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.

Essential's of the Oyata Te System

 A number of individual's have contacted us in regards to what we are now teaching, and how we are advancing Oyata's art. For the most part, we are teaching the same things that we always have, Oyata's Life Protection art. Being that this instruction came directly from him (Oyata) we have always been aware of where he desired that instruction to lead. We have removed (numerous) practices from our curriculum that were believed by Oyata to be irrelevant to that purpose. The decision to do so, was additionally influenced by the fact that we do not instruct minors, and that we do not participate in competitive demonstrations (sport “sparring” competitions). Our classes are focused on “personal” self-defense and the repercussions of those actions (both legal and personal).
The majority of our student instruction is based upon the guidance we received from Oyata in regards to his performance of the open-hand kata that he provided to us. Those “traditional” kata are taught by numerous other systems as well, but he had modified them to better reflect his own interpretations and applications. Those modifications were based upon his own research, experience and the instructional scrolls he received from his instructor's (Wakinaguri and Uhugushugu). Those scrolls emphasize principles of motion and application of the instructed motions, NOT specific “techniques” (as is commonly promoted and/or believed).
Although Oyata studied with several additional (Okinawan) instructor's, that study was focused on the learning of various additional “kata” that his instructor's had not taught to him. It was those kata that he incorporated into the kyu-level curriculum for his system. The kata taught to him by his 2 (actual) instructor's was reserved for his Yudansha level student's. Oyata additionally included several “exercises” to his curriculum (“Turtle”, “Spiderweb”, etc.). These were (essentially) Lead-in's to Shi Ho Happo (Our Yudansha kata).
A major portion of Oyata's Life-Protection methodology is centered around the use/application of Tuite. This is the “grappling” art that is demonstrated within the various kata. Oyata recognized that the majority of confrontations do not require the student to inflict injury (or serious damage) to an assailant. Confrontations can (often) include individual's known to the student. The infliction of injury (upon an adversary) can prove to be detrimental to the student (for various reasons). Tuite provides an effective means to defend one's self without that concern. It (additionally) provides the means to escalate as well (should that need present itself).
Obviously, striking and kicking methods are taught as well, but they are focused on the neutralization of an opponent's ability to continue their assault (rather than the physical defeat of that assailant). Though often considered a matter of semantics, this is a distinct difference (from how many “martial art's” are presented/taught).
Person's who choose to study with us, are commonly interested in their own “self-defense”. This requires that they learn Oyata's approach to doing so. That study includes numerous (seemingly) minor variations from how (and why) particular motions are performed. Our classes include lectures on how an assailant does and doesn't move, how an assault is (physically) initiated, and what reactions are commonly performed (in regards to a technique's application). The student is shown the differences in how/why applications will be applied, based upon the size of the student (as well as the assailant).
Oyata taught that the physical size of the student should be irrelevent to a technique's effectiveness. He regularly demonstrated that a student's physical size/strength were irrelevent to a correctly performed technique's application. For that reason, a student must be well versed in the human bodies natural range's of motion (ROM) and the (common) limitations of those motions.
Unlike many (if not most) classes, we do not emphasize (nor provide) “calisthenics's” as any part of our student's practice. If a student is interested in furthering their personal “physical fitness”, we suggest that they attend a gym (to do so). Though (minor) increases in a student's physical abilities may be achieved, that is not our classes emphasis.
Our classes are kept small for a reason. This allows us to provide individual guidance of the instructed motions, and the reason's for how those motions are performed. Every student is (physically) different, and therefor performs the individual motions (slightly) differently. Though it is popular to teach a class “as a whole”, motions will commonly require individual instruction (in regards to use/application). Though I'm sure there are individual's who have “mastered” the ability to do so, I have found no (viable) examples of it's occurrence.
There is no “group” testing of our student's (in regards to rank advancement), every student is addressed/taught on an individual basis. We rarely even inform a student that they were under review (for a kyu-rank advancement) as we conduct no “formal” testing of kyu-rank students. Those students who thrive on “rank” advancement, are often disappointed (by our instructional methods). Expanding on Oyata's desire's, we don't require the wearing of (any) “belts” (colored or otherwise). Student's are aware of their present “kyu-level” (of instruction), but that awareness is only provided for their reference for what information has/has not (as yet) been shown to them.
