Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pain, and it's relevance to technique application

   After 30-some years of teaching experience, I've found that students are inclined to obsess over Pain (either receiving it, avoiding it or creating it). For many (initially), they may be trying to learn to avoid it (at least occurring upon themselves). As they progress in their studies though that perspective is ..redirected.
  As students progress in their study, they learn to seek a desired reaction in order to understand their own (proper) positioning for the application of that technique. Not that you should be desiring to (specifically) inflict pain, only that you seek to recognize the position and/or limits that create a practical “reaction” to the applied technique.
  With that understanding, you can choose (while applying a technique in a defensive situation) whether only soliciting pain is sufficient, or if damage is required to neutralize the aggressor (as well as how to avoid it yourself, if/when a similar technique is attempted upon you).
  Pain is usually measured by the level of reaction (motion) away from the application. The student needs to be familiar with the limb's R.O.M. (Range of Motion) so they can precipitate those reactive motions as they occur (or don't occur if/when the technique is improperly applied).
  Understanding R.O.M. Will aid the student in responding to unexpected reactions as well (example: if you stomp on someone's foot, they will tend to strike or push you away prior to tending to their foot). This is often done with no conscious (or even necessarily malicious) thought, it's a simple reflex response.
  Though pain can be a useful reference in a classroom environment, in an actual encounter, the adrenaline surge that is usually experienced (by both parties) and can distort, or even negate any perceived pain levels. It's for that reason that a thorough knowledge of R.O.M. Needs to be understood. The knowledge to mechanically limit/restrict the ability of another to move, is an often overlooked aspect of limb manipulation (Tuite).
  The commonly misunderstood aspect of Tuite, is that although those techniques are often painful, pain is not the reason they work. Just as there are subliminal nerves that make your heart pump, there are nerves that oversee the well-being of the body. When those nerves detect an undue, or potentially damaging situation about to occur (whether real, or only perceived as being so), they create responses (commonly through body-motion) to avoid that occurrence.
  When a Tuite technique is applied upon your wrist, why do the knee's buckle? The body is taking care of itself whether any pain is felt or not (and motions the body in order to relieve that pain/perceived threat). Oyata's techniques, and the reactions elicited through their use, are based upon the body's natural motions and their responses.
  We tend to view pain as a bonus. If it occurs great! (our job will be easier), if not, doesn't matter, the body is being mechanically manipulated (which will negate the subject's ability to physically resist and/or retaliate).
  Typically, people associate Kyusho with pain as well. This is a similar scenario. Though Kyusho points are often painful, that pain, is not (always) the desired reaction. There are numerous Kyusho locations that elicit NO pain what-so-ever (when utilized).
  Many of those locations are unrecognized mechanical leverage locations as well. I find it amusing to have student's ask about the locations of Kyusho points. They often expect them to be some not previously recognized location. Most locations are (in fact) realized, it's just not known how they should be utilized.
  In either case (Tuite or Kyusho), it isn't always the pain that is the (sole) motivator, or immobilizer. It's the mechanical inability to counter the technique and the recipient's inability to prevent the response or reaction, that makes the technique valuable to know (as a defensive tool/response).

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Anomaly Fallacy : (the “Great Excuse”)

  Personally, I thought the “Anomaly” fallacy had been (finally!) dismissed as being untrue (or at least “inaccurate”). This fallacy was commonly associated with a person's ability to perform a “Tuite” technique upon certain individual's (the so-called “Anomaly”). This was commonly demonstrated by various (popular) “instructors”, by exampling particular individual's (that they provided). They would perform (at least “their” version of) a “Tuite” technique upon an individual, and “show” that the technique couldn't/wouldn't work upon that individual.

  It was never even suggested that the individual (performing the technique) was (simply) unable to perform the technique (correctly) upon that individual, it was “always” that the person was one of the (implied) “anomalies” and that the technique couldn't/wouldn't work on them. The person (who couldn't perform the technique) would then claim that a certain percentage of the population (which varied, depending upon the person providing the claim) couldn't have those techniques performed upon them.

  Though not necessarily being an untrue claim, the percentage provided was (as the percentage provided was commonly between 30-40%) definitely inaccurate. To compound the person's ignorance (of “Tuite”), the person would commonly claim that more “power” would be required to cause the technique to function.

  Though being sure that there are people who may be resistant to those manner of techniques, the claim that the number is of the quantity claimed is ridiculous. It (more often) only requires that the technique be done correctly (which in every example I have witnessed, it wasn't). I have been teaching this art for over 40 years. I've performed these techniques upon (literally) hundreds of individual's. I have yet, to of encountered one of those “anomaly's” (yet, these individual's claim that they encounter one or two at every seminar???). There do exist individual's who are difficult (meaning that the technique must be performed exactly correct to elicit the desired response) but we have encountered NONE for whom the techniques could not be achieved.

  Obviously it's easier to make the claim that there are “anomaly's” out there, and whatever it is that they are teaching, won't work on them. That would infer a lack of knowledge/ability upon the person attempting the technique (something that these individual's would never admit to).

  Oyata taught that Tuite required (correct) technique. The size and/or strength (of either the tori or uke) was irrelevant. This means that the smallest student, should be able to utilize the technique upon the largest/strongest student, and achieve the desired result. The fact that an individual has a high pain threshold, or is extremely flexible, makes NO difference for achieving the desired result. Using the “anomaly” excuse, should only be a sign that the individual doesn't (completely/correctly) understand the techniques application.

  Obviously “strikes” used in conjunction with a techniques application will (often) make that technique easier to apply/make function (mostly by through being a distraction). That shouldn't imply that doing so is a requirement for it's functionality. Slow Practice of the instructed Tuite motions should be done to understand how/why they do or don't work (for the individual). The addition of superlative strikes (whether hand or foot) are (almost) always included in actual defensive situations.

