Wednesday, September 28, 2016
When performing a defensive motion/technique, the student should maintain that the motion(s) remain within the most optimal positioning for their application. The majority of students only concern themselves with the final portion of a utilized motion. Every application has fundamental requirements for it to be successful. “Fundamental” implies that those subjects are required for every attempted application.
Understanding human Kinesiology (the study of anatomical motion) will aid the student in their ability to manipulate an aggressor during a confrontation. That ability is (further) exemplified through the student's recognition of “Force Efficiency”. In the simplest terms, force efficiency describes the most efficient use of body motion while performing a chosen action, that produces the greatest effect. Though doing so by other means may do so (slightly) more quickly, those methods often produce more opportunity for “counter-measures” to be utilized against them, and/or result in less effective applications. The human body is designed to operate in specific ways. Though other means of achieving those motions exist, that doesn't mean the body is designed to motion (efficiently) in those manners.
If a student is only focusing on the individual limbs motion, they are ignoring those fundamentals. When students are initially shown a motion (be it for the arms, legs or a movement/position), that instruction is initially focused upon the individual portions of that movement. Once that portion is understood by the student, the instruction is widened to include the remainder of the body.
For the beginning student, their instruction is initially directed to the “stances”. Stances are positions that are intended to provide a stable “base” for (which ever) arm/leg motion it is that they will be attempting to perform. Each of the shown positions are intended to provide that stability under given circumstances.
The majority of force efficiency principles deal with maintaining the alignment of the shoulders and the hips (with one another). This alignment is intended to provide the greatest balance (and thereby ability to perform) the techniques that utilize the arm's and/or legs. Maintaining that alignment will cause the student to always consider the Upper/Lower body codependency (ka han shin/jo han shin).
When that alignment is altered (from being “square” between the two), the person will be “off-balance” (and any technique performed will not be done in the most efficient manner). Numerous instructors/systems teach their students to motion the shoulders/hips “into” the performed action. Doing so, may add (slightly) to the applied body-weight transfer (of “mass”), but the cost of the increased instability (in doing so) does not justify that supposed increase.
Many students are of the belief, that doing so will “make” their motion be more powerful. The gain (in transferred momentum) is only minimal (disregarding the obvious fact, that they are decreasing their own stability when doing so). The resultant lose of stability (whether the delivered application is successful or not) does not justify any (presumed) “gain” of transferred momentum. It equates to being an “over-commitment” (for a delivered application), making the student (then become) off-balance and/or highly susceptible to counter-measures (being applied by the opponent). If/when a technique/application is dependent upon strength/power (to begin with), that motion has limited (if any) value.
Though numerous defensive systems (attempt to) teach those positions/motions via the practice of “sparring”, Oyata taught that doing so (additionally) “taught” the student to wait until the aggressor began their assault (and only then, utilize those positions), before beginning their defensive responses. He (Oyata) demonstrated that by doing so, the student will have (unnecessarily) delayed that defensive response. He additionally demonstrated that many of the (popularly) taught methods of performing those actions are flawed (in the manner they are commonly taught). The majority of those differences are often subtle, but are each done for specific reasons.
Those types of applications are for the young, strong, inexperienced student. Will they work? Yes,...sometimes. There are too many reasons why they (more likely) won't though. The majority are intended to make the user “feel” (as if) they are being more “powerful” in the execution of those motions. They provide the illusion that the student is progressing in what they are studying.
Oyata did not endorse those methodology's (within his instruction). He taught that the student should understand what does, and doesn't elicit (actual) results. Though he didn't actually refer to what is being taught as “Force Efficiency” (as this is the name that “we” utilize for it), he taught natural body motion.
Force Efficiency consists of natural body motion in conjunction with the application of (entire) body-motion/use. That includes standing, walking, limb motion and any “body” related motion involved in the application of defensive actions.
Recognition of Shoulder/Hip Alignment (IE. “Force Efficiency”)
When one is standing naturally, the arm's will hang loosely by the sides and the shoulder's are relaxed. This is (commonly) recognized as being a “Natural” stance. When you note the position taken by the feet, they are (usually) splayed slightly outward, and generally positioned at shoulder-width. It is this (basic) position that a person assumes when standing. They may (or may not) have something in their hands, but the position/stance is common. This was the stance that Oyata taught students to practice (and perform) the (taught) defensive motions from.
The weight of the body should be evenly distributed between both feet. If/when the weight is toward one side, it should be (blatantly) obvious (to the student). This constituted one of Oyata's first lessons (to his students). When an opponent's body-weight is concentrated to one side, that person is only able to perform particular actions (without any additional body-weight being shifted, in order to be included in those actions). To do otherwise required additional (body) motion(s) to be included as well. If that motion was an “arm” motion, the shoulder's (may) require adjustment/change, if the motion was for their legs, it would have to be done with the leg not bearing the user's body-weight. The position of the head would (virtually) never raise, but it may rotate (or more likely drop), but (if/when performing an action) would likely face towards the intended action.
