Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Nin Tei Shō

Recently there has been quite a bit of questions flying across my inbox and chat windows in regards to Taika Seiyu Oyata’s – Nin Tei Shō.  As this has become such a popular topic as of late, I felt perhaps something needed to be published.

For the purposes of this article, I will be altering photographs and documents I have so that nobody can accurately copy the things later on or use them as a basis for forgeries.  We have already had enough forgeries of previous scrolls, most of which were comical failures.  Kanji and Kana represented in this article are not the originals brushed by Uhugushiku Tan Mei, Wakinaguri Tan Mei, or Taika Seiyu Oyata except where notated.

Chronologically, the first reference to a Nin Tei Shō was on 01-01-1947.  It was at this point that Wakinaguri and Uhugushuki combined a document with both their signatures beginning with the kanji for Nin Tei Shō which is equivalent to ANNOUNCEMENT or PROCLIMATION.  Below is an adjusted copy of that document with a few things cryptically adjusted and removed such as the signature chops and placed on a different background.  This was basically a document stating that they were handing down the knowledge of their respective houses to none other than Mr. Seiyu Oyata.  He wouldn’t have trained long with them at this point much more than a year since he didn’t meet them until after the war.

A few of our Kansas City shihan dai were lucky enough to be treated to a viewing of this document at Taika’s home.  The document was regrettably not in the best of shape at the time.  It had quite a few little cracks and creases now but is a wonderful piece of Taika’s history.

This document is formatted quite similar to the ones Taika released some 63 years later.  The wording is quite similar and it states:

Nin Tei Shō: Oyata Seiyu domo, kiden wa uhugushiku ke wakinaguri ke ryo ke no denshō higi o shutoku sare ta koto o mitomeru.  

It is then dated and signed by both heads of the two family arts.  

Around the beginning of 2009, Taika had lived a lot longer than he originally had anticipated, and as one does you start thinking of the end days.  He had decided to do like his instructor’s had done for him and produce Nin Tei Shō for a few select members of his organization.  He would come to class and talk about it with us, and talk about how very few people would actually get them, and how it would all be kept secret until after his passing, and generally what all it meant.  He had a list of possible candidates but that could change at a moment’s notice.  I do quite believe that this was to be our final carrot, to whip us on and into the future.  Our motivational scroll.

Two of us with some limited Japanese language education in class got to participate in helping him in regards to the project.  He wanted this to be similar to what he received in 1947, but with some added words he felt strongly about.  He wanted to change some wording from what his instructors had given him and was searching for words that we as Americans would understand and that would translate well.  Our help was more or less lots of nodding and helping him understand how one word in English might be taken different ways, but even though it had little bearing on the final product it did give us some extra talking and discussing time with the man which was always welcome.

On 3-10-2009 we were in class working on the edge/edge version of the ‘Naihanchi Crossover’ (blog of its own) and Taika called me up to look at a piece of paper. 

These are the only ones I’ll be showing that actually were in his handwriting, with the English most likely in Robin’s but I never asked for clarification.  This was an early draft and before he put it in standard certificate format.  Cells phones at the time had horrid cameras.  Being Mr. Anal, I promptly added it to my diary and typed up the copy shown below for further research and history.  There were a few other iterations, mostly playing with word order and emphasis.

I remember distinctly, and recorded it in my journal 03-10-2009, that Chū jitsu, loyalty, was one of the parts he thought was most important.  He talked about that for a good ten minutes or more.  He talked about how these characters conveyed more than just loyalty.  He spoke of how he wanted it to convey how they had to perfectly follow his directions and understand difficult concepts.


Loyalty, devotion, fidelity, faithfulness

(New Nelson 1801)
Truth, reality, sincerity, essence
(New Nelson 1324)

In that early translation, there were a few kanji and kana still missing.  The previous discussion led to him adding the Itsu datsu suru koto naku shown below to the final version which would look similar to this;

In this final version, most of column five was added;

Itsu datsu suru koto naku
Without deviation

Let’s now break it down by column, and right to left as it reads.

Column 1 - ‘Nin Tei Shō’
          This is equivalent to Proclamation!  Or Hear yea, hear yea!