  Seminars (in general) do not allow one to learn/practice a newly shown technique (Tuite, in particular). There is insufficient time to do so. These types of techniques require months (of practice) to perfect (or even become somewhat competent with). Seminars are intended to elicit interest in further instruction (commonly by the presenter of the seminar). They should not be considered (serious) “Training” sessions. Nor should one believe that they are (completely) competent in a techniques application after having (only) learned a technique at/during their attendance at a seminar.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Problem with "Reactionary" Training

  When I'm working with students on their technique/combination execution. I'm constantly telling them to be Active, and not Reactive. This often goes against many (other) instructor's teachings. It seems that most classes drill on speeding-up a student's reaction time (in response to the aggressive actions being made upon them). There's nothing wrong (per-say) with doing so, but in the long run, it works against the student.
  How? by training the student to wait for an aggressor's motion/technique, before beginning their own motion/technique.
  My problem with this manner of practice, isn't in the concept, only in the execution. What the vast majority of student's do, is to wait, until they see/identify the individual manner of an aggressor's attack method, before they execute their own defensive actions.
  A great deal of this comes from systems stating that “such and such” (motion/technique) is for a “such and such” (attack method). This is repeated through (generally, 6-8) different manors of defending one's self, from whatever specific attacking method/manner is used each time. Frankly, it's too many choices to be made before a defense can even happen (which means it will never happen in a real situation). 

   This is one of those circumstances that having a choice can work against you. In a controlled, practice environment, I can come up with a dozen different responses to any particular aggressive motion made (towards myself). Experience has shown, that in reality, I will commonly utilize one of (maybe) 4 different responses to any given situation.
  Recently, I've had student's working on our 2-handed strike. This technique is designed to offer an effective defense, while (also) providing the ability to strike an aggressor's arm (when they execute a strike). This technique is maybe one of the most miss-applied techniques in our repertoire.
  As demonstrated in an earlier blog, the motion is simple and can be utilized against either a Left or Right-handed strike. It is performed in the same way, regardless of which hand the aggressor is utilizing. The purpose (beyond preventing the aggressor's strike from landing) is to disable the aggressor's arm. This 2nd goal is not always achievable, but should none the less be what is attempted.
  Very often, and understandably, student's focus is on preventing the strike from landing. Though obviously achieving a purpose, it does nothing to prevent further attempts being made.
  Merely hitting the aggressor's arm, will rarely accomplish much (short of preventing being struck). For some, this is sufficient. For our student's, this is considered less than ideal. If an aggressor is able to repeat the strike, then nothing has been achieved.
  Initially, the striking of the arm is sufficient (for training). This is expanded to include a kick (and of course, a follow-up strike). For now, the goal is to disable the aggressor's arm. This can be accomplished by several different striking methods, as well as the particular locations being struck (upon the arm).
  It's during this manner of practice, that those locations are learned, and attempts are being made to contact/utilize them. Because our focus is being limited to only performing the arm motions, this is difficult. Students can easily become frustrated (legs are included at a later date).
  The individual motions are broken down to illustrate their specific actions, which have often been ignored, or over-simplified (by the student for their own benefit of execution). This modification of the taught technique, though simpler to perform, is now lacking in the ability to cause injury to the aggressor's arm/limb.
  This is most commonly evident in the manner that the outside forearm strike is being performed. When done as taught, the motion will rise close to the tori's body, then motion outward (towards the uke). The hand is kept at a 45º angle, this is very important to maintain. If the hand/fist is kept at a flat, 90º angle, or even vertical, the tori will not be able to strike the (several) shown locations (points).
  The fact that the strike leaves the body in a forward direction is what (IMO) confuses beginning student's the most. It's easier to understand knocking a strike away (by moving in a windshield wiper manner) than to strike the aggressor's arm (in several shown locations) and possibly injure that arm.
  Part of what's not being realized is that the tori's body is going to be motioning also. Not that it's going to move a great deal (unlike some instructor's that will have their student's spinning around like a top, just to perform one of their “blocks”). That motion (for us) is only a 10-15º rotation. If the student has been practicing the motion correctly, that now makes the (practiced) forward motion, at an angle to the aggressor. It also allows more momentum/power to be included in that motion/strike.
  Once this is understood (by the student), they can begin focusing upon their own strike (instead of the uke's). When the motion is being done correctly, the tori's strike will connect, and the uke's strike will be diverted (along with causing injury to the uke's arm).
  Practicing in this manner will make the student faster, simply by eliminating those unnecessary steps (evaluating what the uke is doing, which technique to react with, Left/Right strike etc.). The less ambidextrous a technique is, the less useful it is.
  The attempt at being reactive to whatever may be thrown at you (with a host of techniques to choose from), is an exercise in futility. The student should only have 2 or 3 (with little to no distinction between them) options. This often will only come, once one's basic technique motion is correctly understood. I often read that once one becomes Yudansha, they're always working on basic motions. Well, get a clue....

Monday, March 27, 2017

Fine Vs. Gross (Motor Skills)

  A recent thread on another blog/discussion group addressed the “practicality” of the use/application (if not the ability to apply) of what are commonly referenced as being “fine” motor skills during a confrontational situation. That “ability” is only achieved through repeated practice of those motions. (obviously) for the beginner, or newly introduced (to the motion(s)), their application would be questionable. But for the experienced, not nearly to the degree that many persons attempt to disparage them.

  For many of those that critique their applicability, those persons (commonly) train (if not focus upon) the use of blunt force techniques/applications. Although that manner of technique application has it's virtue's, it additionally contains numerous detriments. Namely, the requirement that the user be sufficiently strong/large enough for it to effect the recipient (of that application). For the smaller (if not weaker) practitioner, their use becomes extremely limited (if not totally negated).