Instructors and Student's are provided with a “basic” requirement list. We only mandate a limited number of subjects for the student's initial instruction and order. Individual instructors and schools are allowed to include instruction in additional subjects and “styles”. Only the content and order for the instruction of Oyata Te is structured.
The most striking difference with our system is that our Yudansha students are all of equal ranking (I.E. “Yudansha”, or “Black Belt”). We feel that the use of “titles” and higher ranking serves little to no purpose, so we have eliminated that aspect of grading. Our group is kept to a relatively small student/teacher ratio, so we feel no need for further “rank-levels” as they serve no purpose (beyond feeding “ego's”). Our Yudansha are treated as study/research equal's. Members are aware of (and can easily inquire of) who knows what, and whom to approach if/when they wish to learn a particular subject.
The available Yudansha are able to provide instruction in any of the weapon's kata that Oyata provided to us, and the study/practice of additional subjects (beyond that of Life Protection) are also available. The practice of Shodo is encouraged as it incorporates numerous similar aspects to it's practice that are shared with the practice of Oyata Te.  

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Misconception of Basic and Advanced

 When discussing Techniques, there is a general misunderstanding of what constitutes something as being "Advanced". For most students, this generally is in reference to something that the individual has not learned or mastered (yet). Techniques are often similarly misnamed (in our opinion). Claiming that a "technique" is advanced, is just weird (IMO). I might understand how a particular application of a technique may be considered to require a greater amount of practice (to accomplish), but I don't see how a (or any) technique (itself) could be considered to be "advanced". If the (supposed) "advanced" version is so superior (to the "basic"), then why does the basic continue to be practiced? The only logical reason would be that "basic" would be better defined as being the introductory or instructional version (of whatever is being shown/taught).
Within the instruction of Oyata Te, we attempt to avoid the term "advanced" as much as possible. We began this when referencing the instruction of "Kata". We do not teach a "basic", "intermediate" or "advanced" version of any of the kata that are taught within that system. We only recognize one version of each kata that is included in the curriculum. As our students are learning the various rank requirements, their kata are being continually refined (until they are performing the kata in its final form). Although the individual kata are introduced at varying ranks, a student will begin the practice of additional kata with each kyu rank advancement. Satisfactory performance of an individual kata commonly occurs after several advancements in ranking (prior to the performance of the kata becoming satisfactory). The awarding of a Yudansha ranking, should (in our opinion) represent that you know the kata.
We have done similarly with the practice of individual techniques. We no longer have student's perform (any) "hand/arm" techniques from a "Horse stance" (as is commonly practiced in most systems). Those motions are always performed in conjunction with a "stance" change or motion. This is but one of the ways that we begin having students perform multiple actions simultaneously.
Many of these changes have been made for reasons of practicality for instruction, and to avoid student frustration. It arose from our own (as well as that of students) asking why (?) they have to learn the manner of doing something (kata, tech. stance, etc.) "one-way", only to have to later change it (to be something that is actually used/applicable). If/when we would ask Taika (Oyata) about this, he would say that "he" didn't say it was basic, we did, he was only referencing the motion (and what was being done with it at that time)."Basic" was Western (American) terminology (that we seemed to understand). "Kihon" translates as "Basis" (not "basic"). There is a slight but distinct difference. Taika taught motions and principles, how we choose to practice/perfect them was (individually) up to us. His concern was that we could correctly perform the final version (of the demonstrated motions).
Being that we are not a "store-front" Dojo, we are not obligated to maintain a (or any) level of "income" (beyond a students monthly tuition/dues). We don't charge for individual kyu-rank examinations or have mandated time requirements for a student's study. Many of our students have prior study/experience (in some level of "martial arts" study) and those students are required to learn the manner that we instruct and perform those motions. "New" (inexperienced) students are (actually) easier to teach this system to (as they don't have to re-learn the way that we perform certain actions). This can be an (obviously) difficult thing to do (for many of those "experienced" students). Although many of the motions/principles that are taught in Oyata Te are similar to those taught within other methodology's, there are differences.
