Karate - The Weaponless Hand

  Instructor: Sensei Carmine Anastasio







"Weapons are instruments of ill omen, the wise shun them."  - The Tao Te Ching



"Karate Ni Sente Nashi"
In Karate there is no First Strike.


Tennen Do – The Way of Spontaneity

           Tennen-Do is a blended martial art primarily rooted in Okinawan Karate.  From the Okinawan martial tradition it incorporates elements of Matsubayashi Shonin-Ryu, tui-te (joint manipulation) and kyusho-jitsu (pressure point striking).  In addition Tennen-Do combines the movement orientation of Russian Systema and the emphasis on balance and sensitivity found in Tai Chi Ch’uan.  In order to train the practicioner in higher levels of muscle control and awareness Tennen-Do ultilizes techniques of yoga found in the practices of the Kshatria caste warriors of India and the meditation disciplines of the Japanese Samurai.

            In accordance with the Japanese/Okinawan understanding of martial arts there are two key concepts.  These concepts are Ji, which is a definite technique with a pre-determined form, and Ri, which is freedom from the restriction of technique.  Ri is the ultimate goal, but it has traditionally been achieved through the refinement of Ji.  This approach worked to the advantage of the Samurai class with its emphasis upon discipline order and structure.  This tradition however is not the oldest martial tradition.  The ancient warriors were not soldiers nor were they class-advantaged aristocrats.  The ancient warriors were martially skilled individuals who sought to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities.   As such these individuals gained martial skill via experience, improvisation and creativity.  This is the tradition in which the concept of Ri is rooted.  This is the tradition in which Tennen-Do has its roots.  Tennen-Do prefers to largely ignore the cultivation of Ji preferring to go beyond the restriction of technique through the use of spontaneous creative improvisation.

            The guiding principle of Tennen-Do is that awareness is the ultimate value.  Training is focused on awareness.  Awareness develops openness and sensitivity integrated within fluid movement.  Fluid movement causes the proper execution of the technical aspects of empty hand combat to be brought into play.  From the perspective of Tennon-Do success in conflict ultimately belongs to those who are most aware.  Awareness allows for openness within the framework of the combat environment.  A non-expectant openness to the requirements of the situation enables the practitioner to adapt quickly and appropriately to the changing demands of the conflict circumstance.

Being aware is an experiencing closely related to movement and muscular sense.  Movement is taught in such a way that it is coordinated, flowing, integrated and connected to perceiving with all of the senses.  Awareness shifts with every movement in time and at no time is this shifting awareness more consequential than in a survival situation.  Movement provokes awareness.  Any change in movement or its structure translates itself through a change of attitude, posture and muscular configuration.  Since all conflict is mutual, changes in attitude, posture, and muscular configuration can defuse conflict, initiate it, exacerbate it, or increase the probability of victory or defeat.

Within the framework of training in Tennen-Do, there are no incorrect movements, although some might be more technically skillful than others.  Movements flow in such a way as to place the practitioner into a circumstance from which other movements simply emerge.  All movement grows out of an action context rooted in awareness and emphasizing spontaneity and creativity.  Appropriate action is seen in Tennen-Do to arise out of awareness, spontaneity and creativity.  All movement is in effect spontaneously and creatively improvised as the practitioner remains in a state of relaxed open awareness. 

Mazu Sono Kokoro Wo Tadase"
First purify your mind.

While Tennen-Do does not emphasize particular techniques, it does seek to embody in the practitioner certain principles.  The most important principle is, of course, awareness.  While awareness is fundamental, it can be hampered or enhanced.  Because we are embodied beings the physical orientation of the practitioner is crucial.  This brings us to the:


  • ¨  Breathe – slowly and deeply

  • ¨  Relax – release all psychological tension and all unnecessary muscular tension

  • ¨  Proper Body Structure – chest up slightly, hips tucked, knees soft

  • ¨  Move – constant close quarter repositioning

  • ¨  Nonresistance – move with rather than against force in such a fashion that the force is either neutralized or adds to the force of the response

 The fact that combat is mutual brings us to the:


  • ¨  Avoid – make the force miss

  • ¨  Absorb – minimize the impact of the force

  • ¨  Control – guide the incoming force

  • ¨  Disarm – render the attack harmless

  • ¨  Disable – render the attacker harmless



Direct your attention to the quality of your movement rather than its outcome. 

Do everything softly with emphasis on expanding awareness. 

Emphasize open awareness, silence and non-attachment to outcomes.



1)      The Tennen-Do Practitioner never initiates conflict, responds to violence using the minimum amount of force necessary and acts to remove the conditions which lead to conflict.

2)      The Tennen-Do Practitioner defends the weak, protects the innocent, cares for the Earth and reveres life.

3)      The Tennen-Do Practitioner faithfully dischanges responsibilities, is generous, compassionate, and honorable.

4)      The Tennen-Do Practitioner is indifferent to personal suffering exhibiting the virtues of courage, steadfastness, initiative, and self-discipline.

5)      The Tennen-Do Practitioner realizes that ill will, selfishness and poor judgment are the real enemies.

6)      The Tennen-Do Practitioner does not tolerate those who would put an end to tolerance and who prey upon the weak, attack the innocent, ravage the Earth and destroy life.