Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Beer Bottle Beetles, and Other Crap that Just Ain't Going to Work.

Image result for australian beetle beer bottle   

Somewhere in Australia there is a beetle who thinks that beer bottles are female beetles and tries to mate with them.  The guy in the TED Talk below says they almost  went extinct because of it.  Its a common thing to do something unrealistic in the martial arts, but its even more common to believe that you are doing something totally realistic, something that can happen, and it really can't happen at all.

Can you get to point a to point b, just because its in a supposedly basic kata, or because two people can go through the motions of getting there? We try all sorts of tricks and hacks, usually with a fair amount of collusion, to make these things real.  All sorts of ideas to make things real.

If you think about Aikido techniques as looping an arm around an invisible beach ball, you can see Nariyama loop this guys arm over the top of the beach ball.  You have an oshi taoshi, and hiki taoshi.

My friend Nick shows us a big shiho nage, or tenkai kote gaeshi. Same darn loop just on the underside of the invisible beach ball.

The basics of Aikido are that you get a guy to over extend his arm and then you give it back to him in a jacked up way, then you try to drop the guy.  The giving it back almost always entails twisting something.

Here is the short list of ideas that exist:
A) extend and drop
B) give it back in a different way than you found it and drop
C ) sometimes add a turn

The thing about Aikido is that there has to be a severe abuse of mutually shared space.  or, in other words,  you have attack like a reckless dumbass without much of a game plan, and with out regard for getting things back the same way you left them.

My food for thought is that the invisible beach ball may be the damn beer beetle bottle.  Its a concept that seems easy to teach, folks remember it, and it looks good.  A beer bottle shortlist is,

A) think in terms of a great dynamic sphere(beach ball) of peaches and harmony
B) shape things to fit your great dynamic sphere(beach ball) of  peaches and harmony theory
C) teach folks that success and prestige entails wearing a hakama
D) invent a guru type figure of amazing hard to understand and obtain ability and project it on to the guy who gives out the colored belts
E) eventually spiritually transcend the Active break a sweat/competitive model as you grow older and slower( and possibly fatter) and things start taking a few days to heal up, or else don't heal up at all.  Start talking the slow is always good game, and  it requires less laundry detergent to wash your gi.
F)  but make sure you throw around someone considerably younger because it looks better and we need the dues.

If you can't get from point A to point B through the beer bottle short list then may be  you ain't Zen enough,watched enough Anime, or immersed your self in enough Japanese culture. Perhaps you havent been loyal enough.  Maybe you should invest your time listening to folks talk about internal power, martial belly dancing, and the ol' relaxation is the key to everything you do crowd.  Its just another way to keep you clinging to the beer bottle a little longer.

In Aikido you have a guy who moves a little, to get another guy to move a whole lot.  A little gear, versus a Big gear.  You can see the wrist twist little gear and the big gear body moving.  The little gear can see things coming a mile away, I guess symbolizing a hyperaware state that the great sphere of harmony and peace affords us.

When two guys move together(tsukuri) in a seamless fashion, the precipitating event that makes everything go smooth and classy is called Kuzushi.  Kuzushi is a loss of postion, or structure, or the process of not  getting things back the way you left them.  Aikido movement has been described as a spiral, or maybe an invisible beach ball of peaches and harmony,

Here are two judo dudes.  The difference being is the gears are a little more equal, two gears about the same time  maybe 60/40 sometimes. You can see the fitting together a whole lot better.  The loss of position has to do with the whole body, and balance.  You put your  whole self out there( not just an extension) in a balanced state and you get it returned in an unbalanced state.  Judo movement has been likened to waves in the ocean, which tend to hurt more than spirals coming from the invisible beach ball of harmony and peaches.

If you look at Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, you don't get crashing waves, or invisible beach balls of peaches and harmony.  And as far as watching as a spectator it isnt much to look at.  I read where Jigoro Kano changed the rules of Judo to emphasize throwing because it was a more interesting thing to watch, even though it appeared that the Newaza or the ground fighting was where early participants were trying to take it.

Same thing with your MMA/UFC crap.  The early matches were impressive but not much to look at.  So they put in rounds so that the fans attention span could be saved by the bell, and everybody could get back to flailing at each other.

Would you spend 70 bucks to watch a true non-violent solution to conflict like this Gracie vs Jimmerson match?

Jiu jitsu and Aikido have basically the same arm manipulations.  The techniques reflect moving things in a way that they dont like to be moved, using as much leverage as you can find. They dont reflect the presence of an Invisible ball or peace and harmony.

Jiu jitsu, in my done it for a nearly a year terms, is about causing a collapse of defensive structure, and attacking weak isolated areas. Its a realistically slow process. Kuzushi, the precipitating event that brings about tsukuri, two parts fitting together, can be seen and technically studied,  but it exists at the conceptual level first, unlike the got to learn how to feel it kuzushi in Judo and Aikido. Sometimes it looks classy, sometimes it doesnt. Eventually it becomes a feel it thing, but early on its a concept and a lot easier to learn and practice.

In Aikido you cant even see it, the kuzushi and tsukuri because they blend, and because they must blend, you get a lot of fake looking crap floating around.

