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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 1999 12:09 am 
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Bill,

I will admit that I don't read all the threads and sometimes I don't follow the ones I read that well... But, did I miss something?

How and what did you "lose" regarding "sparring in promotions and tournaments?" Was there another alternative proposal for the sparring format for this year? I know last year's turnout was low and the number of people injured would likely keep even more people away this year if the format remained the same. I personally didn't and won't mind either way we go. But, I do think a shinking pool of participants is not in the interests of uechi-ryu. Gary's suggestion for WKA rules supported by others seem to offer an alternative that would attract more folks. Indeed, more folks participated this year.

You say that there is more to explore in the "big three forms" and I trust that you are right. The tournament is right now a once a year event. It doesn't preclude other tournaments and, yes, perhaps other rules. It certainly doesn't preclude you from teaching sparring or whatever drills you would like to incorporate in your curriculum that would teach those broader or more indepth skills coming from Uechi-ryu's "uniqueness". I certainly will continue to train in other skills regardless of the tournament rules (though I may not argue necessarily that these skills are unique to uechi-ryu).

Bill, you are certainly high respected in these forums and in the Uechi-ryu world. Do you have a specific proposal for tournament that you would like to try out? Please propose and let's get working on it. I'll certainly participate. But, for this year, Gary stood up, busted his butt and made an event that was outstanding compared to last year's. That deserves recognition and respect from, if from nowhere else, at the least the competitors.

For the record, you and are in agreement about the "80%". I dont' think everyone wants or needs to spar if that is not within the goals they set for themselves and their practice. And, yes, I would agree that most of these folks pay the dojo bills. They deserve to get something out of the practice and the dojo and sensei who take them in should be sensitive to that. However, for the 20% who are interested in sparring or competing where do you want them to go?

I want to state clearly that I am asking respectfully.

david


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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 1999 5:07 am 
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I've been biting my lip for so long it's getting ready to bleed. You can't keep an Irishman silent for too long.

I really wish I knew how to get where I think the Uechi style needs to be and get everyone on board: the sparrers, the kata practitioners, the prearranged folks, the grapplers, the dojo owners, the street brawlers, the moms with kids, the shotput droppers, those that want to learn self defense, the karate aerobics crowd, the lawyers (unfortunately), the accountants, the insurance folks, the granola eaters, etc, etc. Unlike what the vocal minority will have you believe, "we" are a diverse group. And one thing I learned very early on is that this "other" 80% are the ones who offer their warm bodies, their tuition, their enthusiasm, their friendships, personalities, and organizational skills that allowed the 20% (or fewer) karate geeks to do what they want to do. So...may I suggest that we all pull our blinders off and look around? Don't think that the "natives" are happy because your personal needs are met. And yes, that unhappiness affects YOU.

I am not trying to reinvent the style or propose some sweeping set of exercises and activities that will meet all our needs. What I want is to address a few Uechi style areas that are not being addressed. And I would like to suggest that we all - ALL - need to ask hard questions of ourselves, where we are in our skill sets, and what the body of knowledge is that the Big Three forms define.

Now, to the specifics.

I believe that the most recent example of my concerns was addressed in Gary's thread "What is real?", and addressed again in a subsequent thread. I believe that Gary and Van and others are addressing a very important facet of our style in the sparring arena. There must be an arena where we break out of the prearranged and test our mettle against our neighbor to bring our skill sets to the next level. But....how do we define the game? And yes, in the end it's just a game. A sophisticated game of tag. An important one. But just a game.

So what have we evolved to today? We are now using WKF rules. Fine. We are "compatible" with many other styles. We can face opponents around the world. We will not become too imbred. But I ask you, is that all?

Please don't insult me (and others) by assuming that because I am voicing my concern about the way we spar in a premier Uechi tournament, that I am against sparring. That's not the concern. So...what is it? Well I started my martial carreer decades ago with this hard Japanese style with closed-fisted techniques and no grabbing, and I developed some sparring skills (that's about all we did on most days). And now Uechi USA has an international event that is to define the style, and we use rules that basically limit sparring to what I used to do before I ever learned sanchin.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. I can go back home to my old buddies and play by common rules. But our style should not end there. You say it doesn't? You say we have our kata and kumite that teaches us how to do all these other "deadly" aspects of our system that the lawyers won't let us do in the sparring arena? Let me quote someone in a recent discussion. <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Remember boys, the bunkais and pre-arranged kumites were added LATER to SLOW DOWN sparring practice (which was too REAL for most folks). Bunkais and kumites are stupid, out dated, and a waste of valuable practice time once you pass your first dan rank!......Stay safe. Do your bunkais, do your kyu kumite. Then finish practice, get on your computers and debate the REAL meaning of the part of Sanchin after the bow when you move your feet apart.

