Monday, October 19, 2020



So what you are saying is, despite evidence, you do not believe the evidence.

Taika Seiyu Oyata used to say he was born in 1928 and that he was a Dragon on the Chinese Zodiac.  He said this for decades and we can only speculate as to the reasons.  I personally speculate that he did this initially as a way to get a job just after the war but it could be any one of a million reasons and he never gave us the reasons for this incorrect D.O.B.

We do know, in front of numerous witnesses at his dojo, multiple times as well as at the birthday seminar in October of 2011 with Tasshi Jim Logue that he recanted that.  Tasshi Logue even put it out to some people that were not there as well as updated the RyuTe web site at that time.  Taika stated he was indeed born in 1930 and that the 1928 date was not true.  In conversations I had with him along with Marven Fankhauser, Lisa Ohmes and others he was adamant that he wanted this cleared up and was even tearful.  I do not know why he kept the lie up so long after WWII and his time on Okinawa, probably because it had been written down in a couple of books and that was the accepted story.  Taika, however wanted it cleared up before he died.  He told a lot of people before he died and stressed that this was important to him.  THAT is why I keep pushing the issue.  Out of respect for Taika, one of his last wishes was that people knew his true date of birth, even if he didn't give us any reason for why he allowed people to carry on with the 1928 nonsense for over 60 years.

When Taika died, the slideshow specifically showed his date as 1930 because that is what he wanted.  The web site approved by Robin updated all historical references on the web site to show 1930 as well.

His family knew and many students knew that was his wish to be known.  

Regrettably, many senior members refused to acknowledge it then and even still now, and they put the wrong date on the headstone.

Many people refused to believe Taika before he died, some scoffed at him behind his back and said he was senile.  After he died people refused to believe his own immediate family, Robin, Masaki and Masami.  So with Robin's permission I contacted his family in Okinawa.

Tomi (Taika's own sister) was contacted and responded to a bunch of family questions and definitively proved that Taika was born in 1930 and absolutely was not a dragon.  She had the records.  She later passed away but Taika's nephew has those records now.  The board was sent that info but didn't care either.  Still a bunch of people refuse to believe Taika's own words, his sisters, his nephews, his wife, his two kids, and a host of students that also heard it and knew how important it was to him.

If that wasn't enough, when we were cleaning up the house for Robin after his death, a bunch of tubs of old documents were going out to the dumpster.  In this were all Taika's original writings, in Japanese as well as various drafts of translations. All but the final version of RyuTe no Michi that went to press and was amended for unknown reasons by the people that helped translate it, all these original drafts in English and Japanese all show 1930 as his birth year.

Oyata birth of 1930 and age of enlistment

Book draft to publisher on March 30, 1998 before one of Taika's 'helpers' changed it.

Why did he persist so long in that story?  I cannot say for sure but can only speculate.  Maybe it gave him better chances at jobs being 2 years older.  Maybe it got him better training chances.  Maybe like kids here in the U.S. who use a fake ID to get alcohol or cigarettes it provided something tangible that he needed in POST-WWII Okinawa.  We do not know.

What we do know are two things;

  • Taika Seiyu Oyata was born on October 19, 1930
  • Taika Seiyu Oyata wanted this corrected before he died and felt it was very important.

All of the above listed evidence points to 1930 as well as every single document the family has.  Passports and other ID's and paperwork over the years all say 1930.

Taika told tons of us it was 1928 or that information was handed down from one person to another but it is simply not true.  Why does it matter to me so much, because it was one of many of his last wishes.  He wanted to set the record straight and thus I am passionate about it.  I have absolutely nothing to gain from this other than fulfilling a promise.


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Check Your Source - People Know

Lately there has been a parade of Oyata experts spouting things that are completely contrary to his teachings.  Absolutely stupid ignorant things like Oyata said never train or teach slow when their are countless videos of him going slow and witnesses to the contrary.  Most of these people have zero to minimal Oyata Clock Hours.  Please check around and verify what they say with someone that was actually around till the end....2012.  People know.

People know if you never even met Taika and are spouting information based solely on what your instructor told you.  Your instructor that incidentally was kicked out by Taika and his rank and titles stripped by Taika.  People even have copies of the registered letters of revocation.

People know if your instructor last trained with Taika in the year 2000 and quit coming to classes after he recovered from surgery, thereby losing out on any updates, changes or evolution of the art for the final 12 years.

People know if your instructor showed up twice a year and Taika refused to do anything but 'basics' when they were around because he didn't trust them.

People know if nobody saw you for 5-12 years at a single seminar but now are his number one student.

People know if you skipped the last 10 years of training available to you and just paid your annual $50 membership.

