Monday, June 18, 2018

Definitions and the Use of Motion, within the Oyata Te System

 Oyata's methodology (regardless of the time-period for that instruction) has always emphasized (entire) "body" motion/use during the application of the instructed motions. That instruction varied/changed over the course of his (years of) instruction.
Force Efficiency is the term that we use in our instruction of the (physical) application of the instructed motions utilized within the Oyata Te system. Oyata did not utilize this term, it is the phrase that we coined to define the manner that he (Oyata) utilized those motions. The term is used to define the efficient use of the physical actions that are taught to our students. Our use of the word “Force” should not be confused with Forceful or to imply “strength” (within the use of those applications).
The average student is initially inclined to believe that having a greater amount of (physical) “strength” will assure that students use of the instructed motions. Of the (multiple) factors that determine the effectiveness of an application's use, the amount of applied “power/force” is considered to be the least important (the correct “placement” of that application being significantly more important).
When one is determining what factors are the most readily (if not universally) available, physical strength is one of, if not the lowest/least important on that list. If/when a technique is dependent upon that “one” factor (I.E. “power”), it is (then) only applicable by a limited number of individual's (male or female). That use is additionally dependent upon it being greater than the opponent's ability to resist/absorb that application.
The student's knowledge of an opponent's natural "weak spots" (not necessarily "Pressure Points") is necessary for the use of those applications. That awareness/knowledge is taught through the instruction of the student's use of their own body (within the instructed motions).
Force Efficiency is the initially instructed "awareness" of those strengths (and vulnerability's). Though (initially) taught as an efficient means of technique delivery/use (by the student), it additionally exemplify's an opponent's vulnerabilities. If/when involved in a physical conflict with an opponent who is larger/stronger, the student must have the ability/knowledge that allows them to circumvent those advantages. This awareness is exemplified in every aspect of the instructed positions/motions.
When people (generally) speak of Oyata's technique application, they (commonly) will refer (if not “obsess”) to his use of a “neck-strike/knockout”. This technique (though being very impressive) was often difficult (if not impractical) to utilize in a (more "common") altercation. If that technique were as "effective/practical" (as people generally imply) why didn't Oyata spend more (if not the majority) of his classes devoted to his student's perfecting it? (obviously) Because it wasn't (either “easy” nor practical). Depending on the circumstances, it more often resulted in a “stun” (or temporary imbalance) of an opponent (thus becoming a glorified “atemi” strike, which was what Oyata considered it to be).
Our use of the term "Force Efficiency" is used to exemplify the student's most efficient use of their body and appendage motion in the application/use of the instructed positions, motions and techniques (whether defensively or offensively). That instruction begins with the student learning/understanding what motions are natural and what motions are not. That includes the subliminal motions that occur in response to expected and/or unexpected actions (performed by the student or Uke during an altercation). The student's awareness of those responses allows them (those responses) to be utilized within the student's application of (the instructed) technique.
When one examines what constitutes “natural” motion, it commonly consists of forward motion (by the bodies limbs). Those motions that are “circular” (or rearward) are not considered to be as “threatening” (as those that are delivered directly forward). (in general) circular motions require “room” to develop momentum. It is also difficult to (efficiently) include the user's body-weight with those types of strikes.
Oyata Te demonstrated the positioning of the student's hip's and shoulders during those application movements. In general, the hip's and the shoulder's remain (consistently) "square" (to one another) during any motion/movement. When that alignment is altered, the student will be (and "feel") off-balance. I have recently seen (several) “examples” of individual's performing (their own) versions of Oyata's method for performing the Kata (the versions that he taught). What's commonly exampled, is a quickly performed example, that includes (numerous) incorrectly “added” motions (as well as motions that were removed by him, I.E. Oyata, as well). Oyata did include additional motions, but they were intended to be (very) subtle (and barely recognized/noticed).
One of the most obvious (of Oyata's changes), was the elimination of (any) "shoulder-wag" (during the performance of the kata). The reasons for doing so are multiple, but its inclusion is an obvious indication of not having been part of his later (I.E. the last 10-15 years of his life's) instruction. The examples I've seen may have been (at one time) "valid", but they should be (more accurately) considered as being "basic" (and certainly not "advanced", as those posters have claimed).
Oyata's later years of instruction focused on the student's use/positioning of their body (whether during technique or kata) motion. He felt that this was of higher/greater importance than (individual) “technique” use or variance. Those motions held greater importance than the learning of different or additional technique motions. Once those motions were understood by the student, techniques would become more obvious (via the kata motion) to the student.
I've received numerous inquiries as to why I don't post "video's" of new/different technique applications. If my readers refer to our Oyata Te (member's) page, my associate has included (numerous) videos that example (much) of what I have addressed here (technique motion/application, etc.). Frankly, "feeding" the internet's need for video examples is not my goal (here).
Those that (actually) are interested in what/how we teach Oyata's methodology should attend our classes to get a more descriptive (and physical) “exampling” for what/how we teach his methodology. Our Classes are (very) relaxed and we are very open to explaining the “how” and “why” of Taika's teachings (as well as those teachings that he didn't agree with).

