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#204304 - 01/30/06 05:27 PM Re: Secret techniques in kata [Re: Ronin1966]
CVV Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/06/04
Posts: 605
Loc: Belgium
Quote:

Hello CVV:

Is there a meaningful difference between so called secret & merely hidden IYV?

J




Yes, the secrets do not limit themselves to a particular sequence in kata. Hidden techniques can be explored in the kata, the secrets can be applied.
Although I consider karate primerely a striking art, I distinguish 6 main fighting principles :
- joint locks
- dislocations and bone breaking
- attacks on the respatory system
- attacks on blood vessels
- attacking chi-point/nerve points
- throws

Kata is a way to train the body and a way to explore the hidden moves by applying the principles of fighting.
These principles imply good knowledge of the human body, knowledge of the technique used and the consequence of that application and knowledge of the kata.
You need to be thaught and you need to train this. I think a lot of the knowledge of the fighting principles is not openly thaught.

The 48 self-defense diagrams of the Bubishi show fighting principles that can be applied in the sequences of multiple kata. They could be considered secrets of fighting.
Without knowledge of the fighting principles, kata just remains an exercise to condition the body.

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#204305 - 01/30/06 06:15 PM Re: Secret techniques in kata [Re: CVV]
kakushiite Offline
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Registered: 02/06/03
Posts: 266
Loc: Ithaca, NY, USA
A number of contributors here have touched upon some common sense concepts regarding the historical practice of kata. There has been some agreement that these forms were designed to transmit certain core information (body mechanics, e.g.). Yet the same design also ingeniously camouflaged key fighting concepts that were buried deep within the movements. The end result has been that only through focused long-term study could a full understanding of the underlying capabilities be achieved.

In addition to this “long-term study approach” to learning application, also discussed on this thread is the concept of privileged transmittal. In this practice, before revealing valuable insights, a master waits until his student has demonstrated decade’s worth of diligence. Only then does the master choose to entrust to the student, ideas that he has learned himself, or has been shown by his own master after decades of his own tireless effort.

CVV said:
Quote:

These principles imply good knowledge of the human body, knowledge of the technique used and the consequence of that application and knowledge of the kata.
You need to be thaught and you need to train this. I think a lot of the knowledge of the fighting principles is not openly thaught.





I agree completely. What we shouldn’t overlook is that the first practice described above, the inward looking self-discovery model, involves more than just the knowledge of the movements of a kata. It also requires a sound understanding of the essential building blocks of effective self-defense applications: blocking, kicking, striking, trapping, locking, choking, and perhaps most important, body movement (tai sabaki and ashi sabaki).

As much of modern karate has evolved, we often find an almost exclusive focus on blocking, kicking and striking. In addition, the angular self-defense movements of tai sabaki and ashi sabaki (stepping and twisting off the line of attack), have been replaced with the linear forward and back movements common to jiyu kumite. Today it is not uncommon in many systems for students to train for years completely unaware of either basic grappling concepts or the tai/ashi sabaki principles of body movement. Fortunately, an increasing number of karate traditionalists have come to recognize these two concepts are as fundamental to good fighting applications as are blocks, kicks and strikes.

In Okinawa 100 years ago, it was probably relatively rare for students to lack an understanding of basic grappling movements, since the practice of ti was part and parcel of Okinawa’s culture. Many sources state that back then common grappling concepts (ti) were a basic component of karate training. But what is often overlooked is that it was also very common for new students to develop a foundation of grappling skill prior to beginning their formal training. This contrasts significantly with our Western culture, where this is far less common. Rather, the norm is that students in many dojos worldwide need extensive training, not only in blocking and striking, but in basic grappling movements as well.

