Interview with Jim Corn
Kyusho Interview Series Vol. 5
By Nikolaj F. Skarbye
"Back in 2003 my main Kyusho Instructor Karsten Dam started to invite the four founders of Kyusho International to Denmark to share their teachings one-by-one. Jim Corn came to Denmark in 2006, where I met him for the first time. My training in Kyusho at that time was only the start of a longer journey, and I had no really idea of who the instructor really was. The second time I met him was 4 years later at International Kyusho Convention 2010 aka IKC2010. Jim is one of the few guys who had trained with George A. Dillman since the 80’ies and are still active today. What I really admire about Jim is his “switch on button” – he can go from 0 – 100 in a split second."
I am proud to present my interview with
Grandmaster James ”Jim” E. Corn 9th Dan RyuKyu Kempo
- So you were able to sleep properly?
Yeah as I get older, the jet bothers me more – when I was young I was able to do this…
To give you some background about this - I started karate in 1969 – at 15 years of age – Yosokai, I didn’t knew anything about it – to me it was just karate
- So you just took the first and the best around?
When I was 12, I got Mas Oyamas big orange book, and at that time I didn’t even know how to say “karate”, I was calling it “car-rate” – so I have been interested in it as long as I remember – do you want ask questions or you want me to ramble?
- You can ramble on, I will ask questions in between.
I was in that style for 2 years, from when I as 15-17 and I became a brown belt – then I came to the army for 4 years, and my instructor was killed in a plain crash (the first instructor from Yosokai). In the army it was everything from taekwondo, judo, aikido, hapkido – whoever was there. Shotokan, whatever. Never enough to get any rank – to me it was just karate.
When I got out of the army I started to study with a man called Gene Gross, who was a personal student of Mamoru Yamamoto – they was both students of Chitose from Chito Ryu. Mamoru Yamamoto started his own style. the instructor didn’t want to be nr. 2 man in US, but he wanted to be nr. 1. - Katai-Te Ryu (hard Hand Style) and was a blend of Chitose's style and Mamoru Yamamoto's style. Yamamoto was the one who killed a tiger with a Bo staff. I think it is important to get names and styles right. Katai Te Ryu was one mans idea of how to blend the two styles he had studied and ti was very rough with a lot of corrections being done with a shinai and a very physical style of free sparring.No points or self defense just fighting. Very kata heavy.
- Were there any Bunkai explanations
No, all we did was 2 hour class 45-50 min callisthenics, kata as floor exercise and sparring – full in sparring. Just a fight. Stayed with him for 10 years. Then I met a man, who was called Dillman, then I was 33.
- Wait, just a moment, what part are you from in the United States? Was Dillman in that region ?
Indiana, on the other side of Ohio - in the beginning of Midwest, Nebraska. Dillman was in Pennsylvania, I met him when he came to teach at the Indiana University for a sponsored seminar in around 85 or 86.
- So it was after he had trained with Taika Seiyo Oyata?
Yes I never met Oyata. I met Dillman after he and Oyata had split. And he (Dillman) gave me the explanation that kata was blueprints to strike pressure points. I also trained with Wally Jay and Remy Presas.
- How were you when it was the first time you heard about pressure points and nervesstrikes?
I believed it! I mean he demonstrated it, I believed it. I was from the first instance I whole heartedly accepted it – there was no proof to me that it was just showing – I thought this is what it is all about. This is why we do kata – it was like an epiphany!
- Were you instructor? Did you have your own school then, so you didn’t have to convince any seniors or?
I had my own school – but I was still under the American man who taught a Japanese style. So I had a lot of trouble. He first told me: “you can’t wear my gi at the seminars”. Then he told me you cant go to the seminars... Finally: “Your going to have to quit teaching, till you come to your senses and stop teaching this..” – he said pressure points is not real karate. He said: “I have knowledge like that and when the time is right I will show you”. – I said: “im 33 years old and 4th degree black belt – when are you gonna show me?” He kicked me in the back of the leg and said: “thats a pressure point”. I said: “well how about other?” – I was respectful… anyway I left.
But I stayed with Dillman till 2003.
- Can we jump back a little bit, to when you got introduced to Kyusho – did you get knocked out, do you remember your first knockout?
At that time it was… the knockouts were demonstrated. But at that time it was arms, legs, body points and it was used as now, the arms was in Dillmans mind the most important – what comes at you – everything he did was related to kata. Kata was if you walk up to the man and… back then we would beat each other’s arms up. It wasn’t nice – people where beating each other arms to deaths, he showed you a point and the other guy got hurt – that was my introduction. So I stayed with him for 13 years ( 16-17?).
- You don’t remember when you got your first knockout, and who did it?
When I got my first knockout? It was Dillman definitely – Dillman and my wife where the only two people who ever knocked me out.
- You wife did?! Was it Kyusho or just anger?
