Friday, June 29, 2012

Internal/External, Fraternal Affiliations

  Identifying the differences between the (supposed) Internal and External martial arts/systems has always been a subject of curiosity for me. When I was in my teens, I had several acquaintances who were involved with/studied several of the Internal martial art systems.
  To be fair, my opinion may have been influenced by the fact that (each of) these individual's were colossal douche-bags. Beyond that fact, what they were doing (technique wise), was often woefully inadequate to accomplish the desired goals.
  At that time, I was in my teens, and fairly limited in my own ability's as well (when viewed in hind-site, LOL). Most of these individual's had been practicing/learning their pursuits for far longer than I had, yet they never seemed to improve? They could do far more kata, and knew numerous “cool” looking hand motions, but never seemed to improve in (physical) ability.
  I'm sure there are numerous individual's can/will be able to inform those who may be curious about (more) specific details (of those differences), but for the average person, I believe I can sum-up the (popular) differences.
  The “short” version, is that the (so-called) external systems, tend to emphasize performing strikes of the bludgeoning variety. This type of system is commonly associated to/with the Japanese style of martial arts. The presumably internal systems, will tend to emphasize the mental aspects and applications that benefit the student with their use. These also tend to be (mainly) Chinese.
  From my own perspective, I've witnessed very few actual differences between the two (in either practice, or application). I've found that both will usually emphasize the physical techniques, in conjunction with the mental development of the student.
RyuTe, is (somewhat) unique, in that one of Taika's instructor's was Okinawan, and his other instructor was of Chinese decent (but was from Okinawa). Maybe the bigger differences, are between Chinese and Okinawan systems (Japanese systems are only re-hashes of Okinawan systems).
  Taika used to talk about how the Chinese systems wanted to emulate animal's. Taika (as well as his instructor's) felt this was (somewhat) stupid. People are not animals, we don't/can't move the way an animal does, nor do we have fangs and claws, so to what purpose is attempting to emulate their ways?
  In a single breath, he (Taika) would praise the degree to which the Chinese would study the motions/habits of a particular animal (to learn their motions). And in following, he would ridicule them for not having devoted that time to studying the same in humans.
  I believe the only thing that Taika consistently criticized (and always spoke in total disrespect of), was the pursuit of the TCM/Ki “crap” (or at least it's relation to anything to do with martial arts). He often used his own analogy's, but never in any kind of mystical way.
  From everything I've read, both of these concepts (internal, and external) are inherent in every systems teachings. It does appear though, that some systems make the attempt, to claim that they (only) do the correct, (internal or external) methodology.
  For myself (and I may be over-simplifying the subject, LOL), Internal (study) is both the mental and habitual tendency's of people. External, is the recognition/understanding of the physical motions/actions that will effect the action's of another.
  Personally, I don't see how you could emphasize one, without the other? 


Thursday, June 28, 2012

All You Need is a Gimmick

(or How to Rip-Off anyone by Creating Your Very Own Martial Art System)

  I was recently reading an article on the various “belief” systems that have been created in the martial arts. The exact combat methods associated with them are irrelevant. It's those associated beliefs that all have the similar traits and their (disturbingly) similar biases as well.
  The most popular of these belief systems, was the concept of Chi or Ki. It would appear that only in the West are these concepts reviled with such reverence and awe. In the East it seems these concepts are viewed quite differently.
  Ki is a much more matter of fact, if not blasé subject. It would appear that only in the west is this belief carried to the extremes that I consider so disgusting. Contrary to what many of these joker's would have you believe, TCM is not considered a reliable or preferred method of medical treatment. Nor is the concept believed to have the same level of effect (or even relevance) that's commonly attributed to it (here) in the West (in regards to martial arts).
  When Taika first demonstrated his application of kyusho strikes, it was presumed to be attributed to this “Ki” concept. Despite Taika's denial, the various charlatan's immediately jumped on the opportunity to exploit Taika's popularity (and thereby increase their own through presumably having an association with him).
  I can think of nothing else that so irritated Taika as someone bringing up the TCM nonsense in regards to what he taught (much less too him). Taika only emphasized practice and study in order to understand the how, where and why of a technique's application.
  Related to this concept is the understanding/knowledge of Kyusho “point” locations. There has been a tremendous amount of (Western) interest in the Bubushi, but despite the advertized hype this text has had little to no correlation to what Taika has shown, taught and demonstrated (in regards to what, how and where his technique's are performed).
  What I have found most amazing is the subsequent creation of numerous (wanna-be) Kyusho-type/based “systems”(?). These supposed systems (or at least their creator's) have Dan ranks and titles attributed to this (supposed) knowledge, all of which I find to be hysterical. This is equivalent to claiming to have a “system” based around the hand shapes of striking methods (hence my personal amusement).
  Taika's direct interpretation of kata motions (bunkai) were revolutionary (at the time). He stated that motions were between two individual's, and that the aggressor was (beginning) either in front of you, or behind you (instead of several of them being all around you).

