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 Post subject: Combat Kata
PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 1999 8:41 am 
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Now that we have had a healthy discussion regarding the mental aspects of kata, I'd like to comment on a few other features of our Uechi method that I find very interesting from a combat perspective.

When I began to look at combat from both a mental and physical perspective ( mostly for law enforcement training), it occured to me that our Uechi forms are more than just a dry run for physical combat performance. There is more here, in our forms, than just repetitive physical movement in order to develop muscle memory. More here than just a model for developing perfect form. Our kata is designed, I believe to teach an 'attitude' of fighting which again delves into the mental aspects of actual combat.

To begin, I find it fascinating that all of our stances are fundamentally 'squared' to the opponent rather than bladed - typical of many other martial styles. The theory of a sideways or bladed stance has always made perfect sense to me. By blading the body, there are fewer opportunities to strike vital areas. Naturally, that is a desired feature in combat. However, more important than good theory is direct observation - a look at the way things occur in the real world, in real critical situations. There are many, many studies that indicate that when an animal is under attack - it will "square off" to meet the challenge. So will people. It is inate; part of our survival instinct to do this. This may be debated within the academic circle, but I think there is no argument from combat soldiers and police officers who have been involved in critical incidents. In shooting incidents, nearly all officers report that they 'squared off' to the attack as the drew and fired their weapons. This, by the way, has been a strong point of contention for the method of shooting stance that we continue to teach our police officers. Many trainers will teach the bladed 'Weaver stance' because in theory, it makes perfect sense. It is a stable shooting stance and allows for accurate shot placement on a desired target. It also reduces the available targets to the enemy. This has been proven on static ranges time and time again. Unfortunately, combat rarely involves shooting at static targets.

An observation of real officers under real combat stress (authentic or training induced)indicates that overwhelmingly, those who have been trained to shoot in a bladed stance will resort to a squared off iscoseles stance as they meet a life threatening challenge and return fire. The same occurs in empty hand combat when life and limb are at stake. Heck, I've seen this natural squaring off in bar fights when both combatants feel the 'butterflies' right before the fight actually starts (one of my side jobs is managing security at one of the City's most popular nightclubs - just to qualify that statement). Combatants nearly always begin their posturing by squaring off, toe to toe - often times nose to nose. I believe that this is a primal display of authentic combat readiness. When stress is induced there seems to be little concern for protecting vital areas as bladed stances are capable of doing. There is only attitude that drives us forward to prevail.

The attitude of our kata, I believe, is sewed into the method by which we perform it.
It is natural, inate, primal and I think it is not accidental that it was designed that way. I have many more observations about our combat oriented kata but I'd rather stop now and here what you think.

Roy


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 Post subject: Combat Kata
PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 1999 12:29 pm 
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Roy,

Yours is one of the MOST interesting perspective I've heard yet on kata practice. I suspect Van sensei's perspective may not be that much different terms of the mindsetting involved.

It's almost universally true in a fight or prefight, combatants will "square up". It's pumping the mind and body for the conflict to follow. In that forward, aggressive stance and attitude, the combatants achieve a mental state of "I don't care what happens to me but I AM TAKING YOU DOWN AND OUT!" Intriguing that our KATA may be used to develop this mental orientation. But, how many really do -- a serious question.

Even after achieving the correct mindset of "just striking the opponent down.", is it desirable or possible to unlearned the "squared off" orientation wihout losing the squared off attitude? I have only passing interest in guns but one of the most interesting debates for me has always been the weaver vs. the isocoles because I have always suspected it contains the crux of the issues regarding "natural" response, training and mental attitude.

My current thinking is that a squaring off and the concurrent attitude of striking down will carry the day in most confrontations. It's in the rare situation of encountering a skilled opponent that we need to "blade" our stance to minimize openings but somehow still maintain the squared off attitude. How to do latter? Is it worth the effort? Just more to ponder and explore...

Great post.

david


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 Post subject: Combat Kata
PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 1999 1:47 pm 
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Roy,
I first became aware of your highly realistic and practical approach when I attended your lecture and demonstation of you new police baton at the 1998 camp. Likewise, in this current post, you make the point that real experience has to take precedence over theory. The great physicist and philosopher of science, Richard Feynmann (sp?) taught that a thinker must always be ready to abandon old theories when new data contradicts them. "The hardest thing about getting new ideas in is getting the old ideas out"...while you are not saying we should throw out the old ideas, you are saying they must be held to the true test of real experience... dojo experience is valuable, of course, but lacks the "realism" of reality!


