Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Simplicity





 As I look and read about the various methodology's being taught today, it makes me wonder what the “real” agenda is? Should not a system be both, as simple and effective as is possible? What I am (more) commonly seeing, is an ever expanding collection of motions that are far more complicated than are (IMO) necessary to accomplish the same results.
 It's not as if this is a “new” occurrence, it's been happening over the past 40 years (that I've been practicing the defensive arts). What I've observed (and seen being practiced) for defensive motions, have the appearance of being performed in an increasingly more involved (complicated?) manners.
 This tendency is counter-productive to how Oyata taught defensive applications to be performed. This was part of his motivation to his separating himself, and his system from the (old) “Ryukyu Kempo” methodology (that he used to teach over 20 years ago).
 The majority of student's have no intention of making their study be the sole pursuit of their lifetime. The average student only seeks to learn the ability to protect themselves from the most common of physical assaults.
 That ability need not be (overly) “complicated”, but it is a pursuit that requires a level of committed study and practice. The belief that acquiring this ability is limited to the young, the physically strong and being the student with a lifetime's study of the instructed applications (and of course, the implication that they be male), is a myth. That myth is (actively) perpetuated by those individual's seeking to making a living through the instruction of (their) increasingly complicated motions and methodology's.
 To believe that the early practitioner's (master's?) would strive to develop a confusing methodology for their practitioner's to learn and practice, is (itself) being ridiculous (and a little elitist).
 Many of these newer methodology's are perpetuating the idea that the study of (various) abstract and convoluted concepts are (supposedly) what those original practitioner’s relied upon to perform their applications?
 Though I have observed the (sudden) occurrence of many of these systems beginning to (recently) teach “Tuite” (though having never included it in their agenda previously, LOL), it does lend the idea that they are only attempting to capitalize on it's recent popularity.
 Having been a student of Oyata's, it is somewhat odd to see these systems utilize the term (“Tuite”) to described what they are teaching. From what I've observed (and been physically subjected to), those techniques are being applied in a (distinctly) different manor.
 That doesn't (or shouldn't) imply that they are ineffective, only that they are different. The same could be said of many of those applications. Most of what I've been seeing, consist of (overly) physical defensive motions (that could obviously only be performed by young and/or strong males).
 This is (often) being promoted by the recent rash of European touring (self-proclaimed?) “master's”, most of which have immigrated there from the U.S. Though America (still) has it's own contingency of these types of (seminar) “instructor's”, they (the American version) don't tend to be emphasizing the physical aspect of their applications (more often stressing their own mystical abilities).
 I find these tendency's to be odd, considering the age group that is most commonly attending these types of classes (according to the reports that I found on the internet). According to that survey, the most prevalent student group/age is 35-45 year old's, followed closely by 12-15 year old's (?).
 The most common altercations that include injury, are between person's of an age between 21 and 31 year's old. Seeing that the most prevalent group to be involved in an altercation is 15-30 years my junior, it would be ridiculous for myself (or someone my age) to attempt to utilize the types of (defensive) manor(s) that are being popularly emphasized.
 What can be gleaned from these newer instructional method's, is that those (presently) younger students of these methodology's, will be without a useable method when they become older. The “blessing” (or curse) of youth, is that you often fail to look ahead (in your life).
 The methodology that Oyata taught, was never complicated (to perform). That didn't mean it was easy either, just not complicated. But it does require "practice". In our Instant-Gratification society, that requirement (alone), is often too demanding for the average student. 






 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Pause, (for) Effect


  When I first began my studies with Oyata's methodology, I was shown/told to perform 3 defensive actions simultaneously. This would include a defensive motion with each arm, and one leg application. Aside from being damned difficult to achieve (simultaneously), it never felt “right”. When I had an opportunity (years later) to ask Oyata about it, he looked at me and said “yes, 3 motion, but not always all 3 at same time. You have to fill the cup before you can drink from it”.

  After hearing this, I began “seeing” this (what he was talking about) in “actual” application of the motions. Though clearly possible to complete the 3 actions “together”, it was often more productive to space them apart. Doing so would create situations (in the uke's positioning) that would create more efficient results.

  This was most obvious with the (beginning) application of a “Cover/Strike” with a leg kick. By hesitating (before using the kick), the targeted leg would become “loaded” (with the weight being then shifted to that leg before kicking it).

