Sunday, September 30, 2012

Open, or Empty?

  One of the more minor irritations that I commonly encounter, is the implication that Kara Te, is/should be translated as “empty-hand”. Though (at first) seeming to make sense (when viewing a Japanese/English dictionary), it's not entirely accurate.
  Though initially seeming to be correct, it's an (IMO) very short-sighted translation of the kanji being utilized. The original kanji that was utilized was kara (meaning “China”). When the Japanese began their Imperial expansion, it became “politically correct” to change the particular kanji of “kara” to something not so volatile (given the fact that they were invading China at the time, LOL).
  Considering their options, the form of kara that they chose to use was better than the other alternatives available (“corpse”, “Korea” and “Dead”, LOL). As with many kanji, there are multiple interpretations for the particular kanji that they chose to use.
  The kanji utilized, also meant “open”, which was a much more acceptable word for what the Okinawan's view of the art. Though many of the “old-timers” retained the more simplistic (and encompassing) term “Te”, the modernists (of the time, 1930's-40's), began using the term “kara(te)” on a more regular/public basis (along with the “new” kanji).
  I'm regularly irritated by people saying “empty” (hand), this makes no sense (in regards to what's actually being taught). “Open” hand is a direct correlation to what/how we teach. Only on rare occasion do I ever use the term “Karate” anyway (I usually condense it to only “Te”).
  I'm sure (to some extent) this also relates to my practice of Shuji. Because of my involvement in it, I've read a number of Japanese/English dictionary's (as well as having heard Taika lament on the subject, LOL). Japanese Kanji are very often more involved than they would at first appear.
  As a student (and instructor) of RyuTe® I'm quite familiar with the concept of the “open” hand (as opposed to the “closed-fist"). An open-hand is faster, stronger and offers greater flexibility in application methods. Even the RyuTe® “punching” hand (fist) is not clenched tightly (as is done in most methodology's).
  Considering the popularity of weapon's utilized in the various Okinawan systems, the term “empty-hand” tends to make one sound ignorant of what the system's instruction (actually) consists of. As with the RyuTe® punch, the majority of RyuTe®'s hand technique's are performed with an “open” (unclenched) hand.
  Taika often stated (as he did in his book) the open hand is one which is offering aid and assistance, the empty-hand is one that is begging. The student of Te, has no need to beg, the open hand is to be used to both help and protect.
 What we study, is the Okinawan way of the hand, the open hand.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Second (and Third) That Motion

  What if kata motion were just that, a motion. Over the years, I've seen dozen's of different bunkai for just about every kata motion that's ever been done. Some good, some bad.
  What I commonly encounter is people showing “1” (though sometimes more) technique for each motion performed in the kata. For the sake of simplicity, this would be the easiest for student's to understand, and to remember.
  The difficulty that I had with this theory, was the limitation's it implied. I (personally) find it difficult to believe that someone would create a kata that only had the 30 (or so) techniques being represented for practice or as a mnemonic (much less as a tool for further learning).
  I find it difficult to believe that anyone would create a kata, and then regard it as being some manner of magnum opus in order to only remember/practice a (few) limited number of techniques (and then attempt to keep it a big secret). There would be no point to doing so.
  When the Japanese were shown and taught the kata, they accepted the motions at their face value. This perspective (at the time) worked with the Japanese requirements of recruiting young males for military service.
  After the war, there existed a level of animosity (if not outright hostility) towards Japan (by the Okinawan's). The few Okinawan's that were aware of many of the (true) kata bunkai, had no desire to share that knowledge with the Japanese (the Japanese military had committed numerous atrocities upon the Okinawan people during the war, and especially during the last few months of the war). 
  This was one subject that irritated Taika when he would read some westerner's reasoning as to why the (correct) bunkai wasn't taught or shown to western student's. By his accounts, the Okinawan's held no animosity towards the American's.
  When the war ended, the Okinawan's wanted nothing to do with the Japanese (because of the lies and atrocities that were committed upon them by the Japanese). It would have been doubtful that any Okinawan would have divulged any known bunkai “secrets” to them.
  From the accounts that Taika gave, the Japanese were still considered to be the “new” students (when the war first began, ie. “1930's”). The master's that were still living at that time wouldn't have been comfortable with revealing too much with those (from their perspective) new student's (the Japanese). 
  Aside from this antipathy towards the Japanese, many of the older master's of “Te” had died (either before the war's end, or during that time period). This was often because of the war itself, or from their advanced years (both Uhugushigu and Wakinaguri were over 90 years of age when Taika met them following the war).
  Because of these numerous factors, the Japanese were never really shown the (same) type of bunkai that Taika has developed for RyuTe®. When my associate and myself are teaching (as well as doing our own technique research), we frequently recognize various kata motions during our research practice (because of his instruction on how to determine bunkai). 
  It's been my own opinion, that all motions performed within the kata, are there to example proper application motion. Though the common interpretation of “bunkai” are individual techniques, we have found that the kata motions are (more) representative of general application (motions).
  It appears to be more popular to (need to?) learn “ump-teen” numerous kata, in order to learn more techniques. This doesn't make sense (at least to me). When one references the known techniques and researches the motions in the kata to them, one see's that every motion within the kata has the potential of/for technique application.
  I don't believe that the kata were derived from technique motions (and just lumped together). It's my opinion, that the kata motions are representative of general, as well as specific (technique and body) motions.
  When one researches the old masters and what they taught, each would rarely instruct more than a couple of kata to their students. Yet in virtually every system taught today, it seems that students are required to learn more and more kata (yet are barely able to interpret more than a few “token” technique contained within the motions of each of the kata they already know). 
  If one will focus upon each and every motion within the kata (that they are researching), they will discover far more than a collection of individual techniques. They will learn the principles of what makes their system of choice work. 
  I've come to believe that the study of bunkai, is more than the simplistic collection of individual techniques. True bunkai is learning the principles and gaining the understanding of motion and reaction (that are contained within those kata motions). 


