Monday, November 28, 2011

Superficial Training

  When/if the average (sideline) observer of RyuTe is asked about what makes RyuTe distinct from other system's, the most popular response is (either) “Kyusho”, and/or “Tuite”. This isn't to say other systems don't also work on some manner/form of those subjects, only that RyuTe is most known for them.
  Of the two, my own interests have always been slanted towards the study of Tuite. Though the two are interrelated, they are (none-the-less) two distinctly different subjects (despite what numerous blogs and wanna-be experts would attempt to lead you to believe). When I first began my study, it was the tuite that was easier to dissect and understand. And (obviously) with Taika's help/guidance this was made easier, but he certainly didn't “hand-out” anymore additional information than what he thought was necessary.
  In general, Taika's instruction has always been a “here's an example, now (you) figure it out (and then tell me about it)” style of instruction. It seems to have been common for people to say (to Taika) “here's what I've determined it to be” (and yet didn't bothered to ask, whether it was correct or not). Very often, what they come up with, may very well be good for them, but can every one of their students also replicate it? (if/when performed in that manor). I believe that's where Taika's manor of technique execution/application becomes obviously, and demonstrably superior.
  Many techniques and motions will often have several manor's of their application. That doesn't make one or another (necessarily) any better/worse than any other, but the applying principles must be consistent regardless of which manner of application is being utilized. I believe this is where many individual's (and system advocates) get into (unnecessary, if not irrelevant) pissing matches with individual's that may have opposing viewpoints.
  These varied manor's of application, would appear to (each) having been taught as being the (sole) correct manor of a techniques application. What more often is the case, is that those method's were but an individual's manor of application, and had no direct relation to general student instruction. This should have been obvious to the instructor (who provided the initial instruction), and originally may well have been (but was then commandeered by the student in an attempt to illustrate personal knowledge/ability).
  This common tendency, has turned into a generally superficial practice of Tuite techniques. When (or even if ) Tuite is being taught, it is often done in the manor that Taika originally showed it (meaning, one time, hard, fast, and with limited explanation). That's how I was originally taught/shown those beginning techniques. I don't teach them that way now though. I understand why Taika taught them that way, I simply don't agree with using that methodology for my own students.
  If someone wishes to critique me in this regard, feel free. I am not Taika, so why would I attempt to teach in the same manor that he does? There have been numerous occasions, that concepts that he has presented could have (IMO) been presented much simpler and more quickly (for American students). But he teaches the way that he does, and I teach the way that I do. They are different.
  I would like to be able to confer with other RyuTe instructor's and discuss/compare the teaching methods that they utilize (for Tuite instruction). But distance, and a general hesitancy to confer (outside of an association seminar/event) tends to breed unfounded conspiratorial appearances. I do fear that unless/until we (as an association) get past these attitudes, the association as we know it, will fragment.
  It is my own belief, that individual dojo/school's should be exchanging information (which was presented to each by Taika). It is the privileged few, who are able to spend their entire free time on the pursuance of a greater understanding of all of Taika's teachings. The vast majority of RyuTe student's have jobs, families (lives, LOL) and precious little time to spend pondering over often obscure instructions and/or techniques. No, I don't believe that techniques and/or information should just be haphazardly puked upon students, but neither do I believe that information should be restricted until or only if the correct codeword has been uttered either.
  I believe the majority of RyuTe instructor's do a good job of transmitting the information that they (individually) have. Their weakness (IMO) is in admitting when they are lacking in any other individual areas of knowledge (which is probably true in any/every organization, LOL). My own weaknesses are in the weapons field, I have a working ability with a couple of them, but much of that is because of related training in the fields which I have taught over the years (security/Law Enforcement).
  I (personally) have little need/concern for this particular field of interest, hence I refer my own students to known instructor's (within the association) of those abilities (thereby reinforcing the need for an association). With the recent passing of the association's/Taika's highest ranking student/instructor (Tashi Logue), there has been much voiced concern over how the association will continue when Taika passes (which knowing how his lineage tends to run, will most likely be in another 15-20 years). It is my own opinion, that if (or until) the association begins to perform as a single entity (sharing knowledge, and access between each individual dojo/instructor), only then will the association continue (San any individual leader/figurehead).
  I believe it needs to be decided (at some unknown point, LOL) whether the association is/will be based upon the ideas/concepts/teaching methods of an individual, or if it is only based upon the individual, and/or that individual's ability? From what I have always observed from Taika, it is that he has attempted to teach idea's and/or concepts. He has used his techniques to convey those idea's/concepts. The question I ask, is whether we choose (as an association) to continue to pursue those ideals (and therefor grow in knowledge and ability). Or, do we fall into the likes of every other style/system, and let each dojo/school simply promote their own versions of commonly taught techniques, which then become (equally) commonplace, which is then followed by the system stagnating because everyone within the association has become a Judan, then the organization (mercifully) dying from a lack of interest by the general public, and all those Judan's acquiring broken spines from their congratulatory pounding of themselves on their backs).

