Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Prolog of a Self-Protection System

  I was looking over various Internet sites, who've (supposedly) developed their “own” system of (some form of) martial art. I found the vast majority lacking in numerous essential factors (IMO). Most of them being combined pieces of what-ever they believed to be effective for their view of learning/teaching a self-protection system.
 What I saw, was a mishmash of techniques that were often unrelated to one another, and were being presented along with questionable concepts. Most appealed to a particular type of individual (usually young, athletic and male......oh, and very Macho).
 My own experience, has lead me to consider the various factors involved with the presentation/instruction methods used by an instructor to teach a martial art. 
My own prerequisites consist of the following: 
Principles, Theory, Technique, Instruction
 These are the beginning elements of developing any self-protection system. Only after the first 3 elements have been established, can one begin to develop an efficient method of conveying that information to one's students in the application of those elements.
 For many instructor's of martial arts (in general), the transmission of that information is done in whatever manner it was imparted to them by their respective instructor(s). This is often done without ever considering these fundamental elements, or how they are integrated with one another.
 Whenever I observe a class (regardless of the style/instructor), I attempt to ascertain the basis of these elements in what's being presented. Many tend to only contain (or at least transmit) one or two of them, without regard to the remaining elements.
      1. Principles 2. Theory 3. Technique 4. Instruction
 The first 3 elements all have to fit the requirements of each other (IE. No one item of an element can contradict another item, be it of that element, or another). The 4th element (instruction) must guide the student in understanding why and how each of the listed elements are relevant to what, and how the instruction is being presented. Any of these elements should have the ability to be modified, or even corrected (should an obvious weakness or defect in the originally conceived concept occur).
 Each of these elements are important to the ability of the system to function as desired. Until each is actually defined, I (personally) don't understand how one can make any kind of claim as to having “developed/created” a (new) system. Several of these definitions over-lap with others listed under different elements. Given the definitions for each element, I feel that this is justified.
 How I would define these elements (in what I teach) I will attempt to convey in the following. I've made clear my criticism of numerous practices being made by others, and I have been more than willing to debate/discuss those critiques with any who chose to do so. I feel it only fair, that I present my own interpretations of what I have learned, and how I teach that knowledge to others.

                               Fundamental, primary, or general laws/rules or
                    truths from which others are derived or developed.

 As defined above, Principles provide the initial guidelines for a systems techniques and methodology's. Though usually attributed to some form of “moral” standard establishment, in this context, Principles only refers to the what/how/why a system will present it's manor of instructing a martial art.

 Principles are (usually) pretty general in their description. Whether done as a “CYA” measure or not, can be debated by others. The principles that I teach by/follow/recognize are as follows:

(Though appearing some-what vague, these principles can be validated with every technique taught. Though by no means the only principles contained within the system, it's from these that others are derived. Individually, these are explained as follows.)

Motions are practiced from a defensive perspective
 Though seemingly obvious, this methodology reinforces the concept that what is studied, is designed to to be utilized for defensive purposes. Numerous techniques taught have the potential for use as/for aggressive purposes. Though having that potential, they are designed and taught from the defensive perspective.

Practice is always treated seriously
 This doesn't mean that a class can't contain some humor, but the actual practice of technique and motions should be done with seriousness.

Kicks, are performed from the waist height and/or lower
 This relates to the fact that the average distance between an aggressor and the defender is at arm's length (too close for any effectiveness of kicks performed higher than waist level).

A physical confrontation should only last 3-5 seconds or less
 This is based on the reality that 95% of confrontations consist of 1-4 strikes being (usually) made by the aggressor alone. If the defender is unable to end a confrontation in that time period, they will often be the loser in that confrontation.

The open hand is the preferred methodology
 Though not practical for every technique/motion, the open-hand is the preferred methodology. This is based upon the knowledge that an open-hand allows the muscles of the arm to be used for arm motion (as opposed to holding the finger's closed), thereby increasing arm strength, and speed.

Every motion utilized should be a natural motion
 Any motion that feels excessively awkward, should be flagged as being done incorrectly. All motions and techniques taught are non-complicated. This doesn't mean necessarily easy or simple to perform, only not complicated.

