Friday, January 25, 2019

Subliminal Distraction

 The practice of performing a "Fake" is a common practice, it is basically a visual or physical distraction (from something else that is occurring at the same time). This is on-par with a similar tactic, the Subliminal Distraction. The majority of distractions that people do (or attempt) are pretty obvious (if not blatant). Those attempts can include a "fake-out" punch, a pulled-up knee, or even the Right/Left combination. These are the "blatant/obvious" attempts to distract. Less obvious, are those movements that are only "sensed" (as they occur). By themselves they accomplish nothing (or very little). Their greatest use is for generating peripheral attention. The person recognizes that the motion is not a threat, but it has distracted them (even if only slightly). The natural response made in regards to them, is if it posses no direct threat, then it warrants no attention?
Oyata would do similar actions when we were reviewing Tuite application techniques. It was often shown when he had someone who was being resistive (to the application of the motion). He would show (several times) that the person was able to "resist" the application of the technique. He would then do it again, and the person would fall to the ground. The only "difference" (in application) was that he (Taika) would press his foot against the student's foot (slightly before performing the technique). It wasn't "magic", or any type of "ki" application, he simply distracted the person's attention while performing the action. The (overwhelming) majority of the time, onlooker's (or even the individual themselves) couldn't figure out how he was doing it.
One of the (numerous) things that irritated Oyata the most (at least in regards to the practice of a defensive art's study), was that student's would (continually) attempt to "muscle" the shown applications in order to make them "work". Although he would (repeatedly) show various movements, and explain the principles of how and why they worked, (inevitably) student's would resort (or at least attempt) to using force to make (at least their versions of the) techniques "work".
Oyata always stated that regardless of the physical size (or strength) of either the aggressor or the student, the techniques that he taught to us would work ("if" they were being performed correctly). Strength was never the "primary" factor for the success of any of his techniques. It was always the minor factor's that accounted for the technique's applicability.
To assist in achieving their (the techniques) success, while applying a given technique Oyata would regularly include supplementary motions and actions. The more subtle those motions, the better (in his opinion). Being "obvious" was never one of his virtues. The use of subliminal distractions was done throughout his application of the Tuite technique's. These motions would include varied finger pressures and the directional application of pressure that would distract the uke from more relevant motions.
This instruction included refining the student's knowledge of body mechanic's that defined how (and why) a person would be inclined to move (in response to performed actions). Though often being aware of those motions (as well as their causes), they (the motions) are typically ignored by most individual's. These concepts included reactionary retreat, spatial awareness, proprioception as well as subliminal distraction.
These factor's are more commonly being ignored by the more "modern" student. Those student's are (now) obsessed with performing technique's that emphasize that what "they" (rather than their adversary) feel, should be strong/powerful (I.E. "power-based").
It's only when there is a complete transfer of force/momentum that the generated energy/power is being transfered into the targeted subject. More commonly, many (modern) practitioner's concern themselves with extraneous motions that add nothing to their attempted technique's. Many of the demonstrated motions waste time with extraineous motions that add nothing to the defensive goal.
The inclusion of those subliminal distractions don't make a technique "look" any different, but they can improve the chances for it's success.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