In Judo. it becomes like another sense, because Judo is about training and getting the most out of your sense of balance and touch, and it evolves around more conservative movement than Aikido.

In Jiu-jitsu they are all physically active qualties, they can become reactive and responsive, but they start out active.   And active things can be studied a lot easier than things that have to be felt to be recognized.  But if you notice the guy getting tapped doesnt move as much as the other guy, which is totally opposite of aikido where the guy getting whacked is doing the most moving.

And that is probably the real nature of things, if you want to do something you have to get it to hold still and be able to wrap your self around it. Like a real female beetle, not a beer bottle you think is a beetle.

The unifying factor is about seamless movement. Whether it is active or reactive.  Its important that there isn't any gaps between a collapse of position, or structure, and the fitting together, and the final labeled product, whether its a throw, joint lock, or choke.

I'm not very good so I can make a lot of folks in Jiu jitsu look pretty seamless, especially with the folks who have progressed beyond the conceptual level to the feel it level.  And the seamless effect is really about the disparity of levels.  I make a lot of people look good and sometimes they thank me for it.  But sometimes you are expected to make someone to look good and odds are that person owns a hakama.  And if you are about to make them look bad, they stop you and walk you through a perfect world.

Which makes me think that along with the invisible beach ball mentality of movement beer bottle beetle, there is also a seamless movement beer bottle beetle too.

The expectation that there should be no gaps between the collapse, the fit, and the end state.

In jiu jitsu its not that unusual that you have a beginning student that can consistently get to an end state, that is, gain a submission, in a way that a Judo beginner or especially an Aikido beginner can't get to. When you learn to see the world in a tactile sense it takes a while.  In jiu-jitsu you know what is going on because its squashing you.  You can either breathe or you can't, you can either move something or you can't, you are either protecting something or you aren't.

 In the early stages its not  exactly technique that is the determining factor or the ability to feel what the other guy is actually doing.  It's the speed and strength  exerted in the large gaps between the collapse, fit, and end.

It's a common sense idea that beginners are expected to behave in this way, and as they get better the strength and speed in the gaps decreases and gives way to awareness and skill.  Once you can put a guy in a bad spot he has to exert energy to just get back to even, and then things slow down and things begin to find an end state a whole lot easier.

Sometimes I really hate Aikido. What usually happens is that you start a prearranged move and the other guy stops you and lectures you about being relaxed or some other crap. And the lecture is always this is how it was taught to me, or other crap. It almost never comes from the place of experience, which is why this bow to your sensei, lineage crap is another thing keeping us on the beer bottle.

There is a lot of education in the gaps.  And most folks dont want to go there.

I tried this, had to let go, and try something else.  That learning/survival instinct that  allows folks to develop realistic habits according to their age and body size and condition.

There are tons of martial arts schools out there, that really don't want their students to learn anything. All they want you is to keep coming back paying dues, or bowing to the sensei, who may just like the captive audenice to listen to his or her dumb stories, and even dumber ideas about movement and conflict.

There are tons of beer bottle beetles out there.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Counter-Judo roots of Tomiki Aikido, and the Problem of Realistic Fluidity

I study two martial arts that you could say are derivative arts of Judo, Tomiki Aikido and Brazilian Jiujitsu.  Or you could say that they are both parts taken of a Judo whole.    BJJ is judo starting on the  ground, the newaza, and Tomiki Aikido is judo displayed in Goshin jutsu kata, the self defense ideas of Judo.

 BJJ has a deep emphasis on transition, positioning, and counter attacking. Some folks call it fluidity.  It has a ton of ways to keep the faucet turned on and flowing. The thing about BJJ is that there are no kata to tell you what the movements are, and as a result they don't try to see problems in linear-scenario based fashion.  They have mounts, and guards, and transitions between this and that, and of course they have the submissions which really are the end of the rope of movements.

  I can't say that I am good at either Tomiki Aikido or BJJ. In fact, I can definitely say that I suck at BJJ.  One thing I can tell you that I figured out is that within failure principle can be found. There is a lot of talk about principle in my branch of Tomiki Aikido, which is a slowed down version of Tomiki Aikido.  But since randori in Aikido is artificial at any speed, in that the movement is not fluid, and that natural options are limited by supposed principle behind the technique and safety,  it only becomes fluid when you coach folks to slow down to speeds that don't represent reality.  There is not enough failure in the  aikido randori to really reveal principle.  The  spoken principles in Aikido  are really starting points for discussion, and don't reveal themselves in resistant randori.

The common thread between Tomiki Aikido and BJJ is that they both seem to work ideas from states of  perceptual inferiority. BJJ is known for working from the ground and on the back.  And Tomiki Aikido works from states of inferior timing, or states of pre-control, and control.

Martial arts are based on mechanical repetition, and cognitive-kinetic recogniton.  Or how the body bends and doesn't bend, and how people react in an choice A or B fashion to pressure: pulling, pushing, leverage, and weight.  The common thread being is that techniques have to be repeatable.  And variations of techniques apply to specific instances.  A big guy presents this, or a small woman is presented with this.

