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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 1:39 am 
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Now and then in the past we Uechika got into heated arguments about philosophical approaches to fighting. The arguments were about distance vs. infighting, going in vs. going around vs. going back, and just what this wauke thing was all about.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I do not like the word "block." When you use an uke, you are receiving a person or a technique. And there are many ways to execute that reception. Some are passive, and some are brutal. Some are gentle, and some exist in the context of someone falling on your sword (so to speak).

Well I don't want to spend a whole lot of time revisiting old philosophical wars. But I do want to share a video clip of an unfortunate example of a play at the plate in baseball.

Here's the background. There's a fly-out to shallow center with a runner at 3rd base. The runner has to wait for the ball to be caught before trying to advance to home. In this particular situation it's a tie game in extra innings, so there's an extra incentive to score. Runs have been hard to come by, and the game has been going on far too long. There will be a showdown at the plate.

If the catcher has a chance to get the ball, he can block the runner's path to the plate. If the catcher is in the way of the runner as he tries to get to the plate, the runner has every right to knock him out of the way. There's a right way to do it. Basically it's bumper cars with the catcher having the advantage of protective equipment, and the runner having the advantage of movement. Something's going to give.

Says Angels manager and former Dodgers catcher Mike Scioscia, "Ninety-nine percent of the time it's the adrenaline of a runner understanding he has the opportunity to score a run and the adrenaline of a catcher understanding he can stop a run that leads to these." In others words... it's a lot like a fight when something's going down.

Here is how it went for Buster Posey a few nights ago.

Image

This young rookie last year was a big reason why the Giants won the World Series. He came from nowhere and made a difference both handling the pitchers and defense, and doing his job at the plate. And here he is executing one of the more dangerous plays in baseball.

..... Scott Cousins meets Buster Posey at the plate.

SI.COM wrote:
Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek is considered among the best at blocking the plate. He agrees collisions should remain in the baseball rules, even it that puts him in harm's way.

"Catching, you're usually not on the winning end of those. Period," Varitek said. "Some things are part of the game. But even the people who are playing hard and are in those collisions don't want to see anybody get hurt. Some things are part of the game. There's not a whole lot you can do."

Was this done the right way? Well... everyone seems to have their style. Consider the following.
SI.COM wrote:
The best answer seems to be to try to avoid such wrecks, as Yankees star Jorge Posada has done throughout his major league career since suffering a bad injury in the minors. Then there is that rare tough guy who seems to thrive on these hits, such as former Dodgers catcher and now Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who took several hits and was barely dented. But that is a rare player indeed. The best idea may be avoidance.


Here though is where - as a martial artist and former baseball player - I disagree with the pundits. (Emphasis my own.)
Jon Heyman wrote:
It's always been a misnomer to call baserunner-catcher contact at the plate a collision. A collision occurs when both parties are moving. The catcher is often just waiting, helplessly. If he is moving at all, it's often imperceptibly. Until he is hit, that is.

Do you think the catcher is helpless here?

And while we're at it, is Buster Posey in a "martial" stance, or are we supposed to be on our feet in a fight?

I'll reserve any more specific comments for later.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 2:35 am 
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Jim Ingraham wrote:
Buster Posey is done playing baseball for a while.

The Giants catcher and 2010 National League Rookie of the Year sustained a fractured fibula in his left leg and three torn ligaments in his left ankle from a collision at the plate with the Marlins' Scott Cousins in the 12th inning of Florida's 7-6 victory Wednesday night.

Season-ending surgery is next.

- The News Herald


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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 4:57 pm 
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And now a little music appropriate for the moment.

Jeopardy! Think Music

:popcorn:

- Bill


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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 5:27 pm 
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I am a researcher and innovator by profession. It's my job to see things others have not conceived - either because minds haven't gone their yet, or a group of people I'm working with haven't yet let their minds go free.

Here is one of my favorite books which help in this regard. Back when I was doing more photography, a professional photographer recommended it to me. It is to photography what Book of Five Rings is to martial arts. The concepts transcend the profession in which they were applied.

Image

What Do You See?

- Bill


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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 1:27 am 
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Here is in my opinion one of the most misunderstood techniques in the Uechi system. For the life of me, I don't know why this is the first application that comes to mind for a Uechi instructor. It's not like this is wrong; this is fine to show beginners. It's just that it'll never happen with a one-on-one. Such an application is only relevant in a many-on-one situation. Oh and a shout out to the young Uechi instructor who was kind enough to put this up on YouTube. 8)

See 2:35-3:50

5th Kyu requirements Part 2

So what's my favorite one-on-one application here, and what does this have to do with Posey at the plate?