People know if you were kicked out of the association by the creator of the association nearly 20 years prior and then kicked out of the funeral by his son.

People know and have recordings of Taika talking about you....and it isn't in a good light.

People know if you left the association of your own free will, were removed, revoked or simply asked to leave.  

People know if you missed decades of training and growth.

People know if you only showed up for rank and spent your seminar time in the cabin, in the hotel room, in a bar, or holding up a wall.

People know if you claim to have trained at HQ but it was when Taika was absent in the hospital and you only made one class after his return.

People have copies of the HQ roll Books which include minutes in class and if you actually trained or just socialized.

People have records of who went to camp.

People have records of who hosted seminars and how often.

People know if you talked smack about Taika for the last few years of his life then miraculously were best friends and his number one student.

People know what Political Rank was.

People know Taika preached against makiwara and so said in his book.

People know Taika dropped bogu and tournaments from his curriculum as contrary to his teachings.

People know who financially cheated and lied to Taika.

People know you are NOT fooling anyone and how absolutely foolish you look.

Stop diluting and remixing Oyata's legacy to ride on the coattails of someone you barely gave any time or thought to while he was alive.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Police and Martial Arts - Different Yet Related

I recently read the above article where someone talks about a survey they did of police and why police don’t train, this spawned some group discussions with other martial artists and I wanted to address a few things as many people end up with police in their classes but do not have the proper police mindset to know how to train them.  They often give bad advice that is bad because they don’t have an understanding of how police do things, their political restraints, et cetera.  Below is loosely the response I posted in one of these groups.  I originally posted this to one group because I was frustrated by the fact that most cops don’t train, and also by the choices of some that do.

I vastly believe that Oyata's FULL Art is much better and very much suited to the way in which police do things.  Taika taught numerous cops, he had several who were dojo owners, extra stuff that didn’t go into the normal seminars including ground.  I have several videos of such.  We can discuss individually more but I spent years 3-4 in retail security, then 27 as a cop, and counting my pre-cop time with Officer/Shihan Mike Waddell I now have over 30 years training cops.  I've taught recruits Nationally with N.L.E.T.C. (National Law Enforcement Training Center) as well as sit/sat on numerous panels where trainers from all of the world discuss what cops do, what works, what they need, et cetera..  I'm responsible for teaching Police Trainers via N.L.E.T.C. and have been certifying people as police trainers as well as teaching in multiple academies since 1998 and involved in various in-service training programs since 1989. At KCPD's Regional Police Academy every Use of Force/Response to Resistance report were reviewed for every single officer.   The key things cops use the most during their confrontations, not including verbal skills, is wrist, then elbow, then shoulder locks.  Taika's art is well suited in that endeavor and 99% of what I used in and on the street and what I teach recruits still to this day.

I have seen recruits come through with all sorts of backgrounds throughout the years; wrestling, boxing, Karate, Tae Kwan Do, Generic MMA, BJJ, Traditional JJ, et cetera.  Hell, my background that I don’t advertise is Karate, Tsing-I, Bagua, Judo, BJJ, JJ and that’s all I can remember now that I have formally studied in smaller doses over the years since around 1983 but I only claim Oyata’s art which I do not consider even remotely as Karate.  I only ever refer to it as Karate when speaking with someone that asks what I do and I don’t feel like explaining to the uneducated person that only knows what they see on TV what Taika’s art is.  And I am in no way trying to be insulting when I say uneducated.  I am uneducated in a great many things.  But we’ve all been at that party where your friend introduces you to the Soccer Mom that wants to put their kid in Karate so you are suddenly in this conversation with this person that has no idea what you are talking about.  Taika’s art is a hybrid of Ryukyu and Chinese arts but saying that just confuses the heck out of anyone, even people that have been training in the arts for years….but I digress.  The other arts I have thus experienced firsthand as well as been exposed to thus far, all have some minor issues with the philosophy of being a cop.  I believe (I, I, I, I, my opinion) that they each have significant weaknesses.  A lot of these weaknesses have been exacerbated with the advent of pocket phone cameras and everyone's arm-chair quarterbacking of recent years.  There is good and bad to that. Good - keeps bad cops more in check.  Bad - People with no true knowledge of how we work become Judge Judy and executioner. One exacerbation is that many departments won’t allow a closed fist or a carotid response because it looks bad on T.V (now the interwebs).