Each motion was shown to have a purpose. that purpose may change as one's understanding of the motions did, but there were no useless motions included in the kata. 
  Though sounding mundane (now), at the time, these were (all) revolutionary ideas and concepts. No one else was teaching these idea's/perspectives. Taika changed the way (all) martial arts were viewed, and what should be expected from them. His perspectives raised the bar on what should be expected from a martial art/system.
  When Taika was initially doing his “Road Show” (demonstrating his technique's and applications), persons would approach him for instruction. He would offer them to join his association, and would even provide them with a “rank” certificate (usually of 1 grade higher than they held in their present system). This was done (of course) without being aware of how badly people (Americans) falsified their previous knowledge/ranking.
  Not realizing how (much) this would be exploited, numerous individual's acquired their (supposed) “ranking” in his methodology and then promptly left, in pursuit of their own interests. Those same individual's have since made great claims of having studied from Taika (when in fact, they only attended a number of seminars).
  Unlike the original Frankenstein creation (of Mary Shelly), Taika's instructions wound-up becoming the source-blood of several monsters (a.k.a. schools) that were begat from his original teachings (teachings that would later be abandoned, to be replaced by the present form of RyuTe).
 Because the promoters of those parasitic creations had (only) incomplete knowledge, they were unable to assemble an equivalently complete defensive system. This (in turn) created a shadow of doubt to be (unfairly) attributed to Taika's teachings (and to some minor degree, RyuTe). These imitator's only possessed limited knowledge, they lacked the ability to assemble a complete and comprehensive system (of defense). Their inability was often unjustly (also) attributed to Taika's system of RyuTe.
  Despite Taika's passing, RyuTe remains in a state of evolution, continuing to morph into an even more comprehensive (yet simplistic) system, that can be performed by anyone that possesses the desire to study and understand the principles that Taika has  presented and left for us.
 But for those that don't want to waste their time learning a system, they need only create their own (system). Apparently it's fairly easy (everybody's doing it). All that's needed (evidently), is a Gimmick.....


  I've been queried (from numerous sources) about the immediate future of the RyuTe Association. I (of course) have no current knowledge of what direction that the association will take. So the question is, what's my guess of what will become of Taika's association (RyuTe Renmei)? I'm sure there are numerous individual's waiting (or not waiting...) to step out of the dark and make claims for/of ascension. 
 I know there will be numerous claims of private/secret deals and agreements and various assumptions being made by the general mudansha contingency. Just guessing, I'm sure all the low-life's will come out of hiding to stake their individual claims of having received personal teaching's from Taika (that were of course kept secret from everyone else, LOL).
  The biggest weakness that I see, is the limitation of solidarity/unity amongst the various association Dojo. I'm sure (now that Taika has passed) numerous Dojo may abandon the RyuTe association, and create their own (be it only their dojo/school, or small groups of such). There are some (I know) that will affiliate themselves with those prior members who were kicked-out, though for what reason, I can't fathom. Doing so, would seem more of a rearward step, than to accomplish anything of value.
 Numerous person's will likely break off and create their own branches (of what was taught in RyuTe). I can understand those individual's actions. Those individual's (at least) will of had the decency to wait until Taika was no longer the system's guide (for direction) and still providing that information, before beginning their own (though I'm confused as to how they will progress).
  I'm certain that specific member's will separate and create their own groups. Some will no-doubt re-associate themselves with ex-member's (who were kicked out for their unacceptable behavior). Those individual's (who were kicked-out) I have no respect for (whether they are believed to have any knowledge or not). Though Taika may have voiced it to be unacceptable to even speak of these individuals, I believe it better to make it known that they are not what they claim.
 There is still much to be gained by remaining connected (through an association). Namely, the weapons kata knowledge. It's already been evidenced that former members have been making claims of weapon and weapon kata knowledge (that Taika had stated were incorrect). We don't want present RyuTe members to fall into that same dilemma.
  The same concern would be with the Shin shu ho kata. These kata and the more recent open-hand exercises, need to be solidified amongst the various association dojo. We've been actively attempting to integrate the 6 Basic Tuite Principles amongst the RyuTe instructors (through the RyuTe Board), and have received numerous positive feed-back comments. It was our intent that those principles be used for instruction of Tuite by association instructors.
 In that regard, we know that there will be people that wind-up providing that information to non-association persons, who will no doubt claim that they developed them, which is why we've provided that information on the RyuTe board, (to establish our own development/creation of them). Those charlatan's are (all) utilizing Taika's quote's as if they were their own already, so they would/will surely latch onto anything else that seems of any value.
  Those person's outside of the association like to claim that they have/know all the same information that has been available from Taika, but frankly, none of them have been around Taika (for training) in over 6 years (at a minimum for even the most recent), so that pretty much nullifies their knowledge level (because a lot has happened over that time period).
 Personally, I hope that those who were faithful to Taika until his passing, will remain in contact with one another, and will share whatever individually known information that they may have amongst one another. We'll have to wait and see if that actually happens.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

