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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:25 pm 
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWJeGRP5g74

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:53 pm 
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Hello, Van!

There appears to be a lot of interest in these All Okinawa Tournament clips. Victor posted the Men's and then the Women's division clips over on my forum.

Of all the 5 performers, the first place winner of the women's division has an attribute in her kata that sets her above the others. (I'll refrain from mentioning it for now...) She obviously has a good teacher, and she's definitely a good student.

As always, we can nitpick others' performances from our armchairs. That's obviously neither proper nor sincere. These performers put themselves out there for all others to view. I tip my hat to all of them.

It is worth mentioning though that as we evolve as teachers and organizations, you can begin to see the choices made in terms of how kata are done and taught. Sometimes I see eye-to-eye, and sometimes I don't. Van... if you and I were to chat about this in a classroom, I'm sure we'd have volumes of ideas to share. 8)

Congratulations to all the winners and their teachers. They have much to be proud about.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:42 pm 
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:D

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:56 am 
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I obviously can't comment with the depth of understanding that a seasoned instructor of Uechi can. But, Let me say what I thought of these women:

These forms would be a good reference for anyone looking for a demonstration of how to perform each movement. Their stance, adherence to embusen, power (generation) etc. are all wonderful. Everything is clear and in its place.

What's missing is the southern-Chinese-kung fu-inspired fluidity of movement. These performances involve long pauses between movements that really contradict anything you would see in Kung Fu from Fujian province. I've seen competitive Goju performances that go even further, with long, protracted delays between sections of the kata.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:18 am 
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NEB wrote:
I obviously can't comment with the depth of understanding that a seasoned instructor of Uechi can.

And yet you approached a delicate situation and managed it deftly. Nicely done!

NEB wrote:
These forms would be a good reference for anyone looking for a demonstration of how to perform each movement. Their stance, adherence to embusen, power (generation) etc. are all wonderful. Everything is clear and in its place.

Mostly I agree.

It's worth mentioning that the source of the power generation for both mens' and womens' division winners tended to be more from the periphery and less from the core than I would expect from higher level dans. The exception however is in sections of Masako Arashiro's kata in this video. As an example, note the sequences involving the shoken sukuiage uke. It's classic sequential summation of movement, a.k.a. "body whip". (Watch her hips and belt.)

NEB wrote:
What's missing is the southern-Chinese-kung fu-inspired fluidity of movement. These performances involve long pauses between movements that really contradict anything you would see in Kung Fu from Fujian province. I've seen competitive Goju performances that go even further, with long, protracted delays between sections of the kata.

To use language from Bobby Campbell, sometimes Uechi Ryu can be like a Chinese style in Okinawan clothes. What you see isn't an issue with the practitioners, but rather the template. It is a vanilla standard carefully crafted by an organization, and kept consistent with their process. The way the kata were done in both the men's and women's division finals was just too consistent not to be the case.

Another similar factor is the judges of the tournament making it clear what they like. I've seen that in bodybuilding as well, where the judges' preferences can influence how women choose to train, medicate themselves, and get plastic surgery to meet a "standard" that the judges keep rewarding. My wife got out of it when she was surrounded by breast augmentation and rampant steroid use.

A process of teaching to larger classes and group performances is part of what creates what you see. Years of that is very different from years of "the older way" where people only practiced sections of kata as a group, or in whole by themselves. And they were critiqued one at a time.

Additionally teaching flow is an art absent in most Uechi dojos. I was inspired to find ways to do that by Tomoyose Ryuko. As he once said, sometimes the most important part of a kata is the movement between the movements. One day when working on applications involving significant footwork, the epiphany just struck. Now I spend a lot of time BOTH deconstructing AND reconstructing complex movement and sequences of movement. The reconstruction part is what you see missing.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:15 pm 
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I want to put a few questions on the table for Van.

People (and in the case of some Okinawa groups, whole committees) with decades of experience choose to do what they do, and their diligent students for the most part follow the syllabus. I have very little in the way of criticism for the competitors in the All Okinawa Tournament. They were marvelous, and their teachers should feel very proud of them. But when it comes to standards, I do however think differently. (And that's not necessarily a bad thing for either me or for them.)

You saw me do my forms at summer camp, Van, so you know where my head is on the subject. Today... ;)

When it comes to practicing in a manner that makes you act appropriately in a potentially lethal self-defense situation, what pleases your eyes and what bothers you? Where do you think groups are getting it right, and where are they heading down potentially self-defeating paths? I've had decades of opportunities to interact with various Okinawan masters over the years, and ask my (sometimes naive) questions on this subject. Often the answer I get is "Kata is kata; application is application." Maybe...

If you want to consider these rhetorical questions for now, that's fine. But if you want to register your thoughts, I'm sure we'll all be informed.

And maybe even entertained. ;)

- Bill


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 5:01 pm 
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Thanks, Bill...

I read what you had to say here and in your forum as well. I understand fully that this is a trend currently prominent in karate competitions. As i stated I have seen this in Goju tournaments as well. Actually, the Goju performances are almost ridiculous, with long 'dramatic" pauses that really rob the kata of its spirit. Goju, as you know, has pauses, and areas that slow built into the kata in a way that Uechi does not.. I think Mr. Campbell's statement was alluding to that fact in some ways. Southern Chinese forms move along at a pretty rapid pace, they don't stop. Where overt demonstrations of power are a major part of Okinawan martial arts, fluidity rules the day in Fujian province (with power generation being more subtle...not missing...to be clear).

