Saturday, November 28, 2015

Arm-Bar Fail

  A recent “private” conversation with my instruction associate (in regards to a recent “post” on a popular blog) reprized one of our pet peeve's (in regard to “Technique Application”). This one was in regards to “Arm-Bar” application (methods).
  The post was defining and illustrating how the author taught this technique to be applied. My associate (as well as myself) were in (almost) total disagreement with the author's interpretations and/or (his) application of the stated technique. Much of the author's arguments "for" this manner of application consist of various popular opinions on the subject. (which we disagree with...completely).
  The Author's descriptions and provided video(s) exampled the application as it is commonly being taught (by the vast majority of systems, including some present instructor's of Oyata's system).  Those systems tend to focus upon “muscling” the arm/body to the desired positioning. Though I'd be willing to bet that they would argue that point, it's fairly easy to prove (by simply watching any of the available video's, that they provide). Almost all of those examples, are of “2-point” Arm-Bars (that would be “2 points of contact”). This is the most common manner being taught for the execution of an Arm-Bar application (by the majority of systems).
  Though Oyata (also) taught the 2-point Arm-Bar, he (regularly) stressed that the 3-point Arm-Bar was superior as a (Far more effective) application. (Almost) All of the provided examples (in the article) were Frontal/Side applications, they also were (all) “muscled” (to achieve a response). This was mainly due to poor positioning (In our opinion) prior to their application. Almost all of the demonstrated applications were (again, in our opinion) Frontal Arm-bar applications (and misapplied at that).
  Considering the manner that the application was (attempted) being applied, the uke's escape method was not surprising (we've seen similar attempts made when applying Oyata's 3-point application as well, though not successfully).
  The most obvious mistake made (in our opinion) is in their “misapplication” of the Arm-Bar itself. In every provided example (whether in this article, or anywhere else the technique has been demonstrated), the persons (appear to?) don't seem to understand how a (basic) “lever” works (nor how being aware of that fact would change the manner they are attempting to achieve this technique). In each of the provided examples, they are attempting to apply a “3rd order” category of lever. This is the least efficient manor of lever (1st being “best/most efficient”, 3rd being “worst/least efficient”).
  In regards to Oyata's methodology, it (directly) defies (several of) his principles for technique application.
  The “first” problem observed, is that of the tori's positioning. In none of the provided examples is the tori (in our opinion) correctly positioned before beginning the technique's application. We attribute this to (their) insistence of utilizing a 2-point Arm-Bar.  Though (obviously) possible, it is a horrendously inefficient application (and was deeply frowned upon by Oyata). The 3-point Arm-Bar (obviously) requires the correct positioning as well, but no attempt (at correcting this) was made in any of the provided examples (though it was clearly possible to accomplish that correction).
  We found it interesting that the initial “flaw” (with the application) was readily identified (the uke bending forward at the waist only), yet no attempt was made to correct that action from occurring(?). Nor was any attempt made at correcting the tori's positioning (before) applying the application. Doing so would have made it much simpler prevent the shown “counter” as well as achieve a more effective application.
  The utilization of the less efficient 3rd class application, also (forced?) the need to “muscle” the technique (during it's application). If the uke were stronger (than the tori) in the application of this technique, it would amount to (another) probable “failure” of the technique's application. The use of a 3rd class lever requires that the user(tori) be stronger than the recipient(uke).
  The “argument” for this manner of technique application, is that the tori will utilize nerve points (upon the levered arm) to maintain an advantage over the uke. This also mandates that the tori have a secure (and exact) hand/arm placement in addition to control of the uke's arm. If any of these are flawed, the technique (then) requires “muscular” dominance over the subject. This is (in our opinion) an obvious “flaw” in the demonstrated technique.
  The performed manor, as well as the provided explanations (for that manor) are to “us” examples as to why/how people consistently experience “problems” when attempting to perform an “Arm-Bar”. In almost every instance, the tori (in those examples) attempts the most difficult manor of technique application. It could be argued that the practitioners made the application more difficult (as well as less efficient), though I believe that it was unintentional.
  From my own perspective, I view it as “experienced” martial artists, attempting to (unnecessarily) include known information, and (force?) make it applicable to an technique. The “simpler” (easier?) and more obvious (at least to our perspective) manor of/for application is thereby ignored (or is simply dismissed due it's simplicity).
  It was Oyata's opinion (and was regularly included within his teachings) that the obvious and (very often) simplistic perspective, could just as often, be the most efficient method. The articles provided examples illustrate how that concept was surpassed in favor of an obviously “forced” manor of technique application.
Each of the provided examples attempted at least “2” (as well as more) manors of diminished effectiveness to achieve the completion of their technique applications. Each of those misapplications caused the technique to be more difficult (to accomplish) and provided more opportunity for counter-applications and/or the technique's failure.
  Does this imply that I believe the application (shown) to be without (any) value?, no. Would I teach (any) of these to my own students? And again, no (at least as a technique that one would/should/could “depend upon”). The application illustrated in the article lacked many valid uses IMO. The continued expansion (on the website) provided no further information (to correct any of the “flaws, and honestly they didn't seem to be aware of most of them either).
  From what we observed, none of the “weaknesses” that were displayed in the videos were addressed (sufficiently) to make the described application efficient or effective. 