Physical Strength is never a deciding factor for effectiveness
 The utilization of any technique is not dependent on physical strength. Every technique taught, should be able to be performed by every student regardless of physical size/strength or gender (presuming the student is of adult age).

Technique is derived from kata
 The techniques taught and practiced in the class, are derived from motions contained within the practiced kata.

                                         A particular conception or view of something
                            to be done or of the method of doing it.

 This element is what the majority of people consider to be the main emphasis of a systems methodology. To some extent, there's some validity to that perspective. But as stated previously, without the other elements, the individual one's are but hollow concepts.

The 1st most recognized theory of application for RyuTe, is
The Utilization of “3-limbs”.
 This states that a defender has 3 limbs at their disposal (at one time) for any defensive action taken (2 Arms and 1 Leg). As a (gross) over-generalization, most people tend to attempt 1 Physical motion (that includes serious intent) at a time. It's equally common to respond to only a single action. With familiarity of the motions involved, that can be expanded to 2 motions (2 arms, or 1 arm and 1 leg). Not as commonly utilized (though clearly possible),     
 The use of 3 limbs (2 Arms and 1 Leg) is the preferred manor of application.
 Taika explains that dealing with 1 motion (defensively), is not a problem, dealing with 2 is more difficult, but can be done, dealing with 3 though, this is very difficult (hence, should be our goal when retaliating to an aggression).

The 2nd most recognized theory of application for RyuTe is
The proximity ratio.
 Student's of RyuTe are taught that being closer (to an opponent) is safer. Initially, this sounds contradictory to reason. But when one considers the defensive (mechanical) logic of the premiss, it makes more sense. By being closer, the aggressor is unable to generate as much momentum for a strike (the initial 1/3rd of a strikes motion is the weakest of the strikes range of motion {ROM}). There are also (obvious) tactical reasons for this premiss also, and these are explained and practiced.

Direction of Defensive Motion
 As with the Proximity ratio, the preferred direction of motion is towards the aggressor. Obviously, this is dependent upon the individual situation, but more often than not, this is the preferred direction.

                                      Technical skill; ability to apply procedures
                                      or methods so as to effect a desired result.

The general accepted method of technique application will be similar regardless of the manner of assault utilized (non-side dependency).
  This implies that the defensive manner utilized will not (generally) be dependent upon whether the aggressor utilizes a Right or Left-sided assault method.

A techniques manner of application will be drawn from the motions demonstrated within the kata learned.
  This reminds the instructor that techniques are based upon motions made within the various taught kata.

A defender's technique application, will be prioritized above an aggressor's.
  This is based upon the fact that the majority of individual's will attempt to base their own responses, upon newly perceived actions. This is shown to be a futile effort, and will rarely, if ever work. Students are taught to focus on their own technique/application, regardless of an aggressor's actions. This is a difficult principle to explain in written context (but is easily demonstrated).

                         The act of furnishing with authoritative directions.

The instruction of techniques will be done in a progressive manner.
  This implies that techniques will be continuously modified in more refined manners as the student learns and demonstrates the ability to perform that motion/technique.

Instruction shall be delivered to the student, in a manner that is understood sufficiently for that student to recite the motions to others.
  This is not to imply that the student can instruct another student, only that the student has sufficient knowledge of the technique to identify faults and/or discrepancy’s between execution methods.

An individual student, is the sole recipient of any individual instruction provided.
  This refers to instructional variances between different student's. What is shown to one student, is intended for that student (alone).

Student questions will be answered in relation to that students understanding of the material of inquiry.
This means that any students question will be answered to that students level of understanding and/or relevancy to the context it was presented. 
 Many of the presented rules could (and do) fall under several of the listed category’s. I've attempted to restrict any repetition for reasons of simplicity. There are of course others (for any of the listed category’s) that I have missed and/or not included here. These are only the major points of my instructional method. Each can (obviously) be broken down and explained in further detail, but for a general listing, the provided statements are sufficient. 
 The RyuTe system also includes the Dojo Kun, and the Dojo Principles (which I've discussed elsewhere). These Principles are in no way contesting or contradicting those (and some listed here, are actually based upon those). What's presented here, is what I utilize as guidelines for instructing my own students in technique/theory/application. I'm (pretty) sure that I've covered each of these subjects individually elsewhere, if not (and anyone has a question/statement), then ask. I will do my best to answer.

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