Friday, September 1, 2017

What our school is teaching

 A number of individuals have contacted us in regards to what we are now teaching, and how we are advancing Oyata's art. For the most part, we are teaching the same things that we always have, Oyata's Life Protection art. Being that this instruction came directly from him (Oyata) we have always been aware of where he desired that instruction to lead. We have removed (numerous) practices from our curriculum that were believed by Oyata to be irrelevant to that purpose. The decision to do so was additionally influenced by the fact that we do not instruct minors, and we do not participate in competitive demonstrations (sport “sparring” competitions). Our classes are focused on “personal” self-defense and the repercussions of those actions (both legal and personal).
The majority of our student instruction is based upon the guidance we received from Oyata in regards to his performance of the open-hand kata that he provided to us. Those “traditional” kata are taught by numerous other systems as well, but he had modified them to better reflect his own interpretations and applications. Those modifications were based upon his own research and the instructional scrolls he received from his instructor's (Wakinaguri and Uhugushugu). Those scrolls emphasize principles of motion and application of the instructed motions, NOT specific “techniques” (as is commonly promoted and/or believed).
Although Oyata studied with several additional (Okinawan) instructor's, that study was focused on the learning of various additional “kata” that his instructor's had not taught to him. It was those kata that he incorporated into the kyu-level curriculum for his system. The kata taught to him by his 2 (actual) instructor's was reserved for his Yudansha level students. Oyata additionally included several “exercises” to his curriculum (“Turtle”, “Spiderweb”, etc.). These were (essentially) Lead-Ins to Shi Ho Happo and Mei Ho Happo (the Yudansha kata).
A major portion of Oyata's Life-Protection methodology is centered around the use/application of Tuite. This is the “grappling” art that is demonstrated within the various kata. Oyata recognized that the majority of confrontations do not require the student to inflict injury (or serious damage) to an assailant. Confrontations can (often) include individual's known to the student. The infliction of injury (upon an adversary) can easily become detrimental to the student (for various reasons). Tuite provides an effective means to defend one's self without that concern. It (additionally) provides the means to escalate as well (should that need present itself).
Obviously, striking and kicking methods are taught as well, but they are focused on the neutralization of an opponent's ability to continue their assault (rather than the physical defeat of that assailant). Though often considered a matter of semantics, this is a distinct difference (from how many “martial art's” are presented/taught).
Person's who choose to study with us, are commonly interested in their own “self-defense”. This requires that they learn Oyata's approach to doing so. That study includes numerous (seemingly) minor variations from how (and why) particular motions are performed. Our classes include lectures on how an assailant does and doesn't move, how an assault is (physically) initiated, and what reactions are commonly performed (in regards to a technique's application). The student is shown the differences in how/why applications will be applied, based upon the size of the student (as well as the assailant).
Oyata taught that the physical size of the student should be irrelevant to a technique's effectiveness. He regularly demonstrated that a student's physical size/strength were irrelevant to a correctly performed technique's application. For that reason, a student must be well versed in the human bodies natural range's of motion (ROM) and the (common) limitations of those motions.
Unlike many (if not most) classes, we do not emphasize (or provide) “calisthenics” as any part of our student's practice. If a student is interested in furthering their personal “physical fitness”, we suggest that they attend a gym (to do so). Though (minor) increases in a student's physical abilities may be achieved, that is not our classes emphasis.
Our classes are kept small for a reason. This allows us to provide individual guidance of the instructed motions, and the reason's for how those motions are performed. The average class is 2 hours in length. Every student is (physically) different, and therefore performs the individual motions (slightly) differently. Though it is popular to teach a class “as a whole”, motions will commonly require individual instruction (in regards to use/application). Though I'm sure there are individual's who have “mastered” the ability to do so, I have found no (viable) examples of how that is efficiently achieved.
There is no “group” testing of our student's (in regards to kyu-rank advancement), every student is addressed/taught on an individual basis. We rarely even inform a student that they were under review (for a kyu-rank advancement) as we conduct no “formal” testing of kyu-rank students. Those students who thrive on “rank” advancement, are often disappointed (by our instructional methods). Expanding on Oyata's desire's, we don't require the wearing of (any) “belts” (colored or otherwise). Student's are aware of their present “kyu-level” (of instruction), but that awareness is only provided for their reference for what information has/has not (probably) been shown to them.
Student's are given a “basic” requirement list, this list provides a reference for the student's awareness of shown (and/or not shown) principles and technique's. As student's vary in their frequency of attendance, the average time for achievement of a Yudansha grading will vary (though the average is commonly between 3 and 6 years). Once a Yudansha has been achieved, students are encouraged to become a functional part of our research group (exploring the continued and advanced application of/for technique and instructional research).
Though no longer affiliated with the “Ryu Te” organization, we continue contact with individual members of that organization. We regularly associate with (and conduct/attend seminars with) various “non-Oyata” based organizations/groups. Our (Oyata Te) group provides instruction and guidance for those persons who have an interest in Oyata's instruction and applicational methods.
The use of “Japanese” terminology is kept to a minimum (per Oyata's directives). We do provide (and to a very limited extent, require) an “awareness” of commonly utilized/encountered (Japanese) “kanji”.
That awareness is commonly coupled with some of Oyata's teachings (in regards to “body-motion”, technique application, etc.).
Oyata stressed the practice of “Weapon's Kata” to emphasize the motions relationship to “Open-hand” technique application. Different weapon's manipulations and motions mandated (different) hand/wrist motions. These motions are directly related to the instructed “Open-hand” (technique) motions. The use of the “Bokken” (weighted wooden sword) was the only “physical” development tool utilized (in regards to forearm strength).
We regularly admit that what/how we teach, is not “ego” enhancing. But for those who study diligently, the results will be more than a little enlightening, and prove to be more than adequate.

If you should have any questions, feel free to inquire. I/we commonly respond within a few days (we obviously have "other" things going on besides this "Blog").