And The Vultures Descend

  Over the past week (since Taika's death), I have seen numerous organizations/associations (whatever) “Suddenly” jump to the forefront (of public advertisements). I am seeing their ads in E-mailings, on facebook, various chat boards, they're really putting out the word that “they” had (as in Used to) studied with Taika. 
 They've also become quite loose with their use of the RyuTe Mon/Logo (and/or Taika's picture/image). Some, are even inferring (if not outright bragging) that they are now teaching Shi Ho Happo no Te ?
  They don't seem to mention that they were kicked-out of that (the RyuTe) association either (hmmmm,..?). I think that many of them believe that now that Taika is deceased, that the copyright laws no longer apply either,..(surprise! They still do!).
  In the past (or at least while Taika was still living) the RyuTe association has been restricted in how much information (details) regarding those member's who have been kicked-out could be made public. Although 90% of that information is already public record, it still was not allowed to be discussed (publicly) by the membership (and the membership of those organizations sure as hell wasn't going to bring those reasons up! even If they were actually aware of them! LOL).
  I believe that most of those members that felt they weren't getting all that they deserved (sob, sob, sniff, sniff) have left RyuTe and are now with shiny (no, literally) shiny new belts (and, as usual, bumped-up to higher ranks than they held previously, LOL). 
 Personally, “F”-'em, no big loss (at all). I know of NONE of them that contributed anything worthwhile to the association anyway. If the RyuTe association were to fold tomorrow, I would sooner join a romance book club, than to have any affiliation with those individual's.
 With their recent acts of disrespect at Taika's viewing as well as their wanna-be "thug-like" appearance and their disrespectful acts at the funeral (after being informed multiple times that they were in no way welcome there), what little (as if there were any) respect these people thought that they deserved (or even existed) is now completely gone.
  Fortunately, the majority of the remaining RyuTe membership consists of (more than a few) knowledgeable members (who aren't a pain, LOL). I know that most of the local (to K.C.MO.) member's are going to remain in contact (monthly training and such). I'll be curious to see how that goes, LOL. 


Monday, June 25, 2012

Requiem For The Virtuoso of Te

  Having just returned from Taika's funeral, I was definitely moved by the words of many of those who spoke at the gathering. The implication was made as well, that Taika wished the Association to continue. Whether that will happen or not, is anyone's guess (at this time).

 The stories that were told by the attending member's were personal, heartfelt and emotional, to both those telling the stories, and to those of us who were listening. Though each speaker told their own personal story, they all described events that had occurred to every member in attendance in one way or another.

  Both before, and afterwords, I was able to speak to numerous member's that I hadn't seen in some time. There was no talk about the usual subjects. The only topic brought up, was the direction that RyuTe would now take. Unfortunately, nothing solid was determined, or at least not for today.
  I believe that although Taika is now gone, it isn't that he left us without any manner to proceed in our studies and research. Beyond the kata, Taika had developed his own exercises to assist us in our pursuit of technique application (and said as much, on numerous occasions).
  For those who are only beginning their study of RyuTe, or even those who have been doing so for some time, there will be little need for any manner of change (of practice/study) per say. The only occurrence that I fear, is some form of Bullshit (e.g. ki/chi, TCM, reiki etc.) study to be injected into the learning (of anyone's) curriculum (any of these nonsensical pursuits would be a complete waste of any serious student's time).
  The pursuit of any of these irrelevant subjects should be met with total disdain and contempt. If anyone is told that any of these subjects are in any way a part of RyuTe (or any of Taika's teachings), those people should be avoided (if not discarded or better yet, they should be ostracized, LOL).
  Over the next few months, there will be a general meeting of the minds (that be, LOL), and by the time of summer-camp, there should be a resolution of a future direction for the association. I do know that this year, the weapon's kata (agenda) being taught will only be for the advanced forms of the kata (no Kihon, e.g. basic). So at the very least summer camp will consist of new material.
  The obvious question is, who will be there? Not instructor wise, but in attendance. For those member's who plan on leaving the association, I'm sure this is an irrelevant question. Those individual's, I could (frankly) care less about. It's the one's who remain, and choose to further the goals of the association as a whole, and not only on (or for) a personal level that I'm interested in.
  I believe that the association as a whole, can (and should) continue. It's been rumored that (the whole) testing situation regarding the kyu ranks may be modified (god only knows what that means, LOL). I'm sure at some point (again, probably at summer-camp) the general membership will be informed about any changes (as well as receiving an updated version of the Association Dojo Rules).
  Taika may be gone, and we all will miss him dearly, but his association can and will live on. The only question is how it will be presented, and improved.

How do you learn, what isn't being taught?

