Friday, June 26, 2020

The Practicality of “Scrolls”

The Practicality of “Scrolls”

Our classes study has began to focus on the principles learned from Oyata and exampled in the scrolls given to him by his instructor's. Those scrolls example various principles and practices that are intended to be used by Oyata's students in their study of defensive applications. They example the various positions and technique principles that allow those motions to most effectively function.

Many of the motions/concepts illustrated on the scrolls provide reminders of those principles that Oyata taught. The most common misconception, is that the scrolls illustrate “techniques”. There are no (actual) techniques shown upon them. They illustrate images that suggest methods of a technique's application, or (more accurately) suggest reminders of a technique's application. The scrolls do not illustrate (complete) technique's. If one had received no (additional) instruction (beyond having viewed the scrolls) that individual would be “lost” as to what was being illustrated.

I equate the provided scrolls to a “dictionary”. Unless one knows how to combine, and use the words in that dictionary, they will remain unable to write a “best selling novel”. There is more to writing a novel, than (simply) being able to correctly“spell” words. In our situation, we have to use the (taught) instructed motions to effectively accomplish a defensive method using those principles that are illustrated on those scrolls, and were taught to us by Oyata.

Although the scrolls do not (IMO) provide any “new” ideas/techniques or principles, they do provide a reference as to what was originally considered to be the fundamental principles that the system Oyata learned/taught was based upon.

I've seen various examples of (other systems) “scroll's” that illustrate various technique's, and frankly I'm completely uninterested in them. Learning new, or different technique's means (very) little to me. When one is familiar with the underlying principles behind those motions, one is then able to apply (or create) a response to any situation that confronts an individual.

When I view examples of (supposedly) “new” technique's/application, I consider how many of the included motions are (already) being “commonly” utilized. There is rarely anything “new” being done. It is simply (another) variation of technique application. I don't consider those applications as being “bad”, or even wrong, but I do consider if there were a simpler manner of accomplishing the same or an equivalent result (in the given situation).

More often than not, what I am seeing is the individual circumventing the (to myself) obvious (and more simplistic) defensive response. “Complicated” does not equate to “better” (or more effective). Complexity is only relevant, to the level of practice that one has performed with the instructed motions. Oyata taught that “basic” motions (done correctly) are what a student will utilize. It is only when the student fails to perform those motions correctly, that they will be forced to include additional motions (and therefor whether those motions will be considered to be “basic” or “complicated”).

The only “new” motions that can “Wow” us, are those that are so simplistic, that we're amazed that we haven't (already) figured them out on our own. Those are few and far between, and frankly have (more often) already been experienced during our time studying with Oyata.

Nowhere within the scrolls (that were provided by Oyata) is (physical) “Power” being emphasized (through striking harder or being stronger) in regards to the effectiveness of technique application. It (should be obvious) that the exploitation of an aggressor's (natural) weaknesses is able to be accomplished (by anyone) without being bigger/stronger than that aggressor. That shouldn't imply that “Power” serves no purpose, or isn't a factor to be considered. Only that what level of power that is available (by the student), should be utilized in the most effective manner available.

The majority of students, “study” under the premise that the amount of “power” that they are able to generate, equates to their ability to perform the instructed applications. Does it really matter how hard I strike you in the throat? Whether using a single finger, or a fist, a response will be created. The motions that follow that action will determine if that strike was “effective” (or not).

The fact that you are able to achieve a “result” (that you can use) from striking someone in the chest/torso, does not mean that anyone else can. That makes it a (somewhat) effective technique for yourself, but it (hardly) equates to being a “technique” that should be taught to a larger group of students (who most likely can't make it be an effective application). The effectiveness of a technique will always be situationally subjective. This fact illustrates the need of “basic” technique applications. Those technique's that fall into that basic category, should be applicable by any/all students. By using the principles of the instructed art, the student should understand what is required to create an “effective” application. If/when it relies on an individual factor (to achieve that effect) to be effective, it's efficiency becomes questionable.

Many instructor's/student's focus their study on “kata” bunkai. Oyata taught us to study “technique” Bunkai. Simply being “aware” of an application, does not make it an effective application. One should be able to explain, and vary every aspect of a technique's motion and the ability's that make it effective (or even applicable) for use. Kata motion can be recognized as a reference of/for “known” technique's or motions, or as a research basis for different application's. In either case, the student needs to research how those motions can/can't work within those situations.