  What I had observed with many (beginning) students use of the kick (including myself), was that it was being utilized too early (to achieve the same results that had been described to, and witnessed by us when Oyata performed the motion).  
 What was more important (at least to myself), was that a greater amount of power and accuracy was also being mandated (through this “early” application of the kick). When I began waiting (those few milliseconds, LOL), the uke's leg would become “loaded” with the uke's body-weight, and barely a “tap” was required to achieve the desired action (from the uke).

  It reminded me of our sparring “joke” (when I was studying Shito-Ryu), if 2 people throw a Side-kick at the same time (at one another), the slower kick wins (if you don't understand this, then you haven't done much “sparring”, LOL). It illustrates that “speed” is not always the best option. This also demonstrated Oyata's “saying” of “Arm's before Feet”. Hand motions often create the situation to make those leg strikes possible (or at least more efficient).

  When applying Tuite, the timing of any kicks (with the technique) can vary (depending on the technique, and the situation). We've demonstrated to our students the differences in timing of the kicks (as well as the uke's responses) depending upon “when” the kick is utilized with the Tuite.

  One of the more common demonstrations illustrates that an uke's (hand) strike, can be stopped without touching the uke. Not exactly being any manner of a “Ki” demonstration, LOL, it does show how the opponent can be (easily) distracted. By simply lifting the knee up (quickly, between you and the uke), the uke will “stop” their intended striking hand. It sounds ridiculous, but “I” have used this “distraction” (on several occasions) to great effect! The uke's (intended) “strike”, has stopped (mid-flight) from the concern of the lifted leg “kicking” (which was never my intent with it). With the aggressor's hand/arm “stopped” (in mid-air), it's a much simpler matter to strike and/or manipulate it as I require (or desire).

  This is one of the (numerous) reasons Oyata taught us to motion 3 limbs at once. Tactically, it's too many things for an aggressor to assess, and/or react to. Strategically, it interrupts their intended assault “plan”, and provides us with a more optimal positioning (for protecting ourselves from being struck, and for any counters).

  Of course none of this is applicable, if not “timed” correctly.That means it requires Practice




Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Well Slap Me Silly !



  According to most surveys (and personal accounts), the most “common” manner of physical assault is performed by (either) a punch (directed at one's face/head, and usually by a male), or slap (most often being performed by a female). The physical components of either action, are similar enough that any counter that may be employed in response to them will be indistinguishable (from a defensive perspective).

  Both motions are (generally) directed towards the side of the head/face of the subject (defender). But the fact that the striking hand is “open” in one method, would imply that it is less effective/damaging.

  Aside from being an overly simplistic evaluation of the (slapping) motion, it also illustrates an ignorance of the action (as being an effective application). Much of this evaluation comes from a “social” evaluation of what is (considered to be) “acceptable” and what is “unacceptable” (from the social perspective).

  This perception is what makes it acceptable for a woman to slap a man, and not vise-versa. To be frank, slaps are considered to be a “socially” acceptable demonstration of disgust and reprimand (if/when performed by a woman).

  In the mono-de-mano situation, the person doing the “slapping” is considered to be treating the other (the recipient) as a woman (yes, I know, a “sexist” sounding observation).

  Aside from any social connotations, the “slap” is an extremely effective method of delivering a strike with minimal risk of (personal) physical injury to one's self (unlike a “punch”, which can easily cause damage to one's own hand/fingers).

  The commonly used “Palm-heel” strike, is simply a forward directed “slap” (though “I” would consider it to be a less effective application of the motion). The motion has all the potential of the common “hay-maker” (punch), just without as great of a risk to one's (striking) knuckles.

  Having watched Oyata perform many of his “knock-out's” using this very motion (and his hand being less than a foot away from the subjects head), I can personally attest to its effectiveness.

  This motion meets all of Oyata's criteria for general application as well. First, it's performed with the hand being open, second, it is a natural motion and third, it can be used in/for a multitude of situations (and targets, ie. The head, the chest, the arm's, the hand, the neck, the face, the groin, the thigh, etc., etc., etc.,).

