Monday, September 30, 2013

Reading Kata

  As kata is commonly being instructed (within other systems), the motions are considered to be (stagnant) individual techniques that are strung together like some bizarre marionette dance.
  Kata are taught to students to aid them in learning and practicing the individual techniques that are represented within the motions of the kata. lt is those motions, that are utilized in various combinations to create the individual techniques that are taught/practiced in the system.
  Every system interprets those motions differently. Oyata spent numerous years studying those kata motions, using the methodology's taught to him by his (only) two instructor's (Uhugushuku, and Wakinaguri).
  Every technique and motion that is taught in our classes, began as an interpretation developed by Oyata, and was drawn from the instructed kata that are learned during the kyu rank levels of instruction.
  What is commonly called the "basic" form of the kata, is (only) the initially taught manor of how to perform the kata. Every kata is (eventually in one's training career) performed with individual nuance's that identify the particular system/practitioner's preferences.
  Though numerous systems will often teach the "same" (or at least similar) kata, their interpretations of the motions contained within the kata will often vary (sometimes greatly) between each of them. This can often account for the differences made in the performance of the kata motions as well.
 Regardless of the individual motions that are performed, or which of the interpreted technique(s) (Bunkai) are shown/taught, the “kata” are designed to be utilized as a continuing training/learning exercise.
  As my associate has noted previously, when a student begins their study with us, they are taught the kata motions in a sequential manor. Each of those methods illustrates/includes more (definition/details of) motions that should eventually be performed in every kata that's learned (by that student). By the time the student has been shown their 4th kata (or so), those motions are included during the students initial instruction of the kata.
  Student's will assume that every kata is taught in those same "stages" (this would not be correct). Many kata contain similar motions/movements, when those motions are taught to the student, it should be already understood/recognized that they are the same motion (learned previously), and therefore should be performed the same.
  There are no “wrong” ways to perform the kata, just a number of different ways to perform them, and maybe some incomplete ways as well, LOL. The motions are all subject to individual interpretation. It has been proposed that this is how/why different “systems” came to be. The different instructor's (associated with each of those individual manor's of performance) all had their own way/manner of performing certain techniques.  
 Yes, there is only one “Te” on Okinawa, but just like a guitar, there's a lot of different ways for it to be played.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Study of Tuite

  The majority of systems teach some manner of joint manipulation. Though (often) limited in scope, they provide defensive responses to the most commonly applied grab's and hold's (attempted by an aggressor).
  Oyata's methodology takes these hold's and lock's to their highest level. It isn't sufficient to only be able to apply a lock or hold. That application should not be able to be countered (when properly applied).
  Being that student's are only human, mistakes do occur (in the application of the instructed techniques). This mandates that a student be aware of how those “counters” could be utilized (and when) during the application of a technique.
  When a student is first shown how to perform a tuite technique, the uke will be compliant (with minimal resistance). As the student progresses in their ability, the uke will increase their resistance level. At some point, the uke will attempt to apply (any that might be possible) counter-measures to the technique's application.
  For the majority of instructed technique's, there are known counter attempts that can be applied if/when the technique is being improperly applied, or if the uke is able to prevent the technique's (initial) correct application.
  Even if/when the uke is able to apply some manner of “counter”, each of Oyata's tuite technique's will (easily) transition into another application (thus eliminating any “pause” in one's defenses).
  When practicing in this manor (preferably slowly) it is not uncommon to encounter unrealistic “countering” abilities (by/from the uke). Though being admittedly unrealistic, they can still provide a good "practice" format. Being aware of any counter-technique abilities or possibilities is always preferable to being surprised by one.
  For every “supposed” counter (to one of Taika's applications), we've found that it depended on the technique being applied incorrectly. Very often, being done so unwittingly.
  Unfortunately, many former students (or more likely, previous seminar attendee's) never learned the complete/correct manor of applying Oyata's (tuite) technique's. They were only shown an introductory version (of the technique), and those persons assumed that they needed no further study (on their own) of that application.
  This has lead to a LOT of miss-interpretations of Oyata's tuite technique's. There are repeated examples of them on “U-Tube”, and of course the (hysterically) inaccurate version(s) contained within the (now) infamous “Tuite” book/publication (by a former seminar attendee).
  I've had numerous students, and acquaintances inform me that “tuite” is a skill-set that only requires limited practice (because they're only limb-manipulation applications). Yet, those same individual's can't explain how to create all of the different responses (using the same technique) that are possible.
  We could easily conduct a 4-hour seminar, covering only the application and variations (possible) from the “palm-fold/push-catch” technique (which is commonly taught in every school using Oyata's methodology).
  Yet, the manor which I commonly see it being performed is (totally) incorrect. Most often, it's being practiced at a high rate of speed, and it's being “muscled” (to make it “work”, or at least achieve a response, and usually and incorrect one at that).
  The vast majority of the people teaching/practicing this technique don't possess the ability, to make it function if/when performed slowly. This is a fundamental technique. Numerous (other) technique's are derived from the very fundamental's that are shown/learned from performing this technique.
  And it's being taught, and learned incorrectly.
  It is our opinion, that this is occurring because the principles that are necessary for the application of Oyata's tuite technique's are not being (correctly) instructed to students. This isn't because of some “lacking” ability and/or knowledge (on the part of the instructor's), but (only) because “instructor's” (in general) haven't been putting the time in to the “study” of tuite (and are therefor unfamiliar with what we are calling the “6 Basic Principles of Tuite”).
  How else could the vague/misleading (and wrong) set of “10 rules for tuite” (that those “other” groups promote for utilization) have any chance of success? Beyond the obvious answer (they're too Lazy to figure out the correct one's for themselves,LOL).
  Though tuite would appear to be a commonly studied skill set, it should more correctly be listed as an ability that many systems (only) teach an awareness of. 