Friday, September 21, 2012

A Book Review (?)

  My associate was describing the fallacy's that circulate amidst the martial arts community in regards to “Tuite” recently (to a class attendee). This individual is another (RyuTe®) instructor's student, and is attending our class to expand their own tuite/kyusho knowledge/exposure.
  While discussing the various nonsense that permeates the industry (as a whole), they were discussing the various “crap” that was being purported to being “Tuite”. My associate pulled one of his books off of the shelf and was describing it's contents to the individual (and basically whining about how he had wasted  $ on buying that particular book on-line, LOL).
  He then stated that “I” should write a review of the book on my blog. Unfortunately (for Me), That meant that I would have to (actually) read it (to provide an honest review). I'm not exactly certain of where, when or how, but my associate should best remember that pay-backs are hell.
  I happen to read quite a bit. Not as much as when I was younger, but I still read fairly quickly, and with a respectable level of literacy. This particular book was an exercise in the tolerance of stupidity and ignorance
The book was
 “Okinawan Karate”(The Secret Art of Tuite). By Javier Martinez
  Before I had finished the “introduction”, I had to search the internet to (try) to find this guys credential's (which I could not do). To be fair, I became board after about an hour. The only thing that I did find, was that he was from San Juan, Pueto Rico,...uh,... that's all?... Now I'm sure there's more (somewhere), but if it takes longer than an hour to find out that (little) bit of information on/about him, I don't give a sh*t about him (he's the one wanting to make claims of knowledge, he should provide that information, … somewhere, LOL).
  The “book”, was also 12 freaking years old, LOL. If it had made any matter of influence upon the martial arts community, I think it would have done so by now, LOL. It's (basically) filled with his assumptions about (everything) “Te”. He provided a (very) biased opinion about how he believed te developed on Okinawa (which, according to him, it didn't).
  He began, by illustrating his own ignorance of the language. He stated that “he” couldn't find anyone on Okinawa that could/would tell him about “Tuite” (he states that no one knew anything about it), Well “Fin' no Sh*t dumbass, LOL (I've written a blog on this very subject). Taika made the word up (read the explanatory blog on“Tuite” (The “word”) as to why). All these moron's that claim to teach “Tuite” don't know what the “F” their talking about. They may teach tori te, or even tuide, but they won't be teaching tuite, unless they studied it from Taika.
  To be (some-what) fair, he's only jumping on the (same) bandwagon that everyone else had done (hell, everybody “now” teaches Tuite, just ask em”, LOL). 
  Once I slogged through his (whiny) search for instruction (for which he obviously found somebody, though I doubt their legitimacy once having read his conclusions). I had to read through his speculative history (which he transposed various documented time periods to fit into his theory's).
  In a nutshell (in “his” theory), everything came from China, the indigenous people (both Okinawan and Japanese) got everything from China (they just re-labled and re-worked it to call it thiers). He states that people (that he shows his stuff to) are threatened by his explanations. Hmmm, ..No, I think the are offended by his revisionist statements, and transposing of historical events.
  If one makes it through his historical accounts, he attempts to define kata motions. The interpretations that he provides, are (IMO) ridiculous. To myself, hair-pulling and finger tweaks, are hardly something that (anyone) would have deliberately placed into a kata.
  He attempts to introduce “his” terminology for defining categories of techniques (basically, 3 or more syllable words for each, that sound very technical/scientific, but are only confusing and incorrect if not simply misleading). In a further attempt to cover all the bases, he also mentions the TCM (crap), but only briefly (I suppose in an attempt to appeal to all the different “camps” on the issue, LOL).
  He also describes (and provides some well-drawn sketches for) all the hand motions/grabs that “He” uses, but NEVER covering any of the motions that most (Okinawan) systems (including RyuTe®) use. His description of a punch, and it's execution are flawed (IMO), and the described hand techniques are pathetic
  His illustrated “bunkai” is (IMO)...stupid. He states that what is shown is “basic”, but what I see, are overly involved and complicated motions of questionable application ability, other words, Stupid.
  The written conclusion (at the end of the book) was a condescending speech about his own “greater” abilities and how the Okinawan's needed to understand that everything they do, is Chinese in origin (basically implying that they're too stupid to of developed anything themselves).
  Basically, it made me want to get a plane ticket to San Juan, just to bitch-slap this self-righteous know-nothing....But, I also had to temper my thoughts with the fact that this guy has gone nowhere. The book was written in 2001?, and I've certainly never heard of him. He obviously never “sold” his BS to the general public. I did find it amazing how many “book reviews” were favorable towards it, some were even recent (within the last 8 months).
  The fact that this piece of trash (the book, LOL) is even still in print, makes it clear (to me) that there are (still) a lot of severely un-informed people out there. It's publications like this one, that further muddy the water's of information, and basic knowledge. 
  If anyone has anything favorable to say in regards to this book, please let me know what the f*#k it would be, because I found nothing in this book to be of either accuracy or value.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Single Reaction Defenses #2 and #3

