Monday, December 26, 2011

What's in a Name? (Personal Perspectives)

  I am continually reading about how prior student's of Taika's (and of RyuTe) are teaching the same thing (as RyuTe). I would have to disagree. Over the years, What Taika has taught has gone through numerous changes. Some of these were ideological, and many were technical (as to how technique's were being shown to be utilized).
  I first met Taika, and began training in his system of Life Protection in the late 70's, early 80's. What was shown to me (by Taika), was completely different from anything that I had been shown prior.
  Originally, Taika (Oyata) was using the name “Ryukyu Kempo” to describe the art that he was teaching. After moving to the U.S., the popularity of what he was teaching exploded upon the martial arts community.
  The more recent (newer) student's of RyuTe (in the past 10 years) don't realize/appreciate the impact that he had upon the martial arts community (of almost every style) at that time. What he proposed, was that 90% of what that community was teaching, was (if not wrong) then being taught under totally misguided/false precepts.
  There had been a few who made similar types of claims (naturally for what-ever they were promoting), but unlike Taika, they couldn't back-up what they were saying with examples and demonstrations of those beliefs, where as Taika could (and did so on a regular basis).
  Taika was providing seminars that were open to all styles, and he would demonstrate the similarities between them all (instead of attempting to prove any superiority of one over another). He praised the value of kata, for which (at the time), it was in vogue to proclaim that your class/style didn't waste student's time with them (courtesy of the misguided fan's of Bruce Lee).
  Taika's contention was that student's hadn't been shown (or figured out) the correct bunkai (for the practiced kata). Everything being shown (at that time), was incorrectly being shown for “sparring” types of situations.
 Sparring became popularized (initially) by Funikoshi's son (in Japan). Though I am not a Fan of (the elder) Funikoshi, I will give him credit for initially NOT being in-favor of the practice of “Sparring”. He initially believed it to be distracting from learning true Life-Protection (and I agree).
  Taika was actually a part of the group which organized the methods/manner of Bogu kumite (upon Okinawa) within the Ryukyu Kempo system. Though still limited in it's realism, it (at least) allows for full-power strikes to be made.
  Though Bogu kumite was (and still is) considered to be different from the more commonly performed manner's of kumite, it wasn't the major difference between Taika's Ryukyu Kempo and what any other Okinawan, or for that matter any other system's were teaching.
  Taika, was also teaching, and demonstrating, His method of Kyusho Jutsu (vital-point technique). Numerous instructor's (both then, and now) have claimed to teach similar technique's, but none have produced results equivalent to his (nor with as great of ease, if having any results at all).
  Both the type, and the manner of strikes that he taught at those early seminars, are now (apparently) being copied and taught by nearly every martial art that's out there. Even when performed sloppily, those strikes can prove to be extremely effective.
  Taika was also demonstrating (again) His, method of Tuite-Jutsu. What was more commonly being taught, was Torite-Jutsu (either of which, translates as Grab-Hand). Though often appearing similar, when placed on the receiving end of Taika's version, student's would immediately be aware of the difference.
  Taika's version, was (of course) his own. He developed it from the guidance he received from his only two instructor's Uhugushigu, and Wakinaguri. Though Taika learned kata from other instructor's on Okinawa, his only (true) instructor's were these two men.
  When Taika presented his seminars in those early years, he allowed student's from any and every style/system to attend. Many (and I mean many) people were in attendance at these seminars. Numerous attendee's would claim to want to study under Taika, and would often do so (for around a year, LOL). The majority would only attend seminars (and then boast about having “trained” under Taika, LOL). Many were even presented complementary/provisional certificates (usually of an equivalent or single level higher than what they had supposedly earned in their previously declared system). These were presented as being compensatory until (or if) they continued their study in Ryukyu Kempo.
  As people began to expect this rank awarding (from merely claiming that they were going to continue their study) the practice was discontinued. As a result, numerous individual's who received these ranks, began to make untrue claims as to their value. Some even went so far as to make claims of special instruction/training and abilities (resultant from these falsified events).
  Some of those same individual's began teaching while using the Ryukyu Kempo title (for what they taught). Being that what they were teaching was not what Taika had taught, he was forced to change the name of what he was teaching. This was done to disassociate himself and what he taught from what these equivocator’s were promoting (which actually worked out quite well for him).
  The name RyuTe, became the title of the art taught by Taika. This time, Taika had the name copy-written (to prevent others from using it falsely). Although now he was (legally) protected, the openness and sharing of information that was once enjoyed, had been stifled (by those few low-life's who sought to capitalize on what little had been shown to them).
  Along with the name change, Taika utilized the opportunity to change the content/direction of what was being taught. Though the kyu level information had (mostly) remained the same, the information shown to yudansha has since been modified greatly.
  It's popularly believed that despite the name change, RyuTe teaches the same curriculum as Ryukyu Kempo. This assumption would only be superficially true. Though many similar technique's are taught, the manner of their execution are often (very) different.
  This is especially true for the tuite/torite technique's. This becomes particularly obvious on U-Tube video example's, LOL. Though the technique's may appear similar (visually). They are more often than not, performed differently (and result in different reactionary results).
  The majority of RyuTe's application methods and technique's have been refined continually since Taika first began teaching them. What is being taught now, is often vastly different from what was taught only 10 years ago.
  To assure that anyone who is offering instruction in Taika's form of RyuTe is legitimate, one need only contact the RyuTe Website and see/ask (all RyuTe association dojo/instructor's are listed).
  There have been numerous association members who have been expelled or have departed on their own from Taika's association. Those who were expelled, hadn't usually trained with Taika for 5 or more years before they were removed (part of the reasoning for their expulsion).
  None of those individual's point out that they were expunged from the association (much less why, LOL). All of which is fine, yet they all still (desperately) claim their association to/with Taika. The material that they teach is valid, It's just not what Taika teaches now, or since (usually before) these individual's left (most had not actually trained with Taika for several years before their leaving/removal).
  The individual's who had trained with Taika in the early years, were shown technique's (specifically Tuite) at a moderate to fast rate of application. When demonstrated, the technique was released and discarded to provide the uke with an escape (for safety reasons). We have since modified that instruction method.
  We now have student's perform all tuite slowly. This allows both parties to recognize any/all relevant details to a technique's application. Technique's are no longer thrown away for completion. We require each technique be applied upon the uke to a position of submission/control.
  Some would believe this to be simpler to cause the techniques to work (they would be wrong). By going slowly, it is far more difficult to cause the technique to work as desired (the uke is being allowed time to react/resist). By going slowly, students are also able to more fully understand the finite details of the technique's application (as well as possible counter's when incorrectly being applied).
  When those other individual's proclaim that “What they teach”(is the same), call them to task. Because it isn't. I'm not claiming better or worse (on either part), only that it isn't the same.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Double Forearm Strike