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


 Numerous individuals inflate their association with recognized experts, regardless of the field being addressed. This happens with diplomats/world leaders, musicians, political figures and other popular individuals. It's done as a way to legitimize whatever the individual is promoting. Whether this equates to promoting a business, a product or just as an attempt at legitimizing whatever the individual is attempting to sell/promote. The falsehood of that promotion is (generally) known to those individual's who actually have experience and associations with the stated individual's and/or material.
Although this “problem” occurs in numerous fields of study, it is particularly problematic within the various martial arts. Throughout the years, it has been accepted (whether rightly or not) that particular aspects of a defensive methodology should be kept “secret” (from the general public). There is a general belief that just having “knowledge of” (something, I.E. that “secret” knowledge/ability), equates to having the ability to utilize that knowledge. This is commonly recognized as riding the coat tails of the acknowledged expert (who has proven themselves to possess that knowledge).
Whether done for monetary gain or only to inflate the ego of the perpetrator, it is (at best) an exaggeration of those abilities and/or knowledge, or it is an outright lie. More often (than not), the claimed/stated knowledge and/or abilities are more limited than the individual would care to admit to (or even realizes). There are individual's who (actually) believe that they do possess the claimed knowledge. If/when they “go public” with what they know (or think they do), They are commonly proven to be incorrect.
For the most part, persons of this ilk are ignored by the individual's who do have knowledge of the stated/claimed knowledge. Those individual's making the (commonly incorrect) claim, will rarely present themselves (or whatever they're promoting) for public review/critique (if not simple “questions”) in regards to the stated claim(s).
Individual's of this type (who make numerous claims) rarely (if ever) will meet with individual's who are (publicly) recognized as having experience/knowledge with the claimed knowledge/persons who the individual is claiming their (own) association. If that association is confirmed, what difference would it make? It would only increase that individual's legitimacy. If that association was more limited (than claimed), it would (obviously) cast doubt upon the subject's claims.
There have been numerous individual's who previously studied Oyata's methodology (at varying times over the past 40 years) that have attended our classes. Those individuals possessed varying degrees of knowledge (in regards to what was instructed during the period of their claimed attendance). The knowledge that they had was (generally) "correct", for the time period that they studied with him. The amount of that knowledge was commonly limited to the amount of time that they (actually) studied with him (the attendance of a “seminar” was not considered actual “study/instruction”). Many had knowledge in regards to individual aspects (such as what was commonly shown/demonstrated at a seminar), but few had (any) amount of comprehensive (much less complete) knowledge in regards to his later/final teachings.
“Open” Seminars were not considered “training” (by Oyata). Their purpose was to recruit student's (and demonstrate/expose attendee's to his methodology). Many of those attendee's only sought to learn motions/techniques to add/include with their (already) studied/taught curriculum's. To a limited extent, this could be achieved, but the system that Oyata taught was intended to include (all of) the numerous additional aspects of his teachings (which were never completely included within the provided seminars).
Many of Oyata's teachings were in direct contradiction to commonly adhered to practices. The use of the makiwara, sparring, stances, weapons, the list of those differences is extensive, yet individual's claim to have (full) “knowledge” of/in regards to his system (after having only attended a few of his early seminars?). During the final 10 +/- years (of his life) Oyata only provided (training) seminars to his association's membership. Though being restricted to the present (at the time) "membership", those seminars were intended to emphasize individual aspects of his teachings. What was shown was intended to be incorporated into (the attending student's) general instruction. Oyata had ceased any increase of his personal students. What was shown in those (his own) classes was (intended) to be passed on (by those Yudansha) to the general student membership. A number of those Yudansha choose not to (readily) share that instruction (one can formulate their own reasons why that was the case, IDK).
If/when someone (actually) studied with Oyata (personally) for 5 (or more) years, then they acquired a decent/respectable amount of instruction. Depending on the time/period of that study, dictated what was shown/learned.
As stated within his own writings (and repeated within the writings of others, including myself), Oyata was modifying/improving his defensive system continually throughout his life. He believed (as do/did many of the prior “masters”) that “Te” was a continually evolving and improving art. If/when it became "stagnant", it would be surpassed by those systems that continued in that improvement. This was why Oyata never ceased to improve his methodology, Oyata would (readily) admit that "he" didn't have all of the answers/knowledge (for any/every question regarding the practice of this art form). He expected his students to continue with the advancement of that instruction. Oyata was not afraid to "cease" those practices that were not (or proved to be less than) "productive", as well as those that were "counter-productive". If/when he discovered/developed what he believed to be an improved method, and following extensive experimentation/research (often using his Yudansha students as “Guinea Pig's”), he incorporated it into his instructional methodology.
Oyata stated that there was only “1” Te, it was only being taught in varying ways.