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 Post subject: Combat Kata
PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 1999 4:17 pm 
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Roy-san,

Thank you for such interesting reality based topics! It is indeed refreshing to host such an awesome practitioner who seems to speak my language!

I am very honored by your presence on my forum!

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Van Canna


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 Post subject: Combat Kata
PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 1999 8:14 pm 
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Most street situations requiring the use of your martial skills will begin while you are still in a squared off stance. If you are just milling around talking to your buddies, you are in a natural squared off stance. If a man starts throwing obscenities at you, you are probably standing in a naturally squared off stance. If a man is making threatening indictions and inflating his ego by boasting how he is gunna tear you a new..., you will probably be in a squared off stance, frozen in motion, overcome by adrenaline, and waiting in anticipation.

I believe that going into a bladed fighting stance right off in a "potentially" dangerous situation will only perpetuate the violence. I prefer to stand in a squared off stance and wait. With all luck, and as with many situations I have witnessed, the man will get frustrated and bored and go away.

About 75% of my training is done from a squared off stance while only 20% is done from a bladed stance (the other 5% is sitting). Most physical altercations can be resolved in seconds, which really doesn't give much time to switch to an unatural bladed stance. If the fight persists, I would certainly switch to a bladed stance for attack and defense.

-Collin


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 Post subject: Combat Kata
PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 1999 8:27 pm 
Sanchin is a natural fighting stance; it is beautiful, but there are a few achilles heels with it using it for karate sparring.



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Allen - [email]uechi@ici.net">uechi@ici.net</A> - <A HREF="http://www.uechi-ryu.org[/email]


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 Post subject: Combat Kata
PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 1999 9:20 pm 
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Location: N. Andover, Ma. USA
Before I start I am in 100% agreement a fight is to be met head on, with all weapons and possible angles possible and not limited by a "bladed" position.

With that said...

I was told by Dillman Sensei who was in turn told by Hohan Soken (Deceased Head of Shorin Ryu - Matsumura) that this was indeed true of all styles. The blading or turning sideways was a way to illustrate in Kata that you were to turn that way to reach or apply certain advantageous position in delivery of technique only, not as a defensive posture. However the propagation of "Do" systems carried this far and wide as a means of defense. And indeed in point fighting it does make it harder to target certain areas. But straight in with all weapons available, (Mind, Body and Spirit) in animalistic passion tempered with focused control of (Mind - Intent, Body - Trained and Reponsive Skills and Spirit - Courage) is the reality.

------------------
Evan Pantazi
www.erols.com/kyusho




[This message has been edited by Evan Pantazi (edited 08-14-99).]


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 Post subject: Combat Kata
PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 1999 12:42 am 
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Excellent point!

Fight or flight response, setting in as a flash to sudden attack, triggers the instinct of facing the threat with both arms and hands extended out in front, perhaps feeling stronger because both hands are applying equal force!

“ This is a natural stance assumed by all animals who defend themselves on two legs. Add a handgun and you have an isosceles stance “ __Westmoreland

Westmoreland makes his point forcefully when he correlates “the sudden injection of stress” to the “squaring off” and the instinctive “crouch” as exemplified by the men of Fairbairn and Sykes in 1927 Shangai who used the isosceles stance in hundreds of firefights with guns! {Sanchin stance?}

On the gun range with Mas Ayoob and John Farnam it was sobering to realize that the finely cultivated Weaver or Chapman stances would disappear in an instant under even light simulated stress! When Mas would tap you on the shoulder in an urgent tone and say “ turn and shoot now, you are about to be knifed from behind” Invariably the best Weavers would revert to primal Isosceles without even realizing it!

That is what most people will do when facing a knife; they face the opponent and extend their arms out to the weapon, if they are able to detect it! That is why most knife assaults are very lethal in spite of superbly trained martial artists facing the sudden blade! Lots of real estate to cut and stab!