There are things in martial arts that don't lend themselves to being repeatable.  Like punching someone in the face.  You can punch 7 guys in the face, and get 7 different results.  Kiai shouting may shock someone or not.  Pain compliance is another thing.  One guy may tap after a half inch of a crank, another guy will just lay there.  On the other side of this coin, are  scenario based defenses such as defending against a punch or a knife.  punches are hit and miss and the timing and targets, and contexts are random.  Any body who teaches how to defend against a punch or a knife is full of shit.  You either know its coming and fend it off or you don't.  They don't lend themselves to cognitive kinetic recogniton.

  Aikido has a problem as a martial art, even the sporting kind.  It seems that it wants to defy the laws of reality, and common sense.  You can see this in both the sporting kind, and the kind that is totally fake.

This is aikido randori in which the environment is so limiting in both the rules, and how things work that virtually nothing happens.  Except the NASCAR occasions when there is a wreck and someone gets hurt.    

Aikido suffers from the notion that everyone can be like Michael Jordan.  That if you tap into the right technique, you can stop anything.  And if you can't there must be some other worldly power or spiritual reference point that explains how things work.

Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, may have been like a Michael Jordan. Everyone else is like Jimmy at the courts at the park.  My two cents on the greatness of Ueshiba is that he could improvise very well.  That he could perform well in a cognitive-kinetic environment using idiosyncratic techniques, and then live in the spaces between them. He taught fundamentals, The same way Jordan could show you some basketball fundamentals, and then turn around and win by doing things he wasn't teaching and couldn't explain. It was like going to learn from Jordan, playing 1 on 1 with him for five minutes, and when asked how he was doing it, he tries to explain it with stories of golf, gambling, and making underwear commercials.

I think that Shishida-Sensei's article is a good one to google. Its called,  " Counter techniques against Judo: the process of forming Aikido in 1930s Fumiaki Shishida."  It differentiates from Ueshiba's real game, his real ability, and what he liked to teach and drill.  Ueshiba did something entirely different than what he taught.  And impressed folks with things that he didn't explicitly transmit.  The main idea of the article is that a lot of Ueshiba's Aikido was based on  preventing judo grips from happening in the first place. That it wasn't a good thing to be gripped at all.

The idea wasn't transmitted well.  Here is some dude in a skirt vs a judo player.  You notice that the judo player defends against grips, and when he does he tries to counter grip up to improve his situation, either to deny the aikido guy freedom to move, or to break his posture.  The aikido guy just tries to fight grips, and doesnt seek a counter control, or atemi. He just allows the judo guy to grip up and waits to feel the Ki or something.

Here is some pretty simple advice from a female BJJ teacher, Emily Kwock.  Eventually, she will talk about hand circling or wax on wax off.  

It's my point to say that this grip denial, or working from an state of inferiority, either pre-control or control.  When the grip is on the way, or is just being made is the point of aikido, especially Tomiki Aikido.  It's been been obscured, by time and wishful thinking, and randori models that in no way reflect any fundamentals.

If you look at the earliest Tomiki Film, the big foot video.  You will see the grip fighting fundamentals there in plain sight.  First off is the often debated Tomiki Stiff Arm, where Ohba Shuffles in with finger tips extended.  That represents a gripping attempt pre-control, or incoming.  And you can clearly see Tomiki hand circling into offbalance and a technique.  And late in the video there is a section where Tomiki and Ohba go full speed, and preventing control and breaking balance at the same time is exactly what is taking place.  Almost as if this is the living proof of Shishida's article on counter judo.

The problem with Aikido is the understanding of fluid motion.  It seemed that Tomiki broke fluid motion into parts, and drilled the parts.  However, these parts never came together in fluid randori practice.  Because Aikido is essentially understanding the boundaries of Judo, the good manners of judo practice, and cheating and being a horrible judo partner.  Basically, someone who is asked not to come back.

The Tomiki Aikido basics:

The tegatana kata:  these are hand movement that represent off balancing, following movements, hand circles, and transitions  and maintaining the freedom of the hips. The lesson here is breaking balance while breaking a grip and either applying atemi, or getting a counter grip at the wrist. The first position that you do in BJJ is the closed guard, you have a guy that has clamped his legs around your hips and you can't use them until you escape by using leverage.  So hip movement, freeing your hips,  in conjuction to the handblade movements and foot work is the key lesson.  The katana work obscures the nature of the exercise.

Kihon:  striking(atemi) into a throw, leading/following(elbow) into a throw, twisting(wrist) into a throw, transitioning into a throw(floating).  These are taught out of relation to the basic  hand  and feet movements, out of the break a grip, and/or atemi/ get a grip function.  The lesson being is an extended arm leads to an offbalanced structure, and that circling an incoming grip into an offbalance, or counter-gripping is required to make these techniques work.

Nage no kata omote/ura or (what I call the kuzushi releases)   It is never a good thing to allow your self to be grabbed. The impression it leaves in kata form is that letting a guy hang on is a good thing.  And folks that wear hakamas like to talk about connection and stickyness and all sorts.  It confuses the issue, and leads to issues that are in the judo vs aikido video.  The lesson is when you break a grip you must insure that the balance is broken, other wise the attacker can follow up with an attack.  On the other side when you counter grip you should break balance to the point to where the attempt to break the counter grip leads into a technique.  The Ura sections suggest the real starting points for Tomiki Aikido once the grip has been broken and a counter grip insuring an offbalance is applied.  