In Regards to Weapon's Training

 The instruction and use of a "weapon" (that is being taught in a defensive art's class) is commonly assumed to be in regards to some manner of "striking " (with that particular weapon). The belief (held by most students) is that this instruction is (only) in regards to the use of that weapon during a defensive confrontation. The reality is, that the student will rarely (if ever) have that weapon when they are involved in a defensive confrontation. The inclusion of a "weapon" being used (even within a defensive situation) will often "legally" make that individual the "aggressor" in a lawsuit (either by the individual or by the authorities). Although this is (normally) recognized by the student, the assumption is made that they can use "other" objects in lieu of the actual weapon (type) itself. The biggest "problem" that I have with this (in regards to a student's "training"), is that students will limit their defensive motions to those that only utilize the (make-shift) weapon (itself). The practice of a "weapon" is (or should be), for the utilization of/for the instructed motions being used without the weapon. Every weapon emulates particular unarmed (limb) motions, being performed by the student (during a defensive situation). Weapon's kata should be examined (just as "open-hand" kata are) in regards to the limb motions being performed. The biggest "difference" (in regards to the use of those motions) is in regards to the distance of performing that motion/application. Each weapon stressed different manners of (limb) motion and manipulation. The practice of the Sai stressed wrist and finger motions, the Bo emphasized single and combined arm motion, etc. The purpose for learning those weapons kata was not (necessarily) for the "use" of those weapon's for defensive purposes (though that could be considered an additional "tool" for the student to have). Everything taught always goes back to "open/empty hand" defensive application(s). Weapon's kata was often (if not commonly) one of the first things taught to a student (by the "old" Okinawan instructor's). This was the case for Oyata with his own instruction (he was initially taught the use of the "Bo"). This wasn't (necessarily) done to provide the student with a means of defense (prior to being shown the "open-hand" applications). The instruction of a "weapon", provided the student with a reference for how they should perform the (instructed) "open-hand" motions. Oyata would like-wise (often) use the hand/arm motion's performed with a particular weapon, to example how (or why) an (equally particular) open-hand motion should be performed. His (Oyata's) instruction of weapon's, rarely included (extensive) "application's" of/for that weapon (during a defensive situation). That being said, his own "favorite" weapon was the "Bo". He utilized it in the same manner that his "open-hand" motions/techniques were performed. During our own student's "kyu-rank" instruction, we require that the student learn 5 (different) weapon's kata (their choice). The "use" of those (instructed) weapon's is not emphasized, but the motions performed during their practice is (intended) to emphasize particular (Open-hand) movements. Student's recognize that their practice of the Bokken (a heavy wooden sword) is used to develop the student's grip, and to strengthen the forearm muscles. The practice done with those instructed weapons is intended to develop additional motion reinforcement for each of the unarmed application movements as well. It is my own belief that a student learning a weapon (initially) will provide that student with a reference base for their unarmed defensive motion instruction (I.E. "Open/Empty Hand"). That instruction provides the "basis" for motions that can be (more easily) referenced upon. The simplest of those weapons to learn would be the "Bo" or "Jo" (in my opinion). The chances of having one of these items available (for defensive use) in the event of an assault are minimal (at best). But the weapon's "use" is not the reason for learning the manipulation of/for that weapon. The weapon (itself) is only a tool. Just as (many) people stress that their use of the makiwara is (only) as a tool, the practice of a weapon's use (manipulation & application) illustrates numerous "basic" (unarmed) limb motions and applications. One of those basic concepts is in regards to the practitioner's use of their hand/wrist. The manipulation of a "weapon" will have the student (consistently) modifying their hold on that weapon (from being an Open to a Closed wrap around that weapon). The hand is (technically) never (tightly) "closed" (as seen with a commonly practiced "punch"). It will always have that "weapon" within it (thus, keeping the hand "open"). This is (basic) kinesthetics, an open hand makes motions done by the arm stronger and faster. Closing the finger's tightly, only increases the relative "density" of the hand. By doing so, the arm will move slower (as the muscles utilized to propel that arm, are then being used to "tighten" the hand, instead of motioning the arm/hand forward). This is why (most) defensive system's teach the student to only "flex/tighten" the hand (slightly) prior to its impact. The "point of contact/impact" (that is commonly taught) is usually the fore-knuckles of the striking hand. So, why should the student be concerned with the finger's (of that striking hand) being (additionally) tight as well? Frankly, there is no reason for that to be done. The "logic" behind this practice (of one's tightening of the hand for the performance of a striking "punch") is only based upon the obsession with ("felt") power (by the student). Doing so add's nothing to the strikes performance. Tightly wrapping the finger's (of a hand that is striking with the knuckles of that hand) adds nothing to that strikes performance. It is the alignment of the back of the hand (with that arm's forearm, I.E. the wrist of that hand) that is of (much) greater importance (to the ability of striking more effectively). Bracing the back of the hand and forearm will (naturally) brace the wrist (compare open-hand "knuckle push-up's" with those done with a "fist"). Those push-up's done using a "fist" require all of the forearm muscles to be tight throughout the motion (and the wrist remaining straight is of less importance). A "tight" fist provides no benefit to the performance of a strike, or in regards to the student's training. Within the practice of using a weapon, the student will recognize (hopefully) that their arm is constantly "flexing" and "relaxing" (just as occurs during a defensive situation). The use of a weapon will (albeit, subconsciously) demonstrate that they will be using that same premise (flexing and relaxing) while performing the instructed (unarmed) motions as well. It should be recognized that every "open-hand" motion is replicated within the practice of the various "Weapons" kata. Part of the student's study is to identify those motions. If this is not done (by the student), they are dismissing a MAJOR function/purpose for that weapon's (entire reasoning and purpose for) instruction.