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kata Instruction, and Bunkai

  There are numerous ways that the instructed kata can be utilized by the students. Initially they function mostly to aid the student in learning to control their own body motions. As they progress, they are shown how to utilize the kata motion as techniques that are used in their defensive practices.
  Bunkai, is the Japanese word for “Breaking-Down”. In this instance it represents the task of interpreting the motions of the kata. What is often seen amongst the Japanese systems, are examples of motions that are related to “sparring” (competition). This was the emphasis of those Japanese systems (in the early years of their development in Japan).
  But the majority of the kata were developed long before Okinawan “Te” was even introduced to Japan (much less for it's utilization in training for "competitions"). Te was utilized for the Life Protection of the practitioner. Because of that, it's motions were commonly kept secret amongst only the student(s) of the individual instructor (whom was very often another family member). This “secrecy” would provide the student with a (possible) tactical advantage if the student was forced to utilize that training to protect their lives.
  Those motions had to remain “hidden” (to the casual observer) while one was practicing the motions of the kata. Depending on how one was instructed, student's would practice the kata motions in secret (away from observation), or in plain sight (knowing that the casual observer (without proper instruction) couldn't interpret the practiced motions (correctly).
  Depending on the individual instructor, the interpretations of those kata motions could (and did) vary greatly between instructor's. This could be attributed to different body-types, or simply what different instructor's felt should be emphasized (by/for the individual student).
  The original developer's of those traditional kata died long ago (along with their original interpretations). What was shown/taught to Taika by his instructor's, was the methodology of kata motion interpretation. It was not uncommon for past masters to only teach 1 or 2 kata. They would focus their instruction on the motions contained within those kata. For that reason, a student would often study with several instructors to obtain the knowledge that they were seeking.
  During the Second World War, many of the older masters died, either through direct or indirect involvement in the war, or through their advanced years. In any event, many of them that may have had direct knowledge of the kata motions (Bunkai), died during that time period.
  Oyata's instructor's were both bushi from the era that this type of training was considered crucial to one's ability to defend themselves.
 Much of Taika's early training was in regards to understanding/interpreting the motions contained within the kata that were commonly being taught.
  Taika's instructor's had never had any other student's (claiming that none had proven worthy, or trustful enough to impart their knowledge to them). By the time Taika met them (1946-47?), the war had ended, they were near the end of their own lives, and with the availability of the firearm (pistols), anyone could defeat a “master” (therefor, there was no reason to conceal that knowledge any longer).
  When Taika approached them about becoming a student, his attitude, his timing (as well as his family lineage) was enough to convince them to accept him as a student.
  Much of his early instruction was in understanding/interpreting the motions performed within the kata (that were being commonly taught on Okinawa). They only taught Taika 2 kata, both were their family-taught kata. The other kata that were included into his own instructed methodology, were learned from Nakamura Sensei (and are what is being taught as the 12 kyu-level kata within his system).
  As a student in our classes is shown the various kata (throughout their instruction), they will continually be shown refinements and corrections that are intended to be included within each of the taught kata (unless specifically told otherwise).
  This often means that a kata “known” to the student, will be further refined as they learn to include those “refinements/details” that are shown to them as they progress in their studies.
  What is often difficult to understand (as a “new” student), is that there is no “Basic”, “Intermediate” and/or “Advanced” (versions) of the taught kata. We attempt to avoid those descriptions so as to avoid misinterpretations of the kata motions.
  Each kata is a continually evolving process. Taika always stated that each student will associate themselves with a particular kata, and that kata will become “their” kata.
  As the student progresses through these various “stages” of learning the kata motions, they will be shown various “bunkai” for those motions. They will often recognize their own bunkai as well. They will additionally see that there are multiple interpretations for each of the performed motions (depending on which level/stage of performance is being done).
  There are numerous guidelines that we were told to consider when attempting to interpret the motions of the kata.
  First, a “fist” can represent (either) a strike, or a grab. Any hand motion can represent the tori's or the uke's hand.
  Steps and/or kicks can represent forward or rearward motion, all kata motion should be considered to be either forward or rearward in the motions actual application.
  Every motion, should be considered to be an application. Kata will tend to adhere to a “theme” (applications to the front of the tori, or behind them). It should be remembered that instructor's often only taught a few kata, so repeated motions (techniques) are not uncommon (amongst the different kata).
  It should also be remembered to not ignore the obvious (interpretation), though probably not the most technical of interpretations, those simplistic techniques are just as important to beginning students as they are to the experienced practitioner.
 Taika had always taught that the kata motions were akin to the "Alphabet". Each motion had an interpretation (if not several), and those motions could be combined in numerous ways to form "words" and (eventually) "sentences". 
 We were taught that rarely (if ever) would those "letters" (motions) be performed within the kata in the manner that they would actually be utilized. Once a student learned to recognize the "letters", they could then form "words" and eventually "sentences" of defensive techniques. 
 Using this methodology, there are an endless number of possible combinations of techniques and applications available to those who earnestly study the kata.