"Single Motion Defensive Response" #2
 This is the 2nd version of the previously described Combination, and is utilized when the previously practiced motion is compromised by the Uke retracting their striking hand/arm before the Tori is able to secure the ability to manipulate/control it.
 Though often viewed as being only a possibility, this response is a very probable occurrence. If (or when) the Tori is not able to achieve an Arm-Bar (quickly enough), the Uke will no-doubt retract their striking arm to prevent it's being injured and/or manipulated by the Tori. This can also occur if/when the Tori doesn't correctly apply the technique (even if successfully/correctly placing their arm's in the general positioning). Prevention of this occurrence is (primarily) done through the speed of the initial technique application.
 This application's practice begins when the Uke has bent/retracted their arm (towards their own chest). As the Uke performs this action, the Tori will slide their Lower (the Tori's Right) hand towards/onto the Uke's retracting hand. The Tori's “Higher”(in this case, the Tori's Left) hand motions to grasp the Uke's arm above and behind their Right elbow. Their Right hand will grasp the Uke's hand/fist(that they are pulling back), Fold it forward (inward) towards the uke, and rotate it outward (laterally) to their Right side, and then press it downward towards the ground. 
 When grasping the Uke's hand/fist, it is rolled/folded forward (towards the palm), and the “pinky” finger is motioned across the Uke's wrist. The Uke's grasped hand is then motioned to the uke's side/rear and straight-down towards the ground. This motion is assisted by the Tori's other hand (positioned on the Uke's arm above their elbow) by moving the elbow inward (medially, towards the Uke's center-chest).
 As with the previously discussed application, this motion could be assisted with the application of a kick or knee-spear (used to additionally rotate and/or collapse the Uke). To assist in transferring the uke's body-weight (to the Uke's Left leg), the Tori could (optionally) knee-spear the Uke's Right thigh.
 Though the Uke may chose to (completely) roll over (to a prone position, face down), it is a rare occurrence. Most often the Uke will be taken to the ground, and will be placed on their back. We instruct students in two (standard) manner's of rolling the Uke to the prone position (though I won't be covering those here, at this time).

SMDR  #3
  This response is to practice against a (second) Opposite-Side (Left-Handed) Strike Attempt made by an aggressor.
  If/when the initially captured (Uke's) Right arm is not manipulated quickly enough, and If (for what-ever reason) the technique hasn't or can't be applied, the Uke will attempt to strike the Tori with their “free” (opposite/Left) arm. These motions are shown to allow the (student) Tori to respond to those attempts.
  When the Uke begins their attempted strike (by the “free” Left hand/arm), the Tori will motion their arm located closest to the uke (which in this example, will be their Left arm) across the Uke's chest and into/on top of the elbow of the Uke's striking arm (nullifying that strike attempt). The Tori's Right arm will be moved with the Tori's body, as the Tori rotates their body/position to their own Left, while shifting their body position to their own Right, and to the front of the Uke.
 The Tori's Right arm will motion upward and to the right as it strikes the Uke upon the Right side of their neck. The Tori's Left arm will motion/slide down the Uke's arm to grasp the wrist of that arm. After striking the Uke's neck, the tori's Right arm is taken over the Uke's head, and motions down the back-side of the Uke's Left arm (this assists in rotating the uke to face away from the Tori).
 As the elbow of the Tori's Right arm reaches it's preferred position (slightly above the uke's elbow), The forearm will rotate (clockwise) to a vertical position (to be used as a fulcrum), and will apply light pressure upon the back of the Uke's arm, while the Tori places their Right elbow against the uke's side. The Tori will then lift the wrist of the Uke's Left arm (aka. Arm-Bar). 