Friday, June 8, 2018


 I recently read an article that attempted to address the human bodies inclination to not function symmetrically. The argument being made was that being non-symmetrical was an advantage. Although the article only (briefly) addressed the numerous non-symmetrical facets of the human body, the emphasis was (mainly) made in regards to the use of the arms (and presumably the leg's as well) and how being asymmetrical was (in fact) an advantage (?). After reading the article, I failed to understand the writer's reasoning (for this supposed "advantage"), the only thing I concluded from the article, was an affirmation of the existence of this asymmetry.
An individual being fully ambidextrous is an (extreme) rarity. More commonly, an individual will have a (single) dominant side (that they will be inclined to use for their “natural” actions and responses). This is usually addressed as being the individual's “dominant” side (I.E. Right/Left-Handed).
Oyata addressed this distinction by designating those sides (of the Tori/Uke) as being a “strong” side, and a “weak” side. Most systems only address the Tori's use of those distinctions. It should additionally become a “piece” of the student's defensive actions and responses. What is commonly seen, is that a system will have student's use both of their arm's/leg's (equally) while practicing the instructed motions. Although this can (slightly) assist in increasing the student's use of their non-dominant side, it does almost nothing to increase that (non-dominant) arm's abilities.
In regards to the student's use of either side, Oyata stated that the student should use their “weak” (non-dominant) side 3 to 4 times more than their dominant side (in the attempt to increase the weaker sides abilities).
Oyata's technique instruction (and use) in regards to defensive tactics, included “minor” facets that provided (collectively) numerous defensive advantages. These included a number of things that are commonly used as critiques (by other systems of instruction).
Knowing that the most common confrontation begins with the two individual's engaging in a verbal exchange, Oyata stated that (regardless of what is being said) this, and the time leading up to the exchange, should be used to evaluate as much information (about the aggressor) as possible. This includes determining a Right or Left dominance (of the aggressor), any (apparent) injuries or weaknesses, and (of course) any compatriots of the aggressor (who may become involved in the confrontation).
Oyata demonstrated that the student had a greater number of options when they stood “square” (initially) to the aggressor. They should (when space allowed) have their arms “down” (to their sides when practical). Though "scoffed at" (by the majority of defensive systems/instruction) Oyata felt that it was more important to avoid the confrontation whenever possible. The Tori having their hands (down) at their side, does not (necessarily) make them slower (in their responsive action). This has been demonstrated, via easily available technology. If/when the aggressor (initially) positioned themselves within “arm's reach” their use of their legs (to initially attempt a strike) is dramatically reduced (hence, it was more likely that they would attempt a strike/grab with their arms). If the aggressor has "not decided" (yet) whether to (physically) engage with the student, by standing "square" (non-threatening) the student has not (albeit, subconsciously) escalated the situation. The aggressor who has intentions (for continued escalation) will position themselves (commonly) with their “strong” side to their rear side (presumably to provide the greatest amount of distance for their arm to achieve the desired amount of momentum for a “strike”). Aside from allowing the Tori (student) to “know” which arm the Uke (aggressor) is likely to strike with, it also informs the Tori as to which arm should be the focus for (their own) infliction of injury.
The most commonly attempted “first strike” (that begins a physical confrontation), is an attempted strike to the head/face. It can be argued as to “why” this is, but the most probable reason is to attempt a “knock-out” (strike), which (BTW) for that to actually occur is a rarity.
The Tori standing “square” (to the aggressor) allows either arm to be utilized (equally), although students commonly will motion to a "favored" side (regardless of which arm is used by the aggressor).
This is accounted for by the student's practice of the performed defensive actions. The instructed defensive actions are not side-dependent. Regardless of which arm the aggressor utilizes, the instructed defensive actions (with only minor modification) should provide an acceptable response. Once the initial response is implemented, the situation will dictate the appropriate continued response.
Oyata emphasized the "lead-time" (prior to the physical confrontation), as being when the student should be formulating their defensive strategy. There will exist a “go-to” response (if/when one is
"surprised"), but the majority of confrontations include factors that lead up to the “physical” confrontation itself. This time period is commonly ignored by the majority of the instructed defensive methods. Those systems/instructors are inclined to only deal with the student's defensive actions once the aggressor begins their assault. Oyata would state that doing so, would put the student (at least) 1 (if not more) step behind the aggressor. This is (obviously) not acceptable for a defensive tactic.
Oyata stressed that each motion (performed by the student) should produce multiple functions.
Oyata didn't teach “blocks” (a non-productive term to begin with), he taught defensive strikes. Those strikes should achieve more than (simply) “deflecting” an aggressor's strike, those motions should inflict injury (if not damage) with their use.
An aggressor's “face” (and/or “groin”) are not what will cause injury to the student (despite any claims made). Yet, these are what is commonly focused upon by students. Both of which, are readily (and most often effectively) protected by an aggressor.
The “arm's” (that they are attempting to “strike” or “grab” you with)...not so much. People are inclined to believe (and I've been engaged in numerous “conversations” about this), that they can sustain “any” amount of “pummeling” (upon their arms), and still be able to inflict injury and/or retain their use of them. Each and every (effectively delivered) strike/manipulation made upon an individual limb, limits the aggressor's ability (or inclination) to use that limb. If/when both arms are injured, the level of (actual) “threat” by that individual is greatly reduced (if not eliminated).
For that reason, many (if not most) of Oyata's instructed techniques were focused upon injuring an aggressor's arms. Although injuring an aggressor's leg's could be (argued as being) a more effective tactic, doing so is (often) more difficult to effectively achieve. The logic of this tactic is obvious, an aggressor with little to no use of their arm's becomes a "questionable" Threat (thus “de-escalating” the situation).
To effectively deliver a “strike”, there must exist at least some amount of distance. Without that “distance”, one cannot develop momentum. Without momentum, the effectiveness of a “pummeling” (type of) strike is difficult, if not impossible to effectively achieve. By maintaining a "close" proximity to an aggressor (during a confrontation), the defender (Tori) can dictate the manner and/or ability of the aggressor to continue their assault. This (situation) can often result in a "grappling" situation. One's awareness of the use/application of the instructed "Tuite" applications (then) becomes more relevant (if not important/applicable).
I've encountered (numerous) individual's who believe that “Tuite” (either) won't work (on them), or can easily be rendered ineffective. If/when performed incorrectly, it's unlikely to work on anyone. It can easily be demonstrated, that (even) when done sloppily (IMO), it will achieve the desired reaction (on the majority of people). When performed correctly, I have yet (in 30+ years) to find someone that it doesn't work on. Have I ever “failed” (at the application of a Tuite technique)? of course, I have. I've also (immediately) recognized what "I" did wrong when it did fail. A techniques failure can always be traced to (some) incorrect application of that technique (whether being “Tuite”, “Atemi” or a simple “punch”). People are imperfect. The second one believes otherwise, is when you will “Fuck-Up”.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Using the kata