  One of the more popular concerns in learning RyuTe, or even with learning only the Tuite that's associated with it, has been in finding an instructor. Very often, students are forced (by circumstances and/or by location) to settle for learning what's available to them (in their area). A recent comment on a prior blog post, (yet again) brought this issue to the forefront.
My question/concern has always been for people that just have no realistic opportunity to learn RyuTe. What the heck do you do if you've read about tuite online, but the only school within reasonable driving distance teaches sportified taekwon-do? “
  I've been asked about this very situation before. For every individual, the answer is going to be different. I can only provide my own perspective on finding instruction, and to what level one will go in order to learn what one wants to learn. RyuTe is unique, so finding legitimate instruction in it, will be just as unique.
  When one has limited options for instruction (because of their location), there are only 2 options, move (to where it is available) or learn what's available (where your already at). If/when asked, I would say move (to me, it's that important).
  I have encountered nothing else that equates to what I have learned within my study of RyuTe. I feel that the time I (wasted) spent with other methodology's, would have been better spent looking for a legitimate RyuTe instructor.
  Another proposition has been put forward also, over the years there have been a number of members of the Ryukyu Kempo (when Taika would still have anything to do with it) and then from the RyuTe Association, that were kicked out. Most often this was done because of some breach of faith (if not illegal) activity. Either way, the individual's were shown to be of less than respectable personality, and were subsequently kicked-out. They weren't given an option, they were kicked-out. This was done for a reason. Taika didn't want the association to be connected with these individual's any more, all.
  There are (many) people who like being associated with the whole “Bad-boy” image. Though I consider it a bit of a stretch to include these individual's into that category, everyone is entitled to have their fantasy's.
  The last of these individual's (that were kicked-out), were removed in the last couple of years. Not that any of them had been attending, much less training at any classes with Taika (other than a possible bi-annual appearance) over the previous 8-10 years.
  Are they knowledgeable? Well, yes, and no. This would be one case where basics, is basics. And “I” would only feel comfortable with learning those (basics) from those individual's/groups. It's not that they are un-knowledgable, only that they are not as-knowledgable (IMO).
  We've had numerous Ex-student's (of these groups) that have informed us and demonstrated to us, what/how things were shown/taught. IMO, not necessarily (nor always) wrong, just not always correct.
  There will always be rumors/gossip about both (present and ex-Ryute member's). To myself, it's more important that you obtain an instructor that is to your liking. My feelings about these people are irrelevant (to anyone seeking instruction). I would only suggest that you find an instructor that maintained a steady (and respected) relationship to the association and with Taika for as long as Taika was alive.
  Just keep in mind, the greater the time before Taika's death that an individual was kicked out of the association (and I'm only aware of One long-term person, that left on good terms), the greater the difference between what they are teaching, and what Taika advocated as being correct, will that information/instruction be.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

WTF, is Reality Based Self-Defense?

  I love to keep track of the latest Nonsense that's being promoted as “Self-Defense”. It's been in the market for a few years now, but I (really) hadn't given it much thought. I had a female ask me what “Reality Based” Self-Defense was supposed to be? And how was it different from any other Self-Defense? After ceasing my gut wrenching laughter, I informed her that it was NO different, and that it's just a marketing/advertising slogan. RBSD (Real Bull Shit Definitely) is just the latest way for persons with limited martial art's experience to to promote themselves as being knowledgeable.
  Just as with Reality TV, the only reality is that someone's getting paid to act like an ass-hat. After having this discussion, I decided I'd see what the latest that this “Reality” (world) was offering, and I was (unsurprisingly) disappointed as usual with what I found.
  I would estimate that 80-95% of these websites offered a Tattoo covered guy with muscles and a no-sleeve shirt on (to display the “tat's” I guess?), ranting about how “Traditional martial arts make you learn a lot of nonsense that doesn't work”!
  Despite all the complaining about traditional training methods, I saw an awful lot of the same old “sparring” nonsense being pushed as (somehow?) being the way to learn how to protect yourself. These same fool's tout that They have determined the best way to teach someone how to defend themselves (yet utilize numerous versions of the same things that everyone else uses).
  From a purely legal standing, the vast majority of these idiots are advocating illegal tendency's. In virtually every instance that I've found, these individual's are promoting manors of defending one's self that would cause the user be arrested in many municipalities.
The really sad part (IMO) is that there are numerous (often “ex”) police officer's who are teaching this trash! If you've read any of my own commentary’s regarding L.E. Officer's (as students), take that times 50 when they're the instructor's! The vast majority of what we are teaching student/officer's, is how to perform what they were shown in their dept. training, correctly.
  These idiot's only appeal to the young, physically fit, male student. Mainly because everything they teach is strength based. Although they often feature female student's (or at least scantily clad Pictures of females, LOL), try to find one that could perform the taught methodology (effectively). Better yet, find anyone who could do/use it when they're 55+ yrs. Old (against a 26 yr. Old Male Aggressor).
  These people are only going to appeal to a limited number/market of student's. Frankly (IMO), they can have that market. That group is rarely seeking long-term study (which is what's required for any level of proficiency in RyuTe). In any event, That group is likewise the least in need of learning any form of martial arts training.
  What I've seen (and experimented with some student's who have actually participated in this stuff) is almost exactly what one would see on the televised matches. None of it takes into account the lack of rules (in a real confrontation) that will influence an outcome. Nor does it consider the legal consequences of the performance of those actions which are taught. The very thing that they complain about traditional martial arts as being it's deficiency's, are it's own very weakness.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Reach Out and Touch (Faith)

