Karate Nerd in China (Ep. 1) 🇨🇳
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Karate Nerd in China (Ep. 1) 🇨🇳

January 15, 2020


It’s finally time for a new adventure. I am on my way to explore the roots of karate, the martial art that I’ve been
practicing my whole life. But this time I’m not going to Japan. Don’t get me wrong we all know that the Japanese island of Okinawa is the
birthplace of karate. I’ve been there a dozen times already getting my butt kicked from living legends of the art. But now it’s time to fly further back in
history. Back, to before the word karate even existed. Hi I’m Jesse from karatebyjesse.com. Also known as “The Karate Nerd” and I’m in China to rediscover the lost
roots of karate. Follow along an epic adventure to rediscover the lost roots
of karate as Jesse Enkamp uncovers the ancient source of karate’s kung-fu
connection. This is what the history books never told you. You’re watching Karate Nerd in China. Modern karate is actually less than a hundred years old. Because originally it was called “toudi”. That’s what all the old masters said before it was modernized in 1936. Before there were different styles, tournaments, uniforms and belts. Toudi literally means “Chinese hand”. In other words if you practice
karate today you might actually be practicing a form of ancient kung-fu
without even knowing it I know it sounds crazy. Which is why I’ve traveled to Fujian province to explore the southern kung-fu styles that
influenced the roots of karate. By cross-comparing different sources and
experiencing hands-on practice with grandmasters of traditional kung-fu, I’m
hoping to uncover what the Okinawan pioneers discovered when they created
the art of karate. Day one in China. Wow! I am actually here! This is what it looks like. Like, a few weeks ago this whole trip was just a crazy idea in my head. And now we’re actually here. Guys, I’m gonna be traveling around training with different masters of various kung-fu styles that go back in history and
connect to the roots of karate. And I’m gonna share everything with you. Like how insane is that? The only problem is I actually don’t know anything about this
place. I don’t know how to do it, where to go, who to meet, or I don’t, I mean like I’m lost. Which is why I contacted the biggest kung-fu nerd in all of China and he took an 8 hour train ride just to come here and help us out. Let’s go meet him. The dude sitting on that chair is named
Will. He’s a British bloke who’s been living in China for the past decade to
study kung-fu. His biggest passion is to travel around China to talk and train
with kung fu experts. Will’s job is to help me film the trip and translate what the old masters are saying. The only problem is neither of us have ever been to southern China before. That’s why we need a third person to help us find the right masters. That person is Alex. Alex is the secretary of the local martial arts federation. Which means that he knows everyone. And today is my lucky day because he’s organizing a special demonstration of kung-fu that I’m invited to. Apparently this will be a good introduction to the Chinese martial arts
for me. As an outsider I have no idea what to expect, but I’m trusting Alex and
Will to guide me on this journey. And then it starts. This is not what I expected. turns out is just a bunch of kids doing wushu. You know, the modern acrobatics. Don’t get me wrong it’s very impressive and entertaining, but this is not what I
came for. I’m looking for the traditional stuff. Suddenly the music stops. And a practitioner of white crane kung-fu enters the mat. This dude is moving in a
completely different way. That’s when I realize it. I’m watching Neipai. Or Nipaipo as we call it in Japanese. One of the most advanced forms in karate. I literally became the Nordic Champion with this exact kata. It’s one of my favorites. But this version is so much more complex. The way we do it in karate is very minimalistic in comparison. or, dare I say, simplistic. The rest of the demonstration was basically more wushu again including some weapons, some ladies doing tai chi and the reincarnation of Bruce Lee. Plus, a weird style of kung-fu
called “incense shop boxing”. But I didn’t care about any of that Because I had already hit jackpot. Wow, I can’t believe I’ve already been exposed to one of the most important kung fu styles in the history of karate. I am so excited to learn more about white crane kung-fu. Two hours later it’s time for lunch at
Alex’s dojo. For some reason I have the great honor of sitting at the masters’ table. If this is what lunch looks like in China I think I’m gonna stay here. And this is the most famous dish in the
city. A fish ball with a meatball inside So good. And then it happens. One of the masters from my table hears that I’m a “Karate Nerd”. So he invites me to his dojo to, I quote “play some kung-fu”. Turns out, I hit the jackpot again. You see this is no ordinary old man. This is master Yu. He’s been practising white crane kung-fu for 70 years. His style of white crane is called “ming he” or whooping crane in
