Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You Show, I Show, We All Show, "Kyusho!"

  The (obvious, LOL) obsession with Kyusho -and it's relation to RyuTe-, generates a lot of inquiry's to this blog. As I have stated previously, we don't overly focus/concentrate on it, as it is simply another portion of study contained within it's curriculum. We don't utilize any confusing and unrelated (in our opinion) concepts (TCM, BFD, S.H.I.T.) to determine these factors, and student's are taught these principles in conjunction with their standard instruction of techniques (i.e. no “special” classes or “restricted” member/group mandates). Many of the points utilized, will (often, because of the “slow” practice being utilized) only create a minor reaction from their use, but student's are taught to use, and identify them when/where they occur and prove to be the most effective. 
     
  The following are some of the basic principles that we teach to our student's in relation to Kyusho (point) utilization, these are also used to identify the factors/conditions that create those situations that allow for their use (and are also used to demonstrate/validate/discredit any principles/methods or techniques presently being taught or experimented with). We make every attempt possible to identify (for the student) the physical/neurological reasons for the demonstrated responses to the applied techniques. (Note* A Pain response/reaction is not considered “acceptable” to be the sole, or only factor for determining a technique's effectiveness). Very often, body motion/reaction (in response to the point's utilization) is the desired result from a point's use.


Accepted Application “Rules/principles” (presently utilized)
(The following are principles that we presently teach/explain to our student's during the instruction of technique application)


Muscle Activation, IS Nerve Activation
  Nerves permeate the entire body. They control every physical action made by an individual. Any strike which creates a perceived pain, could be argued as being, and is in fact a nerve response. RyuTe strikes are intended to be directed upon predetermined locations (points) which cause/create specific responses upon the receiver. This is more easily accomplished, when strikes are directed upon “active” (ie. “firing”) nerves/muscles.


Active vs Relaxed (Muscle)
  When a muscle is in use (i.e. “active”), from/because of it's contraction, the nerves that control/create that contraction, are considered Active. If the muscle is in a relaxed state, then they are dormant (Inactive). Though, when dormant (and responses are often much less), they can still be achieved, but higher levels of accuracy and/or power may be required to create a desired reaction.


Body weight activation of Muscle(s)
  When/if one's body weight is being carried/maintained by any particular limb (and the muscles contained therein) then that limb's nerves/muscles are considered to be active (or activated).
Note* (This is also referred to as being “Loaded”, the act of creating this state/condition, we refer to as “Loading”, and is directly related to “active/activated”)


Cross-Crawl, (for determining “viable” targeting)
  An Understanding of the “Cross-Crawl”(a.k.a. “C-C”) application of body motion, is imperative for understanding the recognition of active/relaxed muscle groups. This theory describes the body's (natural) balancing properties/actions, and how they are applied to any/all actions made when one's body is in motion (and/or standing upright). The model for this principle, is the inter-relationship of the body's actions made while walking.


Touch (for “activation”) of Muscles
  This type of activation, is an example of the “lack” of required pressure for creating the necessary activation of muscle groups. This is illustrated by having an individual extend one arm forward, then another individual will press against any singular (1) side of the extended hand/arm. The receiver (uke) should note the (resultant) “activated” muscle groups (throughout the whole body) that result from this (minor) pressure. The direction of applied pressure (against the out-stretched hand) should be varied (as to the direction of the pressure being applied) and the resultant changes in response to those variations (throughout the receiver’s body) should be noted. This example is also used to demonstrate that excessive contact/power, can be detrimental to a technique's application (“tuite”, being the best/easiest example of this principle).


Same-Side activation
 Although “C-C” creates specific cross-body actions/responses, there are also Same-side results/effects that are created from the activation of specific “points”.


Body weight activation / C-C Targeting
This is in reference to the C-C theory (of activation) of the diagonal quadrant(to the “activated/struck” limb/point) area of the body, and it's utilization for determining preferred targeting towards the corresponding/interrelated quadrant of the body .


Additional student study includes:
(Though related to the above principles, these often apply to individual target striking methods)
Muscle belly vs Muscle Tendon (and/or conditions that would affect either)
Directional Muscle Strikes (in-line vs cross)
Muscle “Fold” Strikes (between the muscles) when/where/direction of.


  These “rules/principles” are usually shown in relationship to the individual techniques being taught/shown to a student at the time. Again, this aspect is not (overly) dwelt upon (during instruction).
     
  Each of these are subjects which Taika has mentioned while demonstrating/teaching application of techniques. (Again) All that we have done, is to collect those concepts, and have provided a “list” (of them) for our student's use. Whether they choose to utilize them (or not), is their choice. 
     
  The knowledge of it's (Kyusho's) use, and/or effects, though definitely(in our opinion) “useful”, are not mandatory knowledge for a technique's effective application, nor for a student's continuing study. Though versions of many of the provided concepts are utilized by numerous methodology's/systems, student's are not always (made aware of ?) familiar with their relationship to a technique's application. In addition, though many of these are demonstrated/explained singularly, they most often are utilized in conjunction with each other (i.e. “multiple” principles are being utilized during a technique's application).
       
  It's my opinion, that this is  sufficient (and more than enough) information to explain the majority of what "we" teach (in regards to basic kyusho implementation). Exact targeting and direction (of strikes) is often dependent upon the required result and/or situation (as opposed to simply knowing "where" to strike). That aspect, should be studied/discovered from individual research (meaning "figure it out for yourself", LOL). All of the above theories, can be found (in/on medical related sites) on the internet. They aren't (personally) created or made-up theories, they are established principles that are presently utilized by various medical practices. We are (only) applying them in relation to what we are doing.