Friday, September 20, 2013

What Was, and What Is

  At one time, I was of the opinion that all systems that are commonly being taught (with the intent of instructing “self-defense”) were all similar with only minor differences in application. Or (at least) I did hold that opinion until the past couple of years (when I've been more closely involved with exploring those differences).
  Having originally learned and taught “Shito-ryu”, I was familiar with what was “at that time” being considered and taught to be “traditional” (karate). Once having began training with Taika, I discovered that information to be (at best) inaccurate.
  What I've discovered (through both my own experience and research), is that most of what's been shown over the past 30 years, is very different than what I've been taught over that time period (in regards to martial arts in general).
  The most important thing that's been impressed upon my own understanding of Te (in general), has been that what has been commonly taught is mostly “competitive” (sport/competition) based instruction. For the majority of students, this is exactly what they're looking for.
  Being that I've mainly dealt with law enforcement, security and self-defense instruction, Oyata's methodology has always proven to be directly applicable to that purpose (unlike the majority of the other system's that claim to teach similar material).
  Over the years, What (and how) he taught his methodology was constantly evolving. When he first arrived in the U.S., he “conformed” to the commonly performed “seminar” content. Within those gatherings, he demonstrated numerous examples of his ability, though he only “taught” the most basic of his methodology.
  Those “seminars” where (at best) recruitment meetings. Though numerous people (apparently) love to claim that they have “trained” with Oyata (at those seminars), at best they were only exposed to his methodology. It was necessary (and expected) that they would continue (from that exposure) to participate in actual training, after joining his system. Very few ever did, and most of those that did, wound-up quitting when they didn't learn any “big Secret” techniques (after a couple of weeks/months, LOL).
  Unfortunately this amounted to creating a slew of wanna-”been” students (of Oyata). These individual's were not with Oyata long enough to of (actually) learned anything of value beyond having been exposed to the basics of his methodology. The majority of those individual's have since attempted to capitalize on that (brief) exposure, and are now making numerous claims of themselves teaching the same knowledge/techniques (as Oyata).
  Oyata was continually improving his methodology through the years. What he instructed in those earlier years (basically, throughout the “80's”) and into the early “90's” (when he ceased doing “open” seminars) was changed (mostly in conjunction with his emphasis on teaching his methodology).
  With that change, he abandoned much of the previously taught material and methods that he believed to be (both) detrimental and pointless (in regards to life-protection). Numerous schools (including some in his association) continue with those practices, but it is being done for the sake of “paying the bills”. An owner obviously must be able to keep the doors open, and the lights and heat on (if they wish to continue a store-front business).
  Unfortunately, because of that (continued) practice, patrons have (mistakenly) concluded that the practice of “sparring” (including that of “bogu”) is a necessary part of Life-Protection training. All one needed to of done, was research how often/much “bogu” was ever covered at “headquarters” (by the weekly regular students of Taika).
  Bogu, has became the western makiwara. Though providing some (minor) training benefit, it's primary purpose was to allow “hot-blooded” youth, to burn off testosterone.
  Less than 10% of the taught and practiced (classroom) techniques could even be utilized within that manor of (bogu) practice. Additionally, what is learned and ingrained (through that practice) is in direct conflict with the instructed defensive methodology of Oyata.
  There are methods of utilizing that equipment and providing relevant training, but those methods are not “competitive” based (and are thus, not “popular”). One of the major drawbacks to owning/operating a store-front school, is that (unless you are independently wealthy) you have to pay the bills to remain “open”. Oyata's methodology is not conducive to the “typical” martial arts school curriculum.
  Following the mid-90's, Taika rarely had anything to do with “bogu” (kumite). His focus was instructing his (actual) Life-Protection method. Though not as “flashy” as the commonly taught systems, it is an efficient, applicable system that can be utilized by anyone regardless of age, sex or physical prowess.
  Taika's Life-Protection system is not a “simplistic” system (to learn). That doesn't mean that it's (necessarily) “difficult” to learn, only that it isn't as simplistic as most student's tend to believe that it should be. Most often they are comparing it to other systems that they may have had prior experience with, and/or they have succumbed to the generally publicized rhetoric that's being propagated as being “fact” (when it isn't, much like the TCM nonsense).
  The latest (of many) “fad's” is the reality/liveness(?)/MMA craze(es). All of them are based upon the “macho” (and male) physical premiss of/for “self-defense”. As long as one is young, strong, physically active and (most importantly) male, these systems can meet their requirements.
  For the remainder of the (normal/average) students (that are actually seeking and need a “defensive” methodology), Oyata's system will fulfill their requirements.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Developing Effective Motion