  I was asked to more fully describe an application that we teach to our students. This particular one is taught in progressive stages (with variations being added as the student progresses and/or encounter's them while practicing the motions).
  The kihon/basic version, consists of a Left Inside Parry, done in conjunction with a Right Outside/Forward Forearm strike. This is one of those technique's that doesn't change, regardless of which hand (Right/Left) the uke/aggressor attempts to strike with.
  The (Really) basic version would be shown to react to a Right Punch (being thrown) by parrying the aggressor's (striking) Right hand across their chest (to waist level) with their own Left Hand, while performing a Right (handed) Outside Forearm Strike, followed by a Right Hand (thumb-up) “milking-punch” Strike to the uke's (Left) upper chest cavity (or the Right side of the uke's neck).
  As the student becomes familiar with this motion, we have the uke randomly switch, between (performing) a Right punch, and a Left punch. For the Left Punch both of the tori's arm's will motion the exact same, except that the tori's Left hand will touch the uke's Right shoulder, and wipe downward upon the uke's chest (or strike the Right-Side of the uke's Neck). The tori's Right hand raises (as done previously), and then motions forward (similar to a back-fist). This (Right) hand can either strike the uke's arm (slightly above the elbow, to the medial aspect, where a nerve is located), or can open and pass over the uke's arm, to be swept downward. This will be followed with the Right arm motioning the uke's Left arm across their body, while pivoting (itself) upward to apply an arm-bar.
  The technique is further expanded to include every possible scenario that the uke is likely (or even able) to perform. There are multiple responses to any option that the uke may choose to do with either arm (these include the “standard” straight punch, a hay-maker, a miss with a pull-back), as well as any combination of these motions (done by either arm).
  As with many technique's, we have students begin by performing the essential actions in the air (Hands only, no footwork)

A. The student begins in a Natural stance, with both hands at their
B. As the uke begins their strike, the tori will cover their groin area
       using their Right hand while raising their Left hand straight
       upwards and forward (from their body).
C. The Right hand will continue to rise, covering the ribs and acting
       as a back-up for the Left hand's covering motions.When the Left
       hand reaches the shoulder height (of the uke), their Left hand
       will motion across to the center of the uke's chest.
D. As the tori's Left hand reaches the center of the uke's chest, that
       hand will begin motioning (in a wiping manner, palm out/down)
       downward towards the uke's belt-line.
E. The Tori's Right hand will reach a vertical position, then motion
       forward (initially, to strike the uke upon their upper-chest.
Once these basic hand motions are understood, we will include the basic footwork....

A. As the hands motion upward, the tori's bodyweight is shifted to   
    the balls of their feet.
B. The tori will pivot (on the ball's of their feet) and shift their 
     weight to the Left foot.
C. The tori will raise their knee (initially protecting the groin) to  
     gain the attention of the uke (both as distraction, and to  
     divert the uke's attention away from the tori's hands).
D. The tori will then perform a straight kick (preferably just  
     above and to the medial-side of the uke's Left Knee). Either, the
     raising of the knee, or the kick to the leg of the uke, will often
     cause the uke to lean forward (moving their head/neck closer to
     the tori) while motioning their hips rearward.
E. Depending upon the uke's actions/reactions, if their head motions
    closer to the tori, it may be more prudent to strike them upon (the
    Right-side of) their neck (other than the previously mentioned
    upper-chest cavity location). The foot of the kicking leg, should  
    be dropped (placed) directly downward (as shown)from where it
    was utilized.
 From this point on, the student would be working on (various) take-down, arm manipulations and controlling techniques. If there turns out to be an interest, then maybe I'll explain/show how we do some of those motions. This is one of those techniques that has multiple directions that it can be taken, or can respond to.
  My initial desire was to illustrate how this same motion would be used (in the same manor) whether the uke were to strike with (either) their Right or their Left hand. There was previously some confusion as to how that could be (from reader's). If I have sufficient uke's/models (of which I only had 1, aka: "Ian" on this evening), then I'll provide photos exampling that ability (utilizing this technique's motions). 
 Ian is presently working on this particular manner of applying this technique (his ranking is Ikkyu). A student of lower kyu-rank, would be using a more simplistic version of the same technique. In RyuTe, all student's work on some form of the same technique, together.
  For beginning students, much of this (manner of) practice, is to familiarize the student with extending out towards the uke/aggressor. To often students want to chase the aggressor's hand (often, all the way back into their own face, LOL). If you notice, Ian is reaching out towards the (imagined) uke's shoulders (his hands are closer to the uke, than to himself). It is this distance that we want students to become comfortable with.
 If you find this information some-what interesting or if you have any questions, I'd be happy to elaborate on anything I've discussed here. I don't (really) write this blog for me (I'm already familiar with what I'm writing about, LOL). I write it to answer questions regarding what I teach (for you, the reader),  and what I teach/study is RyuTe. There have (of course) also been times when reader's have enlightened me to things and circumstances that had been previously missed/unrealized as well.
 For those with any experience with RyuTe, the motions should be immediately recognizable (from Naihanchi kata), as well as the variations on the "Double-Block" (our Double Forearm Strike).

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Light has Gone Dark........