I'll be in my dojo training...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> Sooooo...just where are we supposed to get this real meaning now? Just where am I supposed to have my students see the same "light" that I saw when I first met my orignal Uechi instructor in 1974? That was the day I spent all my time on the floor in our first sparring match. Hint....the things he did to send me to the floor are illegal in WKF tournaments.

But let's not stop there. What about the UFC? What happened to all the bad-assed karate fighters in that tournament? "Sure," you say, "they made eye poking and biting illegal!" And they are legal in the WKF format?

Look around you. Ever met Jack Summers? Ever worked with any of his students? Ever wondered why Jack's been teaching jiu jitsu for years, long before anyone ever heard of the Gracie brothers? Ever wonder why folks like me teach falling as a WHITE BELT requirement and spend time working with aikido practitioners?

Here are my answers: 1) we (and that includes Okinawa) are not addressing all the content in the Big Three, 2) "vanilla karate" and takeyourdo and the lawyers are changing the nature of competitive Uechi in the U.S., 3) there is an attitude among some who promote sparring (as most practice it now) that is condescending towards those who seek to understand and work with other elements within the style.

Do I have a solution? Not one that "everyone" accepts - yet. But I will not go away. Like those who I battle with (and respect) on this issue, I have passion and I care about this special style. If I wanted something different, I could easily go in a number of other directions. I believe that there is much in the core and I believe that the seniors and senior seniors have an obligation to see that we expand the possibilities. I have lost the battle (today) on how sparring is to be done in tournaments and promotions.

Perhaps the war is not over. Maybe it is. And perhaps...there is another competitive arena to be defined. Since the dojo owners with financial risk and risk aversion want insurable standards, perhaps we should adopt judo or wrestling competition as another requirement or facet to the world Uechi tournament. I'm really reaching now, but I'll start anywhere if it gets us to where I believe we need to be.

I've been on the soap box for too long. Time to step off and give others a shot.

Sincerely,
Bill


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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 1999 11:35 am 
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Bill-san & David-san,

Tough topic, but one that strikes a cord. I have to agree with Bill on several points. I too am concerned with the path of Uechi-ryu today. I would hate to see the emphasis be put on tournament training instead of the "big three forms." With all respect toward those who compete, even though you are extemely serious in what you do, the competition in itself is a game that you play. I know what you are going to say, but let's be honest, for most, the reason you enter the tournament is to win, as well it should be. I simply do not see how it helps the overall training of Uechi-ryu.

For the record, and in lieu of sounding like a hypocrite, I will continue my support for anyone trying to put a positive spin on Uechi-ryu via seminars or tournaments (i.e. Gary-san, Mattson Sensei, etc.) I also believe that everyone should make up their own minds concerning tournaments and not simply take the word of their instructor. I tell my students that they should experience at least one in their lifetime before making a judgement.

As for the grappling as part of the curriculum....Bill has a point. I too, make ukemi (falling techniques) part of belt requirements in my dojo. It has always been my opinion that Uechi should develop this grappling attitude in their curriculum. I believe that Mattson sensei has been trying to do just that within the summer camp with all the people he has had giving grappling/jujitsu seminars. I hope it continues. Now, should this replace sparring in the dojo. Certainly not.

David, for that 20% you speak of who want to compete, I would say it is their teacher's duty to help them in any way they can. Keep them informed of tournaments; support them by going to a few of them and watching; send them to people like yourself and Gary for further training, are just a few of the ways an instructor can help a student. The other 80% will be satisfied with their dojo sparring.

Again, I mean no disrespect for anyone who likes to compete or believes in the tournament route. I do think changes need to be made in some of these to make them better and perhaps change the minds of people like me. What are those changes? Who knows. I'm sure that if I sat down for a few I could think of some. But in the long run, it's all about continued learning. If you are getting something out of competing or non-competing then that's all you can ask for.