Westmoreland makes a compelling argument centering on “inborn reflex” and is adamant that the most useful survival training, armed and unarmed, must be developed from natural body reactions to critical situations!

This brings up another interesting point about cross training ad nauseam! Wonder why The Okinawan masters were never observed in lots of cross training; wonder what Nakahodo sensei or Shinjio sensei think about cross training in Tai-chi or other disciplines! Wonder why Kanbun or Kanei Uechi never did! Granted they may have not had the opportunity, but assuming they had, would they have??



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Van Canna


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 Post subject: Combat Kata
PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 1999 12:58 am 
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Location: Randolph Ma USA
To all,

I can appreciate how many styles prefer a "bladed" position and practice it in both their forms and in their sparring techniques. Certainly there is less target to hit in that position. However, i also find it to be most restrictive in ones abilty to return a multipe variety
of techniques.

Uechi-ryu is a frontal system both in its forms, kumite's and sparring. Not to say one is better than the other, only that i find a much preferred comfort zone in being squared off so as to cover all the angles.

Certainly upon being shot at one would be less likely to get hit in a bladed stance. However to start from a nuetral
or squared off position in a physical confrontation would certanily allow one the opportunity to quickly adjust to rolling in or out to a side position such as in many jistsu styles.

Being squared off presents an opportunity to be able to respond with either hand or foot to either deflect or attack with minimum telegraph which is much more dificuclt to hide coming of a rear strike in a bladed stance.

Certainly there are many good fighters from side stance styles, and i respect that also. I only intend to express my veiw and opinion. Respecting all !




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Gary S.


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 Post subject: Combat Kata
PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 1999 4:59 am 
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The great fallacy of combat performance is that we get to choose what we do in the fight.

"If the fight persists I would certainly switch to a bladed stance for attack and defense." - Collin Warder

Choice is based upon the ability to make a rational decision and my point is that this does not naturally occur when we are under the spell of a stress induced combat mindset. One cannot sit in tranquility and say with certainty what they would do in combat. There are are too many stress related variables beyond our control.

Much of this discussion is now focusing on 'best options' and 'selective stancing'. These are all valid points in theory but according to our observations they are not likely to occur when under assault - when the heartrate increases and the chemicals work their way into the bloodstream.

The point I make is that kata, our kata, compensates for our inability to make rational decisions by teaching us to operate out of the position that we are most likely going to assume when the stress of an encounter begins. This squaring off is based upon our innate primal combat characteristics. Like the Weaver stance, does it make any sense to practice something we are likely to disregard? The creators of our kata, I believe, were wise beyond their credit. They understood something about combat that we are just beginning to understand through modern scientific study.

Now, in saying this - I must say that I also agree with Al Moulton who declares that our kata has a few achilles heels in karate sparring. The operative word here I think is sparring, like the kind many of you witnessed at camp. This is a different point altogether. Sparring is a sport and as such rarely involves the biological breakdown and deterioration of fine motor movement and complex thinking that accompanies true life and death combat.Competitors know that the sport they engage in has its dangers, but no one really believes that they will die while 'fighting' for a medal. For this reason, the tactics of sparring and combat cannot be compared. In sparring, there is no stress induced entry into the dark realm of the primal combat mindset. Instead, a competitor remains rational throughout the 'fight' and changes his strategy to ensure a victory over his opponent. A competitor has the power to plan and execute tactics with controlled precision. He knows his 'fight' lasts three minutes and he often uses his time wisely. He assess whether he is up or down, and makes adjustments to achieve victory. In other words...he thinks.

Fighting and sparring are not the same thing and cannot be discussed in the same context, particularly because of the variant mindsets that drive them. If I were to coach a Uechi competitor in the finer points of winning medals I would suggest that he or she first widen their stance, fight in a more bladed position and move away from the opponents attacks. If I were to coach a warrior into combat I would suggest just the opposite on all of those counts.
Our kata clearly coaches the warrior.

Roy


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 Post subject: Combat Kata
PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 1999 6:09 am 
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Location: Randolph Ma USA
Roy,

You make some very good points here.
I agree with you completely. Certainly fighting for a "trophy" is not the same as fighting for ones "life." Also one can not say what he/she will do in any given situation until it happens.