  If a reader's system/school teaches anything similar (or different), I would be curious to know about it (including any alternative methodology's for determining those locations). What I don't want to be drawn into, is any discussion regarding “TCM” (I've already been down that road, I have all the guiding literature in regards to it, I have read it, and found it to be contradictory, inconclusive and (generally) misleading (in regards to what is being attempted with the application of Kyusho). I also feel it is being unjustifiably utilized to present it's advocates, as being unnecessarily (meaning “unjustifiably”) knowledgeable (in this subject).

  Should that be considered “harsh?” (I hope so). “I” consider those individual's as “Con-men”,”Snake-oil Salesmen” and (basically) a waste of (any) of my own, or my student's time.
  “If”, (or when-ever) the subject (of TCM) is brought up (much like bile, from a tainted meal) either “to”or “around” him, Taika becomes very frustrated (as he feels you are wasting his time). He considers (and I agree) that the both the subject, and those persons who choose to pursue that subject, are attempting to avoid (actually) researching, and practicing what is already being presented to them.
        
  They're seeking some form of complicated answers, to both explain, and to justify their own inability to understand (that which has already been shown to them). As opposed to researching the “whys”of what has been shown (and can be readily seen, that it works), they instead, choose to pursue some complicated (if not misleading) methodology, in order to avoid that understanding (and thereby validate their own justification for not understanding).

  I am familiar with (a couple of) methods (similar to our own), that aren't based around some "secretive" Mumbo-Jumbo. I've partaken in discussions with those individual's before, and we've had (civil) debate's (and actual discussions, in regards to/about them, LOL, so I know that it's possible to do so). I make no claims that the methods that we utilize are the only one's that will work (only that they are what we presently use, and teach to our student's).

With that being my (probable) "Last" post of the year, Bring on the “FLAK”...


Friday, December 17, 2010

The Growing Irrelevancy of “Rank”

 When I first began learning a martial art, my short-term goal was earning my next kyu rank. Completing those minor achievements provided me with the motivation to drag my ass to each successive class.
    
 There were certain aspects of those classes which I enjoyed, and some that I dreaded. The amount of (actual) knowledge that I acquired with those rankings was debatable (at best). Though at the time, I thought I was (really) “learning” what was necessary to achieve what I believed that I was participating in the class to become proficient at (I.E. how to “protect myself”, though a more accurate description would be preventing someone else from “kicking my ass”). 
     
 It took me approximately 4 years to earn that Yudansha rank. I spent the following 4 years teaching “that” system of karate, and “thought” that I was competent in it's execution. During that “stint”, I was introduced to Taika, and was promptly convinced (albeit “begrudgingly”) that I had been wasting my time with what I had been doing.
      
 After testing under Taika for a Yudansha ranking in “his” system, I began teaching his methods of technique application. Even though I was teaching his methods, “I” was (still) discarding my previous training (habits?). It took me about 10 years to (completely) discard them, much of which dealt with the “sparring” aspect of training (and it's irrelevancy to what I was now teaching).
     
 Once I had (finally) abandoned those previous “habits”, my own training (and teaching) took a much more productive turn. During (all) that time, (and for the next 20 years) “Rank” (at least the “testing” aspect) never really entered into my thoughts as being “relevant” to my own training. When I attended any “training” with Taika (at his Yudansha classes, or at a seminar), every one in attendance (regardless of “rank”) worked on the same techniques.
With that being my history of training, I see, read, and encounter individuals who hold (supposed) “high” dan rankings, often in various systems.
    
 It's gotten to the point that when someone “boasts” about having (some) “high” ranking, I (immediately) loose interest in what-ever they have to say. If/when I choose to engage an any dialog with them, I usually discover that they are under 30, have “trained” in multiple systems, and (usually) advocate what-ever the latest “trend” happens to be. 
     
 Although I don't (necessarily) agree with many of the so-called “traditional” method's that are commonly utilized, there are numerous one's that I do. My own #1 “disagreement” is with “minors” being awarded “black belts”. It's not that I believe that they aren't capable of “doing” the physical requirements, but more that they are incapable of answering the (numerous) questions that will come from student's (I.E. “be” an instructor).
     
 They lack the experience (of “life” knowledge) to be able to answer those questions competently. Having the (physical) ability to perform the physical aspects of a system's requirements, is (or should be) only 40% of what an instructor teaches student's (unless your essentially running a “black belt mill”). Shodan, really only means that you have learned the “basic” motions (of the system). It's only after attaining that rank, that you can commit the time to learning application of what has been learned. 
     
 The fact that there “are no standards” (for awarding any Yudansha rank), of course makes this an “irrelevant” point for most people. Every system/school sets “it's own” standards, and because of that (and the pursuit of “cash”) schools will do what is necessary to generate that “money flow” in order to stay open, and retain students. I'm only aware of a couple of schools that the owner/instructor has a “real” job.
    
 More often than not, those schools that the owner doesn't have a “real” job, will offer some “gimmick”, like “cardio” karate classes (?) and such. They're attempting to be a “fitness” gym. Sorry, I don't buy it. If your wanting to become more physically “fit”, GO TO A FITNESS GYM. “They” (generally) have trained individuals that know (much more effective) manners of training your body to become more physically “fit”. Training in a martial art might be considered a good “supplemental” (physical) training method, but certainly shouldn't be considered a main one. (Sorry, I got side-tracked, LOL). 
   
 With the general “devaluation” of Yudansha ranking, there has been a growing presence of (so-called) “experts”. At one time, “rank” could be used as a consideration for training with someone. Even in my (own) late “teens”, early twenty's, instructor's with a San dan ranking were considered “high” ranking. Now, if you don't have a Go Dan rank(or higher), you ain't considered shit. If/when I (actually do) “query” these “higher ranking” person's, I commonly find that they hold no more knowledge than most “Shodan” (or even higher “kyu” ranked students). 
      
