Zen of Shiro Tora Martial Arts


The 4 elements of STMA are:

Unarmed Combat




Those familiar with the Godai concept of 5 elements in Oriental philosophy will know how they relate to the chakra system of consciousness.

Some of you will have read  about this subject and how they relate to the psychological and physical aspects of combat.

We are now able to relate each of the 4 elements of STMA to the 4 elements of earth, water, fire and wind.

Grappling – Earth – Chi

Unarmed Combat – Water – Sui

Kickboxing – Fire – Ka

Weapons – Wind – Fu

The 5th Element, Ku, Void, is Creativity

Chakras and the Godai


 The chakras, like the godai, are a model of consciousness

They are not to be taken too literally or too seriously
They do not actually exist in the sense they are organs or energy centres, which don’t actually exist in the physical world

They are ways to manifest emotions into physical Kamae and then into technique

Following this basic guide to the godai

Element, oriental name, emotion, stance
Earth chi confidence shizentai
Water Sui fear ichimonji
Fire Ka anger jumonji
Water fu compassion heart hira

Void ku creativity

The chakras relate to the five godai, as energy centres in the body

Earth, the seat, bottom of spine
Water, the hips, the hara in MA
Fire, the solar plexus, Manipura
Wind, the heart, anahata
Void, the throat

The sixth chakra is the third eye, the agyan
The seventh chakra is the crown, the thousand petal lotus

The seventh chakra and sense is supposed to relate to the universal consciousness
The sixth chakra is the sixth sense, if it exists, some say the sakki sense, used for fifth dan

Earth smell
Water taste
Fire sight
Heart touch
Throat hearing

They also relate to the colours of the rainbow, notes in music and and days of the week

Earth, water, fire, wind, void, agyan, crown
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet
Doh, ray, me, far, soh, la, tee

The chakra relate to the endocrine system

Crown pituitary
Agyan pineal, third eye
Throat thyroid. And parathyroid
Heart anahata thymus
Suigetsu Manipura pancreas
Water adrenals
Earth genitals

They also relate to the manifestation of the body

Earth the bones and muscles
Water the liquids, blood, water the body is made of
Fire, the metabolism, burning of energy, body heat
Wind, the breath, oxygen in the blood and tissues
Void, the thoughts, electrical energy

The sixth and seventh chakra are interpreted differently
Sixth being ESP, so libidinal energy body, aura
Seventh would be the spirit or soul

In combat

Earth, confidence, standing in shizentai, neutral stance

Water, fear, defensiveness, moving back into ichimonji, karate kokotsu dachi, using distance and blocks, counter attacks

Fire, anger, aggressiveness, moving forward, attacking, jumonji, a boxer punching, krabi fighter with forward strikes, wing chun Jik chun choy, shooting to clinch

Wind, compassion, hira Kamae, moving, evading, trying not to hurt the opponent while stopping him hurting you, himself, or anyone else, gently subduing him

In STMA we relate the godai to the four elements, the four pillars
Weapons, Unarmed, Grappling, Kickboxing
The void being creativity

The 4 elements of STMA


The 4 elements of STMA are:

Feng Wei

Those familiar with the Godai concept of 5 elements in Oriental philosophy will know how they relate to the chakra system of consciousness.

Some of you will have read my previous work on this subject and how they relate to the psychological and physical aspects of combat.

We are now able to relate each of the 4 elements of STMA to the 4 elements of earth, water, fire and wind.


The Earth element stands for strength and stability. It is the mountain that does not move, the tree standing firm. In the body it stands for the bones and muscles, the physical structure of the body.

In STMA, earth is the grappling element. You stand firm, pull your enemy in and pull him to the ground. You keep him there, even after you walk away. You feel confident. There is no need to run away from the enemy or even “defend” as such. You invite him in and take him down.


The Water element stands for adaptability. It is the rivers moving over the land, running to the ocean, the rain that falls from the sky.

Water cannot be broken, snapped or grabbed.

In STMA, water is the Feng Wei element. Based on Kempo, Wing Chun, Jun Fan, standing Jujutsu, and part of Kali, it is adaptive, defensive, evasive, yet powerful when it crashes in.

Water can arode a mountain and a flood can clear a village or knock down the strongest tree.

“Be like water” Bruce Lee advised his students.

In the body water refers to the blood and the liquids that make life possible.


The Fire element stands for Power, energy, attack. Fire is all consuming, it burns up everything in it’s path.

In STMA Fire is the Kickboxing element. It is the forward driving power of the boxer or Thai boxer. The powerful punches on the focus pads, the mighty kicks, knees and elbows on the Thai pads. It is the power of karate as it breaks through wood boards.

The opponent has no option to retreat into the corner. If he tries to hit back we cover, evade, take his bows on our gloves or shins, and hit him back even harder.

In the body Fire refers to metabolism, the use of energy.


The wind element in STMA is weapons.