  Additionally, it provides a level of “defense” (verbally), if/when defending your actions to Law Enforcement (following an altercation). Witnesses (those people who will hang you out to dry) will “see” that you struck the aggressor with an open hand. Though not actually accurate, those “witnesses” will assume a level of mercy (or ineptness) on your part (either of which, will only make your actions appear to have been defensive).

  The most common argument(?) made against it's use, is that it isn't powerful enough (to achieve the response desired). I believe this is because people don't understand what “power” actually equates to being. It isn't the physical motion (alone) that makes it “powerful” (or effective), it's in how that action is performed.

  When we instruct students in this motion, we will tell them to motion the hand/arm in the same manor as a wet towel. Unlike “snapping” a towel, if/when that towel is motioned to strike an object (such as the uke's neck), it doesn't “bounce” (back) off (the neck)”. It wraps around the object (carrying the momentum of it's energy into the object). An (open-handed) neck strike, is performed in the same manor (whether using the palm, or the back of the hand).

  What's more commonly seen (via “U-tube” and such), are person's striking the subjects neck, arm (whatever). These amount to power based strikes. They are not equivalent to what Oyata commonly performed.

  I believe a lot of the confusion came about because he performed these strikes open-handed (and assuming that they were lightly delivered strikes). Most of those I've seen being done by others, have been done using the forearm, and have depended upon the extra force (momentum) provided through this manner of striking.

  When watching these (other) people doing their manner of “neck strikes”, their hand is (most often) closed (even though not always hitting with the hand). This changes the dynamics of the arm's striking potential. Doing the strike in this manner, creates a blunt-force trama to the superficial muscle tissue (at the impact location).

  Though doing so will cause/create a response (often similar to the reactions obtained by Oyata), they are not the same response and will require a higher level of (physical) force to obtain those results.

  This manor of technique application is not what (or how) Oyata instructed (or demonstrated) these techniques to be performed. This is easily shown via the very individuals performing these (well, their) versions of these types of strikes.

  Oyata's were (almost, LOL) always done in a relaxed (casual?) manner. They were (more so) dependent upon angle, momentum and the follow-through (motion). “Power” was a relative consideration, not the dominant one. Though often feeling as if they were done with excessive force, this was often only a perception experienced by the recipient (the actual “force” used, was minimal). 
 One need only observe the recipient of these strikes, when done as Oyata performed them, the knee's buckled (first). With almost every one that I've observed being done by others, the uke will lean away initially (as if attempting to absorb the strike). This doesn't occur when someone is (truly) "knocked-out". The body's (brain's) first reaction, is to return the perceived blood loss to the brain (by causing the body to recline). 

  I've read several articles that made the claim that to strike a muscular (pressure point) location, the muscle had to be relaxed.  Aside from being absurd, how would this even be possible? (for say,.. a “leg” point?) The leg (when standing erect) is almost always flexed. A location either is, or isn't a viable location, and either does or doesn't qualify as being a “kyusho” or (more often) an atemi location. And how would this be applicable in regards to a "neck" strike?

  A muscle that is flexed, is (always) more susceptible to injury/manipulation than a relaxed one.
 Many of these "other" persons (doing their seminars on "neck strikes") attempt to push the "multiple location" requirement (meaning they have to hit more than one location to achieve their result). Oyata only struck his subjects with a single impact. There was no "cumulative" factor/requirement,... at all.

  When practicing Oyata's methodology, it should be remembered that any excessive force being experienced (used) by the tori, is more likely an incorrectly performed technique. That doesn't mean it might very well work (or at least achieve a reaction), only that the practitioner needs more practice if they wish to claim that they are doing the “same thing” that Oyata did.






Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Single Motion Defense



 I've had numerous (written) conversations over the past few weeks with
assorted individual's who don't (seem to) understand what I mean, when
I say to “focus upon your own motions” (during the initiation of a 
confrontation). The concept is not that hard to follow, yet I receive 
numerous “questions”, in regards to that very statement, that are more 
involved than what I'm attempting to convey! LOL. 
  Essentially, there are “2” factors in play here. The aggressor's initial “assault” motion, and the defender's ability to react to that motion.

I continue to receive questions/statements (about) how many different ways there are to be attacked (by an aggressor, with their “hands”). NO, there aren't. Regardless of an aggressor's size, or speed, or knowledge, there are only a limited number of ways that you can be struck (“bare-handed”, and in the head).