In Competitive Aikido, There are virutally none of these ideas at work.  Its because one person can not grip at all, and therefore the entering with intent to control is removed. That's when all Aikido ideas collapse.

Aikido is not an ancient martial art.  One can argue that it isnt a martial art at all, with out being informed by what a Judo player will do.  What it becomes away from its counter Judo roots is just a martial form of dance.  If you study the history of judo, you will see that Kano altered the rules because too many times a person could just sit out of a throw, or pull guard.  There was a period of time where newaza, or ground work dominated.  To make the sport more crowd friendly, and hopefully make it an Olympic Sport, he made it where you couldn't just sit down out of things, and get to the nitty gritty on the ground, the way BJJ does.  He felt, like many folks nowadays, that submission wrestling wasnt all that interesting to watch.( look at how the UFC changed the rules to eliminate the possibilty of paying good money to watch fifty minutes of two intertwined humans barely moving.) Tomiki had the problem of developing a randori with a group of folks that already knew how to take folks down with Judo, which to be honest has more solutions than Aikido.   So he found ways to remove the judo from the randori, but in the process obscured Aikido's counter judo roots.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Win, or maybe lose. It just doesn't matter.

The best advice I can give a martial arts student is to find small incremental ways to make their selves a little bit tougher than they were five years ago. Its starts with the physical, then the mental, then the spiritual. It usually has to deal with sweat, and losing, and trying/wanting/working to win every once in a while. If you dont try to win, then you never experiment, and by that you really don't experience anything.  

    I am pretty convinced that there is no better fundamentals to the martial arts than what are found in Judo, or BJJ.   They both start with the notion of that there are two undisputed laws of the universe.  That there is solid ground underneath your body, and that living beings have to make an effort to keep from falling on it.  BJJ expands the picture in that when you accept those two laws then every part of the body seems to matter.

They both have a system of  relatively safe competition that hurts just enough to respect it. That allows you to dumbass your way into  kinetic enlightenment.  That allows you to lose to the strong, and see the strong lose.  It allows you to find out what works for you, and what for sure the hell doesnt.

I started doing Aikido "wrong" a couple of years ago.   I realized that Tomiki Aikido was the barebones basics, and that it was meant to start in dumbass mode.  The wrist wrasslin' that I did made my body stronger.  Taking atemi shots made me resilient.  I did the solo exercises "poorly" with speed.

 I stopped trying to move like Marsha Brady, (or maybe it was Jan), in that episode where they walked around with a book on their head.

Eventually I could do somethings better than Division I football players.  I'm not saying that I could kick their ass, I'm just saying that I could do a couple of things that they couldnt, and it stumped them.

BJJ has been pretty good to me so far.I get my ass kicked repeatedly in a good way. It makes me laugh how many ways it can kick your ass. In fact I laugh everytime I tap and call uncle.  Its so ridiculously simple. I

ts starting to tighten up the muscles that I didnt know I had.  It also has taught me some things about that over used word kuzushi.  The closer to the ground you are the more ways you can be jacked with.

I'm pretty convinced that all that kuzushi/aiki stuff relies on some fool on the other end not knowing what the hell is happening  to him.  It's like trying to recall what your wife told you to pick up at the store, in the middle of a hail storm, while two maladjusted chimps all over your body arm pitting  your face.

That whole budo is love thing is not about being " that guy."  The guy who everybody knows can kick ass.  Its all about cultivating that, " I didn't know he had it in him." persona.  Its more Rodney Dangerfield than Royce Gracie.

If you follow the peace and love routine you'll never get a chance to settle the score with the Judge Smails of the world.  Winning is important, but its more important on who you choose to win against.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

   Recently, I saw one of those not so easy to watch videos where this guy got jumped in a subway or something by what appeared to be a gang of a dozen or so attackers, maybe less, I didn't count.  The guy got swarmed and pummeled, and kicked, and thrown down.  He had his girl with him, and she got it too, trying to step in and save him, but not like the guy who was the primary target.

There was no amount of judo, BJJ, Aikido, whatever, that would have helped the guy.  It was one of those wrong place, wrong time things.

It got me thinking about some old school stuff, about what if the guy had a sword?  A four foot razor blade strapped to his side.  A distance weapon with fries, and a coke.  The guy wouldn't have been jumped at all.

Then I started thinking about the modern martial arts.

I started taking a BJJ class, and the class is pretty much all mat time.  Rolling, they call it.  Randori.

I read up on whatever I'm studying, which means I read something over and over about a hundred times.  I read how Jigoro Kano, the Judo founder came up with randori methods or training.  How taking out the dangerous techniques, and setting up a system where techniques could be practiced against full resistance, the safer techniques, actually produced better fighters.  Folks that could handle them selves pretty darn good.