Any of those possibilities could (initially) be detected through the observance of the person's shoulder's. To perform any of those motions, the shoulder's will display some level of motion. This implied that observance of an opponent's shoulder's was (initially) a student's priority (defensively).
The use of the arm's (by an opponent, or by the student) implied that the performed motion would (likely) occur within the area between the user's shoulder width. For that reason, Oyata taught that one's initial defensive motion(s), include the repositioning of one's body to be “off-center” (to one side or the other). This could be done to either side (depending on how the student trained, but the direction was (actually) unimportant (defensively).
As the student performed this repositioning, their arm's would be motioning in (practiced) directions to provide a defense against any motions performed by the aggressor. Through that repositioning, any of the aggressor's arm/leg motions (leg or hand/arm strikes) could be negated, and provide for the user's own Hand/Leg responses.
It is (virtually) impossible to (exactly) know “what” an aggressor is going to do (as their aggressive action). It is possible to limit those options though. When the student begins (by standing “square” and evenly balanced) they are then able to motion to either (Left/Right) direction (as the situation develops/proceeds). The student should of (already) been aware of what actions were possible (via the aggressor's stance/positioning) and thereby have already chosen a direction for their own (initial) defensive motion.
Oyata's defensive method was intended to address an aggressor's initial action (“attack”) and follow it with motions that would neutralize any continuance of those attempts. For that reason, the practice of “sparring” served no purpose (with what/how he taught that purpose to be achieved).
Whether one chooses to (or “winds up”) being on the “inside” or “outside” of the aggressor's arms, is a widely debated subject. It should really be irrelevant (defensively). Either position can be utilized to respond to an opponent's aggressive action and/or allow for a defensive response. Both positions should be addressed during one's practice. The more important factor (in either instance) is that the student be aligned for their own force efficient use of their applications/techniques.
Many systems stress that a student should (always?) be located to the outer-side of an aggressor's arms. Though having some (obvious) disadvantages, if/when being located on the “inside” (of the aggressor's arm's), it is not (really) that bad of a location. The most popular argument made against this positioning, is that the aggressor can strike the defender with either of their arms. What (generally) isn't pointed out, is that the defender has twice the number of vulnerable targets available to them (upon the aggressor).
The majority of vulnerable locations are located upon “medial” (anatomical) locations on the human body. These locations that are (generally) facing towards the opponent's center-line (and are thus naturally “protected” from strikes when one is positioned to the “outside” of the width of the person's shoulder's). Being on the “inside” also places each of, (generally) the opponent's limbs outside of the defender's (shoulder-width). This (at least initially) provides the defender the opportunity to take advantage of that positioning (while protecting their own locations of vulnerability).
When positioned to the “outside”, the defender commonly has to negate (through moving) the opponent's limbs to reach those “points” of vulnerability. Many of the (most) vulnerable locations are on the aggressor's arm's. These can more easily be accessed if/when the defender is located between the aggressor's shoulder-width (IE. When on the “inside”).
People generally recognize that when you are positioned to the outside (of the opponent's shoulder width), they will be inclined to utilize some manor of “force” (in order to apply any manor of technique). That force, may be through injuring the opponent (via delivered impacts), or through moving the opponent's limbs (in order to apply that force). Oyata taught that one should utilize those locations that are (immediately) available (regardless of one's present location). Though not necessarily being individually “devastating”, cumulatively, they caused the aggressor to become (if not less aggressive) less effective in any continued attempts.
Force Efficiency plays a major role in one's ability to accomplish this. Disrupting an opponent's Force Efficiency is an important factor/purpose for any applied technique. If/when someone is “off-balance”, their Force Efficiency is (greatly) reduced. This applies to (both) delivered, and received technique applications.
The student should focus on applying this principle with all performed actions (Defensive as well as Offensive), through their occurring within the distance between the width of their own shoulder's. Those motions attempted beyond those limitations will result in (obviously) reduced success. This is easily shown by the student performing a “punch” (using only the motion of the arm) directly in front of themselves, then to the side. The differences in the level of effectiveness (between the two) is obvious.
The same situation exists (though more obviously) when attempting to utilize the legs beyond the direction(s) of directly forward and/or rearward (though downward is a more accurate description of direction for a “rear” kick). So-called (forward) “round” kicks, entail the leg (and body) being rotated for their delivery of a “round” kick. “Rearward” round-kicks, are referred to as being “hook-kicks”. The “extension” kicks, are almost all (anatomically) “downward”(directed) kicks (more accurately being “thrusts”).
Force Efficiency should be recognized (and utilized) in every limb action attempted/performed. Any motion that attempts to operate beyond those limitations will (itself) be limited in it's effectiveness and applicability.
Our instruction of Force Efficiency is began with the limb's “Range of Motion” (R.O.M.). That knowledge is directly utilized with (both) “striking” and “manipulation” (“Tuite”) applications. It is shown with each of the instructed techniques (mentioned previously). Many of the included principles (of Force Efficiency) are naturally recognized (though not always understood, or utilized) in a students application of the provided instruction. Developing the student's awareness of those relevancy's, is the reason and purpose for having an instructor (regardless of the “system” being taught).