 A recent comment/question (by a reader) on a previous blog, raised the question of “research”, and the methods we utilize to perform our own. Oyata had provided us with several methods (that he utilized himself) to do so. The “examples” commonly seen being done (on the Internet) usually consist of people attempting to use the motions in the same (if not exact) manner as those motions are performed within the kata. Oyata had been shown that those motions are (generally) individual motions (even if not representing "individual" techniques), and they were intended to be combined with "other" motions (demonstrated within the same and other kata). Oyata's explanation was that the (individual) motions, were more like "letters" that needed to be combined with other/additional letters, in order to form words (more complete techniques and applications). Although certain kata may be assembled to emphasize a particular theme, the individual motions could serve multiple uses, depending on what and how they were combined with other kata motions (whether from the same or different kata).
One of those methods utilized “pictures” for each of the motions contained within the instructed kata. This amounts to having a “deck” of picture/cards that includes the motions from each of the kata. The deck is shuffled, then a number of (random) individual cards (motions) are drawn from the deck (1, 2, 3, 5?). Those cards represent individual techniques/applications and defensive motions, and those motions are (at least attempted to be) combined in some way to illustrate a defensive response to the predetermined manner of assault. It doesn't always “work” (in a practical manner), but it does force the student to formulate how the motions “could” be utilized. It can also illustrate additional uses/interpretations for those motions that had not been previously considered.
The use of the cards additionally gets the student “away” from the (common) belief that the motions are (always, if not only) used in the manner depicted within the particular kata.
Taika used this method (using Kodak "pictures"), we now have the convenience of the internet, and can order a "deck of cards" with the pictures (that are provided) in as many "decks" as necessary. A large number of the "basic" motions are repeated within the various kata, so it isn't (really) necessary to print an entire deck for each individual kata. I believe that our own “main” deck of “kata motion” cards, has 197 cards. That “deck” represents the motions contained within the 12 foundational kata (taught to our students) within the Oyata Te system.
The most common use is done by randomly drawing a set number of cards and the student attempts to develop a defensive action/response using those cards. The cards can also be specified (to 1 or 2 particular cards). The student could also include randomly selected additional cards as well (the possibilities are seemingly endless).
The “goal” is to get the student to begin thinking of the motions as all (individually) being important. Student's (often) get “pigeon-holed” into believing that a single (or group) of kata motions (only) has a “specific” (if not individual) purpose.
If one were to “imagine” being the original creator of a “kata”, Why? Would you create that “kata” to defend against (only) a particular set of “aggression” methods? It makes more sense, to provide motions that would have multiple uses/applications (for a variety of aggressive acts). It's been noted (by multiple sources) that many of the early instructors, only taught a single or only a few kata to their students. When those students would study with another (different) instructor, they would often learn the kata that those instructor's taught to their students (often to learn similar if not the same defensive actions).
The motions contained within the individual kata rarely (if ever) were intended to represent the typically shown/learned techniques (that are rampant throughout the martial art's world). The more important "lessons" (of the kata), were those motions that caused  or created specific actions/results that (either) effected the applications being demonstrated, or provided examples for instructed principles 
Oyata felt that learning the (relatively small number of) kata that he included within his system was more than sufficient for a (diligent) student to learn/understand the demonstrated motions (which is the purpose of the kata). Understanding “how” to utilize those motions is achieved through the student's continued practice/research of those motions.
Once a student has learned a "set" of kata (regardless of the number of kata learned), they should have the ability (through the demonstrated actions contained within those kata) to develop/practice the instructed techniques (as well as adapt those motions) to a variety of aggressive actions.
It should be noted, that numerous individual's (and/or “newly” developed “systems”) have created their own set of “kata”. Every example of these (types of) “kata”, that I have observed, have been lame attempts (at replicating existing kata and/or motion combinations). I could understand (maybe) developing an “exercise” (to learn/practice a particular motion), but none (that I have seen) provide the varying application of instructed motion that the “traditional” kata provide. Kata, do not provide the (actual) responsive “technique” instruction/application. They provide examples of defensive technique motion. An instructor is (at least initially) required to provide examples for the use of those motions. Student's should avoid fostering the "belief" that a (or any) particular motion only represents an individual technique/response (to a particular aggressive action). That motion will often be used in additional defensive actions, but its use may vary slightly (within those defensive actions). What is demonstrated within the kata, is (often) a “basic” example for that motion. The kata provide the principles of/for that motion (not necessarily the exact application of/for that motion). Individual circumstances will dictate the (actual) use (for that motion), but the kata provide the physical execution/use of that motion.
I've seen numerous people (attempt to) demonstrate that the kata includes the (initial) actions of the aggressor, this makes no sense (to myself). There would be no purpose to have included the motions of an aggressor (within a “training” routine, like a “kata”). Those motions would already be known/recognized by the student (and often are what the student initiated their attendance of the class to learn a "defense" in regards to).
The “traditional” kata were (originally) taught in “secret” to a selected few students. Their purpose was to convey principles of/for technique application, not (necessarily) specific techniques. If that were the case, it would be much simpler to (simply) have a "list" of techniques/motions (that the student would be required to learn). When the student gets away from the concept that the motions are (individual) techniques (and in fact represent “concepts/principles”), the ability to recognize techniques (that utilize those motions) becomes more readily apparent (as well as  making those motions more applicable in additional situations).

Thursday, May 10, 2018


The following post is in response to a question/statement made in a prior post. I felt it was a valid statement (and questions), and my response was too lengthy to provide it in (only) the “questions to the author” section (the reader's comment and questions can be found in the original post. ("Atemi""). 
Reader's of this post should reference that post, and read the comment posted there.