  Well, as most people are now aware, Taika has passed. Respecting his family's wishes, everyone in the association has refrained from posting anything about it, that information has been leaked, and is now out. His recent medical difficulties have proven to be fatal, and he succumbed to their effects upon his system (Monday, June 18, 8:23 AM, 2012). He will be missed by all who have been lucky enough to have studied from him.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Original Sin

  Our original intent with opening a dojo, was purely self-serving. We wanted to work with like-minded Yudansha who (also) wanted to increase their knowledge and understanding of what had been shown and learned from Taika's instruction. This was only partially accomplished.
  We allowed Yudansha level practitioner's from other system's to participate as well (though they never stayed around too long, WTF?). What we discovered, was that the majority of individual's (regardless of which system they studied) were not knowledgeable enough in their own technique's application, to contribute to the project. This isn't to say they couldn't make them work, only that they didn't (always) understand how/why the technique did (or didn't) work.
  Additionally, this isn't to say that we were so intelligent and knowledgeable about the techniques. Only that they (so obviously) weren't. This was what led us to develop The 6 Basic Tuite Principles. These were instructional principles that could be utilized when learning/applying any of the tuite technique's that had been taught to us (by Taika).
  What we thought we were doing, was pointing out the obvious. What we discovered, was that we were pointing out what had been ignored. Everything that we listed (in those principles) had been originally put forth by Taika. And (in Taika's typical manor) if you didn't pay attention to it (when he originally said it), then it was your fault (and/or problem) to figure it out (now).
  This discovery kind of side-tracked our training endeavor. Additionally, we began training a group of student's (who were Yudansha) at yet another school. They were not originally RyuTe, so they (first) had to be brought in to the association. That took time, LOL.
  That was 3 year's ago, that school now has 2 Association Yudansha (with 2 others assisting) for the instruction of their RyuTe students. The number of RyuTe students at that school is also limited (hence no need for a greater number of Yudansha). This (should) free myself to attend our (own) school to work with it's (growing) attendance.
  Hopefully, this will also allow my associate and myself to pursue our interests as well. We will (hopefully) be finishing up our Tuite manual, and begin making further headway on our Kyusho research.
  Though we began with the intent of forming a cooperative research group, what came about was the development of a training format for (already) known material (Tuite). It's not that this was a bad thing, only that we feel that (maybe) some opportunity has been lost.
  Regardless, we are going to pursue our own interests (as well as our students) as we progress in our endeavors. It is our hope that we can connect with other RyuTe members who are attempting to do similar research.
  Having mentioned this (several times on my blog) before, We are likely to never reach the ability level of Taika, but that doesn't mean we can't acquire an equal, and maybe even a better understanding of what he does.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Progression, Regression or Only Stagnation?

  When I first began my study with Taika, everything that he taught was a new experience. Though having studied a (so-called) “traditional” system prior to studying with Taika, everything that had been shown to me before, had to be relearned (according to Taika, correctly).
  Having worked with numerous individual's who had done like myself (transferred from a different Japanese/Okinawan system), it was interesting to observe what was embraced, and what was discarded, if not ignored (by those individual's).
  There were a number of them that used to (and still do) teach the “Ki” energy/flowing B.S. I admit that I've used the water/flowing analogy to describe motion and momentum transfer on numerous occasions, but never as a premiss for explaining an application's effectiveness.
  It took myself a few years to completely abandon what I taught (and did) before, but until I made that conversion, my progress (in RyuTe) was excruciatingly slow. There were too many opposing principles that couldn't be resolved until I did. Until I embraced the system (as a whole) I didn't really experience (much of) any progress (beyond the basics).
  Often the simplest things, like learning to kick the uke's legs (only) required a great deal of effort (on my part), after having that be a “banned” practice for those numerous years prior to beginning RyuTe (in my previous system).
  Even the practice of kata was vastly different when I began my study. In my prior system, kata practice amounted to (only) being a requirement (for the next belt test). There was no (legitimate) bunkai that was being shown (or even hinted at).
  The biggest (weight, IMO) practice to abandon (at least in methodology), is that of sparring (or at least, in how it's being done). I have no problem with “1” student donning safety gear while another is allowed to pummel them using medium/full power strikes (in response to an aggression attempt). My problems with how the practice is commonly being done, begins when both person's have the gear on.
  In my prior system, 1 and 2-step (practice) was considered to be basic and/or practice. Sparring was what was supposed to be (considered) real (OK, I was young, and ignorant of the ways of the world, LOL). When I began RyuTe, those two subjects (step practice and sparring) were reversed in their practical priority status (and sparring, was actually demoted to a lower level than 1 and 2-step had been at previously and is now considered to be detrimental).
  What had been practiced for grabs, pushes and such (grappling), was a collection of Jujutsu and Aikido techniques (very poor substitutes for Tuite BTW, LOL). These techniques were actually the easiest to abandon (seeing as how what was being shown didn't posses the inherent weaknesses that the previous techniques did).
  Possibly what these other person's studied didn't contain the (IMO) serious flaws that I experienced, or maybe they found some use for their old sparring techniques (that I had dismissed, and completely abandoned, deeming them a useless waste of my student's time).
  For myself, I view what has been learned, and what has been abandoned as being a progression (in what I am teaching). My present concern is that of stagnation. In those regards, we are continuing with our research. I believe that if that stops, then what has been gained, will surely be abandoned, and then lost


Friday, June 8, 2012

What Good is Tuite ?