Timing during a confrontation

 There is a (minor) debate regarding the application of multiple strikes being applied simultaneously (by an individual). This action is commonly observed being done in several Kata. When queried in regards to this action's interpretation/meaning, Oyata would state that the motions should not be done simultaneously. This is done so as to achieve a greater response/effect being achieved from the performance of those actions. Though seemingly a rather simplistic response, it has numerous implications in equally numerous technique applications (beyond the practiced kata examples). The dominant effect from this "variation" in timing, is to increase the effects that will be achieved from those (and other similar) applied actions. Essentially, Oyata was stating that we should be considering the differences in achieved effects that resulted from the variances in timing, for multiple action/strikes being applied simultaneously. This was not limited to two "hand/arm" motions being applied together, but (should) factor the inclusion (and timing) of a leg strike as well (in conjunction with any arm applications being utilized). It's commonly "new" student's who attempt to make any combined (simultaneous) actions, all occur at the same time. Aside from being nearly impossible to achieve, it is (usually) a pointless endeavor to attempt (much less use). This action was exampled in numerous technique applications that involved striking as well as manipulation techniques. The first (practiced) example of this concept was commonly encountered during the application of a Tuite technique being applied. Being aware of the "2-hand's and 1 leg" (concept) being used in conjunction, "new" student's would attempt to perform those 3 actions simultaneously. In practice, it's (quickly) discovered that varying the timing of those (3) actions archives a greater reaction (from the Uke). Varying the inclusion of a "kick" (whether prior to, during, or slightly following) in conjunction with the application of the technique will achieve varying reactions from the Uke (in regards to the technique being utilized). That timing will additionally effect which (if not what) additional motions can be performed. That timing was often based on the Uke's reaction tendencies. These motions are done in anticipation of, or in response to a technique's application. The simplest example is that of a subject "bracing" in anticipation of an impending impact. This occurs subconsciously (beyond the conscious control of the individual). By spacing the timing of an impact (in regards to the expectation of that impact), the defensive benefits (of that bracing action) are diminished, if not negated. This is often exampled within the application of a Tuite technique. When one attempts a "push-catch" technique's application incorrectly (I.E. the "catch" is achieved, but the Uke is able to "brace-up" and resist its use), the student is shown to (rapidly) increase their grip, then open/relax their fingers (thus relaxing their grip), the Uke will (likewise) relax their "counter-grip" (thereby allowing the Tori then successfully re-apply the technique). This is an example of timing variation that is done outside of the expected norm. The majority of performed reactions can be expected (to varying degrees), and can then be utilized within one's technique application. These types of applications are often done with the full awareness of the recipient. An obvious example of this is a strike delivered to an aggressor's striking arm (upon their bicep muscle). It is virtually impossible to (successfully) "flex" the bicep (while delivering a strike with that arm) in anticipation of being impacted. A (direct) bicep strike, is one that achieves greater results when that muscle is relaxed (as it proportionately is while delivering a strike with that arm). any directional application of that strike (that may be included) can be debated in regards to the arm's position (in relation to the timing of that impact). Suffice to say those factors are (more often than not) less relevant than is commonly argued. The point of this entire rant is that there are numerous factors that can (and should) be considered while the student is reviewing the application of (whichever) technique during their study. Though each of those factors should be explored, student's can easily become distracted with (only) 1 or 2 of those factors. When only attempted individually, the majority of those actions will only achieve a minimal effect.