The scrolls that we were provided with, only provide the “outlines” for correct/effective motion. Those scrolls leave the “application” (of those principles) up to the reader to establish. This is what Oyata was focusing upon during his final years. The (various) exercises that he developed were intended to illustrate those principles to us. It wasn't (only) the physical motions within those exercises that were important, but the principle(s) that were being illustrated by the actions that were being utilized within those motions.

The instructed exercises provide the student with the means to practice those motions (whether they are aware of the referenced “scroll's” or not). Being aware of those scrolls means nothing (they are only another reference for what Oyata taught). As stated previously, if you aren't aware of how/what Oyata was teaching, they provide no (actual) benefit to the practitioner.

Taika utilized specific traditional kata, in addition to the Pinan kata. The pinan kata were assembled for the instruction of younger students within the Okinawan school system. They were intended to familiarize those students with motions that were (at the time) considered to be too complicated for “younger” students (who only had a limited exposure to those motions).

The Pinan kata were being widely taught/recognized so Oyata included them within his curriculum. He modified specific portions of their motions (to correspond with how those motions are performed within the traditional kata). IMO, the greater “use” of the Pinan kata, is in regards to the “footwork/motion” examples provided within their practice.

Oyata's use of the “traditional” kata, was limited to the (3) Naihanchi kata, Seisan Kata, Passai kata, Kusanku kata and Niseishi kata. The versions of these were the “oldest” versions that he was able to verify. These often didn't include the (various) “additions” that numerous system's have included (by various instructor's). He believed that the version he learned/utilized (often) implied those “extra” motions, but they should be included by the individual (rather than mandating that every student utilize those motions in a specific manner). This would motivate the individual student to develop their own version (individually) for themselves. He felt that every student has individual (physical) differences, and that every student will in turn perform specific applications in an (their own) individual manner,

Weapons practice is an integral piece of Oyata Te practice. Taika didn't include that practice for the direct “use” of those weapon's. The student's practice of weapon's kata, was to illustrate “unarmed” practice (application of the “open-hand” technique's). Every motion done within a weapon's kata can be translated directly to an “unarmed” application and/or principle.

Those principles include “Force Efficiency”, “Light-foot”, “Windmill”, “Bicycle” and “Ka han shin – Ja han shim”. These are all illustrated within each of the practiced defensive actions and kata (whether with a weapon or not).

Oyata's art was not “flashy”, nor was it quickly learned. It requires an extensive amount of practice to understand (much less correctly perform). With that being said, it wasn't that it was “difficult”, only that it took time to learn how to perform it correctly.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Shuji & Defensive Training