  This motion is represented in numerous kata (multiple times). It's motion is representative for a plurality of different technique applications. The motion as practiced in formation, is only the most basic of those. To the casual observer, this motion is the combining of the Outside Forearm Strike, and the Downward Forearm Strike.
  When applied in several situations, that would prove to be an accurate assessment. But, the motion can be (and is) varied in several circumstances to modify the recipients response/reaction.
  The motion as practiced, is the basic (most common) manner of utilization. It's from this manner of execution that the alternate application's are derived.
  Practice of the motion begins with the hands at either side of the tori. Both arms/hands motion at the same time (throughout the application). I will describe each individually, beginning with the Left (for this example).
  This hand raises straight up (in-line with the upper-arm and shoulder), bending at the elbow (palm-up). The hand continues up until nearly vertical, then rotates to palm-down and begins to sweep downward (covering the front of the body as it does so). The hand/arm continues downward (covering the abdomen/groin area) and motioning forward, until it is once again in-line with the shoulder (but should now be located to the front of the tori at a 45º angle. Depending upon the individual application, the hand could be open or semi-closed (for practice purposes, we have students perform the motion with the hand closed, and perform the milking-punch action at the arm's motion conclusion).
  In conjunction with the Left hand's motion, the Right hand will also be raised. But it, will raise close to the body, sweeping upward (covering the front of the body while doing so). Both arm's should pass one another when they reach the waist-level (in the opening/first motion, this mandates a timing variance between the two, that should only exist during the first motion). The Right arm continues it's rise until being in-line with it's shoulder, then will motion straight forward (much as the Outside Forearm Strike has been described).
  With both hand/arm's now in position, the individual hand positions should be at (opposite) 45º angles (as if they were clasping a Bo), with the upper-hand being palm-up, and the lower hand palm-down. After this first performance of the application, the hand which is raising, will always motion towards the tori's center-line (inward) when doing so.
  Both hands will then alternate their positions. This is accomplished with both hands motioning inward (towards the bodies center-line), crossing one-another at the waist-level (both moving closer to the body while doing so), then motioning in their respective opposite directions (down/up) and then forward (to end). The arm which will then be raising, should always be on the inner-side (closest to the body). This mandates an alternation of arm positioning during the continuation of this exercise.