English. I have no idea what’s about to happen but we’re gonna “play” some kung-fu. According to master Yu, this is the style that many of the historical karate pioneers
learned when they came to China. Apparently the founder of white crane
was a woman. For this reason it doesn’t rely on using brute force. Instead you must find a different angle where your opponent can’t leverage his power. Only then can you overcome a stronger opponent. So that’s the right angle? Yeah. White crane combines soft circular movements with hard straight movements. But strangely enough, the classical straight karate punch is almost never used. Instead, they prefer open handed strikes or forearm strikes with the ulna and radius bones or “heaven and earth” bones as they call them in Chinese. Yeah. Ahaa, okay. One, two. Yeah. Do they use any kicking techniques also? Like, tripping. The funny thing is Master Yu thinks he’s
teaching me kung-fu. But all I’m learning is karate. Aaah, okay! Yeah? Block, block. Because this is a technique
that we see a lot in karate. Yeah! Very good. Thank you very much. Very interesting. Wow! I’m sorry After a well-deserved tea break Master Yu invites us to his home to show
us his latest innovation. Take off my shoes, right? A hanging fish. Made out of wood, that you used to condition your forearms. Apparently this is what old kung-fu masters used hundreds of years ago. What does it smell like? What do you think? I don’t know how to describe it. Yeah. And then it happens. The moment I had been waiting for. The unspoken test. You see every time I’ve visited a karate master, they test me. Not necessarily my physical skills, but
my character. Because they want to see if you’re worthy of going further. Did I pass? We will never know. But moments later, Master Yu takes me to his private room and shows me something that blows my mind. A copy of the most important karate book in history that he rescued as a little boy when the Communists burned down his father’s
belongings. That book is the “Bubishi”. Or “Wu Bei Zhi” is it’s called in Chinese. An ancient manual of combat secretly passed down for generations. The old masters
called it the Bible of karate. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Neither could Patrick McCarthy The Western world’s number one karate researcher, who’s dedicated his
life to studying the Bubishi. Bubishi is a very classical indicator of times long gone by and because it is the only one written source that is extant today, which just happens to be from the same era as was the transitioning
metamorphosis to which these Chinese practices, sorry, and Southeast Asian
practices, metamorphosized into being what would ultimately become karate, is no
coincidence it’s part and parcel what it is. You can tell that is the original Bubishi right there it’s And that my presentation is
almost verbatim the same as that. According to the Bubishi, two specific
kung-fu styles influenced the creation of karate. The first, and most famous one,
is white crane kung-fu. And the birthplace of white crane, is a village called Yong Chun. You’re not any particular style you’re just the progenitor result of years of transition. But you know This is the place. And I think that that’s what you’re gonna see in Yong Chun. Thank you very much. It was a pleasure to meet you. I hope to see you again. It was time to stop relying on luck and start relying on facts. If I wanted to trace the roots of karate I needed to follow the Bubishi and travel to Yong Chun. But first Master Yu wanted to teach me one last thing. This is the crane temple. It’s 7:30 a.m. and I’ve been promised to learn the essence of
whooping crane kung fu They call it Babulien. In the local dialect, it’s pronounced Papuren. And yes, it shares both name and movements with the modern version you see in karate tournaments. Alex lights incense and prays to the crane temple and then And then my lesson begins. Overlooking the Crane Valley where all the white crane kungfu practitioners used to live in the old
days I am learning the most important form in this style The secret lies in the breathing pattern which regulates your muscular contraction and relaxation. These movements are then translated to
real life fighting applications Okay Yeah. I’m not sure what
impressed me the most Master Yu’s knowledge, enthusiasm or patience. Kiai! Needless to say, even though we practiced
for hours I’m pretty sure we only scratched the surface. Thank you very much! As I wave goodbye to the crane temple it dawns on me that I’m literally walking in the footsteps of the old karate masters. All I have to do is follow the Bubishi. And right now, it’s telling me to visit Yong
Chun. The birthplace of white crane