Monday, November 23, 2015


 I am regularly tasked with explaining that Oyata's system has changed (over the past 20yrs) from what was taught during the 80's/early 90's. The Eastern manner of instruction, is one that presumes that the student will continue their training throughout their lifetime. The Western “model” is one of (only) a few years of study/practice to complete one's training in a methodology. Therefor students of/from other methodology's regularly assume that what is taught in that method, is the same as what was presented in the later years of Oyata's life (within "his" methodology).

  Patience, is a concept that Western students don't seem to subscribe to. They are easily distracted by those systems that provide supposedly “quick results” (often to unrealistic threats). Though numerous popular defenses can be easily and quickly learned, they are rarely pertinent to the situations that actually will occur. Likewise, the manner that those situations are resolved need to be both practical and Legal to utilize as well.

  Learning defenses against numerous manners of assault is a topic that needs to be included, but the average student should be focusing upon the most common of those assaults, not the extravagant (ie.”Flashy”) manners of assault that are often presented on “U-Tube” and the internet (in general).

  I regularly browse the Internet, and I see a plethora of these videos. My personal preference is to view the most “basic” of those offerings. One can tell a lot about the system being presented through those examples. “How” an instructor is having their (beginning) students perform the initial motions of the system can display a great deal about how that system is being taught, and where it is (eventually) going to evolve to.

  The information “I” provide on this blog, is (very) “basic” (in regards to our instructed material). The majority of it is material that is mentioned during “classes” (and often promptly forgotten/ignored). From the mail I receive, I know that many would like me to elaborate on (“details”) the differences in how we utilize those motions. The “problem” that I have with doing so, is that the probability of miss understanding is too great (to make it worth my time in doing so). We are more than happy to do so “in person” (and have done so numerous times), as much of that information is intermingled with additionally taught concepts and motions.

  Person's seeking the “Quick-Fix” answers (commonly to their present systems problems) are often disappointed. Those “fixes” are usually linked to additionally existing problems (that defy their systems tenet's in application).

  Many only seek to utilize “pieces” of what we teach into those systems (ie. “Tuite”, “Kyusho”, etc.). I liken it to taking parts from a “Ford” truck, and trying to make it work on a “Toyota” coupe. The parts look similar, but they just don't fit!. It would require an extensive modification of the existing vehicle (system) for those parts to function. It might be able to be done, but (why?) it's doubtful that it will function as intended. If that “part” is really desired, why not change vehicles? If your wanting that part to function (as designed), change vehicles (systems).

  The majority of people realize this, and when many of those (minor) “details” are shown, they immediately write them off as “not important”,or trivial and/or not relevant to what “they” do.  We've encountered very few individual's who (actually) research their presently practiced/instructed applications. It is far more common, that individual's will teach those methods/techniques exactly as (they were) taught. Very few (and that's being kind), are able to define/explain “all” of the pertinent motions involved with those instructed motions. We tend to blame this on the (popular) “2-3 year Black Belt” manor of instruction. It has (in our opinion) greatly lowered the (general) level of knowledge available in present Yudansha.