The practice of Oriental brush calligraphy is a study of minutia. The Japanese form of this art includes more detailed variations than the majority of similarly taught art forms. The simplest “example” or “mnemonic” utilized consists of (as few as) 5 strokes, to the more detailed curriculum's having as many as 30+ strokes to be learned. The most common of these is the character/kanji for “Ie” or “Towa”. This kanji contains (the basic forms of/for) each of the most basic strokes used in Oriental brush calligraphy. This kanji is similarly utilized by student's of “Kendo” (as those same brush “strokes” represent the basic sword strokes that are typically practiced).
The course that we provide is done for the student's of the Oyata Te school (Ryushinkan/Kenshukai). Though being the “flagship/headquarters” for that organization, affiliated schools may not include that requirement or even offer the option within their individual curriculum's. Even within our school, student's are only required to learn the most fundamental aspects of this art's study/practice. Student's (often) inquire as to “why” the practice is included (as it is not readily recognized as relating to the study of “Life Protection”). The practice of brush calligraphy has numerous beneficial aspects to it, having a “working familiarity with the use of the brush and the produced strokes provide (additional) forms of “reference” for the student's study/practice (as well as for the instructor's reference).
An (often) unrecognized benefit is the “breathing” aspect (which is done similarly to it's use/practice within the martial arts). The correlation of breathing with brush calligraphy, and as seen within the practice of “Oyata Te”, is done with similar emphasis. As any student should recognize, breathing should be done in the most efficient manner. The student should inhale through the nose, and exhale through the throat. This is taught similarly in other “arts/practices” as well (IE. “yoga”, “aerobics”, “weight-lifting”, etc.). One of the simplest analogy's, is to have the student imagine inhaling a “rope”. That “rope” is (first) visualized as being inhaled through the nose, that rope is then allowed to “coil” in the (lower) abdominal area, and then exhaled through (the back of) the throat/mouth. Although Oyata did not do so, many art's teach to include a “vocalization” (of some sort) during the exhale. This is typically referred to as a “Kiai” (spirit yell). It was explained that the vocalization was included so the student could more readily exhale completely. Once the concept was understood (and being done correctly), it was expected to be done silently (as audibly doing so during a confrontation, would inform an opponent as to when would be most advantageous time to strike the individual).
Though commonly “ignored” by many defensive systems (and/or students), “breathing” is an (obviously) important aspect of efficiently performing a defensive art. Typically, when someone is performing some action (whether obviously physical, or finely delicate), they will be inclined to “hold their breath” when they desire a precise result (or wish to only “focus” upon that action). This is basically counter productive to that (physical) intent. Muscles within the body (fundamentally) relax when you inhale, and flex when you exhale. Knowing this, one's ability to control their exhalation allows them to more efficiently control (any) physical action being attempted. This includes both gross and fine motor (muscle) action.
Obviously, the practice of a defensive art consists of a large amount of gross motor skills, but there are numerous fine motor skills that are included within those actions as well.
Ka-han-shin/Jo-han-shin is typically recognized as relating to front/back, high/low and left/right, but it also relates to force and control application (hard/soft, fast/slow). This is seen in how the student is taught to utilize their breathing as well.
Oyata taught that everything that one does, should (in some way) be related to their defensive study. Brush calligraphy and painting were some of the ways that the old masters could review aspects of their respective arts when not partaking in it's instructed practice. Breathing, being an obviously important aspect, could be practiced while partaking in those arts as well. It additionally refined the fine motor skills more obviously than the motions typically performed during a defensive art's training session.
Learning to breathe (correctly) is something that (paradoxically) many (if not most) students struggle with. Student's typically receive some degree of “basic” explanation for how it should be performed, but become confused as to how to actually implement it. Some schools utilize a “meditation” period within their classes. Though typically emphasized as a mental (calming) exercise, any meditative practice will (or should) include the instruction for breathing during that practice (and is done in the manner previously explained). Our school doesn't include any manner of “meditative” practice, but we do offer brush calligraphy practice (which can provide similar results).