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  1. Muchas gracias por los subtítulos en español!!! Que exelente trabajo!!! Si alguna vez vienes para Argentina me encantaría conocerte y también invitarte a mi dojo. Saludos!!!!

  2. YES!
    Karate is related to Kung Fu!
    This is AWESOME!
    12:15

    OMG!
    Jesse is doing PUSH HANDS!
    [Sort of]

    That is even more awesome!

  3. Aaaah, really nice documentary Jesse! As a kung fu practitioner it feels so great watching this. I think the grandpa person was trying to do some tai-chi routine with you when he was "testing" you. Probably to gauge your relaxation ability or ability to feel tension/balance through touch. It's really impossible to learn the forms and their lessons in a day, but I'm sure you'll have a lot of material to ponder on after your trip. This is the second time I see Ming He Quan in youtube, this guy here practices it too https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR5ULCnxTTo. As with most forms, it looks quite funny if you don't know what the movements actually mean. Looking forward to part two!

  4. Really amazing ! What a chance you have 🙂 Enjoy your journey et thanks for sharing it with us. Arigato gozaimass

  5. Jesse ,what about the Chinese MMA fighter defeating all the Kung Fu fighters.. please explain because we need to bring karate back and please let us know

  6. One of the best videos I've seen in a while Jesse. You need to go back and train with this master and include him in one of your seminars.

  7. Very nice, careful the crane in yong chun is not the original, Fang chi niang taught 4 crane style, the 5th style that you see is a mix of Taizu and some techniques from Fang chi niang when 20 or so people travelled from yong chun to meet Fang chi niang, They studied with her for 3 years before returning to their yong chun home and mix what they learned with Taizu ……
    Their is only 4 original white cranes : flying, eating, shaking and screaming (ming he)

  8. Don't take me wrong I think it's a great way to workout the body and mind but do you guys actually believe that once mastering karate you can take down say a BJJ or Muay Thai guy? Good video btw

  9. You can discover far more lost items when your room is brighter. Studying the true history of your art form can be like hitting the floodlights. Personally, learning from Karate and classical/ modern Jiu-Jitsu channels has been an absolute game-changer in my Hapkido and TKD classes. I think Master Yu even saw this potential when he agreed to film. Outstanding job, sir! See you next vid.

  10. as a kung fu practitioner i am very excited by this series, this first episode was completely stunning, thank you for your work Jesse!

  11. I've created a martial arts dicord and would love for any martial artist to join. Master Enkamp I would be honored if a martial artist of your caliber would join. And anyone else it would be equally an honor it does not matter white or black belt, student or master you are all welcome.

  12. I believe Jesse in his studio is a lot better to watch than these trips. I've met several masters, trained in Kyokushin under Oyama, Donald Buck second in command and Steven Senne third in command. Under Kam Yuen in Northern Shaolin Kung Fu, Joon Rhee and Fumio Demura. We master soft blocks hard straight line strikes and Sanchin breathing as in 19:30 in your video. Demille taught me Bruce's 1 inch and his floating punch in the early 70's and I still practice it daily. Being 66 and skinny with no visibly hard muscles, the muscle bound guys are always impressed when I easily knock them off balance as well as hit them with what they don't see coming. As I have said many times "fast as lightning, tough as a box of rocks."

  13. I'm not really sure what to say.This is quite amazing. As a practioner of Goju Ryu, it's special to see the early techniques that grew into what we practice today. Xie Xie Ni.

  14. Awesome video, really like it, very interesting, I’ve heard that the creator of Taekwondo used somethings from kungfu and karate and mixed it with Taekkyon, that would also be an interesting video to research how Taekwondo connects to Karate and kungfu and the difference between ITF, WTF, and ATA, it seems that almost all martial arts might have some connection to kungfu, keep up the good work

  15. tell him to punch the armpit….. the forearms, tell him to use the palms like bareknuckle boxing to do that punch throw…. tell him not to use it in a real fight unless he modifies it…..

  16. man if u ever watch the street fighter 2 victory series they said that the creator of martial arts was a Indian Buddhist guy called boddidarma and Ryu travel to china to learn the hado technique, I really belive with some facts that martial arts start on India and the suddenly travel to all the Asia, u can see the Muay Thai they have a lot of karate moves the Muay boran and the art of kicking is not on the occidental culture, the Greeks or Roman's don't kick like the Kung fu karate or Muay Thai or even taekyon kicks, I mean all this movements maybe have a lot of technology or wisdom that even martial artist masters ignore, of curde there's a lot of crsp but maybe on the mountains u will find a Pai Mei or a Ryu master.. so Ossu!

  17. Why do i feel like they are communicating using martial art movements even though sensei jesse don't know how to speak Chinese i think they can understand each other. Its like the martial arts are there language 😲 it really amazes me how they communicate while practicing 👏👏👏
    I miss this kind of videos 😭

  18. Super excited for the next episode and your journey to Yongchun Village tracing the legend of Fang Qiniang. 🙂

  19. ну так а реальный бой-то будет, не? Чем ручками размахивать с умным лицом.