  Though seeming to be a simple coordination exercise, this motion has numerous direct technique applications, and should be practiced by student's on a regular basis.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Does your Rank-Level, mean anything?

  Reading over the various websites that offer training in Te, I find it amusing to see the rank level(s) that these people are claiming. Ranks (in general) tend to disgust me anyway, and seeing the blatant exaggeration of rank (if not out-right lying thru self-promotion) only solidifies those feelings. 
 When I first began my own study of the martial arts, there were (maybe) a hand-full of yudansha who even had, much less exceeded the rank of Godan (5th Dan). Now, it seems that your nothing if you haven't received a Hatchidan before you do anything (like, hmmmm write a blog, LOL).
  Rank (in general) hasn't (read NONE) much validity in the real world. Rank is supposed to (at least theoretically) represent a validation of experience, learning and knowledge. Unfortunately, it actually does none of those.
  The supposed validation of those (claimed) ranks, is commonly confirmed by the possession of a certificate (usually brushed/written in Japanese/Chinese). Well, if that's all that's required, then send ME a hundred dollars and I'll brush one up with what-ever rank/system you want on it! LOL. 
 These days, rank (and even having a certificate that lists your name and that rank upon it), means nothing. Well, at least nothing to anyone beyond the person who has been presented with it.
  For all their talk, organizations/associations/clubs, etc. (take your pick) have all been corrupted when it comes to awarding rank. The majority suffer the problem of becoming an inverted pyramid (Lot's of high-ranking members, and comparatively few lower ranked members).
  Equally disgusting (IMO), is the fact that the majority of these supposed higher Dan rank individual's, are under the age of 40?. I suppose most of that goes back to when they earned their Shodan. Again, (IMO) if they received that rank before the age of 16 (minimum), it was a hokey Shodan ranking to begin with.
  But, saying that one did receive their Shodan at a respectable age, ...20 year's old?, then that leaves 20 years to be promoted 4 more Dan grades (5 years apiece). That's not too bad (considering these ranks are only occasionally based upon any required actions done by the recipient before receiving them,....well, other than forking over the required monetary amount).
  Unfortunately, the majority of these yudansha that are higher than Godan, are usually under 25! So, just how the fuck does one justify that kind of rank at the age of 25? IMO, you can't. Basically, your a fraud. You don't have the experience, it's doubtful that you have much of any knowledge, and I could care less what your claiming to have for ability. Your a fraud. The only thing those individual's appear to be interested in, is money.
  And Frankly, therein lies the problem. Martial arts have become a financial career. I've always had a personal distaste for anyone who's sole financial income was based upon teaching a martial art. I have never found those individual's to be trustworthy (or for that matter honest) at all.
  At one time, student's were examples of an instructor's (teaching) abilities, now, they are only examples of their marketing abilities. If my goal had been to be a salesman, I would have taken the appropriate classes in college to do so. That wasn't my goal though, and the career I chose paid very well (when I was doing it).
  By not mandating that my martial art instruction was how I generated my main income, it allowed me to be choosier about who and what I taught. As a consequence, I have had very few yudansha student's (of my own). I also never felt obligated to include irrelevant subject matter in my class curriculum.
  Though I am a firm believer that the student should dictate what they want to learn, that doesn't mean that I have to provide any subject matter that I disagree with (they can no doubt find it elsewhere). By teaching RyuTe, that whole requirement thing (for any higher grading) beyond Shodan, is out of my hands (thankfully, LOL).
  That reinforces the understanding that I am responsible for what, and how the information that I pass on to my student's is done. My only responsibility to them, is that they be knowledgeable of what a beginning instructor/Shodan should know
 The martial arts consist of a wide range of subject matter. I make no claims to be able to fulfill all of those subjects. The one's that I concentrate upon are the ippon kumite, and the instruction of tuite and kyusho. Those subjects (additionally) include uke control and compliance.
 RyuTe offers a wide range of subject instruction, through my affiliation with the RyuTe association, my students have access to those areas of study (just not from me, LOL). As my student's request those area's of instruction, I contact, and arrange for those individual's to meet and they work out the details of that instruction.
  Until one has begun to instruct their own students, and has those student's dependent upon them for answers, their awareness of what an instructor should be knowledgeable about is usually skewed by their own misconceptions. It is at Shodan, that one actually has the time to devote to developing their own personal style of technique execution.
  From my perspective, the only rank of consequence, or substance, is Shodan. It is the only rank that is almost certainly going to be (actually) earned, and it is subject to comparative review by both previous and future yudansha student's. The attainment of Shodan commonly allows one to begin instructing (in some capacity) to students. It's also where/when, that what one has been studying, actually begins to make sense. And if it doesn't, then it's time to make some changes