 When practiced in succession, the 3 described combination motions can be practiced one after the other (switching between Tori and Uke). The exact manner of these technique's execution can be modified as needed or required (depending on the student's experience). 

 These particular defensive exercises are designed to aid the student in becoming more proficient in defending themselves from common strikes, while utilizing one motion, that will be effective regardless of how the Uke attacks them. 
 Though not my own preferred technique, this is one that we use for exposing students to practicing the concept of  "Single Motion Response".
 Those with RyuTe experience will (no doubt, LOL) of noticed the similarities of these motions to those of the "Spider-Web" exercise. That exercise is another example of "Single Motion Responses".


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Questionable Credentials

  I was doing my usual rummaging about upon the internet and came across a video of a “seminar”(?) put on by a student of one of the “EX” RyuTe® members (who was actually “kicked-out” around 20 years ago).
  It was only interesting, in regards to how they are incorrectly teaching the techniques. The teaching methodology that they are using (in this recent video, from 8/2012), is the same as what was taught 30 years ago (and even then, is being shown incorrectly).
  It was obvious that “their” organization (or “alliance” as it were) hasn't changed (improved) their teaching methods for those techniques (even a little) since it was first shown to their organization's leader.
  From some of the dialog made during this “seminar”, the demonstrator eluded that the group he was showing this stuff to, wasn't part of their alliance (I have to assume that it must have been a recruitment seminar?).
  Seeing that “teaching” is (supposed to be) the main emphasis (for an instructor), one would think that this group would have improved their teaching (as well as their performance/execution) methodology's over the last 20 years.
  If a reader should stumble upon it, they could use it as a “what not to do” reference video (both in how to do a video/seminar, and of the material contained therein). I saw/heard (maybe?) 2 semi-correct statements made during the entire video (of approx. 30min.).
  My first inclination, was to list the (many) mistakes being made, demonstrated and stated within this video, but frankly, if your not able to (obviously) recognize and/or figure them out for yourself, it shouldn't be my responsibility to do so for you (to myself, they are that obvious).
  Beyond being the example of what/how NOT to do a training/seminar video, this abortion examples why seeking qualified instruction is paramount to obtaining legitimate training information. 
  I have (on several of my own blogs) attempted to explain that the majority of what various people are calling "Tuite" (on the internet) rarely is. Even when what they are attempting to utilize are some of Taika's techniques, they do so incorrectly
 This (supposed) "example" clearly illustrates the fact that even when someone has had actual  exposure to tuite (in their training history), doesn't mean that they really know what their talking about (or doing).


Friday, September 14, 2012

How Basic, Are Your Basics?

  When I begin new students with their training, I explain that there will be numerous motions and applications that will be taught in “stages”. This doesn't mean that what I'm showing them isn't (already) applicable, only that they will learn more effective manors of utilizing that motion and/or concept (as their training proceeds).
  The motions (initially) shown, are building blocks (for later development). It's these “basics” that Taika had required to be taught to students before they should be allowed to test for Yudansha (Shodan). Frankly, He didn't want to have to mess with (having to) showing students “basics”. His job, was to teach concepts in the application of (his) techniques.
  Though it would be nice to provide a new student with all the knowledge and techniques that they would require to protect themselves (before reaching Shodan, LOL), it's a rather grueling task to do so (unless one is willing to wait a great deal longer before receiving a ranking of Shodan).
  Personally, I don't see the point. My own opinion of Shodan, is that you've learned all the “basics” of the system. Whether (or not) you can utilize them effectively, is (of course) another matter.
  Once a student has received that Yudansha ranking, they tend to be more (able?) likely to concentrate on what's being shown to them (without the stress of additional material being required to be memorized for some irrelevant “belt/rank test”).
  Additionally, the concern for one's next “test” is of little consequence to the Yudansha student (“rank” has zero bearing on what one is shown after reaching the Shodan/Yudansha level in RyuTe®). 
 The basics (IMO) should consist of knowing, and having the ability to perform all of the basic motions of the studied system. A basic ability to apply those motions will taught once the Yudansha ranking is awarded. The average student will often (naturally) be able to utilize the taught material to some extent (for defensive purposes).
  The majority of MA students will quit their study, having once achieved the rank of Shodan. It's at this level of learning, that their “real” study should (actually) begin. Everything up to this point in their MA education was only foundational to their continued study.
  IMO, students will tend to have the (initial) desire to migrate away from those basics. This being done despite the fact that they are repeatedly told that basics are what they will inevitably resort to using.
  Basics, are the initially taught motions that are continually modified as the student progresses in their study. There's usually several different manor's that each motion could be utilized. The first shown manor's of execution are shown for the (physical) property's of their motion. Contrary to what's commonly believed, those motions become more simplistic as the student progresses.
  Those initial motions, are taught to begin the student learning the necessary motions that will be required for later techniques. Those motions are not (necessarily) more difficult, but do require particular motions to be performed, in a particular manor (for the techniques to function).
  Very often those same motions are pieces of the practiced kata motions. Though most often only being simplistic representations of the applications, the required/important motions are usually what's being represented within the kata motion.
  Many of the initially taught “basic” motions, are building blocks to/for the more involved motions (learned later in one's instruction). One should remember that advanced, doesn't necessarily mean complicated. Stating that a technique is involved, (usually) only implies that there are several (often basic) motions in use simultaneously.
  It's these principles that are what's being utilized in the Single Motion Defensive Responses. Once the first of these motions has been practiced,  we have students practice the second and third (which will be described in blogs that follow).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Single Reaction Defenses #1