Column 2 – Rank or Title
Unlike his instructor’s, Taika decided to issue two different scrolls and had them made up with different sizes and formatting.  One would be for a rank proclamation and the other would be for a title proclamation.  Both had distinctly different mon, embossing and borders than ever shown before.  One scroll was near the size of standard rank certificates seen in the past and the other was significantly larger.  All of those little things that would set these scrolls apart from prior generations of scrolls in Taika’s lineage, do not appear in this article or these renderings.

2A Rank – On the rank certificate, the character for DAN was placed with a space just above it big enough for your rank.  For example, if you were being given the rank of seventh dan, the kanji for seven would be placed just above it.  There is one certificate, for reasons I will not dwell on at the moment, where one certificate was awarded but Taika didn’t want to increase the person's rank so he didn’t place a number here but repeated a title.  Long story….

2B Title – On the title certificate, the character for SHI was placed with a space just above it big enough for the other half of your title since they all ended in 'shi'.  For example, if you were being given the title of Kyoshi, then the character for Kyo would be placed just above it.

Tasshi 達士
Kyoshi 教士
Renshi 錬士

2C Name – This was the place where your name would go in katakana.

Column 3-6 – Kiden wa RyuTe narabi ni Oyata Shin Shu Ho no higi o itsu datsu suru koto naku chujutsu ni shutoku sareta koto o metomemasu.

In these three columns, Taika himself translated this earlier meaning which I showed before in my horrid 2009 phone image.

“I, Taika Oyata Seiyu, acknowledge that you have loyally mastered the secret techniques of RyuTe and Oyata Shin Shu Ho.”

The final version was amended to read, “I, Hanshi Oyata Seiyu, acknowledge that you have loyally and without deviation, mastered the secret techniques of RyuTe and Oyata Shin Shu Ho.”

Column 7 – This column merely had the date of the award.  The only pre-printed kanji was for the year, month and day with space above each to place the numerical kanji values.

Column 8 – Hanshi Oyata Seiyu
This final column was of course Taika’s name with the title of Hanshi.  I personally find it interesting that he didn't use Taika.

For those that want to delve a little deeper into the kanji individual meanings, I would recommend investing in the New Nelson Japanese-English Character Dictionary.  It is, in both Tony and I’s opinion, one of the better ones out there for researching.  We have done the leg work for you if you wish to take that step.  The next two images are of a running spreadsheet of each column, and all kanji numbers (how to find them in the New Nelson) are listed on the right.  If there is no number, then it isn’t a kanji it is a kana……which if you have not studied Japanese at all might be confusing. 



There were three historical Nin Tei Shō in our lineage; one from Taika's instructors and two versions that he gave out to certain people and intended for others.  His stroke was obviously not anticipated and terminal cancer prognosis had given him about three months left to tidy up loose ends like this.  That didn’t happen.  

So what does all this mean?  I keep getting asked that question.  Taika’s own words that he wrote (and then added without deviation) says it all.   

“I, Hanshi Oyata Seiyu, acknowledge that you have loyally and without deviation, mastered the secret techniques of RyuTe and Oyata Shin Shu Ho.”

Does it mean that certificate bearers are the only ones with Taika’s knowledge?  No.  

Were all the ones given out that he intended?  No, the stroke prevented that but a few (more than two) were indeed given.  

Were there any politics that were involved?  Yes, in one very specific incident.  It was his main goal to prevent that with this scroll, after being a little disenfranchised with previous endeavors, but there was something that did occur which greatly upset Taika in regard.  I and others may release that info later with friends, and quite a few know about it already but at this point it is just he said, she said muckity muck that doesn’t really matter.  Like any piece of paper, the proof is in the hands and in the heart.  

Is it a license to teach or promote under Taika’s name or is it just an acknowledgement of skill once achieved.  The latter.

Does it give the holder permission to grant rank in RyuTe® Ren Mei or Oyata Shin Shu Ho® to anyone?  No.  Nowhere in the document does it give that right and at the time of Taika's death all trademarks passed to his wife.

Does it appoint its holders holders the keys to the throne?  No. It is a proclamation, a written pat on the back.