  A recent comment to one of my blogs brought up a recurring opinion,.. “of what use is tuite, if I can't/don't get grabbed by the aggressor”? The real problem is not with the techniques, but with the perception of the techniques.
  There are numerous aspects to tuite, but what is commonly focused upon is the response to grabs made by an aggressor. Many of them are very similar to motions/techniques performed by other methodology's. That fact (in and of itself), does not imply that they are performed in the same manner.
  Additionally, tuite is commonly performed in response to something specifically being done. If that situation doesn't occur, then the technique can't be performed. The alternative to that situation, is to create the situation (that is required to implement the technique).
  Tuite can be either the initial response, or the follow-up (to an attempted aggression). Not every situation will allow for a tuite type of response to be initially implemented. They are mostly a response to a hand's-on situation (of either the aggressor's, or the defender's hands).
  One of the advantages to tuite, is that any strength disparity’s become irrelevant. When properly implemented, tuite will work on an aggressor. I've been through this debate a hundred times. Even when the recipient is under the influence of nerve numbing drugs, they will still react to these techniques. The techniques are not based upon pain compliance (responses). They effect the brain's subliminal responses to applied pressures that the brain perceives as physically threatening (whether they actually are, or not).
  In our classes, we commonly have a number of smaller female students (90-115#). Our larger students (Male) average around 200#. This is almost a 2-1 weight difference, and the females are able to implement the shown techniques (effectively) against the males. My point being, that strength/size is not the determining factor to technique success/failure.
  Presenting examples of individuals who would appear to be a threat (only because of their physical size/strength), is not an argument against a defensive method. Stating a specific action that a person may attempt (in regards to an implied response) is something that could be debated.
  When we were initially shown/taught tuite, Taika did not show any submission/compliance applications. His method (as originally taught to us) was to incapacitate an aggressor (in the easiest, fastest manor possible). That meant either physically, or by placing them in an unconscious state (K.O.'d..LOL).
  When Taika became aware of our L.E. Instruction, he (then) began showing immobilization and submission technique applications. Many of those had to be modified in order to be used in L.E. As well, LOL.
  Tuite is not an end-all answer to every situation that a student will encounter. It is, a response to many commonly encountered situations that can be de-escalated before they turn into something that can't be.
  As I've stated before, Tuite is the second most queried RyuTe topic (1st being Kyusho, naturally LOL). It's also the most miss-applied. There are more screwed-up versions/examples of techniques being called tuite (on the web) than there are MA systems. Everybody thinks they have tuite (already) in their system,... they may very well have some form of manipulation techniques, but Tuite?,..not likely.

Monday, June 4, 2012

To (the) Arm's!

  I've been involved in numerous debates (to be nice, LOL) over the effectiveness, or even practicality of performing strikes upon an aggressor's arm's (during a confrontation). I'm usually given the reason (or excuse) for someone's disdain of them, as being that they won't work (at least on them) and it's argued that they can't even be performed (again, on them, LOL).

  Well, it's nice to believe that your so tough/skilled/good that you can ignore being struck (but only on the arms?), but I would have to say that you just haven't been struck correctly.

  Now, when I say that to someone, they tend to get pissed (?). I'm not totally sure why, but they do. Why do people believe that an arm cannot be stricken, in such a way that it is injured (to the extent that it cannot be further utilized)? And why is it, that every person I query, is familiar with banging their arm's funny-bone, yet will insist that an aggressor's arm's are not considered to be valid targets (in an altercation)?

  I was recently having an E-mail exchange (friendly, LOL....I think?), over this very subject, and I was reminded, that even though I can demonstrate something to occur, that doesn't make it a valid argument/statement. Knowing that I am certainly nothing special (and I know that I can use them as a functional application), I have my student's practice their application as well. They, have likewise been able to produce equivalent results for themselves using this manner of defensive striking.

  When I listen to the inevitable complaints (from new students) about their inability to strike an opponent's arm, I usually have to begin by correcting their (basic) technique(s). I've found that student's (at least initially) have the tendency of performing motions (blocks, strikes etc.) too close to their own body.
This is usually accounted for, by the student's proclivity to attempt a strike the aggressor's hand/fist (instead of the aggressor's arm). By doing so, they end up chasing the aggressor's hand (all the way into their own face, LOL).

  When we examine the tendency's of the limb (that we're attempting to strike) overall, we see that the fastest moving part of that limb, is the hand (regardless of whether it's open or closed). I believe people tend to focus upon the hand, only because that's what they're being hit with (usually).

  We attempt to redirect the student's attention/focus onto the propeller/director of that appendage. Beginning at the shoulder, the upper arm controls the majority of the limb's (gross) movement. In conjunction with extension of the elbow, forward motion is attained by raising the upper arm (again, performed at the shoulder joint). Understanding all of the inter-connections required to perform a strike, will assist the student in knowing what's required to prevent a strikes occurrence, and/or preventing it's successful completion.

  Student's should watch one another perform punches, and watch the arm's motions throughout the strike. It can be quickly ascertained that the hand is the fastest moving part of the limb (during a strike). The slowest movement, would be at the shoulder. Everything in between, is only moving at a moderate (comparatively speaking) speed.

  Attempting to strike the hand itself, is a pointless venture (not to mention not being very productive anyway). The clenched hand (fist) is intended to protect the fingers, as well as provide a bludgeoning device to strike with.

