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.