Within the practice of brush calligraphy, student's are taught to inhale (just) prior to beginning to brush. As the brush contacts the paper, the student begins to exhale. That exhalation is controlled to coincide with the flow of ink from the brush and with the brush's contact (with the paper). The exhalation of “air” (like the ink flow, from the brush) will begin when that contact is made. When the brush is raised (from the paper), the ink stops flowing, and the student will again inhale. As the student progresses in their study, the timing of their breathing will modify. At first, a breath is expelled with each stroke. As they progress in their study, a (single) breath will be used to complete a entire character/kanji, and eventually several kanji.
This is how breath is (similarly) utilized with the student's performance of their technique application. It will modify (improve in efficiency) as the student progresses in their study. New students will typically be seen to be “out of breath” after less than a full minute of kata or “sparring” practice. This is a result of incorrectly breathing (as can be seen during participation in many similar “sporting” events). People seem to recognize that they need to “take a breath” (“inhale”, to take in Oxygen), but fail (forget?) to exhale. Repeatedly inhaling, without (completely) exhaling will produce similar (debilitating) results (hyperventilation). For that reason, an “aerobics” instructor will (repeatedly) tell their students to “exhale” (while performing their routines). You will inhale, doing so rarely needs to be reinforced. This (calligraphy) instruction simply coordinates that exhalation to be done in conjunction with the performed motions (similarly to one's use of the instructed defensive actions).
As implied previously, brush calligraphy practice makes that breathing (method) more obvious (to the student). If you find yourself “winded” after performing a kata, then you're breathing incorrectly. As observed within the practice of calligraphy, breathing (style/timing?) will vary throughout the performance of a kata (just as the speed of performing the motions will). “Metronome-like” practice, will instill a “false” familiarity with how those motions need to be performed.
Brush calligraphy practice can provide the medium to practice one's control of their breathing. Though obviously important within defensive training, the use of the brush provides instant “feed-back” if/when it isn't being done correctly. We (regularly) receive critique of our use of “fine” motor skill motion (within technique/Tuite application). The detractor's “claim” is that it can't be achieved during an actual confrontation. That claim would only be valid, if those motions were never trained/refined. If you only practice “gross-motor” skills, then that's what you will (only) be skilled at. Fine-motor skills must be practiced (if you intend to utilize them). Brush calligraphy practice can provide that medium of practice.
Within Oyata's book, he references a “lesson” (from his instructor's) that involved a technique's motions being akin to a particular kanji (the motions were performed like the strokes of the kanji). In the Orient, kanji were considered to be “gift's from the Gods” (and therefor had a “divine” respect). Being skilled at brushing the kanji, therefor implied a kinship to the God's. Though hardly providing “divinity”, an achievement of skill with brushing calligraphy was (obviously) a respected ability.
Beyond the physical shape of the strokes, the manner for how to reproduce those strokes are regularly used to illustrate (individual) technique application and motion (the “profile” dot being a simple illustration of Oyata's “neck strike” for example). “Ichi” illustrates the execution/motions for a “middle punch” (including the “milking” action). Those examples are only recognized if the student is familiar with how those strokes are produced. Beyond making it easier for the instructor (to explain those motions), it provides the student with additional (motion) references for their own study.
As seen within (all of) Oyata's instruction, “individual” motions will include the entire body. When practicing brush calligraphy, the (brush's) motion is not being done with the arm, it is achieved by motioning at the waist. The wrist and forearm are “in-line” with the shoulder (as seen within a “punch”), and the entire torso motions (to move the brush as needed). The use of proper exhalation with those motions, makes the inclusion of the torso's motion more obvious/relevant for the student.
I often relate bunkai to the different styles of brushing kanji. Kaisho, being the standard (instructed) “norm”, and recognized by everyone (with minimal training). Gyosho is the more experienced version and illustrates more of the individual's own “style”. Sosho is (typically) only understood by long-time student's of that style, and is more difficult to understand. The majority of what I see being provided (on the internet) as “bunkai” examples, typically amount to being basic (what I would regard to be “Kaisho”) applications (at least in regards to how we teach “Oyata Te” to our students). From what we've heard from our “new” student's (who have studied elsewhere previously), our curriculum is (vastly) different from what they have become accustom to. Whether that is “good” or “bad”, you would have to ask them (we haven't received any complaints, far).
We recognize that our teaching style/curriculum is different from what/how other “Oyata” based systems are commonly being provided. We've found it to work well (at least for us and our student's) but we're sure there are other instructional methodology's that work similarly.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Arm Strikes