A review of some historical sources on this topic can be helpful. An interview with Hohan Soken, (on this FightingArts site - http://www.fightingarts.com/reading/article.php?id=427) states the following:

Quote:



As a youngster on Okinawa (Soken), grappling was taken very seriously and it was not uncommon for individuals to suffer broken arms and legs as a result of taking part in this light form of entertainment. (Soken-sensei used the terms "te-kumi" or "gyaku-te" as identifying this old Okinawan art form).
.
“Grappling is an old Okinawan custom that is commonly practiced in all villages. In America, the children played at "cowboys and indians." In Okinawa we played by grappling with each other. We would have contests for grapplers in every village and one village would pit their best grapplers against all comers. It was very exciting.”
.
”Some people see the grappling and call it Okinawan jujutsu but this is not right. It is the old method called "ti" (often written as ‘te.” When pronounced in the old dialect of Okinawa it sounds like the word "tea"). Ti practice was very common during the Meiji / Taisho era (turn of the century) but with the Japanese influences, these methods have almost disappeared.”





From these words of Soken, and from other sources (such as the chapter on Tegumi in Nagamine’s text “Tales of Okinawa’s Great Master”), we learn that grappling techniques were commonly practiced by children long before they ever began formal karate training. In contrast, when a typical westerner begins martial arts training, this skill will be rarely found.

As a result, if basic locking/trapping/choking concepts are not taught in the dojo, and students do not seek to learn these skills elsewhere, then they will likely never possess the knowledge needed for a robust understanding of a kata’s true fighting potential.

Let’s take a basic grappling movement, the arm bar. In many karate systems today, an extensive practice of the arm bar is rarely part of the curriculum. In some cases, the teacher may have never learned the technique. In other cases, although the teacher may have knowledge of the movement, he has decided he lacks sufficient time to ensure his students gain skill in this movement. He may be far more focused on developing his students jiyu kumite skills and recognizes that jiyu kumite is not the proper forum to practice this skill, so he decides it doesn’t fit within his curriculum. This is just one of any number of reasons why such grappling techniques are no longer practiced in so many dojos. Soken, above, alludes to the role of Japanese influences regarding the declining practice of ti. As karate evolved throughout much of the 20th century, especially within the Japanese systems, the grappling aspects were de-emphasized and frequently eliminated altogether.

To summarize the contrast of how karate has been practiced in our respective cultures, we find that in Okinawa, students frequently began their karate training after already achieving skill in ti. Moreover, as Soken states above, once under a master’s tutelage, they would continue training in ti, well on the path of mastery of this aspect of their art.

Students also trained with an intense focus on kata, spending 3 years on a single form, and frequently practicing only a few throughout their lives.

It is my opinion that these twin pillars of training, intense kata training coupled with the practice of ti, gave karateka of the time the ability to look deeply with the kata for ways apply their skills.

How do we in the West compare? Today students rarely begin training with effective grappling skills. In addition, in many karate systems, particularly those with Japanese roots, there is little emphasis on developing mastery of grappling movements. Moreover, although students today often train far fewer hours than was the norm in Okinawa, karate systems have incorporated the bewildering practice of 10, 20, 30 or even 50 kata. Yet even with all that kata, it is not uncommon for students to train extensively in jiyu-kumite, a practice foreign to Okinawans 100 years ago.

The Hohan Soken article has additional helpful insights regarding the subject of this thread:

Quote:



“There are many secrets in karate that people will never know and will never understand. These ideas are really not secret if you train in Okinawa under a good teacher. You will see the teacher use these so-called secret techniques over and over again until they will become common knowledge to you. Others will look at it and marvel that it is an advanced or secret technique to them. That is because they do not have good teachers or their teachers have not researched their respective styles.”






I believe we should take heed from Soken’s words. In many cases, one man’s secrets are simply another man’s common knowledge. Some systems claim that basic grappling movements are somehow advanced or secret. However, one can begin training in a wide variety of systems (western wrestling, jujutsu, aikido, hapkido, aikijutsu, BJJ, judo, kenpo, traditional Philippine, Thai, or Indonesian arts, and all sorts of Chinese systems) and learn a broad variety of grappling concepts as a beginner. What might be “secret” or “advanced” in a karate school is often basic movement found in common grappling systems.