Saturday, January 19, 2019


 I believe the biggest reason for the practice of "kata" (in general), is to train the student to move. What I typically see, is student's Obsessing over the (their) accumulation of (hand/arm) "technique's". When observing student's (whether my own or other's) what I will typically see, is the student "standing in place" and attempting to perform those actions. The practice of/for kata motion requires that the student move into various positions (while performing the motions replicated in those kata). Motion is performed to either deliver or receive "momentum" (whether being delivered by the student, or by their opponent). It must be understood that momentum, should not be (or become) an attribute that is (solely) generated and delivered by an individual "Limb" (I.E. the "arm") alone. Every performed action should include the (entire) "body's" motion. When a "Rotation" is seen in the performance of a kata, the student should research the reason's behind that rotation's inclusion (in the kata). Those "reason's" are (often) explained as being done in regards to multiple assailant's (sigh,..). Believing so is "fine" (I suppose), but I am inclined to believe that there are more practical reasons for those motions inclusion (in regards to "1 on 1" confrontations). The Rotation (of one's body) is done in order to redirect or emphasize one's ability to apply momentum to a particular action/application. Beginning student's (regularly) attempt to only utilize their "arm" (muscles) to perform a particular application. For those student's who possess greater levels of (physical) "strength", that may be believed to be a viable choice. For the rest of us, it's an impractical choice (or belief). Though an individual may be able to generate 80+ lbs. of delivered momentum/energy (using their arm), I can deliver 185+ lbs. of momentum/energy using my entire body (and with far less effort on my part). This can only be achieved through the inclusion of "footwork", and thereby including one's body motion with those actions. Beginning students are inclined to view "footwork", as being (only) a means by which one is able to reposition their "arm's" (to perform whatever motion is required). Numerous systems (attempt) to emphasize that a "rotation" creates (only) the manner of/for a required motion. Rotation generates "2" directions of momentum (both with and against a particular direction). During that movement (a rotation) moves 1/2 of one's body weight one direction, and the other 1/2 in the opposite direction. There is no "circular" energy/momentum being created by this action. "Baseball" pitcher's do not "spin" around in a circle prior to throwing the ball. Their pitching arm only travels in a forward direction. The commonly performed "practice" of causing one's "hip's" to motion "forward and back" (the infamous "Shimmy") while performing a strike, adds NOTHING to a delivered (arm) strike/motion. The motions performed during kata should demonstrate any/all required motion (during the delivery/execution of a defensive motion). Student's are often inclined to include (their own) separate/additional motions. These should not be required, (or even necessary) if the intended action is being performed correctly. Oyata's training (in regards to techniques) from his (two) instructor's was initiated through the instruction of the "Bo". The motions contained within that practice demonstrated (numerous) concepts and movements that were later demonstrated for use with defensive responses to attempted assaults. His initial practice of the Bo was demonstrated to illustrate numerous unarmed defensive actions. The concept was that all instructed motions were related. "Motion" was the key to that commonality, both defensively and in regards to the application of the instructed technique's. Unless (or until) a student can recognize (and incorporate) those commonalities, their defensive training will suffer from a severe "disconnect".

Friday, December 7, 2018

Definition 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. This came about because Oyata was constantly striving to improve the instruction that he provided to us (his students). Many of the concepts that he taught, were provided with no definitive "labels" that distinguished those principles. Many of them encompassed several (sub) subjects. One of the major ones, we have "labeled" as Force Efficiency.
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 use this term, it is the phrase that we coined to define the manner that he (Oyata) taught and utilized to convey that concept. The term is used to define the efficient use of the physical actions that are taught to our students (via the instruction that was received from Oyata). 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 will (always) prove to be the most effective (if not efficient). 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 universally available, physical strength is only one of, if not the lowest/least important on that list. If/when a technique isdependent 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 exampled 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 being 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 “practical/effective” for use (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 demonstrates 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 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 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 " video examples is not my goal (here).

Those that (actually) are interested in what/how we teach Oyata's methodology should visit/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).

Random Practice Methods

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/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, so 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). 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 (any) particular kata motion can/will only represent 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 provides 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 provides 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 select few students. Their purpose was to convey principles of/for particular 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.

Included motion

 The concept of there being (only) “hard” and/or “soft” styles is (to myself) limiting. In general, these "types" are distinguished by the system's inclusion of strikes (or not) and the inclusion of some 
degree of "mental" reflection and/or practice (commonly seen in the form of "meditation"). Learning 
the delivery of "strikes" is the more simplistic of the two. It Is the easier of the two for student's to 
understand, so it is what is initially learned and practiced by the average (beginning) student. Grab's 
and parrying (or deflection) motion defenses, are often reserved to the more experienced student. 
Any, if not all styles of defense utilize both of these concepts, they only vary in the degree of their 
use of either (between the different “systems”).