  When attempting to perform a defensive action, the involved motions need to be performed with as little wasted action as possible. That consists of not performing any motions that serve no purpose (in that defensive action).
  When a motion serves no (defensive) purpose, it is wasted motion. This includes any unproductive physical motions (of the arms, legs, head, torso). They should all be performed for a purpose.
  Effective motion can only be accomplished through the correct utilization of the limbs. Any transition of footwork should motion the defender's body (both out of the aggressor's effective range, and into the defender's effective range). It should be understood, that being farther away (from the aggressor) is not the only means of being “out” of the aggressor's (effective) range.
  It's (generally) accepted that defense is more easily accomplished when effected at an angle (to the aggressor). It's how that angle is accomplished that becomes the (defensive) debate. There is no singular answer, it is achieved through a combination of the available methods that are based on various factor's.
  One can (either) move themselves (to that angled position), or move the aggressor. Either method will work, just not in every situation, or by every practitioner. The ability to accomplish this feat is done most easily through the (body) motion of the defender.
  The average aggressor engages their victim directly. This is most commonly perpetrated from the front of the defender (the next most common is accomplished from the “rear”, this method is most commonly attempted by individual's with criminal intent). The majority of confrontations are not performed with criminal intent.  They commonly occur over “Alpha” conflicts, and/or perceived acts of “disrespect” (sic).
  In either situation, that aggression should be redirected to create an angled confrontation. Becoming situated at an angle to an aggressor (from the front) only requires the defender to rotate (in regard to that aggressor). Using a simple weight-shift and body rotation, a defender can accomplish both required (defensive) motions in one step. Once rotated, the defender is at the required angle to the aggressor (to accomplish an effective defensive response).
  It should be understood, that to avoid an eminent (approaching) strike, one need only motion a few inches (5 is usually more than sufficient). Once an aggressor has committed to delivering their strike, it is extremely difficult to “re-direct” that strike.
  The aggressor may dissipate the (original) level of the force that was being committed to it, but it requires more energy (and time) to fully retract it (to it's initial position) in order to repeat a re-directed strike (using that same arm/hand).
  It is one reason, that we don't teach “blocks”. It is more efficient to perform a strike (to an aggressor's arm), than to deflect/block it (and one accomplishes the same object, plus potentially injuring the aggressor's striking limb).
  Oyata has always taught to strike the aggressor's (attacking) limb, and then strike the aggressor's body/head (in one continuous motion) using the same arm.
  Taika equated this to attacking a castle. Once you tear-down the wall's (arm's and leg's), the castle has no defense, so it is more easily defeated.
  One's defensive strikes should always initially be upon the nearest limb of the aggressor, most commonly, this is the arm's/leg's (that are being used upon yourself). Once these are rendered immaterial (injured), if still necessary you can strike the body of the aggressor (as they no longer have any defense to prevent you from doing so).
  One needs to remember, that we're only talking about a few seconds of time being allowed for the entire defensive action. This includes the defensive strike, the retaliatory strike and any neutralization actions being attempted (arm-bar, neck restraint or even escape).
  In actual use, the instructed motions must be performed quickly. This is why (initially, during “class”) we practice the motions slowly (to ensure correct application of the motions). As students increase their ability level, we allow them to increase the speed of their application (and level of control).
  This drives our critique's nuts. They (apparently) believe that unless you (only?) practice a technique quickly, you'll never make it work (or even occur). Our philosophy is a little different.
  We don't expect a student to (immediately, i.e. when they walk out of the class, LOL) be able to perform the instructed technique(s) after having just been shown a (new) motion. This requires time, and practice.
  It is that “Fast-Food” mentality, that has corrupted the self-defense industry already. People expect immediate “ability”, it won't happen (regardless of what system/style that one studies). There are too many variables (to any defensive situation) to account for.
  Most of the “Quick-Results” (types of instruction) that I've observed, train their students to respond one-way to this type of attack, and another-way for that type of attack (amounting to dozens of different defenses). We train our students to defend one-way for a dozen types of attack.
  That's probably why it drives them so crazy, LOL. It's why we have our students begin slow, and increase their speed over time. Yes, it requires longer, and more practice. Though those other guys students can run out the door and cry “lookie, lookie at this (one) thing that I can defend against”, (over time) our students can say that they can defend against All of those things, with one motion.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Ability to Perform

