Friday, January 25, 2019

Subliminal Distraction

 The practice of performing a "Fake" is a common practice, it is basically a visual or physical distraction (from something else that is occurring at the same time). This is on-par with a similar tactic, the Subliminal Distraction. The majority of distractions that people do (or attempt) are pretty obvious (if not blatant). Those attempts can include a "fake-out" punch, a pulled-up knee, or even the Right/Left combination. These are the "blatant/obvious" attempts to distract. Less obvious, are those movements that are only "sensed" (as they occur). By themselves they accomplish nothing (or very little). Their greatest use is for generating peripheral attention. The person recognizes that the motion is not a threat, but it has distracted them (even if only slightly). The natural response made in regards to them, is if it posses no direct threat, then it warrants no attention?
Oyata would do similar actions when we were reviewing Tuite application techniques. It was often shown when he had someone who was being resistive (to the application of the motion). He would show (several times) that the person was able to "resist" the application of the technique. He would then do it again, and the person would fall to the ground. The only "difference" (in application) was that he (Taika) would press his foot against the student's foot (slightly before performing the technique). It wasn't "magic", or any type of "ki" application, he simply distracted the person's attention while performing the action. The (overwhelming) majority of the time, onlooker's (or even the individual themselves) couldn't figure out how he was doing it.
One of the (numerous) things that irritated Oyata the most (at least in regards to the practice of a defensive art's study), was that student's would (continually) attempt to "muscle" the shown applications in order to make them "work". Although he would (repeatedly) show various movements, and explain the principles of how and why they worked, (inevitably) student's would resort (or at least attempt) to using force to make (at least their versions of the) techniques "work".
Oyata always stated that regardless of the physical size (or strength) of either the aggressor or the student, the techniques that he taught to us would work ("if" they were being performed correctly). Strength was never the "primary" factor for the success of any of his techniques. It was always the minor factor's that accounted for the technique's applicability.
To assist in achieving their (the techniques) success, while applying a given technique Oyata would regularly include supplementary motions and actions. The more subtle those motions, the better (in his opinion). Being "obvious" was never one of his virtues. The use of subliminal distractions was done throughout his application of the Tuite technique's. These motions would include varied finger pressures and the directional application of pressure that would distract the uke from more relevant motions.
This instruction included refining the student's knowledge of body mechanic's that defined how (and why) a person would be inclined to move (in response to performed actions). Though often being aware of those motions (as well as their causes), they (the motions) are typically ignored by most individual's. These concepts included reactionary retreat, spatial awareness, proprioception as well as subliminal distraction.
These factor's are more commonly being ignored by the more "modern" student. Those student's are (now) obsessed with performing technique's that emphasize that what "they" (rather than their adversary) feel, should be strong/powerful (I.E. "power-based").
It's only when there is a complete transfer of force/momentum that the generated energy/power is being transfered into the targeted subject. More commonly, many (modern) practitioner's concern themselves with extraneous motions that add nothing to their attempted technique's. Many of the demonstrated motions waste time with extraineous motions that add nothing to the defensive goal.
The inclusion of those subliminal distractions don't make a technique "look" any different, but they can improve the chances for it's success.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