I think that BJJ, or just Jiu-Jitsu, takes that safe technique angle, and brings things right to the mat.  Not a whole lot of break falls, just submission wrestling from day one.   A lot of things that I have heard in Aikido, are also said in Jiu-jitsu.  So some  intangible things I can absorb, but fundamentally I dont know up from down.  I have learned to tap out a lot.

I got this book by a guy named Saulo Ribeiro.  And in it he talks about teaching beginners how to survive. How to close off holes where they can be attacked.  To prevent being taken out by submission.  The reason he does this is so that they can last longer against the upper belts, so that the upper belts get pushed a little harder to find a technique.

Kinda a reverse, backasswards way of teaching, but it works.  Here is what I'm trying to do to you, this is what you do to keep it from happening.

I got thinking about Tomiki Aikido.  Tanto randori.  I think that my disillusionment with the Karl Geis line is over the omission of tanto randori. I understand why folks can take it or leave it.  Not a whole lot goes on, and when it does it looks pretty sloppy.  My philosophy is that that is pretty much life in general.  You can be a perfection hound, and only do things that look sweet to impress the chicks, then you get over it. or not.  Slowing it down, thus slowing down who ever is getting grabby on you,  Doesnt do it for me any more.

I guess I'm okay with sloppy.

The thing that makes tanto randori such a slop fest, is that the beginner has a much easier time learning to survive.  Aikido is basically about jumping on over extension, Tomiki knew it, and that is where all that stiff arm uke stuff comes from.  To survive in Aikido, all you do is not over extend.  Don't attack all in, set your feet, put up your paws, and go into sparring mode.  Not a lot will happen.  Some body grabs your wrist, just tighten up, bring it to your body.

The thing about randori is that somebody will get tired, somebody will get something.  It may not look like a college girl running on the beach in a bikini, It may not be hakamatastic, it may not address kuzushi, or musubi, or whatever the japanese word of the week is.  But somebody is going to give it up.

Going back to that incident, the guy getting jumped, if pulled a sword what is the things the idiots could have done to survive?  How easy is it to teach someone how to survive against a swinging sword?   Not too damn easy.  Thats why spears and guns and arrows were invented.

A lot of randori, tanto randori that is, is about grabbing the extension, and preventing it from coming back at you.  It can go this way and that way, but there are really 4 or 5 techniques that keep popping up.  That tend to work within the framework of the match rules and space.

The Tanto player is a all in player, the rules only allow him to do a one thing, and a couple of others if an if and or but is answered first.  Then time runs out.  The fact that there is a timer, dictates how things go.  The fact that both guys take turns with the tanto, dictates things.  Going first, or second tend to dictate things.  A whole lot more goes on than just two guys trying to do 17 techniques on each other.  The conditions to get those techniques are restricted by mat space, time, rules, conditioning, and who does what first.  There are a lot of non-technical things that help someone survive, and prevent a technique.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Okie-Do List of Principles

All these are subject to change

1.  The Principle of the Mat:

     The guy who has the best relationship with the mat is going to win.  If you aint afraid of falling down you have one up on the other guy.  If you know what to do when you get there then that is just a bowl of cherries for you.

2.  Ukemi principle

    Receiving end education, or the school of hopefully not so hard knocks.   Every technique needs to be be felt in from begininng to end.  So a guy has to ask how much training up does it actually take to actually learn something.  BJJ has a little ukemi and a whole lot of rolling around.  Thats why those guys get very good very soon if they show up to class, because its all mat time.  And most techniques can be felt on the first day in the door.  Judo has a lot of learning how to fall, and I cant actually say how long it takes before you can be tossed all over to be educated, but I would assume its a little while.  Aikido has the longest train up to it, the longest ukemi maturation process because you are getting thrown by the joints.  Thats why I have been really hard on Aikido on this blog, especially geriatric aikido, that should have gone Tai Chi 20 years ago.

3.  The Anti-fragile principle;
          Little knocks and bumps and bruises make you stronger.  The human immune system is made to absorb small problems and become better.   A joint lock here, a shomenate 17 style there.  A misfit on gyukugamate that bumps your snout and makes you tear up just a little.  Everything done in a controlled way with a mat, under the agreement of everybody gets a turn.  So if you do it to me, then I do it to you.

4.  Slowing Down is seeing, but not living principle
           You slow down so your hands and body can feel what is going on, so your Intuition can "see."  But speed and variation in timing is what  has always killed the cat, not so much curiosity. At least on the Interstate.  Slowing down is not a permanent state, and expecting everyone to slow down so things work is  cloud kookooland thinking.

5.  Bullshizznit detection principle

    Beware of hero worshiping, and name dropping to justify things.   And avoid the I'm awesome because I learned it in Japan or from an actual Japanese guy.  Going to the horses mouth is usually the best policy, but going to any horses mouth and trying to pass them off as Secretariat, or Seabiscuit  is the same as being a fudging liar.  Also, beware of the folks who dont want to post videos because its way too secret.  Nobody cares.  And odds are some teenage MMA fan will troll it anyway.  Thats a fact of life.  ( I would really like to see all of Karl Geis videos put out there on the Youtube.  The world deserves it, its a unique take on things.  And if 15 people dig it then its worth it, but it will be more than 15.  Otherwise, nobody is going to know, and nobody is going to care.)