 Students are commonly taught a multitude of techniques, that are intended to deal with an equally numbered amount of situations. Because of this, students often become confused (overwhelmed) when they are required to instantly perform a particular response (during an actual confrontation). They have too much information to reference through.
  The purpose of a martial “art”, is not to bestow a laundry list of responses to the student. That could be accomplished by their purchase of a book. Being aware of a response, does not make one capable of utilizing it.
 This is often the problem seen with "Female Self-Defense" classes. The average student doesn't know what constitutes a "good" technique, from a "bad" one. They are also shown far too many techniques. These types of classes should only instruct simple multipurpose (types of) techniques.
  The more preferential techniques, can be utilized to respond to a wider selection of threats. Regardless, there are prerequisites to the utilization of any technique (by anyone).

You must be knowledgeable of the technique
  Having (only) “seen” someone perform the motion, does not enable yourself to perform that motion/technique. This commonly occurs from a student having seen their “instructor” perform the technique, yet not having practiced it themselves (sufficiently) to have acquired the ability to utilize it (ie. They assume they “know” the technique). This is commonly rectified through the practice of the application within a class environment (where any questions can be addressed).

You must have the physical ability to perform the technique
  This isn't a reference to “strength”, but a comment upon the amount of prior practice that has been put into the performance of the technique. It can also refer to any personal injury's that may prevent the ability to perform the required motions. Physical differences amongst students is addressed (again, in class), and any individual differences (in application) can be corrected.
  There can additionally be situational considerations (ie. emotional relationships) to consider for the manor that the application will be utilized as well (“family”). 
 Environmental conditions can often preempt the ability to perform certain motions also.

The technique must be multipurpose
  Too often, students are taught (simplistic) techniques that are only adequate in response to a single situation. These techniques should not be considered “defensive” applications. They are only taught for example purposes. A (truly) Defensive Application, is not a singular “situation” method of response.
  Any Defensive Application should be capable of being (slightly) altered, in order to respond to any threatening (physical) aggression. Regardless of the confrontation “type”, they are a constantly fluid situation. The effectiveness of a technique, is proportional to it's ability to be modified to work in those varying situations.
The situation must allow for the technique to occur
  Every Defensive Application possesses certain prerequisites. These can include situational, physical and informative. When any of these are lacking, the ability to (effectively) perform a technique can be compromised. Through (yes, again, “class” time) practice of the application, these variables can be addressed.

 These standards are obviously crucial when attributed to "Female Self-Defense" classes. Having instructed (and dealt with, LOL) a number of these types of classes, I've had to contend with the "empowerment" issue. This particular phrase is one that has lead to an inordinate level of "discussion" time being utilized (during the instruction of a class).

 Though agreeing that a reasonable (yet, limited) amount of time should be included within a class of this type, it is commonly excessive (IMO).
 "Empowerment", does not come from talking about what could/has/might occur (whether it's positive incidents or not). Actual "empowerment", is acquired through the physical ability to perform the instructed motions. That doesn't necessitate the ability to neutralize any aggressor, only the ability to prevent being (seriously) injured (until one can attain help/assistance) or having the ability to escape the threatening situation.
  Ability is only gained through (repeated) physical practice. 90% of any Female Self-Defense Course, should be in regards to the physical practice of the instructed techniques.
  From my own experience (from talking with female victims, attending Officer's and reading the Police reports), the majority of the physical abuser's of women, are their own husbands, boyfriends/girlfriends (as well as the children), of the women who attend these types of courses.
  When we taught these courses (regularly) we didn't allow spouses or family members to attend (or even watch) the classes. The attendees were provided with “simplistic” techniques (that were only) for showing to their spouses in regards to “what they had been working on”. We were certainly not so naive as to understand that (many of) our students were routinely grilled over what they had been shown during the class (and often by the very individual for whom they were learning to defend themselves from).
 Very often the instruction of common leverage principles had to be shown. Though (more often) understood by male students, females were commonly not as often familiar with the (direct) application of those principles (instead, believing that "strength" was a requirement for the successful implementation of a technique).
 Women are fully capable of performing effective techniques (mentally). Too often (IMO), they have to be shown/taught that they can do so physically as well. The provided guidelines will give them the references to evaluate their own performance in learning to do so. 