I was trying to get her to show a point, and Dillman asked: “do she know where that point is?”. And we trained with chopping – and he said: “show me where the point is and put your hand there”. Then Dillman chopped the back of her hand into the chin. My memory is looking up at Dillman and that was what convinced me, that surprise is one of the biggest factors of Kyusho Jitsu. I prefer the term Kyusho Jitsu. That was what It was designed for. The moves out of the kata works inside arms reach, if he goes back you close the distance.
- You have been with into Kyusho for something like 30 years – from 86 – to now, 26 years. Do you feel that people have become more sceptical than before?
No because we actually travelled in a closed circle back then… I watched a television show, I don’t know what it was, but he said: “if that was Kyusho Jitsu I didn’t have to touch you”. And I thought “is that what we have become?”. Kyusho Jitsu is hard striking on points!
- When did this no touch thing started?
I don’t know.. Dillman started it, well one of his students, a chiropractor, were one of the first developers of no touch knockouts. And he showed other people. And Dillman saw that and said ok and improved on it and at that time he became the best at doing it. But it was.. it was not combat related – it was a demonstration of and disruption of Chi - My way of thinking. Can it be done? Yeah… Combat viable? The way most no touch knockouts are performed, no I don’t think so. Nobody will just let you stand like and just go like that (wavering his hands). But it does demonstrate a good point – it does demonstrate.. something.
Here is what I think of it – Kyusho Jitsu is the art of striking vital points, whether you think at is in eastern terms or. For me it is easier to think in it as eastern terms, for me it was how I was raised. The way I was trained – they work either way. To me it supposed to be brutal. To me if you get to the points and knock the guy out – its more benevolent that knocking his head in with a brick. Ok even though it looks brutal . I don’t owe anyone who want to injure me or my family the courtesy of avoiding his attack and move and throw them gently. Get a hold of them. I owe to me family and myself. And as you get older I am a believer of training a 100% and backing off the technique. But it’s not Kyusho Jitsu that is brutal – but more the application, and the intent. If you wanna win, nobody remembers 10 years from now, whether you tried to get away, avoid or give respect to your opponent – they will only remember who won. Just my thoughts..
- You told me you came after when Dillman and Oyata split – who where else there back then? Rick Moneymaker…?
I’ve met him, but didn’t spend a lot of time with him, he started Dragon Society, prior to the split or during the split with Oyata. But he was around a lot of the time, also after the split. Back then Dillman had most monopoly, and Moneymaker was the first split.
- Do you know what happened between Oyata and Dillman?
No. I just think they went their separate ways. Dillman wanted to more this and bring to the public eye because he have seen Americans do kata, with no meaning for so long… and it was an epiphany to him when Oyata told him what the kata moves were for this and to that. Traditionally Okinawans were very secretive about this, and Oyata wasn’t this much into business and promotion. He was more concerned with teaching his own students. That’s all I know about it. I do know that Dillman liked and respected Oyata a lot.
- What is your general opinion regarding organizations?
Well I think it’s a normal human reaction I think its human nature. If you look at every style back in China, if you look at Funakoshi in Shotokan its always been 1 mans idea of how to run politics and martial arts stuff. Very few people have been able to flow freely between all organizations, and do whatever. Rules get in the way, politics get in the way, dislikes get in the way, what he said over beers get in the way, money gets in the way and all of sudden there’s a new organization and I think its good, not bad necessary. But natural order. Myself Kyusho International has been really good to me. Good for me to go out and teach for a lot of different people – I wouldn’t have been able to teach so many people. I view Kyusho Jitsu as saving lives by proxy. What I teach may help someone save their or someone’s else’s life.
One of my former students just came back from Afghanistan and he said that Kyusho Jitsu and the training in martial arts just gave him the fortitude to save his life. I have had students that have been involved in any conflict where the USA have been involved with the last 30-35 years. That’s some indication for a teacher – probably the best. I am not a religious man but if I were, I would say that that was why I was put here. My job is to make Kyusho Jitsu better.
- Do you have a favourite knockout, perhaps one you have done the most? Or what ever you like to do the most.
I think when it most comes to show, most people should just hit somebody, if they know points they will hit points – not need to go all fancy, stuff that is done in training is just … training. When it gets down to it, your trying to take his head off or the leg.
- Can I ask you too knock me out?
I actually prefer the term incapacitation. If they can’t breath, see, walk etc. they can’t hurt you. So In my opinion why Kyusho Jitsu came around, was that it was the most efficient way to get the job done. So if people do ask me to knock them out I wouldn’t do the same K.O. as I would in extremes.
- Do you have anything to sum up?
No other than the fact, that I will be 60 years old this year, which is not really old people tell me, but well I see these last couple of years of my career, in my effective teaching years – so I want to really teach those that want to learn Kyusho Jitsu.
This interview was conducted in Germany Darmstadt 2012 during the IKC in
November – face to face via. Recorder. The interview was edited during January
2013. Find the original interview on www.kensei-ryu.com. If you have questions
please either go to Facebook Page. The official homepage for Jim Corn is
www.copperheadroaddefensiveconcepts.com to contact mr. Corn for a seminar