And for the record, I again applaud Gary for his hard work in making this year's tournament a success. He is an example of someone that respects the opinion of others (even if they do not coincide with his), and tries to work with them in order to create a better Uechi-ryu. (still friends Gary?) :-)

Yours in Budo,

Mike


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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 1999 12:48 pm 
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Mike,

Thanks for responding. I'll also want to state that I don't think tournaments and training for them should be the be-all, end-all for our practices. Before last year's tournament, I haven't competed for over 17-18 years. Instead, I have pursued practices which I thought would contribute to my overall development as a martial artist. I started practicing again with GEM maybe three or so years ago. I participated in the last two tournaments because I think it is one way to support the efforts GEM and others are making to reach out, to make connections, to broaden the knowledge and skills of current Uechi-ryu practitioners. In my heart of hearts, I know my "glory days" are long over. I am happy just to participate. It was not about winning.

We know tournaments are not "real life" though some have argued that it (and testing) gives the partiicpants a feel for the "adrenaline rush". I didn't feel that rush this year or last, because intellectually and physically I know tournament competition is still a "game". Yet, for those who feel a rush, it's a good thing though, again, it doesn't span the gap to real life.

I also agree that learning certain grappling, sweeping, throwing techniques and taking a fall safely is important. Bill and others argue these techniques are "hidden" in the style. Perhaps they are. Yet, it may be so well hidden that I hazard to say most instructors not are aware of these possibilities til they have trained in other styles. You, Bill, Jack Summers, Josh Wiseman come immediately to mind. How do these get dessiminated to those practicing and teaching Uechi-Ryu? The Summer Camp is certainly one venue. A tournament which allow for these is another. However, we do it, the insularity of some dojo's have to been broken down for that to happen. I see partiicipation in camps, seminars and tournaments as ways to do that. Going back to the tournament and rules pertaining, I don't mind if we include more grappling or contact into the format (I know Josh Wiseman wouldn't Image .) But, we need to seriously ask whether folks would participate in the same numbers they did this year? If not, have we broadened the students experiences and perspective? Again, if a there is a dojo that does it all, fine. I would guess, however, that these are far and wide in between. Get togethers like tournaments expose students to other perspectives and (god-forbid, perhaps...) other influences.

Mike, given your hestitations, I respect more your participation in the tournament. You did it because you wanted to support efforts and unity and the good that will provide your students. I want to say that I will support the best I can what you. Bill, Gary, GEM, or anyone else who have a another idea. We can try. If it doesn't work like we would like to, fine -- we can move on to another. What we can't do is stay in our one place and think there is no more to do or to learn.

YOURS in budo,

david

[This message has been edited by david (edited 05-26-99).]


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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 1999 3:47 pm 
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David

You ask for suggestions. I'm not sure if my suggestions will work because to-date they have fallen on deaf ears. I will, of course, state what I feel.

First of all, I am neither against tournaments nor am I against competitive sparring. It was the focus of my karate training in the early days. And if it weren't for the sparring competition, I would not have won very many trophies (though I haven't done as well as some). My kata abilities came only after years of dedicated training. My tournament years started with sparring wins and finished with kata competition wins (last trophy was for seisan in a non-Uechi tournament). Strange path indeed!

I have a fairly broad view of what our style encompasses. Thus when I see anyone focusing on one aspect and disparaging another, then I feel a need to speak up. I gave one quote which came from someone who loves to spar. I could just as easily have chosen a quote off the kyusho forum from someone who constantly preaches that those dojo that don't practice kyusho will go out of business (a self-serving comment, by the way). Or I could have chosen a quote from one of the "kata queens" (a label I once heard used in a joking fashion to tease a senior). Too much emphasis on any one aspect of the system creates a bastardization of the style. It reminds me of the 'bench and curl' crowd I used to see at the UVa weight room on Friday afternoons. They were there to get their 'pump' before puffing up in front of the women at graduate happy hour. They strutted around with the bodies of Big Bird. Legends in their own minds!

But....there is indeed great merit to sparring. As such, I always like to see it reflect the system we practice. When I started martial arts, I was put in the sparring ring very early. I got very good at doing something that looked nothing like my kata. Kata was something we had to do to get belt ranks. Once we got that done, back to McKarate sparring.

