Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Application of Kyusho and Atemi Locations for Defensive Tactics

 For the student of defensive tactics, acquiring usable knowledge about the location, and the manner of using the locations of weak points (commonly referred to as Kyusho and/or Atemi points) has historically been difficult. Though many claim to teach such locations, they often prove to be previously recognized and/or invalid locations (for numerous reasons).
 This isn't to disparage (all of) those shown/taught locations, only that they aren't necessarily unknown by the student. Many of those shown are commonly realized by anyone who has ever banged their arm/leg and experienced the accompanying pain from doing so. The type of points that we are attempting to teach to student's, are those that are not generally known/realized and utilized in one's Life Protection methods. Aside from (only) causing/creating a pain reaction, these locations can/will often cause specific physical responses (that can then be utilized against an aggressor).
 Simply stating locations and providing the direction of those points utilization would not provide student's with the ability to utilize what is being shown. To be able to fully incorporate these locations into one's defensive repertoire, there are additional factors that need to be understood by the student. Those factors begin with the following subjects:
       Understanding the “Finger Pressure” Example
       Cross-Crawl Theory
       Limbs Range-of-Motion
       Nerve paths/locations throughout the human body
       Muscle Locations and functions
       Recognition of the natural motions made in response to stimuli.

The “Finger Pressure” Example
 The student's study begins with the “Finger Pressure” Example. This example has the student extend their arm with the hand formed into a fist, to the front of their body. Another person, then applies light pressure to one of the 5 available sides (top, bottom, front and either side). As this pressure is applied, the recipient should make note of the reactions created upon the rest of their body. In addition to the muscular responses created on the arm itself, there will be additional responses in the legs and body as well as upon the opposite arm.

  Depending upon the side of the hand being pressured, those reactions will vary upon the positioning of the other limbs. By becoming aware of these additional reactions, the student can begin to understand the purpose of additional motions that are taught during the instruction of various applications, though they do not (directly) cause/create pain or any noticeable responses, they are an important piece of the applications (and become extremely relevant in regards to kyusho/atemi application).
The “Cross-Crawl” Theory
 This theory is based upon the body's natural counter-balancing actions. The most obvious example of this is the motions made when someone is walking. The person's arms motion forward and back as their legs alternate forward and back. These motions are done in opposite alternating moves. As the person's right leg moves forward, their left arm moves forward, as their left leg moves forward, the right arm motions forward.
 This alternation is done to maintain a balanced and erect posture. Maintaining an erect posture is one of the most prominent traits that people will naturally attempt to maintain. This alternating action is part of the contra-lateral controlling traits of the brain.
 On the basic level, the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, and vise-verse. This interactive connection extends further, in that motions and reactions made by or upon the right arm are (indirectly) correlated to the left leg, as the left arm is similarly associated to the right leg. This essentially translates as when either arm/leg is struck, the contra-lateral limb will sustain an near-equivalent reaction as well. There is a corresponding lateral response as well, when a limb (arm or leg) is struck. That doesn't mean injury, only response.
Limbs Range-of-Motion
  Knowledge of the bodies natural range-of-motion (ROM) assists the student in understanding the natural weaknesses of the limbs.
Nerve paths/locations throughout the human body
 Knowing the locations of nerves that are susceptible to external manipulation will assist the student in exploiting those weaknesses, in either strikes and/or when manipulating associated limb motion.
Muscle Locations and functions
 Having knowledge of the individual muscle's locations, points of attachment (tendons) and function will assist the student in knowing the weaknesses of those muscle's (and their associated limb function).
Recognition of the natural motions made in response to stimuli.
 Recognizing and knowing the natural motions (including reflexes) made in response to occurring events, will assist the student in knowing what can generally be expected to result from their own applied action.
 The described areas of study, are intended to assist the student in the utilization and discovery of known and (previously) unknown atemi/kyusho point locations. We provide a number of these locations for the student's initial knowledge. These introductory locations are intended to provide the student with applicable points to utilize, and become familiar with these types of striking/manipulation points and locations.
 The greatest misconception about these points, is that it is commonly (and mistakenly) believed that ALL points cause/create pain. It needs to be understood, that Kyusho means vital point. There's no implication of Pain being made by this designation. Many of these points are only applicable in certain (often positional) situations.
 Taika has stated that kyusho points, have the potential to cause serious injury with their use. Atemi points, include almost any physical action done to aid the user in protecting themselves, including distractions. This makes it difficult to specifically identify any point as being one or the other (or even both, depending upon the purpose for their being utilized).
 That being stated, many of these points can cause serious injury when used in conjunction with certain motions/techniques. Knowledge of these points, is used in unison with the student's (already) practiced techniques. This could be Tuite (The grappling/manipulation), Atemi (strikes) and/or in combinations thereof.
  The use of many of these points is additionally dependent upon the direction of the recipient’s (uke's) movement, supplemental to the direction of the tori's motion.
 Simply listing these subjects (as done here) is hardly an instructional method. It's only an informational statement. Student's are required to familiarize themselves (through provided materials and class experience) with each of them for rank advancement. 
 For many, this would go against the "poke this spot" mentality of instruction (oh well). I suppose there are situations where that would be sufficient, but for our classes, we strive for a little more cerebral ability from our student's.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What are the main principles used for determining relevency of application