 When I was younger, I would attend seminars offered by numerous styles/systems/individuals, who purported to “offer” (for a price) some form of knowledge/information. Most often, these amounted to “sparring” tips (despite what was advertised). When (actual) “technique” was demonstrated/taught, I was always disappointed with what was shown. At the very least, I learned how “Not” to teach a seminar. These individuals also (advertised that they) held some “high”ranking (in what-ever style) yet were (IMO) completely incompetent as “instructors”. Granted, that was then, this is now, I'm just not seeing much difference.
    
 As far as “any” Dan rank goes, the only “value” is in regards to one's self. That ranking will (generally) only be acknowledged within your own (little) “system”. I've had people “flaunt” their certificate(s) around, as if they were “proof” of their abilities/knowledge. I'm more than capable of “brushing one up” (a “certificate) to “claim” anything you’d like upon it, but that would hardly offer any “proof” of ability (and it would be just as “valid” as any that you may have). There are no standards for certification. They are presented by an individual instructor/organization, and the only “value” is in regards to that instructor and/or (sometimes) system. Which (of course, LOL) is “how” the vast majority of these (so-called) high-ranking individual's attained their ranking, they did it themselves.
     
 (Apparently) as long as your starting your own “new” organization, “you” need to be the highest ranking individual within that system (and are never to be surpassed). Is it just me, or doesn't that (automatically) “limit” the level of knowledge attainable by each successive student of that instructor? (gradually dropping that level to the knowledge of the standard Shodan?).
       
 It was (usually) when individual's “surpassed” the level of their instructor's, that they began their own “system”. But now, it's whenever someone want's to start making (more) money for themselves, regardless of their own knowledge level (either real, or presumed). Occasionally, individual's would develop “their own” method/way of doing things, but from my own observations, I've only seen about 4 or 5 “different” methodology's (in all) actually being employed.
      
 I realize that it has it's own problems, but at least the organizations in Okinawa consisted of a number of (equally) ranked individual's (who would then rate a student as being an “equal”).
In my own “perfect little world” (I.E. when “I” become “emperor of the world”, LOL), the rank of “Shodan” would be limited to person's over the age of 18 (only since that's the age someone is “considered” to be legally responsible for their actions), “Dan” ranking would be limited to Godan(?) with each level restricted by age, and/or # of years within a (single) system (to “me”, multi-system ranking amounts to “Jack-off of many, and master of none”).
  
 “Dan” testing, being done by (only) multiple individual's (with “3” or more individuals doing the examination). No use of “Black belts” (which is already done within RyuTe, much to my own pleasure) along with any elaborate adornment (“multicolored” gi's, patches, belts etc. these are pointless, if not “belittling” to other student's). Restriction of being considered an “Instructor” to 3rd Dan, face it, the average “Shodan” is not capable of being an “instructor”. When I've mentioned these “personal preferences” to individual's, I've usually received numerous complaints/disagreements (and usually because someone's “authority position” would be “compromised”, LOL). 
     
 Now most of my complaints are in regards to what “I” am teaching (“self-protection”). For systems that focus on the “sport” aspect of martial arts, none of this would make any difference. That instruction is only focused on individual's that are interested in the competition form of “karate”. I share none of that interest. I tend to view “sport” karate, as being similar to WWF wrestling, where “everybody” seems to be some form of “champion/master” (and more often than not, is neither). 
     
 Of course it isn't a “perfect world”(much less any version of “my own”), so none of my preferences will probably ever come to fruition.


     

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Just a “Personal” Complaint

 Once again, I made the mistake LOL, of cruising the internet, to see what was available (information and/or example wise). And once again, I was disappointed by what I found.
    
 One of my greatest feelings of embarrassment (for other individuals), is when they attempt to brush Japanese kanji, and (obviously) don't have a clue, on how to do so (YET, Think that they Do). 
  
 I recently came across a site, and was appalled at some kanji that had been brushed, and posted there. To my further (embarrassment? Disgust?), I was actually familiar with, and have met the individual who brushed it (his name had been posted with it, as if anyone would want their name connected to it in any way). I'd met the individual on several occasions previously and thought he was a self-promoting blow-hard then (and I disregarded him as such), but this example (of his alleged expertise) just confirmed it. 
       
 He's your typical “martial arts” guy, who claims to know everything, about anything oriental (which I'm aware that he does have some knowledge, but clearly NOT when it comes to calligraphy, LOL). He was a 7th Dan when he got kicked-out of the association that he was (moderately) in attendance of  until recently, and promptly promoted (himself) to 10th Dan (yes, I know typical, LOL).
      
  He also has given himself, a “Japanese Sounding Title”, which he created, in that the title?, isn't a recognized one, it consists of a few kanji thrown together to create a new word (at least in his mind), everyone fluent in the language (that I've asked) has scratched their head, and started laughing when they viewed it. Frankly, the MA stuff, I could give a rat's ass about, you can call yourself what-ever you want, teach what-ever you want, who really cares?.

 But FOR GOD'S SAKE! LEARN “HOW” TO ACTUALLY BRUSH ORIENTAL CALLIGRAPHY “CORRECTLY”, BEFORE YOU DISPLAY ANYMORE SLOPPY CRAP LIKE “THAT” IN PUBLIC AGAIN!
(it's actually an embarrassment for anyone who Does know how it's supposed to be done, to view it)

 It wasn't that there were a few mistakes, ...every kanji had (amateurish) mistakes made in their execution. Knowing how long this individual has been (attempting to be) brushing Japanese kanji (at least 14yrs?), “I” would have thought that he would have improved over time, my mistake. He makes the “common” mistakes that most beginner's make, he (attempts) to brush “Gyosho”(semi-cursive style) kanji, before becoming (even moderately) adept at brushing “Kaisho”(block-style).