Surely we can speculate what stance or technique we "hope" to use but the response will only come from the momemt
it happens. I doubt that the same attack taken place on three different occassions would be defended against in the same way.

There are to many variables to each situation.

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Gary S.


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 Post subject: Combat Kata
PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 1999 7:10 am 
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Roy:

""If the fight persists I would certainly switch to a bladed stance for attack and
defense." - Collin Warder

Choice is based upon the ability to make a rational decision and my point is that this
does not naturally occur when we are under the spell of a stress induced combat
mindset. "


That was the point I was trying to make. In the first motions of a confrontation, the squared off stance is most natural. As the fight progresses, the shock wears off and rational thought begins to seep in. I have been in multiple "fights" where this has held true. The intial moves of my assailant proved ineffective and the fighting pace slowed and my mind adapted to the reality of the situation. This allowed me to make the decision to take a bladed stance. Again I said that this only takes place if the fight persists...long enough.

On a related note, I enjoy cliff diving. Many times on a "jump" I have experienced such an extreme adrenaline rush that I suffered a great system shock and was not able to move my limbs. At the last few seconds before impact, I had become adjusted enough to the rush that I was able to pull myself into a proper form before entering the water. The same goes for fighting. I would say that in a fight there is a direct relationship between basis primal control and duration. The longer the fight, the more control "you" have over the animal that dwells within. But, since most fights end VERY quickly, this fact is only important some of the time.

-Collin


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 Post subject: Combat Kata
PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 1999 10:57 am 
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Location: Boston, MA
Man, oh Man, Roy, you are raising some real interesting points! Image

>>Choice is based upon the ability to make a rational decision and my point is that this does not naturally occur when we are under the spell of a stress induced combat mindset. One cannot sit in tranquility and say with certainty what they would do in combat. There are are too many stress related variables beyond our control. <<

Absolutely true. I love it when I hear people say they would do this or that in this or that situation. Doesn't go down that way. One just does one comes "naturally", meaning without thought. The only thing we may be somewhat assured of is whether one has in himself/herself to go at if need be. What specific thing we do is another story. Sometimes it's effective and sometimes it's not. For example in a melee, one can't think about anything excepting striking down the one in front and then moving on. In the process, you can be hit by another from the sides the back, etc. But, you still can't take focus from the one in front. Only after dealing with that do you deal with next, whereever the next is coming from. ANy preconceived notion will slow you down because it may not match to the situation that is fluid and fast.

>>Much of this discussion is now focusing on 'best options' and 'selective stancing'. These are all valid points in theory but according to our observations they are not likely to occur when under assault - when the heartrate increases and the chemicals work their way into the bloodstream. <<

I agree with this also. You do what comes "naturally" or, I believe, also what may become come "second naturely." The originators of our style may very well be more knowlegable than they are credited for by making the stances similar to what one would take naturally and using that as a platform for various techniques. Yet, I have seen boxers/kickboxers fight and take on bladed stance. The years of training in drilling and sparring (?equivilent of kata and kumite)have made this stance "natural". But in the course of engagement, especially on the offensive, the body will naturally square up more to allow the utilization of the available weapons from either side. The bladed stance may be the preliminary "defensive" posture to avoid the first attack before a launch into a full squared up counterattack.

>>. For this reason, the tactics of sparring and combat cannot be compared. In sparring, there is no stress induced entry into the dark realm of the primal combat mindset. Instead, a competitor remains rational throughout the 'fight' and changes his strategy to ensure a victory over his opponent. A competitor has the power to plan and execute tactics with controlled precision. He knows his 'fight' lasts three minutes and he often uses his time wisely. He assess whether he is up or down, and makes adjustments to achieve victory. In other words...he thinks. <<

I posted last year after the tournament that I didn't feel any great adrenaline rush during the competition. I am not sure if people didn't feel that I was talking trash. But I was speaking the truth for me. A sparring match IS NOT a fight and I have had my share fights to know the difference. The possible outcomes are substantially different. However, if one is very wedded to winning or losing in competition, or are relatively new to competitive sparring, I can see how one would experience some extent of the chemical dump. But it will be a smaller dump than one would experience in a real encounter. As such, yes, one can act more "rationally" in the ring. Nevertheless, sparring is a form of training that can help prepare one for a real encounter (my opinion) though it needs repeating that there is a huge gap from sparring to real fighting.

