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.