The ability to effectively utilize "strikes" is commonly dependent upon the (physical) size/strength of the student. The application of manipulation (types of) techniques (should) have no such limitations imposed upon their use. Oyata's methodology for the use of either of these applications, was dependent upon the student using their entire body (within that use). The use of the “fist” was more often limited to the use of the first two knuckles (of the utilized hand). Emphasis was made upon the wrist (of the striking hand). It was only necessary that the wrist remains straight (to prevent “buckling”) on impact with that forward strike. The “fingers” remained loose/relaxed. As long as the wrist maintains a straight alignment (with the forearm), the wrist would be unlikely to “buckle”.
Being that the intent/use of the fist was rarely intended to be (mainly) dependent upon the amount of delivered force/momentum, it was the placement of that strike that was of greater concern. The amount of force delivered, only added to that strikes use/effect.
The “punch” that Oyata used, was shown/demonstrated to include a lateral “milking” action (of the striking wrist) upon impact. This was shown to create additional reactions (by the Uke) with its inclusion. Those reactions are demonstrated whether the strike is delivered with force, or not.
The use/availability of greater amounts of force are obviously beneficial, but should not be considered to be mandatory (for the effectiveness of an application/technique). The idea is to create a specific reaction, that can be (further) utilized with additional motions to create the desired response.
Efficient application of technique is achieved by entire body application of the movement being utilized. This is done by using the concept of force efficiency. When combined with correct technique application (regardless of the amount of physical strength utilized), The technique will be applied in the most efficient manner.
Force Efficiency equates to correct (body/frame) alignment being applied with the attempted application. That alignment includes specific directions (of motion and alignment) to be used within the delivery of the attempted application. Any additional motion (being included by the student), is commonly unneeded and/or equates to being wasted motion.
Though being (at least to ourselves) a simple (if not obvious) use of (body) motion, we have had student's who have argued otherwise (commonly by presenting arguments that they “feel” more powerful when including those actions). The fact that they “feel” those motions, should example the uselessness of those motions. When a motion achieves the (ideal) transfer of the generated energy/momentum, the person should not “feel” anything. This is commonly exampled when a student states that they “felt” nothing during the performance of an action (although the results of that action, resulted in an obvious transfer of mass and momentum). If/when the motion is felt (by the user), it is not being transferred (into the target/subject). The most common example of this is when students include a "hip" shimmy. The motion achieves nothing, but the student "feels" it (and therefore "thinks" that it has made the motion more powerful).
There are motions that can increase the amount of delivered mass/energy. Those motions are performed in (often subtle) ways that can be achieved without the inclusion of forced "additional" motion. One of the simplest is the continued (relaxed) inclusion of a limb joint's extension. This is most easily exampled with the use of a forearm strike. As the forearm makes contact (with the intended/target location), the (striking) student's wrist is relaxed. This allows the (striking) wrist to then wrap around the targeted (Uke's) arm. Doing so will increase the amount of delivered momentum/energy into the impacted object (I.E. the Uke's arm). By the Tori maintaining a “straight” wrist (during this action), they are countering, if not decreasing the amount of delivered momentum. It was the inclusion of these types of simple changes/actions, that make Oyata's methodology more productive (if not “effective”).