The Confusion of Simplicity

  Taika's methodology has often been considered to be very confusing (to new students). That confusion hasn't necessarily been based upon the complexity of what he was teaching, but (more so) upon the simplicity of what he was showing (people often wanted to make more out of what was being shown, than was intended or even necessary from the lesson).
  For whatever reason, a popular saying of late has been the reference to Occman's Razor. Though initially sounding plausible, this manor of definition commonly requires greater investigation (to ascertaining the complete, if not correct answer). It is usually only acceptable as a temporary "fix". 
  This is particularly true when investigating martial art practices (particularly "kata bunkai") in general. From the obtained information (provided by numerous previous "masters"), the kata are a collection of defensive techniques that were configured in  various sequences for the reason of preservation (and not necessarily demonstrated application), as well as the ability for them to be conveyed over time (to additional students).
  It was from these provided motions, that the techniques could be extrapolated upon (for additional applications). Though to do so, it initially needed to be understood what those techniques were used for, and how they were implemented. As to how, and what those techniques necessarily were, and what their application consisted of, is a very controversial subject. It's possible to place 10 practitioner's of 10 different styles/systems into a room, show them a kata motion, and they will provide you with 10 (often completely) different explanations for what that motion represents.
  There's no real way to say who's right (or wrong). The creator's of those kata are long dead and gone. There were no (reliable/verifiable) records that were made that could confirm or deny what those motions were intended to represent. Hence, the bunkai being provided today, are only the best guesses, being made by modern practitioner's.
  For those who follow the methodology taught by Oyata, his (only) instructor's (Wakinaguri, and Uhugushugu) instructed him in their method of how to interpret/break-down the kata motions (regardless of the individual kata).
  What we teach today, are what Taika had determined to (possibly) be many of the correct motions being demonstrated within the kata. Easily 95% of what is being practiced (by "us", his students), are the application of those kata motions, and recognizing what those motions represented in the instructed kata.
  Much of the bunkai taught today (by other schools/systems), is being related to "sport sparring/competition". Though some motions could be able to be related to that manor of conflict, it's a long stretch (at best). When those kata were created, there was no “sport sparring”. Any bunkai shown that is related to "sport sparring", is a recent interpretation (and rarely, if ever has anything to do with Life-Protection).
  When working with different students (often with experience in different systems/schools), I've been exposed to a great many different manors of kata bunkai/explanations.
  Judging by my own experience, a practitioner should follow what they feel most comfortable with (as for believing which bunkai is most accurate). "Most" (bunkai) has at least some level of value/application. If/when that bunkai begins to sound a little too far-fetched, is when it's time to step back and consider the source (of the bunkai being provided). If someone's bunkai has unrealistic (and/or sport) requirements to it's use/application, then it's most likely "made-up" (be it for personal profit/gain, or for demonstrations of hubris).

 I'm sure it's nice to feel all Kum-Bye-Yah about your practice of a "martial art", but frankly, it boils down to being all about how to defeat an aggressive opponent. That shouldn't imply that you have to "cripple" and/or kill the aggressor to do so, only that it should be an available option within that training. Some of the motions contained within the instructed kata, provide that option. 


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Principles in Play

 New student's can often become frustrated with their level of performance when initially attempting to perform Tuite. This aspect of Oyata's art, is one that requires a large amount of time and practice dedicated to the performance of each of the instructed techniques.
 Towards that endeavor, we have encountered a number of different (teaching) methodology's being employed (for the instruction of students).  
  In order to correctly apply a tuite technique, one must understand the required motions of the technique, as well as being able to decipher the “feed-back” that is being provided (by the uke).  
 Without this feed-back, the individual has no perception of the necessary directions and pressures to apply to the uke's limb(s). Proprioception is the internal “awareness” of one's limb positions and (muscle) pressures.
  Proprioception doesn't come from any specific organ, but from the nervous system as a whole. It's input comes from sensory receptors that are distinct from the tactile (touch) receptors — nerves from inside the body rather than on the surface. One's Proprioceptive ability/awareness can be trained, as can any anatomical motor related activity. 
 This "perception" can be extended beyond one's own body, to include another (person) with whom they are in physical contact with. Though (hardly) all-encompassing, (with experience) one can "feel" the other individual's motions, and (often times) intended actions (which can be countermanded accordingly).
  Through the repeated practice of applying the instructed tuite motions, the body's perception/awareness of those applications will develop into a repeatable action (that can be further applied to numerous similar actions). The student must initially develop their visual awareness of what constitutes the correct (visual) feedback (from/through the uke), of a properly performed motion (technique). The physical aspect of doing such (as described earlier), will come with practice as well. 
  That “feedback” is not (always) only that which is acquired through their own body, but through the physical contact of the uke also. Visual perception is a relevant factor also during a techniques application. It is necessary to “face” the uke to obtain a correct response (from an applied technique), and is most dramatically evident if/when that technique is being applied slowly.
  Incorrect technique application can occur because of numerous related factors. Most commonly, it is the incorrectly applied direction, or manner of (physical) force that is being applied. It is because of this (required) “awareness”, that these manor of techniques cannot be adequately learned through the written medium. 10 people reading the same application description, will perform that written technique, in 10 different ways (each similar, but different none the less).
  Those differences can emanate from any physical “size” differences, height (a very relevant factor), weight, strength etc., or just from their own reading comprehension abilities (which can vary, from day to day).
  It is our belief, that a one on one, instructor/student interaction, coupled with having a multiple uke training environment provides the optimal conditions for the study of tuite. When either of these factors are removed (as the provided options in one's study of tuite) the student's ability/knowledge level suffers.
  Having the correct awareness of the desired (if not required) “response” by/from the uke (as a result from the application of a tuite technique) is required as well (if the correct practice of the instructed techniques is to be expected).
  When a student has (the basic) knowledge of the limbs R.O.M. (Range Of Motion), they can vary the technique's application (in whatever manor is appropriate to/for the situation). 
  These concepts are explored further within our instructed methodology (the interrelationships are unavoidable). The understanding of how, as well as why the body moves (and reacts) to various applied stimuli is (undeniably) required to utilize the techniques and principles taught within Oyata's methodology. 
 Though not (too) heavily emphasized upon all of our students, for those that do desire to teach their own classes (in the future), having a working knowledge of these concepts will determine the level of understanding that they can convey to their own students. 