  The way that many of those detractors (for the use of supposedly “fine” motor skills) attempt to disparage them, is by stating that when under stress or duress, that one cannot perform those motions. They imply that the “use” of those techniques/motions require some manner of delicate manipulation of one's finger's, arm's or body(?). I'm not sure (exactly) what they are referring to, but the manner that I/we were taught (and teach) those motions were learned as being entire body motions. Yes, there are subtle movements involved with the performance of (many of) them, but they are rarely “delicate” in their use/application.

  Those individuals may be referencing the fact that we practice/demonstrate those motions slowly (?). this is (obviously) done for both safety, and clarity of instruction. As long as the motions are performed correctly, speed (of application) becomes less relevant, and power becomes only a (minor) contributing factor. Those same motions can (often) be performed “sloppily” and still achieve a desirable result. But to disregard them (off-hand), based on the belief that they are (somehow) regarded as being a “fine motor-skill/movement” is disingenuous.
 When performed correctly, they do not require greater amounts of (physical) force to be a condition of their successful implementation. Speed, (obviously) can be a determining factor in their successful application, but “power” isn't (or shouldn't be).

  The general (miss) conception is that one will not be able to perform (any) minor or subtle hand motions. This is more perception than fact. Those abilities are determined (more so) by individual experience, than by any levels of technical motion.   
 Though not (often enough) considered, “practice” equates to experience (in regards to ability of/for application). That equivalence is dictated by the level of “realism” experienced during the practice of applying the motion. Though safety is mandated (during any level of practice), realism should be explored to those levels deemed acceptable by the participants.

  Beyond the individual motions of the “basic” application, possible reactions/counters (made by the uke) should be included once the student becomes familiar with the application. The term “Fine-Motor” skills, commonly is used to describe (subtle) motions that don't (generally) cause/create specific reactions by the uke. The use (or “lack”) of those subtle motions will rarely affect the general response made to (or as a result of) the application of the technique.  
 The term “subtle” is subjective (to the subject being addressed). In this case, the use of “Tuite” (during a confrontation) is often dismissed because of the mistaken belief that it can't be utilized because of the (perceived) belief that it can not be effectively implemented during a confrontation. This belief is commonly based upon the belief that a resisting aggressor will nullify one's ability to do so. If that were accurate, the entire premise of “Tuite” would be negated. The use and application of Tuite during a confrontation is done with subtlety (non-forcefully). Though (crudely) possible, Tuite is not intended to be “muscled” (and will more commonly “fail” when that attempt is made). 

Friday, February 24, 2017


 With our continuing exposure to various styles/systems, whether that be through our “visiting” students, the prior experiences of our (regular) students, or through the seminars that we are offering (in addition to the casual observation of other classes). It's becoming (more) obvious to us that Oyata's belief that all (systems of) “karate”, are more similar than different, is a justified belief.

 Regardless of the “system” being taught (whether traditional or eclectic), the motions they contain are (generally) being taught and practiced in the same (or similar) manners (as most every other system is teaching them to be performed). There are often minor differences (with, or without any “reasons” being provided), but the generalized motions are more similar than different in virtually every case.

 This understanding has made it easier for us to provide instruction to those students so that what we are showing them can be incorporated into what those students are (already) familiar with. Oyata's greatest asset (at least in “our” opinion), was that he had an answer for why those motions were to be performed in the instructed manner (whether that motion was within kata, or within the application of an instructed motion).

 Those differences are seen in how (as well as why) Oyata taught us to perform the majority of the instructed motions/actions. It mattered not, whether those motions were in reference to “Tuite” or with the “striking” applications being practiced. We will often (well, occasionally) encounter similarly taught principles and practices, but they are often being based upon (in our opinion) flawed principles (if not “beliefs”).

 If one “solely” gathers their understanding of (other) system “differences” (from watching internet video clips), they will (quickly) have a very skewed understanding of those differences.   The most common response is to “critique” what has been shown, without (actually) seeing if it does or doesn't work (at least in regards to how it is being presented).

 What we've found, is that numerously shown motions/techniques can be performed (successfully) if/when Oyata's principles have been applied to/included with them. What we've seen, is that the majority (of those instructed motions/techniques) are being taught, based on their being “muscled”. That approach is only valid, as long as the student is larger/stronger than their opponent. If what you are learning is based on being a “defense” (that can be used by anyone), and upon “anyone”, then size/strength (of either party) should make no difference (in regards to a techniques viability).

 When providing our seminars, we've found that we can (usually) demonstrate how those technique's already known/practiced by the attending student's, can become (more) effective, and applicable to those students. Our seminars are not “Look at what we can do” events, they are how can you improve what you are already doing “learning” seminars.

  Once the basic instruction of the shown applications has been practiced (by the attending students), we encourage those students to “question” what they've been shown. Without “critique” the seminar would only be a “look at me” event. Basic instruction is only intended to introduce the application/technique to the student.  
 Once that introduction is made, then the practicalities of its use/application needs to be understood (by the attending students). For every “one” student that asks a question, there is (commonly) four more (student's) who don't ask (at least until the class has ended).

  The advantage to attending a seminar is the ability to ask questions of the person(s) providing that event. We don't consider “questions” as being challenges to what we are showing. We consider those questions as being opportunities to “clarify” what was shown. Questions are (rarely) “unique”. We have (cumulatively) over 60 years of experience (between only my associate and myself). Those “Questions”, are often those that have been asked by ourselves (over our own training period) or by our (regular) students. We welcome new/different perspectives, and questions, have the potential to expand our own study/practice. We utilize this same approach in/during our own classes as well (and a “seminar” should be treated no differently in our opinion).

  Though not (initially) intending this post to be a “how to make attending a seminar worthwhile”, I feel as if it is something that needs to be addressed. When watching someone's “video post” (on “whatever” technique/application), “I” have numerous questions (that come to mind), and nobody seems to ask any. If they are, then those questions have been edited out (or are not included in those clips). IMO, this infers that the “instructor” of that seminar (video) is only promoting theirselves, not what's being (supposedly) shown.

