Sunday, December 17, 2017

Changes, Transitions, Progress

It is repeatedly stated that "martial art's" needs to (must) "return to its roots". Which sounds (very) prophetic, but what does that really mean? The majority of martial art systems began with an individual's determining the most practical manner of defending themselves, whether in "combat" (with an enemy soldier) or defending themselves from a roadside thief. Today's practitioner will (commonly) only be doing so within the limitations that are allowed within the social constraints of the society that they live.
For the majority of us, that means that if/when we find ourselves involved in a physical confrontation, we should be capable of protecting ourselves (and/or other's) from suffering physical injury when being involved with protecting ourselves.
How that is accomplished, is commonly dictated by how society allows the individual to do so.
Oyata's instruction has gone through numerous changes over the years. Numerous practices that he once endorsed, were later abandoned by him (as being impractical and/or diversions from his methodology). "Sparring", (constant) use of the makiwara, the emphasis of "power", each of these practices were abandoned as diversions from actual technique application. Though power is important, it should never be the emphasis of one's training. Believing so, only limit's the student's understanding of technique application.
There have emerged numerous "groups" that state that they are teaching Oyata's methodology. For the most part, they are more often teaching a version of it. But much of that instruction is based upon his prior teachings. In his later years, Oyata's emphasis was on understanding the what and how of utilizing his techniques. This included the manner that he wanted students to perform motions within the kata. These were shown to affect the manner that those motions were to be applied with technique, and the results thereof. Those changes affected everything from "strikes" to how Tuite should be utilized.
These changes equated to "Sui-e" (Changes, Transitions, Progress). This was a concept that Oyata promoted for his student's to adhere to. It was never a "mandate" that one remain trapped by tradition or public practice methods, but one of constant advancement (in one's training). It was a belief that "life" was important (whether that of the student, or of an aggressor).
Sui-e dictated that one should be constantly improving (whatever one practiced). It implies that one should be constantly improving what(ever) they do and that it achieves a higher level of skill while doing so. It implies a greater level of moral achievement as well. In the practice of a "Life Protection" system of defense, that means that the student should strive for greater skill (in performing that art) to guarantee the concept of protecting life (all life).
In Oyata's (later) years of instruction he stressed the application of motions that depended not on power, but on technique. In the early years of his instruction, he stated his system's priorities. Those priorities were that the size of the participant's (aggressor or defender) made no difference in the effectiveness of the instructed techniques. That the kata illustrated the principles for utilizing the techniques, and that the student need only study their own body to learn where an aggressor was most vulnerable. Numerous systems are including additional "studies"(sic) to be practiced by their students. Oyata stated that those practices were a waste of (the student's) time (and detracted from their progress).
Many systems are now stating that their instructors were awarded "scrolls" that illustrated the use of these practices. They may well have been presented with those scrolls, but Oyata did not provide nor feel the need to provide those types of scrolls. Oyata's methodology is based upon basic application principles. The scrolls that he did receive (and then provided to us), illustrate those concepts.
"Returning to one's Root's" often only means to utilize basic, recognized concepts. The inclusion of confusing (if not meaningless) practice methods and teachings does nothing to advance one's training.

The study of individual and "whole-body" limb (I.E. "basic") motion will lead the student to question numerous commonly taught practices. Kata motion (study) has the potential to illustrate this practice as well. This is (often) the intent of Sui-e.

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