Armstrong Dojo Drills

Master Steve Armstrong, from his experience as a Marine, understood the importance of drills and repetition in developing solid foundational habits in students.  Wherever possible, he codified the concepts of Isshinryu into drills which could be committed to memory and practiced systematically until the movements were completely instinctive.  Thanks to the generosity of Master Don Wasielewski, we have demonstrations of two of the more popular drills from the Armstrong Dojo:  1)  the eight elbow strikes; and 2) the 24 basic blocks and counters.

The elbow strikes are significant because they have nothing to do with tournament sparring, where many of Armstrong’s students excelled.  Armstrong never forgot that Isshinryu meant self defense.  It had to be street worthy, and street effective.  So while his students practiced for the tournaments, they also practiced for the streets.  The elbow strike drill reinforces the practical nature of Isshinryu.  Yes, the punches, kicks and blocks have their place, but many fights are decided inside where maximum power had to be generated in minimum distance, hence the need to fully understand and master the elbow strikes.

The basic blocks and counters of Isshinryu take their inspiration from the teachings of Master Shimabuku in their emphasis on direct physical response to an attack.  In this sequence, Master Don Wasielewski explains, then demonstrates the 24 blocks with counters that were standard regimen at the Armstrong Dojo during its final years.  In explaining the techniques, Master Wasielewski uses casual English.  Hopefully that won’t offend any purists out there.  Wasielewski, who is a teacher by profession, emphasizes Karate should be taught as it is practiced.  It should be clear, and accessible to the target audience.  Per Wasielewski, mastering the traditional terminology comes later, once the techniques have taken root.  Though not a Kata per se, the block and counter sequence has many of the characteristics of Kata, and like the “Standard”, can be initiated on any beat and cycled through without stopping.

(Click Image of Mizugami to View)

Elbow Strikes

Elbow Strikes

The Mantis form of Gun Fu is a direct take off on the elbow strikes. Click here to view.

24 Basic Blocks & Counters Explained

Blocks & Counters 1

24 Basic Blocks & Counters Practiced

Blocks & Counters 2

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