Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ingredients of a Defensive Response

  The majority of confrontations are initiated via one of three methods. The most common is through an attempt at striking the defenders face/head. The second is started through a grab or shove, and the third is through the use of a kick. Though several other methods are possible, these are the most common. Many confrontations will consist of varying instances of each of those situations.

  Though many systems teach their student's to defend against the type/manner of (arm)strikes that the student practices to perform (in their class), the majority of people do not perform those attempts in an equivalent manor. The most common (initially used) assault method used, is the “head punch”. The “reasons” are debatable (attempting a knock-out, or just making an attempt to shut the mouth that said the offending statement), but reports (both police and personal) have documented that this is the most popular opening (offensive) action.

“Grabs”, run a close second. These can be performed in the attempt to immobilize an individual (while attempting to strike them), or to cause them to fall, or with the intention of moving them to another location.

Lastly, are the attempts made at kicking the defender. The majority of people are not skilled at delivering an effective kick (and are equally aware of that fact), so they are rarely utilized (except as a distraction/feint).

  Oyata taught that students should practice to deal with an aggressor who is at “arm's length”(distance) from them. This is the most common distance that verbal confrontations take place. Those interactions may (initially) take place at greater distances, but the situation is only considered to become serious when that distance (arm's length) is achieved.

  Much angst has been made in regards to the reaction time required to respond to a strike delivered at this distance. That ability is determined by the amount of time that has been spent practicing the required motions. This practice is based on learning (and improving) the necessary factors to increase the students reaction time.When this is accomplished, reacting to physical assault attempts will become easier (with both time, and practice). 

  Most importantly, the student is shown how, and what to watch for when involved in a confrontational situation. New students (often) only watch the hands or the face of an aggressor. The hands are the last part of the arm to exhibit motion if/when delivering a strike. Though the eyes may indicate some intention of use, that will vary between individual's and their experience with performing the particular action.

  The defensive imperative, becomes seeing/noting when the aggressor's arm is being motioned. The hand is the last part of that arm to move. It is more important to watch the shoulder for indication of motion (This can be illustrated through numerous simple example/exercises).

  Once the student understands this, their attention can remain higher on the aggressor. This is (usually) taught to students as being done though watching the chest, or the cheek (region) of the aggressor. Persons are inclined to “face” the direction of any action they may perform (therefore, watching the eyes can be misleading, and is often practiced as a distraction/feint by experienced fighters).

  The students use of their peripheral vision is stressed and practiced during class. Although common to watch the eyes of someone when engaged in conversation with them, that behavior is discouraged (when practicing the instructed defensive actions). Focusing upon the eyes (of an aggressor) can create the problem of “tunnel vision” (thus limiting the defender's ability to see the more important indications that would demonstrate the initiation of an aggressive motion).

  The delivery of a head strike (using the arms) is the fastest of these three possibility's. A strike (attempt) can be delivered in (only) 4 ways (via either arm). Those are the Upper-cut, the (from the) Waist Punch, the Straight Punch (shoulder/jab) and the Roundhouse Punch. Any of these may be known by various names, but these are the most commonly recognized (general) motions. The particular method most likely to be utilized in a situation, is dependent upon the aggressor's (initial) hand position.

  When the aggressor initially instigates a confrontation, and their intent is to make that confrontation physical, they will often begin with their hands raised (most often with both hands raised and “cocked” in front of them). This has both of their arms bent (coiled), and in front of them (allowing for either arm to be rapidly extended as strikes).

  When an aggressor approaches the defender in this manner, they are displaying an intent to do injury (or at the very least, to intimidate). This provides the defender with an initial reason to expect (and be concerned for) bodily harm. The defender should raise their own arms (with open hands) in a defensive manner. The defender's hand's should be extended slightly (towards the aggressor) to provide (and demonstrate) a defensive position and attitude. This is important for both one's initial defense, and for exhibiting a non-aggressive intent (for any possible legal defenses including the statements of witnesses).

  When an aggressor approaches the defender (with both of their hands raised) with their hands open or closed, it is accepted that one can presume a hostile intent. Defensively, when the aggressor's hands are both raised, it (actually) limits the possible actions that they are capable of doing, or at least the number of ways that they can perform those actions quickly (without being perceived by the defender).

  A students training, should include research regarding how any aggressive strike is able to be delivered through these (various) positions. When either of these positions are utilized, it will directly effect how any (type of) strike can/will be delivered (as well as the defensive requirements to avert them).

  Very few aggressor's can deliver a (true) “jab” (punch) effectively. The majority will “cock” their strike (before delivering it). That may only amount to an increase in the bend of the striking arms elbow, or it may include a rapid retraction of the hand (before extending that hand as a strike). Either of these motions are an indication of an impending strike. The ability to recognize these motions (which are done very quickly) requires practice that (specifically) focuses on detecting those motions.

