Monday, February 27, 2012

What Do Your Defensive Motions Prevent?

  I recently asked some student's to show me their preferred (favorite if you will) defensive strike (“Block”). The majority stated that an inside forearm strike was usually preferred, but some leaned towards the outside forearm strike.
  Now contrary to (popular) belief, I didn't ask this question to put anybody on the spot. I asked it to get a idea of their perspective on protective motions (in general). As students, when we're shown a motion, we tend to view that motion/technique as being (somewhat) Iconic. As if they were set in stone, and it would be some form of blasphemy to deviate from that initially shown form.
  Kihon (basics), are just that, basics. They teach a fundamental motion and/or manor of performing that motion. That doesn't mean that they are (always) the end-all only way of performing that motion.
  When I received their answers to this question, I asked how it prevented/protected them from other types of strikes? (I know, a rather unfair question, LOL). The point (of my question), was to illustrate their own (self) limiting of their practice.
  When students are taught/shown an individual forearm strike, that motion is not the end-all motion of defensive tactics. It is intended to be utilized with additional motions (either by the same arm, or in conjunction with the other arm/legs.
  If you motion an arm (either) upward or downward, then across, and down or up, which type of forearm strike (block) have you performed? You've done all 3 (in one motion). Because these motions were taught individually, does not mean they can/should only be performed in that manner.
  When I point this out, I'm often told that I would be wasting movement, if I did all those motions (together). Really? Perform an inside forearm strike, then perform a downward forearm strike, then perform an upward forearm strike. After having done this, then perform one, inward sweeping motion that progresses down and let it circle back up to end in front of you, which motions were smoother, and faster? (and which of these motions protected you from different types of threats more completely).
  Taika says that “we” (meaning “us” students, LOL) are like children when we've been shown a technique/motion. We perform that motion a thousand times, but never work on how to apply it? We are taught a milking punch, but we understand that just moving one's wrist back and forth, doesn't do anything (until it's done at the end of a striking motion performed by the arm).
  The same problem occurs in kata practice. Students are consistently pausing during the performance of their kata. The (main) purpose of kata practice is the performance of motions (not necessarily techniques) in order to make them more natural when they are utilized. By including those (their own) pauses, they are creating the situation to occur during (actual) execution of those techniques.
  This is something that I (myself) am constantly monitoring (in my own kata execution). It's a big reason that Taika has us do application versions of the kata. This pausing contributes to how people come up with these odd (more like stupid) versions of bunkai that they present. They didn't even consider practicality when determining those techniques.
  If you take a student, and throw 10” (lightweight, LOL) plastic balls at them (without any other training), they'll learn to bat them away (similar to how a cat does). This is a natural motion. If you (progressively) decrease the size of those balls (to golf ball size), and have the student intend to hit them away (using any/all of the forearm primarily to do so) while doing so, you'll start to have a student who will now (begin to) use full-range covering motions (in deference to the aforementioned stuttering strikes/blocks). 
 While performing these actions, it makes the student's defensive strikes more natural and more inclusive (covering a greater range).


Friday, February 24, 2012

Footwork and Efficient Delivery of Momentum

  For a strike to be delivered to it's intended target with it's maximum potential, it must be delivered as efficiently as possible. Though numerous components could be accredited with achieving this goal, the most obvious would be the motions made by the arm. Those motions are commonly practiced, and easily understood.
In RyuTe, we teach student's that the hand should remain relaxed (either hanging at one's side, or set to the front of the body, just below the ribs). While the hand raises and motions towards the intended target, it will remain loosely closed.
  As it extends towards the target, the back of the hand will tense and the focus is centered upon the knuckles contacting the target. The Fingers remain relaxed throughout the impact.
  With only limited practice, one can learn to extend the striking arm with minimal wasted motion (that doesn't distract from the intended direction/target). The majority of a student's practice should be spent on combining that motion with the remainder of their body's motions.
  Although it doesn't always, efficiency can be correlated to expediency. Having efficiency with our body motion allows us to concentrate on the arm motion, knowing that the full potential of our body mass will be utilized.
  Momentum is the motion of a body (or system), equal to the product of the mass of a body and its velocity. More simply, momentum is the continuing result of your bodies weight (mass) combined with the speed (velocity) that it is being propelled at. 
  It's very common for student's to interrupt their limbs momentum by pausing during the motions application (practice). We constantly remind our student's that they will perform, as they practice. If/when a student consistently pause during a practiced motion, they will most commonly do so when implementing it during an actual defensive situation.
  Student's will usually (first) attempt to increase the speed of their practice in order to do this. More commonly though, the result is only a sloppier execution of the techniques.
  As long as the desired motions are done fluidly and without pause during their execution, as well as being done with speed, then there will be a minimum loss of momentum. Part of that attempt is accomplished through performing correct body motion. Correct motion (in this case) means efficient motion.
  Basic motion starts with the tori turning the opposite foot (#1) slightly (to the outside of the intended direction) approx. 30º (outward), along with lifting that heel (about the distance of a thickness of a piece of paper). The striking sides foot (#2), should slide in (towards the opposite foot) and arcs, passing beside and beyond the other foot.   