  We understand that the vast majority of students, attend a “for profit” school. There's nothing wrong in doing so, but (the majority of) those establishments are in “business” to make a profit (whether to “pay-bill's”, or make a living through). The average “time of study/class attendance” is between 6 months and 3 years (despite what many claim). If/when a student can't achieve their “goal” (ie. A “Black-Belt”) during that time, they “quit” and (commonly) move on (whether to cease their study completely, or to begin with another system). Those are the same people that (obsess?) are so concerned with getting a “Black Belt” (and after having done so, will then quit).

  When person has come to us to “compare” their applications (to what we teach), it amounts to them demonstrating a motion, and wanting to see how “we” teach it to be done (or what we utilize in comparison to that motion). This isn't (really) an accurate comparison. There are numerous factors that determine whether an (even a “simple”) application is utilized. We can compare “details” of that application, but the differences are usually (more) in regards to the entire defensive action (as opposed to the individual “piece” of the action).

  Those pieces should also include Stances and Body Motion (without even getting into the responses of the Uke). Undue focus is commonly placed upon the motion(s) of the Tori “hand's” (only). Though those motions are important, they are not the only necessary motions (to make the application function correctly).

  During the latter years of his instruction, Oyata spent a great deal of time upon those “details” (of motion) during the application of the instructed technique's. Many were in regard to what we now refer to as “Force Efficiency”. A large number were (simply?) methods of achieving motion deception. These were designed to mask the tori's intended motion. They also dealt with hiding one's ability to even perform those actions .

  When one studies these methods, it examples those displayed traits/motions if/when performed by an opponent. They become instilled defensive actions (to be observed in an opponents actions). This is what I see when watching the various “live” examples presented “on-line”. I see opportunities that are commonly ignored/dismissed (within those “example” videos).

  For those that follow the “sport sparring” ideal (of confrontation practice), those methods that I am referring to, are (easily?) commonly dismissed as “unimportant”. If/when one has allowed a confrontation to dissolve into that manor of conflict (ie."sparring"), they have (already) missed/ignored bringing the conflict to a quick resolve.

  Though sounding counter-productive, body/stance “change”, is (often) taught/learned prior to hand motion. Though commonly taught as being done in conjunction (with one another), there is a “lag” between the two. Oyata usually taught “Hands before Feet” (in application/use). Though commonly the situation, these could be “swapped” (depending upon the pending circumstance). It was with the premise that the range of practice should (initially) be done at “arm's length” (between the tori and uke) during practice of the instructed technique's. It quickly becomes obvious, that there is rarely a “simultaneous” use of both. The (additional) use of “hip-rotation” (what we refer to as “hip-shimmy”) was discouraged as well. It is considered (and shown) to be counter-productive to technique efficiency. The majority of these items are rarely taught (or even covered) in many systems, often as a result of the practice of applications being done under (what we would consider to be) “unrealistic” conditions, and with equally “unrealistic” expectations. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Including “Force Efficiency” with Applications

  To further expand on the concept of Force Efficiency, one must begin at How this concept is best achieved. Beginning with efficient motion, one must understand how each limb is able to motion. Limbs are combinations of different “Joints” (where the bones of the limb's are attached to one another). Both the Hips, and the shoulders are limited range “ball & socket” joints. This allows for rotation in multiple directions, but forward/rearward motion are the main (intended) directions of motion. The Elbow and the knee's allow for full contraction, and restricted extension (allowing those limbs to “straighten” only). The wrist and ankles only allow a limited amount of forward/rearward flexion and extension with little (if any) rotation. The elbow's and the knee's are where the feet and the hands are allowed their respective rotational abilities through the arm and leg's dual bones attachment at the elbow and knee respectively (the wrist and ankle are limited in their individual rotational ability).

  Though the degree of those ranges may vary between individual's, they are (regardless) all similar between individual's. The greatest amount of variance between people will be their individual muscular capabilities (i.e. “strength”). In order to develop (or confirm) the validity of a technique/application, muscular “strength” should not be a mandate for a technique's effectiveness (nor the ability to perform it). This is the most common mistake made with many exampled “Tuite” applications.