  In a class-room environment, it is common for (fellow “uke”) students to attempt to mask the shown actions (ie. shoulder movements). Though possible (to a very limited extent), this is rarely (if ever) done in actual confrontational situations (an aggressor's primary goal is usually speed).

  This practice is began at an arm's length distance (between the two students). This is later modified to include a distanced approach. This is practiced by the students beginning (approx.) 8 feet apart, and the aggressor (uke) rapidly approaching the tori (to deliver their strike).

  Though the visual impression is that the situation is different (from being practicing at “arm's length”), the physical situation remains the same. The aggressor still must move to an arm's length distance to deliver their strike. For the defender, the situation remains the same (as when beginning close to the aggressor). This situation additionally provides the opportunity to (further) disrupt the aggressor as/before they are able to deliver their strike.

  Persons in motion make the assumption, that they have created an advantage to their tactics. This is only true to a limited extent. They have additionally created weaknesses that can be (more easily) exploited by the defender as well. It is the study of those weaknesses that the student should focus their defenses upon. 

  By moving forward, the aggressor has created momentum (making it more difficult for them to change the direction of that motion). This additionally makes it easier to predict the aggressor's subsequent position (which will include leg/body position and placement).

  This forward movement requires that the aggressor place one leg forward (with each step) to move closer to the defender. Each step provides the opportunity (for the defender) to (both) predict subsequent positions and the ability to strike (kick) one of those legs. With the aggressor moving forward, the forward leg will be carrying the (full) body-weight of the aggressor with each step (including any additional strike attempt). This creates additional susceptibility to the tori's defensive actions.

  If/when the aggressor attempts to include a kick with that motion, students will commonly retreat, or focus upon the impending “kick”. Either of these choices are flawed tactics (on their part). It is more practical/effective to deliver a (defensive) “kick” to the aggressor's support leg. New student's are often hesitant to make this attempt (at kicking the aggressor's support leg).

  If/when an aggressor attempts a (serious) “kick”, they will commonly focus (only) upon delivering that kick (making it easier to deliver a defensive kick to their support leg).

  Students often (mistakenly) assume that a “leg strike” must be performed with force. When the leg is weight bearing, even a moderate/light strike will provide substantial results (and thus nullifying any arm motions/strikes also being attempted at the time).

  It is additionally common (when a leg strike is performed) for the recipient of that strike (kick), to fall/stumble. The most common response (when that person is falling), is for them to reach out and grab (at something) for support. Very often, that “support” can/will be the defender (tori). If/when that situation occurs, it is important that the defender be versed in the various “simplistic/common” Tuite responses. Tuite skills are (very often) side-lined (by many schools) as being for “non-threatening” situations (only). Students (and schools) that endorse this belief are dismissing a major/common occurrence during a physical confrontation. Focusing only upon the possible “striking” actions, is restricting the students ability to effectively end a confrontation.

  In 30+ years of experience with physical confrontations, I have never had one ended with the use of “strikes” alone.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Tuite Pocket Reference

 Tuite Pocket Reference
 A Pocket Reference book of start positions of Tuite for use in picking through training topics in the dojo. There are NO explanations for these techniques, see larger book "The Six Basic Principle of Tuite".
  This book is only for quick reference of the basic techniques during a Practice session. This book lists all of the (initially shown) basic Tuite techniques as were taught by Taika Seiyu Oyata. Full descriptions of the techniques with photographs and explanations of the 6 Basic Tuite Principles is found in our Training/Instruction manual "The 6 Basic Principles of Tuite" (available soon).   

 Use this "link" to connect directly to the Tuite Pocket Reference,

 Available Titles,                   Tuite Pocket Reference

 Available Soon                    The Six Principles of Tuite

Titles coming soon,              Advanced Tuite Principles
                                              "Stepping Stones of Kyu Rank" Kenshukai-Ryushinkan Student Primer
                                              Women's Self-Defence
                                              Handgun Retention     
                                             Kyusho Pocket Guide