 Students will often become apprehensive when (first) asked to demonstrate examples of basic technique application (of their own choice). This is what all of our instruction should be leading the student to do, right? Student's can often become drone-like in their practice if not required to present some self-initiative.
 To begin them on that endeavor, we provide examples for student's to practice. Those examples will be practiced in response to commonly encountered aggressive acts (punches to the head, stomach, a “roundhouse” punch etc.). These are the most commonly encountered “opening motions” used during an assault. 
 These are designed to be learned in a sequence that will allow the student to respond to the various (possible) results from performing those attempts. None of these “combinations” are absolute, nor set in stone (as to their application). Each could be separately modified to fit the individual's personal and/or physical requirements. They are intended to expose the student to the utilization of previously learned technique's and motions
 As with previously shown/learned two-person exercises, the Uke will perform the striking motions at a slow rate of speed. But unlike those exercises, the Tori will perform at (near) full-speed rates of application. “Full-speed” does not equate to “Full-power”, technique's will still be required to be applied in a controlled/safe manor. 
 To begin these exercises,Tori and Uke will stand arm's length apart, with Uke performing a Right (straight) Punch towards the Tori's head.
 The Tori's Left hand is raised forward and upward to approximately (the Uke's) shoulder height (Tori's palm towards Uke's center), The Back of Tori's Right hand is extended forward towards the Uke's “center” (towards the Groin area, palm down) striking1 the uke with the back of the Right hand.
 The Tori will rotate to their Left, while modifying their “stance” to a Right Back stance (Left foot motioning slightly forward when doing so). The Tori's Left hand will contact the inner (medial)-side of the Uke's striking (Right) arm (along the inner Bicep commonly).
 As the Tori Rotates slightly to “face” more towards their Left side (only turning sufficiently to assist in the deflection of the Uke's strike), The hand which is already in contact with the inner side of that arm, will motion towards the uke's striking hand (stopping approx. at the “wrist” area). Tori's Right hand will withdrawal (back towards the tori, leaving that elbow forward) and “wind” back towards the Tori (clockwise) and upward (pivoting at the elbow) until contacting the inner-side of the Uke's striking arm.
 As the Tori's Left hand motions down the uke's arm, it will lower that (Uke's) arm to the tori's waist level. The Tori's Right hand will join the Left's position (at the Uke's wrist) as the Tori motions the Uke's deflected hand in front of and across their own body (moving it to the Tori's Right-Side). 
 When this motion is performed, the Tori's Left arm (slightly above their own Left elbow) contacts the uke's (striking) arm (slightly above the Uke's elbow) as it is transitioned to the Tori's Right-Side. 
 The Tori's Left arm will then contact that elbow against the Uke's side (ribs), then will motion their own wrist/forearm up the Uke's arm until it is against the back-side of the Uke's upper-arm. The Tori's Right hand will push the Uke's (held) wrist forward, and towards their (own) side, and will then lift the Uke's grasped hand (using the Tori's Left hand/arm's placement against the Uke's upper arm as a fulcrum for that motion). This motion will hyper-extend the Uke's elbow forcing the Uke towards the ground (Very basic “Arm-bar” application).
 Prior to the application of pressure upon the Uke's arm (to apply the “Arm-Bar”), the Tori also has the option of knee-spearing (the closer thigh) or of kicking the opposite leg of the Uke. Either of these kick's can assist in the rotation of the uke (thus additionally preventing the attempted use of their free/opposite arm to strike at the tori).
 As mentioned (elsewhere) previously, the 2nd priority of the Tori (within these techniques), is to practice the implementation of their own Speed of technique application. For that reason, these techniques are not (commonly) taught to lower kyu rank student's.
 This is not done to exclude and/or segregate beginning students. It is being done for student Safety purposes. Each of the shown technique's could be taught to the lower kyu rank student's also, only not with the speed factor being utilized. 
 This application is to allow the student to practice defending against an aggressor's Right Hand “Face” Punch. There are 3 introductory versions of this technique that are taught to students. 
The next practice version, is for reacting to the uke's retraction of that punching hand/arm, and then will be transitioned to defending against the Left arm's striking attempts (All of which, use the same opening motions by the Tori).
(1 This could be performed with a simple “flick” as well, the object being to distract (more than to cause serious injury).