>>Fighting and sparring are not the same thing and cannot be discussed in the same context, particularly because of the variant mindsets that drive them. If I were to coach a Uechi competitor in the finer points of winning medals I would suggest that he or she first widen their stance, fight in a more bladed position and move away from the opponents attacks. If I were to coach a warrior into combat I would suggest just the opposite on all of those counts.<<

Yes, agree with you again. Fighting is not about playing with techniques, trying this or that. The only thing in the mind is to strike down the opponent -- PERIOD. If there is a defensive posture, it will be very brief to avoid the opponent's first attack. Thereafter it's counterattack/attack until the opponent is dispatched with.

>>Our kata clearly coaches the warrior.<<

I am inclined to believe this more after having read your perspective. But I also still believe that other methods can do so as well.

david


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 Post subject: Combat Kata
PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 1999 1:22 am 
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Location: Rochester, NY, USA
Couple of points I'd like to raise here. In my training, I consider stances to be a tool used for particular purposes. The best example here is for standing grappling techniques, nothing beats a horse stance. In order to produce proper mechanical advantage, you simply need to set yourself up this way. Study a grappling system predating the twentieth century and you'll see this nine times out of ten. Analogously, I like to begin all my training sequences standing naturally, and move into whatever stances I need in order to deliver the called-for techniques. This other issue I'd like to raise pertains to the "adrenaline cocktail" so frequently discussed in this forum. I can't doubt the wisdom of listening to one's body, but from what I have read of Japanese warrior culture, it seems to me that the meditative techniques of Zen were adopted by the bushi for the purpose of bypassing this instinctual reaction. Mushin is a mental state of objective clarity, allowing action directly from will, circumventing even the sympathetic nervous system. My query is: are we missing something?


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 Post subject: Combat Kata
PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 1999 3:28 am 
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Have you noticed that Uechi kata's do not retreat? There is no clear time where our kata's become defensive or passive to the attack. Each movement of our kata, is deliberately designed to assault and quickly take the position of the attacker with a forceful strike or block. We don't pause to catch or deflect a punch, kick or other form of strike. Instead, even when we are blocking,we are attacking. Look at the opening of Seichin or the first blocks of Sei Rui, Kanchin or Sanseirui.Though the hands form blocks, the body moves forward...the attitude moves forward.

I will clarify this statement by saying that I am aware that all of our katas begin with a block, but I think this merely imparts the philosophy that we do not offer the first attack. I also think you will agree with me that the first block is not passive at all and clearly not indicative of a retreat. The attitude of our openings are aggressively performed. They are forward both physically and mentally.

Consider many of the Japanese and Korean forms whereby a rear block and rear body movement is executed and there is a deliberate pause and intentional retreat in order to avoid impact. There is much disussion about the shifting of the hips, tai sabaki and glancing blows in those dojos. These are all sound concepts,and I'm certainly not knocking the theory - it's just not a part of our combat oriented kata as far as I can tell. Our movement, as already described is squared, rigid at the hips and - forward.

The idea of forward movement has been used used by military forces on both large and small scale operations for centuries often with great success. It is exemplified through our form as our preferred method of combat.

So to add to the ideas generated by this thread I would say that the combat mindset of our forms is exhibited in not only the movement of our bodies, the squaring of our attitudes, but also the forward direction of our forms. With the exception of the prepratory rear movement in Seichin and Seisan (momentary settlement it seems,in order to launch a forward attack) there are no passive rear movements at all. Though we may turn to the rear in our kata,the kata quickly shifts to a new strong forward attitude and a powerful forward strike is quickly executed.

Why do I think that this so important? Well again the underlying mental attitude of our combat oriented kata is revealed if we pay attention to these otherwise trifling matters. Through our Sanchin we amalgamate our instinctual stress induced mindset with an impenetrable tanklike body. Through Sanchin checks we eliminate the fear of getting struck while under the influence of our forward, non-retreating mindset. Through repetition, we have conditioned the attack (fight) response to perform and have held the retreat (flight) response at bay. This is, in my opinion, the highest order of combat - to end the fight.


Roy


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