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Menkyo, Shmenkyo...

  In the effort to further prostitute themselves, one of the popular “fad” groups has chosen to (now) provide their own (supposed) master, grand-master, grand-pooh-bah, etc. members with (their own) "instructor" certifications (ie. A “Menkyo”). A reader of this blog forwarded me their proposed "testing" requirements (which can evidently be found on some "blog". I've provided a condensed listing of the main points here.
 As a side note, anyone in those organizations with a rank of 4th-6th dan (and higher), is already considered to be a “master” (WTF ?). (note* present “Grandmasters” are considered to be “Grand-Fathered” in this venture). 
 It's bad enough that they offer "rank" in (several) subsections of martial arts (face it, it's pathetic), but now (at least one of) these groups is proposing a "Menkyo" for them as well.
  They've posted their proposed requirements (and who/what qualifies as/for their “testing” curriculum/examiners) and it amounts to being a (self-monitored) circle-jerk. Amongst the testing “description” (requirements would be a bit too “strong” for the wording that's been provided), is the following. “Each candidate will organize his/her presentation in whatever manner best suits them, and they should not expect to field any questions or comments from the board”. Errr....? OK, so what are they being “tested” over? (presentation?).
  Each testing candidate must provide 3 uke who will be part of an uke pool (uke will assist by rotation in the testing for two or three candidates during a one hour period). One of those 3 uke may be the candidate him/herself.
  Additionally, “Those approved by the Board will receive a special patch, together with their promotion to the next dan grade” (oh, boy...). Though not “finalized” the proposed requirements include the following listed descriptions.
Each candidate will have up to 20 minutes to demonstrate mastery (it is not required that the candidate utilize the entire 20 minutes).
 And why would it? "20 minutes" is more than enough time to "establish that your a Master", uh, right?

This is a test of competence, not content, so candidates will be expected to show competence in the following areas:”
 a. Perform Naihanchi Shodan and provide application (at least 3 techniques). (considering that applicant's will generally be 4th dan and higher, I would Hope that they could do Naihanchi Shodan, LOL).
 b. Demonstrate safe and effective kyusho-jitsu based on sound application of the principles (uh, is this their “10 tuite principles” that amount to being vaguely stated ideas?)

  c. Demonstrate safe and effective tuité-jitsu based on sound application of the principles (and again with the reference to their vague “principles”).
  d. Demonstrate an accurate understanding of practical bunkai and real-world application (evidently, being based on the individual's understanding of what constitutes "real-world"? or “practical” for that matter)
  e. Demonstrate proper revival methods (WTF? Instead of their useless/pointless kyusho "revival" techniques, wouldn't a REAL First-Aid certificate be a LEGITIMATE asset?)

  f. Demonstrate full integration of ******* Method into all aspects of the candidate’s art (and again, WTF? Their "claim" is that they don't promote any "style",...well, except for just theirs? evidently). 
 g. Demonstrate other appropriate areas of research or competence which further attest to the candidate’s mastery (essentially, Sell yourself as being...”The Master”, LOL). 