 I have had (numerous) debates in regards to the use of strikes being made upon an aggressor's arm(s) (and to their effectiveness and/or lack thereof). The typical argument made against them, is that the individual has done “whatever” training that included being repeatedly struck upon their arm's and “they” are no longer vulnerable to those (types of) strikes. They are implying that their training (whatever that may of been) has made them “immune” to any effects from those types of strikes.
Through that claim, they are then implying that they have negated any/all subliminal reactions made by their arm's (a pretty bold claim). “If” they have managed to destroy (all of) the nerve endings in their arms, then (maybe) this could be an accurate claim.
Personally, I've never encountered anyone for which this was an accurate claim (but I've only been practicing the arts for 50 years). I believe that their understanding of what's being attempted (with those types of strikes) is different than what's (actually) being attempted with their use.
Typically, the assumption being made is that the (struck) arm will not be able to continue being utilized. Though accurate for some, there is more often a hesitation for continued use (of the struck arm). It is additionally assumed that there are no additional motions being implemented (by the defender) in conjunction with the utilized strike being made upon the limb.
The “simplest” of these (arm) strikes, is delivered upon the bicep (of the striking arm). Although a common “straight” punch delivered to the bicep will effect most individual's, one made across the bicep has rarely failed to garner an effective result. The majority of doubter's assume that a strike upon the forearm is what is (always) being referred to. Oyata utilized those manner of strikes on a (very) regular basis as well. His strikes were never performed at the angle that the receiver (assumed) them to be done at (thus they were unable to “brace for/absorb” the delivered strike).
Whether the individual (who has had their arm struck) believes it (or not), they will then utilize that arm differently than prior to it's being struck. Those that argue against striking the arm, are inclined to focus on the fact that they are “still” able to use the (struck) arm. Which is (typically) accurate, they just won't be using as effectively as prior to it's being struck (whether for striking or grabbing with it).
Detractor's are (too) focused on the fact that the struck arm isn't “hanging loosely at their side” (as if that's the only way it can be disabled).
By creating that condition, the student has changed how the aggressor can/will implement their assault (regardless of how subtle that change may be). It will effect what (and how) continued motions will be implemented. A singular impact is (rarely) something that “defeats” an aggressor (from continuing), but multiple strikes of this manor will cause an aggressor to “rethink” their (original) strategy for accomplishing their goal.
The defender's strategy should not be “how do I defeat the aggressor”, but “how do I prevent them from being able to continue”. Student's are inclined to focus (only) on how to defeat an aggressor (instead of being able to prevent being injured by one). Unless the student can prevent being injured, being able to defeat them becomes moot. With training, those goals can be combined but must (at least initially) be prioritized.
Implementing strikes upon an aggressor's arm's is a (more easily) achieved goal than focusing on causing sufficient (over-all) injury to an aggressor. It isn't the “one-punch” defeat that most student's (at least initially) are seeking, but it is a more realistic/practical defensive approach that (most) student's can (more easily) achieve.
Using this strategy one need never move (closer) into the range  necessary to impact the aggressor's head/body (which is how most people assume an aggressor can, or has to be defeated). If/when the defender moves close enough to strike the aggressor, that means they are close enough to be hit by them as well.
By focusing on striking the aggressor's arm's, the student can remain beyond the aggressor's range to be struck (or grabbed) by them. Although it is common for people to “deny” that grab's occur (and thus use it as an excuse for “tuite” not being practical) this tactic creates those probabilities. The student will create those situations from remaining beyond the aggressor's (striking) range. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Tuite Variations