The majority of our (new) students will often express frustration at the amount of (menial) things that we emphasize during their instruction. We have speculated that this may be the reason that many instructors teach their syllabus incrementally (I.E. "Basic, Intermediate, Advanced"). Seeing that we (only) train "adults", we feel that they can handle it. If an individual needs a consistent level of external reinforcement (certificates, awards, belt's etc.) they will likely not be content to study within Taika's system.
We've had numerous students (or at least "attendees" of class) who only desired to learn our manner of Tuite application. Those students (obviously) only wished to learn the manner that we utilize "Tuite". The vast majority of those individual's quit after a comparatively short time. Most found the techniques to be very difficult to utilize. This was usually because they were trying to integrate it into what they already did. Tuite was intended (if not designed) to be utilized in conjunction with the motions utilized within Oyata's methodology.
Oyata taught "Life-Protection", not methods for combative exchanges. Though being a "cool" (sounding) name (for what's being taught) that phrasing is counter-productive to/for (practical) defensive training.
The ability to utilize this art is dictated by the actions made by an aggressor. Every (physical) action perpetrated by the aggressor (whether "pre-conflict" or during the altercation) will dictate how the student will respond to those actions. Every (physical) conflict will involve (if not mandate) a specific response to counter (and end) that assault. Though we have students practice (numerous) foundational responses, those responses must have the ability to adapt (in order to adequately respond to the individual aggressive action). There are no defensive responses (taught) that are intended to only deal with a specific aggression. Every defensive action should have the ability to (adequately) respond to whatever action is attempted by an aggressor. Being that several (of those methods) are learned by each student, it becomes their choice as to which is the most practical for themselves to utilize.
When a student is initially shown a defensive response, they will practice that motion in response to multiple types/manners of aggressive strikes/actions (using the same motion). That motion should be able to adequately protect the user from receiving any serious injury/damage (when performed correctly). The only differences (in the motions use) will commonly be in the "timing" (of that use). To be considered as a "practical" application, it should not matter whether the aggressor attempts a Right or Left side-hand strike or grab (or even kick) to remain applicable. This was often where students (with prior experience) would falter (or at least experience their greatest frustration).
Those students will commonly attempt to change the (over-all) defensive action to respond to the differences in the (individual) method utilized for the attacking motion. When the defensive action is correctly performed (with the correct timing) it should continue to be a viable defensive motion (regardless of the manner of the attempted assault).
One's ability to (correctly) perform those actions entails the student's use of their entire body. It matters not that the motion is a strike, a kick or a grab. That defensive action should be able to effectively respond to an aggressor's attack (regardless of what or how that attack is attempted).

New Zealand Seminar

 Well, my associate has returned from his attendance of a seminar that he was invited to teach at recently. The seminar was hosted by the Ryukenkan Dojo in New Zealand. From the postings I've seen on Facebook (and the comments included with them) it appears that they were pleased with what was shown. The intent of the seminar was to (personally) introduce and demonstrate the numerous aspects of Oyata Te's methodology to this school, and to provide answers to the (numerous) questions that they had in regards to it's study and practice.
Although this school had prior experience with (several) systems that taught similar methodologies, they apparently were interested in comparing what they had previously learned with the instruction that we are able to provide. I've (at yet) recieved no correspondance (myself) from them (to directly know their opinion on what was shown to them) but I did see a notation by one of the attendee's (in regards to the seminar) and my associate tells me that he recieved very favorable feedback while he was there.
Fortunately (for myself), my associate video recorded various pieces of the seminar, mainly for our own reference in regards to any future presentations (whether with them or with others) so I have a feel for how they are inclined to perform certain motions (and how that material had been shown to them).
I believe the original format (of the seminar) was intended to be in regards to weapon's training (?), but my associate stated that he gravitated towards Tuite practice (from the feedback that he was receiving from various student attendee's). I was told that there was some discussion (with the instructors) in regards to differences in how Kata was to be practiced, but I'm (at this time) unclear as to the extend of those conversations.