 As that foot passes by the rear foot, that rear foot will pivot (on the ball of that foot) inward to approx. a 30º (inward) angle. As the forward foot reaches it's desired position (#3, pivoting inward 30º as the rear foot did), the rearward foot will additionally slide forward a few inches. This should happen in conjunction with the strike landing upon it's target.
  Depending upon the individual circumstances, the stance could be performed in a more shallow manor with the rear foot's shuffling motion traveling a greater distance (to come to rest directly behind the forward foot, a.k.a. The RyuTe shuffle punch). The essence of these (types of) strikes, is performing only forward motion (by any part of the body) while executing them. 
  Though often done in conjunction with a forward (hand) punch, it can also be done with a reverse punch (as is done in Seisan kata). Seisan kata is actually a perfect example of forward (only) motion with a punch. In this case the forward hand performs a forward motion while the reverse arm is punching. This is done 3 times at the beginning of the kata's performance.
 Though each can illustrate an individual technique, the three can also represent a (single) technique's execution. This was described by Tashi Logue once. The three strikes and steps, were explained as not (in every bunkai) representing forward motions, but three motions being performed consecutively (essentially, in place).
  Footwork does not only include motioning the performer forward or back. I could example numerous technique applications where the tori never moves from the initial location, yet performs several stance changes.
  Footwork is about directional motion, that motion is made in the direction that best aids the application of a technique. Usually, that motion is being done to apply body weight to an application (be it the body weight of the tori, or that of the uke). Sometimes it's to weaken the aggressor's position.
  Regardless of which, or how it's being done, it's a relevant part of any/every technique application.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In Your Face

  I was reading an article (written by an individual who was “kicked out” of the RyuTe Association). Like so many others, he was pontificating over how Taika had taught him, the “secrets” of RyuTe. He further elaborated how Ryukyu Kempo is the (exact) same as what is being taught in RyuTe. These are both commonly made statements (at least by individual's who were kicked-out of the RyuTe Association). And equally as common, is the fact that neither is (in any way) accurate, or truthful.
  This is the equivalent of saying “All martial arts systems are the same”. In many general aspects this could be considered truthful, but when the details are (actually) compared, the differences become readily apparent.
  When Taika began teaching his system, the martial arts industry was (already) in a routine of mundane manners of practice. These usually amounted to either no kata practice at all (claiming it was only “traditional”) or kata without any useful application, and an increased focus being made upon “sparring”. Neither of which served any purpose for a student's Life Protection abilities.
  It was at this time (late 70's, early 80's) that Taika began having seminars to demonstrate his interpretations of kata, and to illustrate how other systems had been missing (in his opinion, LOL) the obvious purposes of kata.
  During that time, It was common for Taika to award a yudansha rank to new students who claimed that they wanted to study from him (usually one-level above their ranking in their prior system). Unfortunately, many Persons were commonly being awarded rank levels that were (far) beyond what their abilities actually were. Those same individual's rarely continued any affiliation (much less study) with Taika. That fact, in addition to a desire to disassociate himself with the Ryukyu Kempo name (and those individual's), led to his decision to change the name to RyuTe and to begin teaching “his” system (instead of the generic “kempo”).
  Many of the instructor's who remained in the RyuTe system had attained their (original) yudansha ranking in their prior system. They hadn't learned the required (basic) motions in the same manner that they should have, and were now supposed to be, being taught (to their student's). Many of these instructor's continued to teach motions the same way, as they always had (incorrectly), and didn't seem to realize it.
  Many continued teaching the same “sport” kicks and applications as they always had, and didn't seem to notice how hypocritical those teachings actually were. It's those individual's who did so, that make these completely inaccurate claims (about Ryukyu Kempo being the same as RyuTe).
  Because of this instructional gap, there is often a degree of inconsistency between what is taught to students at different levels of learning, and/or between different instructor's. If an instructor hasn't weeded-out those irrelevant motions/techniques, then students may become confused from what's being taught.
  I've heard instructor's who (want to) blame Taika for these discrepancy’s in the manner's of a technique's execution (been there, done that). Having personal access to a (Large) collection of video footage of Taika, when confronted with claims of “Taika showed it different”, I can pull up multiple examples of him doing exactly what he say's you should be doing (even though he may of not said so at the time). Taika teaches by example, if you ain't paying attention, that's not his fault (so don't blame him).
  Over the years I've encountered instructor's who've chosen to limit (if not restrict) what is shown to their student's. I've never understood this mentality. Some claim it's done for safety concerns, and some over reasons of student maturity. I find neither of those “reasons” to be justifiable for limiting a student's level of knowledge. Properly applied instructional methods will negate any detrimental tendency's in either of these area's of concern.
  Most of those instructor's (within the association) that fell into that category, are no longer within the association. When Taika does actually “pass-away”, I'm sure that every Low-life martial art's wanna-be on the planet, will crawl out from what-ever pile of shit that they've been living under to claim that “they” posses the (true) secret teachings of RyuTe and/or Taika.
  Hopefully there will be (enough, LOL) honest student's of Taika to dispute all the interloper's who are not who/what they claim to be. My only concern at present, is that not everyone (within the association) is even aware of the reason's why many of these individual's were kicked-out (and Taika forbids any public discussion of those reasons).
  No matter, if/when any of those individual's should make any “claims”, there is more than enough evidence to provide to dispute their legitimacy (If, they so choose to push the issue, LOL). 