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Arms are the Example

 When the new student begins their study of a defensive art, they are shown the rudimentary movements for the application of techniques. Those motions can be strikes, grabs or motions that place an aggressor at a physical disadvantage. An important aspect of achieving that advantage is the student's understanding of the natural weaknesses that exist within the human anatomy. Attempting to understand the entire body's weaknesses can be an ominous (and unnecessary) task. We begin that instruction with the student understanding the movements, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities of the arm. We start with the arm because an aggressor's arm will be the more easily accessed and vulnerable to the student's defensive applications during a confrontation.
 Once those vulnerabilities are understood by the student, that knowledge can be applied to the remainder of an aggressor's limbs (during the student's application of defensive actions). 
Various instructors attempt to have their student's learn those locations throughout an aggressor's body. We've found that understanding those locations within the arm, will act as a "reference" for the remainder of the limbs. Those Strikes delivered upon an aggressor's torso will have greater variance than those locations that are on the limbs (arm's and Leg's). The variance that exists between the different body (torso)-types (and weight) are more diverse than what will be present between (different) individual's arms. 
Our students begin with learning how to perform strikes that are made on the aggressor's arms. Strikes made upon the Torso, are addressed differently as they commonly will only be accessible once the arms have been neutralized. When the student gains an understanding of those arm strikes, that same knowledge can be "transferred" to be used when striking the leg's (as the locations that are learned to be utilized on the arm's, can be directly applied for use when striking the leg's). Every location that is shown on an aggressor's arm, can be directly correlated to use on the (opposite) Leg of the aggressor. Fortunately (for the student), they have their own body for referencing those locations. Though most of those locations are known/recognized (by the student), they need only understand the correct angle that they need to be struck at (to elicit the desired result). The majority of those locations can be struck at various angles to elicit different results/reactions. Those variances are dictated by how the limb is being utilized (by the aggressor) at the time of the defender's impact (upon the aggressor's limb). The correct (or more effective) manner to utilize a particular location is always dependent upon how the aggressor is using that limb at the time. The utilized locations are places where the nerves and tendons are readily vulnerable to external impacts and manipulations being applied upon them. 
The term "Kyusho" is commonly used to describe these locations, though "Atemi" would (IMO) be more accurate. "Kyusho" implies a devastating result from its use when more often the locations only exemplify a particular vulnerability (more akin to the meaning of "Atemi", or "distraction"). The whole "labeling" thing, becomes a contest of semantic's. Just as with the whole "TCM" fallacy, these are simply locations, that may or may not have any actual relation to one another. We have chosen to utilize Oyata's perspective on any relationship that those locations may have with one another (which has shown to share a greater relationship to Western medicine than to any "TCM" theories). Those relationships are directly related to commonly recognized principles that are used (and readily available) within Western medical texts. The theories and concepts of TCM are based on random idea's and vary depending upon the presenter's perspective. By using Western theories, they're subject to (multiple) reviews that can either validate or invalidate those ideas. Though variances will exist, those differences can be logically explained/identified and will be demonstrated through recognized models of/for behavior and reaction (rather than through some "obscure" example, I.E. "the position of the tongue" during the application of a technique). For myself, I can now recognize why Oyata dismissed (all of) the TCM Theories. Yes, some of it can demonstrate certain actions and reactions, but it cannot be confirmed, justified or even replicated through demonstrated examples upon varied/multiple individuals. Additionally, one need not learn (much less understand) the often confusing idea's that are contained and taught within that Theory. Oyata's methodology is based upon how motions should be performed the most naturally, and effectively. To the casual observer, those differences often appear to be very subtle, but they change the manner for how those motions have been commonly taught and used. By using Oyata's "Force Efficiency" application manner, those locations are more practically (and easily) utilized. This training begins with how the student is shown to perform the initially introduced body positions and limb motions (Stances and Defensive Strikes). Those variances (from how they are typically seen being done) are dependent upon the student's use of Force Efficiency. Every motion taught, must be performed with that principle being utilized. Student's are inclined to "separate" the instructed principles (from the various motions beings shown to them). To become effective, those principles and various motions must be integrated in order to produce the desired results. This was the concept (ka han shin, ja han shin) that Oyata continuously stressed. Until that concept is an integral part of the student's motion/technique application, any concern for "Atemi/Kyusho" is a futile effort. 
It bears mentioning, that there exists an overbearing concern by student's, in regards to the use of "knock-out" (Neck) strikes. The majority of that concern falls into two camps, the first is in regards to safety (and any lasting effects), the second is in regards to the subjects "recovery" following the strike. The safety concern is one that is justified, but for "healthy" students and the use/application of lightly applied strikes, that concern can be minimized. Over-enthusiastic student/instructor application of those (neck) strikes should not be tolerated (nor even allowed). The lighter application of those motions will convey the desired understanding/result without causing unnecessary risk to the recipient. For healthy student's/subjects, the use of lightly applied neck strikes should not be a concern. The more "troubling" concern (IMO), is in regards to what is being "taught" as being "recovery" technique's/actions (being performed upon recipients of those often "excessively" applied strikes). For the average (and "healthy") recipient, the effects caused by those strikes are more related to "fainting" than to anything else. The commonly taught "Recovery" classes taught by many of those individuals who use (IMO) excessive force with their instruction methods are (medically) total Bullshit.
If you choose to use the TCM theory (for whatever you are doing), when applying "first-aid" (to those victims/recipients), you should utilize "actual" First-Aid methods and techniques. Being on the receiving end of a "neck strike", is most akin to the effects from fainting (a sudden fluctuation in the blood flow of the brain). Strikes applied to the neck, only cause a fluctuation in that blood flow (and they certainly don't cause a "restriction" of blood flow to the brain). Those strikes only affect the blood flow from the brain (similar result, just a technicality that's regularly misunderstood). What should be recognized, is that the subject is experiencing what is more closely related to a "fainting spell". With that being understood, the "medical" response SHOULD be to lay the subject down (if not additionally raise the legs). This allows the blood flow (and pressure) to more easily/readily return to normal. What is commonly seen (within the TCM instruction) is the exact opposite. Additionally, they are commonly seen "slapping" the subject's on (either) the same or opposite sides of their neck (to "stimulate" blood flow?), which as any “first aid” course will inform you, does nothing (productive). Worse yet, they sit the victim up (which limits blood flow to the brain (but provides a longer recovery time, and makes the strike appear to have been more effective). When people try to promote the whole “Chinese Medicine” tripe, this is one practice that goes against any logical treatment method.
What I find sad (if not disturbing), is that these groups often require their people to have been through this (their) “training” classes to learn this nonsense. I'm regularly confronted/questioned why I have such disdain for these types of “training” practices, It is mostly in regards to the regularly promoted stupidity that is associated with it.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Kata Purpose