During the typical practice of Tuite, students will be inclined to go through the most basic manner of performing those motions. The way that the technique is initially shown is intended to allow the student to review the those manners of performing the applications. The most commonly critiqued of those motions (techniques) are the direct wrist grabs. These are commonly practiced with the two student's standing "face to face" with one of the student's grabbing the other's wrist (in one of several manners). These techniques are commonly referred to as "stupid people" techniques (for numerous obvious reason's). They should be viewed as being "learning" if not training motions (just as standing in a "horse" stance and performing middle punches is, basically pointless other than allowing the individual to focus on the performed motion). The motion would rarely (if ever) be utilized or even occur in this manner, but is done for "learning/training" purposes. During a confrontation, It is more common for students to ignore an opponent "grabbing" their wrist (at least until/unless it interferes with their ability to strike). 
This occurs because the student is (either) reaching for, or (additionally) attempting to strike the uke (when the "grab" is made). In these situations, the Uke is (more likely) grabbing the student's hand/arm to prevent that student's ability to strike or grab with it or in order to create the opening to strike the Tori. It can also occur when the Uke is going to strike the Tori (with their "free" hand) and want to control the Tori's arm (to prevent its use in "blocking/parrying" the Uke's striking hand). The student must learn to recognize and utilize those opportunities if/when they occur. The "basic" motion (commonly being practiced) is for the student to understand the basic "mechanic's" of the performed action. There are basically 4 manner's that a wrist can be "grabbed" (by the Uke's Right or Left hand, and either "high" or "Low", "Top" or Bottom"). That (grabbed) arm may be motioned to another position, but the student's ability to respond to it (apply a countering motion) should be easily achieved (obviously, through the student's practice of having done so). Also (often) being ignored, is the student's ability to determine (if not direct) how the Uke will attempt their response (to the Tori's arm motioning towards them). When that motion is performed as a strike, the Uke will most commonly attempt to "Block/Parry" that motion. If the student reaches towards the Uke (with an open hand, as if attempting to grab them), they will most often grab that hand/arm ("monkey see, monkey do"). This premise goes back to one's ability to "guide/direct" the confrontation. For those student's who don't possess great amounts of (physical) strength, trading strikes back and forth is a losing tactic. Guiding a striking aggressor into grabbing the student is typically achieved by providing the opportunity for that aggressor to grab the student. This can (often) be achieved by the aforementioned manner of reaching (with an open-hand) towards the aggressor. If/when the aggressor does grab that hand/arm, those (previously considered "stupid people") techniques, then become practical applications to utilize in one's defensive strategy. I typically attempt to guide the majority of confrontations into a situation where I can (effectively) utilize Tuite (types of) manipulations. My own reasoning (for doing so), is typical because I am not physically strong enough to force the majority of individual's into the positions that I know will be most beneficial to myself (and will additionally allow me to position them into a position of submission). Once that positioning is achieved, if that aggressor refuses to cease their aggressive attempts, I can additionally escalate (typically by a simple joint dislocation). It is very common for individuals to claim that the use of joint manipulations (I.E. Tuite) is impractical for use during a (typical) physical confrontation. That belief is (only) based upon that person's experience/knowledge (or awareness) of/for the utilization of those (types of) techniques. They are under the belief that grabs don't occur during a striking assault. That is only accurate if/when the defender doesn't implement them (and/or cause their occurrence). One need only watch the numerous video examples of "fights" on the Internet, and one will see how often those individual's (that are punching each other) additionally grab their opponent. Although they will typically "let go" (of their opponent), rarely do they ever utilize those grabs against their opponent. This is more the result of training than of practicality. They are more obsessed with delivering a strike, than with (actually) ending the confrontation. People will "Do" as they have Trained. If one doesn't train to utilize those motions, they won't use them (and myopically believe that the way they are doing things, is the only way to do them). This is typical of the "aggressor" mindset. Unlike the manner that many defensive methodologies are taught, ours (initially) focuses on defensive actions being one's primary objective (rather than how one can inflict injury upon an aggressor). The purpose of training is improving one's understanding of what is being practiced. Rather than only achieving the desired response, the objective is to understand what motions, actions/reactions can make achieving the desired response not occur. And once those actions are recognized, how can they be avoided or negated. Too much focus is (only) being made upon the intended response (rather than those that can additionally occur). Only focusing on inflicting damage, is a questionable objective as well, and will result in varying degrees of effectiveness (or even in one's ability to do so). It is more productive to focus on achieving responses that are more likely to occur (by anyone). Although individual reactions will vary, there are reactions that are common among (nearly) all individual's regardless of size, strength or flexibility. If one only focuses on performing an action (and how that action is done), they are only practicing 1/2 of the particular motion/action. This is equivalent to only punching a bag (or a makiwara), you'll get very good at doing so, but this is not the same as punching a person. That (type of) strike will achieve varying results dependent upon how and where you utilize it on an opponent (as well as "if" you are able to do so). It is more important to understand the reactions achieved by striking those vulnerable locations than it is to focus one's ability to deliver a more forceful impact. The development of that increased level of force can/will come with time, but (from a defensive perspective) it is more important to identify those locations that are vulnerable and that don't depend on one's ability to deliver excessive amounts of force in achieving that objective. This is what's necessary to develop a "lifetime" defensive art (rather than one that is only practical or applicable, if/when one is young, strong and healthy). The manner that a student will utilize the instructed motions will be dependent upon that individual's physical abilities and limitations. If a student is expected to perform a demonstrated motion in (only) a certain way, it will likely never be utilized by that student. Although motions are initially shown to be performed in a particular manner, there must be an allowance for individual variation. If that variation includes negative aspects, those aspects should be eliminated (thus, the purpose of practice). The objective of practicing a defensive art is achieving the ability to prevent receiving injury. An ability to deliver injury is secondary (at best). One's goal is to not become injured when having to defend one's self. Whether an aggressor is injured (while protecting one's self) should not be (or become) one's main objective from training. Once you are able to prevent (your own) injury, the ability to inflict injury (serious or not) is a more easily achieved goal. When defending oneself, the ability to flow from one defensive action to another is imperative to that ability. Every defensive action/motion should be practiced with that motion failing (at different stages of its enactment). Every stage (of a techniques enactment) should be practiced with that motion's failure (whether by the tori or by a "countering" action being used by the uke). Doing so will force the student to formulate a manner to correct the situation. Although corrections (some times) are able to correct those situations, one should be able to abandon a particular technique (allowing them to transition to another application).