Some schools may consider pressure (vital) point strikes to be advanced or secret. In much of karate practiced around the world, there is little if any focus on these techniques. They are just not part of the curriculum.

However, if you are fortunate enough to train with Oyata or one of his student’s, you will quickly learn and practice a variety of these striking techniques, along with a heavy focus on trapping and locking. Many of these concepts require no advanced rank to be learned. Oyata began learning these ideas as a teenager in Okinawa and as he passes many on to beginner and intermediate students. This is not to say that Oyata doesn’t reserve his more devastating concepts to be passed down as privileged information only to those found deserving.

Interestingly, I have been told that Oyata, as with many “old school” masters, typically doesn’t spend a great deal of time teaching kata applications. His students practice the fundamentals of Ryu Kyu Kempo and its offshoots. Blocking, kicking, striking and grappling movements. Oyata teaches that it is often up to the students themselves to find a place for these concepts within the kata.

One student once described a common approach Oyata takes towards kata application. If a student asks “Sensei, what does this kata movement mean?”, he will often respond: “What do you think?” This parallels the “teach a man to fish” model of learning. It is often better to learn by doing than by passively receiving.

One last quote from the Soken article gives us yet another perspective we sometimes overlook regarding why the masters chose to mask the true fighting nature of the kata. 100 years ago, fighting carried much greater risk. Sometimes we may take for granted today our modern healthcare systems and technology, our insurance companies and government and privately funded programs that help the indigent, sick and wounded. Throughout history however, life was very different, as Soken describes below:

Quote:

Erica Estrada “Fighting must have been very different at the beginning of the century.”
.

Soken Sensei: Yes, you don't know these old days. In a fight... if you would lose, the loss would be suffered by your family. They could die. You would work hard to support the family working all day. If you were injured or killed while fighting, then your family would starve... maybe even die. Okinawa life was very hard.





When the risks of injury or death were so much higher, it paid to be very cautious about who you taught your very best fighting concepts to. Across hundreds of years, as fighting systems were designed and modified, there evolved an approach to sharing concepts that has resulted in what today we call kata. Fighting applications were obscured within common movements so that it was a challenging task to discern the underlying principles.

And to date, these camouflaging mechanisms have remained remarkably effective. It still takes many years of diligent practice to learn to see beyond the ruses, ploys and distractions that the masters melded into kata to mask their true meaning.

What has changed is that in today’s environment, we often find that traditional karate systems aren’t organized to provide all of the key basics (grappling as well as striking) for us to complete the journey on our own. To be effective in doing so, we often have to reach outside of traditional karate, and train in the grappling arts to gain the foundation required for a full vision of the potential applications found within. And in the process, we probably have to overcome the pressure to learn many kata, and focus on just a few, or better yet, for three years or so, just one.

-Kakushite

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#204306 - 01/30/06 09:03 PM Re: Secret techniques in kata [Re: kakushiite]
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
Not all kata are "masking" secret techniques. In a classical okinawan karate system if you know what you are looking at it is clear. In okinawan dance there are some masked karate techniques, but not kata. The reason that techniques in kata may not be clearly one technique or another is becasue they are meant to adapt to a situation. When multiple techniques share the same principle or one principle/technique has multiple uses a general representation is used to illustrate its usage. Then that principle is isolated and trained in a realistic manner to expand a practioner's knowledge of its usage. Its about training in a smart realistic manner. It's about an uniquely okinawan perspective on fighting, knowledge transmission, and effective ways to train "real" fighting skills. Compliant partner practice is the reason why too many karateka have zero grappling skills. If in two man drills you go until your opponent is on the ground and you are stomping his guts out then the grappling aspects of your technique become more apparent. Even in jiyu kumite if you train not to win, but to put your opponent down then your karate training will be more usable. Think inside fighting and controlling your area/distance. Instead of thinking I can't take a step after punching because I will not have enough space for my next technique; think after I punch the step represents a leg technique such as a knee to the outside or inside of the thigh which will create space for the next technique. Hidden in plain sight, thats about right I think.