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Practice is Research

  When learning a particular skill set, it's usually necessary to be shown the individual pieces of that skill slowly (at least in the beginning of the learning process). When attempting to reproduce that motion, a greatly reduced speed of execution is necessary. To do so otherwise, amounts to having a “sink or swim” attitude about the instructional process. It would appear to me that this is the very attitude being put forth for the learning, and the instruction of Tuite (regardless of who's version one is attempting to learn).
  Oyata repeatedly emphasized that Tuite should be practiced slowly. Despite that fact, the vast majority of practitioner's attempt to perform Tuite motions with speed. Most often (from my own experience) this comes from a lack of ability to do so otherwise (and/or achieve any positive results without doing so).
  When I first began my studies with Oyata's method of Tuite, it was commonly being done with speed (and power). This was not a mandate presented by Oyata (himself), but was being promoted by (supposed) “students” of Oyata (or at least by numerous “seminar attendee's”).
  Once I began working with Oyata (himself), the preferred (ie. “his”) manner of Tuite practice, was to do so slowly and incrementally. This meant that you would take (any) particular Tuite application, and divide it into “pieces”. Each piece would then be studied, understood and then practiced. Once that piece could be performed correctly, you would work on the “next” piece. This continued until the entire technique was (actually) understood (which is reminiscent of his “kata” training method). When the (basic) application of the technique was understood, potential weaknesses would be identified, and the prevention of those flaws from being exploited would be practiced.
  This was a fairly long (involved) process. There are numerous factors that could cause/create certain weaknesses in an applications ability to create the desired results. This could involve a great amount of time (per technique), and there are numerous variables that could be included in determining those factors as well. 
 Any (if not All) of Oyata's Tuite applications can be applied slowly (and continue to achieve the desired results). When they are applied quickly (even if/when done so "sloppily") they will produce those results faster (obviously). The "difference" is in whether the student is intending their study to provide them with Knowledge (regarding the technique), or the more simplistic "results". Either, can provide the student with information on "basic" defensive motions. 
 Oyata didn't teach "generic" applications, He taught his techniques. His instruction was intended to produce knowledgeable students (and instructors). Oyata would (often) describe some schools as teaching "Monkey see, Monkey do" techniques (and thereby, students). When something didn't occur (exactly) as those students had learned them, they didn't know what to do (to fix their technique). 
  Numerous systems have attempted to alleviate their student's concerns (regarding those factors) by having them attempt to utilize the (sophomoric) “10 Principles” that are being peddled by numerous groups. The problem with that list, is that it doesn't address the “main” problem (that the student hasn't learned the required individual segments of how/why the technique will or won't work). It attempts to make “additions” to something that isn't understood by the student to begin with (something about "no matter how much paint you put on a turd, it's still just shit").
  The most commonly (recommended) “corrections” (by these individual's) are to go faster, and/or more powerfully. Neither of which address the (real) problem, nor are they relevant to the techniques ability to work (as desired). I have to blame that belief on the fact that the majority of “instructors” are male. Males are (commonly) raised to believe that strength and/or speed are "the" answers, or that they are the means to accomplishing the desired result (to most anything). This is not an accurate belief, especially in regards to the application of Oyata's style of Tuite.
 There's also a (completely False) belief that the inclusion of a "Kyusho" (type of) strike is required to "allow" the shown Tuite technique to work. This Fallacy is being promoted by individuals who have no idea how the techniques (should) work to begin with, nor how to (correctly) apply them to begin with. 
  It would seem that the “Training” aspect of attending a seminar, doesn't necessarily always include the concept of “Mutual Understanding” for what was shown (much less individual understanding). But to be fair, the majority of the individual's attending seminars have had little to no experience with the application of Tuite during an (actual) defensive situation. The attendee's are instructed to apply the shown motions slowly, but the majority are unable to understand how that concept would or even could work. Training isn't (initially) intended to duplicate actual usage. Students (regardless of their experience level) too often focus on the (end) “results” that are/aren't achieved when applying the shown technique (as opposed to understanding how the technique should be applied to achieve those desired results).
  It's also become “popular” for the (designated) “uke” to attempt to counter the other students training motions(?) before either of them actually understands the technique. Because of this all too common trend, students (both uke and tori) are more often beginning to speed-up their training motions (thereby nullifying any of the “training/research” that could have been achieved through the original/intended manner of the practice). Those students who don't understand why the motions should be performed slowly, are the one's who are in greatest need of that (slow) training.
  "Training” is (only) the familiarization of specific motions and reactions that are intended to produce (equally) specific responses to those actions made by an aggressor. Once those motions are learned and understood, the practiced motions are then expanded upon, to understand the possible variables to/from the initially practiced motion.
 The ability to "counter" those applications (if even possible) is usually only possible when the tori has applied the technique incorrectly. When performed correctly, the ability of the uke to apply those "counters", is practically non-existent. 

Head Hunting

  When I practiced Shito-Ryu (38yrs ago, AAAKK!), we used to do a lot of “sparring”. For what was being taught at the time, it made sense. With what I've studied and learned over the years since then (in following Oyata's methodology), I haven't participated in that exercise more than a handful of times (and only for amusement purposes) since.