  I was recently “updating” my class kyu-rank Requirements, which is something I do on a semi-annual basis (and sometimes more often than that, LOL). I'm occasionally queried as to why I believe I should (or even would need to) do so, and I have to explain that I am still learning myself, so how could I not include modifying what I am teaching, as my own knowledge level changes?
  It's always been my opinion, that when you reach the level that you believe that you have nothing left to learn in your martial art, it's time to quit (because you ain't going to learn anything else).
  What spurred this most recent update, was an inquiry made to me, as to what was being taught in (one of my) classes (by a prospective student). Being one of the more honest inquiry's (they usually consist of loaded if not stupid questions, being made by individual's who've already decided what they're looking for), I explained the kyu ranking and what was involved with progressing in the teaching methodology that I utilize.
  Unlike the majority of inquiries that I'm presented with and answer, this individual didn't care about (individual) technique's, they (actually) wanted to know about RyuTe (combatant) strategy (as opposed to the applied tactics). It's rare that I encounter prospective student's that have a (knowledgeable) awareness of technique application, yet don't have any (real) experience (without having learned any actual technique's).
  The ensuing discussion centered around (philosophical) debates regarding the necessity of/for the amount of physical disability resulting from application of the technique's (which are taught in my classes). This may (initially) sound as if the individual was arguing with me, but they were actually posing legitimate questions (as well as concerns).     
  I spoke with this individual for about an hour, and I (still) have no idea whether they will show-up to observe a class, LOL. I only know that the discussion we had, spurred me to (re)evaluate my current syllabus of instruction (to new/inquiring student's).
  What the discussion became, was a determination of what was actually required (from an instructional and/or student perspective) to effectively teach and learn a system of Self-Protection that is being presented in a graduated (“stepped”) requirement curriculum.
  Disregarding individual technique as being the (most) relevant factor to effectiveness, changes the manner which the system will be judged (as the majority of systems often attempt to make this factor the main reason for a system's superiority).
  The difference between individual system's technique's are rarely that great. How those technique's are being applied/utilized and presented though, is where the real difference lies. I've previously described the RyuTe milking Punch. Though not (necessarily) emphasizing impact force (as it's main goal) when used correctly, the strike will provide more than sufficient reactionary movement from the recipient.
  Beyond the physical aspect, a movement has to also meet the legal aspect of it's use/utilization. The fact that some technique might work (in a given situation), doesn't mean that it is legal to use it in that situation. This aspect should be addressed during each and every technique's introduction (to the student). More often than not, those more injurious applications are situationally mandated.
  Though not necessarily addressed in a classes curriculum, the moral aspect of a technique's application can often be a relevant factor to a technique's use (at least for the individual student). Each student will have to determine their own levels of morality to attach to any provided technique and/or to what level of application that technique may be utilized.
  I personally don't feel that morality is something that should be taught in a martial art's class. Morality, is completely subjective, and therefore equates to an individual perspective (having more in common with an opinion, than with anything substantial or even legal).
  What I've confirmed (if not reaffirmed) to be most relevant, is the situational application of the required motion (being used for defending from a presented set of circumstances). Though the previously mentioned factors all have some amount of bearing on the technique's application, the situation (being present) to actually perform the action will have the greatest relevance to it's over-all effectiveness. Not exactly rocket science, but none-the-less, an important (instructional) determination.
  Rather than focusing on the student's ability to (only) physically reproduce an action, that student (instead) focuses on recognizing and/or creating the situation(s) that allow for that technique's application. This (in turn) makes the student's motions preemptive (rather than only being reactive) to an aggressor's hostile actions (which is a previously discussed/taught RyuTe tactic).
  Over-all, this doesn't really mean that I have to retrain any of my present student's, LOL. Only that further instruction will take a slightly different perspective on technique's application/instruction. For many of my present student's, this shouldn't be a great variance from what's been previously shown. For new student's, they haven't seen any of this (yet) anyhow, LOL.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How Much Time Training Should Be Expected to Qualify for a Shodan Test?

