Tuesday, April 14, 2015


        “Verb: to devote wholly and earnestly, as to some person or purpose

 I generally check out websites that make the claim that they are teaching some form of Oyata's Life Protection art (or are related to it). The majority have only faint (if any) actual connection to Oyata, or his art. Many are teaching some form of "Ryukyu Kenpo" (the system that Oyata abandoned 20 years prior to his death).
 After that time, Oyata began teaching his system (of Life Protection). Many of the sites in question tend to either state directly (or at least imply) that they are teaching the same thing as what Oyata was teaching during those last 20 years.
 Regardless of any suggested or actual connection to Oyata, these sites regularly spout an unending devotion to Oyata (and/or his teachings). The majority are making the implication that they are teaching the same system/teachings as his organization does today.
 What I find amusing, are the one's who actually did have some level of connection to Oyata (and may have actually studied with him for a while). Many of them had quit (or were kicked-out of) his system's organization. The majority that were Kicked-out, were gone before he had fully transitioned into (only) teaching his system. There were a few who quit (on their own) following Oyata's death. Most of those were either unhappy with the resultant organization (following Oyata's death), or had pursuits of their own that didn't include (or were in conflict with) that organization.
 Oyata didn't allow/permit member's of his organization to post videos or detailed information about his system (on the internet). The present leadership has continued that policy. This was done (from his view) to prevent person's from broadcasting his system's technique's (and claiming them as their own). I've received numerous complaints in regards to doing the same on this blog. I've had to assure (and demonstrate to) those persons that I have not.
 This mandate has allowed numerous individuals to make false claims of association (both prior and existing) to that system.
The linking factor between all those sites that have claimed supposed “devotion” to Oyata and his teachings, are that many of them are people who either quit or were kicked-out of his association. The one's who had no actual (1st person) connection to him, are just using his name to promote themselves (IMO), or what-ever it is that they're teaching. Any claimed Affiliation to Oyata's system is easily verified via his systems website.
 It's those's persons that quit (prior to his death) that baffle me the most. If they were Soooooo dedicated to him, then why did they quit studying from/with him? When one examines their websites, they heap praises, respect and devotion to Oyata, and yet … they quit the opportunity to study (directly) with him (???).
 A number of the sites (of those who quit) are still using his associations logo, as well as the name of his system. Why the legal dept. hasn't made these sites remove those symbols is confusing (to members and anyone seeking to become a part of Oyata's association).
 It's most troubling to those of us who have remained in that association. I have encountered no one who is upset about (any of) those who have left. They are free now to pursue their (own) goals. Those of us that have remained in the association (these 3 years now?) after Oyata's passing, have (finally) began to move forward with the goals of the association (as Oyata wanted it to).
 There has been a fair amount of discord among  members (instructor's, students and the leadership) of Oyata's association. It's difficult to (fully) blame the present leadership alone. Oyata wasn't able to implement all of the changes that he wanted to prior to his death, nor did he leave (explicit) instructions on how he desired it to be done. This left (a lot of) room for individual presumptions to be made, and (often false) expectations to remain unrealized. To deny that it hasn't effected the membership would be (totally) unrealistic (it has).
 Oyata had quit “recruiting” new students a number of years ago. He was focused on training the (actual)  students that were dedicated members of his association. He had made numerous changes to that instruction since the transition to teaching only his system (Ryukyu Kenpo was dead, Long Live RyuTe®, LOL). 
 That transition had included numerous changes in the instruction of that system that he expected his instructors to enact/continue with.
These included (but were certainly were not limited to):
No more “Kiai” during the performance of Kata
No more “Deep” stances
emphasizing the impracticality of "sparring"
“Heel's out” (for “horse/forward stance”)
Inclusion of “kakae” strikes (during the performance of all kata)
Numerous additional “fix-up's” and changes were also made to kata performance and various technique execution as well.
 Performing kata in the manor that he wanted them done, NOT as they were done on those (20+ year) old tapes (which were for Ryukyu Kenpo).
 A number of individual's have expressed the desire for the (present) association to return to what's shown on the “Ryukyu Kenpo” video tapes. Having heard Oyata (directly) state that what is shown on those tapes is not what he was teaching (for these last 20 years), doing so is counter-productive (to learning/studying his system).
“Dedication” should include following his wishes in regards to his system of Life Protection. Simply claiming to be "devoted" to him, should include adhering to how he wanted his art to be practiced, performed, taught and advanced