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Book Videos

We have been inundated with requests for a "Video" release of our 6 Principles of Tuite book since it's release. Fulfilling that request is more involved (?) than would initially be thought. The release of the 6 Principles book was a compromise (on our part). That book consisted of (less than) a third of the material that we had on the subject. Most people assume that was done in regards to the number of included techniques. The included techniques were only included to provide a reference for the principles that were discussed in the (provided) "Principles" descriptions. What was provided in that book, was the bare minimum of description for those (6) principles. What was originally written (for each of those principles) consisted of several chapters in regards to each of those principles. The "Feed-Back" that we received (from reader's of the book) was most typically in regards to when the "next" book was going to be released (?). To Us, this demonstrated the fact that readers did not recognize the importance of understanding those principles (rather than only learning the provided "techniques"). In our opinion, the techniques (themselves) are irrelevant. If/when one understands the principles, the performance of (any) technique becomes secondary (if not a comparatively simplistic matter). As we stated (in the released book), the purpose of that book is to provide a standard of practice and a research guide to spur (further) individual research (in regards to the provided, as well as any desired technique/application).
"If" reader's had used the book (in that manner), the questions asked of us would have been very different (than those that we have received). Because of that response (and how the "market" is presently orientated), we have (for the time being) chosen to release individual "videos" that will include those principles being (further) explained and demonstrated (in regards to the numerous techniques exampled within the book).
Each video will include demonstrations and explanations for a number of the techniques that are included in the 6 Principles book. Although the videos will not (each) have all of the information that is provided in the book, they will include supplemental information that is individually applicable/demonstrated within those techniques. As was (originally) intended with the book, the purpose of this material is the student's understanding of the provided principles. These video releases will expand upon aspects of those principles that are only referenced to in the original book's release. Although many of those explanations have been provided ("On-line"), a more thorough explanation for those principles will be provided within these videos. There is additionally a (growing) demand for example videos for Oyata's "Weapon" kata and applications. We are compiling a collection of those as well, and their release will be provided as we are able to compile them. The provide bunkai will NOT consist of the "typically seen" (clickity-clack) use of those weapons. These will include the practice of, and the uses and manipulations (for those weapons) that are not typically seen (or practiced). They are intended to spur further research by those persons who acquire them. All of our video releases will be provided/released on "wallet" usb cards that can be plugged into and viewed/played on a computer/notebook (as well as some phones and video units/TV's). We believe these to be more practical than "DVD" releases.

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".