  20. (Sorry for the rant below – it plainly got away from me – but was inspired by your excellent exploratory video 😀

    One of my primary neijia arts teachers was previously a karate competitor in Japan in the 60's and 70's and was one of the few Westerners starting soon after 1977 to go where you've been in this vid and where you're apparently going from there. He said learning Fujian ("Fukien" etc.) Crane and other styles really brought his game up in karate. Though later he went pure Chinese neijia which is my primary interest these days too. But this kind of vid is a TRUE martial knowledge and history journey I really respond to – whatever the arts involved. And the origins of these connected arts you're looking at culturally and historically, connecting China to Okinawa to Japan and the rest of the karate world, is fascinating to MANY of us – regardless of the arts we're presently practicing.

    One perhaps interesting thing my teacher said was some of Crane's and other "hard school" forced breath and "stichomythic" tension with "snapping-jerking" movements, added more power mechanics to his Japanese style karate, (Goju, Shotokan etc.). He also said it made him kind of a "psycho", on a nervous system level, in sparring and competition. He had to go smoother and softer later in his breath, power, energy and "dissolving tension" mechanics he found in neijia to balance HIS particular "energy type", temperament etc. out. But then, to be blunt, he started out as an intense traumatized angry New Yorker who was high strung and prone toward high tension in his early martial career. "Different elements in some arts affect different temperaments differently," has been my experience too.

    Traditional "rurals" and/or local farmers, whether "fighting monks" or not, for example, perhaps originally from a naturally "slower calmer rural life", might've responded to some of these intense hard/soft or hard mechanics differently found in Fujian Crane and related schools organically developed among them – than others say from a "faster", "high stress", "high nervous energy", "modern" industrial city enviro – &/or with such a nature like my teacher originally came from AND had. To "balance his nature out" – he said he had to go "water school" and "soft" by first learning how to release fascia and other "involuntary" internal structures, eventually enabling him to re-condition himself internally with dissolving involuntary physical involuntary "ice hardness"' of lifelong tightened tissue, shortening ligament, tendons etc. – and later corresponding mind/mental/emotional levels, to a more dynamic "water dynamic to eventually a 'gas quality'" …as far as the Taoist metaphor goes about "dissolving" physical and "mind" tension" which "ironically" wastes energy in a fight with diminishing returns. This can allow more power, speed, "responsive micro motility" etc. from ground to head to be bounced, conducted and whipped around internally.

    In time he was also physically able to create a more "refined", responsive "high water-pressure fascia body 'hardness'" if spontaneously chosen – in contrast to more crudely contracting muscle or ONLY internally "absorbing and redirecting" with internal softness to conduct, redirect or bounce back opponents' force and ones own body/weight/movement mechanical force through deeply released core body tissues … down through the feet into the ground, (or to and THROUGH any body part(s) connecting to the ground), and allow mechanical force to bounce back up again and again if one chooses. This includes having painstakingly conditioned joint alignments to SAFELY conduct more force through them without MECHANICAL SHOCK etc. and allow dynamic springy tendon, ligament power and elasticity to come into play beyond simple muscle contraction, basic internal structure power mechanics etc.

    The line between grappling and striking gets hazier and more complex with more "dynamically absorbing, squid like 'springy' and spongy functioning insides" that comes with more responsive internal body movement. Less like the usual comparative "rocks" of most folks' insides, hard school fighters included. A different approach to "body armor" and weaponizing the body for defense. "Soft school" is learned with ever more evolving soft tissue fascia release first in standing then in movement – ideally leading to releasing even "mind" behind life's learned unconscious and consciously triggered mental & emotional stress/reactions. Thus one use for Taoist Water School meditation, neigung and neijia internal body structure and tissue "dissolving etc. Also further RELEASING in time with a more relaxed, NATURAL, relaxed whole torso breathing to support power and to generate more CONNECTED INTERNAL BODY power, a less "tunnel vision stress mind" even in a fight if you include it in fight training, slowly with a GOOD teacher. Doing that instead of forced breathing and using intentional and involuntary high tension muscle, tense will or "fire" and "hardness", further isolating and DIVIDING individual body areas with tension and forced breathing creating body, sensory space awareness gaps etc. , internally, mentally, subtle and not. .