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#204307 - 01/31/06 05:08 AM Re: Secret techniques in kata [Re: medulanet]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
Medulanet,

I think you have hit the nail on the head there,

I actually find that the longer I train the fundamentals (kihon) the better able I am to breakdown the kata into small parts and extract the principles that were always there.

Its funny but the longer I train the smaller things I work out ripple right through my training and have a dramatic effect on it, and I thought the learning curve got easier...............................................

Kata would seem to have enough depth to keep me busy for the rest of my training days, how wonderful is that - the authentic kata really are something special for many different reasons.
_________________________
Jim Neeter

www.shoshinkanuk.blogspot.com

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#204308 - 01/31/06 07:51 AM Re: Secret techniques in kata [Re: medulanet]
kakushiite Offline
Member

Registered: 02/06/03
Posts: 266
Loc: Ithaca, NY, USA
Medulanet said
Quote:

Not all kata are "masking" secret techniques. In a classical okinawan karate system if you know what you are looking at it is clear. In okinawan dance there are some masked karate techniques, but not kata. The reason that techniques in kata may not be clearly one technique or another is becasue they are meant to adapt to a situation.




I agree that within any kata, some ideas are more readily obvious to a beginner, although some are not. You bring up an excellent point. I believe that many, if not most movements are meant to be used in more than one way. They are approximations, or even simplifications, of several different ideas.

Shoshinkan said:
Quote:

I actually find that the longer I train the fundamentals (kihon) the better able I am to breakdown the kata into small parts and extract the principles that were always there.

Its funny but the longer I train the smaller things I work out ripple right through my training and have a dramatic effect on it, and I thought the learning curve got easier...............................................




I agree here too. This knowledge of application takes time. As we enhance the nuances of our skills, we better see how to apply them.

I like to use the shorin ryu shuto movement as an example. It is found in Pinan Shodan (Heian Nidan) in the fourth direction moving towards the front. It is also found in Kusanku early on as well. In just about every system, these techniques are pretty uniform, with the second and third techniques being mirror images of each other. These common simple movements have an obvious appearance as a set of repetitive basic blocks done while stepping forward.

Yet the wide array of uses of these is not readily apparent if you have not been taught them. You need to spend a great deal of time doing them, thinking about them, trying things out, finding what works, then refining it, finding what doesn't and dropping it. Phoenixsflame noted that all blocks are attacks. And that is the case here. These shuto "movements" can be used for all sorts of less than obvious counterstrikes.

In three separate Shorin Ryu derivatives (Okinawan as well as Japanese) beginners are taught to step forward blocking while the attacker steps back while striking. The "finish" to this attack is a final lunge strike, using the finger tips to attack the solar plexus. While a good drill, this concept of the opponent stepping back and striking is not a fully realistic attack combination, nor is a nukite to the solar plexus typically an effective finishing technique. One would expect that if this movement is found in both Kusanku and Pinan Shodan, there must be more to it. And that is the case.

The step forward while blocking concept certainly has its place as a drill, especially for beginners. But in three systems I have spent time in there was no other interpretation, that was it. In other Shorin Ryu systems I have had exposure to, useful applications that use three successive shutos are either not practiced, or at best shared only with senior level belts. I have had the good fortune to train with dan ranks in most every major Shorin Ryu system. Uniformly, these successive shuto movements are not practiced in what I believe are meaningful ways, certainly not opening up the full complement of there capability. This is not a criticism. One point of my last post is that much of karate has moved to other training paradigms, often with a heavy focus on kumite.

But with the evolution to new training models, old concepts can be left behind. This is one. Here we have a basic set of movements, coming from the first kata designed for secondary school students, and good application is lacking.

That to me is the model of kata as it may have existing over hundreds of years. The full capabilities of movements are not taught, and not that obvious. These successive shuto movements, if applied freely can be used all sort of interesting ways, against a left strikes, right strikes, combination strikes, kicks, grab, the works. How this is done is not obvious. If it were, then more dan ranks in more systems would have recognized these ideas.