  When asked this question, I (used to) initially just laugh it off, and reply with some generic reply. After giving it some thought though, it really is a legitimate question. Considering that the student is going to have to pay for the required training time (to achieve whatever goal it is they're seeking), it makes perfect sense to ask how much, and how long it will take to achieve that expectation. There's usually numerous caveat’s to any answer, but an instructor should be able to provide a generic/common expectation of the necessary training time required.
  The largest factor in computing this time period, is what does the student hope to learn from the provided training? Though seemingly obvious, student's can have many reasons for beginning training (and an instructor shouldn't assume that they know what that student's reasons are, until they ask them). It's during this time that any unrealistic expectations can be nullified and replaced by realistic one's.
  The second largest, but often time the more relevant factor, is how much will the student be practicing (be it in class, or at home)? Though usually beginning with great enthusiasm, the drudgery of continual practice wears on anyone. Every student will experience several periods of extreme burn-out. This can come from repetitively doing the same thing (and/or attempting to), or from a sudden lack of interest. In either case, the student has to evaluate what, and why they're doing the training. Does it meet their expectations? Is it what they were looking for? Is it what they really want to do?
  For any of these questions, if the answer is no, then maybe they need to decide if this is the class for them. Not every martial arts class is alike, including other classes which teach the same system/style. A student should never be hesitant to leave one instructor for another (frankly, MA instructor's are nothing more than salesmen, and there's usually another one on damn near every corner). The real quest for the student, is finding an instructor that meets their needs (and not vise-verse).
  If that comes across as a little bit belittling to instructor's, Good, it should. In a very generalized sense, I don't hold martial arts instructor's in very high regards. The vast majority of them are egotistical ass-wipes. Out of the whole, maybe 20% can even teach. Many of the remainder are ¼ trained wanna-Be’s, that have no basic knowledge of how to avoid a confrontation, much less survive one.
  Each system/instructor will have their own standards that they will go by to evaluate a student's potential abilities. Before one even begins to study under an instructor, they should have (first) observed that instructor's student's. If those student's don't meet the prospective student's expectations, why should they then, believe that they can or will?
  Given the many factors that could be put into play, (IMO) the average training time should be somewhere between 3-5 years. Some might argue whether that's too quick (or even too long), but for the teaching curriculum that I utilize, that time span is (usually) sufficient.
  Additionally, unlike several system's I read about, I don't consider a Shodan test as being equivalent to a proclamation of sainthood (that so many others attempt to make it). It simply means that the recipient is knowledgeable of the beginning motions and kata (ie. they're now ready to learn). 