 He then (attempted) to blend “Sosho”(fully-cursive-style) into the kanji he was creating (and did so incorrectly). I don't fault anyone for attempting to learn how to brush Oriental calligraphy. It's an involved process and contains many intricate details, requiring an immense amount of practice to become even moderately competent in. When done correctly, it's something that can be admired, and even respected. But when done in the manner that this was presented, and then displayed (as being an “example”), it becomes an embarrassment to anyone who does practice Japanese Calligraphy, much less for those that practice it as an art, I.E. Shodo (“Way of the Brush”). 

 For most people, the mere attempt at brushing kanji is beyond their (own) recognized ability. Obtaining any training in it, is (often) difficult to come by. But, just as when learning a martial art, proper instruction is necessary to be able to perform it correctly. I've known (numerous) individuals who could walk through a kata, and not have a clue as to what they were doing. The same can (too often) be said of those who (attempt to) do Oriental Calligraphy. They “go through the motions”, and don't have a clue as to WTF their doing.


 Even to the "untrained" eye, these were hastily done attempts.






 And granted, if one knows no better, then who really cares?









 Well, the one's who DO know better do, by "passing" this stuff off as correct, only cheapens the art as a whole. 





 

 Shodo is an ART, with a set of specific skills attributed to it. when shoddy work is passed off as being "Talent", it lessens anyone (else) who pursues that art. 




 If any of this work (and I use that term loosely)  had been presented as a student's attempts, I would have had no problem with it. For a beginner, they would have been nice attempts. "I" happen to be licensed, and I don't present myself the way that this individual does, LOL.

Guess it just goes to show, Long as you call yourself something, there's idiots out there that will believe it (and this guy proves it, LOL).



Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Many Faces of Tuite

 Obviously, from the many “posts” I've made in regards to it, LOL. The application of RyuTe's version of technique's can be difficult to explain (to those unfamiliar with them). I was viewing a video that someone had on their dojo web page, and they provided an example of a technique which had been taught to them during a seminar (by a RyuTe practitioner). 
       
 The technique was a version of what we (at our school) call a Push/Catch. These individual's went on, and on, about how great this technique was. But, as I sat and watched their execution of it, all I could do was count how many things they were doing wrong, and the counter's (to the technique) that these individual's were creating, from their version/example of doing the technique.
      

 Knowing who showed them this technique (the name was provided on the site), I know, that the technique was not taught in the manner illustrated by their example. But it did make me wonder, how many people would/will view this (supposed “example” of Tuite), and presume that it is correct? And further, how did these individual's so bastardize a perfectly legitimate technique, into the convoluted mess of confusion that they presented on their site?


 Anytime I see the word “Tuite”, included in a description of what some school is teaching, my first presumption, is that their teaching “RyuTe”. Usually, from reading further, I discover that they have only “changed the name” of what they do teach, TO Tuite. These are the individual's whom I will immediately label as Jack-offs. I've written elsewhere as to how that term (“Tuite”, not “Jack-off”, LOL) came into existence. 
      
 There are some who (at least) have chosen to use the (Japanese) “Torite” pronunciation, which doesn't bother me, and a few who use the Okinawan “Tuiti” (pronunciation). In any event, it's the latest trend to rename your “grappling/Jujitsu”, even “Hapkido/Aikido” to (now) be called “Tuite”. I guess it's important to stay up to date with the latest trend/catch phrase.


 Seeing that (Taika's version of) Tuite, is what I have taught over the years, I've had no need for a name change, but I've encountered numerous individual's who insist that their system teaches the same techniques (as RyuTe does). I inevitably ask them to show/demonstrate to/for me. I am routinely disappointed.
      
 When I (in turn) show them (and slowly I might add) what I am (meaning “RyuTe”) teaching, they proclaim that “I” did so (too) “hard/fast/slow/different”, and did so, with intent to cause damage/injury to them. The fact that they weren't hurt (in any way/manor), seemed to be an irrelevant factor to their argument.
     
  They claimed, that only because of their training (in their what-ever system) were they able to escape injury, and that proved their point (?). OK, what-ever. These sorts of individual's, I have no time available to waste on.


 It should be clear from everything that I've written previously in this blog, that I enjoy teaching. While doing so, I garner further knowledge that helps me, to continue to develop the manner which I do so. At our school, the instruction of Tuite, is considered one of the major focuses of student instruction/knowledge. We also do an extensive amount of control and manipulation (of an uke) following any/all of the technique applications. The study of either of these aspects, requires our student's to spend a fair amount of time on understanding the human body's motions and reactions, and the limit's of those motions.


 Tuite, though only a piece of the RyuTe system, is unique enough (from other forms of it) that it does require extensive amounts of practice. I welcome others to demonstrate their versions upon myself, I only ask that they do so slowly (I'm not stupid, LOL). This (doing so slowly) often is the telling example of any inadequacy of what they are doing.

 Some will admit this weak-point, and others only dismiss it (feeling that the technique is adequate enough not to be effected by the weakness). Those that dismiss it, I view as being either too lazy (to further improve their own techniques), or too arrogant to lower themselves (and hence, admit the inadequacy of their technique's) to further improve what/how they teach.




    

Friday, July 9, 2010

Synchronicity (and Technique "Flow")

 When my students work on various individual techniques, they are attempting to perform them as perfectly as they can. They do this with the knowledge that perfect execution, is a rarely attained occurrence in actual use.
    
 As I've written before, the teaching methodology that I use is arranged in stages. This is not necessarily all that different from most MA classes. Student's will work on kicks, then work on hand techniques, then grappling, etc. Because of class/student safety concerns, we mandate any 2-person (tori/uke) technique practice (Tuite, Combination's,etc.) be done slowly.
    
 The initial practice/learning of these techniques often mandates that the student work on them in (sometimes unrealistic,or at least, incomplete) example situations. In general, the practice situation will begin with the uke throwing a strike (relevant to what-ever technique the tori is working on) and they will slowly perform the sequence of defensive actions.
    