Is their only one living person (at the time of this writing) with a Nin Tei Shō?  No, there were more given by Oyata.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Tiered Training with Oyata - All Training Not Created Equal

As there have been numerous people since Taika died a little over five years ago come forward and start brandishing his name I thought I’d do a short little blog about some differences in his training over the years.  People are tending to throw out his name now, as if by using it they can claim mastership over anything.
In the beginning, the olden days in Okinawa and the early days here in the United States, there was a little bit of trust issues that were going on.  Taika really didn’t know who to trust and he certainly had his share of intellectual theft from individuals, anywhere from techniques to flat out using the name of his style.  This meant that it took Taika quite a lot of effort to trust anyone.
Outside Seminar Level Contact

Most people’s first level of contact with him once he immigrated to the United States was through seminars.  During these seminars he would complete a demonstration or two, thoroughly slamming people to the ground or knocking them loopy, but with little to no explanation.  He would then walk around to mostly strangers and show a technique or two and then have them try to repeat it.  He would not show people exactly how to replicate it, he didn’t spoon feed anyone.  There was little to no trust built up with the majority of attendee’s and he felt that if he gave his secrets away people would pay someone else for his knowledge. 

While at these seminars, people might just see Taika on a stage, in semi-close proximity, or if lucky actually have Taika walk over and talk to them and their partner.  In a six hour seminar, most people were lucky if they even got 2 minutes within spitting distance much less a hands on encounter with the man.  Taika would water things, for instance; bending the wrist of your primary hand during tuite, changing the angles of his body, et cetera.  He would quite frequently say one thing to everyone but do something different with his body.  We have hundreds of examples of this recorded in our library.

Inside Seminar Level Contact

As things progressed and his association grew, Taika had many member only seminars.  There was a little more trust built up with possibly the hosting dojo owner, but not all the attendees were people Taika knew and trusted.  Quite often there would be a large amount of kyu rank students of the host, and Taika only formally taught yudansha at his dojo.  More on that in a bit.  At these a little more instruction might come out, a little more detail, but he was still a very guarded man.  Most attendees were still restricted to just a couple of minutes of face time with the man.

Dojo Level Contact

At Taika’s dojo he taught primarily local yudansha and occasionally allowed a lucky brown belt that was nearing their yudansha exam to join the classes.  At this level, the instructor per student ratio was anywhere from 15-30 and you could expect during every single class to get several minutes of face to face time.  If you kept at it for years or decades, your Oyata clock would get rather full.

Secret Group

Taika knew very well that even in his dojo, with 15-30 people at any given time it was hard to separate his time sufficiently to groom people the way he needed to so that a large percentage of his knowledge wouldn’t be lost.  He would form a smaller group and then stress to everyone in it that it was secret and they were not to tell anyone.  Of course, he himself wasn’t very good at keeping secrets but these again were yet another step up, decreasing the instructor/student ration from anywhere from two to one to ten to one.  This ratio was great, however the ability to logistically get the larger group of maybe 10 people together in secret was difficult, particularly when only two were geographically close.  Two to one groups were pretty simple if the two lived local to him. 

Solo Training

And of course the best ratio was the one on one training that usually occurred in his basement, garage or back yard.  Few lucky practitioners reached this stage and for various reasons.  The lucky may have been picked for their special abilities, their proved trustworthiness, basic proximity to him, or a myriad of other reasons.  Those that have shared their experiences with me have had nothing more than a basic guess as to Taika’s reasoning for choosing them for a specific area of training.  These sessions could be related to special weapons, open hand or just principles and philosophies.    


Oyata clock hour’s aside, the innate ability, determination and practice regimen of the participant in any of these training settings makes it so that no two people can be precisely compared.  However, the next time someone is touting their Oyata relationship, check their clock hours.  Did they go to two seminars as an outsider compiling maybe 4 minutes of face time?  Did they go to two seminars as a kyu member, compiling maybe 4 minutes of face time?  Did they train for 1 year at his dojo compiling a few hours of face time?  Did they attend two large seminars a year compiling about 8 minutes of time per year face to face for two decades?  Did they train directly one on one with the man, accumulating hundreds or thousands of Oyata clock hours?  It is really difficult to put a time clock punch card on the table and review the reality of the training people are touting. 