Wednesday, December 14, 2011


  Although I often state my opinions about something that someone else does or says, I don't usually identify whom that person is. A few months back, I was given a “pod-cast” of a popular seminar instructor (Iain Abernathy). I'd previously seen a few of his opinions, and didn't really have one of my own about him (at least in regards to what he promoted) until I had gotten a chance to listened to it (which is only fair).

  Compared to the majority of idiots out there, he's not that bad. I can agree with a lot of what he says, but I disagree with a lot of how that (at least what I've seen/heard) he's applying it. Going by his statements (not just my opinion), he states that he believes the jaw to be a primary target? From my own view, this is an odd choice (or at the very least, a distinctly male choice and perspective), with little in the way of subjective combative reasoning, or at least from an defensive/instructional point of view.

  The jaw, though having several distinct weaknesses to it's construction, still has numerous strengths to it's defense. #1, it requires a precise strike be made upon it to accomplish the (generally) desired result (a “knock-out”). Though located upon the head (which has numerous inherent weaknesses to it), it also has the ability to absorb (through deflection) any applied force that is subjected upon it (by moving, or “rotating”).

  Additionally, even when one attempts to strike a completely untrained individual (upon their head/jaw), even they will naturally motion it, and/or protect it, to avoid /dissipate that impact. Any action that is made towards an individual's face, will instantly be avoided, most commonly by simply turning their face away from the imminent impact (which in turn dissipates any applied force).

  The striking of the jaw, is a distinctly western trait, most often going back to the Marquess of Queensberry rules. Those “Rules”, were developed to prevent 2 individual's from causing serious harm to one another. When one views fighting methods of most any other culture, face strikes, are being directed towards the nose or eyes. Preferred strikes then migrate downward towards the mid-(body) section & groin areas.

  He states that he advocates neck strikes (which I wholeheartedly agree with). He also dismisses the whole meridian/acupuncture BS avenue of application (again with my agreement). In general, he talks a good-line. The problem (as I'm seeing it), is that what he shows (technique wise), is pretty hokey (if not, down-right amateurish).

  This could very well be the result of teaching and/or focusing upon (lower) kyu-rank students, or possibly because that level of application is all that he is concerned with (for which there is nothing wrong with that effort).

  The purpose of this blog, is to enhance my own instructional content. This information was presented to me in the (honest) effort to assist in that endeavor. Having never previously reviewed it, I felt it only fair to offer it attention and consideration. I have done so.

  For many, I'm sure he offer's a new perspective on kata and/or application. For myself, not so much. Most everything that he promotes is old-hat (been there, done that, and moved-on to better things). Maybe if he ever decides to move on himself, to more involved levels of application (which actually means simplifying what he's attempting to do), I'll become interested in what he has to say.

  Much of what he promotes, is based on what he considers to be obvious and simple interpretation (including application). For introductory study, I have no problem with that. But when one learns the (so-called) advanced methods, one finds that they are often more easily applied (though often requiring more precision in their execution).

  I can recognize and appreciate the probability of a lowered application ability in a (real) situation (compared to when training in a class), but that doesn't mandate that one resign one's self to the inevitability that your skills will deteriorate to those of an untrained oaf when you are (actually) attacked.

  I'm not sure why, but he (still) advocates “sparring”. If nothing else, this would be enough for me not to take what he has to say too seriously. For all his proclaimed research, he still hasn't figured out that sparring has nothing to do with what most people are being taught to do.

  Despite all his claims of applicability, it still hasn't become obvious to him, that sparring bares no relationship to any of it. Until that realization is made, what he teaches/does will be mired in the disillusion of a false premiss and therefor, not worth my attention.