6.   Anti-certification principle/Anti-obi wan kenobi principle

      Think of years on the mat instead of Dan rank.    And also pay attention to how fat they are. If they can't muster up the spiritual power to say no to a second helping, then evaulate authenticity  from there. Their wife may be an amazing cook, so give them a pass. If they are fat and still believe in punching the guy then listen, they are a realist.  But they are fat and like to talk about ki, and connection, and internal power, effortless power, or other nonsense then ask them how effortless was their last trip to the bathroom?  If they can still pee over a tall fence, and take a dump two or three times a day, then they may have truly found some sort of internal power secret.  Give them ten percent of your paycheck and move into their garage and become their man servant.

7.  Technical History principle

  If you are teaching Tomiki Aikido then there are no mysteries.  This guy named his techniques push down, pull down, and arm turn, not dragon breathing fire, or horse whips tail.  Know how one things relates to another because your student can look up it up on Youtube. New sacred scrolls dating way back to 1962 get unearthed all the time.

8.  Ignore the Third Rate principle

     Never put up with a guy who is trying to be a third rate Morty Youshiba, Karl Geis, or Tomiki.  Don't hang around someone trying to cook mexican food who has never ate mexican food.  A guy who gets pissed when you call his burrito an enchilada, and you know darn good an well its a enchilada.

9.  Kata aint practice principle
 Kata is a method to preserve historic techniques from another country.  If you practice kata then you can call your self a martial artist, but dont try to sell me on anything..  You do things for the look and the feel, and the presentation. You may like dressing up in a dress and this is the only socially acceptable way to get away with it. I can't speak for you.   But at the end of a the day you might as well be ballet dancing.  Longterm kata training helps you improvise when the shizznit hits the fan, but most folks that swear by kata like improvising as much as Rainman liked  missing the  "Peoples Court".    And any white mans kata is automatically bullshizznit in my book.  And doing kata over and over and over is like preparing for a day that never comes if you think they have some sort of combative, self defense benefit.   Best just do em cause you like em and leave it at that.

10.  If you keep making that face it will freeze that way principle

   Just because you teach something and people actually repeat the movement doesnt make it real, or effective.  The more you say things out loud over and over and over the more they become real.  Remember it all works if people are trained to make it work.  This why randori must have rules, and a way to "win".  A Tomiki Tanto Randori player may be as much of a badass as a badmitton player, but the guy is going to know when he gets better, and what works over time.  Same or Judo, or BJJ.   A structured randori system is the best thing you can have, and the worst thing thing you can have.  But it has to be allowed to go that way person by person.

Monday, September 1, 2014


There was a lot of talk about Principle when I first started my Aikido study.  Same hand, same foot.  Unbendable arm.  Keep your hand in the center, blah, de boring blah.    The principle based argument is that you can go into a pool cue and broken bottle problem and solve it like a nerd with a calculator.  Just because you are aware of "principle",  and can apply it.  On this I will have to pull the Bullshizznit card.

Principle only enters into the picture when you cast aside all the ifs, ands, or buts.  Take Judo for instance.  I have been thrown around by Judo folks, and a good judo player can make you pay for every step you take.  My only solution to a judo player is to hit the guy first, probably in the nuts, or knees, or some other dirty play that you wouldnt do on a dojo mat.

Because the Judo guy trained in an environment where he didnt have to worry about getting his nuts caved in, he is free to get sensitive in a way that he can feel a weight transfer going on. He was given the luxury of not getting slapped in the face or across the ear hole every time he came to grips.  Because he didnt have to deal with that sort of thing he became good at that sensitive thing that judo guys are good at.  He started identifying triggers, and bad situations, and potentials.

I suppose, if the judo guy was facing Cleetus in the trailer park who isnt a trained puncher, yet wants to punch, and chooses punch poorly, the judo guy could probably have an easy go at it.  But line the 2 day a week for six years judo player against Mike Tyson in some sort of road rage fender bender event, then the Judo guy would probably take whatever lady luck would throw at him.

The principles would fail him once he recieved a blow that felt like the impact of a white rhino.  

So when the principles fail, you look for another principle.  And you cast aside all the ifs, ands, or buts that go along with it.  Because principles can get contaminated pretty easy.  Clear water muddies up the best.

What if a guy swings at you, what if a guy pulls a knife, you cant do that against a judo player( as if everyone you ever will meet will be a judo player), that would never work in an MMA match,  what if he uses his elbow,  but if you do this then the guy might do that.  

Recently,  I have started doing some BJJ.  It got me thinking about where is the best place to start learning all this martial arts crap.   I asked a guy who has been doing it for a couple of years what he would do here, and here, and here, what if I did this, or this, or this.  And on the ground he had a lot of immediately provable, understandable answers.  Offbalance is an immediate effect on the ground, putting too much pressure on a guy has an immediate effect, getting handsy has an immediate effect.