  The anterior aspect of the radial side of the wrist offers several locations for distally directed strikes. The dorsal aspect of the forearm (both medial and distal), just below the elbow joint (3-4”), offer striking opportunities that will open the hand (as well as causing a dropping action and numbing of the forearm overall).
These strikes will most often cause a knee-buckle (of the uke) in reaction to the strikes made upon the uke's forearm. This is described as being an involuntary response to those strikes.

  Strikes targeting the upper arm (bicep/triceps regions) can be performed upon most every aspect (frontal, dorsal, medial, distal), there are several locations upon each (and each having it's own direction of required impact). These locations tend to only redirect the upper arm's direction of motion and produce localized pain/discomfort (if/when utilized independently, i.e. struck), but when used in conjunction with other applications (as well as manipulations), can be useful for directing overall body motion and control.

  When the uke/aggressor is performing a striking motion (punch), the hand/forearm is generally directed straight at the tori. The uke's upper arm is (initially) at a 90º angle, this offers access to particular (striking) angles of attack at locations in that area. As the arm straightens (and the hand/fist becomes closer), the forearm becomes a more suitable target (though with greater risk, due to proximity and speed). The majority of strikes to this region are often glancing (when/if performed with the hand), and penetrating (but with a saw-like action) when using the forearm (to strike it with). Either of which, occurring at a 90º to the forearm.

  Neither us, nor our student's find these (types of) strikes particularly difficult to implement, yet one can find reams of proclaimed disbelief and dismissal of these types of strikes (both of their effectiveness, and/or the ability to even perform them). Could someone please explain the reason for this denial?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Stop Fighting

  One of the Big misconceptions that student's have when they begin training with us, is that they are learning how to fight. At no time have we ever stated that we were teaching students how to fight. We train students to defend themselves from a physical assault.
  If/when someone doesn't know the difference between these to two subjects, then we have to explain our definition of these two subjects (to them). A “fight” is a contest of dominance, usually agreed to by the involved party's. An assault, is an attack upon someone who is not a willing participant. 
  I tend to be a little anal, when it comes to using words correctly (in their proper context). I'm by no means perfect at it, but I do give it an honest attempt.
  When I hear/read about people training to fight, I usually have to read/inquire further in order to determine the (actual) intent (from their implied training). Very often, it is exactly that (they're learning how to fight). They train to do some manner of competitive combat, with protective equipment, and a referee, and all the clean, safe things that will allow them to return (every week) to repeat it again and again.
  Training to defend one's self from an attack, by an individual who intends to cause you harm (if whatever it is that they want, doesn't happen), is a completely different event (than some contest between two padded-up individual's with a Judge present to prevent injuries).
  I'll grant you, it's difficult to practice the defensive applications being taught, without incurring some risk of injury. It's because of this risk, that most instruction is carried out with the use of padded protective gear. It isn't the use of the gear, that trouble's me the most. It's the fact that both participants are covered with it (tori, and uke).
  If the tori is practicing application of a striking technique, then why should they have (any) protective padding on? Is not the uke supposed to be the one being struck? (and would therefor require the protective padding).
  If/when both parties are covered in protective padding, what's the point of anything that's being done? I'm sorry (sort of...), but that just seems asinine to me. Who is really gaining anything (applicable) from that sort of practice?
  People do not move naturally when covered in this padding, nor do they strike naturally (either offensively, or defensively). Having both parties don this padding and fluff upon each other for 5 or 10 minutes at a time is not training (for an assault).
  The mere fact that both parties are covered in protective padding removes any perception of (actual) threat. Additionally (at least in RyuTe), by wearing this padding (upon the hands) one's technique's are greatly diminished (if even able to be performed at all).
  I've been involved with numerous discussion's about the practicality (or even probability) of the application of defensive strikes being applied upon an aggressor's arm's (during a confrontation). Like anything else, these motions must be practiced. The most common (if not regular) response that I receive, is that whomever has been repeatedly beat upon (their arms) and has never suffered any result that would not allow them to continue an assault.
  I believe the greatest mistake that people make in regards to these (types of) strikes, is that they consider them individually. If someone were to (only) receive 1 strike upon a location on the arm, I could understand the hesitancy in believing their applicability. But just as I wouldn't expect a single strike (alone) to the torso, to be able to incapacitate someone, neither would I expect a single strike to a limb to (completely) incapacitate that limb either.
  We commonly perform several strikes (in close succession) to attain a complete nullification of an arm's ability to function. Granted, for many person's, a correctly applied single strike can create an ineffective/unusable limb (for a short time), but more commonly, several strikes are being implemented to create the desired effect/result.
  I believe it's the idea of striking a limb (instead of someone's face) that seems to bother people the most. They (apparently) seek the visual satisfaction(?) of striking their opponent/aggressor's face (despite the fact that it's been repeatedly proven that doing so, does little to end an altercation/assault).
  The biggest problem with fighting an attacker, is that it does nothing to stop the attacker. It's a totally different mindset. Fighting, implies that someone will give up and/or they will quit. Defending one's self, means that you win, or you lose. If you don't understand the difference, then you've never actually been attacked.