There are far too many people throwing around Taika’s namesake as their lineage when they only belong to the first category, or even worse their instructor was in the first category and they themselves never even met the man.  Ask questions of them and the people that know them.  If someone is touting Oyata’s lineage, you should see it in their body and in their technique, not hear it in their mouth. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Tanbo - French Grip and German Grip

French Grip and German Grip

I know what you’re thinking.  Wasn’t this supposed to be a blog about Tanbo?  Well, yes it is.  But I wanted to talk about some theory on grip, specifically Oyata’s theories that he shared with me in that last few years before he passed away.  I never could specifically place WHY he picked me for Tanbo.  Was it because I was a drummer?  Was it because I was a cop that used police batons?  Or was I just a reliable student who was accessible to him, lived close, and he felt he could impart these tidbits of knowledge to?  Who knows?  Perhaps it was a combination of these or maybe none of them.  I do believe that being a drummer has given me a bit of insight into Tanbo strikes and captures that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t spent close to 4 decades striking drums and cymbals.

In the drum world, we call the grip Taika had me use on the sticks as MATCHED GRIP.  There are essentially two variants of the matched grip when striking a drum; French and German.  I’m going to use this terminology in describing the strikes and you can substitute whatever terms you want, it really doesn’t matter.  And as always, there are gradually blends of the two.

French Grip (Power Grip)

On a drum stick, French Grip is essentially thumbs up or thumbs on the opposite side of the object you are striking.  Just like in striking a body with a Tanbo, when striking various drums in a drum kit or cymbals, your hand turns at different angles.  This is most like a milking punch.  The pinky side of your hand is towards the striking side and if you opened your hand, your palm would be facing about a right angle away from the striking point.  The thumb side of your wrist absorbs the impact and helps extend the stick into the object.  It can prevent the bounce or recoil if wished.  Most of the time in drumming, you want a bounce.  But in striking a body, you probably want to penetrate and extend through your target.  This grip, you could also think of as a Power Grip and Penetrating Grip.  There may be times you want a rebound in a fight, but this grip is better suited for penetration.  Unlike in drumming, you are going to have the pad of the wrist absorbing the impact which will be in line with your radial bone.  Your pinky finger and perhaps ring finger will curl in to help pivot the stick into the target.  Probably wouldn’t have my thumb in this exact position on a tanbo but you get the point.

German Grip (Pivot Grip)

German Grip, on the other hand, the stick goes into the webbing of your hand between the thumb and the index finger.  I would call this a Pivot Grip.  There is a noticeable lack of support for the stick when striking something.  There is nothing on the back of the stick supporting it when it strikes an object.  The stick will give way to the force.  Essentially, if you opened your hand your palm would be facing towards the strike.  You might be thinking, “Why would I want this?”  This is one of the brilliant philosophical gifts from Taika.  Using this grip allows you to use the opponent’s arm, neck, leg, or torso as a pivot point.  The second you strike an object, the stick gives way to that object and starts to ‘fold’ through the webbing of your hand.  If you hand keeps its forward motion, you can let the stick switch sides, roll around the object, and capture the object.  This is the major benefit of this Pivot Grip. 

The kata Taika was teaching me over his last few years was a Close Quarters Tanbo kata.  The Pivot Grip is integral in capturing the opponent.  Wrist, Elbow, Shoulder and Neck were the typical targets of the techniques from the kata.   All of this was enabled by using these two grips on the stick.  Additionally, the position on the stick has changed from the traditional Tanbo grip.  Instead of holding the stick at the ends, the grip is at the natural and optimal fulcrum of the stick.  This is identical to most drum stick grips. 

Rule of Thirds – Approximately

In gripping the Tanbo like Taika showed me for this kata, or a drumstick, we typically use the rule of thirds to find the Optimal Balance Point for striking.  I’m not talking about 100% true balance in the center, but the optimal fulcrum.  The front end, and inevitably the back end when sliding to the reverse grip in the kata, should be about 1/3 of the stick to 2/3 ratio.  There are other factors that might come into play like the type of wood (weight) and of course with a drum stick it tapers at the end and may have a small or large bead or even plastic weighted bead.  We don’t have that with a Tanbo.  Drummers call this isolating the fulcrum or finding the ‘sweet spot’.  Finding this fulcrum point does two things; allows an optimal amount of energy transfer and balance when striking, and allows an optimal amount of strength when capturing with the long end. 