Friday, April 3, 2015

Kata Purpose

 Every Eastern Defensive system being taught in the West utilizes their own version of the kata that were taught in Okinawa (some via Japan) and/or China. There seems to be a lot of concern as to where each kata originated, and where  it was (if it was) changed/modified. 
 Oyata was familiar with numerous kata that were being taught at the time of his own research (after his 2 instructors passed on). He had sought the most original form of those kata that he was able to locate. Many of the original/older instructors had died during the time of the second world war, this meant that he in many ways, had to "settle" (?) for what remained available to him to learn. 
 Of the numerous kata (that he learned) he choose 12 to teach in his system. He felt that these kata provided his students with the greatest range of  motions/examples (technique?) for his students study/research. 
 The (2) kata that he had been shown/taught originally (by his two instructors) had been explained to him and the method of "breaking down" (interpreting) those kata is what he used to decipher the kata that he learned afterword. 
 He (Oyata) explained to us (his students) that each movement/motion performed within the kata served a purpose. Beyond the formality of the "bow", every motion should reflect an applicable purpose for "Life Protection". That didn't always imply a "technique". Some motions and positions were a display of a "principle" (for application and/or protection). 
 In his own words, he stated that kata was not for learning how to (publicly) display one's knowledge and/or ability (I.E. "spar"). It was a reference for the individual techniques that are utilized for Life Protection. There is no need to be able to "spar" for minutes on end, a (true) Protection technique only requires seconds to utilize (and the confrontation should be ended). 
 (According to Oyata) The techniques displayed in the kata motions, are of varying levels (of interpretation). The most "obvious" are those that anyone could see/understand. The next group of techniques were those that only students who had practiced the motions would discover. The last were those that would only became apparent to those with the experience of being involved in confrontations would recognize.   
 Aside from being a little vague, the point was that a student had to study the kata in order to decipher the motions. The majority of interpretations that are presented on the internet (if not in "seminars") fall into the first category. 
 Oyata's explanation did not define a "one technique, for every motion". It was a multiple techniques and definitions for every motion performed in the kata. 
 This required the student to research as to whether the (every) motion performed was the forward or reverse version? (of what it was demonstrating). Was the motion that of the tori? or the uke? Was the motion (only) the important part of an application/motion? or that of an aggressor? Was it a "striking" defensive/offensive motion (as well as who's it represented, tori/uke?). Was it an example of a commonly made motion (be it aggressive or defensive). 
 When approached in this manner, the study of a kata should require years of research/practice. Oyata (often) stated that each student will find "1" kata, that they are most comfortable with.  Everyone is different, so he provide us with an assortment of kata that he felt would (each) provide similar opportunities for discovery of that individual "comfort" kata for varying students. 
 When a student has found their kata, that student should practice that kata repeatedly (over years). Every motion will become second nature (without thought) and those motions will become that students defensive motions. 
 While in class, that student should examine the motions of that kata in every defensive situation that they can imagine, or be presented with. They should examine the use/application of every motion within that kata and determine which motions should be utilized in which situation(s). 
 The purpose of an instructor (in a research situation) is to either validate/invalidate a student's use of a motion, or to help them to refine that motion (to be more practical/effective). 
 This is not a practice reserved for "Black Belts", a new student should be experimenting with this as well. That's the purpose of being in a class, to learn, question and experience the application of what's being shown to you. This can't occur with those "student's" who believe that they can only engage in "solo" practice (alone). There has to be interaction  between two (and preferably more) students. All must be fully aware of what they are practicing, and willing to question how/what they are being shown. 
 The greater the variance in (practice) partners, the better. Being able to dominate (only) a (single? two, three, five?) fellow classmate(s), is not the best manner to determine one's ability (or lack thereof). 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Additional Guidelines

  In addition to the general guidelines, there are additionally some specific preferences that we also attempt to adhere to. These were Regularly voiced by Taika, and have since become the cornerstones of his protective teachings.

