Announcing the "60th Anniversary IAMA Newsletter" of one of The Oldest Pioneering Martial Arts Associations Internationally Founder: Shihan Gary Alexander, with IAMA Combat Isshinryu Karate and MMA (Marine Martial Arts) Systems.
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"BLACK BELT MAGAZINE RECENT ARTICLE" Written by Special Reporter: FLOYD BURKE September. 2019
HOW ISSHINRYU KARATE LEADER GARY ALEXANDER UPDATED AN OLD ART FOR A NEW MILLENNIUM
Isshin-ryu karate legend ... and "Black Belt Magazine" Hall of Fame ... member "Gary Alexander" has always been a get-on-the-mat-and-see-what-you-can-do kind of guy. ... "Rugged and tough, this ... decorated Marine Corps veteran ... is the John Wayne of the martial arts world". ... In the late 1950’s he began making a name for himself by ... beating the top karate stylists in ... bare-knuckle sparring matches.
"By taking on all comers" ... Gary Alexander helped his art become a respected form of ,,, unarmed combat; ... and ... "by beating them to a pulp", ... he earned a reputation as ... “THE HAMMER OF ISSHINRYU"
COMMENTS --------------------- "Bospherus": ... Alexander's ... sheer will ... and focus are simply ... "John Wickian". Imagine .... an army having a division of men like Alexander. It would be ... analogous to an army ... marching with ... The Ark of The Covenant before it. ..... Simply incredible. ------------------------- Marc: ...The guy should .... have a movie made about his life. ----------------------- Demon: ...I'll bet this guy takes no pills, no Nugenix, No Natural Testosterone Booster .... This is sheer hard work .... and determination........I should look that good ...and .... be that competitive at his age. --------------------- Marc Reply: not to mention, it also appears ... .mentally he's sharp as a needle, usually people don't seem to get to hold onto both the .... physical and mental... --------------------- Ralph Passero: The real deal, no doubt about it. His tournaments,if you were there, you got a shot at the best competitors around. The survivors are stillaround. Thank you GM Alexander for giving us all a chance,,YOU were the guy who starting kickboxing, and full contact karate, plus one of GM Nagle's students. -------------------- Jerry Caldarise: Totally agree Ralph Passero GM Alexander is one of the bests, a leader, an innovator, a great teacher. His tournaments were always real Karate. I sure miss those days. -------------------- John Bartusevics: A pioneer in Combat Karate. -------------------
These days, the New Jersey-based Alexander is busier than ever teaching a modified version of isshin-ryu, which he simply refers to as “isshin-ryu plus.” It is a hybrid system that just makes good sense: a solid foundation of original isshin-ryu upon which stands a unique blend of Alexander’s own techniques and principles. Those improvements make the system fit the practitioner, rather than forcing the practitioner to fit the system, he claims. The following are some of the major modernizations.
Potent Punch Isshin-ryu plus teaches two essentials for maximizing the effectiveness of your punches: in-line chambering and piston-like delivery and recoil. To derive the greatest benefit from these improvements, you must bring your fist as far back and as high as you can — near the upper part of your rib cage — and you must align your elbow directly behind it. When you launch the punch, send it out and yank it back in the same way a piston moves inside a cylinder. Do not pause between the delivery and the retraction. This isshin-ryu plus method differs from the more popular punching techniques that involve beginning the blow with your fist positioned near your face or hip. It is also different from those that allow you to hold your elbow low and out of alignment with your fist. Executing the strike with a misaligned elbow can lead to a loss of power and control because the punch will often skip off the target the same way the tip of a pool stick skips off the cue ball when the shooter has misaligned it.
The combination of in-line chambering and piston action allows you to attain pinpoint accuracy and maximum shock and penetration with your punch. You can fire the same technique over and over like a jackhammer while you maneuver for the best position, Alexander says.
Better Backfist “When it comes to performing the backfist, a lot of people make the mistake of throwing it and executing the follow-through with their entire arm extended,” Alexander says. “This will not only get your arm broken, but it will also make it easy for your adversary to block the technique. I’ve had my own arm broken at the elbow while doing the backfist the old-fashioned way — that’s why I changed it.”