  Anything shown/learned at a seminar, should be questioned (to the provider of the subject matter). Those questions will (either) confirm, question, or refute the provided subject matter. If/when the “guest” (instructor?) can't provide equitable answers (to those questions), you are providing a service to your own class (as well as any other attendee's).

  That instructor should have the requested answers to those questions. If/When they don't, why are they providing the instruction? An experienced instructor will have those answers, not “vague” responses that elude to some “mystical” reason as to why or why not.

  I make these statements based on my own experiences (both attending, and providing seminars). When you are attending a seminar, “you” are the customer (you probably paid to attend it), you should be asking those questions that allow you to believe you received your money's (and “time's) worth. Even if/when that “seminar” is free, you're still committing your time (that could be utilized elsewhere/otherwise). 
 Whether what is being shown is (in your opinion) “good” or “bad”, something can be gained through the attendance of that event. It's (unfortunately) often up to you to determine what that level of knowledge may be.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Atemi/Kyusho Direction of Application

 Though the term “Kyusho” is being regularly utilized to describe (any) strikes, those strikes are more commonly Atemi (strikes). Unless a strike results in achieving a particular response (that couldn't be achieved by another type/manner of “strike”), it shouldn't be considered to be a “Kyusho” (type) strike. Oyata considered “Atemi” strikes, to be distraction (strikes). This means that an atemi strike commonly results in causing minimal, if any physical injury/damage, but will result in achieving a particular response. “Kyusho” strikes (regularly) can or do (directly) cause physical damage if/when properly applied.
  Considering that the majority of confrontations and/or situations don't require the use of those types of techniques, the majority of what is taught (within Oyata Te) are atemi strikes. Those persons that seek (or claim to teach) the “magical” one-touch/strike technique, have bought into the fantasy of the “deadly Eastern Warrior”. Oyata didn't teach that manner of technique application. He became “popular” from his neck-strike “knockouts”, but that amounted to being a (very) small piece of his methodology (and was considered to be an atemi type of strike).
  Regardless of whether a strike was considered to be Atemi, or Kyusho, that strike required that it be applied in the correct direction, and with the correct amount of force. It's commonly assumed, that “more” force (being used with those strikes) is “better” (than less force). This assumption is inaccurate. Numerous examples of those applications can be performed incorrectly through the use of excessive force.
  Those individual's teaching the “more”(force) is (always) better, have never studied with Oyata. He (Oyata) would often demonstrate how excessive force would negate an applications effectiveness. Though producing an “effect”, that effect would never be equal (or even close) to the results he achieved with those same motions using less power, but (more) correct technique. This was the result of understanding the motion/technique, and not simply attempting to replicate those motions. This was also (readily) displayed with the (attempted) replication of his (Oyata's) Tuite techniques (by “others”).
  In order to (properly) utilize the strikes that Oyata taught, one needs to understand what the strike (upon the particular location) is intending to achieve. The most common response (to an atemi application) is a withdrawal of the impacted location (commonly being directly away from the location and direction of impact). The same result could/would (often) be achieved with a push (to the location) as well. This is readily evident in the application of Oyata's Tuite techniques.
  Many of the “observed” examples (being taught by other methodology's) attempt to distinguish locations by “how” they are utilized (ie. Via a “push”, “rub”{?} or “strike”). Those systems that do, are (commonly) interested in promoting how “painful” the manor (of application) that they teach is. “Pain” is an irrelevancy (to technique application). It (pain) is subjective (to the individual) and should not be considered relevant to a techniques (proper) use/application. It is the reaction/response to the motion that is important (defensively).
  When this (“response”) approach is used (in the application of this manner of technique), it achieves a defensive function within one's defensive actions. Oyata considered size and strength, to be irrelevant factors (when considering technique application). When a technique is properly applied, those factors should not effect the desired reaction (from the applications use). Using this approach changes how (numerous) commonly taught techniques are applied (or even considered for use). The idea of using “brute force” (as one's “main” defensive option, and/or means of application) is limited to those student's who are capable of achieving that level of force. This is commonly exampled by those “instructors” (of that mentality) once they have aged and/or have suffered injury, (often from the pursuit of that methodology) that can no longer replicate the very applications that they once taught/endorsed.
  In 30 years of study with Oyata, I never saw him use (or teach) “strength” or “power” to achieve a desired reaction to an applied motion or technique. Can strength be used to achieve some of those results?, of course, but that shouldn't be the “Basis” for any techniques use or it's inclusion in a defensive training curriculum. Doing so, only perpetuates inaccurate beliefs in regards to the effectiveness of those techniques. 


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Examining Kata with Application

  When student's are initially shown kata, their emphasis is on memorizing the shown motions. They (often) attempt to interpret those motions as (all) representing various strikes and technique's.  “If” that were their (only) purpose, it would prove to be a very impractical way to convey that information. The majority of practitioner's recognize that the kata do not represent an (actual) confrontation (representing numerous opponent's who are attempting equally impractical methods of assault). Knowing that the kata don't represent this, (apparently) doesn't stop people from coming up with numerous (equally) impractical defensive motions/techniques based upon those motions.

  Oyata taught students to recognize and understand how an aggressor (actually) would “attack” the student. It never included “spinning around” and taking 3 steps (while performing numerous “hand” motions). It never included “bowing” to an aggressor (prior to one's defense), nor “freeze framing” (holding some posture) during a confrontation.

  Kata, were intended to review/practice the taught motions (when a training partner wasn't available), and to provide reflection on how those motions could be implemented during a confrontation. They taught (the student) how footwork should be utilized (when involved in a confrontation). More often the motions represented unique situations for those motions. Common and obvious use of those motions and technique's, should be (equally) obvious (thus not additionally required to be done in a “training exercise”, such as a kata).