"Size or Strength is not Relevant to a Technique's Effectiveness"
"Utilize 3 Defensive Motions at Once"
"Avoid Moving directly to the Rear"
"Hand Motions Work Best, Above the Waist," (and)
"Leg Motions Work Best, Below the waist."
"Always Square Your Body, Towards Your Opponent"
"Learn Your Own Weaknesses, In Order to Know Your Enemy's"

 Students are initially taught to “pre” determine the defensive motion that they will utilize when they are confronted by an aggressor. That motion can be orientated towards a submissive outcome, or a physically damaging outcome. One's initial priority is to protect themselves from receiving any (serious) injury. Once that is accomplished, the students emphasis should be upon the neutralization of the aggressor.
 This can come in the form of a physical inability to continue their own aggression, or a mental change of attitude/intent. The preferred neutralization would be the attitude change/reassessment. Unfortunately this is usually achieved only following a physical demonstration of one's defensive capability.
With that in mind, we practice the demonstrated technique's with the previously listed guidelines being applied to them.

Size or Strength is not Relevant to a Technique's Effectiveness
 With this in mind, it will force the student to study and understand each techniques strength's and weaknesses. When an opponent is (obviously) using strength to deliver their attack, the student should study/understand the inherent weaknesses to that attacking method and counter by applying their own defensive strikes/manipulations to those weaknesses.

Utilize 3 Defensive Motions at Once
 This is commonly misinterpreted to mean “applied” at the same time. Though possible, to do so, that is more often than not impractical to physically perform (or plan on). It's fairly simple to utilize “2” motions at once (with practice), then utilize an immediate follow-up. This is also (easily) performed by initially using a single (limb) technique, followed by 2 additional applications (1 hand/arm, 1foot). Either instance will provide the “3 motions” required.
 The logic Oyata used for this, was that anyone can stop/prevent a single motion, two is more difficult and three are extremely difficult to prevent.

Avoid Moving directly to the Rear
 Although this should be obvious, it isn't (to many people). It's natural to move away from a physical threat, unfortunately it's common to move directly away (rearward) from that threat.  Movement to one's rearward side, is the slowest direction that one is able to move towards (this is clearly illustrated in class).
 By moving at an angle (to either side) rearward, is more effective (being out of line with the standard aggressive technique) than moving directly rearward, and is just, if not faster, than moving directly rearward.

Hand Motions Work Best, Above the Waist
Leg Motions Work Best, Below the waist
 Another one that would seem to be obvious, yet isn't. As with anything, it requires training/practice to not attempt to use one's hand's to deflect/strike an opponent's legs (when an aggressor is using them to attempt a strike upon you, using their own). (strangely?) the same is true with some hand/arm motions. I've witnessed instructor's attempting to teach students to use their leg's to “kick” an aggressor's hands/arm's (as a “defensive tactic”?).  Aside from being impractical, inefficient and ineffective it also requires too much training (even if it could be forced) to be effective.

Always Square Your Body, Towards Your Opponent
 This is both a tactical and a strategic mandate. Tactically, by remaining square (to the opponent), you display no side preference's (Left or Right). You also provide the most efficient way to deliver force (via strikes) using either arm. Strategically, this allows the defender to utilize either arm without displaying your preference to an aggressor.

Learn Your Own Weaknesses, In Order to Know Your Enemy's
 Human bodies are all similar. There may be aesthetic differences, but the anatomy remains similar (enough) between any/all humans to be considered “common”. If one's own body has a location that is sensitive (to pressure/impact), the odds are good that the same location is susceptible on other person's as well. The “rule” being that “If it hurts upon you, it will likely hurt on an aggressor”

 Any of these could be expounded upon in greater detail (and I have done so with most of them on this blog). More importantly, a student should recognize that each are an important facet to the implementation of what is being shown to them. Each of them represent potential technique failures (that could have been avoided), and should have been addressed in the students training sessions. 
 Though most appear to be (little more than) common sense, they each illustrate concepts that should be closely examined. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Technique Considerations

"Technique” Considerations for Training

 A common class period for our student's is spent learning new individual application motions. These can consist of singular actions, as well as multiple motions.

 During the application portion of our class we combine these individual motions to be applied in (either) successive or collective application. These are commonly being practiced in (1-3 Step) two person kumite exercises.