  When I was active in that practice, it was then (as now) popular to strive for “head-shots” (strikes to the opponent's head). The intent (naturally) at that time, was to try for the ever popular “knock-out”. This was pretty much mandated by the fact that the “rules” for sparring (so we didn't cause serious harm to one another) didn't allow for “leg” strikes. We had to utilize gloves, foot pads, chest protector and headgear. We had the option to use shin guards and/or forearm guards (though most didn't).

  With Leg strikes removed from the target options, head strikes were a popular target to try for (and it just Looked cool to do so).  
 This manor of practice emphasized speed and power, Oyata's instruction didn't. Though important, they held less relevance in his methodology. Sparring asserted that those traits could (or should) assure one's ability to triumph in a confrontational situation. In fact, this manner of practice instilled more bad habits than usable traits.  
 With the included “padding”, strikes that would (normally) produce cumulative (if not immediate) effects, became pointless to even attempt. Those strikes that were less effective (in an actual confrontation) were commonly implemented in the “sparring” arena. Though commonly argued that sparring is the “closest” way to practice for a confrontation, it is (actually) the best way to instill bad (ie. Non-productive) habits (at least when compared to Oyata's normal training methodology).

  At one time (back in the late 70's, early 80's) Oyata used to demonstrate what he was teaching (at the time, Ryukyu Kenpo) during the “half-time” at tournaments that his student's schools sponsored. In those early years (while he was still “recruiting” students for his association) he used these events for publicity.  
 After the mid-eighty's, sparring was never addressed (at his dojo, nor in the Yudansha classes that he taught). It was Oyata that initially emphasized the inherent drawbacks to participation in this practice.

  In Oyata's methodology, one's defense begins when the eminent threat is initially perceived. This is commonly when the student is first confronted by an aggressor (before it becomes “physical”). Oyata's training encompasses the identification of “tell-tale” signs (from the aggressor) that can provide the student with information that can assist in their pending defense. Though not (exactly) being a “list” that one can reference before a fight begins, there are commonalty's that can be used to assist in identifying traits that provide the student with applicable (defensive) information.

  This (piece) of Oyata's defensive methodology is but one of the reasons we have students begin their practice (of Tuite, defensive motions, striking methods etc.) from a static (face to face), arm's length distance from one another. Critics often choose to highlight this method as being “unrealistic” (as both persons would more often have their hands up, and possibly will have already assumed a “fighting” stance). Surprisingly (to some), this training method is done to illustrate and identify the common body motions made by the aggressor (uke) when beginning an assault. Although the average student will attempt to conceal these motions (in a class environment), the identified motions are still being made when the aggressive method is attempted. When these motions occur in an actual confrontation, they are far more pronounced (and thus more easily identified).

  Oyata taught that the head, and the groin (though both being regularly targeted) are both popular targets, neither can (actually) easily be struck, nor will doing so (easily) cause sufficient injury to the aggressor during a confrontation. Therefor, neither is an efficient location to perform a strike upon (for defensive purposes). Regardless of how unpleasant someone looks, nor how ever large their testicles, they are extremely unlikely to strike you with either (and/or cause damage to you with them).  Defensive strikes are taught to be directed upon an opponent's arms, legs and the side of their neck (not the throat, learn the difference, LOL). Body strikes are commonly applied (if still required) once the arm's and/or legs have been neutralized.

  These types of strikes have paramount importance (in regards to Life-Protection training). The practice of “sparring” negates (through the imposed “rules” of it's practice) for neutralizing those areas. Additionally, this practice is particularly favorable to the young, strong and male student. These should not be priority's for learning to protect one's self. These are (in fact) the traits of the most commonly encountered aggressor. Defensive training should be designed to negate any advantage that is held in those regards.

  Oyata's methodology was intended to do that. His methodology does not depend upon any of those traits for his techniques to remain effective. It is designed to exploit the common physical weaknesses that are present in any physical confrontation (by male or female aggressor's). Training should dictate how those applications should be used.

  The instructed techniques can be applied and escalated (if/when necessary) to meet the defensive requirements of the situation. Not all situations or aggressive actions mandate that the defender cause debilitating injury (to an aggressor). Students are provided with defensive actions, which they can escalate or reduce as the situation requires.

  Arguments can (often) escalate beyond their original intent, but they can subside as well. Students should have the available repertoire to respond to either situation (as it occurs). The most common physical altercations, arise from verbal disputes. Learning to diffuse these situations can negate many confrontations that (otherwise) might become physical.

  The practice of “sparring” (among it's many downfalls) does nothing to train a student in how to defuse these situations that might otherwise become physical, or when they do. Training only for the last resort situation, is not the only (or best) way to practice true “Life-Protection”. Though important, it only deals with a (very) small number of regularly encountered situations.