During the past 20 years, there would appear to be a greater acceptance for the study of kata within the M.A. Community, The majority of that “study” (IMO) has been limited to interpreting those motions to (only) revolve around the most obvious (if not simplistic) interpretations of/for those motions. The objective of those interpretations is evidently to justify the interpretations that already exist (rather than being an attempt to expand that understanding).
I am inclined to view kata as providing examples of/for application principles (rather than being only examples of technique applications). I can understand why some instructor's would “Poo-Poo” the practice of kata (if the only purpose of the kata, would be for the exampling of “techniques”). That belief makes no sense. Without the understanding of the principles for how and why a technique can/will work, those motions are limited to singular applications.
When Oyata lectured at seminars, or during his classes, those lectures were provided in regards to various application principles. The (individual) “techniques” that he utilized (to illustrate those principles) were not the intent of those lectures. Oyata wasn't concerned if the attendees learned those applications, the goal was to demonstrate a “principle” (that could be utilized in/for multiple applications).
There are a vast number of Kata that are commonly taught within the martial art's community. Many of those kata repeat various motions (between them). If those motions were intended to represent specific techniques, what would be the purpose for their being repeated? (amongst those different kata). It makes greater sense (IMO), that they would represent the application of principles in varying circumstances.
If you take any specific motion, you can (on average) only come up with a limited number of ways that the motion can be utilized (whether alone, or in combination with additional actions). The kata that Oyata included in his system of instruction included those (popular) kata that he believed provided the most common of those uses. Once the principle of that use was understood, he saw no reason that it be (further) repeated. Oyata did develop separate exercises (that could easily be considered to be “kata” in their own right), but those were developed for his student's (further) understanding for the expanded use/application of those motions.
Having “knowledge of/for” a large number of techniques (for responding to a number of specific situations) is all well and fine, but it will not make you a “well-rounded” practitioner. The well-rounded practitioner can/will be able to respond to any aggressive action attempted against them. That ability is achieved by the student understanding the application of the defensive principles that are utilized in their practiced actions.(regardless of the “system” that they are practicing). By understanding those principles, one is able to make any motion/action be/become used as a defensive action or application.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Oyata Te Defensive system

