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.

8 comments:

Tony said...

Since the basic techniques are essentially the same across many traditional systems, and the difference with RyuTe is HOW those basic motions are applied and the THEORY of combat behind the unique methods of technique application, how about being less general and giving something a little more specific as to HOW the applications are different from what you see elsewhere?


Wow that is one long run on sentence, hope it makes sense.

openhand said...

It makes “sense”, and I'm guilty of “run-on” sentences myself. Actually, I have previously explained some of those differences (in prior postings). Take your pick, “punches”, “kicks”, “stances”, “grappling(Tuite)”, I've (albeit “briefly”) described “all” of these (with “few” to “no”, “challenges/questions” in regards to them). If you have a specific Inquiry, let me know. Am I being “general”?, well, “yes”, I am, LOL. The (minimal) amount of “feed-back” I receive, doesn't really direct any specific (direction?, of) interest. If you make note of the “description”(of this blog), it is not my intent to imply that I am (specifically, LOL) providing “technical” descriptions/explanations of “RyuTe”. I may reference RyuTe frequently (because that's what I teach, and have for nearly 30yrs.), but my main (reason?) point of this blog, is (general) instruction technique's/methodology's (and I occasionally spout my opinions of various “martial arts” subjects/trends).
As a “note”, tonight (while teaching a class) I worked with one student who's had (varied) previous instruction in several systems. I was only able to (“begin” to) explain a limited number of the differences with the manner that RyuTe does certain motions (many of which, I've already done here). Being “in-person” LOL, it was (much) easier to visually explain/demonstrate the differences that exist between what he had learned elsewhere, and what RyuTe does, and “why”(we do so). His (total) instruction tonight, was the (basic outline) instruction of Naihanchi Shodan (our 1st taught kata). The multitude of “minor” differences (in “body” motion, and technique execution), and subsequent corrections/explanations (to how, and why, RyuTe does them that way) only allowed for a general outline to be shown (and “if” practiced, will be gradually “cleaned-up”, in stages).
It is not my intention (to imply) that “I”, am the “know-all”/“go to” guy for RyuTe knowledge, I am still “studying”(RyuTe) myself. I am familiar with many aspects of the system, that doesn't make me an “expert” (which is a term I'm not fond of anyhow, LOL). I've been unable to find anyone “else” (who study's “RyuTe”) on the internet, that's even willing to write anything about it. It's not like it's any big “secret” (read elsewhere for my feelings on those, LOL). And it's not as if you can “learn” RyuTe via (any of) these posts that I make anyhow. Those individual's (that do study RyuTe) should be familiar with what I write about (so only “general” reference is necessary for understanding).
I'm more than willing to explain most of what RyuTe teaches, though the “how”, is (mostly) just difficult to put into writing (it's much easier, and faster to do so “visually”, and “in-person”, LOL).

Tony said...

For the sake of discussion lets consider a simple double-block (I know you have an entire thread on this technique earlier in the blog).

Left hand/arm covers with a basic cross block motion, right hand/arm follows with a middle/outside block, left hand proceeds to a low/down block position (or vice versa.

In the system I study, (Shorin Ryu Shorinkan) a basic application we might teach for this motion is:

Covering a punch with the crossblock motion while pivoting around the punch letting the middle block cover the arm while the low block becomes a rib or stomach strike (sometimes this is shortened to an elbow). Then the technique reverses ending with the right arm near the opponents wrist and the left arm up in a middle block. Thus an armbar.

That is one of several applications that I can think of for what is a very diverse technique.

So my question is now two parts: First would RyuTe (theory) support this sort of application? Secondly, (if you might teach this application) I'll describe the way I personally teach this to a new student, the question in my mind is if you go about instructing in a vastly different way (assuming this is similar to something you might teach).

We would usually get to this motion in Niahanchi Shodan which is fairly early in the training for most people.

I usually start very slowly letting them get a feel for the hand motion and a pivot to "clear the punch" and position themselves outside the arm. Sometimes just this basic motion can boggle their minds. When the student can do that I usually ask them to incorporate a strike with elbow or forearm to the ribs (this is the down block). Finally I ask them to do all of that then reverse the positions of the arms to achieve a straight arm bar. (at this point or sometimes weeks later depending on the student I can start to teach them how to make the technique 'work'.) The next step usually involving slow practice and slow demonstration of timing intended to connect strikes and arm motions to body shifts or naturally occuring body motions. This last part is the principle or principles that ARE the technique. It is also this last part as I try to bring the student from slow to fast application of the technique that we spend trying to "close the gaps" or teach the student to let each motion move fluidly into the next powered by body motion rather than muscle.

This isn't learned in a class or a month of classes. I just use this technique as an example of the underlying principles and how I try to teach them through a given technique and over a period of time.

I'm not an instructor per se, I do instruct, but I don't own a school or anything I just help out in class when asked to do so. But back to the questions, is this similar to how you teach? Are these the same principles RyuTe teaches, or would your system's combat theory approach the double block motion in a wholly different way?

Anonymous said...

Like any system, they all have their own flavor to the technique. This is how my master showed me LOL

LONER

openhand said...