From an "instruction" perspective, I'm curious to review the video that Lee recorded (to observe the general reactions by the attendee's) to what was shown, and how well they comprehended the shown material. He was informed that some (1 or 2) of them may "drop by" this summer to attend our class (to see what "our" classes are like) which should be enjoyable. Our classes are (definitely) conducted differently (from the average "karate" class).
Though having practiced similar methodology's, I found it interesting to hear of the (numerous) differences that existed between those systems (and our own). Although those (other) systems presumably came from a similar (if not the same) source (I.E. Oyata), the presenters of that information (from those other systems) seem to have often came to different conclusions (as to what was being provided by my associate).
I feel obliged to note that I have not communicated (directly) with any of those attendee's (of this seminar), so I can only relay what was told to me by an (obviously) "Biased" source (my associate). Dispite that bias, I have full faith in that source, so I expect that what he says is completely accurate.
We'll have to see if (any) of those individual's "drop by" (this summer), and/or I can receive some direct feedback on their opinion of the provided seminar.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Shu Ha Ri

Shu    = Observe / Follow / Learn
Ha    = Break-Down / Study / Practice
Ri    = Separate / Advance / Create

 Student's are commonly concerned with their "progress" (regardless of what they are studying). Instructors are likewise mindful of their student's progress. Both have a desire to see the student advance in the chosen subject. The concept of "Shu, Ha, Ri" is often presented as being an understanding of how that instruction is being provided, learned and practiced. 
I've been reading numerous articles that have attempted to (re?)define and/or order this concept, and there are (widely) varying opinions on what the saying constitutes. Those articles that attempt to present arguments in regards to the order of how those concepts (or at least what those concepts represent) should/could be learned and are more often more delusional than practical (IMO). The majority of those articles I found to only be an attempt to redefine the individual stages. Personally, I find the original saying (and the order of those concepts) to be a valid application of them, I just don't commonly see it being utilized in the manner that I believe it was originally presented. 
Reflecting on the time that I've spent teaching (both) Shodo and a Martial Art, I've found this (Shu-Ha-Ri) concept to be prevalent in both (regardless of the studied subject). I've also found it interesting that for my brush calligraphy student's, the Shu-Ha-Ri concept is (more) readily accepted but is (also) more readily abandoned (?). 
Regardless of the subject being practiced, student's want to do the "advanced" version, whether they are actually able to do so, or not. "Advanced" motions are a collection of the basic motions that have been (correctly) practiced to the point that they can be individualized in their use/application. This is true whether the student is performing a "kata", or brushing a kanji. 
I believe that many (if not most) students believe that their progression is (or at least is understood to be) a reflection of their entire level of study. In my own (teaching) experience, a student learns at multiple levels. They will have motions that come easily to them, and those that require greater amounts of study/practice (before they are able to correctly perform them). 
I detest the (concepts of) "Basic, Intermediate, Advanced" designations. I prefer the ideas of "Introductory, Developmental and Individual". I believe the initial (and commonly utilized terms) to be restrictive in their understanding (for the student). The practice of (either) a martial art or brush calligraphy is an individual study, and this is evident in the results of the final product (the student). 
In either practice, the manner that the individual motions are being applied will determine the results of the produced application. Whether a motion is applied in the "basic/introductory" manner, or in the "advanced/individual" manner, it should result in the same desired outcome/effect. 
"Style", is only a method of application. A person is only able to motion (their body) in a particular manner. Though often similar, different people move in varying degrees of that similarity. Introductory motions address the ability to simulate the desired action. With the practice of those motions, the student will refine their own version of performing those actions, and (with continued practice) will develop their own method of achieving the results that they desire. 
The use of (the terms)"Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced" is an attempt to (IMO, to"over") generalize students. This is evident in the majority of commonly taught subjects. In regards to the martial arts, I blame the Japanese for this (over) generalization. The (original) Okinawan instructors commonly only had a few student's (at any given time). It consisted of (more so) individual instruction. Following the introduction to Japan, the offered classes consisted of a higher number of students and resulted in a "production" mentality (Yes, I'm aware of the additional factors, but I stand by this opinion). 
