Grandmaster Phillip M. Skornia, 10th Dan

Where spirituality,
self-awareness and philosophy 
come together  in
martial arts

History 2

Much like the Zendo-ryu philosophy that all truth can be accepted from all ryus (styles)in Shorinji ryu Karate, the All Japan Karate Association International embraced this concept, too.

My very first beginnings in martial arts were very humble.  I first heard of karate in 1947.  I heard a news report about a Japanese art being allowed to develop again, an art in which a man could kill with a single blow.  It excited my imagination.  I wanted to learn more.  My Uncle Jim and Uncle Rod, who were both in many battles in World War II, received their training not only in the Navy, but were both stationed in Japan.  Uncle Jim, a ship commander who hosted President Truman during the war, also went to Thailand and was fascinated with Muay Thai kick-boxing.  This is where my Thaibo Power Kickboxing (.com) genesis originated.  My Uncle Rod was a doctor's assistant and knew all about joints and pressure points which was so applicable in Aikijujitsu.  My training commenced with my military and combat-experienced uncles in 1948.  .  The boxing part I caught on to quickly because my father, who was a high school champion in his day, taught me.  Also, my high school superintendent gave me pointers, since Mr. Bray had been a Golden Gloves college champion.  Another teacher, a neighbor, Tom Leist, had been in WWII and taught me to 'give no quarter' and that true fighting was life or death.  All of this teaching was rough and not in a stylized form.  It fit well with the local back country ragtag free-for-all wrestling that was found in farm county in those days.  I got hurt many times against stronger country farm boys.  I remember many school fights where I came out on the losing end.  I can't tell how much you can learn by losing.  One big drawback was my mother, who was a fundamental Christian.  If I fought to defend myself and won, I was punished by my father.  The one and only time I tried to get away was when I was about twelve and was just starting to feel my oats and martial arts prowess.  My father was about 6'2" and 250 pounds of hardworking muscle. I never knew a big man could move so fast.  He threw me down with a catch-as-catch- can wrestling throw and pinned both my arms and legs.  He taught me a lesson that I teach to my students to this day:  Don't fight if you don't have to;  If you have to fight, fight with all your might.  If your opponent is unbeatable, there is no shame in running.  Just run faster!

Fortunately, my experience did me well with  hand-to-hand combat classes when I joined the
Army.  Later on, I so impressed my instructors that I was made an assistant instructor in Military Police School.  Again, though, these were just hundeds of miscellaneous self-defense and attack techniques.  It was not a cohesive, organized system of martial arts.  I remember a book I was given in 1949 called Combat Jujitsu, published in 1946.  It was written and demonstrated by a Sargeant Cohn, a Marine combat instructor.   It is a priceless collector's item, one of many I keep in my library to this day.


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