To perform the backfist the isshin-ryu plus way, first aim the elbow of your striking arm at the target and move that fist to the opposite side of your head. Next, using a circular motion with your elbow at the center, unleash the technique and let your fist travel until it makes an impact, then retract it like a whip. Remember to move only your forearm. Although the backfist travels along an arc, the quick retraction will ensure that it is safe as well as effective. To conceptualize how the whipping action can turn a ho-hum technique designed for tournaments into a devastating heavy hitter for the street, Alexander says, think about snapping someone with a towel. It’s not the outward motion that plants a welt on the receiving end; rather, it’s the snap that takes place once the tip of the towel reaches maximum extension.
Gnarly Knifehand The knifehand Alexander incorporated into isshin-ryu plus is the vertical (or very slightly angled) version of the strike. To understand its mechanics, begin by swinging your open right hand up to the right side of your head. Then let the knifehand fly into the target using an arcing trajectory and the same piston-like delivery and retraction.
The related hammerfist strike of isshin-ryu plus is performed in the same manner, except with your hand closed. “In the old-fashioned method, centrifugal force is not emphasized and the techniques are much shorter and choppier,” Alexander says. “That renders the strikes less effective than the way we do them.” Effective Elbow The isshin-ryu plus elbow strike also employs centrifugal force and piston-like action, and the impact is made with the tip of the bone for maximum penetration. To execute it, chamber the weapon by positioning your right fist near your right shoulder and leaving your elbow pointed downward. (Think of holding an ice cream cone in your hand and jamming it, ice cream first, into your shoulder.)
Your limb does not pause in this position; rather, the elbow immediately blasts upward or horizontally and is retracted. That keeps you from exposing yourself to a counterattack executed the moment you lock out the strike.
Combat Kicks “In standard isshin-ryu and isshin-ryu plus, the kicks all chamber up and piston out and back,” Alexander says. “But when you kick, you’ve got to be able to sneak your foot into the target. The average fighter’s radar zone is about 45 degrees up, down and to the side. Since most kicks come at him inside his radar zone, he can easily block or grab your leg and take you to the ground.
“So you have to build a better mousetrap,” Alexander continues. “Isshin-ryu plus uses different angles of attack — ones that most people don’t see or use—and it teaches you to whip the kicks in at angles your opponent does not expect them to come from.”
When doing the front snap kick and roundhouse kick, Alexander says, you should raise your knee high enough to use it as a kind of sighting device. That action should culminate with your calf muscle “bouncing off” your hamstring muscle, after which you let the kick fly. Do not attempt to kick to a level that is higher than the level at which you can point and hold your knee, he advises.
When doing the isshin-ryu plus back kick, raise your knee and keep your lower leg parallel to the ground. Cock your foot high and hold it tight against your buttocks, then blast the kick out and back like a piston, Alexander says.
Corrected Kata Naturally, isshin-ryu plus has a different take on kata (forms). “Many martial artists, especially those with little or no real combat time, practice their kata in a way that is diametrically opposed to the way they fight,” Alexander says. “This amounts to a loss of precious training time.
“That’s why isshin-ryu plus uses the 10 kata of standard isshin-ryu with slight modifications to the choreography,” Alexander continues. “An example of one of those modifications is when a traditional movement puts the practitioner down on his knee; we stay up and just take a wider, lower-profile stance to maintain mobility.”
Alexander’s formulas for improved striking have also been incorporated into the kata of isshin-ryu plus. “By doing them the same way we fight, our movements stay fluid and relaxed,” he says. “Our kata have a lot of fight in them, and they are done with the objective of enhancing the student’s maneuverability and striking skills, and for learning effective strategies.”
Inescapable Conclusion After prevailing in numerous fistfights and a myriad of sparring matches, Gary Alexander created isshin-ryu plus as a combat-effective hybrid art for the 20th century. Drawing from his 40-plus years of training men, women and children from all walks of life — including numerous police officers and military personnel — he then honed it into the finely tuned system it is today.
As the world charges into the 21st century, Alexander remains confident that his art will continue to meet the needs of martial artists around the world who prefer to stay on the cutting edge of self-defense without abandoning their traditional karate roots.
Story by Floyd Burk Isshin-ryu Karate as Gary Alexander Sees It Like other popular karate systems that originated from the te jutsu (hand skills) of Okinawa, isshin-ryu employs hard-style kicks, punches and blocks, as well as extensive kata practice. In addition, there are some fundamentally unique qualities that set the style apart from others.