    Otherwise – my teacher said he was headed for possible "burn out " and preventable injuries from SHOCK as he aged absorbing punishment with a hard mind and hard internal body – if that makes any sense. A lot of his senior karate sensei had degenerating joints etc. from the hard stuff. But then some of those old school Okinawan "te" guys were formidable martial wrecking machines that I saw too. Though different principles come into play in a neijia approach that take MORE years to learn well enough to actually use in a fight. If you succeed TECHNICALLY training in the right way – then build up to real sparring – some "interesting" new advantages can come. But only IF you've a good, though very rare these days, neijia teacher ABLE and WILLING to teach at a decent level for these days after China's loss of much traditional HIGH culture, art, internal body mechanics etc. now historically decimated by a ROUGH 20th century! Of course every art and approach has their strengths and weaknesses. For example, one advantage of the "hard school" approach is it takes SIGNIFICANTLY less time to build up to a competent fighting level 🙂

  21. Great vid as usual Jessie, I have quite a few decades in Martial arts, 12 yrs in Wing Chun followed by 15 yrs in TKD and now I study Shotokan, As a student of martial arts, I thought we all knew that all eastern martial arts started in China, though some say it reached China from India!

  22. Nice!. Im study kung fu (special Ving Tsun) more years. It is very interesting to understand connections between styles. Good Job Jesse.

  23. Osu, Jesse Enkamp, ​​I'm from another country (Brazil) I would like to know what is your karate style. Shotokan-ryu or just Shotokan (which style I practice), Goju Ryu, Wado Ryu, Shito Ryu, Shorin Ryu, Kyokushin Kai, Uechi Ryu or Kenyu Ryu? Really sorry for the bother, but curiosity piqued me as I watched this video. I really enjoyed your video and even though I'm a beginner who barely made it to the red belt (Aka Obi) – 5th Kyu (Go Kyu), I'm crazy to see the rest of the series (or vlog)!

    OSU, and keep it up, it's so good!

  24. Will you also do tutorials on what you've learned? So teach us the stuff starting at 15:45 for example? I'm trying to follow along a bit, but it's kind of difficult.

  25. As a Tai Chi Instuctor who has – at the age of 58 – started to learn Karate – I found this fascinating. Don't know why, but it felt emotional. Thank you.

  26. Wow.I have no words to describe this , this is just amazing.Its like im watching a professional documentary.Im looking forward seeing the next one.

  27. The stuff around 12:– was reminiscent of sticky hands, I love that stuff. As far as the fish, I learned to use coke bottles, back when they were glass, I was taught to roll the arms, shins, rib cage. I also like push-ups on just the two knuckles.

  28. Oh, man. You are really blessed and lucky to be there and learn… It's a virgin ground for Westerners. Ancient knowledge of oriental secrets…mmmm 🤩👊

  29. very nice video , i practiced shotokan karate then i moved to wu shu kung fu but i am fan of both that's why I enjoyed this video so much

  30. Very good Jesse. By the way, happy new year! Will be waiting for the new videos. Sent the link of this to my Sensei Vlamir.

  31. I Loved this!

    I am a Kenpo Practitioner myself. And I have read up a lot on where Ed Parker's Kenpo came from! And what I've learned is that James Mitose's Shorinji Kempo reaches back through time to Shaolin Chuan Fa Kung~Fu!

  32. Wing Chun is also a descendent of White Crane. yǒngchūn is Wing Chun.
    As Wing Chun uses the movements of the Crane and Snake. Where back in the late 1970's in karate class during sparring, their were noticeably Wing Chun being used by the the CI's consciously or not, but nothing of it in katas. Maybe while you are in yǒngchūn you could ask someone that might shed some light on this matter; thanks!

  33. Jesse Enkamp, thanks a lot for your effort. I am a pratictioner and student of goju-ryu karate From IOGKF and i am very happy with this vídeo. It’s one of my dreams to do this research tha you made. Thanks again

  34. Thank you Jesse. I loved your Okinawa series very much, but this is on a whole different level. I'm really looking forward to the next episodes.

  35. 8:33 Damn, Jesse came in with a perfectly smooth punch and that old man blocked it effortlessly. His technique was so smooth with a total casual competence. I actually watched him do it three times.

  36. that is so exiting I have only been a karate member for an year but I feel like I just met the friend I always knew but never saw

  37. Wow Sensei Jesse this is the best history being discovered and told. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. 👍😁

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