In regards to the medical text reference, I don't propose that someone will figure out much (of anything) in regards to technique application from that knowledge. But it is a good starting point for one's study. That knowledge allows one to eliminate a number of the (often ridiculous) assumptions that are being asserted in regards to (various) technique applications.
Oyata provided (provided) none of that information to us. He suggested it, but provided (very) little to no “medical” references. People commonly assume that “Just” because we had been direct student's of Taika, That he imparted some level of “secret” instruction upon us, ..he didn't. He provided that instruction to all of the attending student's, whether they paid attention (when he did) or not, was “On them”.
Most everything that Oyata taught, was done via “example/demonstration”. He rarely provided very many details to technique application. What he did provide, was done via (repeated) “demonstration”.
Arguments can be made as to the effectiveness of this method, but that was how “he” was taught (and so assumed it to be the best method).
The majority of Oyata's instruction was exampled through (performed) physical examples (of the applications), and observation of the results from those attempts. Anatomical knowledge allows the student to understand what those applications are accomplishing (physically). No, these techniques could not have been developed “in isolation”, we had Taika to provide examples of their application (as did numerous others). When one starts to compare the differences between those students (each of whom had varying degrees of experience with Oyata as well) and seeing how those individual's perform those techniques, it becomes obvious who paid attention (and conducted their own research), and who didn't.
Oyata taught using a (very) “old school” methodology (“I show, you practice/do”). Unlike numerous other's (who teach likewise), he would further correct/guide you (if/when you would provide examples of what you had developed). If/when you were “happy” with whatever you had come up with, he would “move on” to another subject. The majority of student's would then cease (any) further research with that application (often without fully understanding the nuances of that technique/application).
One could (easily) conclude that Oyata was a “poor” instructor. He could (obviously) perform the motions/applications with a level of skill beyond that of any of his “peer's”, but very few (if any) of his student's came close to exampling his methodology. He provided very little “detail” (in that regard). He expected the (dedicated) student to study those motions and determine the correct application of those motions, and do so on their own.
For those that wish to (accurately) emmulate his manner of application (if not his methodology), and you don't naturally possess his “perspective” (or ability), the only choice is study and practice. We approach our instruction with the idea that the student knows nothing (about the human body) and therefor include (very) basic information in regards to that subject. Oyata had (his own) insite into the application of techniques. He would often state “I don't know why (this happens), and I don't care. I only know that it happens, and I take advantage of it”. We attempt to explain (a little of) the why.
Your correct in stating that it (can) require a “life-time” of study/practice. We only feel that it shouldn't have to. We (attempt to) include relavent information (for the student) in that regard. The information that we provide, doesn't make the student “able” to perform the application/technique, it provides them with the knowledge to (possibly) expand (or extrapolate) that knowledge (more easily) for use within further applications and techniques.
I would contest your view that “it's not for a lack of desire or effort”, I believe that it is in regards to a lack of those attributes. If what one is being shown doesn't address the desired knowledge, it's time to “move on” (and find that information, whether through another system/instructor, or through one's own study/practice).
Oyata practiced (and taught) technique “bunkai”, he disected every technique into it's individual motions and identified those individual components that made the application effective (and/or “ineffective”). Knowing what (generally) “will” work, is insufficient. Understanding what doesn't work (and why), is equally as important.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Purpose of the Uke

 As an instructor, my purpose is to provide effective instruction of the taught applications (whether Defensive or Offensive). In order to do so, the students (themselves) are required to provide "examples" of the aggressive action being simulated (that the instructed action is being taught to defend against). Naturally, those (aggressive) actions are (at least initially) being performed slowly in order for the student to learn and understand the defensive motion"s application. The part being played by the Uke (aggressor) in those scenario's is required to enact those motions (slowly) with as much accuracy as is safely practical. Too often the student "playing" the part of an aggressor will (add?) include actions/responses that would be unlikely to occur (or are even possible) during the practiced (aggressive) motions. They essentially corrupt the practice of the response being practiced (by the Tori). This falls into the category of being a "bad" Uke.
Being a Bad Uke is a (very) common problem (in regards to student practice). The Uke can often feel that they are (somehow) "adding" to the Tori's practice, but they more commonly aren't. the goal of the practice is to rehearse the specific motion (initially). Variations should be considered as a separate practice of/for that motion. These only become valid, once the initial motion is understood and can be effectively utilized.
What should be studied (by the Uke) during the application/practice of a specific motion, should be how that motion is being applied (not how The Uke can be modifying the motion to make IT practical for use). That study is valid, but not during this practice (of the application). Any modification should be addressed seperately.
Many of these "modifications" occur as a result of the slow-speed practice (of the initial motion). If/when applied, they constitute a new/different application (of the instructed technique being practiced). Student's need to Practice a singular motion (and understand it) prior to expanding their practice of/for that defensive motion.
This "problem" is most prevolent in the practice of "striking" motion defenses. Though additionally occuring during the practice of "Tuite", the (false) belief that the (or any) additional motion will effect the application of the practiced technique is more easily dismissed (as having little to no releavency to the technique's application).
It must be remembered (by the participating students) that the motions are being "practiced", and that the situation is for learning those motions. Only once those (basic) motions have been learned does it become valid for the students to "modify" that practice to include some manner of variation.
Any, and All defensive practice is "unrealistic". It isn't intended to be "realistic". The intent is to learn and understand the basics of the motion. Once the motion is understood, then the student will address variations to that motion. Those variations will rarely effect the defensive motion beyond the students ability to compinsate for them.
Being a "Good Uke" means performing the basic aggressive action, in order for the Tori to learn/understand the basic defensive action (to respond to that or a similar action attempted by an aggressor). It does not (initially) include performing some manner of "countering" motion (by the Uke) of that defensive action (being done by the Tori). "that" study (if even possible/practical) is a separate practice. Keep the students practice in context.
Being a "Good Uke" is when the student performs the basic motion in the predetermined manner. Those student's who want to "argue" that doing so isn't "realistic", are not attending the class to learn how to defend themselves (much less to assist other's in doing so). They are only there to show what "they" (supposedly) know (or think that they do).
Having a group of "Good" Uke's is difficult. New student's are (usually) pretty good initially, but as thier knowledge increases, their level of being an effective Uke can commonly deteriorate. This can often occur because of the new students (unintional) over-aggressiveness (with the application of the newly learned motions). When practicing the instructed motions it can be easy for the overzelouse student to perform those motions in a manner that "proves" (to the Uke or to themselves) that their use of the application is effective if not superior. This can be equally non-productive and can prove to be hazardous to the Uke as well.
When a student is able (or is just fortunate enough) to have compident Uke's to work with, their learning will be greatly enhanced. If/when a student is (or appears to be) incapable of being a compident Uke, that student will experience a more difficult time with their study.
Numerous important principles can be more easily understood from the perspective of the Uke. Being on the receiving end of an application, allows the student to observe/discover any of the unrealized weaknesses that may be contained within the application. Those weaknesses or vulnerabilities are what the Uke's "purpose" is (during the practice session). Those vulnerabilities are (often) technique misapplications being performed by the Tori (during the technique's application). The Uke's "purpose" during the practice, is to point out those vulnerabilities (to the Tori). This can additionally lead to a general "re-examination" for the instruction of the technique. The Uke is a vital part of the system's over-all instruction. It is the Uke, who is looking for those vulnerabilities in what/how a technique is being taught.
If/when the Uke is only "providing an arm" (for a Tori to use for their practice of a motion), they are just being lazy. They should be providing feed-back on what the Tori is doing (correctly, and incorrectly). In my opinion, a good Uke is an invaluable asset (to one's training). Students will often complain about a particular individual being "difficult" to perform certain motions upon. "That" is exactly the type of person that one should be working with. It is those (types) of individual that will be one's concern when engaged in an actual defensive situation. When that student can make the motion/technique work on them, then the likelihood of it working in an actual defensive situation increases dramatically.
I've always believed that there should be an 
"Uke Appreciation Day" (if not "Award"). Having a good, knowledgeable Uke, is a rare occurrence. When my co-writer (of our book) and I began our research, it was only because we were able to honestly evaluate (and question) what we were doing that allowed us to establish the guidelines that we now use in our instructional presentations.
Becoming a good Uke (for many individual's) is a challenging task. Newer students often view it as just being the "punching bag" for their training partner. As one's study progresses, being the Uke is when/where the student begins to realize how (if not why) many of the subtle intricacy's (of the instructed motions) effect the instructed applications.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