What?, too cynical?......

Monday, November 14, 2011

What constitutes being a “martial” art

  With the multitude of defensive system's that are being taught to the general public, how many are justified in using the title of martial art? As it has been used over the prior 40 years, it has (IMO) mislead the general public and the majority of those student's who have been training in those various disciplines. I believe first, one has to define the term martial art, and how/why it's being used to define what's being taught.
  Examining the first word (martial), definitions include being inclined or disposed to war; associated with war or the armed forces; characteristic of or befitting a warrior: of, relating to, or characteristic of war, soldiers, or the military life. Not exactly what any self-defense school or system that I'm aware of focuses upon.
The second word “art”, can be defined as any of the following,
1 the creation of works of beauty or other special significance
2 imaginative skill as applied to representations of the natural world
   or figments of the imagination
3 the products of man's creative activities; works of art collectively,
   esp of the visual arts, sometimes also music, drama, dance, and 
4 excellence or aesthetic merit of conception or execution as    
   exemplified by such works
5 any branch of the visual arts, esp painting
6 (modifier) intended to be artistic or decorative
7 any field using the techniques of art to display artistic qualities
8 journalism photographs or other illustrations in a newspaper, etc
9 artfulness; cunning
10 method, facility, or knack
11 the system of rules or principles governing a particular human 
12 the exercise of human skill (as distinguished from nature)
13 to become highly proficient at something through practice
  It's only those few descriptions (towards the end) that would fit into an applicable category for what's being practiced in the majority of these (so-called) martial arts schools. When examined, the weakest word being utilized in relation to what's being taught (between the two) would appear to be martial.
  Art (being more diverse), can represent numerous meanings, martial on the other hand, is pretty limited in it's definition. There have been various systems that have made claim to being practiced and taught by several armies throughout the world. But the truth still remains, that the military forces of the world, focuses their training upon defeating armies, not soldiers. The amount of time/effort spent on hand to hand combat, is extremely limited (when compared to more practical forms of combat). The various forms of self-defense being taught, are designed to defeat individual aggressors. One of the most exaggerated (at least beyond any practical value) is the MMA (manor) of self-defense.
  These two totally different subjects (which they are) have nothing in common, nor of any benefit to either. MMA, is a Miss-Mash of Nonsense (MMN?) designed to be utilized in a sport environment. The rules which it is conducted under, are such that any relation to reality is eliminated (and thus make the techniques being utilized inapplicable/impractical in a real life-protection situation). MMA has nothing to do with, or even relate to either martial or art (thus, at the very least, making it the most inaccurately named sport being followed today). The Mixed-up part is the only accuracy contained in the name/description.
  I believe that the art portion of any form of self-protection instruction is the more relevant part of one's training. The word/term of art, tends to make one think of beauty and/or perfection (which is what we all attempt to attain with our training). As with any art form, beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder. Every system/style has it's own look (to it's execution). When that execution is performed correctly, then the beauty (of that system) becomes more evident.
  What is practiced in dojo's throughout the U.S. (or anywhere else for that manor) Is in only a very small way, any form of what might be considered to be a martial art. The average system/style teaches the student to escape and run away (which, I have no problem with). RyuTe teaches students to disable only after having first caused pain (when that would have been established to be applicable). Any methodology being studied, requires time to be spent practicing doing so. The vast majority of student's have real lives. Because of that fact, we can't spend the majority of our free time on training.
  The nonsense that is MMA, amounts to it being neither a martial pursuit, or an art. The fact that it is a mixed up collection of nonsense is the only part of it's name that makes sense. As a sport, I can see how some may be drawn to it, but that's as far as it goes. When ever I see someone writing about it, I view it like I would anyone writing about any other sport (baseball, football, rugby). It consists of zero interest from myself.
     On another note, I've received several inquiries about some of RyuTe's (version of) techniques. Over the next few month's I thought I'd attempt to put them into a (understandable) written format (to then be posted here). If there are any technique's that someone would like to have explained, just ask, I'll see what I can do.