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Practice, Is How and Why it Will Work

  I'm usually working on what/how I want to teach to my students, but additionally, I've been focusing on how I want to improve my own techniques as well. That has led me to providing and improving techniques that are ambidextrous as well as simplistic to perform.
  Using principles that were ingrained from Training in Taika's methodology's, my own research is pursuing further development of the single motion responses that I've been teaching to my student's.
  I've attempted to avoid any wasted motion in that development, which in turn has required the development of specific training methods for those motions.
  Those methods have been practiced by students through the use of selective use of protective equipment, and full-speed defensive (and aggressive) motions being used during that practice.
  For the sake of safety, they obviously have to be restricted to singular (individual) responsive portions (of the practiced technique) being performed at a time. If/when practiced at full-speed, the responses being done all at once, would prove to be too (unjustifiably) hazardous for the uke.
  What we do is have the students practice the most common methods of performing an assault, using the taught single motion responses. These responses are always performed in one of these same manners, regardless of which one is utilized.
  These begin by using the most common methods of Right-handed attacks (Uppercut, Stomach Punch, Straight Face punch, Shoulder-Cocked Punch and Hook-Punch). After working with these, the uke will then practice using the same motions with their Left Hand/Arm.
  In all of the practiced attacking methods, the Tori will respond with the same defensive motion. Students may attempt to focus their attention upon (only) one of their limb's motions. The Tori's entire bodies motions must be performed during each (different) attack method that's attempted (whether the portion being practiced actually requires that limb's action or not).
  The idea behind practicing these motions is to additionally ingrain all of the (actual) motions being performed (in addition to working on the specific individual motion) that pertains to the attack method being utilized.
  What I've found (and have to watch students, in order to avoid) is that students can tend to concentrate on only the particular limb/motion that deals with the specific motion being practiced (at the time). The concern, is that by focusing on only that motion, the practice can become detrimental to the development of the entire (body's) motion's and physical actions (the student will attempt to guess at which particular motion/method will be utilized by the aggressor).
  It is avoiding this problem that I devote the majority of my time to (as an instructor). There are numerous minor (yet important) motions involved that can only be practiced (and confirmed) through the segmented practice of the defensive motions.
  When combined with Full-speed and contact, and technique practice (with protective gear), a student can gain a more realistic perception of the technique's actual application. Though the uke's responses will be less dramatic (because of the protective gear), they will be closer than when only practicing at limited power/speed/contact levels. 
  Many methodology's push “sparring” as supposedly providing this type of practice. I can (easily) discount this as being false (or at the very least, misleading). Sparring, (as I commonly see it being performed) regardless of how it's being presented, is basically based around numerous false premisses. If there is any recording of a score, then any productive purpose of the exercise is nullified.
  The only (truly useful) purpose of sparring, is practice of the application of (learned or developing) technique. The whole business of recording scores is a competition (perversion/creation) mentality if not introduced, then propagated by Western influence.
  As I've previously described, when this manner of technique application practice is used as a training and research method, as opposed to being only an ego builder (or confidence destroyer) if not becoming some manner of a macho competitive game, the participants can actually gain some applicable knowledge. 
 The difference between the two is really, do you want to try to prove something, or learn something?


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Every Breath you take.....

  I had an (interesting?) different interaction with a new student recently. One of the school's that I teach at has weight training equipment available for it's members. There were a pair of RyuTe® students who utilize this equipment before class and then do a (minor) aerobic cool down afterward in the general workout area of the dojo.
  During their “cool-down” they do some calisthenics and stretching (types of) exercises. It was during this that I made note of some breathing tendency's that were being performed. I had heard this manner of breathing being used by various “transfer” student's before, but hadn't really paid much attention (nor given it much thought). After all, these student's were supposedly "black-belt's". 
  Having meant to bring this to the students attention (for some time), I chose this opportunity to do so, (evidently, a big mistake, LOL). I first asked where this tendency was acquired, the question was (somewhat) sidestepped and a (bizarre?) weak reasoning was provided.
  On this matter at least, I was (actually, LOL) fairly knowledgeable. I attempted to explain that the manner that they were exhaling, was not actually emptying their lungs, it was only over-oxygenating the “upper” lungs which will (fairly quickly) lead to hyperventilation, causing the person to pass-out.
  They needed to expel all of the air, in order to replenish the entire lung capacity (to achieve the greatest benefit). By using the manner that the were doing, it only emptied the upper lungs, and forced their concentration on the upper-chest, instead of at their center (hara). I told them the manner they were doing so was incorrect.
The individual I mentioned this to, was young (18,19?), and (suddenly) stated that he “had to go” (?). Upon his exit (which was only the time it took him to gather his stuff and leave), the other student that was present, informed me that “I” had (offended?) upset him (WTF??). 
  Do I feel bad, uh, NO (why should I?). Upon further inquiries (to other students, and with the school owner), I was informed that this was how the previous “Grand-master” (what-ever) had “told” the students that breathing should be done by all “karateka”. Evidently freaking anatomy and logic didn't play into the “Grand-master's” training and/or instruction.
  What this amounted to, was (another) affirmation that I will not (again) assume that anyone's prior training was complete (or even correct). This kid was told by his “Grand-master” that hissing (like a snake), was “correct” breathing. I wasn't upset with the student (it's not like it was his fault that what he was told utter nonsense).
  Evidently, this was (even more, LOL) just too much criticism for the guy to take (from me). On top of this incident, I had been critiquing the practice of sparring the previous week (evidently another of this young, strong, athletic boy's major interests).
  The other student that was present (at both incidences), had even been giving me a hard time (previously) that I hadn't been riding this kid about the details that I lecture him about doing incorrectly.
 For one thing, the guy had only been to 3 classes (with me teaching), so it's not like he would be used to my teaching style (yet). For another, I hadn't yet evaluated what this guy knew, or didn't know (overall). The fact that he was in possession of a “black-belt”, don't mean shit to me (and this is kind of why I feel that way, LOL).
  At this point (because I don't really know the kid) I don't know if he'll be back (at least to learn from me, LOL). Either way, it makes no matter to myself. If he returns, great, we'll get to cleaning up the other problems I've observed in his motion and technique execution.
  The fact that someone has training in some “other” system, does not equate to a “free-pass” on critique and correction. If you want to learn RyuTe®, fine. Just leave your “black belt” at the door, we don't even wear them.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The “Safety Dance”

