Sunday, May 1, 2011


  At the recent Shihandai (Black-belt classes), we had a new attendee (a reader of this blog, LOL) who had never attended one of our Shihandai before. Unfortunately, only about 6 of the local BB showed at that one. Some worked on some weapon's kata, and the new attendee worked with myself and my teaching associate. We explained and demonstrated the 6 basic tuite principles, and reviewed some basic tuite (illustrating their application and use). From what was gathered, he hadn't worked with any RyuTe instructor's in a while, and was just getting some review time in (and “feeling us out” I'm sure, LOL).
  The “locals” (here in K.C. MO.) restarted the Shihandai (after an extended hiatus from their occurrence) about a year ago. My teaching associate and myself view this as being a good thing. The ability to interact (not to mention practice) with fellow association member's is always a positive experience. We're hoping to include some of the Yudansha from the surrounding area's to join us when practical (for them). The invitation is out there, all they have to do is show-up, LOL.
  In the past (IMO), certain (now departed) instructor's tended to feel (or at least act as if) alienated. This could (and did) cause some unjustified feelings of being ostracized. That aside (and more importantly, IMO), some individual's began to feel that only they were learning/teaching (or knew) what Taika was wanting student's to learn. By creating this (their own) isolation, those individual's have attempted to establish themselves as being (somehow?) especially knowledgeable about what Taika teaches now (though not having studied with/from him for several years?).
  Regardless, those individual's are now out of the association, and the present member's are striving to eliminate the possibility of a re occurrence of those situations. The greatest loss (in my own opinion) is by the student's of those who were removed. Having spoken to a few of them, many were (completely) unaware of the situation, and now will have no opportunity to (actually) train with Taika.
  Amongst the local Yudansha, there is a consolidation of known weapon's kata being done, and expanding that knowledge to the various (interested) local/regional Yudansha member's (there exist far too many for the average (individual) member to have complete knowledge of/about all of them). 
  My associate and myself have been attempting to categorize and record (as is practical, LOL) as many (root/basic) tuite technique's that have been taught over the years to various member's as we can ascertain. This becomes difficult (as far as categorization) in that some border between (what “we” consider to be) “combination” technique's, and (simple) “Tuite” technique's. These also have to be limited to “basic” versions (as the variations number in the dozens, if not more for each, LOL).
  The goal of the Shihandai, is to disseminate acquired knowledge amongst the individual attendee's. Individual instructor's often are unable to practice (their own) techniques with (other) Yudansha ranked member's (which is more practically done with non-student's). The Shihandai also provides the opportunity for instructor's to learn weapon's kata that they may not have the opportunity to learn otherwise (as the Yudansha class taught by Taika is often focused upon the concepts and applications that Taika wishes to convey/teach). 
  Hopefully, the surrounding schools/individual instructors (who don't have a class to attend to on those dates) will begin to join us at these classes, and we can further unify the Yudansha member's of the RyuTe Association.


Man of the West said...

We're hoping to include some of the Yudansha from the surrounding area's to join us when practical (for them). The invitation is out there, all they have to do is show-up, LOL.

When I eventually make shodan (my original goal was to test in the summer of 2013, at the age of 50, but my teacher is encouraging me to try for 2012. I can but try...), I would love to show up occasionally, especially for the sake of the weapons. My own teacher is darn good with the jo, and I like it, but I would also love to learn tanbo kihon kata.

openhand said...

We welcome any RyuTe member at any of our regular classes also (free of charge, LOL). Our desire is to assist anyone within the RyuTe association in general. There are (still) a few instructor's that dislike (meaning don't allow) their student's to attend another instructor's classes. I “guess” because of a (possible) loss of income?(hard to say). Our goal isn't to steal student's, LOL. We only desire to make the RyuTe association member's (more) aware that we are all equally member's. The knowledge of (any) one, should be (equally) shared (or at least available to) by all member's. We now have, and have had in the past, numerous individual RyuTe student's (of various rank, including kyu rank) attend our classes. Some do so for the extra practice, some just for the alternate perspectives. We have never had one quit their instructor (to attend our classes exclusively). We've also had member's who were just “passing through” (and wanted someplace to check-out while in town). For us, having new uke's/tori's for our student's is always a welcome addition. Working with (only) the same individual's all the time, creates poor practice examples, having association “guests” works out equally well for us.

Lee E. Richards said...

The Shihan Dai is really a family hood (used to say brotherhood but apparently that is sexist) of RyuTe members. 99% of us out there have day jobs and can't train full time, so to speak, though if my boss realized what kata emanated out of my closed office he’d be shocked…. Thus it is very hard to keep up with the 14 open hand kata (ok 13 as only Taika and Tashi know the 14th) and over 50 weapons kata. This family mentality allows people to specialize in certain weapons and then if our students want experience with a weapon we don't know then we can direct them appropriately. This helps keep the kobudo alive. In the past there was a lot of ego that would get in the way of these things and thankfully all of that is gone. There are several other Shihan Dai throughout the US and I would suspect in Poland as they have a large RyuTe® following.

As Tony said, it is nice to practice with people at a higher skill level, than just training with our lower kyu level students. With yudansha, you can go into far more detail and experiment more. Experimentation is how you grow. I'd like to think that I'm a little better at Tuite than some other parts of the art, perhaps a bit of a flaw, but something is always going to be a little stronger. It's always an act of trying to get things in balance but my Tuite is much more advanced than my kobudo. Or may my kobudo is much less than my Tuite. :) Recently, when rereading Taika's Tuite Book, "Tuite – Basic Techniques”, I looked at one particular line and thought I still have a long, long way to go in my knowledge base.

“I have found as many five hundred Tuite techniques hidden with the various kata and after discovering these grappling techniques and nerve points I came to understand why the old masters were virtually undefeated.” - Taika Oyata, 1979

When I go back and think about the number of tuite techniques listed some 32 years ago, and the fact that the man is still learning, it is really hard to fathom the count now. For us, “part timers” to ever hope to understand more than a portion of this we must work together. Each time I go to a Shihan Dai session I come away with a lot more knowledge. Each of these little seeds germinates into more and more information during Kenshu, research and training. And tuite is just one tiny part of the art.

Also, although it is commonly referred to as a black belt group or club, we do allow brown belts at most of our functions. It was voted on pretty early in this formation, with everyone agreeing that the browns are very close to testing and would benefit, with their instructor’s permission, from training with other higher ranks. Each Shihan Dai probably has their own views on this, but we feel it helps us and them and turns us all into ‘we’. Additionally, not everyone has or wants to run a dojo. There are five of us in the Kansas City Metro running a dojo, and only one is of the strip mall variety. The other black belts in town benefit greatly from an additional exposure to training partners. If I had my way I’d have this extra Shihan Dai training every Saturday if not more, but real life tends to get in the way. It would be difficult, at best, to learn all the nuances of tuite, kyusho, atemi, et cetra, IF your training partner was just your imaginary friend. My imaginary friend got mad the first time I did tuite on him and I have not seen him since.

At any rate, here in Kansas City we typically have our Shihan Dai the third Saturday of each month with a few exceptions to accommodate official RyuTe® seminars and holidays. They typically only last a couple of hours, though some of us tend to straggle on for quite a while after that. I’m really enjoying this new training and ‘family time’ for many reasons and hope more join in on this valuable social and training tool.

Lee Richards