The Oyata Te Defensive system, is intended to train students in effective manners of defending themselves when they become involved in an (unarmed) confrontation. It is taught with a "defensive" aspect ("non-aggressive"). Various applications are instructed to be utilized in/for authoritative situations as well (I.E. Law Enforcement/Security applications).
There exists a fairly common belief, that the practice of a "defensive" art does not include (or even instruct student's in) applications that are intended to cause/create injury. There is no implication being made that a "defensive" art is not capable of causing/creating injury upon an aggressor, only that it is not the intended goal with its use. The priority of a defensive methodology is to protect the user ("first, and foremost"). There are situations where that objective can only be achieved by inflicting sufficient damage/injury (upon an aggressor) that the aggressor is unable to continue their assault. The argument that a defender should (always) be able to "immobilize" (or even restrain) an aggressor (rather than cause/create injury upon them), is an unrealistic expectation. Even when an aggressor can (successfully) be restrained, the situational circumstances may not allow for that to be a valid expectation to utilize in every situation).
The purpose of a defensive methodology is to is to instruct the students of that methodology to protect the student from receiving physical injury if/when they find themselves attacked and/or physically threatened. Although that may require the student to inflict physical (limb) impacts upon that aggressor, the training focus is mainly upon learning to apply manipulations upon an aggressor.
The student of Oyata Te is initially shown to be observant of their surroundings. “Avoidance” is the most practical method of “Self-Defense” and requires the least amount of training or skill to accomplish. The most commonly encountered “aggressor”, is someone who is known to the victim. The majority of physical altercations begin with some level/degree of verbal interaction (whether "hostile" or not), and has escalated into a physical exchange. These can (often) be avoided by not using any "challenging" or "derogatory" language or phrasing during that (verbal) exchange. If the exchange should become physical, the student's first priority, is to avoid becoming injured. Next, they need to neutralize the aggressor's ability to continue their assault. New students are inclined to focus on the second of these defensive aspects. If the first is not achieved, the second is moot.
Providing an effective method of defense should be done by combining one's initial (defensive) actions with those that achieve the second (simultaneously).
The student begins their study by learning the “Natural” movements (ability's and inability's) of their own body. The student's knowledge/awareness of those abilities and limitations allow them to more effectively utilize those motions when applying various instructed applications.
The initially shown motions are (obviously) defensive. Those motions (when they are correctly utilized) are used as transitions to the application of technique responses intended to end a confrontation. The situation will commonly dictate what that will consist of. Because any application has the potential of being miss-applied, and/or being ineffective, the student should be familiar with (multiple) variations of/for those applications. There is no "one-technique" that will work (effectively) in every situation.
The (latest) "popular" trend (in the martial arts community), is the "single-motion" defense. These are commonly "attached" to some alphabetical acronym that makes them easier to remember. I can agree with the concept, but not with what is being shown for the application of those methodologies. These motions are taught as being a "basic" response for any/every type or manner of (attempted) assault. Every one of them (that I've observed), lead into a "grappling" situation. As long as the student is physically strong (enough), the student will (commonly) be able to maintain a superior advantage. If the student is smaller (than the aggressor), they are automatically at a disadvantage. Oyata's methodology avoids the (creation of a) situation that would allow these factors be (or become) a determining factor to the instructed applications.

Once the natural ability's (and inability's, if not limitations) are understood (by the student), they can begin to implement the necessary adjustments to the instructed motions (to maintain their effectiveness in use). A student's initial training is (often) in regards to dispelling (numerous) false/inaccurate assumptions about “natural” and/or commonly used (if not taught) motions. The easiest way (IMO) to discern whether a motion has been taught inaccurately, is if/when that motion has been (purely) instructed in regards to the individual limb's potential. The inclusion of the (remainder of) user's body is treated as being supplemental to the applied motion/action. This is regularly displayed when students perform "regimented" practice (with student's lined-up in formation) to review the instructed motions. This is commonly being done with the students arranged in “Horse” stances (for their arm motion review), and “Back” or “Forward” stances for the leg techniques. This will (subliminally) train the student to assume those positions prior to the techniques use (in a defensive use/situation).
This type/manner of practice is done (primarily) for the instructor's benefit. It achieves little to nothing for the student's abilities (in regards to the individual motion). It is mainly done, because that's how the instructor (originally) learned it (and they haven't considered the probable consequences that result from practice done in that manner). Justification is attempted through "commonality" of use (with no concern in regards to the detrimental results from having done so). Within the practice of Oyata Te, we have attempted to avoid these detrimental training practices. We are continually modifying our own training methods to reflect that objective.
The (next) most “popular” type of practice that we don't include, is that of "sparring" (as it is popularly practiced). Our (equivalent) is closer to that of "3-4 step" (defensive) practice (though could easily be considered "freestyle"). This is done with both student's beginning in "natural" stances, and following the "begin" command, the (pre-designated) aggressor, begins their assault. This practice can include the use of protective gear (or not). The match is commonly ended when one participant is immobilized and/or submits. There are no "points" in these matches, they are intended to be for the student's experience with the use of the instructed motions and applications.
This manner of practice is considered (in general) to represent when the student has failed to perform the instructed applications correctly. If/when those applications were done correctly, the (“fight”) situation would not be as likely to occur.
Student's are shown the (basic) use of the “Tuite” applications early on in their training (often from their first class). As the student's abilities with those motions progress, the situations that they will become applicable within are increased as well (during the student's training) including when those motions can be initiated by the student. Many of the basic techniques are commonly bring dismissed as impractical or too rare (in their occurrence) for the student to concern themselves with their (varied) use. The use of "slow speed" practice (to represent a confrontation) can demonstrate the value/applicability of those techniques when being properly applied.
Tuite is an integral piece of the Oyata Te system (having an equal importance as the instructed stances, strikes and application's provide). Those systems that provide (their own) versions of it, (often) treat it as a separate study. Within the Oyata Te system, It is trained for and is utilized in conjunction with the use/application of the more commonly recognized defensive motions (used during a defensive confrontation).