  Anyone who has read this blog, is familiar with my opinions regarding the practice of “sparring” (as it's commonly performed). I don't care for (and criticize the practice of it,...regularly), that practice of 2 (or more) individual's donning protective equipment, and proceeding to wail upon one another until (some arbitrary number of) sufficient “points” are sufficiently accumulated to declare a “winner” (between those participants).
  I'm not going to (again) bitch about that manner of sparring (right now). I am going to (once again) describe the manner of (protectively geared) interchange that I do endorse, and utilize (between my students).
  What Taika (originally) utilized for Bogu (sparring), were (sometimes) modified kendo headgear, with chest and foot protection. Hand coverings, were the fingered “Kung-Fu”(type of) gloves (which allowed for grappling). There are now various manufacturers of fully-protective head gear (including clear plastic vision panels, reminiscent of a motorcycle helmet, LOL). 
  For our purposes, we only utilize the “bag-gloves” (light weight gloves that protect the hand from being cut upon the hard-plastic of the headgear visors). We only have the individual who may be subject to being struck (with full power) wear the appropriate protective gear (the other participant, having no obvious need for it).
  These training sessions are very one-sided affairs. This is done purposefully to promote the training aspect of the exercise (in lieu of being perceived as a competition).
  We have students face one another with the standard arm's length distance between them. For beginning students (lower kyu-ranked), we will have them focus on performing strikes to the uke/aggressor's arm (when the uke punches at their head/face). For this practice, the uke wears padding upon the length of their arm, the tori wears the headgear. Strikes are performed full speed, full power (by both participants). 
  Even with the use of protective equipment, the methods being practiced must be mixed (allowing the struck areas in each exercise time to recuperate).
  The types of techniques which this manner of practice allows for (though substantial) only constitutes about 40% of the instructed (technique) material. Tuite accounts for another 40%, with the remaining amount being kicks, throws and submissions (none of which, the use of protective gear would prove to be of any added benefit).
  Practice done in this manner, allows for the student to see/feel (some of) the differences between full-power/speed, and practice speed. Their own inadequacy's will become clearer (to the student) when they have participated in these exercises (and hopefully without completely discouraging them). 
  Each of the different attack methods will appear unique to the student (after time). Learning to recognize those methods will allow the student to respond and modify their defense as necessary to each (both during, and when not in "class").
  By applying the learned techniques at full-speed and power, students can recognize what those attack methods look like when they are being used against them. As with any other learned motions and techniques, repeated practice will create ability.
  We emphasize none of the BS hype associated to/with the common sparring methodologies (such as), “learning to take a punch” (there is no such thing). If you want to gain endurance, run 10 miles a day.
If you want to be stronger, join a gym (with a trainer) and learn to (properly) work with weights. These things are not the skills one should be participating in a martial arts class for.
  A martial art's class teaches one to recognize the signs of an impending assault. Though not (generally) considered to be the primary focus of one's training, recognizing those telegraphed motions is what will make the student able to respond when they are actually used in an attempted assault.
  Too often students will assume that by practicing (only) with one another, they will acquire the ability to respond to any attempted assault perpetrated against them. The fact is, that they will never be able to practice against any (type of) attempted assault made upon them (What occurs in real life, will never be like what was practiced in class).
  The most that one can hope for, is to learn to recognize if/when an attempted assault is about to occur. This (obviously) can't always happen, but from practicing the most common manners of attack that do occur, we can hopefully learn to recognize them and respond effectively.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Practice What You Preach!,,uh,. Teach!