When I started studying Uechi, I was rudely awakened to a type of "fighting" that I had not previously seen practiced in the confines of a dojo. I was not (yet) familiar with the style of fighting. All I knew is that I kept ending up on the floor. The person who kept dusting the floor with my body, Rad Smith, was a great fan of Bob Campbell. Years later I invited Bob to my Charlottesville dojo and I began to see both some of the throws he was doing (with great ease I might add) as well as exactly what kata the moves were coming from. At the same time I was also studying Goju with a former green beret who loved to do bunkai kumite and insisted that sparring look like kata or give the kata up completely. To him sparring was a means to an end rather than an endpoint unto itself. But I might add that the sparring we were doing in that dojo was, well, a bit on the rough side. It was very demanding of the skills of the practitioners. Anyone with poor ukemi skills was guaranteed to get a separated shoulder or worse.

I'd like to add a few more points. It was Rad Smith who, at the time he was trainging me, commented that it was too bad that most of the sparring being done at that time (mid seventies) looked nothing like Uechi ryu. Rad did, however, place Bobby Campbell in a category of his own. If you look at George Mattson's Uechiryu Karate Do book, you will see "sparring techniques" being done by a young Jim Malone and Jack Summers. Those techniques are exactly what Rad was talking about. Great tournament techniques but....where's the Uechiryu? If you read Art Rabesa's Kumite book, there's a section where he talks about learning under Van Canna. Van at the time disparaged tournaments with the comment 'Too many rules!' Only on occasion would they bring Van out of the closet at a tournament, where he would dispatch with large numbers of bad-asses while folks in the crowd would ask "Who is this guy??" Note: I may be embellishing on this with comments from personal chats with Art. And even recently a purist from another style (we won't go there) commented to me that he saw video clips from one of our tournaments and couldn't see where the Uechiryu techniques were in the fighting.

I must admit that it is way too easy to be an armchair critic behind the keyboard. And I can very easily play devil's advocate to many of the critics of contemporary sparring. I have indeed defended the status quo on occasion. Sparring meets a need, and it is useful so long as we realize that it doesn't meet all needs. Period.

Now you know where I am coming from, David. Now I need to put up or shut up.

Once again, I'm not sure that I have the answers. However I thought it would be a good time to put suggestions on the table. We have almost twelve months before the next tournament. And we haven't been doing WKF rules for so long that it has become a requirement (that I know of) for dan test sparring. Perhaps there are many venues we can simultaneously pursue in the sparring arena. As you say, David, we can do WKF rules at one tournament and other rules elsewhere.

What I want, though, is to see rules that encourage the use of trademark Uechi techniques. If it means that other stylists don't do as well or don't want to participate, I don't care. If it means the dojo owners with assets will scream and the lawyers will warn and the insurance companies threaten, well then perhaps we will see the dawn of a new type of dojo where we have better (or no) lawyers and/or better and more well-informed insurance companies and/or nonprofit dojos. Or...maybe the best fighters will never be in the United States where everyone is a victim and all students are a potential law suit. I don't know.... Time will tell.

This is what I like that I think addresses some of my concerns. I used to run a dojo tournament where I used rules that were (I thought) similar to rules they used at the All Okinawa Tournament. Competitiors used only hand guards (small, AAU style ones), head gear, mouth pieces, and groin cups (where appropriate). It was a point-style tournament. The typical technique of a WKF-format tournament garnered the competitor only a half point. The only way to get a full point was to control the opponent while doing the striking technique. This was accomplished with either a grab while striking or (with better results) a sweep/throw followed by an immediate technique. Any sweep or throw that resulted in an injury would result in immediate disqualification of the person perfoming the throw. You must realize, however, that competitors in this tournament needed to be able to do falling technique. The only falling-related injury I ever saw in a half dozen years of doing this tournament was a shoulder dislocation from a competitor who had not shown up for class all semester long. I had ways of controlling who entered this tournament by only allowing competitors who had successfully passed tests that included prearranged kumite and ukemi.

I also like the continuous motion format. Very often in a semester at UVa I would take half the sparring score from performance at the point tournament, and the other half scrore from performance in an end-of-semester continuous motion sparring format test.