 Also, one point that RyuTe makes (that other system's may not), is that Shodan's don't have the ability to promote kyu rank student's to a Yudansha level. In fact, no Yudansha can promote anyone to any Yudansha level, only Taika has the authority to do so. Just as a reference, anyone who claims to be promoted to any Yudansha level by anyone other than Taika in the RyuTe system, is a fraud, a fake, and a liar. Additionally, any Yudansha member (and their rank) can be verified through contacting the RyuTe Renmei Association.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mimic's Gone Bad

  I was looking at some photos of an individual (supposedly) performing a “tuite” (types) of techniques upon other individuals. They were the common (beginning) manners of applying those technique's, but they were doing so, with numerous mistakes being made (in the technique's application). To those less-knowledgeable about those techniques, it was less than note-worthy. Considering what that individual's (self-created/awarded) rank-level was being claimed as being, it should have been embarrassing.
  It's individual's like this, that make any discussion about tuite, kyusho or even RyuTe (in general) more difficult. Having these Yahoo's self-promoting themselves as being competent in these subjects only makes anyone that (actually) is competent, work twice as hard to erase that negative image of what was done by these sorts of individuals. 

  This is akin to the numerous system's/school's/instructor's who claim to be teaching tuite, when they're (in fact) teaching some form of bastardized Aikido/jujitsu. I grant you, many technique's appear to be similar, But it's those minor differences that make all the difference in how those technique's will (or won't) work.
  What I saw in the aforementioned individual's was an incompetent control (ability?) level of their own body positioning (much less the uke's). The fact that they were performing the technique's upon minor's (or at least teenager's) was hardly an excuse to be doing the technique's sloppily (unless that's how they always do them?).
  I've seen similar attempts at replicating RyuTe's tuite technique's by individual's on the net (often after having initially been shown those technique's by RyuTe representatives). I have to presume that they were only shown the introductory motions, then extrapolated their own versions (which they then recorded and published for public viewing).
  Every example that I viewed had numerous misapplications being made to the technique's. I believe that if those individual's had taken the time to review the manor that they were applying those technique's, they would have discovered their mistakes (on their own).
  Unfortunately, I am also of the opinion, that for the majority of student's/instructor's, if any result is attained (from the execution of a technique) then that person will base all of any continued study upon only that result (good or bad).

 What I found most interesting, was that the initially mentioned individual's, have never attempted to (usually) emphasize their instruction of tuite. They are usually pushing (some form of) weapon's training (which I personally have no real use and/or interest in). Though after having seen these examples of their instruction method for tuite types of techniques, I was rather (disappointed?) surprised. At any rate, I can see why they don't emphasize tuite as being their strong suit. It was enlightening (though granted, a little sad).
  Having studied and practiced numerous forms of these other methods, I can (easily) see how RyuTe's technique's are mistaken for technique's practiced in those other system's. To be able to fairly judge those technique's though, one has to have experience in/with both methods of application.
  As stand-alone technique's (or at least for some), I see only minor differences between them. But when utilized in combination with the other applications, the inherent weaknesses of those other methods becomes obvious.
  It's these differences that make technique choice, more relevant. RyuTe's technique's work fluidly in conjunction with the taught and practiced motions. Technique's which are (at least attempted to be) forced to be used with other methodologies, rarely work they way they were intended.
  RyuTe's technique's were all developed simultaneously (ie. together) and are therefor designed to work together with the combination technique's. These in turn, will work with the controlling technique's, and likewise with the submission and/or escort technique's. RyuTe is a complete and self-sustaining system.
  Because of this, when questioned about how to make certain technique's work with other methodologies, I'm often at a loss as to how to explain it to person's not trained in RyuTe.
  The fact that RyuTe shares many similar motions with other system's, doesn't mean that those motions are performed in the same way. This is what constitutes the majority of training for RyuTe students. The motions, only constitute 40% of a pupil's study, the remainder is situational application (of those motions).
  It's usually at this level of application study, that the RyuTe mimic's begin to loose what little validity they may of had.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Break-Down Your Motions