 When Oyata began his instruction (from Wakinaguri and Uhugushugu), much of that instruction involved watching (other) people. Watching how they walked, how they moved, and what motions they did during their everyday actions. Until it was understood what constituted “natural”, it was difficult to recognize what was unnatural. Though seeming irrelevant (as unnatural motion is often obvious), natural motion is often disregarded. The recognition of natural motion, allows one to make the instructed motions as natural as possible (thereby making them as unrecognizable as possible). By making those motions as natural as possible, they will (additionally) be as efficient, and as “hidden” (thus more difficult to defend against) as is practical.

 Kata, when done correctly, should be performed as relaxed and as quickly as the student can perform them (without sacrificing any “correctness” of the motions). The exampling of “power” is an irrelevant aspect. “Power” (only) represents an individual's physical capabilities. It only provides an advantage (defensively) if/when one's defense is based upon one's ability to “out-muscle” an opponent. That doesn't mean that power has no use, only that one's defenses can't be based upon it (as many systems attempt to make it).

 The practice of kata is approached in stages. That doesn't mean “basic”, “intermediate” and “advanced” (which I've argued against in other blog posts), and is a “Marketing” tool/habit (and serves no “training” purpose). Kata should initially be approached by learning the correct motions (not “basic”, the correct and complete motions).   
 That commonly means slowly, piece-by-piece. When the motions are being performed correctly and without (conscious) thought, the student should increase the speed of that practice. It is at this stage that students perform the most mistakes (in replicating those motions), thus causing it to be the slowest (in progression) stage of kata training/practice. (Only) following that stage, should the student attempt an increase of any (applied) “power” with the kata motions. If/when the student “changes” (in any manner) how they are performing the kata motions, they are defeating the purpose of practicing the kata.

  The “addition” of any (extra) hip motion, or twisting of the shoulders, defeats the purpose of kata practice. Kata practice is for confirmation of how the student performs the included motions, not for “adding” additional actions (that serve no purpose except to telegraph one's intentions). If you don't “shimmy” your hip's (when you naturally walk), it will serves no purpose to do so while performing a kata. If the practiced motions are not “natural”, they will provide limited (if any) effect in (actual) technique application.

When one's (only) “purpose” for the practice of kata, is to learn “new” technique's, it only exemplifies the fact that the student doesn't understand how their “known” technique's (as well as the kata motions) should be utilized to begin with.

 Any shown/taught motion can be performed in varying manners (regardless of which technique is in question). Each system has their own level/degree of “correctness” for that performance. Those differences are often what people base their arguments for/against (any) taught methodology. For that reason I refrain from (most) direct critiques of another systems methodology of performance. I will (directly) contest something that an individual posts though. The majority of those examples are only applicable for a few (limited) individual's. If/when a motion or technique can only be performed by a limited number of individual's, that should illustrate that the technique has only limited usefulness (for the majority of students).

  Technique's should (all) be equally usable by every student (regardless of size/strength of either the student or an aggressor). If/when this isn't the case, the “technique” should be omitted from the training syllabus. This is not to say that technique's won't require practice, only that an instructor is (often) required to illustrate what a student may be doing incorrectly (thus causing difficulty in the technique's performance).

  Kata will often stress the practice of particular motions that “make no sense” (to the untrained student). It is the instructor's responsibility to clarify and define what (and how) those motions are utilized in technique performance. This all comes from repeated practice, and (actual) study of the motions contained within the kata.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


 Having received (more than a few) inquiries, I've decided to further elaborate details regarding Oyata's Motion/Technique guidelines.


Size/Strength (alone) is not Relevant to a Technique's Effectiveness

Utilize 3 Defensive Motions at Once

Avoid Moving directly to the Rear

Hand Motions Work Best, Above the Waist,

Leg Motions Work Best, Below the waist.

Always Face Your Opponent

Learn Your Own Weaknesses, 
In Order to Know Your Opponent's

Addressing these one at a time, 

#1. Size/Strength (alone) is not Relevant to a Technique's  

  If a technique requires that the student or their opponent possess a certain level of physical prowess (IE. “strength”) to cause or allow the attempted technique to work, it will be considered to be of limited (if any) value as an instructed technique. Oyata's techniques had no physical requirements or limitations on who his technique's would function upon, nor whom could utilize them (when correctly performed).


#2. Utilize 3 Defensive Motions at Once,

  Being that the average human, possess 4 (functional) limb's, it can be presumed that one is capable of using 3 of those limbs (2 arm's and 1 leg) when performing a defensive action. Though commonly assumed to be done in unison, there is no actual “mandate” that requires them to be done so. More commonly there is a variance in their use (for each) of the individual limb's motions.


#3. Avoid Moving directly to the Rear,

  Of the various directions of motion that one can make, directly rearward is the slowest (and therefor is the least defensively viable option). Oyata taught various methods of increasing one's speed of their footwork (“switch-foot”, “knee-buckle”, “light-foot”, etc.). These practice methods allowed the student to practice quickly shifting their body-weight. The use of these methods would increase the student's ability to (more) quickly do so.


#4. Hand Motions Work Best, Above the Waist,

Leg Motions Work Best, Below the waist.

  This is something that would seem to be Obvious, but evidently isn't. Although attempts made beyond a limb's natural R.O.M. Is often possible, that doesn't make that motion practical, or efficient.


#5. Always Face Your Opponent,

  Beyond the obvious necessity of seeing one's opponent, following this mandate will (more easily) keep the student's motions/action's within the Area of optimal Force Efficiency. This area is between the width of the shoulder's, and to the front of the student. 