  Understanding the limb's motion ranges will define how that limb can be used in an offensive motion. That motion is most commonly an extension (of the limb) to deliver the desired momentum/force. Being that the elbow and the knee are (essentially) flat hinges (they only open/close in their respective “2” directions), the shoulder and the hip are the determining “joints” for directional delivery of that extension. Impactive range, is determined through the rotation of the arm bone at the shoulder joint or the thigh bone (at the hip) for the (respective) hand/foot.

  Once this is understood (recognized), the use of these limb's (to deliver/resist strikes) is determined by the fact that those motions are most effectively accomplished in (either) a forward (extension) and to a very limited degree, a rearward (extended) direction. If/when that direction is varied beyond being done in a (directly) forward direction (for the arms), the amount of energy is increasingly diminished (dependent upon the degree of that variance from being done directly forward).

  “Understanding” that the body is most efficient when correctly aligned, it is imperative to understand the optimal way(s) to correct/compensate the entire body's positioning to deliver a strike/motion (when the direction of delivery varies from the optimal direction of doing so, i.e. directly forward).

  Optimal alignment can not always be achieved (during an altercation). For that reason numerous manners of correcting one's “alignment” are taught to students. The instructed kata illustrate many of those positions and are often questioned by practitioner's (during their instruction). It should be realized (remembered?) that the kata contain numerous “tidbits” of instruction. This is why I view many of the “direct application” (following exact motion) interpretations (i.e. “bunkai”) with doubt (if not disfavor).

  Oyata taught that kata motion was (more often than not) only “bits and pieces” of technique's and application. This is why research was required to understand what was being exampled in the Kata's motion.

  Having a basic understanding of Force Efficiency (which entails numerous subjects and details itself) is imperative to one's ability to perform effective techniques (and interpret effective “bunkai”).
 Though we only briefly touched on this subject in our first book ("The Six Basic Principles of Tuite"), our continuing series of "Technique and Application" books are going to address Oyata's defensive body motions and principles/applications more deeply (in various related topics/subjects).

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Defining “Force Efficiency”

  Having received (numerous) questions in regards to what I'm referencing to (when stating “Force Efficiency”), I will attempt to explain the concept, as we interpret it.

  The human body is designed to move in particular directions efficiently (with force and ease). Though fully able to (physically) motion in additional directions, those directions are awkward if not (obviously) weak and uncomfortable. Despite this recognized fact, particular motions (technique's?) are shown to be performed in manners that (attempt to) defy their natural manner of motion. This results in “techniques” that are inefficient and weak. Though the body and it's limbs are capable of motioning in numerous directions, that fact should not imply that each of those (possible) motions are efficiently accomplished (nor even desirable).

  This was one of the most emphasized points of Oyata's instruction. It is related to everything that Oyata taught (stances, motion, technique, kata etc.). It was this understanding that defined “Force Efficiency”. We began using the term to define Oyata's descriptions of how/why he instructed particular motions to be performed. The concept is essentially the recognition of how the body naturally performs an action or attains a position (whether the entire body, or a particular limb or appendage). It additionally defines/examples the bodies weaknesses.

  To begin to understand this concept, one need only observe their own body and limbs. Through simple observation, one can establish what positions/motions are natural and which are awkward/weak. This is also evident in what positions are uncomfortable (if not painful) when achieved. Each (individual) limb has (different) Ranges of Motion (R.O.M.). Those ranges dictate how (if not why) a motion should be performed to achieve the most from the action.

  When understood, this concept will illustrate how/why Oyata taught stances and technique's to be performed. This included how one should motion (footwork) when moving in kata (which further illustrated Oyata's defensive principles) and the relationship to the instructed defensive motions.

  As an example, if one stands in a “natural stance”, and rotates their shoulders (to face more to their side), the body is “out of alignment”. The hips and the shoulders are “out of alignment”. This makes any action performed (with either the arm's or the leg's) weaker. This situation is regularly exampled by individual's when performing an action incorrectly. When this situation occurs (and it is commonly done), it is often not even noticed by the individual doing so.

  When told to “correct” the situation, the individual will commonly move the shoulders to achieve the desired alignment. This is “one” way to achieve alignment, but what if the shoulders are (already) in correct alignment? (for the performed “hand” technique/application). That situation requires that the “hips” be realigned. Rotation of the hips is not (necessarily) achieved (nor even able to be done) by moving the hips (alone). To rotate the hips, one need only rotate the appropriate heel (of one of the feet) to attain the desired “hip” positioning.

