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By Charles Rhodes, P. Eng., Ph.D.

1. Fisher Shotokan Karate is an enhanced form of Shotokan Karate in which technique detail is uniquely determined by maximization of energy delivery within an elapsed time of 0.5 seconds.

2. Karate is like an onion. It has many layers. Many people know what the outside is like. Some people know what the next layer is like. Fewer people understand the deeper layers.

3. One of these deeper layers is an area of physics known as mechanics. Mechanics governs the motion of masses and other matters relating to kinetic and potential energy. Charles Rhodes has the benefit of advanced understanding of this area of physics.

4. Over a period of about five years (1995 to 1999) Charles Rhodes, in his role as a Karate Ontario official, observed the success of Malcolm Fisher in numerous karate tournaments. Charles Rhodes concluded that much of Sensei Fisher's tournament success was due to superior technique rather than just natural ability and physical strength.

5. As a result of detailed demonstrations by Sensei Fisher at Brad Jones Karate-Do during 2008, it became apparent to Charles Rhodes that Sensei Fisher had, without formal training in mathematics or physics, intuitively discovered several fundamental physical principles relating to body motion and had successfully applied these principles to systematically enhancing various aspects of Shotokan karate.

6. Sensei Fisher recognized that the physics of bipedal motion constrains all karate techniques, and that optimizing a karate technique requires careful thought about the physics of the related bipedal motion.

7. In early January 2009 Charles Rhodes mathematically compared the Fisher method of executing the first 90 degree turn of the kata Heian Shodan to the corresponding JKA method and concluded that over a reasonable range of opponent distances the Fisher method is about 34% faster than the JKA method.

8. Charles Rhodes recognized that both he and others could benefit by integrating Fisher methods into their own karate.

Sensei Fisher realized that most of the kinetic energy of a karate technique originates in the legs, but that linear motion and turns are both constrained by the requirement that when the body Center of Momentum (CM) is moving horizontally the legs have vertical force vector components that summed together equal the body weight. Hence there are only limited ranges of leg angles and body positions that allow maximum loading (potential energy accumulation), maximum turn rate and maximum energy delivery to an opponent.

Sensei Fisher further realized that kinetic energy delivery could be increased by acquiring angular momentum at a large body moment of inertia and then converting muscle chemical potential energy into kinetic energy by reducing the body moment of inertia during free rotation. This kinetic energy accumulation technique is integral to Fisher Shotokan.

Sensei Fisher found that the optimum motion path for maximizing energy delivery is usually not a straight line. The optimum motion path usually involves a Center-of-Momentum (CM) drop in combination with a low moment of inertia turn and a linear attack.

The CM drop and turn takes 0.15 to 0.20 seconds, which provides the karateka a small time window to appropriately react to an opponent's attack. The CM drop loads (accumulates potential energy in) the legs that is converted into deliverable kinetic energy during the counter attack.

Sensei Fisher observed that normal bipedal motion involves a significant lateral movement of the body Center of Momentum (CM). A block of a high energy attack that at the attacker's Midpoint Fully Loaded Position (MFLP) is aimed at the defender's Center of Momentum (CM) should deflect the attack in the direction of the normal lateral movement of the attacker's CM. Simply put, the best way to block a high energy attack is to slip out of the way. The act of attack avoidance should place the defender in a favorable position to deliver a maximum energy counter attack. This issue redefines the detail of kumite and the design and execution of kata.

Sensei Fisher has attempted to teach Fisher Shotokan to others with limited success. Part of the difficulty in teaching Fisher Shotokan is that the advantages of Fisher Shotokan over JKA Shotokan are generally only fully appreciated by advanced karate-ka. By the time a person has gained sufficient knowledge of karate to fully appreciate the advantages of Fisher Shotokan and has acquired sufficient self confidence to depart from accepted JKA Methods, he/she has already practised basic movements in accordance with JKA gospel many thousands of times. Unlearning these basic habitual movements in order to learn Fisher Shotokan is a major challenge. To overcome this challenge he/she must be open minded enough to seriously try Fisher Shotokan techniques. This learning problem is multiplied if his/her dojo head has a different philosophy.

Acceptance of Fisher Shotokan is easier if a student has sufficient understanding of physics to have mental certainty regarding the applicability of physical laws to karate techniques.