  We begin our student's training, with how to defend against a “head/face” punch. This is the most commonly performed “first” aggressive action, in a physical confrontation. Though not always a committed action (being sometimes used as a “feint”), the evidence would show that it is “the” most common (first) manner of attack utilized in an altercation.

  All the “other” ways that one can get punched (upon), are irrelevant (as it would be impossible to account for every hair-brained manner that some goof may try to hit you). In 90% of confrontations (that become physical altercations), the first strike thrown (or at least attempted) is a face/head punch. No doubt the individual is seeking to inflict the (infamous) “Knock-out” punch (as seen in so many movies and such). But more often they just bloody a lip or nose (and the trading of fisticuffs continues until someone submits, and/or the authorities are involved).

  It is that initial “head” punch, that we train our students to contend with. Before a physical confrontation begins, there is an (excessive) level of (nervous) tension experienced by the defender. This tension can become distracting, enough so, that one's ability to react when the (physical) assault begins, that they are too distracted to complete an effective defense.

  Much of this apprehension is (self) created by not knowing what to do. This is why our student's (initial) instruction is focused on their own defensive action (regardless of the individual manor of assault being utilized against them). It's at this point, that the majority of the questions I receive, illustrate that reader's become confused.

  It has been “popular”, to teach students that (your) the Left hand, can/will “block/deflect” an aggressor's Right hand (and Visa-versa, ie. "Right for Left"). This manor of defensive “thinking”, has limited/restricted those student's reaction time. Though initially seeming to be “logical/practical”, it has created the prevalence (instinct?) to wait (until the defender can perceive/see which hand the aggressor is utilizing). “Waiting” equals ”Hesitation”, It requires that the defender understand (or "confirm"?) which hand is being utilized, it is an attempted Reaction (to something they're not really sure about).He who hesitates, has Lost” (or something to that effect). In a defensive situation, “time” is the one "main" thing that we will rarely (if ever) have a surplus of. The time frame of one's initial defensive motions, is only seconds (if not milliseconds). There is no time to rationalize your motions, and/or “change” what that motion is doing (initially).

  Once the aggressor's motion (attack) begins, the defender must have begun theirs (or there is NO point in bothering). There is insufficient time to “evaluate” the aggressor's (manner of) strike, and then expect to have the ability to choose “which” way to defend against it.

  If the defender already has a comprehensive defensive motion (that will suffice for use against any of the more common initially attempted strikes), the entire decisive process has been eliminated. Because of that, the defender can then (more easily) modify their defensive actions accordingly (and to situational circumstances and/or changes as well).

  The apparent difficulty, would seem to be that students have been “shown”, that you should respond (only) to the individual attack (which has been shown for years to be a flawed tactic, ie. The “Blitz Strategy” as one example).

  If/when your practiced defensive action is “only” sufficient for “1 or 2” manners of aggression, you are creating a weakness (or at least a deficiency, depending upon your perspective) in your defense. Any defensive action that you practice, must have the ability to respond to multiple manners of attempted aggression. The Same motion, regardless of whether the “Left/Right” hand is being utilized by the aggressor (or whether it is a straight punch, an uppercut or a hay-maker) should be capable of being defended against.

  If your defensive motion requires you to respond by (choosing) your Left or Right hand to do so, you will (likely) never be able perform it (at least in time to be effective). By having the/a defensive motion that will function regardless of the manner of attack, the defender doesn't need to focus upon which hand the aggressor is utilizing. 
 Teaching students to rely on an "outside block" to prevent a punch from striking you in the face is (frankly) a wasted motion (if performed preemptively). Particularly if you misjudged which hand was going to be doing the striking.  