If you see a really dynamic, well-timed performance of Sepai kata, for instance, you will think "chinese," with its coiling and whipping techniques.

Regarding power generation, how about Senaga Sensei as an example, especially when he was younger?

Now lets look at the kumite.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:13 pm 
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Hi Bill
Quote:
It is worth mentioning though that as we evolve as teachers and organizations, you can begin to see the choices made in terms of how kata are done and taught. Sometimes I see eye-to-eye, and sometimes I don't. Van... if you and I were to chat about this in a classroom, I'm sure we'd have volumes of ideas to share.


This subject is somewhat difficult to discuss because of the complexities of 'training expectations' and strong opinions by just about anyone on the floor doing the 'style'...

Both you and I know what the various 'claims' are as to how 'Original Uechi' was meant to be practiced and taught...and on and on.

I see kata as a very important component of the Uechi 'tool box'...and if we are to practice Uechi Ryu and seek rank in it...then we must abide by a general Okinawan standard whatever that may mean to different people.

If someone mentions standards, he is surely to be challenged in tiring ways.

Is there an 'Okinawan standard' ?

Sometimes by looking at the various masters and their students' performances...you wonder if one is really able to define it.

Some variations of 'it' are to be expected and generally accepted...but the perceptions of a 'standard' are uniquely individual and subjective.

Yet I see an 'Okinawan standard' in kata performance as brought to life by Okinawan masters and by some of their best students. So what do I see?

During my competition years I noticed that, in most cases, kata champions of different systems also placed very high or won free fighting events.

There was no doubt in my mind that some kata performers on the floor would truly be able to use effectively the kata concepts including the lines of force and directions of the forms_ in a street fight.

My personal view on kata peformance relates to the development of abilities of applications in 'combat' if you will.

~~

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:53 pm 
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So in making a 'judgement' of the 'abilities' when sitting on a testing board...I first do a mental 'about face' and try to envision what the average practitioner will be in the grip of during a violent confrontation_ then I look at the kata performance on the floor and form a personal opinion.

Rory makes it easier to do this for me..and i quote a passage from his book 'Facing Violence'
Quote:
Under attack you will not have the mind and the body that you have trained with.You will have a deaf and dumb clumsy beginner who isn't that bright.

Good training will still help because it will work, and that old part of the brain isn't completely stupid. It will go with what works.


When I see someone do a kata, I form an opinion as to what is on display would be useful in combat to that individual on the floor.

For example, I saw those 'useful abilities' in your kata performance during your test at camp.

It did match my expectations of a 'Standard' as well.

Another Standard of 'Okinawan performance'
and 'kata fueled' abilities to fight that always impresses me, is by the great Andre` Tippet and that of course is in addition to his innate skills as a big, powerful hall of fame NFL linebacker, who doesn't need, really, any MA training to be devastatingly effective in a real fight.

His kata performance I witnessed before Gushi sensei...was a real treat.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 4:45 pm 
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Bill,

Another consideration in my 'mental look back' when judging someone's kata performance, has to do with my envisioning of what a street violence attack will be like and whether any significant attributes [part of the entire picture of Uechi Ryu components] are displayed in the kata performance that I can personally see…will be of use to the person performing on the floor.

Understandably this is highly subjective, but this is the way I look at things.

The 'mental' look back walk tells me that street attacks, most often, involve multiple opponents, that they are most often brutal and that the person blindsided with severe blows becomes instantly compliant due to real or perceived crippling strikes or swarming momentum.

There will be twisted knees, sprained joints, broken ribs etc., in the chaotic assault in the space of a few seconds.

Then there is age, general physical condition, weight that must be carried around as one moves through the devastating effects of the cocktail that will cut the breath short in scary ways.

One of the ways to experience that awful shortness of breath is by playing a soccer game with endless running and pummeled by opponents.

Becoming 'breathless' will take on a new meaning.

Survival will depend on many things, including the ability to carry stopping power to an assailant, along with deliberation and determination in the movements we perform both in kata and other drills…kata being the foundation of this concept.

Do I see all that in the way someone performs his kata?

Yes I do. Maybe others don't feel the same way 'kata is just kata' …implying that it has limited importance.

But I have a way of looking at it that is very personal after having experienced and survived a 'multiple' situation.

I am sorry to have to say that what I see in some people's kata performance is less than complimentary.

This excludes you, Bill, as I have said you demonstrated all of what I look for and more in your kata performance at camp. :D

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 5:25 pm 
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The check is in the mail, Van. :wink:

Van wrote:
this is highly subjective

Excellent point.

And in putting the "subjective" word on all of this, you're wisely acknowledging how difficult it is even for the best of us to get our brains around what we want to see in kata.

Van wrote:
street attacks, most often, involve multiple opponents

Another excellent point. And how many dwell mostly on "the duel" in their training? One needs to start somewhere. But one must either evolve to the multiple opponents problem or acknowledge we're doomed to fail in the more common scenario. It's sobering to contemplate.

Van wrote:
there is age, general physical condition, weight

Some things - like death and taxes - cannot be avoided. Other things can be managed, but many don't tend to these basics.

And far too many fail to grow their martial arts along with their age and experience. My opinion anyhow...

Van wrote:
Survival will depend on many things, including the ability to carry stopping power

I like having as many of those "things" in my corner as possible. 8)

- Bill


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