 These are almost always predetermined to be only carried out to a specific point (either to the completion of a defense from being struck, or continued to the point of completely controlling the uke). Once student's have acquired enough experience to be able to practice in this way (and be effective), they will transition to the next method of practice. 
    

 At our school, that entails impromptu (defensive) practice. It will still (at this stage) be limited to being either a strike (ie. Combination) defense, or a grab/push (ie. Tuite) defense. The difference being that the uke's motion, will be unknown (before-hand). This is done to establish the responsive level (of/by the tori). With the Combination techniques (to a great extent), Taika teaches that one should only think of their own (defensive) motion (and not to attempt to “react” to the individual aggressive action).
    
 This can sound contradictory, but it isn't. RyuTe techniques (commonly) are ambidextrous in their ability to protect/cover the user. If one were to (attempt) to wait (in order to determine if the aggressor is using a right or left punch) they will be struck (as determining which hand is being used, requires too much time).
   
 Similar practice is done in regards to Tuite technique's.
Once (basic) responsiveness is established, the next level of practice is began, Control (of the aggressor) following the completion of all defensive actions. Aggressor “Control”, amounts to placing the aggressor into a submission position. This can be a hold (ie. neck-restraint/arm lock etc.), or a ground-pin. The aggressor can be restrained/restricted (from moving, aka Pinned face-down), or bound into an escort hold (in order to move them to a more suitable/safer location). 
    
 Although the option of technique escalation (always) exists, this (lethal) choice ,is not the commonly the taught first option. The legal hassles that will ensue are not to be disregarded (simply) because you feel justified in your response (a court will determine that for you). 
   
 The (eventual) goal of all practice, is to naturally respond to (any) aggressive motions, in a relaxed (reflexive) manner. Just as motions are initially performed in a “chunky”, “robot-like” manner, (eventually) with practice, one's motions begin to smooth out, becoming fluid and appearing more natural in execution. The ability to transition between a striking, and a grappling action and (then), moving to a restraining technique (smoothly) requires a great deal of time and practice. I've observed pieces of Taika's “Shi Ho Happo no Te ” kata, it (obviously) is a big step towards practicing, and attaining that goal of “Synchronicity” with the technique's that are taught in RyuTe.
   

 When I've seen (those portions of) that kata being performed, I can see Taika's influence (in it). The manner/way that Taika moves (when performing technique) is (IMO) best described as being Fluid. He (both) forcefully and gently/smoothly (if that makes any sense, LOL) moves through each motion of a technique's execution. That ability, (only) comes from the repeated practice of the kata, and technique motion/execution (and from the years of doing so, that he has).

 As I watch student's practice kata, I can see who is thinking of the associated techniques (to the individual motions). When student's first learn a kata, it's (only) for movement memorization. As they progress, one can see, if/when the student is visualizing (the motion's) technique application (while performing the kata). It's within this process that a student will attain (their own) “Synchronicity” with motion, application and technique.



Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Styles"