Well, let me “first” say that your post illustrates my point in regards to written “verbiage”(and the various difficulties associated with writing descriptions of techniques/motions). The term “cross-block” (that you utilize several times) “I” interpret as being akin to an (what we would call) “inside” block/forearm strike. The term is (often) used by numerous systems, as being done with “both” wrists (together) and used to “trap” an aggressor's wrist/leg (what-ever). I don't believe that's what “you” intended (with your use of the term), but you get my point. Written descriptions can be easily “misinterpreted” (hence my reluctance to get too involved with “written” descriptions). None the less, I believe that we are (both) talking about a similar technique motion.
In response to your “questions”, (a hesitant) “yes”, it is similar, and could be considered a variation of/to the kata motion.
Actually, this is one of the first (“Combination”) techniques that is shown to our white belt student's. I have the two student's (tori & uke) “pair off”, both in “natural” stances, arm's length apart. The uke performs a “face” punch (for the purpose of this example, a right face punch). We show the tori, to “cover/parry” the uke's punch (using the tori's Left hand) across/down towards the tori's right waist. Simultaneously, the tori's Right hand raises (striking the uke's punching arm, slightly above the inside/back of the elbow). This is done in conjunction with a right “straight” kick (directed at the uke's Left leg, above the knee, to the “inside” of the thigh). The strike (done by the tori's Right arm) is intended to “bend/buckle” the uke's striking arm. The tori's arm's then “reverse” positions(similar to the manner you described ), with the Left hand (which initially Parried the fist towards the tori's right waist) “pushing” the uke's (right) hand towards the uke's (own) waist (with the tori's Right hand “pulling” the uke's elbow towards the tori's chest),the tori's Left hand will then raise (behind the uke's right arm) and “wrap” behind the uke's elbow (trapping the uke's right hand on “top” of the tori's Left elbow) “ending” in an “elbow-lock”. The tori's Right hand (after the uke's arm is “locked-up”, LOL), can (either) be shown to apply “pressure” to the top of the uke's “wrapped” elbow, or can be used to strike the side/back of the uke's neck.
Now granted, this description leaves out a number of (available) “options”(and resultant uke “reactions” to the motions performed), but this is the “basic” motion description. The “arm-bar” (you describe) is utilized if/when the tori should “lose” (control of) the uke's arm during the manipulation. (This can occur because of the uke's reaction to/from the “straight”kick). As I (and you) have described, there are various versions of “double-block” application(s).
As to your inquiry about “principle's”, that's a difficult question to answer (with what information you provided). These descriptions (of a particular technique) only describe a “motion” (a “principle” is more a description of (ultimate?) “goals”. As you described it (in/during the technique), the uke was struck (early on) during the technique's application(the “body strike” you described). In RyuTe, we (seek) to “initially” damage the (offending) “arm” (preferably, to discourage any further use of it).
Is “that”, any closer to what your wanting to know? And does that answer your question(s),
(and thanks for the clarification of your question)

Tony said...

Well, let me “first” say that your post illustrates my point in regards to written “verbiage”(and the various difficulties associated with writing descriptions of techniques/motions).
Yes, however this is the medium to which we are confined and although technique description is arduous and imprecise it is bound to come up even though it isn’t your blog’s intended focus. Could I convince you to create companion Vlog?

The term “cross-block” (that you utilize several times) “I” interpret as being akin to an (what we would call) “inside” block/forearm strike.
Yes we are talking about the same motion.

As you described it (in/during the technique), the uke was struck (early on) during the technique's application(the “body strike” you described). In RyuTe, we (seek) to “initially” damage the (offending) “arm” (preferably, to discourage any further use of it).
The one difference I note in the techniques described by you and me is that in the one I described there is a body shift to the outside of the striking arm which in my mind accomplishes at least two things. It puts me out of range of the other hand that will almost certainly be the next punch and I have striking access to the neck and ribs, I can “nudge” the thighs and knees with my legs and getting behind the uke is easy from this position. It is a dominant position, I have far greater leverage than the uke. From your description it sounds as if the tori is remaining in front of the uke and is within striking range of the second arm. Although I would concede that the kick is going to stall a second punch most likely. I’m personally more comfortable outside the uke’s arm than inside it if I have my ruthers.

Is “that”, any closer to what your wanting to know?
Yes I think so.

And does that answer your question(s)
As much as can be answered in writing, yes.

openhand said...

I would argue that the “kick”, will do more than “stall” a possible strike (with the opposite arm), the intent, is to rotate the uke's left leg/knee (“if”, their weight is upon it at the time, causing damage to that ankle, and creating a “weakening” of the Right arm, if not, then the leg will be motioned rearward, and the uke “rotated” away from the tori), which will in turn negate their left arm's retaliatory capabilities (and/or any concerns from that side until the elbow-lock is completed).
The “difference” (between your described set of motions, and mine) is that “your” motioning around the uke(to attain your desired positioning), “I”, am motioning the uke (around) to where I am in a similar/same position, yet haven't had to move (other than rotational “shifts”, to get there), and have still avoided any possible “counters”.
It would be what Taika would consider to be a “conservation of motion”(on the tori's part). Akin to how “Aikido” like's to utilize an opponent's own motion/momentum “against” themselves, RyuTe doesn't care to “create” (unnecessary) motion/momentum (which can go in a yet “another” tactical “theory” direction/discussion, LOL).

Tony said...

Thanks I look forward to seeing that topic soon. Not interested in uploading some videos as companions to some of your blogs? A video is worth 15000-50000 words per second depending on your frame rate lol.