The "lack" of that production mentality is (one of) the reasons for my admiration for the practice of Shodo. Oriental Brush Calligraphy (easily) has as many different "schools" of instruction as the martial arts do (yet any "animosity" between them is rarely as antagonistic as what exists between the schools of martial arts). Both (practices) present introductory motions, and then (should) allow the student to develop their own individual manner of performing those motions. In either practice, there exist introductory manners of technique performance that (eventually) lead to individual methods of performing those applications. That shouldn't imply that the student "creates" a new one, only that every person will perform those techniques in their own manner. Most (if not every) "new" system that I've observed uses the same motions that are taught in most every other system. The only actual differences are in how those methods are taught or practiced (the results of those "different" methods are almost identical). Any (supposed) differences are more often only different, in how they are learned. This makes the instruction of those applications, the more important aspect of one's training. 
That instruction begins with a demonstration of the movement ("Shu "). This allows the student to practice the motion and determine the individual characteristics that are involved with performing the motion ("Ha"). IMO, it is this area of study that is revisited regularly.
Students regularly fret over beginning their practice of/for "Ri". Practice at the level of Ri can only be achieved with the student's (total) understanding of Ha. This type/manner of practice is only able to be achieved once the student fully understands the individual motion(s). Ri is the culmination of an individual's technique practice, combined with their experience with the known application of that practice. That experience is used in the development of (further) continued technique refinement. 
Although this study can often be personal, the goal is for that development to be universally applicable. If/when it is not, then it becomes (only) a "personal" technique, useful, but not something worthy of becoming an instructed technique (within a systems syllabus). It is only those techniques that can be utilized by anyone, that are worth becoming part of the system's instruction (and are, therefore "taught" to the general student's of that system). 
Students are more often only concerned with their personal use of technique(s). It is only when the student chooses to become an instructor, does the student truly understand the so-called "hidden" meanings of a system's instructed principles. Though often sought by/through individual study, it's only through the instruction of another that those principles become evident. 
For many, if not most student's, these concepts are only applied in the most simplistic manner. Within our classes, our goal is to create future instructor's. Though not (necessarily) being the objective for each of our student's, it is the basis for the instructional methodology that we utilize. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Application of the 6 Principles of Tuite

1. Principle of "X"
2. Primary and Support
3. Fingers & Wrist
4. Positional Paradox
5. 3-Dimensional
6. Force Efficiency

 These are the 6 Basic principles that we teach for the application of a Tuite technique. Each is an (individual) factor to be considered for the completion of an effective technique application. It's been interesting (for us) to see how various individuals have been using them (since the release of our book 4 years ago). That book included a number of "basic" technique applications that were intended for readers to experiment with those principles during the application/practice of those technique's (in order to further understand how the principles individually affected each of those techniques).
We have since conducted numerous seminars in regards to the use/application of the 6 Principles, and what we've found is that (the majority of) "student's" focus (only) upon the general technique application (being seemingly content with their level of ability to apply the provided technique's). That's well and good, but the purpose of the book was intended to guide the student in expanding their understanding of how to correct the provided technique's if/when they either perform them incorrectly and/or the Uke provides some level of "countering" action that's intended to prevent the technique's application.    
The majority of those "counters" are based upon some level of misapplication (of the original technique) being done by the tori (and/or a completely unrealistic situation). Many of the (supposed) "fixes" (by other's) for those situations are based upon the inclusion of "strikes" or some degree of muscling a technique (in order to "make" it work).
The premise of using a Tuite technique is to avoid the use of impactive applications ("Strikes"). That premise is
base on the circumstances of the (individual) situation. Not every confrontation will allow for the use of a Tuite technique application. The (practical) use of a Tuite application is circumstantial and is subject to the individual's ability to create and/or take advantage of those situations that make those applications practical to utilize. That practicality is determined by the level of the user's ability (with those applications). Every Tuite technique requires the Uke to (initially) perform a specific action (commonly some level/degree of a grab).