  This is illustrated by how Oyata would have us “modify” a back-stance. When one assumes the (commonly instructed) “Back-stance”, the forward foot is positioned to point forward, and the rear foot is positioned at a 45º. When this position is taken, the hip's are aligned at a 45º as well. Students will commonly have their shoulders “squared” with the opponent (directly in front of them), ie. Their “hip's” are out-of-alignment with their shoulders (or with the opponent), and (presumably) with the direction that a technique will be directed.  
 To “correct” this misalignment, the forward foot is rotated (“heel-in”, towards the opposite side). Doing so realigns the hips, to become “square” with the shoulders. The torso is now in alignment and able to more effectively deliver an (hand/arm) application. With many of the instructed technique's (and kata), similar minor corrections are required to achieve this “body alignment” (ie. “Force Efficiency”).

  The “mistake” that is commonly made, is that person's will argue that they don't feel that they can deliver as “powerful” of a strike (as that is what the majority of practitioner's gauge “effectiveness” upon). They base this “belief” on how (much) they feel the technique (that they are performing). This is a mistaken perception. The fact that you are “feeling” the technique, demonstrates that not all of the generated energy/momentum is being transferred to the targeted subject/object. This explains that when a technique is delivered correctly, the user perceives little (if any) effort (on their part). This also demonstrates why the “hip shimmy” (when delivering a strike) is an ineffective (and wasted) motion.

  The term “Force Efficiency” encompasses numerous individual factors, but they all are related to one's ability to most effectively apply an instructed application or perform a motion. 