“One of the major differences is that we do our punches with a vertical fist instead of with the twisting-corkscrew punch used in styles such as goju-ryu and shotokan,” Gary Alexander says. “And we snap the punch out and back, rather than lock it out like most other styles. We also add the snapping action to our blocks and kicks.” But the traditional version of the art has some drawbacks, Alexander claims. “The first that comes to mind is in the kicking. In isshin-ryu, kicks never go above the rib cage. This compounds a major weakness in the style, which is the idea that people with different body types — tall and lean, or short and stocky — should all fight the same way. This just doesn’t make sense.
“My philosophy has always been that if you are forced to fight, you should attack your adversary by land, sea and air — use everything. MMA aka GA/IAMA Marine Martial Arts circa 1962 proven !
Using a kick to the throat or head, you can knock a man clean out with one swift blow, so why not use it if you can? If you have the body structure to out-leverage your opponent and you like to get in close and execute, say, a powerful head butt to his nose, why not let it be part of your arsenal?”
If Alexander could change just one thing about traditional karate, it would be the closed-mindedness. “It’s the old school of thinking, which goes something like, ‘Nothing needs to be changed or improved upon,’ and ‘Each system of traditional karate has all the answers.’ As ridiculous as those words are, they are still prevalent within the circle of martial artists who call themselves authentic isshin-ryu stylists.”
5 Combat Tips from the Master • Defense is offense: Seek to inflict damage on your opponent with your blocking techniques and use them to create openings so you can launch effective counterattacks. • Never underestimate your opponent: Do not take your opponent too lightly; it could get you hurt or killed. Fight every opponent as though he were a highly trained master. • Don’t stop at one: When you attack, use a sequence of at least five hits. The bad guy may block the first or second shot, but sooner or later one will get in. • Use typhooning: If you must fight multiple attackers or find yourself in a situation in which things get crazy, “typhooning” can save your life: Keep your hands and feet moving, shift your body, execute sweeps and trips, try to throw your opponent, and blast away with as many strikes as possible. The key is to overwhelm him. • Be true to your training: You must believe in what you are doing. No workout should be done in a sloppy fashion or like a weekend hobby. Stay true to your art by training as though your life depended on it.
END "BLACK BELT MAGAZINE" SPECIAL BY "FLOYD BURKE" XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
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NEWARK STAR LEDGER ARTICLE SEPTEMBER, 2019 Written by Newark Star Ledger SPECIAL REPORTER: BARRY CARTER
AFTER "60 YEARS OF MARTIAL ARTS PIONEERING" GARY ALEXANDER, 10TH DAN, SENIOR GRAND
MASTER REMAINS UNDEFEATED and this U.S. Marine was The
"First International, Knock Out Karate MMA Champ and "his" workouts
…. probably puts yours to shame !
99 shares By Barry Carter | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Every three days, Gary Alexander is in the pool for a workout that most can’t handle.
With scuba fins on his feet, Alexander does 100 laps, mostly on his back, alternating with freestyle strokes. The next 100 laps he runs back and forth without the fins, climbing from the pool to throw 800 punches, blocks and kicks. “Bam-bam-bam," he says, his arms snapping at the air rapidly. “I try to stay in as good as shape as I can."
The two-hour regimen where he lives, is hardcore, just the way Alexander -- likes it. Salute the United States Marine Corps for his rugged intensity.
Over the last 60 years it has fashioned him into a martial arts legend, who is still sharp and more than capable of mixing it up. Please bow at the waist for this 10th degree black belt and shihan - meaning expert - in Isshin-ryu karate. His pedigree is as broad as his shoulders and as tall as his lean 6-foot-2 inch frame. He’s the first international bare knuckle knock-out karate champion, winning the Canadian Karate Championship in November 1962. In that same month, Alexander, again with his bare-hands, won the North American Championship at Madison Square Garden.
“He was the best of the best," said, Frank Huff, former Marine and 9th degree black belt in Tiger Commando Karate and 8th degree in combat Hapkido.
“They didn’t nickname him the hammer by Isshin-ryu for nothing." His mitts are large and reflect years of fighting; the knuckle on his right hand remains damaged. All of his fingers, at some point, have been broken. Some are not straight now. Small lumps protrude from the top of his hand, hardened by calcium deposits, said Alexander, from striking buildings, trees, two-by-four lumber and people.
A photo from Madison Square Garden, November 17, 1962, when Gary Alexander won the Mas Oyama Martial Arts Tournament, a victory that would establish Alexander as the first North American Bare Knuckle Karate Champion. Oyama, left, and Alexander, with the championship trophy.
“Protective gear is for sissies," Alexander said. “I’ve broken enough bones in other people to build you a couple of bodies."