  The following was (probably, LOL) my favorite line from these proposed “requirements”,
Each candidate will organize his/her presentation in whatever manner best suits them, and they should not expect to field any questions or comments from the board.” (Nice....shouldn't have to respond to any pesky "questions" over what your being "examined" over, LOL).
  The following general guidelines should be followed.
  a. During the exam, the candidate will be expected to direct the uke in the attack, and give a brief description of the technique.(meaning, the candidate will “choreograph” the entire technique that they're being graded on) Then the candidate is to demonstrate the technique, with proficiently, against an attack delivered with intent (uh, of a choreographed “attack”, LOL).
  b. Candidate’s may demonstrate additional kata and bunkai (beyond Naihanchi) or organize the presentation in any manner which is appropriate to their art or practice. (uh, don't leave anything to “chance”, LOL).
 c. Candidates are encouraged to keep explanation to a minimum in favor of demonstration. (yeah, don't explain anything your attempting to demonstrate, your only supposed to be being examined as being a “master” in order to receive a “menkyo”).
 d. The board will be looking for incapacitation and/or domination of the attacker/uke by means of joint manipulation, pressure points, and superior positioning.(or basically, performing any technique that a kyu-rank student should be able to perform). One or two knockouts are sufficient to allow the board to evaluate revival skills. (Soooo, just allowing an unconscious uke recover naturally, which is what they will do anyway isn't sufficient. They have to perform some manner of a “show” while the uke regains consciousness, i.e. your being graded on showmanship?).
 e. The board expects some techniques to fail,(from what I've observed of their demonstrations, a wise choice of action, LOL) Mastery includes the ability to recover from failure and maintain, or reestablish, control over the attacker/uke.(now there's a “CYA” line. This ability is essential to anyone who might be doing a videotaped seminar, LOL).
  f. Injuring an uke is evidence of a lack of control and mastery, and will generally result in a fail.(Aw, Gee, and “what” constitutes “injury”?)
  Now, to be “tested”(?) at their annual summer camp, it will only cost the candidate $400 (for a “test” that they, themselves arrange the contents of). If they should "fail", it's only $100 for the "re-test".
 Having observed what these guys do (for "technique" application), it's obvious that they need to get this aspect of their show arranged. They needed to get their number of "masters" and "grandmasters"  restricted (because damn near all of them already are of this level). They're running out of "titles" to give themselves!
  What amazes myself the most, is the inability (for other people) to understand my own lack of concern (if not growing contempt) for titles, and rank. These (types) of people exemplify that dis-concern.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Instruction of Tuite

  The art of Tuite is an integral piece of Oyata's system of Te. Our student's instruction in it's implementation is began from the beginning of a student's study with us. As with most all of the taught techniques, the tuite motions are derived from the motions performed within the instructed kata. 
 Though many (if not all) of the other Okinawan systems teach some form/manner of torite, Ours is the methodology that was developed and taught (to us) by Taika Seiyu Oyata. Oyata is the one who coined the phrase "Tuite". Other systems seem to want to blur what torite/tuite (actually) is. Many claim that it's use is dependent upon knowledge of kyusho (which is only misleading and deceptive).
 Oyata's Tuite amounts to being the physical manipulation of joints on the human body. Though these manipulations could (roughly) be used in conjunction with (some) kyusho locations, knowledge of kyusho is not necessary (much less required, as some individual's would like to claim). 
  Our student's are provided with the 6 Basic Tuite Principles, these principles provide the student with the basic knowledge of how tuite should be implemented. What is commonly being taught now (by most instructor's of tuite techniques) is the Slam and Bash method of tuite application. Though moderately effective, this methodology is also limited in it's usability by their students, and upon it's effectiveness on the uke's.
  Our instruction is based upon both parties (in class) being fully aware of the technique being applied. Once the student (tori) has demonstrated their ability to implement the basic technique, the uke will begin countering their application, making it more difficult, if not impossible to apply (at least if the technique is not being correctly applied to begin with).
  This practice is performed slowly (making it even more difficult to elicit the correct reaction). Granted, if performed at a higher rate of speed, many sloppy techniques can then be forced to "work".   
 Although if/when faced with a knowledgeable uke, those same techniques can then (more easily) be countered/defeated (thus preventing them from accomplishing any productive reaction).
 It should also be noted, that what is commonly being considered as a "correct" reaction (by many schools) is a (simplistic) forward bending (at the waist) in response to a techniques application. This is NOT a correct response. Unless the uke's knee's (both usually) buckle in response to a techniques application (when enacted upon the uke's arm(s), the technique is being applied incorrectly.
  At no point throughout a techniques application, should the uke be able to respond (in any physical way) against the tori. Using only these two fundamental "checks", I can discount the majority of what and how tuite techniques are being (popularly) taught.
  With knowledge of our 6 Basic Tuite Principles, the tori is able to determine what, and/or how they are performing a technique, whether correctly or incorrectly (thus eliminating the need for an instructor to always be present for the practice/critique of the student's tuite techniques). If/when a student should discover (what they believe to be) a new technique, those same principles can be utilized to confirm that technique's plausibility (of it's effectiveness, and the ability of it to be countered by the uke).
  Our definition of what “Tuite” consists of, is “any and all limb or joint manipulations”. Though some instructor's might include strikes in that category, (at our school) we do not. Those types of strikes, we would consider to be atemi strikes. Additionally, kyusho (types of) strikes and locations are considered to be in a separate category as well.
 Although those types of strikes could (easily) be utilized to assist in the application of a tuite technique, they should never be considered mandatory to the technique's application or success. This type of "logic" is nothing but a manufactured excuse for poorly understood and/or incorrectly taught techniques. 
 One must also beware someone attempting to utilize the anomaly excuse as well. I've explained elsewhere that this "excuse" is not a reason for a technique's failure (more often it's only the performer's inability to correctly perform the technique).