Teaching Fisher Shotokan might be easier if one started with novices, rather than black belts. However, that would be a very long process and would require modifications to numerous JKA kata manuals.

Learning Fisher Shotokan involves physical training to develop more deliverable energy in a shorter time through appropriate use of the hips and ankles and through more complex turns than are currently taught by the JKA.

The goal of maximization of energy delivery within 0.5 seconds extends beyond the particular techniques that Sensei Fisher has optimized. In respect of Sensei Fisher's recognition that the primary goal of Shotokan karate is maximization of energy delivery to a chosen target within 0.5 seconds, and in recognition of Sensei Fisher's long term demonstration in tournaments of the utility of Fisher Shotokan techniques, for the purpose of this web site all karate techniques optimized for maximum energy delivery within an elapsed time of less than 0.5 seconds are referred to as “Fisher Shotokan”.

The JKA teaches karate novices to execute sequential blocks and counter attacks (go no sen). Blocks executed in this manner are very strong. However, the 0.5 second time constraint of Fisher Shotokan effectively prohibits the use of sequential blocks and counter attacks because they take too long to execute. Practical techniques in Fisher Shotokan involve simultaneous use of a deflection type block and a counter attack (sen no sen) that together can be executed in less than 0.5 second.

Some Fisher Shotokan techniques require the defender to attack just as the attacker is commencing his attack (sen). Such techniques require anticipatory perception that in turn requires a good understanding of human bipedal motion.

With a few exceptions all Fisher Shotokan techniques start and end at the ready position. In this position the body is erect, one leg is forward, one leg is back and the planes of knee motion and both feet point at the target. The body weight is distributed 50% on each leg.

During subsequent motion it is important to keep the spine vertical to minimize the body moment of inertial for turns about the spine vertical axis.

A Fisher Shotokan technique involves simultaneous loading and then discharge of the lower and upper body to develop maximum deliverable kinetic energy. Critical upper body elements are the arms, rotation around the spine and the role the shoulder blades play in both accelerating the arms and providing the required structural rigidity at the critical instant of energy delivery. These upper body parts that are horizontally off set from the spine contain the vast majority of the upper body's moment of inertia.

Other crucial elements are the role the loaded foot position plays and the fact that linear force in the legs drives upper body angular momentum development around the spine because the hips are offset from the spine. Describing the arm position as a function of time during a punching or blocking technique only makes sense in the context of explaining the upper body's almost total dependance on the lower body for kinetic energy development.

There is no set position for blocks in Fisher Shotokan or JKA Shotokan methodology. A set and block are one single continuous movement.

Malcolm Fisher describes the Chinese concept of CHI as follows: The "energy" that the Chinese refer to as "Chi" and the Japanese describe as "Kime" is produced by making the distance from your chin to your tailbone as short as possible. This is measured down your front side. Regardless of your body position. This distance minimization unifies the lower and upper halves of your body. It is most easily learned in a natural stance, having the outside of your feet parallel to each other and attempting to draw your heels together. Being able to do this throughout a fully formed technique, is very difficult to do. Unification of your at the start of a kata is necessary, in order to accomplish all the responses required in any kata within the 1/2 second time scale.

The response time of a professional hockey goal tender is 3 tenths of a second. Practicing karate within the 5 tenths of a second time scale and using an explosive initiation during kihon and kata training has a direct effect on one's kumite. Utilizing the principles set out on the "One Page" you should load and be starting to unload your technique before your opponent can begin to move.

Sensei Fisher has observed that optimization of energy delivery within an elapsed time of 0.5 seconds uniquely defines the best way to execute any particular karate technique. Hence all karate styles share the same optimized kumite techniques and the various karate styles differ only in the kata that they choose to practice.

There are some martial arts techniques that rely primarily on sequential precise attacks to nerve centers or pressure points. These techniques are known as Kyusho or Dim-Mak. The superiority of Fisher Shotokan lies in a first strike energy delivery which is so large and which occurs so quickly that the opponent is incapable of responding with any precise counter attacks. In this respect Fisher Shotokan lends itself to use in highly adrenalized combat situations where there is loss of fine motor control.

This web page text last updated April 3, 2019.

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