In Regards to Weapon's Training

 The instruction and use of a "weapon" (that is being taught in a defensive art's class) is commonly assumed to be in regards to some manner of "striking " (with that particular weapon). The belief (held by most students) is that this instruction is (only) in regards to the use of that weapon during a defensive confrontation. The reality is, that the student will rarely (if ever) have that weapon when they are involved in a defensive confrontation. The inclusion of a "weapon" being used (even within a defensive situation) will often "legally" make that individual the "aggressor" in a lawsuit (either by the individual or by the authorities). Although this is (normally) recognized by the student, the assumption is made that they can use "other" objects in lieu of the actual weapon (type) itself. The biggest "problem" that I have with this (in regards to a student's "training"), is that students will limit their defensive motions to those that only utilize the (make-shift) weapon (itself). The practice of a "weapon" is (or should be), for the utilization of/for the instructed motions being used without the weapon. Every weapon emulates particular unarmed (limb) motions, being performed by the student (during a defensive situation). Weapon's kata should be examined (just as "open-hand" kata are) in regards to the limb motions being performed. The biggest "difference" (in regards to the use of those motions) is in regards to the distance of performing that motion/application. Each weapon stressed different manners of (limb) motion and manipulation. The practice of the Sai stressed wrist and finger motions, the Bo emphasized single and combined arm motion, etc. The purpose for learning those weapons kata was not (necessarily) for the "use" of those weapon's for defensive purposes (though that could be considered an additional "tool" for the student to have). Everything taught always goes back to "open/empty hand" defensive application(s). Weapon's kata was often (if not commonly) one of the first things taught to a student (by the "old" Okinawan instructor's). This was the case for Oyata with his own instruction (he was initially taught the use of the "Bo"). This wasn't (necessarily) done to provide the student with a means of defense (prior to being shown the "open-hand" applications). The instruction of a "weapon", provided the student with a reference for how they should perform the (instructed) "open-hand" motions. Oyata would like-wise (often) use the hand/arm motion's performed with a particular weapon, to example how (or why) an (equally particular) open-hand motion should be performed. His (Oyata's) instruction of weapon's, rarely included (extensive) "application's" of/for that weapon (during a defensive situation). That being said, his own "favorite" weapon was the "Bo". He utilized it in the same manner that his "open-hand" motions/techniques were performed. During our own student's "kyu-rank" instruction, we require that the student learn 5 (different) weapon's kata (their choice). The "use" of those (instructed) weapon's is not emphasized, but the motions performed during their practice is (intended) to emphasize particular (Open-hand) movements. Student's recognize that their practice of the Bokken (a heavy wooden sword) is used to develop the student's grip, and to strengthen the forearm muscles. The practice done with those instructed weapons is intended to develop additional motion reinforcement for each of the unarmed application movements as well. It is my own belief that a student learning a weapon (initially) will provide that student with a reference base for their unarmed defensive motion instruction (I.E. "Open/Empty Hand"). That instruction provides the "basis" for motions that can be (more easily) referenced upon. The simplest of those weapons to learn would be the "Bo" or "Jo" (in my opinion). The chances of having one of these items available (for defensive use) in the event of an assault are minimal (at best). But the weapon's "use" is not the reason for learning the manipulation of/for that weapon. The weapon (itself) is only a tool. Just as (many) people stress that their use of the makiwara is (only) as a tool, the practice of a weapon's use (manipulation & application) illustrates numerous "basic" (unarmed) limb motions and applications. One of those basic concepts is in regards to the practitioner's use of their hand/wrist. The manipulation of a "weapon" will have the student (consistently) modifying their hold on that weapon (from being an Open to a Closed wrap around that weapon). The hand is (technically) never (tightly) "closed" (as seen with a commonly practiced "punch"). It will always have that "weapon" within it (thus, keeping the hand "open"). This is (basic) kinesthetics, an open hand makes motions done by the arm stronger and faster. Closing the finger's tightly, only increases the relative "density" of the hand. By doing so, the arm will move slower (as the muscles utilized to propel that arm, are then being used to "tighten" the hand, instead of motioning the arm/hand forward). This is why (most) defensive system's teach the student to only "flex/tighten" the hand (slightly) prior to its impact. The "point of contact/impact" (that is commonly taught) is usually the fore-knuckles of the striking hand. So, why should the student be concerned with the finger's (of that striking hand) being (additionally) tight as well? Frankly, there is no reason for that to be done. The "logic" behind this practice (of one's tightening of the hand for the performance of a striking "punch") is only based upon the obsession with ("felt") power (by the student). Doing so add's nothing to the strikes performance. Tightly wrapping the finger's (of a hand that is striking with the knuckles of that hand) adds nothing to that strikes performance. It is the alignment of the back of the hand (with that arm's forearm, I.E. the wrist of that hand) that is of (much) greater importance (to the ability of striking more effectively). Bracing the back of the hand and forearm will (naturally) brace the wrist (compare open-hand "knuckle push-up's" with those done with a "fist"). Those push-up's done using a "fist" require all of the forearm muscles to be tight throughout the motion (and the wrist remaining straight is of less importance). A "tight" fist provides no benefit to the performance of a strike, or in regards to the student's training. Within the practice of using a weapon, the student will recognize (hopefully) that their arm is constantly "flexing" and "relaxing" (just as occurs during a defensive situation). The use of a weapon will (albeit, subconsciously) demonstrate that they will be using that same premise (flexing and relaxing) while performing the instructed (unarmed) motions as well. It should be recognized that every "open-hand" motion is replicated within the practice of the various "Weapons" kata. Part of the student's study is to identify those motions. If this is not done (by the student), they are dismissing a MAJOR function/purpose for that weapon's (entire reasoning and purpose for) instruction.