#6. Learn Your Own Weaknesses, 
      In Order to Know Your Opponent's,

  Oyata taught that one should examine their own weaknesses and inabilities. These could used to example what would (or could) be vulnerable on an opponent. Much confusion (and B.S.) is conveyed within the martial arts community (as a whole) in this regard.  
 If/when something is explained with (any) “mystical” connotations, the chances are 99.99% that it is B.S. Oyata utilized nothing beyond stating that “this or that” location, could cause such and such. He stated that ALL of the T.C.M. Teachings (in regards to Defensive Application's) was total B.S. and would stand for none of it being discussed within his classes, those stupid enough to press the matter would be asked (if not told) to leave.

  In our own experience(s) (over the past 45 years of practice and research), we have never found it (T.C.M.) to add to or enhance any aspect of our training. We invite anyone to attempt to change our minds, but we have discussed with and witnessed numerous individual's who have attempted to do so (with no success on their part). 
  Our instructional approach (and that of Oyata) is through achieving an understanding of the limb's R.O.M. and the natural motions/reactions made in response to the application of Oyata's defensive methodology.

  We utilize these listed (basic) tenets for foundational reference/validation in regards to newly shown/developed technique's and applications. If/when a motion/technique meets these basic tenets, any additional guidelines are considered and a technique/motion is (either) validated (and included in our teaching syllabus), or invalidated (and thus rejected from being included and/or taught within our school). Taught technique's should be usable by any student, upon any opponent (regardless of size, strength or mass). 


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Defensive Motion Guidelines

Defensive Motion Guidelines
  A common class period is spent learning new individual application motions. These can consist of singular actions, as well as several defensive combination motions. During the “formation” portion of the class is when these singular actions are reviewed, and corrected.
  During the application portion of our class we combine these individual motions to be applied in (either) successive or collective applications (commonly being practiced in 1-3 Step kumite exercises).
 The most common misunderstanding, is that the application of these motions are not “set in stone”. They are completely capable of being (instantly) modified to deal with a continually changing situation.
 As with anything, there first needs to be established a foundation set of guidelines/priority's for determining these motions acceptance of/for use.
These guidelines should be established as being general in their use. To begin with, let's examine the (required) general preferences (for a motion/technique to be considered as being a legitimate action/technique).
#1 The Motion's Priority, Is to Protect the User.
#2 The Motion Should Be as Natural as is Practical.
#3 The Motion Should Be Able to be Performed Equally by the   
     Majority of Individual's.
#4 The Motion Should Not be Orientated to Either (Specific) Side  
     of the User (Right/Left).
#5 The Motion Should Not be Dependent Upon the Size or Strength
      of either the User (tori), or the Receiver (uke). 
  This is not to say, that there won't be some motions/techniques that fall outside of these guidelines. Only that they may very well not be suitable for use by every individual (student) in every situation.
  In addition to these general guidelines, there are additionally some specific preferences that we also attempt to adhere to. These were Regularly voiced by Taika, and have become the cornerstone of his teachings.

  Size/Strength (alone) is not Relevant to a Technique's   
  Utilize 3 Defensive Motions at Once
  Avoid Moving directly to the Rear
  Hand Motions Work Best, Above the Waist,
  Leg Motions Work Best, Below the waist.
  Always Face Your Opponent
  Learn Your Own Weaknesses, In Order to Know Your Enemy's

  These guidelines were neither revolutionary or prophetic. In most cases, they are only the obvious. Despite that fact, many systems attempt to (over) emphasize training methods and technique's that are (either) counter productive or ineffective/impractical for the (average) student.
  There are various tenet's that are followed while practicing the instructed technique's. These tenet's are followed without the common fanfare that seems to be attached to most rules of technique practice. They are as follows:
  The Majority of an aggressor's strikes are directed toward the defender's head.
Therefore, the Uke's strikes can initially be presumed to be directed at the tori's head. As both tori and uke become more familiar with the motions, the location of where an uke's additional strikes may be directed can be addressed.
  Strikes emanate from shoulder height and below.
Therefor any defensive actions should initially be performed at “chin” height (or below).
  The Aggressor (Uke) will utilize multiple strikes/motions.
Once a defensive application is understood, the practice of those motions should include multiple striking attempts when/if possible.
  More punches are circular than straight.
Practice should consist of 60% circular strikes being made by the uke.
  The Uke should attempt to “counter” the tori's strikes (when able).
While practicing (understood) defensive actions, the uke should attempt to include any “counter's/follow-ups” that they remain able to perform.
  The uke's strikes should penetrate to an effectual limit
(If the tori should miss their defensive counter, the uke's strike will connect). If/when the uke is too far away (from the tori) to “contact” with their strike, they are not representing an active part of the training process.
  Technique's are practiced at arm's length distance.
Tori and Uke are an arm's length apart. This is the standard confrontation “distance”.
  For both Tuite and Strike defense practice, varied clothing should be rotated.
Variance in student clothing should be included in training to simulate any applicable differences in their training. 
 Oyata taught that a student will have a “strong” hand, and a “fast” hand. Their strong hand was usually their dominant side hand, and their fast hand, was the other. For that reason, Oyata would have students “strike” with their non-dominant hand twice as much as with their dominant (to “build” it's strength/power). He would also have them practice cover/deflecting motions using their dominant hand (to build it's speed/control). Oyata was (basically) ambidextrous, he could utilize either hand, equally (and didn't understand when a student couldn't do so). He believed it to be a “Flaw” from being born a Westerner, (which was his “Joke”).
  In Oyata's methodology, students begin with simplistic exercises to familiarize the student with the performance of the instructed motions. That practice begins with the student working on the Initial Defensive Combination. This combination introduces the student to the utilization of 3 defensive motions used in unison.
  It's accepted that it is impossible to be certain how an aggressor will begin an aggressive action. Even though we can not be certain of what an aggressor will (initially) do, we are aware of what actions are most likely to be used. This is based on (both) personal experience, and on (police) records of physical assaults.
  The most common “first” action (on the part of an aggressor) is a punch directed at the tori's head/face or at/upon the student's abdomen. Being that it's rare that the tori would (specifically) know which hand an aggressor would use (to hit them with), the first instructed motion will defend against either hand being used (by the aggressor). This attempt is (most) commonly an attempt to hit the head/face of the defender (tori). The next factor to consider (defensively), is how that strike will be delivered.
  There are only four ways that a punch can be thrown (using either arm). The most common is a “Roundhouse” punch. The second most popular is a “cocked” straight punch. Next is a punch thrown from the waist, and finally an “uppercut” punch.  Additionally, the tori can't be certain which hand will be utilized for delivering that punch.
  The first instructed (defensive) “combination” will work regardless of which arm or striking method is used. It is intended to provide an effective response regardless of which striking method is used (and the same motion can also be used against either arm being used by the aggressor.
  This (the most commonly taught “first” defensive combination) motion can be successively used against any of the aforementioned striking actions that might be utilized. It adheres to all of the defensive application guidelines, and meets all of Oyata's technique preferences.
  This motion will introduce the student to Oyata's defensive methodology, and provide them with an (initial) defensive technique that can be used in a fairly short amount of practice time. That doesn't mean that it's necessarily simple, but compared to many commonly used methods, it utilizes simple to learn motions that can be naturally executed in a (comparatively) short amount of time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Force Efficiency in Application