 The application of the instructed techniques are commonly utilized upon (various) anatomical locations that will provide the desired responses. Those locations are commonly recognized as being "atemi" (or even kyusho) point's/locations. These locations (commonly) amount to being (vulnerable) physical locations that are readily accessible for being struck and/or manipulated. These locations can be tendons,muscles or (vulnerable) nerves.The use of these locations requires the understanding of "what" qualifies that location as being vulnerable (for use in a defensive situation).
This can (often) only amount to being "available" (for that use). This requires that the student understand where, when, how those locations are (both) located and vunerable to/for (defensive) use.
These locations are identified (to our students) during their general instruction of the shown motions and applications. The student must (obviously) be aware of the presense and location of those nerves and the location of the relevent muscles and tendons. We (initially) address the "major/main" muscles and nerves of the area(s) of technique application/use.
These begin with the student's knowledge of:
Major Arm muscles:
Of the Upper-Arm:
Of the Forearm:
Arm Nerves: Ulnar Nerve
Medial Nerve
Radial Nerve
All of the nerves within the arm emanate from the brachial plexus (located in the upper lateral area of the neck/chest area for the relevant arm). Where those nerves enter the arm (within the “arm pit”) they continue down the arm into the Elbow then will separate and continue into the hand. The Radial nerve “circles” the upper-arm and travels down to the Elbow, then follows the "thumb" side of the arm. The Ulnar and Medial nerve remain in the medial side of the upper-arm until they reach the elbow. The Medial and Ulnar nerve inter the Elbow-joint (deep) and exit the elbow (entering the forearm) into the anterior side of the forearm. These nerves (loosely) follow the Ulnar bone to the wrist. These nerves are superficially located at the wrist (prior to entering the hand) along the anterior side.
The Upper Leg Muscles:
Frontal: Quadracept Muscles
Posterior: Hamstring Muscles
The (Upper) Leg Nerves:
Medial: Femoral Triangle (cluster of nerves within the medial thigh region)
Radial: Psciatic nerve: Follows the side of the leg medially (Branches and becomes the common Paroneal, goes above and around the knee,
The Lower Leg Muscles: Mainly consist of the posterior calf muscles
The Lower Leg Nerves:The Tibial nerve continues towards the foot, under the calf muscles.
Strikes to the legs (generally) produce one (or more) “general” responses, the “collaps” of the knee or the rotation of that leg (and therefor the “Hip's/Torso). Either of these actions can be augmented with the “follow-through” of the actions. The lateral rotation of the knee can additionally cause excessive (if not damaging) pressure upon the ankle of the effected leg.
One should note, that the commonly struck areas of the “diametrically” located arm, has similarly located “points/locations”, as are present upon the respective leg (the left leg, in relation to the Right arm etc.).
The greatest misconception of striking a muscle, is that it has be either “flexed” (or "relaxed") when struck. The Tori will only have limited amount of control in that ability (regarding the state of that muscle), so it becomes important to understand how the muscle/tendon should be struck in either of those situations. When it is relaxed (comparitively) it will produce a greater reaction when the strike is made upon the muscle body. When the muscle is flexed, it is easier to achieve a reaction by striking the tendon's (of that muscle). (Most of the misconceptions in this regard, are based on not understanding the actions of the muscles/tendons when the limb's are beihg utilized).
When the muscle is relaxed, it is more productive to strike the muscle body. When the muscle is being utilized, the muscles tendon's are easier to achieve a desirable reaction (and vice-versa).
The area directly surrounding a “joint”, contains mainly tendon's. The muscle “bodies” are mainly located upon the locallized limb (mid-way) between those joints. Whether a muscle is flexed or relaxed is dependent upon the action being performed with the relevant limb.
The leg's muscles, are always being utilized (when the subject is standing), so one's choice of targeting is dependent upon upon the subjects positioning and/or action (at the time of an impact). Direct Strikes made upon a muscle “body”, need to be done with a higher level of (penetration) "power" to achieve an effective result (as the muscle will commonly be flexed). A strike to the tendons (of that same struck muscle) need to be done across/perpenticular to those tendons.
The majority of the instructed strikes, attempt to take advantage of the “2 car” principle (with an attempted strike). This either includes the opponent's motion, or the addition of the Tori's second hand. This is also refferred to as being the “cutting board” principle (of application).
The degree of response/reaction (by the Uke) is gauged by the degree of movement allowed (or reduced) by the Tori during the techniques application. Strikes are applied with either direct or perpendicular motion upon the struck tendons/muscles (depending on which is being struck).
The correct inclusion of one's body weight, is effected by one's use/motion of their entire body, This is accomplished via the Tori's (body) rotation and raising/lowering of their body (during the performed motion). This rotation is commonly achieved through one's motioning of the knee's, hip's and shoulder's during those actions. Stances are often (mistakenly) considered to be secondary to an attempted action. Stances are another piece of the primary application. The positioning achieved by the lower body determines what can (effectively) be achieved with the upper body/arm's.
Forward and Rearward (body) motion will additionally effect the subject's (probable) limb positioning. Using the "Walking" example/model, limb position/use (as well as vunerabilitys) can be established prior to the subjects use of those limbs (regardless of whether the subject is moving or stationary when the motion is being performed).
Those individual's who (attempt to) use the "TCM" theory's, use that information to convey a similar understanding of these principles (of motion). We feel that study is unneccessarily confusing (if not missleading) and includes unproven (if not incorrect) concepts and ideas that only confuse the student.
Oyata spurned those ideas and would become (very) hostile if they were brought up. He wanted nothing to do with (any) individual's that promoted that study. He believed it to be a distracting waste of time.
When limb motion was described, it was related in an obvious (if not simplistic) and relatable manner. Oyata may have not known the ("name" of the exact) muscle being struck (or utilized), but he could describe all of the possible actions of that muscle (and how it did/didn't work). That knowledge didn't come from a book (nor from "scholarly" study), his knowledge was gained through his (direct) research of technique use and the reactions from that use.
What we've found (through the instruction of our student's) is that the greater the student's understanding of basic "body-motion", the more easily they will be able to apply the instructed applications. The more obvious (if not simplistic) that understanding is, the more applicable it becomes for the student. For those student's that wish to explore that understanding to a higher degree, the material is readily available through the vast amount of medical texts available in any public library (everywhere). Each of the previously described actions can be described (with greater detail) within those texts (often providing the research parameters that established those conclusions).
The most important factor (for the student to understand), is that an individual muscle, tendon or nerve will not (if ever) only cause/create reactions that are located at the affected location (Ka Han Shin-Ja Han Shin).
The Use of these locations (for defensive applications) will be directly proportional to the student's understanding of the location (and general use) of the commonly used muscles in conjunction with the limb's R.O.M. (during that limb's use).