  When studying/practicing technique's (whether new or known), those technique's should be reduced to their component pieces and procedure of application. Student's very often get transfixed (if not mesmerized) by the finishing position of a given technique.
  If the initial and subsequent follow-up motions of a technique are done incorrectly (or even sloppily) that technique has a greater potential of failure. Each of the individually involved motions (of the technique) need to be understood by the user.
  What I often encounter (when evaluating a student's performance of a technique), is that the student is (mainly) concerned with the motion's ending being in the desired position. How it gets to that position is (actually) the more important issue.
  As an example, the performance of an “Outside Forearm Strike” (some refer to this as an “Outside Block”). To the casual observer, the arm's motion (beginning from the tori's side) crosses the tori's body (low) and raises, crossing (back) across the tori's (upper) body until it is vertical (and in-line with it's relative shoulder). For many beginning student's, that's the end of this motion's instruction. There may be some further clarification as to “hand position” (palm-in or palm-out), but generally, this is how student's are told that one “blocks” a strike (that's intending to plow through your head).
  It isn't going to happen that way. But that's what they're told. And even after having experienced that it doesn't happen that way. Those same individual's will continue to tell other (if not their own) student's, to perform that motion exactly the same way that they were told to.
  There's been a rash of posting's of late about Block's as Strikes and the individual opinion's thereof (both Pro and Con), including one by myself. For the most part, I could give a flying S*&T what anyone else is doing/teaching. I teach that striking an offending limb is more beneficial than simply batting it away. That's not to say that I have a problem with only performing a parry in response to that strike attempt. But, given a choice, I would much prefer to cause damage to that arm with how I execute that response.
  The reason that I restate that position (because I've done so before), has to do with how I teach student's to perform an “Outside Forearm Strike/Block” (what-ever). Arm motions (in general) are always practiced as beginning at the tori's side. This isn't to say they should always begin there, only that this would be the most inconvenient position to have to begin from (any other position would have numerous advantages).
 The first motion made, is moving the hands/forearm's forward. It should be obvious (because the hand can't cross the body until it does so, LOL), but it's these minor details that I'm referencing to.    
  When the arm begins to raise, it crosses the body as it does so. This is done mostly to generate a slight momentum advantage, as well as offering an additional amount of coverage from a strike. As the arm circle's upward, and achieves it's vertical positioning, it (then) motions forward (towards the uke). As long as the hand's finger/knuckle positioning has been maintained properly (at a 45ยบ angle, straight wrist), then it won't matter whether the uke's strike is intercepted by the tori's forearm, or with the knuckle's of the hand (during the raising portion of the arm's motion). Even when the aggressor's arm is struck after the motioning hand moves forward (towards, and upon the uke's upper-arm), the uke should experience a loss of ability with that arm.
  When done properly, one has the potential to cause damage to the uke's arm, and to divert or knock that attacking limb away (from the tori). The primary goal of the action, is to prevent the tori from being struck. Anything else, is bonus.
  If the arm's motion is not practiced (as described), these particular results would be more difficult to reproduce. It isn't (simply) a matter of “raise and swing the arm sideways” to accomplish the motion. There are another dozen motions involved with that whole technique's execution. Merely perceiving it as being a forward motion, confuses many students. Until it's been exampled (and experienced) to a student, it can be difficult to understand the application.
  Each of the taught technique's, need to be broken-down to their essential motions. This includes stances and punches, Reviewing kata motions can reveal many improperly performed actions (at least when one is certain of the kata's correct performance, LOL). If your thinking that a kata's motion is only a punch or a block, your probably wrong (or at least still thinking at the novice level). There's nothing wrong with either of those motions, but be aware that there's usually more possibilities.