He was mixed martial arts before it had a name.
Before he was named Black Belt Magazine’s Co-Instructor in 1974, before he was inducted to the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame, Martial Arts Hall of Fame, World Karate Union Hall of Fame and the Australasian Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
Alexander was no joke,
taking life seriously after battling rheumatic fever and an enlarged heart growing up in Jersey City. Diagnosed at age 4, Alexander was bedridden for eight years, and couldn’t go to school until eighth grade. Fearing he’d have a heart attack, Alexander said St. Aloysius High School officials wouldn’t allow him to play sports, even though he knew he was physically fit. He proved it. Alexander joined the Marine Corps Reserves at 17, spending the summer before his senior year at Parris Island. “When I got out of bed, I appreciated being alive," he said.
Alexander graduated high school a year later and signed up for active duty. He was first stationed in Mount Fuji, Japan, serving in the weapons company and Fleet Marine Force, an amphibious unit.
During down time, and that was rare, Alexander and Marines studied karate in Okinawa to remain sharp combatants. The art form, which wasn’t the United States, appealed to Alexander from the beginning.
After six years overseas, Alexander returned to Jersey City in 1961, where he and other marines immersed themselves in Isshin-ryu karate. They learned from Don Nagle, a 4th degree black belt Marine, and were responsible for bringing the art form back to the states when they came home. Alexander trained at night and worked several corporate jobs that he ultimately didn’t want with tobacco and metal companies. As karate developed in the United States, Alexander’s reputation grew. He competed in tournaments and promoted karate events and seminars that drew thousands. In 1964, he held the first karate Olympics at the Manhattan Center in New York. Years later, he met martial art legends Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris.
Gary Alexander throws Patrick Bamburak, his student, in this 2009 picture while they were training at Roosevelt Park in Edison. (courtesy) He produced and starred in some 20 instructional martial arts videos and acted in films, including “Gideon Oliver” with Louis Gossett Jr. and “Avenging Force” with Michael Dudikoff In the midst of his journey, Alexander opened several karate schools in New Jersey, including New Brunswick, Union, Elizabeth and Edison. All were designed to teach his students how to defend.
Alexander was hands on, in Marine mode, wearing combat boots on the mat. Bill Chatfield, his friend of 46 years and the former director of Selective Service under George W. Bush, said Alexander taught with tough love and intensity when he was his student in the 1970s.
“He was a civilian version of a Marine Corps drill instructor," said Chatfield, a 3rd degree black belt, from his home in Dallas. Patrick Bamburak, of Scotch Plains, has never forgotten the image of Alexander sporting combat boots when he walked into his Edison dojo in 1991. He still remembers the level of sparring, too. Students wore football helmets
“You wanted to make sure you got the running back helmet or the defensive lineman helmet," said Bamburak, a sixth-degree black who has been Alexander’s student for 28 years. Last Friday, Alexander was at the pool again.
This time, though, he was training John David of South Amboy. David, a diabetic, went through a series of fighting forms, then blocks and punches with Alexander, whom he’s been with for 30 years. “He’s from the old school," David said.
He pushes you and himself. “I don’t want to lose my proficiency, even at this stage of the game," Alexander said. “Right now, I think I’m as peak as any human being can be for what I do."
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An “Inspirational” True Story facing an uncertain future in his earliest days as a frail child struggling with illness and disability, Gary Alexander would rise to the heights of the martial arts industry, driven by the sheer force of his will to overcome any challenge that lay before him, and in the process live a life of action, adventure and danger that could easily be transformed into an epic Hollywood film, or for that matter, a book!
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My Sensei, Gary Alexander, holding the original plate from the trophy
signifying his win as karate's first international champion, winning
both the Mas Tsuruoka Canadian Championship in Toronto and the Mas Oyama
North American Championship at Madison Square Garden, in New York, over
a two-week period in November on 1962. You can see on the table the
classic photo of Mas Oyama presenting the trophy to Gary Alexander, with
Don Nagle, taken while in the center of the fighting ring in MSG. It's
an epic story to say the least, and don't worry, I took notes.
June 24, 2016 WKU Hall of Fame Quote: John Hawk, IAMA ... Chateau at Pocono's ...
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M1/Bayonet Kata Classical "BO" (for Mil. Spec.) K-Bar Bayonet converted to Classical Kusanku Saya (for Mil. Spec.) Shihans H2HC Combat Karate (His MMA) Marine Martial Arts Systems Demo
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