ryu: for some basics and fundamental, kicks, elbow and knee strikes, breathing and transition stances (Kusanku) plus some of the tuite and applicable hand to hand bunkai.
Kung-fu: six inch punches, rips, gouges, grabs, sweeps, shin and forearm strikes, and circular strike/ blocks. Also catch blocks and rotation punch and some take downs.
Boxing: slipping punches, punching combinations, stance, hooks, sling punches, left jab twisting hand to a horizontal fist.
Jujitsu: any and all techniques designed to stay up right or return to feet after take down by using Half circle ju-jitsu, Go-Shin and Kung fu. As we are not grapplers in the strictest sense in the word, we concentrate on techniques that make us, stand-up fighters who can grapple if necessary.
A student is challenged to make this a better system tomorrow than it is today. It depends on you for its future improvement. You will never be asked to protect the “system” more than yourself. It has to flow with the times. It has to change with the individual and be almost unrecognizable from practitioner to practitioner.
Do not be a demonstrator of your system beyond the basics, or you will demonstrate your lack of understanding for it. The system is you, creating an individual choice of options. The basics of the system are a brush and canvas of which to paint what lies in your eyes. There are fundamental street combat knowns, but mostly unknowns. Thus the necessity for “situational” combat. Simplicity is the key. You must turn a blur into a focused picture. Your mind, if not preconditioned with too much information, can do this. The challenge is to make Sen-I, the yen and yang of combat, with you as the line in the middle. The worst thing any system can do, is to over program you and leave you with more answers than questions. Stop worrying about how to do “It” and be “IT.”
Ground tactics are for the purpose of surviving the ground with the goal of disengagement and stand up resumption. If it not possible to disengage, the systems basics provides for optional techniques to situational selection. Our basic ground training syllabus, is limited to only two techniques per situation. One, for taking advantage of what your attacker gives you. The other for creating your own advantage. Last but not necessarily least; is the survival mode. This strategy is simply for tiring your attacker out by making him waste energy, and ultimately exhausting himself. Sufficient training will be done in the art of relaxing during a struggle, using patience, positioning and controlled breathing.
Finishing is one of the more situational aspects of the system. You are expected to show the same judgment here as in your selection of defense techniques. When we speak of finishing we are speaking of ending the fight where no harm can come to you. The better you are the less you have to fear. Fear causes over reaction of force. On the other hand do not under react.
Denny Shaffer; Chief Combat Instructor
Dragon Sen-I Jutsu
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