The Waldow Principle

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The Waldow Principle

Postby HanshiClayton » Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:46 pm

Reference "Reverse Hip Throw," see page 70 of U.S. Army Hand-To-Hand Combat: FM 21-150, June 1954.
Also, "Ushiro Koshi Nage," technique 4-20 of George Kirby, Black Belt Budoshin Jujitsu, Panther Productions, 1992.

When we attempt to fit applications to the movements of our katas, we walk a narrow path between the inspired and the ridiculous. How can we tell how credible an application is, viewed from a historical perspective? One way is to apply the Waldow Principle.

In Shotokan's Secret, Expanded Edition I described the lives of Matsumura and Itosu, and the kind of fighting they were called upon to perform as royal bodyguards to the kings of Okinawa. They were unarmed and outnumbered, facing armed, numerous opponents. I called this "one against many, skin against steel." If they got a chance to decisively destroy an opponent, they had no choice but to take it. Other opponents were coming at them from all directions.

Hence the Waldow Principle, coined by Shihan Beth Waldow of Mariposa, CA, in 2004:

    "Itosu never did anything harmless."
What does this mean? The Shuri bodyguards were ruthless. Their goal was to ruin each opponent so he could not continue to fight.

If a proposed application produces a knock-out, a mutilation, or some other severe orthopedic injury, then it satisfies the Waldow Principle. It is not harmless. If the technique does no injury, then it violates the Waldow Principle. Itosu did not waste his time on indecisive techniques.

    Here's an example. Consider the standard judo hip throw, koshi guruma, a "hip wheel." This is a hip throw in which you wrap your right arm around the opponent's neck, pull his right sleeve with your left hand, pivot in and flip him over your right hip. He lands on his left side and slaps the mat, unhurt. This violates the Waldow principle. He can get up and fight again right away.

    However, the outcome of the throw is completely different if you turn the opponent around and attack him from the rear. This time your right arm circles his throat, bending his neck far to the rear, as if "hanging" him. It's a neck-breaker. Your right hand pulls his arm back in an arm bar, springing his shoulder and elbow. He flips over your hip upside down and hits the pavement on his kneecaps. This throw is not harmless. It satisfies the Waldow Principle.

This throw is so vicious it is demonstrated in the US ARMY Field Manual 21-150 (1954 edition) as a technique for use in combat.

George Kirby demonstrates a safety-modified version of this throw as "Ushiro Koshi Nage" in volume 4 of his home-study video set. He grasps the shoulders of the opponent's jacket instead of yanking on his neck.

The Waldow Principle is one of the tests we apply to proposed applications. If the application fails the Waldow test, then we need to keep looking. It isn't good enough.
Bruce D. Clayton, Ph.D.
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