 The most common misunderstanding, is that the application of these motions are “set in stone”. They are completely capable of being (instantly) modified to deal with a continually changing situation.

 As with anything, there first needs to be established a foundation set of guidelines/priority's for determining these motions acceptance (of/for use).

The following guidelines are what Oyata established as being general guides for this purpose. To begin with, the following are the (required) general preferences.

#1 The Motion's Priority, Is to Protect the User.
#2 The Motion Should Be as Natural as is Practical.
#3 The Motion Should Be Able to be Performed Equally by
      the Majority of Individual's.
#4 The Motion Should Not be Orientated to Either (Specific)
     Side of the User.
#5 The Motion Should Not be Dependent Upon the Size or
     Strength of either the technique User, or the Receiver.

 This is not to say, that there won't be some motions/techniques that fall outside of these guidelines. Only that they may very well not be suitable for use by every individual (student).

#1 The Motion's Priority, Is to Protect the User.

 It should go without saying that this is a primary concern for someone training in the (any) Life Protection art. It shouldn't imply that there is (then) a disregard for any other person's life (including that of an aggressor). The implication should be that every motion is taught for a practical (useful) purpose/application in accomplishing that defensive objective.

#2 The Motion Should Be as Natural as is Practical.

 Any instructed motion should not mandate that it's replication require any undue (physical) strain or labor. This should imply that not every technique will “look” (exactly) the same between every two individual's when it is performed. Physical differences will mandate the manner a technique will be performed (by each individual), but it should not alter the desired result for the technique being performed.

#3 The Motion Should Be Able to be Performed Equally by the
     Majority of Individual's.

 This should illustrate the idea that neither size nor strength are a determining factor in a technique's successful use. There may well be differences in how that technique is performed by any (single) individual, but the primary concepts, results and their execution remain the same.

#4 The Motion Should Not be Orientated to Either (Specific)
     Side of the User.

 The implication is that the user should not train, focus or orientate their practice to utilize only one-side of their body's defensive motions, nor should they limit their (own) responses to only utilize one-side of their body over the other. This shouldn't imply that a particular manner that a technique is applied, is done in the exact same way when utilized upon the aggressor's opposite side/arm. 
 What confuses many students, is that Oyata trained us to focus on "1" side's defensive motion, to react to an assault from either of the aggressor's arms. This resulted in faster responses to an assault.

#5 The Motion Should Not be Dependent Upon the Size or
     Strength of either the technique User, or the Receiver.

 Regardless of (any) physical discrepancy's between an aggressor and the defender, any application utilized should possess the ability to be utilized successfully. This doesn't imply that the manner which an application is utilized remains exactly the same in every situation, only that the user should be knowledgeable of a technique's strengths and weaknesses as well as understand how to utilize them in varying circumstances.

 The use of these guidelines can (often) limit the scope of applications that are being taught (in a typical “martial arts” class). It is not the purpose of these guidelines to “increase” one's instructed content. The intended purpose of these guidelines, is to modify the content and intent of a Life-Protection class to serve that purpose (without discriminating against student's who do not meet the expected student “type”. I.E. young, male and physically fit).
 These guidelines actually place a greater burden upon the instructor. They require that the motions/concepts that they are teaching meet the listed requirements, and that their students understand how they need to implement them in varying situations/circumstances.
 In many aspects, it removes the “burden” of learning these types of motions from the students, and places it upon the instructor's ability to teach those students (where it should have been anyhow, in specific individual instruction, instead of generalized group instruction).
 These guidelines in no way remove the requirement that a student must practice the motions and techniques that they are being shown. It only mandates that an instructor must show that what they are teaching is “possible” to be learned and utilized by anyone who practices them (as taught) and understands their use/application.
 When an instructor examines “all” of the technique's that they are teaching to their students, they (most often) find that there have been technique's that (either) they (themselves) do not fully understand how/where/why to use them, but additionally that some that are simply worthless or impractical for the common student (except in particularly uncommon/unrealistic circumstances, and/or by particular individual's).
 By continuing with their instruction (knowing the deficiencies of the application/technique) they are performing a disservice to their students, and to what they are teaching.