Over the years, I've had person's (and student's) who have had “alternate” training (in other systems than RyuTe) attempt to explain to me that “they” (or their “other” system's) teach the “same” techniques that I/we/RyuTe, do/does. I've usually just taken their statements as being (at least) “partially” true/accurate. My Own “exposure” to those “same” (as stated by the individual's mentioned) “systems”, has shown that to not be an (exactly, LOL) “accurate” assessment.
Though “forms” of the techniques we teach are often “common” amongst numerous system's, the manner which we implement them, make them unique to how they are utilized (which relates to their effectiveness and applicability, be that “good”, or “bad”, I let those other person's decide which).
Throughout many of the Okinawan “styles” being taught, they will all have similar techniques and motions (being taught). The biggest “difference” (IMO), is how those techniques are implemented, and therefor “how” they are being performed. By utilizing the commonly taught (Okinawan) “kata”, it should be no surprise that similar techniques could/would be taught amongst the various systems. What tends to make me “laugh” (at many of the claims made), is that these techniques have “always” been taught (within many of these other system's), including those other (supposedly “Korean”, “Chinese”, and even “Japanese”) system's. Now I've not been around “that” long, but I (definitely) have been “around” for a while (I began in the early/mid-70's, in my early “teens”), and I have never encountered anything that was even remotely done in the manner that RyuTe presented, nor in the same manner of how they execute these techniques. And it should be noted, that it's the “manner” (of implementation) that make's these techniques “unique” (not necessarily the technique's themselves).
As a “rule”(to be “broken” no doubt, LOL), I don't usually “slam” (any) other particular system. I believe each system (obviously) appeal's to different individual's (based on “what” they are seeking to attain out of attending a “Martial Arts” class). That “hesitancy” does not prevent me from critiquing an “individual” (“Instructor”) from “any” system though. If you have read this “Blog” (much, LOL), you should have figured out, that my “main” objective (from having it), is to assist me in developing effective/efficient training methods, that I can utilize with “my own” student's. From my “pursuit” of that purpose(both “here”, “elsewhere”, and in person) I have (unfortunately) encountered (numerous) “instructors” (and I use “that” term VERY gratuitously), who's only purpose(?) in “teaching”, is to promote their own (self-assumed)“greatness”(or more accurately, their own “Delusions of Grandeur”).
Frankly, these individual's are of no concern to myself (or what I teach). I only find it annoying(?) when my student's have discussions with them, and they (my student's) are subjected to commentary about how “their”(the other instructor's) system has/does the (exact) “same” techniques/strategy's (yet none of their student's have ever “heard” of them before?). I'm not talking about “kyu”(rank) student's either, I mean student's who have studied (the system being referenced) for over 10(and sometimes “20”)yrs. Their “excuse”?, that the student “should” have figured it out on their own,......”nice”,...(way to “cover their ass”, IMO). As I stated, these individual's (and/or their “opinions”, really) mean little (to “nothing”) to me. I just find it “odd” that they have only made these comment's to my student's(who obviously don't have the knowledge base to establish an informed “position” on the subject), as opposed to myself, who has at least has had exposure to numerous system's/methodology's, and can provide “debate/question” points to the argument's/claims being presented. If their “purpose” (in these “claims”) is only to claim/establish their own “legitimacy”, that's fine, I don't care/concern myself with “their” issues. If it is meant as an attempt to “slam” me/RyuTe, I also don't really care (a student will either “agree”, or “disagree” with what I teach, on their “own”).
In these cases (like those mentioned above), I would prefer that these individual's would approach “me” (with their argument/disagreement), as opposed to confronting my student's. I (usually,..no really!) am always “open” to various technique/teaching methodology “debates”(it's a part of “how” I can LEARN, LOL). I just don't care to have them “during” a class (student's are paying for my time, it's my responsibility to provide them with “instruction” during that time, not this often “pointless” debate).
The information that I present “here”, is kept general in nature (much of which could be applied to numerous systems). I (still) invite student's of/from “other” system's to work with us, and I will let them decide if “RyuTe's”(and “my”) methodologies coincide with what they are seeking.
I prefer to debate teaching methods, and the benefits/disadvantages (individually) related to them. If/when someone chooses to debate “system” superiority, I (usually) find that they are debating over the application of strategy's and “beliefs”, more than the technique's themselves.
I see more “feather's being ruffled” over/about/because of (“self-awarded) “titles” that are utilized within MA's in general. The decision to even “use” a title, can/should (IMO) cause concern for the prospective student. I've found it interesting to note an individual's “reaction” to (even “suggesting” to) not utilize “titles” within/during a class. I'm most often met with “shock”(of even suggesting it, LOL). The fact is, that I “don't” use them, they serve no purpose, and (IMO) “detract” from the process of instruction. “Titles” amount to nothing more, than “intimidation”, and/or to develop some form of “Idol/hero” worship (from their student's). I “might” feel better about it(depending on the individual in question)If the individual were the “originator” of a well known “system”(ie. “Taika”,LOL), or even held a unique/particular rank within that system,. But I'm afraid any “self-awarded” title/rank has little to no value, and/or respect, at least from myself.
I feel the same about (supposedly) “created system's”.Take your pick, there's dozen's of them, most being “introduced” during the “70's” . These were usually “slapped” together during the “kung-fu” fetish of the time. Most have “died-off” due to lack of interest(in them). But there are a few that go through continual modifications/additions(at least “they” try to improve, LOL). The majority of them used various different “system's” methodologies, and then attempted to “combine” them (into some form of integrated collection of responses to “every/any” situation). Although they may have had “good” intentions (and maybe “inflated” ego's, LOL), many of these “creator's” had limited, and varied level's of experience (of their own). Few, ever appeared to “list” their previous training (for fear of being “checked” on/out?), and “all” claimed to of “eliminated” what didn't work (at least for them) from what they taught.
I've actually heard this very description being used to describe “RyuTe”. There's a couple of inaccuracy's involved with that assessment though. The “biggest”, would be that Taika “created” the system. He used what was taught to him (by Uhugushigu Tan mei, and Wakinaguri Tan mei) and applied it to the traditional kata of Okinawa. That doesn't mean that he “created” it. As he would explain it, he simply applied what he knew (about “theory”, “technique” and their application) to them (the “kata”). The majority (if not “all”) of the “created”(ie. “made-up”) system's, decided to “create” their own kata (along with their own “bunkai”). They essentially did what the Japanese (and the Korean's) did when they were shown the Okinawan kata. They “made-up” their own bunkai, and adapted (their own) system(s) of Te, to match that/those bunkai(if not the kata also).
Before Taika's introduction to the U.S., no one here(or at least very few) knew “who”, or “what” he was. Those on Okinawa, knew very well about him though. Once Taika began to become “well known” (here), suddenly “everybody” (else) began to “declare” that they (too) taught “Tuite” (and always had?), even though Taika, “made-up” the name “Tuite”(and that name had never been utilized, for anything before). What “is” usually taught by other system's (and is being “called” Tuite), is usually just that system's method (or “adaption”) of “jujitsu/chin-na” (neither of which “are” Tuite).
If one chooses to critique “RyuTe”, I have no problem with that. I only ask that you utilize a legitimate argument to do so. There are certain aspects of RyuTe that “I” am not comfortable with (be it from my own inability or comfort level with that portion), I don't discount the remainder (of the “system”)because of that inability/discomfort though. Every move/technique is not applicable for every practitioner. Taika state's that you will find certain kata, that “you” will feel most comfortable with performing(it becomes “your” kata). From that kata you will find the majority of technique's that “you” will feel most comfortable with using. IMO, this is why (many moon ago) instructor's taught their student's using only 1, or 2 kata. Be it because of “body type”, “flexibility” or the technique “types” (being taught), student's of the same “view-point”(?) would be drawn to that instructor. From that tendency, certain instructor's would emphasize “their” preferred technique's, and (supposedly) “different” styles/systems would become (understandably)”equally” popular.
Taika has always said “There is only 1 Te”, I tend to agree with that assessment. It's because of that opinion, that I remain “open” to accepting students of “other” system's (it's “all” the same thing). The only “difference” is in each system's approach to implementation.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Oyata's “Milking” Punch



  When I first began my study in Taika's art, I already had 7 yrs. Experience, and a Yudansha ranking in Shito-Ryu. After 9 months (or so) of studying with Taika, I abandoned almost all of that previous training. I felt that I had wasted my time with it, and (needed) to get rid of the habits acquired during that study. This wasn't a (necessarily) easy thing to do, the longer that habits are repeated, the more ingrained they become. Even after all this time, I can still feel the tendency to want to do (some of) those habits.