Timing during a confrontation

 There is a (minor) debate regarding the application of multiple strikes being applied simultaneously (by an individual). This action is commonly observed being done in several Kata. When queried in regards to this action's interpretation/meaning, Oyata would state that the motions should not be done simultaneously. This is done so as to achieve a greater response/effect being achieved from the performance of those actions. Though seemingly a rather simplistic response, it has numerous implications in equally numerous technique applications (beyond the practiced kata examples). The dominant effect from this "variation" in timing, is to increase the effects that will be achieved from those (and other similar) applied actions. Essentially, Oyata was stating that we should be considering the differences in achieved effects that resulted from the variances in timing, for multiple action/strikes being applied simultaneously. This was not limited to two "hand/arm" motions being applied together, but (should) factor the inclusion (and timing) of a leg strike as well (in conjunction with any arm applications being utilized). It's commonly "new" student's who attempt to make any combined (simultaneous) actions, all occur at the same time. Aside from being nearly impossible to achieve, it is (usually) a pointless endeavor to attempt (much less use). This action was exampled in numerous technique applications that involved striking as well as manipulation techniques. The first (practiced) example of this concept was commonly encountered during the application of a Tuite technique being applied. Being aware of the "2-hand's and 1 leg" (concept) being used in conjunction, "new" student's would attempt to perform those 3 actions simultaneously. In practice, it's (quickly) discovered that varying the timing of those (3) actions archives a greater reaction (from the Uke). Varying the inclusion of a "kick" (whether prior to, during, or slightly following) in conjunction with the application of the technique will achieve varying reactions from the Uke (in regards to the technique being utilized). That timing will additionally effect which (if not what) additional motions can be performed. That timing was often based on the Uke's reaction tendencies. These motions are done in anticipation of, or in response to a technique's application. The simplest example is that of a subject "bracing" in anticipation of an impending impact. This occurs subconsciously (beyond the conscious control of the individual). By spacing the timing of an impact (in regards to the expectation of that impact), the defensive benefits (of that bracing action) are diminished, if not negated. This is often exampled within the application of a Tuite technique. When one attempts a "push-catch" technique's application incorrectly (I.E. the "catch" is achieved, but the Uke is able to "brace-up" and resist its use), the student is shown to (rapidly) increase their grip, then open/relax their fingers (thus relaxing their grip), the Uke will (likewise) relax their "counter-grip" (thereby allowing the Tori then successfully re-apply the technique). This is an example of timing variation that is done outside of the expected norm. The majority of performed reactions can be expected (to varying degrees), and can then be utilized within one's technique application. These types of applications are often done with the full awareness of the recipient. An obvious example of this is a strike delivered to an aggressor's striking arm (upon their bicep muscle). It is virtually impossible to (successfully) "flex" the bicep (while delivering a strike with that arm) in anticipation of being impacted. A (direct) bicep strike, is one that achieves greater results when that muscle is relaxed (as it proportionately is while delivering a strike with that arm). any directional application of that strike (that may be included) can be debated in regards to the arm's position (in relation to the timing of that impact). Suffice to say those factors are (more often than not) less relevant than is commonly argued. The point of this entire rant is that there are numerous factors that can (and should) be considered while the student is reviewing the application of (whichever) technique during their study. Though each of those factors should be explored, student's can easily become distracted with (only) 1 or 2 of those factors. When only attempted individually, the majority of those actions will only achieve a minimal effect.

Saturday, January 19, 2019


 I believe the biggest reason for the practice of "kata" (in general), is to train the student to move. What I typically see, is student's Obsessing over the (their) accumulation of (hand/arm) "technique's". When observing student's (whether my own or other's) what I will typically see, is the student "standing in place" and attempting to perform those actions. The practice of/for kata motion requires that the student move into various positions (while performing the motions replicated in those kata). Motion is performed to either deliver or receive "momentum" (whether being delivered by the student, or by their opponent). It must be understood that momentum, should not be (or become) an attribute that is (solely) generated and delivered by an individual "Limb" (I.E. the "arm") alone. Every performed action should include the (entire) "body's" motion. When a "Rotation" is seen in the performance of a kata, the student should research the reason's behind that rotation's inclusion (in the kata). Those "reason's" are (often) explained as being done in regards to multiple assailant's (sigh,..). Believing so is "fine" (I suppose), but I am inclined to believe that there are more practical reasons for those motions inclusion (in regards to "1 on 1" confrontations). The Rotation (of one's body) is done in order to redirect or emphasize one's ability to apply momentum to a particular action/application. Beginning student's (regularly) attempt to only utilize their "arm" (muscles) to perform a particular application. For those student's who possess greater levels of (physical) "strength", that may be believed to be a viable choice. For the rest of us, it's an impractical choice (or belief). Though an individual may be able to generate 80+ lbs. of delivered momentum/energy (using their arm), I can deliver 185+ lbs. of momentum/energy using my entire body (and with far less effort on my part). This can only be achieved through the inclusion of "footwork", and thereby including one's body motion with those actions. Beginning students are inclined to view "footwork", as being (only) a means by which one is able to reposition their "arm's" (to perform whatever motion is required). Numerous systems (attempt) to emphasize that a "rotation" creates (only) the manner of/for a required motion. Rotation generates "2" directions of momentum (both with and against a particular direction). During that movement (a rotation) moves 1/2 of one's body weight one direction, and the other 1/2 in the opposite direction. There is no "circular" energy/momentum being created by this action. "Baseball" pitcher's do not "spin" around in a circle prior to throwing the ball. Their pitching arm only travels in a forward direction. The commonly performed "practice" of causing one's "hip's" to motion "forward and back" (the infamous "Shimmy") while performing a strike, adds NOTHING to a delivered (arm) strike/motion. The motions performed during kata should demonstrate any/all required motion (during the delivery/execution of a defensive motion). Student's are often inclined to include (their own) separate/additional motions. These should not be required, (or even necessary) if the intended action is being performed correctly. Oyata's training (in regards to techniques) from his (two) instructor's was initiated through the instruction of the "Bo". The motions contained within that practice demonstrated (numerous) concepts and movements that were later demonstrated for use with defensive responses to attempted assaults. His initial practice of the Bo was demonstrated to illustrate numerous unarmed defensive actions. The concept was that all instructed motions were related. "Motion" was the key to that commonality, both defensively and in regards to the application of the instructed technique's. Unless (or until) a student can recognize (and incorporate) those commonalities, their defensive training will suffer from a severe "disconnect".