I think there is much we can learn from our brothers and sisters in aikido and jiujitsu. I have experienced tests where I had to face three opponents and could not leave the ring until all three were down. If you falied to get them all down before you tired, you failed the test. Period. Very humbling! Very educational.

I think there are great advantages to learning a WKF-format style. However I will be extremely upset if I perceive a drift towards McKarate sparring at dan tests, or an attitude among the sparring competitors that is condescending towards those doing prearranged kumite (where the "real" Uechi technique is being done), kyusho, kata or other avenues of martial knowledge.

I am open to suggestions from others.

-- Bill


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PostPosted: Thu May 27, 1999 11:12 am 
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Bill,

Thanks for your comments. Now, I remember some of this discussion following last year's tournament.

To rehash a little bit. There were some serious concerns following last year's tournament due to the number of injuries and the low turn-out. I think if we kept to the same rules, we would have had an even lower turnout this year. I think the changes in rules and, of course Gary's prefight prep and sales pitch, led to a much higher turnout this year. It's true that this may lead to a type of competition fighting further away from the "Uechi-ryu" norm (though I honestly I can't say what that is because a good hit is a good hit is a good hit!) Like most things, we have a trade-off of sorts. Yet, I do think the increased interest and participation because of the rule changes are positive things. Better more people are encouraged and allowed to experience the "rush" of sparring than not. Freestyle sparring teaches straightforwardly through experience the distance, timing and reflex that are needed to make martial techniques work. If enough folks engage themselves, we may even return to the halcyon days when Uechi-ryu (and the Mattson Academy) was a force to be reckoned with in many of tournaments in the Northeast and nationally, REGARDLESS of the rules of a particular tournament. Sparring and tournament participation have always been (from my own experience) the strong focus of a small minority of Uechi-ryu students of a given dojo. But it seems the minority is so much smaller now. I can't believe (my own perspective) that this is a good trend for Uechi-ryu.

I appreciate your comments about the type of sparring that you like to see. Actually, I am for that and think indeed that preparatory skills, e.g ukemi, need to be developed for it. Before this notion or use of the term, "uechi-ryu type sparring" (TM), the Cambridge St. Dojo were already engaging in this type of sparring (so were some of the other notable Uechi-ryu dojo's, like Bob Bethony's, Jimmy Maloney.) The Mattson Academy's Thursday night sparring class was often attended by significant core group of in-house regulars and dojo visitors from all styles. If I there were any rules, the one I remember was pretty much "don't kill the other guy", but anything else goes. You have people grabbing and punching, sweeping, front kicking, high kicking, jump spin kicking, backhanding, jabbing, reverse punching, leg kicking/checking and whatever else I missed in the list. Any participant was encouraged to use whatever they deemed fit and were able get in (a good hit is a good hit is a good hit is a good hit!) I don't remember anyone getting hit, high kicked, swept, legchecked or whatever and complaining, "HEY! that's not UECHI-RYU!" To be truthfull, there were many injuries (I got my share) and no lawyers (though lawyers were present as participants) ready to followed the injured to the hospital to prep a suit. The Hancock St dojo had a "tradition" of fighters and there were always enough of a minority to get involved in sparring and become good enough at it to uphold that tradition in and out of the dojo. As Bob C used to like to say, "MY BOYS ARE FIGHTERS!" And, Bob proved that he was ONE as well as against a certain Okinawan "Uechi-ryu fighter" (TM) and champion who doubted his skills.