  When I work with the students that I have now, I can see them (struggling) to modify their own habitual behaviors. One of the more common one's (that they have to learn), is with Oyata's milking punch.


  Now, to be fair, they have a lot of (minor) changes that they are being asked to modify (included with this action/technique) from the manner which they have been punching up till now. Oyata doesn't teach to pull-back the punching hand (to the side/waist) to begin with (that seems to mess with a lot of student's, LOL). We begin with it, at the (front) waist (basically, positioned to the front of the hip bones), and not, to the side.

  Like many (system's), we don't rotate the shoulder (when completing the punch), and we don't rotate the hips (beyond their respective shoulder). Just prior to the fist reaching it's target (and if necessary), it will rotate until it reaches a 45ยบ angle. As it makes contact, it then milk's forward, and down (in a manner similar to milking a cow,....uh, if you can relate to that, LOL). The motion is also identical to the one made (by the hand) when one is swinging a suburito (heavy, wooden sword), which is why we include this practice in our curriculum.

  What's usually the most difficult (for the student to remember/do), is to keep the finger's (of the punching hand) loose (one should be able to easily slide a finger within the rolled finger's of the punching hand). To the beginning student, this has the appearance of weakness (in the punch itself). More often, it only serve's to illustrate the weakness in the user's original manner of punching.

  If you read (and observe) about how (the majority) of systems teach how a punch is (supposed to be) made. They explain to roll the finger's (tightly), then wrap the thumb around them (to hold them even tighter). That would seem, all “well and good”, but the most common problem (then) becomes, that the back of the wrist, is bent upward/backward. (then, LOL) as one pushes (the now clenched) fist forward, the “pinky” (finger) will feel weak. To compensate, it is very common for student's to lean/rotate(?) the hand (towards the forefinger), to make the pinky, feel tight (also).

 The problem now (LOL), is that the (2) fore knuckles (used for striking with), are out of line with the forearm (bone's) which creates a weakness in the wrist. as one (once again, LOL) rotates the bone's of the first 2 knuckle's, back in-line with the forearm bone's, the pinky (once again) feel's weak, from the fist loosening to align the knuckles with the forearm bones, LOL (and so it goes round and round).

  The first consideration (or concern, IMO) asked, should be what are we striking with? ...(answer) “The first two knuckles”. To ensure that they are solid (for making an impact), they should be in-line with the bone's of the forearm (both laterally, and vertically) the wrist would (obviously) be straight in order to complete this requirement. The finger's, should be “out of the way” of the striking knuckles, ie.-the impact points, are the knuckles (so they require a clear path to the target).

 THAT, is all that is “REQUIRED” to accomplish a strike (using the 1st 2 knuckles of the hand as the impact point(s).
Nowhere, is it mandated that the (other) finger's be rolled-up, or compressed (in any manner) for an effective strike to be made with the first 2 knuckle's of one's hand. In fact Taika teaches to NOT have the remaining finger's tight (at all). 
 
  (On a side-note, Taika used to talk about kara-te. He stated that (American) people interpreted it as “empty-hand”. He said this was wrong (many weapons are taught in Te). “kara” means (also) “open”. This has philosophical, as well as tactical meanings. RyuTe teaches that the open hand is stronger, and faster (than the closed hand). The open hand is also one which “offers”, as opposed to the empty one, that is begging.)

  Once one has (actually) made an impact with (the first 2 knuckles of) the hand, RyuTe teaches to (then) milk the impacting knuckles (the motion again, is identical to that made by the hand, when swinging the suburito, which could be interpreted as being side-ways, and towards the pinky). I've heard this explained in several ways (as to effectiveness, or even purpose).

  The simplest way that I've found (for describing to student's), is to relate it to performing a tuite technique, and changing directions half-way through the technique. If one is unfamiliar with this, then the explanation (obviously) would make little sense. 
 
  Similarly, If the body see's an imminent impact (regardless of what type) coming at it. The body will (naturally enough) brace (for that impact). “if”, for what-ever reason, that impact is different (than what was expected) the reaction to it, is commonly greater (in the body's effort to to dissipate the effects).

  This (too) is a common reaction. If you have ever grabbed something, and presumed it to be “cool”, then realized that it was “hot”, your reaction was usually (far beyond) what the reaction would have been if you (before hand) thought it was only “warm”. By tricking the body's presumed/perceived input, one can capitalize on those (often exaggerated) reactionary responses.




Friday, February 19, 2010

“Tuite” (The “word”)



 When I watch (the majority of) what's being taught as (supposedly) being tuite, I see techniques that are essentially ju-jitsu (or modified forms of it). Tuite has become the “catch-phrase" of anyone who teaches any form of grappling techniques (regardless of the system).
    
 Taika was the First to even use the word. Anyone studying a Japanese system/style (or the language), would use the Japanese (pronunciation) word of “Torite”. An Okinawan system, (usually) referred to it as “Tui ti” (or "tui- di", which is the Okinawan pronunciation of the kanji).
     
 Taika, (from his own experience of teaching American soldiers) changed the pronunciation to “Twee-Tay” (tuite), because many of his students at the time were American service men.
    
 The pronunciation of Tuite (“Twee-Tay”) is a slurring (combination?) of Okinawan/Japanese (and in most respects could be considered a “slang” term). This pronunciation of tuite was never utilized before Taika began using it (uh, why would they? Your either Japanese, or your Okinawan).
  
 Taika's reasoning, was (only) because of his American students, they would giggle during class when he said “Twee-Dee” during his instruction (relating it to the Warner Brother's cartoon bird, whom Taika was not familiar with at the time). The simple solution (to him) was simply to maintain the Okinawan pronunciation for Grab or “Tui” (Tori in Japanese), and use the Japanese pronunciation for “Hand” or “Te” (“Di” in Okinawan).
    
