Wednesday, June 30, 2010


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, 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.