You mentioned how you and Rad thought Bob C. was a Uechi-Ryu type fighter. He may be that, though I don't know for sure except that he was (is) a FIGHTER, a good/great one at that. I worked enough with Bob in my first five years to know that he never made that fine distinction. I remember in sparring session throwing a reverse punch at him and finding myself flying head over heels across the floor (ukemi-what's that?) I jumped back up and said, "What's that!?" He said, "Oh it was something I saw Kanai sensei (New England Aikikai) showed at a demonstration. I now know he did a perfect kaitennage (wheel throw) on me. Several years ago, he demonstrated the same move at Jay's. He said it is a move out of sei ching. Indeed, such a move can be interpreted from sei ching (shrug). But, I know the first time he did it, he did it against me and he got the idea from Kanai sensei's, NOT Uechi-ryu. I remember on another occaison throwing a chest high side kick against him. Bob disappeared. Next thing I knew I was going through the air because Bob had ducked under and stood up right in my crotch area (ukemi-what's that?) I later read in Black Belt magazine of Bob C's match against Skippy Mullins (?last name) in Texas (Skippy was a top ten rated TKD fighter in the bare knuckle competition days). Several times, Bob C. ducked under Skippy's kick, came up and dumped Skippy on his butt (or was it his head?). To this day, that is one of my favorite technique against fighters who like to kick chest or higher. Bob was also famous for sweeping an attacker off his feet, a technique Clarence subsequently learned, mastered and made famous. Bob was notorius for leg checking leg kickers and kickers in general. And when he was p*issed at someone, I remember him dropping him with a front kick as much as that "one inch" punch to the chest of wing chun and Bruce Lee fame. The fact is Bob had a lot of ecclectic techniques he picked up from being out there -- in tournament competition, watching demonstrations and getting into what were often closed doors of Chinatown kwoons. Today, I hear people say Bob C.was one of the best of the Uechi-ryu fighters. (shrug). He certainly was a great fighter, one of the best. He was because of being opened and exposed to other fighters and techniques of other styles. Can we produce the same by just sparring in our own limited circles. I don't think so though others a free to disagree.

I agree with using the the types of techniques and approach you advocate for "uechi-ryu" sparring. We did that and more in the past though we never thought of it as "Uechi-ryu fighting" (tm) per se. It was just good fighting techniques, some of which we individually preferred and do better then others. (We each need to find out own strengths don't we, rather than fit into uechi-ryu fighter cookie cutter.) I also agree that for this type of sparring, folks should learn some ukemi (what's that?) to protect themselves as opposed to Bob C's prescribed remedy for various injuries -- "Just rub dirt on it. You'll be fine."

Frankly, outside of a few dojos, we are going to need to work hard to build back up folks' interest in sparring and, yes, even tournament competition to the level of a respectable minority. I think WKA rules may be an introduction for that. At same time, I don't see nor want WKA rules to prevail in in-house dojo sparring. We should practice and utilize what you described as "Uechi-ryu" sparring and what some of us have grown up without calling it as such. I CERTAINLY DON"T WANT TO SEE WKA RULES FOR PROMOTIONAL SPARRING!. I think we need to be a little less rule oriented -- except for "Don't kill the other guy!" -- type of sparring for dan testing. Are our aspiring black belts ready for that? (shrug). Well, perhaps, they better be.

As for developing another venue for non-WKA sparring, why not use Summer Camp. Do it as an exhibition. No winners, No competition. Just interested folks who want to exhibit their idea of "Uechi-ryu" sparring. Also, continue with the idea of intramural dojo sparring to enourage and promote this form of sparring. If we get enough interest and involvement, lets revisit the rules for a "Uechi-ryu" tournament. Long journey begins with small steps.

Finally, with regards to prearranged kumite, I know I am one who believes at a certain level these become less useful. I hope I have not been condescending about that. I think it is part of the art. I believe at the lower levels, it teaches basic skills around timing and distance (not so much reflex). For those interested in pursuing Uechi-Ryu for what ever reasons other than sparring or fighting skills, then this is enough. But, I still think for those interested in fighting (self-defense skills), there is huge gap from prearranged kumite to freestyle sparring, and from the latter to real life. Simply my opinion. Every one else is entitled to theirs. And we will all practice accordingly. I am perfectly happy with that.

Bill, I appreciate you sharing or rehashing your views and chance for me to share some of my own.

david

[This message has been edited by david (edited 05-27-99).]


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PostPosted: Thu May 27, 1999 1:32 pm 
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David,

You make some excellent points that I wholeheartedly agree with. Sparring is sparring. The techniques a person uses along with their particular style of utilizing them are succinctly unique for each individual. I tell my students all the time that I cannot teach them how to spar. I can, however, teach them the factors of sparring (i.e. eye-distance, technique, timing, tricks, etc.) I don't believe anyone can really call it "Uechi" sparring.

As for your opinion on pre-arranged kumite. Although I respect your opinion on this, let me say this. We are only limited in anything we do by ourselves. If people are not getting anything out of their kumite, then it's because they are not looking. No offense to anyone, but maybe we simply have to look deeper.