Sunday, November 6, 2011


  I was reading through a blog's recent “series” of postings (as they were theoretically related). The author does a good job of stating his position (and is a far better writer than I am, LOL), but I've decided that I disagree with damn near every position this guy takes. Not all, but almost all. Those few that I do agree with, I disagree with his reasoning and conclusions (as to their value).
  In one of his blogs, he makes (passing) mention of reaction-time. He states that one's reactions decline after a certain age (early 20's I believe). According to him, after that you only get slower. On the surface, a true statement. In reality though, it's a misleading one. One's reactions can be improved (up to a limited point) from repeated practice of a specific motion. What can be improved, is one's perception of a given situation. Meaning that although you can't (necessarily) move faster, you may perceive an action/situation faster/sooner than when you were younger (thus, making you faster to respond to the situation).
  Although I personally detest the commonly taught practice/manner of “sparring”, that doesn't mean that I don't have student's partake in (different) forms of technique exchange. We occasionally have student's do a form of technique application that we call “complementary” sparring.

  This is a slow-speed standing exchange of aggressive and defensive motions between 2 individual's. It's done without “gear”(as there's no need), and it's done at ½ speed (or less). Participant's are allowed to punch, kick, and grab their opponent (anywhere upon the body/head/legs and/or arms). The practice is not so much to learn to use the technique, as it is to recognize the techniques potential and it's limitations. It's during this type of practice, that the stupid people techniques (arm grab's and such) become more obviously applicable.
  This individual additionally bemoaned his displeasure with standing-start drills, in that they didn't ingrain an ability to develop a pattern recognition trait, well no shit Sherlock....they're not supposed to. Standing start exercises are to develop the aforementioned timing reflex/reaction. They also (when done correctly) train student's in perception/recognition of telegraphed actions.
  His argument being, that in a standing start drill, the defender knows exactly what attack is coming. This is obviously true when the student is first learning the motion, after having done so, the uke should be able to use whatever attack method they choose to. If the technique is unable to respond to different attack types/manner's then it shouldn't be being practiced anyway (meaning it's a worthless technique if it's only good for one manner of attack). My contention being, that if the tori is (always) aware of the uke's intended attack, then the practice is less than productive (and could be argued as being pointless).
  His (so-called) Test, was to have the uke perform one of three types of assaults (randomly) and see if the tori would be able to stop the attack. (His claim) was it couldn't be done, (my claim) is that if it wasn't able to work for all three, then his technique sucked, that doesn't discount the practice, only the (responsive) technique
 He further made the claim that since practiced attacks, most usually (only) consisted of singular attacks (by the uke), then they failed to emulate reality (meaning multiple strike attacks)? Uh, (is it just me?) but couldn't that be rectified by having the uke perform multiple strike attempts? 
  When presented with this query from student's, demonstration would usually illustrate the fact that “multiple” strikes were irrelevant, in that they were either impossible to perform, or that the initially thrown technique (the “first one”) was insufficient to cause/create enough damage to be relevant.
  He further refuted their value, stating that one couldn't develop timing because there existed no “dynamic” to learn the subsequent patterns (WTF?). That the student (also) needed the “rhythm” developed from,... (wait for it)......sparring (?).
  The general implication being that a student (for some reason) needed to be able to develop pattern recognition which would lead to a matching of situational reflex (a separate, but acceptable concept, that I'm not entirely sure has much relevancy to the presented situation). At the end of the articles (within the footnotes... yes, he had to include footnotes..LOL) he mentions including the 5 elements into training methods. As if I really needed to have a completely irrelevant subject interjected into any methodology of training. The mere fact that he even mentioned that nonsense, is enough to convince me that this guy has limited knowledge anyway.
  This same blog had previously touted that deflections were superior to strikes (performed upon an aggressor”s striking limbs). Again, the bias being towards the deflections being the superior option. This subject was also biased by the writer's manner of practicing each, so it became obvious why they would believe this to be true (including the author's additional claim that “he” had never received a strike upon the arm that could incapacitate “Him”. Again, his lack of experience, is not an acceptable excuse for improper practice).
  The author states that he has experience in law enforcement (though I believe he states that he is only a lawyer, which isn't exactly law enforcement), which I have to presume is where he is deriving this experience from. He states that he works with other martial artists (he obviously has the extra money to go to China to study with these guy's that he likes). It's with these other martial artists that he has these theories reinforced (at least to himself).
  From what little I've read from him, his experience (with using what he teaches) would appear to be limited to the “sporting” and class-time arena, which is fine, but he could stand some “real” reality included in his application (theories).
  I hadn't (actually) intended this to turn into a hammer this guy's blog (it just turned out that way, LOL). It's just that many of the theories he's putting forth, have been proven wrong, or are at least being misinterpreted (by him). It isn't my place to correct him, and having read some of the replies to individual's who have contested him, he seems unlikely to care what anyone has to say (“he's” right, and your not).
  Oh well, maybe at some point “I'll” come up with something to write about, but for now I'm just seeing what's out there.