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Premise of Practice

 The study of a (truly) "defensive" system is comparatively only being practiced by a small number of people. The greater percentage of what is being taught is some manner of "fighting" (the willing participation in a physical altercation between two individual's). Though a large amount of what is being practiced makes the "claim" that it is being taught/learned in a defensive context, when examined it becomes apparent that it is being shown in order to allow the individual to participate in (rather than end) that altercation.
This is often the result of how those methods are being taught. Rather than seeking to learn how to end a confrontation, the more commonly taught (and practiced) applications are shown, taught and practiced in regards to how to (mainly) inflict some manner/level of injury to an opponent (Thus becoming an act of aggression itself).
The practice of "sparring" reinforces this ("fighting") premise. Though commonly presented as a tool for learning how an aggressor will "attack" the student, it does nothing of the sort. NO aggressive confrontation begins with both individual's squaring off and (then) beginning that confrontation. That situation is one of a mutually agreed upon desire to participate in that action.
An actual "defensive" situation, is one where the defender is "attacked" for no (obvious or justifiable) reason. More often than not, there is no interaction between the two individual's. This is commonly recognized as being a Predator situation, where the attacker seeks to inflict injury upon the defender for some (commonly illegal) "purpose". A Predator attacks for a specific purpose. Whether that "purpose" is robbery or even revenge, there is often little to no pre-engagement interaction.
The more commonly encountered confrontation is described as being an Alpha confrontation (whether the aggressive person is male or female). When there is any level of (verbal) interaction, there exists the possibility to end or at least prevent a potential (physical) confrontation. The fact that the verbal portion of that confrontation can become heated and/or derogatory (in content) should not imply that it has to become physical. Lot's of people do it every day (and they often possess no combative physical ability's at all). These situations are the more prevalent occurrence. The majority of individual's who are not skilled in a (hostile) verbal interaction, are inclined to resort to becoming physical (in their response). The greater reason for this (by males) is often the result of social conditioning. Physical "strength" is recognized to be a socially superior positioning. It has no validity in a civilized society (or reality) but it exists none the less. It only bears relevance in a physically confrontational situation. If it is the only "argument" for the justification of a viewpoint, that argument is usually invalid.
Although an individual may be skilled in providing a verbal exchange (which should not be limited to the ability to present their own insults), that ability should be used to nullify any escalation of the situation,. It should additionally be noted that the most opportune time to launch an "attack", is while the individual is talking. This fact is readily recognized by experienced aggressor's (I.E. while your presenting your witty come-back, the aggressor is launching their opening strike).
One's Defensive practice should account for this likelihood. The ability to perform a (any) physical action is more difficult when one is engaged with performing a verbal statement (talking). When one is engaged in performing any physical motion, that individual is less likely to (both) breathe, and/or speak. Try reciting some (any) well known paragraph while performing a (well practiced) technique/application in addition to performing a defensive motion, while your Uke performs a head-strike. It is awkward and difficult to perform it (correctly). If/when your argument for "practice" is to make those motions instinctual, this should validate (or invalidate) your argument for doing so.
An "instinctual" motion will occur regardless of the mental level of your engagement. The training that Oyata presented to us (and had us engage in) was intended to expand our awareness of these situations. He didn't have us practice the (numerous) different ways of performing kata just to mess with our heads (though it would have been funny if he had). The idea was to get us to perform those motions regardless of the circumstances (as well as make us realize that the Kata motions are only to remind us of the individual applications of the movements). The same is true/applicable when performing the instructed defensive actions. The purpose of defensive training should reflect actual situations (not contrived and controlled one's).
Numerous instructors/schools make an attempt at having student's do "live" training. This is an attempt to raise the students adrenaline levels and perform the practiced motions. Unfortunately these usually devolve into contests of "strength/power" (with little if any, instructed technique being actually utilized). Depending on what is actually being taught, the practicality of these exercises often only amounts to a more "physical" (if not brutal) form of "sparring" (having all the same limitations of practicality).
Any (if not all) practice entails speed and accuracy. "Strength" is only a variable if one is focused on overcoming that opponent's strength. The techniques shown by Oyata were (never) based upon "Strength". He would regularly demonstrate the fallacy's of that premise. Student's can often confuse the concepts of (physical)"strength" and "power" (effect from technique application). They are 2 concepts that can be similar, but (still) have distinct differences between them. Practice is intended to allow the student to train for the possible variables, and understand how to adapt their instruction to accommodate for them.  