It got me thinking about BJJ, about how it was a pretty complex interaction yet pretty darn simple.  I started thinking that all the things that happen on the ground, principle wise, would probably transfer to the stand up game, and if they didnt, then you needed to think along another principle line.  Because on the ground it is pretty clear cut who knows what to do, and who doesn't.   And that BJJ is pretty much all mat time, from day one, everyone can get after it and start looking at things and proving whether something will work or not.

Judo is probably the next best, but there is a lot of time taken to learn how to fall safely in order to absorb a technique and understand the function and effect of a technique.  It becomes uke driven.  I cant honestly say whether BJJ is an Uke driven art.  Anyone can lay on the ground and rassle around.  I can say that it is dumbass driven, because once you commit an error in judgement and another guy knows it and knows what to do about it, then you are toast.

So I think I have identified probably a overreaching principle in the martial arts.  That is the Recognition of Error Principle, and the, What to do about it Principle.

Like I said, I'm working off of the idea that BJJ is probably the best martial art to access these two principles. Judo functions off of a guy trying to keep his balance, keep standing, so its probably the second best.  A guy will have to learn how to fall down safely to explore the neighborhood.  I assume it takes a good while maybe a couple of years to get the feel for standing ukemi.

Aikido is probably about the worst to route to explore principle.  How long does it take to get comfortable being stiff armed in the face, or fall over a twisted wrist.  And from two guys squaring off, separated, how much can you recognize an error, and what in the helll can you do about it.

Tomiki put the atemi waza in as the underpinning of his Aikido.  Because they function much like karate.  A guy drops his guard and you hit him.  Only to score a competive point you have make the guy fall down.  I have always had a problem with my Karl Geis Ryu brethren on this point.  If you are practicing a non-competitive form of aikido then why arent the atemi waza percussive?

 I dont know how many times I have been at a clinic, or get together and some one wants to show yet another take on Gedan Ate and I get paired up with a guy that is way to fat to put a gedan ate on.  He is never going to generate the energy to throw a gedan ate.  The obvious solution is elbow the guy in his obvious bread basket and work from there.  And really I think, that the Atemi waza suck in the KG-ryu because no one wants to take the ukemi for them.  The 23 kata lets a guy circle out of them.  It kind of takes the teeth out of the entire system.

So the first error recognition is when a guy drops his guard.  Just like karate, you hit him.  You dont stick your arms out and feel for it like you can in Judo, or feel for it holistically on the ground in BJJ.   Otherwise you have to be in reactive mode, dodge at the very barest margin, hoping for a catastrophic miss.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Martial Arts, Well Being, and Sweat.

The only reason I do Martial Arts is because I need a reason to get off my butt and get out the house and move around.  Unlike Jogging or going to the gym and lifting heavy stuff and running on a complicated electronic hamster wheel, it comes with some pleasant problem solving and frustrations that keep you wanting to come back.  But for me its the relaxed feeling I get for a couple of days, the good hangover.  I noticed especially when my boy was small and liked to be picked up every five minutes that the day after a good a Aikido work over( as opposed to a work out) that he was lighter.

Taking the tension out of your muscles makes them stronger, who would have thought?

I  have started doing Brazillian Jujitsu because of that feeling.  Not that I dig MMA, but because it maybe the best martial art that gives you that relaxed feel good.  I'm not doing it to shore up weaknesses in my game,   or because I find Aikido lacking  It just delivers the goods.

Because I always saw the martial arts as a way to exercise I tend to avoid and ignore the common hassles and personality conflicts, and  pyschological needful things that people look for in the martial arts.  I have been around folks who really wish they were born Japanese, as if that were going to make them better. I think Zen is okay, but the more you want a calm mind the more it aint gonna happen for you.  I like that whole shinto there is a spirit in every rock and tree thing.  But I think its a laughable thing that turning Japanese will get you manly respect and more chicks.  It will probably do the opposite.

I have also tended to ignore the self defense side of things.  Rory Miller said it best when he said that folks expect Martial Arts teachers to be experts on violence.  And this is not the case.  Self defense wise, I think that martial arts helps in self  in an indirect way.  Being used to contact and folks being in your bubble,and understanding how the body bends and reacts here and there is a useful thing.  It gives you a 1up, but it doesnt make you an expert.

I don't know how many times I have heard an aikido guy explain to me how to handle a puncher or a kicker, and they have never been punched or kicked in their life.  Head shots you tend to see stars, body shots hurt like hell and make you want to take a step or two back, where you get the head shot. It is an endless deep shizznit cycle from which there is no easy technical solution, except do it to the other guy first.

I also lament the misunderstanding and omission of Tanto Randori in the Geis line Tomiki Aikido.  Karl Geis made a decision for everyone when he decided he wasnt into it.  While technicaly it isnt pretty, it provides an avenue for sweat and struggle.  I think that he had concerns that it wasnt effective way to teach self-defense because it didnt address the cutting function of the blade.  But its always been my opinion that any knife  self defense "expert" is full of crap.

 The knife keeps cropping up over the last several thousand years because it is a hard thing to defend against. Before law and justice, packing a knife was a pretty good  idea.   And at most any one who survives a knife, especially a martial arts person, is probably aligned with the 80/20 principle.  The reason why you get out of a hairy situation is because of 20 percent training and 80 percent dumb luck.