  When performing a defensive motion/technique, the student should maintain that the motion(s) remain within the most optimal positioning for their application. The majority of students only concern themselves with the final portion of a utilized motion. Every application has fundamental requirements for it to be successful. “Fundamental” implies that those subjects are required for every attempted application.

  Understanding human Kinesiology (the study of anatomical motion) will aid the student in their ability to manipulate an aggressor during a confrontation. That ability is (further) exemplified through the student's recognition of “Force Efficiency”. In the simplest terms, force efficiency describes the most efficient use of body motion while performing a chosen action, that produces the greatest effect. Though doing so by other means may do so (slightly) more quickly, those methods often produce more opportunity for “counter-measures” to be utilized against them, and/or result in less effective applications. The human body is designed to operate in specific ways. Though other means of achieving those motions exist, that doesn't mean the body is designed to motion (efficiently) in those manners.

  If a student is only focusing on the individual limbs motion, they are ignoring those fundamentals. When students are initially shown a motion (be it for the arms, legs or a movement/position), that instruction is initially focused upon the individual portions of that movement. Once that portion is understood by the student, the instruction is widened to include the remainder of the body.

  For the beginning student, their instruction is initially directed to the “stances”. Stances are positions that are intended to provide a stable “base” for (which ever) arm/leg motion it is that they will be attempting to perform. Each of the shown positions are intended to provide that stability under given circumstances.

  The majority of force efficiency principles deal with maintaining the alignment of the shoulders and the hips (with one another). This alignment is intended to provide the greatest balance (and thereby ability to perform) the techniques that utilize the arm's and/or legs. Maintaining that alignment will cause the student to always consider the Upper/Lower body codependency (ka han shin/jo han shin).

  When that alignment is altered (from being “square” between the two), the person will be “off-balance” (and any technique performed will not be done in the most efficient manner). Numerous instructors/systems teach their students to motion the shoulders/hips “into” the performed action. Doing so, may add (slightly) to the applied body-weight transfer (of “mass”), but the cost of the increased instability (in doing so) does not justify that supposed increase.

  Many students are of the belief, that doing so will “make” their motion be more powerful. The gain (in transferred momentum) is only minimal (disregarding the obvious fact, that they are decreasing their own stability when doing so). The resultant lose of stability (whether the delivered application is successful or not) does not justify any (presumed) “gain” of transferred momentum. It equates to being an “over-commitment” (for a delivered application), making the student (then become) off-balance and/or highly susceptible to counter-measures (being applied by the opponent). If/when a technique/application is dependent upon strength/power (to begin with), that motion has limited (if any) value.

  Though numerous defensive systems (attempt to) teach those positions/motions via the practice of “sparring”, Oyata taught that doing so (additionally) “taught” the student to wait until the aggressor began their assault (and only then, utilize those positions), before beginning their defensive responses. He (Oyata) demonstrated that by doing so, the student will have (unnecessarily) delayed that defensive response. He additionally demonstrated that many of the (popularly) taught methods of performing those actions are flawed (in the manner they are commonly taught). The majority of those differences are often subtle, but are each done for specific reasons.

  Those types of applications are for the young, strong, inexperienced student. Will they work? Yes,...sometimes. There are too many reasons why they (more likely) won't though. The majority are intended to make the user “feel” (as if) they are being more “powerful” in the execution of those motions. They provide the illusion that the student is progressing in what they are studying.

  Oyata did not endorse those methodology's (within his instruction). He taught that the student should understand what does, and doesn't elicit (actual) results. Though he didn't actually refer to what is being taught as “Force Efficiency” (as this is the name that “we” utilize for it), he taught natural body motion.

  Force Efficiency consists of natural body motion in conjunction with the application of (entire) body-motion/use. That includes standing, walking, limb motion and any “body” related motion involved in the application of defensive actions.

Recognition of Shoulder/Hip Alignment (IE. “Force Efficiency”)

 When one is standing naturally, the arm's will hang loosely by the sides and the shoulder's are relaxed. This is (commonly) recognized as being a “Natural” stance. When you note the position taken by the feet, they are (usually) splayed slightly outward, and generally positioned at shoulder-width. It is this (basic) position that a person assumes when standing. They may (or may not) have something in their hands, but the position/stance is common. This was the stance that Oyata taught students to practice (and perform) the (taught) defensive motions from.