  I was discussing the (general) material that is being taught at numerous (popular) schools/dojo with another individual recently. That person was adamant that what was being shown was “Better than Nothing”.
  The more I considered it, the less I agreed with that belief (or statement). The majority of martial art (types of) techniques, are taught through a repetitive motion format (by repeatedly performing a motion/technique, the student will more readily react to the practiced scenario, using that motion).
  It's been established that any (triggering) action that is similar (to the one being practiced) will also generate that same (if not) similar response. That (successful) reaction ability , is directly linked to the amount of practice that the individual has done in regards to that technique/motion.
  It has always been my contention, that what the majority of schools/dojo are actually doing, is training their students (techniques) to fail. Not intentionally (I would hope, LOL), but the result of their most often utilized training method, will often (directly) cause those methods to fail and/or at the very least, not provide/create the intended response/reaction.
  That (intended) response is supposed to be the neutralization (and/or abatement) of an aggressor's attacking motions. RyuTe's® initially taught techniques will (most often) attempt to neutralize the aggressor's limb (arm/leg) that was used to implement the aggressive technique(s) upon the student.
Barring that result, the consolatory result should be that the defender (still) doesn't get struck, because of the deflection of the aggressor's strike created through their (albeit attempted) defensive response.
  This aspect of (any) training, is to be expected within any practiced methodology. The detrimental training method that I'm referring to, is that of sparring. Yes, I'm beating that dead-horse into a throw rug.
  The (only) reason that I do so, is because I DAILY have to contend with arguments to the contrary. The (so-called) “reasoning” that these arguments are presented with, are (in fact) denials (of reality).
  The techniques that are taught in RyuTe® (like most arts frankly) require a great deal of practice. When you suppress what was learned in that practice, you (basically) nullify and replace it with whatever else your doing. In this instance, your replacing technique's, with “taps and slaps”.
  The very motions/techniques that we practice, you aren't allowed to use in sparring. Your being forced (by those sparring rules) to allow the opponent to strike you. Because of the protective sparring gear, 75% of the taught techniques can't be (fully) utilized.
  What your practicing, isn't a “fight”, or a “confrontation”, it's a dual. And worse yet, it's a dual with obscure, vague rules, that are irrelevant to the reality of an actual confrontation. Being successful at one, bears no relevance to possessing any ability at the other. What these “matches” amount to being, are confidence builder's (though I would argue, is that they are false confidence builder's). 
  Despite my arguments against them, there are methods of participating in a practice that is similar (in nature and intent) to those types of sparring situations (that I actually Do advocate, LOL). The Problem, is that it isn't nearly as glamorous (or as fun, LOL). More importantly, it does provide exactly what the “sparring” advocates claim to be seeking, but fail in their attempts. Their problem with it (evidently), is that it isn't spectator friendly (it's boring for someone who doesn't know what's going on).
  It's (generally) considered to be boring, because there's no (actual) winner or loser (it isn't a competition). In most of these situations, only one participant will have protective gloves on, and body/head gear will be dependent upon what's being practiced (as to who's using them). 
  Initially this (type of) practice is used for Realization/Awareness Acclimatization. Though besides having a long-winded title, it's also being used as more of a reality check as much as anything.
  By restricting only one student to having protective gear on, a more realistic strike can then be performed by the other student. The scenario's that the student's are allowed to conduct this type of practice with, are limited in their scope as well. One can only perform a limited portion of a given defensive application (protective gear or not, the risk of injury is ever present). 
  The first (few) exercises of this nature, are for defending against head strikes (the most commonly encountered first-strike in a confrontation). This can be simulated via an upper-cut, a straight punch or a roundhouse (hay-maker). There may be minor variations to these, but they are the most commonly performed methods of this type of strike. 
  The majority of the population is Right-Handed, so we begin with defending against a Right Hand (delivered) Head strike. We then work with an Uppercut, and finally, a Hay-maker. These are followed by similar strikes being performed with the aggressor's Left Hand.
  I've (somewhat) described the beginning techniques that our student's perform this practice with (in prior blogs), but the methodology utilized could be applied to any technique's practice. Additionally, these motions are not necessarily for beginning students (as they require a modest level of control to prevent injury).  
  Most importantly, these methods don't permit (or even allow for) any manor of false confidence to be instilled. The student either can, or can't perform the actions/techniques successfully. Either instance will provide the instructor with guidance on which manner of training that student needs to focus.
  As with most training (and more often than not), what's needed is more repetition. The adage, “You will Do (in Reality), Whatever you Do in Training ” is accurate more often than not. Don't be training to do something that doesn't work, or doesn't even apply to what your training to Do.
  So What does Your Training need to be Better than? Better than Whatever your Opponent's Training is, that's what. Having an abundance of Incorrect/Bad training is not “Better than Nothing”.