Tanto randori is the fun strength and conditioning tool.  You get stronger by doing it.  Folks tend to forget that Morty Youshiba was a fitness fanatic before people even had a need for fitness.  He liked farm labor, and did Aikido as a "break" between bouts of farm labor.  How much of his "aiki" was that he was a natural athlete that was in incredible shape?  If he truly was as good as folks say, you may be looking at Micheal Jordan type.  A one in ten million type of guy that comes around every 20 years or so.

And because we dont do it, the randori as strength and conditioning, us Geis-ryu folks, I have to get it through BJJ.  Its going to be a fun ride, hopefully.    

Folks tend to forget the place of physical education, physical activity had on society.  To keep people out of trouble you needed some sort of avenue for them to get energy out of their system.  Kano, if I recall it right, was influenced by western educational ideas as was Tomiki.  Randori is a western idea.  Take your kid to soccer practice, or basketball practice. How much of it is drill and skill, and how much is some sort of smaller game that relates to the game?

You never see an athletic team doing a kata to get better at anything.  Kata was a way to supply that 20 percent in the old days. Life, especially in hard times, tends to be 80 percent dumb luck. Kata is a method for preserving a set of techniques and movement principles. Its the slow road to building skill. But it provided a jumping off point for folks to improvise their way out of trouble because they had numerous models of interaction socked away.

But nowadays, people tend to get frozen in kata.  They think that the kata speaks directly to a situation like a recipe for making biscuits.  All a kata provides is the motion of making biscuits in a straight line.  Walk two steps forward, grab imaginary bag of flour, pour it into the imaginary bowl.  In two man kata, the linear situations are the imaginary.  People tend to move all over the damn place in real situations.  And you can also confuse a making the biscuits kata movement with a "knife defense" kata.

Most of Tomiki's weapon kata spoke more to timing than actual make the biscuits application.  Folks who try to fix san kata, especially the tanto parts, run the risk of making a situation worse.  Putting a realistic response to a silly looking attack.  Where the silly looking attack was just a creature of timing and not an actual attack. Its like the kata is saying, " you know that timing is important don't you?"  over and over and over.

I have had folks say that the koryu kata are not neccessary because they were a product of Hideo Ohba.  And they tend to get on me about studying books and film so much, but if they bothered to crack a book and look at these films over and over they would understand that the Tomiki parts of their Aikido besides San Kata are the drills and methodologies that train up to Randori.  Obha was actually the more classical thinker of the two.  Tomiki was of the sweat it out school of thinking.  That making Aikido into a sport would give more folks an avenue to get better at getting along, and going along.

The one thing about BJJ, I dont think there are any kata to slow things down. Not two many points to argue about, justify, explain, or ponder on.  Just shut up and wrestle with a guy for two minutes, and then wrestle with another guy for two minutes.

The physical activity has been replaced with distraction.  Instead of focusing a persons energies on doing, there are numerous ways nowadays for people to get distracted by looking.  I have told young folks that there isnt much difference between cigarette smoking and smartphones.  And if everybody would go back to smoking cigarettes we would get a lot more done, and I wouldnt be afraid to walk accross the parking lot at walmart.  and I really dont know which is worse.

Fast food is killing us. Millions of Cow farts may be the death of us.  Folks try to blame obesity on the lack of willpower.  But you can't blame a fish for swimming in polluted water.  There are less reasons to move, and more reasons to stand still, eat, and look at something.  This is why I get kind of irritated at the folks who think they can master things by moving slow.  Moving slow for an hour is great as long as someone doesnt want to stop and talk about it.

 Moving at a good pace helps you sweat out the crap, and also gives you a reason to want to slow down and talk about it.  The rest is the best part of the hard work. A cold drink and good conversation.  Not I'm going to talk about it to justify it or avoid doing it.

The guys that appear to move slow, and complete techniques with out a lot of hassle are also the ones who have probably done it longer than anyone else.  Its another bone I got to pick with the Geis Methodology.  Its a noble effort to try to teach soft from the get go.  But there is a difference between faking soft and becoming soft.  You become soft by learning the hard way.  Thousands of hours.  Dozens of lesson learned.  hundreds of asskickings.

There are plenty of upper dan's out there who have never even tried to go at it.  They weren't allowed.  So instead of getting a sense of been there and  done that confidence, they look for answers  from stupid human trick peddlers.  Who try to sell the no sweat, move less, approach which goes counter to what Kano or Tomiki wanted.  A wrung out society that wanted to sit down with a cold drink and visit, instead of complain or argue, or look for a a reason to get their feelings tromped on.  

Next time you are about to get into an argument in the 12 items or less line, think about how things would go if both parties were physically wrung out from some good sweat.  Not exhausted, just wrung out real good.  How less of hurry you would be in, how the little things dont matter.  why in the hell do i care if this guy has 14 things in his basket?  That is the lesson of slow and easy.  A stressed out person can't become soft by just rule and philosophy alone.  People become soft, and easy and agreeable.  You can't fake it. Or replace it with distraction.  Its something you get from sweat.