Just as the wind moves over the land, moving objects with it’s unseen power, so you move across the floor with your footwork, wielding your stick in your hand.

The sticks cut the air like wind, the crack of wood on wood is like thunder, the stick moves fast as lightning and when it strikes the enemy it lights up his nervous system with a flash of pain.

In the body the Wind refers to the breath.


The 5th element in the Godai system is the Void.

Void is nothingness – the space that must exist for the other elements to manifest in.

It is the space between the stars, the space between the atoms.

In the body, it is thought, the creativity that is the manifestation of all action.

If the other 4 elements are the gears of the car, Void is the neutral position, the space you shift through that makes gear changes possible.

In STMA, the Void state is when you are no longer manifesting one art, and are liberated from all structure, moving freely. It is what Bruce Lee called “Jeet Kune Do”. The state of Mushin or Wu Wei. The place we all want to be.

This comparison with the Godai is only a metaphor and not to be taken too literally. It is a model of consciousness, a way to understand the program.

Like the gears of a car, you need to change between the elements as the need arises.

It is a mistake to think “I’ll be fire and beat everyone that way”. Every karate “master” who was taken to the mat and choked out by a Gracie found out the folly of this approach. You need to have all 4 elements.

But the final goal is to be a White Tiger not a representative of WTMA.

A Tatsujin – a Human Being, not a Human Doing. I’ve been writing about this a lot recently.

The goal is to be Void – the neutral gear. Eventually you will be like an Automatic – the gear changes will hapen beneath the surface without any conscious effort from you.

THIS is where you want to be.

DO NOT pick a single element and try to be just that or you will be destined to fail. You will have limited yourself to a structure. The Truth is liberation from all structure.

Having no way as way, having no limitation as limitation.

In combat there is balance between the elements.

Compare a contest between fire and water.

If there is enough fire it will boil the water out of existance.
If there is enough water it will put the fire out.

Of course by adapting you can also overcome.

Water cannot dilute water.

Again, these are metephors, not to be taken too literally.

The Godai is read from the ground up:


these are the elements

However another version of the elements:


this version can be seen in the Gotonpo of Ninjutsu – the elements of escape.

The 5 elements appears in the Western mysticism as well – the 5 elements are a big part of pagan and wiccan symbolism.

Ths is similar to how the number 3 pops up – the torite kihon sanpo, how we have 3 ranges in serrada, and 3 drills, each with 3 moves.

And in wiccan, the 3 aspects of The Goddess which relate to the 3 phases of the moon. In Christianity the Holy Trinity Father Son and Ghost.

Again, none of these symoblic metaphors are too be taken too literally, they are to help build a model of consciousness for understanding of technique and tactics.

Godai – the five elements


Ninjutsu is the art that, more than any other, specifically taps the Godai in it’s physical kamae, attitudes, and meditations.

We’ll reference some of this mikkyo training at a later date.

I’ll be bringing Kuji in for seniors at some point as well.

The Godai relate to combat in terms of physical kamae, stance and attitude, the techniques and form of fighting, aggressive, defensive, evasive, etc, emotional and mental state,
forms of nature such as animals or elements such as fire, water, etc.

This takes time to understand and to manifest

Earth – chi
confidence, strength
rock, mountain, tree
geo vibration – up and down
shizen kamae

Water – sui
defensiveness, reaction
geo vibration – side to side
ichimonji and hichu kamae
wing chun, jujutsu

Fire – ka
action – aggresiveness
geo vibration – forward and backward
jumonji kamae
boxing, thai, karate

Wind – fu
(flying birds, etc)
geo vibration – circular, spinning
hira kamae

Void – ku

Where as the Go Dai is one way of looking at the elements
Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Void

the Go Gyo is
Earth, Water, Fire, Wood, Metal

we also look at the transitions between the states

Ice solid melts to water liquid which evaporates to steam air, etc

The GoGyo is used in Onshinjutsu invisibility and escape

Ten maki – Kamae – stances, attitude


The Japanese word Kamae means stance it also means attitude

the meaning of this is that your emotional attitude determines your stance and your resulting technique

fire – jumonji – boxing stance and punches

water – ichimonji – savate stance and kicks

the 8 standing postures

Shizen – natural – earth

ichimonji – water figure one
dokko – water – tiger
hicho – crane – water

jumonji – fire – cross
kosei – fire – attacking

hira – wind – recieving
hoko – bear – wind

the 3 ne za – ground postures

fudoza – immovable seat
seiza – true seat – kneeling

shikko – one knee

Applying the Godai in combat starts with the kamae, the physical manifestation of your emotional state –
this will determine how you move and what your techniques will be

Earth – confidence – natural stance – shizen tai
Water – fear – ichimonji – side to side movement
Fire – anger – jumonji – forward movement
Wind – compassion – hira – circular movement

Void – creativity

Any KAMAE can and should be related to one of the Elements

With MUTODORI the KAMAE, by their nature, are Defensive, as we are Unarmed against a Sword

