BOURBONNAIS — For a minute, Bears defensive lineman Lamarr Houston has a Mr. Miyagi thing going, calmly working through a series of martial arts moves with brief but specific explanations of each.
Here's the side scissors with Houston slashing both hands up across his body, from his right hip toward his left shoulder, a move he will use when an opponent comes at him with a two-handed punch.
Now comes the chop swing, a counter used when an offensive lineman shoots with the inside arm and the defender reacts with an upward arm chop and a quick swing.
Finally, Houston delivers the club, "the classic pass rush move" he points out. Only now, his is refined with added martial arts insight.
These are all in Houston's toolbox now, maneuvers taught and finely tuned by skill development specialist Joe Kim, the consultant the Bears hired in February as part of a concerted effort to bring tenacity back to their pass rush.
Kim, a taekwondo black belt who runs a martial arts school in Ohio, has been active throughout training camp, intensely focused during pass rush drills and is seen immediately after practice tutoring a flock of defensive linemen on hand-fighting techniques.
"He has an expertise in the movement of pass rushing, of identifying a target and developing a consistency to hit your target all the time," Houston says. "Where are you looking? How are you attacking that offensive lineman? How can you turn concentration into reaction?"
Kim's work may not yet be worthy of hyperventilating, infomercial-level hype. But his tutelage is drawing notable endorsements from the defense.
Praise has come from ninth-year-vet Tim Jennings, a cornerback preparing for more blitzing responsibility.
"This guy's a master with hands-on tricks of the trade to get yourself free," Jennings says. "In my nine years, I've never had anything like this."
And from rookie defensive tackle Ego Ferguson: "In college, I was always a straight ahead guy — more of a power rusher. This has added an element to my game."
The Bears are not making Kim available for interviews, perhaps wanting to divert the spotlight until there's in-season evidence of his influence. Again, it will take far more than martial arts mentoring to rejuvenate a pass rush that produced an NFL-low 31 sacks last season.
But if the first step toward Kim's success is player buy-in, that box appears checked.
"It's so relative to what we do," nose tackle Stephen Paea says. "When you're in there as a d-lineman working with no arms or bad hands, you're not going to be able to get anywhere. So he's sharpening our tools."
The concept of combining martial arts tactics with football is far from new or revolutionary. Kim's own NFL work dates back to the early 1990s when coach Bill Belichick brought him in to work with the Browns. Scott Pioli, then a Browns' pro personnel assistant, later brought Kim to the Chiefs when Bears general manager Phil Emery was their director of scouting.
Kim also has spent time over the past two decades working with the Dolphins, Packers, Broncos, Cowboys, Giants and Bills.
Perry Fewell, currently the Giants defensive coordinator, first became familiar with Kim and his practices when Fewell was the Bills' defensive coordinator in 2009. He admits now that his first impressions of what Kim might bring to the practice field were a bit misguided.
"My first image was, OK, we're going to have our guys flying around yelling 'Hiiii-yaaaa!' and making a bunch of noises out there," Fewell says. "All I wanted was for them to get their asses to the quarterback."
But quickly Fewell realized Kim had the moves for that mission. And Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams became one of Kim's biggest fans as he developed into a Pro Bowl playmaker.
"Joe translated taekwondo into football movement and taught Kyle how to attack and how to expose some of the weak parts of a body of an offensive lineman," Fewell said.