- Bill


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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 3:56 am 
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Here's a judo technique with a nickname of "circle throw." How appropriate a technique for a Uechika to consider, given the name. However... most have their heads on a 2-dimensional plane, and think only in terms of turning (tenshin) on that plane. This is a different axis of rotation.

Here's the circle throw, or Tomoe Nage.

Image

Here's another clip of it on YouTube. Note the commentary.

Human Weapon - Judo - Tomoe Nage

In my days training in our sister system of Goju Ryu, we did a version of this throw with a slight variation. Instead of putting the base of the foot on the person's trunk or in their femoral crease, we would do a leg lift up the groin and roll backwards with them. The final position was a mount on top of the thrown attacker. This was quite literally rolling with the attack.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 5:02 am 
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Bill Glasheen wrote:
And while we're at it, is Buster Posey in a "martial" stance, or are we supposed to be on our feet in a fight?


Image

Here is where the lines between my Uechi and my grappling begin to blur.

One of the blessings of working with people of all ages - in the same class - is to have the opportunity to figure out how to mix someone my size (or other adult) with a kid no taller than my waist when doing arm rubbing and arm pounding. And when I have such an opportunity, do you know whom I match up with the littlest kid? The most advanced students. And how, might you ask? Here is where our MMA Uechika can tell you what it's all about. Just because we aren't on our feet doesn't mean we can't apply principles of Sanchin.

Here's a hint. Does the stepping look just a little familiar? A little like... Sanchin?

Shikko Japanese Aikido Techniques

Just a little stepping... a little turning... and a stance which I can use to get an adult to do kotekitae with a little kid.

And do you know how easy it is to roll back in that stance?

- Bill


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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 3:18 pm 
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What my mind is working through here is a fuzzy middle ground in-between sport and self-defense. If you are quick to point out that Scott Cousins and Buster Posey are just playing a game, you would be correct. But if you think these world class athletes can't and don't exert deadly forces on each other while playing that "game", well you're just as deluded as those who play games and think that alone gets them through the chaos of combat. No one scenario teaches you all you need to know for a somewhat unpredictable combat scenario. But the lessons athletes learn can be pieces of gold along the journey to combat and self-defense wisdom.

The goal of the game is simple. Buster wants to keep Scott from touching home plate. Scott wants to get around or through Buster, and tag that plate. Does that have a real world self-defense application? Well... do you have kids? The day my oldest son was born was the day I first knew I'd be willing to die for a cause. That "home plate" could be a loved one. The "tag" could be a blow, a stab, or a shot. And if you are a professional body guard, "home plate" could be your client and your meal ticket. And you are his shield.

Buster Posey is nothing if not determined. He gets an A for effort and for heart. But life gave him a failing grade for not appreciating simple facts of physics and simple principles we apply in martial arts.

There can be no greater human force encountered in self-defense than that which one would receive by a full-grown, world-class athlete ramming into you from a full sprint with the adrenalized motivation of a game-winning run. The runner also has the advantage of being on the action end of it all. The catcher in this scenario is somewhat limited in his ability to be anything but reactive. If Buster had caught the ball half a second sooner, he could actively come forward and tag the runner with his own initiative. This is the happy scenario Van likes us to seek out if the sheet comes down. Unfortunately timing didn't work out for him. He was allowed to block the plate in the first place (and possibly prevent the run) because the ball was in play. But it was a last minute catch, and Buster had to make everything work perfectly.

Let's get past the point that Buster got distracted by the charging Scott, and so never got possession of the ball. Fear struck at that moment, and the coordination he needed to execute with precise timing just wasn't there. (Can I get an Amen!, Van?) There but for the grace of God go you and I. Everything from that point forward was for naught. Boy does that suk! But he's a young catcher, and this was only his second year in the big leagues facing the big boys getting paid big bucks.

From that point forward, Buster failed to appreciate that his best bet was to get off or redirect the line of force - even if only slightly. Taking a charging human missile with orthogonal contact - even with protective equipment - wasn't very smart.

Sure, the equipment protected his arm and his body. But the reaction was through Buster's foundation to mother earth, and that's where things started to go terribly wrong. If you watch the video again, you can see his body naturally buckling from a passive response to the human missile. That put him INVOLUNTARILY into a backwards fall/roll. And because the foundation (his stance) was wrong, it put all the force through a hyperextending lower leg and ankle. Not only did he snap three ligaments in the ankle, but he incredibly broke the fibula in his lower leg. The long lever arm pushing on that point magnified the lateral force, and his lower leg snapped like a matchstick.