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Over the years we have met (and trained) with numerous individuals who have studied various forms of “self-defense” and martial arts. We often compare methodologies and techniques. This has been done to further our own understanding and knowledge regarding the instruction of Oyata's methodology of “life protection” that we provide to our students. Very often we don't agree with what is being shown (or at least how it's being shown) but it expands our awareness of “what” is being taught by different systems/individuals doing like-wise.
Those differences are often made in regards to expectations made (by those other systems) when training in those methodologies. Many, (though not all) of those systems regard themselves as being the most efficient (based upon their own expectations) for what constitutes an effective, and thereby efficient defensive methodology.
I've found it interesting, that the majority of the systems (at least all that we've encountered) are (at their core) based upon “power”. Whether in the delivery of it, or at the very least, the use and application of it. It (power) is commonly recognized as being the only trait regarded as having merit for (their) application's effectiveness. I could agree that power is a piece of a technique's application, but I don't consider it a “dominant” factor to (the majority) of technique success (or effectiveness).
If/when it is viewed as being such, is that methodology conveying the idea that if you can't generate sufficient “power”, then what you are learning won't work? This (in turn) conveys to myself that the instructed applications have an inherent weakness if not fault.
The majority of “Karate Students” tend to be young, healthy males. If/when an instructor is emphasizing that their instruction is (primarily) to be used in regards to “self-defense”, that instruction (should be) geared towards teaching students who don't (only) fall into that category. When those students don't (fall into that category), they will develop the impression that they are unable to achieve an adequate level of skill/ability (with the instructed applications). This is particularly true with female students. Despite what any instructor says, the (average) female, will never be able to produce/generate the equivalent “power” generated by a male student. Are there exceptions? Of course, but they are limited, and are thereby exceptions.
For that reason, power cannot be considered a dominant factor to any instructed application. If/when it is, then the instruction is being focused upon a limited number of it's students. This doesn't mean the system is “bad”, only that it has limited application, and is therefor only optimal for a limited student body. It also demeans the implication that the system is intended for “self-defense” purposes for anyone. This is clearly demonstrated by how (many) systems teach various technique's to their female students (as opposed to their male students).
Whether being shown a striking application, or a limb manipulation, female students are (often) shown different methods of utilizing them (?). The technique's are the same regardless, so why are they shown how to utilize them differently? An aggressor will commonly base their (own) attack upon their own strength (verses their victim). A victim is (rarely) afforded that option. Their training should therefor never consider “their” own strength to be a deciding factor, regarding the effective application of their defensive motion/application.
Defensive training encompasses numerous factors (for it to be successful). Speed, Accuracy, Timing are all more important to achieving that purpose. Physical size/strength have little to add in achieving those factors. Focusing upon strength (alone) will actually diminish those (other) factors. Modern (Western) practitioners are (obsessed?) focused upon striking an aggressor with as much power as they can (for their applications to “work”). They regularly “demonstrate” how an application won't work if done with insufficient “power”. This is (IMO) more of a demonstration of (their) applications inadequacy's.
Whether that application is a limb manipulation (IE. “Tuite”), or an impactive motion, if it is (purely) based upon the user's level of strength (“power”), then that application has limited value to the average (and far more common) student. One of Oyata's (basic) tenants (“sayings”), was that you didn't try to “out box a boxer” (or “fight your opponent's fight”). You would likely lose if you did. This was a matter of “tactics”, not “technique” (Students can often confuse the two).
Oyata's (instructed) “tactics”, were intended to create situations that favor the student (in the performance of their technique's). Though hardly “new/unique”, his manner of technique application was different from what was (and is) being currently taught (for self-protection).
The most distressing (to the majority of observers), was his (total) disregard for the practice of “sparring”. That practice is utilized by most (if not all) so-called “defensive” methods. The biggest problem with it, being that it ignored/skipped (over) the initial part/portion of (most) physical confrontations (IE. the verbal interaction between the two parties), “sparring” attempts to imply that there is no opportunity to negate that confrontation until the involved parties have (established) their (initial) physical positions.
This is commonly accomplished by the aggressor having positioned themselves to deliver their strike/grab attempt, and the defender having to resist and/or respond to the delivered action. Oyata taught that the defender should utilize a (visually) “neutral” position, and to (then) respond to any attempted action. That presumably neutral position, is where the student practices their defensive motions from (during their training). It additionally provides a legal (appearance) of having no interest in participating in a physical confrontation.
Being that Oyata's techniques/applications were not dependent upon physical strength/power, that positioning did not require that the student be obligated to generate that (much) “power”. One needed to only watch Oyata utilize his applications to see that “power” was rarely (if ever) a dominant factor to any of his applications. Positional changes and hand/arm motions and (body) movement accounted for the majority of the success for his defensive actions. That being said, does power aid in those applications? Yes, but to imply that it's use is mandated for their effectiveness is a gross exaggeration, and only exemplifies the observers misunderstanding of how/why those applications worked.