First, let’s get the right sized Tanbo for our body.  Not all humans are the same size, so not all Tanbo should be the same.  The 1” thick by 24” length is rarely going to be the right size for anyone.  Keep in mind, this is a close in, Close Quarters kata.  If your stick is too long you will hit yourself in the face trying to do some of these techniques.  If it is too thick you won’t be able to keep a good grip during impact as well as roll the stick during squeezes and captures.  (See blog)

Since most of you do not have a drum handy, take a mouse pad and set it on a piece of wood or table.  We are not going to be hitting it very hard, but don’t dent Great Grandma’s 100 year old dining room table that you inherited.   Start by holding your Tanbo with a grip about 2/3 forward, 1/3 back.  Try the French Grip shown above.  Now a drummer is pinching the stick at the 1/3 mark usually with their index finger and thumb.  That is a pretty weak grip when hitting a person.  Fine on a drum that isn’t hitting back, but not fine for combat.  A better grip, and the one we use will be essentially the same however we will use our middle finger at the point of assumed optimal fulcrum.  Now, using your wrist only, locking your forearm in place, lift and tap the mouse pad.  Let the stick bounce.  This requires a completely loose grip.  Let the stick pivot between the middle finger and the thumb.  This is not how you’d hit someone, but we are finding the sweet spot.  Count the times it bounces.  Now adjust your grip up and down the stick a couple of centimeters at a time.  The spot you find gets the most bounces, is the sweet spot and where your middle finger should go.  Presuming your stick is a typical Tanbo and straight, then you can mark the stick and just measure it to match on the opposite side.  Now you know the optimal placement of your middle finger fore and aft.  This kata has a long end foreward position and a long end rearward position.  Unless you are using a tapered Tanbo, which I don’t suggest, then these should match.  If you are using rattan or bamboo, these balance points may be different on each end.

Power Grip Strike

Once you have figured out your optimum location for your power strike it is time to hit things.  I would suggest a bag rather than brother, sister, spouse or your kid.  Noisy neighbors are optional.  When you strike something like a bag

Obviously, striking with your thumb on the back works on a drum but can be detrimental to your thumb when hitting hard.

This same power grip can help you hook and capture with logically, a strong grip. With the pinky side, whether long or short, you can capture an arm, wrist, neck, et cetera. 

Pivot Grip

Deliberately contacting or striking while using a pivot grip (or switching mid-stream) allows you to continue through the target and wrap around and capture the item you pivoted past.  Naturally, with everything in these arts, much practice needs to be made.  As your grip open slightly, the strength of the grip is weakened momentarily.  You don’t want to take a full brunt strike from this grip.  Developing your skill with this grip is what will help make your clickity clackity stick fighting turn into a close quarters capture environment.



I could type and talk for hours on the lessons Taika gave me in regards to this, but I’ll just stop now with this ‘beginning’ as it was the beginning he gave me that opened my eyes to a whole new world.  Hopefully it gives you some extra things to think about and develop as it continues to do to me.

Public Service Announcement

After much debate over three or more years, I have left the former association I was affiliated with for many long years.  I am not going into the how or why, or a smear campaign.  I have attempted to take the high road in many ways, and yet I have recently heard of some people smearing me.  I chose a low profile and thus have not posted anything in a year, and nothing at all since January when I did not renew.

First off, it was not my idea to take the entire KC group away.  In all seriousness, the KC group was trying to pry me away for 2-3 years before I finally gave in for reasons I will not list here.  I was the last one holding us in that organization.  Me, the one certain people are wrongfully saying was the kingpin and ring leader taking everyone away.  It was a difficult decision for me and suffice to say, was only acted upon after I felt it was truly affecting my health.  I tried hard before making the decision, to contribute and I believe the 2016 Summer Conference is proof of that where I invested thousands of dollars of my own money in a last ditch effort to get some exposure for the organization. 

I have no delusions of grandeur.  I will not ever be the best or most knowledgeable artist in the world nor in my little circle of friends.  I will not be a master.  I will not be the leader of a world organization with a throng of hundreds or thousands.  I will just be Lee, training as I always have.  Sharing as I always have.  I have no idea why people want to smear me.  I am not in competition with anyone.