  The weight of the body should be evenly distributed between both feet. If/when the weight is toward one side, it should be (blatantly) obvious (to the student). This constituted one of Oyata's first lessons (to his students). When an opponent's body-weight is concentrated to one side, that person is only able to perform particular actions (without any additional body-weight being shifted, in order to be included in those actions). To do otherwise required additional (body) motion(s) to be included as well. If that motion was an “arm” motion, the shoulder's (may) require adjustment/change, if the motion was for their legs, it would have to be done with the leg not bearing the user's body-weight. The position of the head would (virtually) never raise, but it may rotate (or more likely drop), but (if/when performing an action) would likely face towards the intended action.

  Any of those possibilities could (initially) be detected through the observance of the person's shoulder's. To perform any of those motions, the shoulder's will display some level of motion. This implied that observance of an opponent's shoulder's was (initially) a student's priority (defensively).

  The use of the arm's (by an opponent, or by the student) implied that the performed motion would (likely) occur within the area between the user's shoulder width. For that reason, Oyata taught that one's initial defensive motion(s), include the repositioning of one's body to be “off-center” (to one side or the other). This could be done to either side (depending on how the student trained, but the direction was (actually) unimportant (defensively).

  As the student performed this repositioning, their arm's would be motioning in (practiced) directions to provide a defense against any motions performed by the aggressor. Through that repositioning, any of the aggressor's arm/leg motions (leg or hand/arm strikes) could be negated, and provide for the user's own Hand/Leg responses.

  It is (virtually) impossible to (exactly) know “what” an aggressor is going to do (as their aggressive action). It is possible to limit those options though. When the student begins (by standing “square” and evenly balanced) they are then able to motion to either (Left/Right) direction (as the situation develops/proceeds). The student should of (already) been aware of what actions were possible (via the aggressor's stance/positioning) and thereby have already chosen a direction for their own (initial) defensive motion.

  Oyata's defensive method was intended to address an aggressor's initial action (“attack”) and follow it with motions that would neutralize any continuance of those attempts. For that reason, the practice of “sparring” served no purpose (with what/how he taught that purpose to be achieved). 

Defensive Positioning


  Whether one chooses to (or “winds up”) being on the “inside” or “outside” of the aggressor's arms, is a widely debated subject. It should really be irrelevant (defensively). Either position can be utilized to respond to an opponent's aggressive action and/or allow for a defensive response. Both positions should be addressed during one's practice. The more important factor (in either instance) is that the student be aligned for their own force efficient use of their applications/techniques.

  Many systems stress that a student should (always?) be located to the outer-side of an aggressor's arms. Though having some (obvious) disadvantages, if/when being located on the “inside” (of the aggressor's arm's), it is not (really) that bad of a location. The most popular argument made against this positioning, is that the aggressor can strike the defender with either of their arms. What (generally) isn't pointed out, is that the defender has twice the number of vulnerable targets available to them (upon the aggressor).

  The majority of vulnerable locations are located upon “medial” (anatomical) locations on the human body. These locations that are (generally) facing towards the opponent's center-line (and are thus naturally “protected” from strikes when one is positioned to the “outside” of the width of the person's shoulder's). Being on the “inside” also places each of, (generally) the opponent's limbs outside of the defender's (shoulder-width). This (at least initially) provides the defender the opportunity to take advantage of that positioning (while protecting their own locations of vulnerability).

  When positioned to the “outside”, the defender commonly has to negate (through moving) the opponent's limbs to reach those “points” of vulnerability. Many of the (most) vulnerable locations are on the aggressor's arm's. These can more easily be accessed if/when the defender is located between the aggressor's shoulder-width (IE. When on the “inside”).

  People generally recognize that when you are positioned to the outside (of the opponent's shoulder width), they will be inclined to utilize some manor of “force” (in order to apply any manor of technique). That force, may be through injuring the opponent (via delivered impacts), or through moving the opponent's limbs (in order to apply that force). Oyata taught that one should utilize those locations that are (immediately) available (regardless of one's present location). Though not necessarily being individually “devastating”, cumulatively, they caused the aggressor to become (if not less aggressive) less effective in any continued attempts.

  Force Efficiency plays a major role in one's ability to accomplish this. Disrupting an opponent's Force Efficiency is an important factor/purpose for any applied technique. If/when someone is “off-balance”, their Force Efficiency is (greatly) reduced. This applies to (both) delivered, and received technique applications.

  The student should focus on applying this principle with all performed actions (Defensive as well as Offensive), through their occurring within the distance between the width of their own shoulder's. Those motions attempted beyond those limitations will result in (obviously) reduced success. This is easily shown by the student performing a “punch” (using only the motion of the arm) directly in front of themselves, then to the side. The differences in the level of effectiveness (between the two) is obvious.

  The same situation exists (though more obviously) when attempting to utilize the legs beyond the direction(s) of directly forward and/or rearward (though downward is a more accurate description of direction for a “rear” kick). So-called (forward) “round” kicks, entail the leg (and body) being rotated for their delivery of a “round” kick. “Rearward” round-kicks, are referred to as being “hook-kicks”. The “extension” kicks, are almost all (anatomically) “downward”(directed) kicks (more accurately being “thrusts”).

  Force Efficiency should be recognized (and utilized) in every limb action attempted/performed. Any motion that attempts to operate beyond those limitations will (itself) be limited in it's effectiveness and applicability.

  Our instruction of Force Efficiency is began with the limb's “Range of Motion” (R.O.M.). That knowledge is directly utilized with (both) “striking” and “manipulation” (“Tuite”) applications. It is shown with each of the instructed techniques (mentioned previously). Many of the included principles (of Force Efficiency) are naturally recognized (though not always understood, or utilized) in a students application of the provided instruction. Developing the student's awareness of those relevancy's, is the reason and purpose for having an instructor (regardless of the “system” being taught)