Saturday, February 4, 2012


  I guess my ability to be amazed by people's behavior will never be quelled. My teaching associate was recently contacted by an individual (an ex-student) wanting to “talk” about how come he disappeared (with no explanation) a few years back. I had pretty much just figured him to be (yet) another student who choose to move on, and I had left it at that.
  Well, with him recontacting my associate, I decided to do a little investigating. Low-dy, Low-dy! Seems as though this kid has up and got his own self his own place (well, he sub-lets space from the local “Unity Village” church(ish) Group). He's become a “Zen” Master (got his-self a certifimakation and everything).
  Now all of that is just fine by me (I'm not really that interested, when approached with those ideas, I usually find that the individual has their own issues that they're dealing with, and are just looking for company during that experience), but what I didn't find favorable, was his quoting (as if they were his own) statements made by Taika.
  He's chosen to call what he's (now) teaching, as being “Life-Protection Arts” (sound familiar?). He's officially tagged some Korean name upon it also, but makes a point of emphasizing the “LPA” when discussing what he teaches. Through mutual acquaintances, we've already encountered his instruction of technique being incorrectly shown, so it makes me wonder how he feels he is qualified to instruct any of those techniques.
  Of course the technique he showed the individual was presented as being one of his techniques. If “that's” supposed to be an example of his “Master Abilities”, he's going to have numerous problems as he proceeds.
  His “Face-book” page lists his having a “5th” dan in 3 korean martial arts, and a 4th in another, along with Yudansha ranks in 4 more! (and now he's a “Zen” Abbot / Priest), and NO, RyuTe isn't listed at all (mostly because he didn't really “rank” in it except for “kyu” ranks). oh yeah, he's only 21/22? nice collection for 14 years of (supposed) “study”. Am I saying he's a “fake”,, I'm not. No more than any other quasi-religious-wanna-be-type/martial arts instructor that's out there today. Is he qualified to teach any of the very few RyuTe techniques that he picked-up from us? NO FUCKING WAY (Just sayin'). As for the other stuff?, don't know, and don't care.
  As for his knowledge of the other styles? Who knows (or cares?), he's been careful to avoid any direct association to us or RyuTe (though he display's Oyata's Calligraphy in the location and in photographs hung at the location where he's teaching at). To me, he's making a very lame attempt at an association (he's even teaching at a building where Taika used to teach, LOL).
  I find it interesting that his previous learning has all been Korean MA based, but everything I've seen is Okinawan and/or Japanese? I realize that everyone loves to push the “everything” came from China idea, but I don't really buy it. The (latest) big claim being that Tuite is nothing more than Chin-na. I might of (at one time, like before I knew any Tuite) believed that, except that I've never seen any Chin-na that I have believed could not be more easily accomplished with Tuite. I've never really warmed-up to the Korean systems (to me their all alike, too much like the Japanese systems that they were all derived from, so why not just practice them?). 
  Every time I interact with “Chinese” stylist's, I only encounter simplistic applications, that have moderate (at best) results. For all the claims of origination, I only encounter second-rate applications. The Korean system's are even worse. Everything Korean appears to be Re-worked Japanese subjects, which are re-worked Okinawan methods (which when one is talking about Te, we're usually talking about Okinawan Te).
  Admittedly, when/if compared to having no knowledge, any of those systems would most likely be better than nothing. But living in a time when the ability to compare exists, I don't understand the reluctance to study techniques that actually work (and/or not go ahead and abandon those that don't work.
  The individual in question, I have no real problem with (as of yet, LOL). What he does is his business, but don't expect a Glowing review if I'm asked for an opinion about any of it.