I attempted to stay silent out of respect for Taika.  People are saying I started calling and emailing and messaging everyone in the association telling them that I was going and inviting them to come with me.  Again, I have no aspirations of leading anyone anywhere.  I will train in my basement dojo with those that want to train there, with my students and peers.  I will attend seminars here and there to increase my knowledge and if someone wants me to share, I will share.  I’m not greedy.  I ONLY let three close friends outside of the KC group know I was not renewing, only after myself and Lisa went and talked to Robin face to face.  We didn’t just send a cold letter, email or facebook message.  Probably the most difficult break up in my life.  That night, I told 3 close confidants that were out of town, only one of which was still remaining in the organization at the time and he still remains.  None of which I attempted to recruit to become my disciples. 

Only two people still in the organization have reached out to me and asked about it and I have talked to them about my base reasons.  I have not led a smear campaign.  I have disagreements with the philosophy of things and so I chose what was best suited for my physical and emotional needs after it was obvious we were set upon drastically different paths.  I left.  I will not voice the reasons of all the other yudansha and mudansha in the KC area.  All had their reasons and made their own choices, many of which many months or years prior to mine.  I have kept quiet for 8 months now, because it is not my place to sway others, as it should not be others' place to wrongfully smear me.

I still support the family in other ways.  I still pay with my own funds for their web site, as I have done for many, many years.  I gave the reigns of that endeavor over to Masaki Oyata last year, I have no input or anything on the site. I merely pay the bills out of respect for Taika. I know my departure wasn't appreciated or fully understood by the family, but I just couldn't remain under the circumstances.

If you have heard rumors, please check with the source.  I can be reached on this blog, on facebook, via the website’s email, and most of the people who would actually read this know my phone number.  I will not wave my sith lord hand and invite you to the dark side.  I don’t know any mind tricks.  I won’t play any games.

I am but a simple man, rolling over into my waning years of my physical limitations, and attempting to enjoy those years with less stress in my life.

Lee Richards

The Choke Misidentification Conundrum

The Choke Misidentification Conundrum
Do you suffer from CMC, there is a cure?


Repeatedly, I hear the ignorant masses spouting wrong things about Choke Hold This and Choke Hold That.  Before you feel insulted, ignorance is something we all have.  I am quite ignorant of how to get to the moon or Mars.  I have a general idea but have not fully educated myself.  The math of it all is probably a bit above me.  Being ignorant doesn’t mean I’m stupid, dumb or anything of the sort.  I have just not educated myself on that particular topic.  I am ignorant in a myriad of things including portions of the martial arts, hence my continued study.  There are a ton of people totally ignorant of the difference in a choke and a neck restraint, particularly a carotid restraint.

Choke (Chōk) - verb
(of a person or animal) have severe difficulty in breathing because of a constricted or obstructed throat or a lack of air.

A choke is an action where you are cutting off a person’s air supply.  Most often in the martial arts, it refers to the action of placing ones forearm across the front of a person’s neck and squeezing to cut off the air supply by pressure against the windpipe or trachea.   Of course it can occur in other ways such as with a bicep, leg, et cetera.  The MMA has made the leg variant popular.



Chokes such as this have been popular for years in movies.  You see them all the time in your favorite spy movies and such. 

Choke techniques have two core problems:
1.    They can easily result in death or serious injury.
2.    They can easily result in a law suit from the impending death or physical injury.

In today’s society, I cannot fathom a very good reason to teach these other than as a matter of life or death.  Maybe you find yourself in this position and they are stabbing you in the leg or torso with that knife you missed so you crush their trachea…..ok, but in today’s society everyone is going to pick apart how you got in that position to begin with, which is kind of what started this blog tonight.

We teach in our dojo, not to do this.  It is our belief, with years of Law Enforcement experience to back it up, that chokes take longer to incapacitate than carotid restraints take to render unconsciousness, unless you are the Hulk and then, well, it isn’t easy being green.