Yours in Budo,

Mike


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PostPosted: Thu May 27, 1999 3:08 pm 
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David

Ahhh....we now read from the same hymnal. I am heartened!

In support of what Mike is saying, let me follow a bit of your own logic, David:

1) Bob C learns seichin kata (the move in question, by the way, originally comes from sanseiryu).

2) Bob C observes Kanai sensei of the New England Aikikai perform kaitenage (also known as ude hineri). Now, what is it that Kanai sensei was doing? Being an aikido dan myself, I can tell you. Literally 90% of aikido practice is....yakusoku kumite. There is very little freeform fighting. Attackers throw known techniques, and defenders get to practice their moves on them again and again and again. Not as complex as our kyu or dan kumite, but the exact same format nonetheless. The yakusoku sequence du jour (sorry for mixing languages like that) is choreographed by the instructor (sometimes from his 'encyclopedia' of experience, and occasionally from scratch), and everybody goes to the mat and practices.

3) Bob observes this technique and (undoubtedly) practices it on someone. And (I know this to be a fact because Bob and I had a conversation about this move in 1977), Bob makes the connection to something his body already knows from kata practice - the "wheel" move (minus the leg part) from seichin (or sanseiryu) kata.

4) Bob extends the concept and actually develops several different applications of it (again, I had conversations with him about it).

5) One day while sparring some poor unsuspecting and innocent kyu rank (maybe you had the honor of being first!!) an opportunity presents itself and whoooshh. As they say, use a word three times and it's yours. I think the same goes for sparring techniques.

Now we do need to consider that Bobby C is in a league of his own. He didn't get the label "stealing eyes" for nothing. Bobby C can short-circuit a process that takes a little longer for us mere mortals. But the path is there and it includes - yes - prearranged kumite. Even if Bobby never practiced that move before he sent you off head over heels, he first observed it in yakusoku kumite practice.

The same can be said for other moves that can be found in our kata. My point (which I now believe you mostly agree with) is that our kata contain a wealth of techniques, and we are limiting our fighting if we only do WKF-style sparring. Most are not as talented as Bobby C and so will not be able to "osmose" those other moves into their repertoire. These moves will have to be practiced, and then one will have to overcome the hurdle of being able to do them against an uncooperative partner - the true acid test.

Bob, Mike, I've had a little more time to think about this. Perhaps we can approach this the same way they do wrestling and judo and kendo. What they have in these venues are standardized techniques. Everybody knows the techniques that get points, and there are names to most or all of them. They are practiced again and again and again in partner training sessions. Then you go out on the mat or floor and the fur flies and real fighting skills are put to the test. Perhaps those of us (like the Bobby Campbells of the Uechi world) who have developed moves that they have begged, borrowed, or stolen in their eclectic years can standardize and name them, and make them part of a collection of moves that can be done in a certain type of fighting performed under certain conditions. The kaitenage move and the various dumps (like the application of the move in seiryu) and the sweeps probably should be done where there is a mat or moderately cushioned floor. And I'm all for rigging the scoring to give someone more points for moves that give the partner control with a hit. This will make it so that a back fist (usually nothing more than an annoyance unless done with a good pull) counts nowhere near as much as "ippon" techniques like a dump and hit (something that can end a real fight).

Mike, David, I think there is a way! It is a long road, but I think there is a path to the end that several of us now see.

-- Bill


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PostPosted: Thu May 27, 1999 7:59 pm 
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Addendum:

I wanted to make sure that folks knew that it wasn't just the fancy throws and the grabbing/grappling that I miss from a WKF format.

I am very partial to elements of Uechiryu that are essentially tai boxing techniques. I can tell you I'm not that familiar with the WKF rules, but I bet they don't allow elbow and knee strikes and thrusts, never mind leg grabs. If we spend all our fighting time at punch and kick distances, we play into the hands of the TKD and McKarate specialists. To me, our kata teach a type of infighting that most karate and TKD people find foreign - because they don't practice it. I know. It was the only way I could take out a few of my buddies who were Korean martial art specialists. Why do we need to spend so much time learning fighting at a distance that plays into our opponents hands (and feet)? I'm a pragmatist, not an egomaniac. I'd rather win that prove I'm better than my opponent at what he does best.

Just more thoughts to ponder.

- Bill


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