Friday, December 7, 2018

Definition and the Use of Motion, within the Oyata Te System

Oyata's methodology (regardless of the time-period for that instruction) has always emphasized (entire) "body" motion/use during the application of the instructed motions. That instruction varied/changed over the course of his (years of) instruction. This came about because Oyata was constantly striving to improve the instruction that he provided to us (his students). Many of the concepts that he taught, were provided with no definitive "labels" that distinguished those principles. Many of them encompassed several (sub) subjects. One of the major ones, we have "labeled" as Force Efficiency.
Force Efficiency is the term that we use in our instruction of the (physical) application of the instructed motions utilized within the Oyata Te system. Oyata did not use this term, it is the phrase that we coined to define the manner that he (Oyata) taught and utilized to convey that concept. The term is used to define the efficient use of the physical actions that are taught to our students (via the instruction that was received from Oyata). Our use of the word “Force” should not be confused with Forceful or to imply “strength” (within the use of those applications).
The average student is initially inclined to believe that having a greater amount of (physical) “strength” will assure that students use of the instructed motions will (always) prove to be the most effective (if not efficient). Of the (multiple) factors that determine the “effectiveness” of an application's use, the amount of applied “power/force” is considered to be the least important (the correct “placement” of that application being significantly more important).
When one is determining what factors are the most universally available, physical strength is only one of, if not the lowest/least important on that list. If/when a technique isdependent upon that “one” factor (I.E. “power”), it is (then) only applicable by a limited number of individual's (male or female). That use is additionally dependent upon it being greater than the opponent's ability to resist/absorb that application.
The student's knowledge of an opponent's natural "weak spots" (not necessarily "Pressure Points") is necessary for the use of those applications. That awareness/knowledge is taught through the instruction of the student's use  >of their own body (within the instructed motions).
Force Efficiency is the initially instructed "awareness" of those strengths (and vulnerability's). Though (initially) taught as an efficient means of technique delivery/use (by the student), it additionally exemplify's an opponent's vulnerabilities. If/when involved in a physical conflict with an opponent who is larger/stronger, the student must have the ability/knowledge that allows them to circumvent those advantages. This awareness is exampled in every aspect of the instructed positions/motions.
When people (generally) speak of Oyata's technique application, they (commonly) will refer (if not “obsess”) to his use of a “neck-strike/knockout”. This technique (though being very impressive) was often difficult (if not "impractical"to utilize in a (more "common") altercation. If that technique were as "effective/practical" (as people generally imply) why didn't Oyata spend more (if not the majority) of his classes being devoted to his student's perfecting it? (obviously) Because it wasn't
(either “easy” nor practical ). Depending on the circumstances, it more often resulted in a “stun” (or temporary imbalance of an opponent (thus becoming a glorified “atemi” strike, which was what Oyata considered it to be. Our use of the term "Force Efficiency" is used to exemplify the student's most efficient use of their body and appendage motion in the application/use of the instructed positions, motions and techniques (whether defensively or offensively). That instruction begins with the student learning/understanding what motions are natural and what motions are not. That includes the subliminal motions that occur in response to expected and/or unexpected actions (performed by the student or Uke during an altercation). The student's awareness of those responses allows them (those responses) to be utilized within the student's application of (the instructed) technique. <
When one examines what constitutes “natural” motion, it commonly consists of forward motion (by the bodies limbs. Those motions that are “circular” (or rearward) are not considered to be as “practical/effective” for use (as those that are delivered
directly forward). (in general) Circular motions require “room” to develop momentum. It is also difficult to (efficiently) include the user's body-weight with those types of strikes.
Oyata Te demonstrates the positioning of the student's hip's and shoulders during those application movements. In general, the hip's and the shoulder's remain (consistently) "square" (to one another) during any motion/movement. When that alignment is altered, the student will be (and "feel") off-balance. I have recently seen (several) “examples” of individual's performing (their own) versions of Oyata's method for performing the Kata (the versions that he taught). What's commonly exampled, is a quickly performed example, that includes (numerous) incorrectly “added” motions (as well as motions that were removed by him as well). Oyata did include additional motions, but they were intended to be (very) subtle (and barely recognized/noticed).
One of the most obvious (of Oyata's changes), was the elimination of (any) "shoulder-wag" (during the performance of the kata). The reasons for doing so are multiple, but its inclusion is an obvious indication of not having been part of his later (I.E. the last 10-15 years of his life's) instruction. The examples I've seen may have been (at one time) "valid", but they should be (more accurately) considered as being "basic" (and certainly not "advanced", as those posters have claimed). Oyata's later years of instruction focused on the student's use/positioning of their body (whether during technique or kata) motion. He felt that this was of higher/greater importance than (individual) “technique” use or variance. Those motions held greater importance than the learning of different or additional technique motions. Once those motions were understood by the student, techniques would become more obvious (via the kata motion) to the student.
I've received numerous inquiries as to why I don't post "video's" of new/different technique applications. If my readers refer to our Oyata Te page, my associate has included (numerous) videos that example (much) of what I have addressed here (technique motion/application, etc.). Frankly, "feeding" the Internet's "need " video examples is not my goal (here).

Those that (actually) are interested in what/how we teach Oyata's methodology should visit/attend our classes to get a more descriptive (and physical) “exampling” for what/how we teach his methodology. Our Classes are (very) relaxed and we are very open to explaining the “how” and “why” of Taika's teachings (as well as those teachings that he didn't agree with).