So what is a carotid restraint?  My classmate does an excellent job here of explaining it:

For those either too lazy or under time restraints…..suffice to say it affects the circulatory system, NOT the airway.  And note that LVNR is a trademarked SYSTEM of instruction used to apply a carotid restraint.  The NLETC has a long and impressive track record of training police officers to use carotid restraints throughout the world without cases of death or serious injury.  They are meticulous in their approach and training and that is why agencies all over the world use them.  What?  But the media has you to believe that these things are banned by all law enforcement because of the danger.  Nope, quite the contrary….just like a lot of other things you hear online.

The easy way to spot the difference between a choke and a carotid restraint, as the two sets of pictures above and below show, is that in a choke (above) the controlling and damaging mechanism is across the front of the throatThat is a bad thing.  In a carotid restraint (below), the elbow is in front of or in close proximity of the chin.  This PROTECTS the airway. 


Good Thing – Airway is Open

Who’s at fault for this confusion?

The media is part of the problem, but we as martial (life protection) artist are the main source of the problem.  A vast majority of us for decades have confused the two when discussing them.  They may look similar to the naked eye, but they are completely different things. 

What can you do as a fellow artists? - Change your nomenclature!

Stop calling things the wrong thing.  Even though for years you have heard certain things called a choke, if they are not a choke as previously defined, stop doing it.  Review all your handouts, web curriculum, and fix it.  Start correcting anyone you hear say it wrong.  Do it now!

Tackles:  The other thing is there are commonly confused ‘take downs’ that are used by law enforcement, security officers, et cetera that at first glance appear to be either a choke or a carotid restraint.  These are in fact tackles that start by encirclement of the area around the neck but should not really have any pressure.  Of course these can be dangerous as well as a dog pile ensues or as the two or more ugly masses pile to the ground.  The death of Eric Garner in New York started as a tackle where the officer appears to be trying to drag Garner down with his forearm on the carotid side of his neck.  Garner is larger, taller than the officer.  I’m not going to further arm chair quarterback that event but when they go to the ground the arm appears to be across the front of the neck for 4-5 seconds before the officer switches to other tactics.  Whether there was direct pressure on the trachea at the time or the officer was trying to re position, is a debate I won’t get into.  That is beyond the scope of this blog.  The party was able to breathe as he was still able to talk and the medical examiner concluded that no damage to Garner's windpipe or neck bones was found.

Another Case in Point:
Below is a very typical web news site and can you spot the problem here?  The elbow is directly below the chin.

Is this a choke or a carotid restraint? - Absolutely correct, it is a CAROTID RESTRAINT.

Can the person breathe?  YES, perfectly well, though he will most likely be taking a nap shortly.

Video – For those that want to watch more of this, I’m not going to debate the several issues that led up to the decision to use this but I will say that fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with using this technique to restraint this individual.  I have actually done a rather detailed research of this incident and others to which I completely side with the orange shirt.  The drunk needed to go and refused all previous reasonable attempts to comply.  Don’t forget that the media only showed a portion of the video and that the person who filmed it only started filming it once it had escalated to a level that caught his attention and he subsequently remembered he had a video recorder on his phone.  The problem that ensued is that the uneducated masses that were there immediately assume the security guard is killing the person.  They wrongfully make that assessment because they are uneducated and then begin interfering which presented a danger to the carotid participant.  The carotid participant was in absolutely no danger until the idiot super vigilantes stepped in.

Another Example

Here is the video link that showed up today in my timeline that caused this blog.  Now, the video cuts off and we can debate other things in this video like what led up to it and such, but that is a different topic for another blog.  The main thing I want to address is;

Is this a Choke or a Carotid Restraint?

Well, up until the video ends, the elbow is directly under the chin.  This was a very close quarter’s encounter on a subway.  We actually practice in tighter areas like a city bus and I can tell you that it took a little bit of skill to keep that elbow where it was.  A few people accused this practitioner of just learning this from watching MMA videos.  If he did, he is a quick study.  He did a real good job of getting that elbow under the chin and keeping it there during this short, tight encounter.  Debate the other things to your hearts content, but this is very much a Carotid Restraint.

To sum up tonight’s blog, it is our task to correct our own vernacular and nomenclature as well as help to educate the public.  Do not let the uneducated public and the muck stirring media continue to disparage good techniques by calling them bad things.