Monday, March 12, 2018

"Labeling" Instruction

 The training manner most commonly utilized (by the majority of training methods) is done in a "fixed" pattern of levels. This is commonly defined as "Basic, Intermediate and Advanced". Although this may be more easily accepted by the beginning student, these terms may (actually) hinder the student's progress. By attaching these labels, this manner of instruction is limiting the student's understanding of what is being shown to them.
If/When a motion is shown in one manner, and is then changed (to something more practical) it beg's the question "why was I shown this less practical manner, when the other is so much better?". The most common response is that it provides short-term goals (for the student) while that student improves their ability with that motion.
In our instruction (of the Oyata Te system), we only use these terms in a very general aspect. We don't have (specific) "Basic, Intermediate and Advanced" anything. When we use any of those terms, it commonly means that what's being shown or demonstrated has varying methods of it's performance. It has nothing to do with the student's ability, or the motions use. These terms are (more commonly) used in reference to how many additional motions are being used with it (to perform the desired action/effect). Oyata didn't perform (and we do not teach) "single" action applications. Those motions always include additional motions with the performed action.
The simplist example of this would be in (the instruction and practice of) a "Punch". We have student's participate in "Formation" practice (with everyone in lines, everybody working on the same or similar motions). When we do this, students will begin in a "natural stance". As the motion is called out, the student's rotate their body accordingly (left/right) and will perform the action(s). Each motion will include the use of both hands, and the neccessary footwork motions, and will be done in the manner it is likely to be used (in an actual application of the performed motion). This includes a body shift (movement) and can include any follow-up motion/action.
Singular technique/arm motion (only), can/will create the "habit" of attempting that (singular) manner of application. The excuses used for having students practice these motions from a "horse stance" are both simplistic and detrimental to the student's over all training. More often they only serve the needs of the instructor (providing the ability to individually observe the student's performance of the motion). The motion will not (or shouldn't) be done individually, so how is watching it's individual performance beneficial? (to the student).We're inclined to give our student's greater credit (in regards to their commitment) and we feel that we are providing a more beneficial level of study/practice accordingly.
What is commonly seen (among numerous instructed methods) is what was shown to school children when the art was initially demonstrated and introduced to the Japanese school system. We (at our school) do not teach anyone under 16 years of age, so (for our classes), we require a higher level of study/learning (commitment) from our students. That methodology is not practical for many schools. Our instruction method is designed and intended for students that are willing to commit to that study. In many ways, this can be argued to be slower (for the student to replicate), but by eliminating those "stages" (of performing the actions) the student actually has fewer "steps" (of instruction) to go through (making the instruction faster, if not arguably easier to learn).
We are (constantly) evaluating our instruction (of both what, and how we are providing that material). Because of that, we will (often) update what and how we provide that instruction. This is (almost) "taboo" for many systems. Oyata's manner of instruction was very "drawn out", often taking years to (completely) convey a concept and/or motion. This was done for (numerous) reasons (and could easily be argued as being justified), but we have chosen to (instead) raise the (required) level of a student's performance of the instructed motions as being their objective (for their learning), rather than requiring an abstract "commitment" which often failed for Oyata (and numerous other instructors), as was evidenced by how many people were "kicked-out" of his organization prior to his death.
Oyata did not (directly) "teach" mudansha (kyu-rank) students. He only taught (his own) Yudansha (Black Belt) students. He expected those Yudansha to teach that material (what was being shown to them) to their students. A large number of those instructors only taught limited amounts of that information (until their students gained higher ranking (under those instructors). What was shown to the mudansha was (in our opinion) unnecessarily restricted (until those students achieved a Yudansha grading). Much of that information should have been being refined prior to their reaching a Yudansha grading. That included Kata, technique and application principles.