 The use of both hands (simultaneously), is essential to any comprehensive defensive motion. 
 Doing so will additionally allow the defender to (more easily) modify their defense as the aggression proceeds or if the circumstances change (as well as providing counter-attack possibility's)

 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Tools


  When Oyata began teaching American servicemen (mid-late 60's), the “craze” in the Western world (at that time, like now) was competitive sparring. Oyata had not (yet) introduced his methodology to the west, and had been involved with promoting  “Bogu” kumite in Okinawa. This manner of competitive “sparring” (though popular) was more aggressive than what was commonly being seen at the time.
  After coming to the United States, these events provided a receptive “audience/crowd” for him to present his Life-Protection methodology and recruit additional students. He would commonly present a demonstration (performing examples of his methodology and of course, LOL, his infamous “knock-out” strikes). These events (over time) drew larger and larger audiences (though “competitors” tended to continually dwindle for the competitive sparring matches).
  At that time, no one in the United States was (really) familiar with “Bogu” kumite. It commonly consisted of 3 round/3 point (total) matches of 2 minutes each round (though this could vary per event). Both participants would wear (full) “Bogu” sparring gear. This gear consisted of the Men (a face and neck protector), which unlike what was commonly being worn, had a steel wire “face” protector, the “Do” (a chest and rib protector), a pair of Kote (the “gloves” which would often consist of the (Kung-Fu) “fingered” gloves, these would allow for grabbing) and a pair of Sune-ate (foot protector's, and {occasionally} they could also include shin protection as well).
  Wearing this equipment would allow the participants to engage with (nearly) Full power strikes and kicks, to nearly any part of the opponents body (including the head). The only restrictions were for the neck/throat and the groin.
  Though having an (obviously) higher risk of injury factor, many people considered it to be more realistic. This (of course) is debatable, seeing as how everyone is wearing protective equipment, and there are (still) limitations on where/how those strikes can be utilized. The practice of “sparring”, even with this extensive level of protective equipment, is still, only a “make-believe” confrontation.
  Oyata was aware of the short comings of this manner of competition, and after having gathered a following of (actual) students, had little to nothing to do with it's practice. Numerous schools (that separated from his association) have attempted to push this manner of practice as having been endorsed as one of Oyata's “main” training methods, though nothing could be further from the truth.
  After 1996 (? or so), Oyata had nothing more to do with any competitive tournaments (and certainly not “sparring” competitions). He had already gathered sufficient (in his opinion) student's to train in his Life Protection methodology. Oyata didn't believe in wasting time with non-productive practicing methodologies.
  Bogu Kumite, tameshiwari, makiwara, all of these (supposed) “training” methods/tools were more about impressing self or others (than being beneficial for learning “Life Protection”). The use of many of these “tools” was (more often) for quelling “Hot-Blooded” (overly aggressive/physical) students than for the practice of practical technique application. It is the very rules (and equipment) that make this practice safe (enough) to perform, that reduce it's practicality for defensive training.
  Are there benefit’s to some of these practices? (while remaining debatable) Yes. But to believe that their practice are (in any way) mandatory, is ridiculous.
  The majority of these “tools/methods” fall into the category of “testosterone enhancement”(or dissipation, LOL). Despite all of the glorification of/for/about “sparring” (being a “training” aid), explain how the (common) 80# female, is “learning” (anything) from competing with a 240# male (in that circumstance)? In “life”, there are no “weight” groups. That (weight) difference is actually quite common (between a female and a male partner and/or assailant).
  The practice of “breaking”(boards, bricks,..”Ice”??LOL) is only useful for learning “penetration” with one's strikes, so it rarely needs to be repeatedly practiced (one would hope, LOL). The use of a makiwara? Again, exampling the practice of penetration and weight transfer (which the same, and more can be exampled through the use of a good “body bag”). Aside from “weeding” out (supposedly) “uncommitted” students (?), The continuous (and/or mandated) use of these “tools” is debatable.
  When I was in my early 20's, Oyata had me striking upon these “tools” as well. He utilized a “2-arm” (type of) makiwara as well (one “arm” straight out, and another downward at a 45ยบ, both wrapped with rope). After doing so for a while (about 2 weeks worth of “a while”, LOL), and acquiring substantially bruised forearms, LOL, When he told me to do so again, I informed him that I was “done” (with that practice method). He laughed, and began showing me (individual) kata motions to practice (for equal, if not longer periods of time, LOL). I never struck another “makiwara” (of any type) again (and have never “missed” doing so).
  There appears to be a popular misconception that in order to be a “real” (martial art's) practitioner, you have to of physically abused your body/self in some manner (ie. Commonly Via one or more of the described or similar methods). This belief is ridiculous, and certainly isn't mandated by any (legitimate) training group/person.
  If it were true/accurate, then the only people involved with a martial study, would be young, healthy (and strong) MALE individual's (which certainly isn't the case). Those types of individual's rarely need this manner of training, and would example the pointlessness of anyone else attempting to do so.






Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Abandonment

 



 I was looking at a seminar advertisement, and was reading what they were (supposedly) going to be “teaching”...
   
“Kyusho Jitsu Tuite”
   
  Really, Is it just me?, or are all the “Seminar Experts” illiterate? I've written before about these moron's awarding “certificates” for (presumed) Tuite, Kyusho, Atemi knowledge, but this stringing together of (often unrelated) Japanese words to make them sound “legitimate” is getting ridiculous.
  I'm already aware that they are “illiterate” of the Japanese language (seriously? “Jitsu”? You don't even know how to spell the word correctly? Or did you actually mean “truth, reality, sincerity, fidelity; kindness; faith; substance or essence”?).
(The word they're seeking, is “Jutsu”, freakin' amateurs, LOL)
  This is but another example of people using “foreign” words incorrectly. And yet, we're supposed to accept that they (actually) “know” something about the subject that originates from that “foreign” place.
  Using a foreign language (in one's advertisement) does not validate that person's knowledge, or ability. Using it incorrectly, only examples their ignorance.
Shame”, has become an ignored emotion within the United States (IMO). In the socially accepted meme of “I've got mine, “Fyou”, the seminar circuit is continually feeding on the (unfortunately, gullible) public's desire to learn about a piece of a subject, without any (real) commitment to learning an entire subject.
  That "piece" may be incomplete, inaccurate or even (completely) incorrect, but those individual's will continue to offer it's instruction (including “updated” material/seminars in regards to those “created” subjects,... for a price).
  In many peoples minds, it is considered to be acceptable to “piece together” various subjects, and (then) believe that they have created something acceptable (they haven't). Those individual subjects are more often designed to work with other specific subjects.
  In my mind, it's the equivalent to taking parts from 4 different car manufacturer's, and (attempting) to make a completely “new” car. You might actually get it work (though not very well), but it still would have worked better (and more efficiently) if you had stuck with just one manufacturer. If it doesn't do what you wanted, you get rid of that car and get a new one.
  Studying a martial art is the same scenario. If your martial art doesn't “do” what you want it to, dump it (and get a new one). Adding “bits and pieces” (from other systems) doesn't make yours “better”, it only makes parts of it better (and honestly, worse over-all). Having been down the road of “abandoning” a studied art, I can appreciate the difficulty in doing so, but that doesn't make it impossible to do it.
  Our society has developed this “belief” of a throw-away mentality (for material items). Yet when it comes to abandoning learned ability's, we (seem to) believe that we can “fix” those (or at least never "let go" of them). We will throw-away a manufactured object when it doesn't work, yet something that was “learned”, we believe that we have to “fix” (when it doesn't work in the manner we want it to). Thank God "science" doesn't work like that, LOL.
  If a martial art was a toaster, we'd throw it away when it didn't work (or at least didn't work the way we wanted it to) or we'd get a new one. When I “switched” to Oyata's methodology, I “threw away” the system that I previously studied/taught. I admit that I spent (some) time attempting to “justify” (at least part of) what had been taught in that system, but until I (completely) abandoned it, my progress was (excruciatingly) Slow.
I was wasting time, attempting to “make” something function, that didn't work (in the manner “I” wanted it to) correctly.
  When I see these advertisements/flier’s for those types of seminars, I feel (genuinely) sorry for those people who attend them. These are individual's who are attempting to “fix” something, that should (really) be abandoned.
I don't blame them (the attendee's), I blame the person's providing the seminars. What they're offering is incomplete (information). Telling someone that what they are showing will (automatically) “work”, either with, or regardless of what they're (already) presently doing, it is disingenuous and missleading.
  We've been approached by (numerous) individual's who wish to learn some “part” of what we teach (Most often this is in regards to Tuite). We have no problem with their attending classes to do so, but we know their expectations will not be met, until they (often completely) modify their (own) methodology.
 Knowing how many of those systems are presented/taught, that's often too large of a commitment for those individual's to make. I suspect that's the greater reason that those same people attend these seminars, lack of commitment, or a fear of abandonment.