HIRA – move like WIND to Ichimonji where we become WATER and escape


JUMONJI – FIRE – Yes, we are Angry, and we express this, but we need the Defensive leap first

Though we don’t use KURAI DORI formally in the GYOKKO Ryu, it is the basis for the KOTO Ryu, taking the Stance, taking the position, taking the Attitude

Kyū Kamae, 九構 – nine stances

Fudōza, 不動坐 – Immovable seating stance

Shizen no Kamae, 自然の構 – Natural stance

Hira Ichimonji no Kamae, 平一文字の構 – flat straight line stance

Ichimonji no Kamae, 一文字の構 – Straight line stance

Doko no Kamae, 怒虎の構 – Angry tiger stance

Hichō no Kamae, 飛鳥の構 – Bird stance

Hōko no Kamae, 抱圍の構 – Bear stance

Kōsei no Kamae, 攻勢の構 – Fog creating stance

Jūmonji no Kamae, 十文字の構 – Cross fighting posture

Godai in Combat


Although I have used the Godai analogy to describe the 4 AFA that makes up STMA, it is also true that each Art can manifest the 4 elements.

Each element is a manifestation of your inner feeling:

Earth – confidence
Water – fear
Fire – Anger
Wind – compassion

The physical postures, called kamae, and movements are manifestations of these feelings in combat.

It is a MISTAKE to believe you can select to be one element and fight that way as you need to adapt and respond as the need arises. The only element you should try to be is Ku – The Void.

Let’s look at an example of a specific AFA using the 4 elements.

Eskrima – though we classed Kobudo as the wind element of STMA, fighting with a weapon can use any of the 4 elements.

In a weapon attack the opponent comes in with a #1 strike, the caveman strike, the natural strike of the Human animal.
Let’s see how you respond:

Water – you defend. You roll back into largo, removing yourself from the path of attack and strike at his hand to make him drop his weapon. You can then respond with a counter to his head once he has been “defanged”.

Fire – you attack. You crash the line with a roof block, burning through his attack and taking his head off with a powerful strike of your own.

Earth – you intercept. As he steps in with his stick in caveman chamber you step forward to meet his intention and deliver your strike on the half beat. You neither attack or defend, you just use the appropriate move with proper distance and timing. This is based on the confidence that you were never in any real danger.

Wind – you evade. Moving with triangle footwork you sidestep and attack his hand. Unlike Water, you are not retreating and being defensive, you simply move sideways and he strikes empty air. Then your own strike hits like lightning.

Here is a real world analogy – a doorman on duty at a nightclub.

The technique we use here is the right hand KO punch, but in four different examples, each a manifestation of an element of the Godai.

Each scenario presented here is a real situation I have faced in my career.
There is NO THEORY here – each example is 100% REAL!

Standing on the door you are Earth, the mountain, the oak tree, immovable. You tell a customer he can’t come in. You are strong and confident. Nobody is getting past you. You ARE the Door!

The customer gets angry and steps up to attack. From The Fence you land your KO punch to his jaw and knock him out. You have no need to be afraid or angry, you have no need to attack or defend. You simply apply the correct response for the situation at hand.

The alarm goes and you rush inside to see a full blown fight has erupted on the dance floor.

You move straight in and knock out each man who is fighting. If they are not trying to get away they are trying to get stuck in, so you neutralise them. One, two, three, you crack your KO punch to their jaw and they drop to the floor. You are Fire, an unstoppable force of nature.

One of the other doormen goes to deal with a customer, to ask him to leave. Suddenly CRACK! The doorman goes down. This is no ordinary customer but a dangerous, trained, experienced fighter. As you move in he squares up to you. You are now in a fight with a skilled opponent.

You react, you defend and you counter. You nullify his attacking blows and set up your opportunity to land your KO, taking him out of the game.

A drunk customer is being rowdy and it is time to ask him to leave. You can’t allow him to hurt another customer, yourself, or a member of your team, but you can’t allow him to hurt himself either. Nor is it appropriate to go in with maximum force, maybe breaking his jaw or arm.

You do your best to avoid a violent solution. The drunk swings at you. You parry his first swing, and maybe his second. But when he swings a third time you use the Captain’s Log to parry down his attack and then land your KO. You gave him every chance.

To take this analogy further, rather than the punch, from the Log use ikkyo to take him to the floor and restrain him. Then call another doorman to take his other arm and walk him out together so nobody needs to get hurt.

So you see the KO punch, which theoretically is a Fire technique, can be used as a technique by any of the four elements you are manifesting, as the situation demands.

DO NOT restrict yourself to any element, art, or technique or you are destined to fail.

Had I decided to be a “Fire” doorman I would not have prevailed in the other 3 situations presented. I certainly would not have done the job for 10 years and would probably be in prison for GBH or Manslaughter right now.

Sometimes it is appropriate to be Fire.

Sometimes you need to be Wind or Water.

Most times you just need to be Earth.