That is part of the elegance of these shuto movements. Within their simplicity of common movements such as simple steps walking forward doing shutos, lies a great range of application. IMO, by combining so much in so little, the masters have effectively hidden much from view.

-Kakushite

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#204309 - 01/31/06 10:28 AM Re: Secret techniques in kata [Re: kakushiite]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
and of course it would seem that time, different masters and styalistic 'development' would also add to the disguise in many systems.

my journey is one of stripping away the non essential 'styalistic' emphasis and getting back to the functional root movement, this has been extremly rewarding but very hard work, tis ongoing!
_________________________
Jim Neeter

www.shoshinkanuk.blogspot.com

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#204310 - 01/31/06 04:34 PM Re: Secret techniques in kata [Re: shoshinkan]
kakushiite Offline
Member

Registered: 02/06/03
Posts: 266
Loc: Ithaca, NY, USA
Shoshinkan said:

Quote:


and of course it would seem that time, different masters and styalistic 'development' would also add to the disguise in many systems





Would you or anyone else care to comment on techniques you have seen that “add to the disguise”? (A great expression, btw.)

-Kakushite

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#204311 - 01/31/06 05:03 PM Re: Secret techniques in kata [Re: kakushiite]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
a simple example would be over use of the flat fist formation in most 'modern' traditional kata.

another example would be 'fixed' kiai points leading many to think that is the 'finishing' technique when in fact it might not be, this could be at the end of say 4-3 techniques that are in a combination, when in fact they may not be a single combination.

kata tends to also be 'forced' to look nice within many systems, this makes many movements 'bigger' than perhaps they should be for application.

just some basic examples
_________________________
Jim Neeter

www.shoshinkanuk.blogspot.com

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#204312 - 01/31/06 06:40 PM Re: Secret techniques in kata [Re: shoshinkan]
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
Quote:

a simple example would be over use of the flat fist formation in most 'modern' traditional kata.

another example would be 'fixed' kiai points leading many to think that is the 'finishing' technique when in fact it might not be, this could be at the end of say 4-3 techniques that are in a combination, when in fact they may not be a single combination.

kata tends to also be 'forced' to look nice within many systems, this makes many movements 'bigger' than perhaps they should be for application.

just some basic examples




Is this a disguise or simply misinterpretation for those who just don't understand? Who says a kiai is necessarily a finishing blow? Was that taught by someone who was trying to disguise or did not understand? Larger movements are commonly practiced by beginners. If beginners were never taught how to transition into more advanced technique was real karate being hidden, or were they just never taught properly? Itosu changed karate, yes, but for better and safer instruction for younger karateka to make karate more inclusive. But was that so they could never learn real karate? Or was it so they could eventually be taught real karate systematically in a way that was never done before? Yes, things were held from the Japanese. Yes, some okinawans did not want to teach servicemen everything. But in terms of classical okinawan karate, shorin ryu karate, uchinandi, it is there for all to see, if you know what you are looking at.

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#204313 - 02/01/06 01:39 AM Re: Secret techniques in kata [Re: kakushiite]
CVV Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/06/04
Posts: 605
Loc: Belgium
Quote:

Shoshinkan said:

Quote:


and of course it would seem that time, different masters and styalistic 'development' would also add to the disguise in many systems





Would you or anyone else care to comment on techniques you have seen that “add to the disguise”? (A great expression, btw.)

-Kakushite




A shiko-dachi can be a knee press on opponents lower leg.
In gekisai dai ichi (fukuy-ni) or gekisai dai ni, the shuto movement in the middle of the kata kan be an elbow lock and a choke (like found in the Bubishi, 48 diagrams of self-defense). In the kata however, the movement is expressed as a shuto to the throath (larinx).
I could go for hours like this.
Point is that if you are not shown, you would not easily discover this yourselve.

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