IF he was going to take the human missile head on, then he should have had a more secure foundation. If not standing in a stance that we Uechika would recognize, then a shikko stepping stance would have been the next best bet. This would have put the forces of that missile straight through the large bones of the leg into Mother Earth rather than allowing said forces to work (with a long lever arm) latterly against the lower leg bones and ankle. The collision likely would have damaged both players, but they'd have walked away from it.

A more enlightened approach would have been either to get off the line of force while "attacking" with the ball, or roll/rotate with the force while "attacking." With my aikido training, the tenshin movements were a daily practice with a nose-to-nose force situation. And yes, I was made to practice them on the knees as well. I often would get around and even "help" the force coming at me, allowing the attacker to become victim to his own forces. That's the Platonic ideal anyway. Most results short of perfect execution often are good enough to prevent serious harm to oneself. The beauty of the tenshin movement lies in using the receiving arm (a.k.a. wauke) WITH the rotation rather than a "karate by numbers" execution of our style. It is both antenna (receiving the information of force) and - if necessary - force redirection tool. Yes, Virginia, you CAN step and/or turn while doing your Uechi technique. It's the difference between Beginner 101 Sanchin robot and a fluid fighter.

I brought in the circle throw because it's just another application of the simple concept. It's another angle of escape around the line of force. I teach ukemi (the art of rolling and falling) in my Uechi dojo on day one. In my world, Uechi without grappling is like walking around with only one testicle. There is yin and there is yang. There is go, and there is ju. And there is pangainoon. We're supposed to have branch points in our practice where we can choose to do one thing or another. And the world also demands that we not give up just because we happen to be on our knees or our backs. All concepts still apply, unless it's your practice to give up in a life-threatening situation. And being able to apply the same few simple concepts on many levels (quite literally here) just means we've simplified our approach to all the many possibilities that face us. Simple is good! Simple means we react faster, and with more experience behind our parsimonious set of principles.

And yes... after I teach ukemi, I ask my black belts to face the little tykes in a standing vs. kneeling kotekitae session. My students get to learn how to apply those same rooting and force redirection concepts on the knees as well as the feet. And believe it or not, it works equally well. And... it reinforces the principles all the more.

The final point about a proper kneeling posture is the ability to roll back (without harm) when receiving too large a force. See the following

..... Ushiro ukemi

How hard is that??? Note how his back leg didn't get "stuck" beneath him. Advanced ukemi is all about gaining an advantage. In the real world, maybe we toss that charging attacker over the cliff or into the chair he's trying to push us over.

And in the game of baseball, Buster Posey could have fallen on top of the plate he was attempting to defend, all while tagging Scott with the ball he deftly caught. That's the ideal anyway. We're here to theorize all while Scott and Buster try to make it work (or not) on the field.

I wish Buster a speedy recovery. And I also congratulate Scott Cousins for playing good, clean, but hard baseball. He executed on his end like a pro. His opponent hopefully will recover and learn more on another day.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:43 am 
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Billy Beane is a former manager of the Boston Red Sox. Today he weighed in on the Buster Posey situation.

And wouldn't you know...

Buster Olney wrote:
Oakland general manager Billy Beane became the first MLB executive to issue a directive to a catcher on his team in the aftermath of the home-plate collision that ended Giants catcher Buster Posey's season.

Beane told A's catcher Kurt Suzuki he wanted him to avoid putting himself in harm's way.

"I said to him, 'I don't want you planting yourself in front of the plate waiting to get creamed. You're an Athletic catcher -- be athletic,'" Beane told ESPN.

"I don't subscribe to the theory you should be a crash-test dummy," Beane said he told Suzuki. "I don't want to lose you for six months."

Beane said he joked with Suzuki that he can only think of a couple runs in major league history that would make it worth taking such a risk.

The directive, which Beane shared with A's manager Bob Geren, takes the onus off Suzuki, who will now not have to worry about criticism if he steps to the side and opts for a sweep tag.

There have been similar discussions in other organizations that have not yet been made public, according to major league sources.

As for any potential rules changes to protect catchers, which have been suggested by some after the Posey injury, an MLB source said there haven't been a lot of conversations in the league office, but that the Giants today reached out to discuss their ideas.

- Buster Olney -- ESPN The Magazine


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