Tuesday, November 3, 2015


  Oyata's methodology was comprised of numerous (seemingly) “minor” variables that effected the over-all application of the instructed motions. Those additions effected the level of force efficiency available to the student, and the effectiveness of the instructed motions/techniques.
 The manner that defensive techniques are commonly taught, begins with the first “strike” being thrown. A confrontation rarely “begins” with (only) the performance of a “strike”. It is (much) more common for a confrontation to begin with a verbal exchange (between the aggressor and the student). It is during that exchange that numerous factors and opportunities are presented.
 Students are commonly taught (by “many” systems) that they should raise their hands (defensively?) to protect themselves. Though seeming to be a wise choice, it is (additionally) raising the belief (by the aggressor) that one is ready for any impending physical confrontation (essentially conveying a “let's fight” attitude).
 This also relates to our instruction (to students) to practice at a distance of “arm's length” (from an opponent). This is commonly an uncomfortable distance for most people. It is a passive/aggressive positioning. It (for many persons) will cause the aggressor to step/motion their striking shoulder back when initiating a strike (in order to create greater distance to launch a head strike).
 Oyata taught that one should initially leave their hands (down) at their sides. If an aggressor should raise their hands (first), that would modify that positioning choice. But until that occurs, a defender's hands should remain down. For “most” person's, this seems a stupid choice/decision. (Via Oyata,) that is because people ignore many of the telegraphed “signs” of an aggressor actually beginning their assault.
 During an actual confrontation, “body motion” is often exaggerated. The initially made motions (prior to the delivery of a strike) are studied, and the observance of their occurrence are practiced during class (which is another purpose of “class time technique practice”). As with many subjects (being taught), students tend to focus upon the “ending” portion of an action/technique (whether these are done by themselves, or by the uke).
 A great portion of Oyata's instruction was in masking (hiding?) any telegraphed signs of body/technique movement. This was done in conjunction with maintaining the highest level available of/for “force efficiency”. It was this instruction that led Oyata to modify the manner that Kata were taught to be performed. Some have stated that this was reserved to/for “higher” level students, this is inaccurate. He stated (to numerous people/instructors) that these were to be taught to all students (Oyata did not “restrict” any teachings to higher level students or instructor's).
 The concept of “force efficiency” was to be integrated into all instruction. It is initially demonstrated to students during the instruction of Tuite techniques. If/when this concept is ignored or taught incorrectly, the efficiency of a technique is restricted (if not prevented) from being applicable. This is one of numerous factors that are (often) being taught incorrectly.
 The most easily seen indication of an impending strike, is the motion of an aggressor's shoulders. Though the hand/forearm can motion with (some) rapidity, the shoulder will telegraph this action (prior to it's occurrence). Numerous system's teach a “hip” shimmy/rotation when delivering a strike. This was something that Oyata railed on (in regards to it being pointless, if not detrimental).
 There was a recent article I saw in relation to “hip positioning” presented in a group that I belong to. It focused upon the “forward” stance (zenkutsu dachi). It attempted to explain the positioning of the hips, in relation to the spine. The article ignored the (major) detrimental effects of the described positioning, and the flaws that were evident, even in their “correction” (and were clearly evident in the provide photos). The article (IMO) only demonstrated the flaws that were present in how the stance was being taught to be performed, and that the writer didn't really understand the (important) point that wasn't even addressed (in the article). Though easily corrected, they never mentioned how that could/should be done. It was (again, IMO) an example of “limited interest/understanding” (much like the student who only looks at the hands during the performance of a Tuite technique).
 Oyata (as within “most” systems) taught that every technique is an entire body motion. The individual subjects taught within a martial art (regardless of the “system”), are not “independent” and should not be taught as being such. All subjects are to be utilized in conjunction with one another. The “feet” are not the only part of the body used in the delivery of a kick. Nor are the “hands” the only body part used in delivering a “strike or grab”. Every aspect of the body's positioning and motion must be included in every utilized action. It was this subject that Oyata emphasized the most in his instructed method.
 This was the (main) emphasis of “Force Efficiency”. It consists of numerous factors that every student should understand. If/when they are not incorporated within each of one's defensive motions, the technique's effectiveness (or even applicability) becomes questionable. When I observe techniques presented by others, the first thing I observe is the practitioner's available “Force Efficiency”. It includes numerous factors, including body/limb positioning and use, as well as how or if, muscular “strength” plays a part in the motions success (or failure).
 The vast majority of other "popular" systems rely on muscular strength for their techniques success. For our instructive purposes, that factor alone would negate a technique's practicality (much less the instruction of it). To best understand how Force Efficiency is ataintained, the student must be familiar with each of their limb's R.O.M., and the related muscles utilized in their usage. Every limb has (both) effective directions of use, and less than effective directions. Many practitioner's conflate the two, and perform numerous ineffective actions, and/or don't realize how inefficient those actions (actually) are.
 When one examines the limbs individually, their respective limitations should become readily apparent. The fact that a limb can achieve a particular position, does not equate to it generating any “force” (momentum) while doing so. The most prominent example of this is what we refer to, as being a forearm strike (to the outside). This motion is more commonly referred to as being an outside “block” by most systems. As it is commonly taught (as a same-side forearm strike to the outer side/direction) this motion is an incredibly ineffective motion (for much of any purpose, including deflections/parries).
 When one understands how the Bone's, muscles and joints of the arm (physically) function, it becomes readily apparent that the arm is designed and intended to extend and/or contract. That ability is primarily intended to either be done in a “forward” (or away from the body) extension, or in a “pulling” contraction (towards the body). For purposes of “Striking” (an aggressor), the extension of the limb provides the easiest ability to do, unfortunately it is also  not how most instructor's teach this motion to be achieved. Much of this mistake is made because of person's using “pictures” for reference on how to perform this action.
 Book references, commonly illustrate “start” positions, and “ending” positions (for arm motions). The required “travel arc” is dismissed, and an assumption is made that the arm achieves that position in any manner that the individual chooses. This is commonly done the easiest way (duh), and it becomes a sideways motion (in order to attain the shown position). The manner that many are doing so, is both weak, and pointless (accomplishing neither the intent of the action, nor anything of value).
 The motion should be performed in a forward direction. To achieve the desired result (motioning the aggressor's arm to the left or right) requires that the tori rotate (their own body) when performing the (arm's) forward motion. As a result of the tori's rotation, their arm (should) perform the preferred forward motion (to deflect the aggressor's arm). By making this (the tori's arm) a forward action, it can additionally be utilized as a striking motion (as opposed to being only a deflection of the aggressor's arm). This is also why Oyata stated that “Inside/Outside block (strike) same”...
 This exemplifies the concept of Force efficiency. There are (numerous) other factors shown as well, but this is one of the easiest to example and understand.