The purpose of an (any) "grab" is either to immobilize (a limb, or the Tori in general) and/or to allow the Uke to then strike with their "free" arm. Although (additionally) often used as an attempt to unbalance the Tori, any included attempt to strike (with their free arm) is subsequently minimized. The correct use/application of the instructed Tuite technique's can negate either of those attempted actions.
When we provide a seminar that covers the 6 Basic Principles, we commonly spend an hour for each of those principles (in regards to their explanation). Although they can (obviously) be "listed" in under a minute, their (detailed) explanation can entail a far greater amount of time (for the student's to understand all the relevant circumstances of their application). Though we feel that we provided a decent level of explanation in the book, reader's (and student's) should recognize that there are (numerous) details that can be expanded upon (beyond what was done within our book). Our (original) beliefs were that readers would research those factors (on their own) and we would subsequently be presented with questions in regards to that research (that belief has rarely come to fruition).  
We've been approached (numerous times) in regards to the "2nd" book, but we've found few (if any) "examples" of sufficient understanding for the initial "6" to justify that release. The majority of what is illustrated in our 2nd Tuite book, are corrections to misapplications of previously illustrated techniques. It includes numerous correctional applications (for commonly performed mistakes made with the originally shown technique's).
Although numerous instructor's show these types of technique's as "new/different" applications, we teach them as corrections (to incorrectly performed technique's). It shouldn't be the learning of "new" technique's, but the correction of already practiced techniques.
What we've observed (done by other instructor's/system's) is the instruction of those (or similar additional?) "principles" as being necessary to a technique's application. This is (both) inaccurate, and disingenuous. Those factors can include: Distraction, (Technique) Reversal, Compression/Expansion, and Redirection. These factors can prove useful when one experiences difficulty with a technique's application, but they are not "necessary" for a technique to (typically) be utilized. They additionally require that the student understand how a technique should (initially) be practiced. They are utilized as situational corrections to the misapplication of the originally attempted technique.
We've observed numerous (instructor's?) people emphasize these factor's (in one form or another) as being necessary to a technique's application. This is only accurate when the technique is being incorrectly practiced to begin with. To be fair, many of the individual's were taught those technique's incorrect to begin with (regardless of where they claim to have learned them).
If/When any of the technique's that we teach (or illustrate within our book) require that you "muscle" it (use excessive physical effort to elicit a correct reaction to the application), you are performing the technique incorrectly.
Although instructor's (in general) love to emphasize that everything taught (within a system) is interconnected, each of the instructed pieces require separate/individual practice (to create that relationship). Student's will commonly have trouble (?) with individual techniques. It is those technique's that the student should focus their practice upon. This will commonly include understanding exactly what is/isn't being achieved (in the student's performance of those technique's) to make the application successful. It is this (type of) research that will constitute the majority of the student's practice and study.
Our provided 6 Principles are intended to aid the student in that research. When a student encounter's a "problem" with the application of a particular technique/application, the student should research the application of each of the 6 principles (within the chosen technique) to see where the misapplication exists.
Student's will commonly misapply a single (or multiple) aspects of the particular application. The 6 Principles are intended to be used as a "checklist" (for determining where/how the misapplication is being made). This commonly requires a greater understanding of those principles than is being made.
Those mistakes are often (very) "subtle", and once having been pointed out, the student can/will readily correct the misapplication. This is (very) often what our Tuite seminars encompass, the "pointing out" of subtle mistakes that are performed by the attendees/students. It isn't that those students are "stupid" or even unknowledgeable (in regard to the practiced motions). They simply haven't recognized their own misapplication of the technique's to the degree that we are presenting them (to those students and/or within our book).
Regardless of which "style" of defensive art one practices, the application of these techniques will (should) be done similarly. As we move forward in our own practice of the instructed techniques, we have ceased to be as "Style" orientated. The subtle differences that do exist between the various systems more often amount to "triviality's" that bear no relevance to the instructed applications (I.E. "Tuite"). Oyata taught that all Okinawan "styles" were (essentially) the same. Each was influenced by an individual instructor (who emphasized what they believed to be most relevant to their system), but the common instructional "goal" was the same. Our book(s) and seminars are orientated likewise.