 This way, he maintained the Okinawan (heritage?) of the art, and made it more palatable to/for his American students. The modification of verbiage would be pointless for (either) Japanese or Okinawan instructors to bother with. Only because Taika was beginning to teach Americans (at that time), did this (re-phrasing?), make any sense. By maintaining that (at least) part of it utilized the Okinawan pronunciation, the heritage (aspect) could be maintained (and would still differentiate it from the Japanese versions of “grappling” techniques, ie “Torite”).
    
 Being aware of this change (and hearing it from his own lips), I just find it amusing when I'm reading something (from anyone who isn't studying Taika Oyata's Te) that (insists, LOL) that they are teaching “tuite”, and yet have never studied from/with Taika (or even in the art of Taika Oyata).
     
 The techniques (despite what many seem to proclaim) are being performed differently (from the manner that a student of Taika's would perform them). These differences, though often minor, do change the level of effectiveness of the techniques.
    
 In truth, Taika does refer to (many of) the “grabbing” types of techniques (wrist-grabs, pushes, arm-grabs) as being stupid people techniques (meaning people who do these types of actions are stupid people). If/when someone grabs or pushes you (with obviously dubious intent) they're being “stupid” (one hand is occupied, hence it's easiest to just “hit” them with your other hand, when they do,.... duh?). Very often, Tuite is utilized to prevent the necessity of causing (serious) injury to the aggressor. Considering that the vast majority of physical confrontations are with individuals that we know (and/or may be related to), it only makes sense to be able to prevent causing any serious injury (to them), while still being able to keep from getting injured ourselves (isn't that the idea behind being an artist of this supposedly “martial” stuff we practice? 
    
Note: Break-down the kanji for “martial” sometime, the individual parts of the kanji are more about “talking” and “avoiding” conflict than anything else).
    
 When utilized properly, Taika Oyata's (version of) tuite techniques, do not have “counters” (to either their application or their effectiveness). When working with a student who possesses experience with training in another system's “counters” (to their version of the techniques), they find that they're not able to execute them (when the technique is being done in the manner Taika Oyata performs them).
    
 We utilize a similar standard if/when a student is experimenting with “Bunkai” (breaking-down of Kata motions). When anyone (ourselves included) believes they may have “figured out” a tuite technique (from the kata motions), it is put through the “counter-gauntlet” (or “check”, if you will). If a counter can be performed (to the technique's application) that technique is determined to be (only) a  conditionally-functional technique (though something to be aware of). 
     
 Because of this, there are a number of the tuite technique's (that we do teach) that are awkward to apply. Not that they can't be, they just require (a great deal) more practice to do so. There are other system's that may teach a similar version to what we teach (and we usually demonstrate that version, for familiarity purposes), but we teach, and train in/with Taika Oyata's version.
       
  From my experience, and from what I've observed being promoted (from other system's instructor's) it has just become “hip” to proclaim that your teaching “tuite” (too). As stated previously, I just find it amusing, but I do understand how/why (many of) Taika's students can get very agitated (if not down-right Offended) by it.




Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bunkai and Calligraphy

 When students ask about “Bunkai” within the kata we teach, I explain to them as it was explained to myself (through Taika). Every motion within a kata, represents a technique motion. This motion may be a strike, a grab or a necessary motion for a technique to be “applied” (regardless of the individual technique).    
 It is important to learn every motion of the kata, and practice them repeatedly until they are comfortable, and natural. With continued practice of the kata, you will begin to understand the applications when they occur (during an encounter). As I have mentioned before, we view the kata motions as “letters” (of an alphabet).   
 These letters are combined to make “words” (techniques). Combining various “words”, one can make “sentences”. Usually, this becomes clearer with continued practice.
 My students often become frustrated by (my) constant corrections. Very often, these are over (very) minor motions/placements (the turn of a hand/foot, the direction the student is “facing”, the position of an arm, etc.). Although these may, or may not effect the “overall” technique, they none the less can effect the results of the technique. Just as every “gross” motion, represents a (part of a) technique, the subtle positioning and angles effect the outcome (or even the ability to perform the technique).
 Just as the motions represent “letters”, and combining them, creates “words”, then using them with other motions (words) creates “sentences”, I believe that the “small” positional corrections are akin to “punctuations” (commas, periods, exclamation marks, etc.). Though not generally considered to be “techniques” per say, they are necessary to complete (or even make possible) the applications.
 Since “Calligraphy” is my (other) interest, I obviously relate it to a lot of my martial arts training. Taika also (briefly) talks of this “connection” in his book. As I am brushing various kanji, I see the correlation when comparing kanji. Some, are a “single” character, some are combinations of various individual characters. The “Radicals” are the major characters (of which there are 214). Every kanji will contain at least “1”(form of) of these radicals. The radicals are sometimes combined with each other, and sometimes with several of the (many) forms of other kanji (to create a single kanji). Not “all” kanji can/should be combined with any (indiscriminate) “other” kanji (they just don't make any sense). The same is true with the “motions” within the kata. Many, but not all motions are applicable to be utilized with all other motions.
 A major portion of our training time, is spent practicing, and determining “what” motions “do”, and “don't” work well together. We present numerous (basic) “combinations” to introduce the student to application of kata motion. The techniques/combinations that we show our students, are not the “only” manner, or “way” that these motions can/should be utilized (like “Cylon's”, there are many variations,..LOL). Some work “better” for certain individual's than others (because of various factors, “size”, “arm length”, “tori/uke experience”, etc.). With continued practice the student will determine what works best (for them) in a given situation.
 Although we have been working with this group of students for awhile (almost 2 years) they have only been exposed to (maybe) 30 (or so?) different individual techniques (tuite and/or combinations). Between working on those, and the 12 kata, they've had “a lot” to take in. Some techniques still elude their ability (so far) to perform effectively (“every time”), but that is what “class time” is for,...”practice”.