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.


Lee Richards said...

One big reason Taika does not like nor go by the title of 'Master' is that he is continually learning, continually evolving. There are a lot of people riding on his coat tails and still using his name though they are not teaching his art. You see these people all the time online. Whether they went to a couple of seminars, or actually were in the association for years, they didn't keep up with the ever evolving founder of the system. Many left over 20 years ago. Think about how much you can learn and evolve as a normal karateka that has a full-time job, family, real life. Now imagine Taika evolving over the last 20+ years without all these other obligations. It has been over 20 years since Taika left behind the name of Ryukyu Kempo. His art, teaching style, and the style as a whole has drastically changed. He was quite 'guarded' in the 70's and 80's about what he really showed people. He'd show a lot of candy but not really explain it all. And yet, these relics of Ryukyu Kempo that are using that name still, as they fled change or were expelled, still claim affiliation with Taika. I know for a fact that Alan Admore continually lies to his students about things. We've had a student send Taika a message about looking forward to seeing him at 'their' summer camp and we had to explain to him that Taika hasn't even seen Alan in over 20 years and wants nothing to do with him. The student didn't believe us and tried to call Taika. There are several other examples such as some of his students calling Taika looking for Alan when he was 'kicked out' by the wife and disappeared for a while. He and his students also claim that Alan was a 'live-in' disciple. Taika has never had a live in student and that is straight from his mouth and from all the years this blog owner and I have known him. He has let people stay over at his house that were in from out of town for a weekend, and for a short time Alan stayed at his house due to some financial problems. Taika was nice and allowed him to stay there which led to Alan's indiscretion and expulsion from the system. So then he goes out and forms his Ryukyu Kempo Alliance. If you run under the name Ryukyu Kempo, your art is not Taika's. He is evolving and you are not evolving in the same way even IF you are evolving. The most recent break away was a group of people who hadn't studied with him in over 10 years. Yes, that is no exaggeration. In 2000 Taika had his first surgery and that is when the Coalition started their exodus. Though they subtly withdrew at first, that group essentially quit coming to his classes and found excuses to not attend his seminars. Eventually they got caught hosting seminars and promoting people to yudansha ranks among other things. All stuff behind his back. And yet STILL they have Taika's picture right smack in the middle of their web site. So in a little over 10 years of not training with him, but staying 'active' merely by paying dues, they remained stagnant as Taika progressed. It doesn't matter what word or words follow "Ryukyu Kempo ___________", it is not Taika's art. They are following their own path, not his. That is THEIR choice, they should live with it and stop using his name and image to promote themselves. They should stand on their own.

If someone claims an affiliation with Taika, and yet no longer train with the living, working karateka, you must wonder why they are not still training with him. It defies logic that they claim a man is so great and yet they are no longer with him. Well, that's if their students even have any idea they were expelled in the first place. "Too strive for good moral character" has lost its meaning to them.

Anonymous said...

This sounds just like Ed Parker's Kenpo, a never ending game of
who's the Master now. All systems share this, it funny to me. I stopped
taking formal lessons yrs ago :))