Several style weakness are obvious like kicking above the head, pinning someone face-up, focusing too much on a non-head up position during ground work, therefor being unaware of the surrounding environment and friends of the suspect.  I posted a link to a video in regards to this several months back where two people that were quite well known in South America for their in ring prowess, and had great in ring records, got hurt bad at a gas station, well actually I believe one was in a coma for a while and may have died.  Ring Mentality and Contest Mentality I have personally seen get cops hurt.  Not saying Oyata’s art is perfect, but so far I find it superior in every way.  IF I didn’t get those other parts of the art, the little things not seen in most seminars, and actually thought what we did was Karate then I would probably not feel the way I do.  But I got a lot more from him because of my occupation as did other cops in Okinawa before he left, NY, MN, KS, MO, CA and probably many others I didn’t even know about.  Heck, when I first got my shodan from Taika he told me to cut my hair because it was well over half way down my back.  He really didn’t know much about me, I came to class and was just quiet.  When he told me to cut my hair, I told him I was an undercover cop and he proceeded to show much a bunch of techniques.  This was as one of his outdoor camps at Tall Oaks.  Most everyone had left, it was Sunday afternoon and the few of us still there got a bonus seminar. The philosophies of that man are why I got into this particular art, stayed in it and quite literally are why I am alive today.  I wasn’t on the street but a few months when I disarmed a guy from shoving a sharp and pointy object into my heart with the very Oyata technique we had practiced that very night in the dojo prior to me coming to work.  (For those that do not know, a Kevlar bullet resistant vest will not stop a sharp pointy object like a knife, icepick, or screwdriver.  Most US cops don’t wear STAB-Vest)

There are key things that happen in every market and police training is not exempt from that.  One of which was all of the ground work that led many years back to a slew of BJJ and JJ schools coming into the L.E. market.  This came about shortly after that first big UFC bout with the one of the Gracie’s dominating the event and suddenly everyone wanted to be in the UFC.  This insertion into the market was good in some ways as it did reveal some weaknesses of techniques, for instance the old standard of using your bodies kinetic motion to help knock a hand off your gun doesn’t work when you are lying on your back.  What happened at the time, is that without any stats to back them up, people on departments said ‘We got to add this!’   Of course they received no more training hours, so they neglected other aspects of training.  We ended up with lots of academy recruits that were mediocre at best on the ground after a 6 months academy, but couldn’t stand up and cuff someone or safely get them to the ground prone instead of supine.   Of the probably tens of thousands of cops over the years, I’ve known ONE that got into a situation where a bad guy pinned him and started the M.M.A. cage fight smack down.  I am referring to the full smack down with intent to deprive life, NOT just getting on top for a few hits and running off.  The cop used an alternate tool and survived.  The M.M.A. guy did not.  The ring mentality is a one on one, get the better of you fight but still has rules.  The suspect mentality is possibly one on one, but get the hell out of there fight.  In most cases, a punch or two fly but their goal is to get away, not stay and fight you.  They know that more cops are probably en route so they want to get a quick advantage and get away.  As the good guy you are trying to detain them while they are trying to flee.  Wrist, Shoulder, Elbow and occasionally in group activities the knee and ankle lock.  So when asked if they are only going to spend a few hours a week what should they spend that time on?  Taika’s art.  Again, this is my opinion backed by 30+ year not in the martial arts but in police training.  But again, it is my opinion.

The Dojo Challenge

Here is a dojo challenge for you.  Put a $20 bill somewhere in the dojo, a good ways away from the mat.  Or a coupon for a free month of lessons.  If your dojo is big enough maybe a few turns or hallways away.  You and your student go as far away from that money as possible.  Stand facing each other and at some point while having a gainful conversation about someone’s favorite activity, sports, or anything other than politics…..try and grab your student and get them prone, pinned in a position where both hands would be able to be handcuffed (I realize most of you probably only have the fuzzy leopard skin ones).  Your students challenge is to get free (they can kick, punch, et cetera….most anything goes within reason) and run to the $20 bill.  If they touch it, the game is over and they keep the $20.  Do this with every student in the dojo and start over till you have done it a thousand times.

Then you might just understand the game is a little different.  Screw that, vastly different.  People have a different mindset when trying to turn and run that face and punch, kick, et cetera.  They don’t want to go to jail and they don’t have a great master plan like in the movies.  Odds are, they were not expecting this confrontation.  They just want to get away.  On a rare occasion, they may be looking for a fight but that is not normally the case.  The vast majority of police fights have two different goals.  Theirs is to get free and run, yours is to pin and cuff.

Back in the 1970’s, as police departments got more and more organized and something called the International Association of the Chiefs of Police (IACP) came together, cops started organizing everything including injury reports and inevitably training.  (In reality this started in 1893 but really the things I’m going to describe didn’t really start happening until the 1970’s)  Chief’s started talking to their peers across the nation and then across the world.  Their lawyers converged and started looking at liability and how to handle all the injuries, payouts, et cetera.  Prior to this there was really no Defensive Tactics training programs that were very detailed, vetted, and organized to the extent we see today.  (Side Note: Really should be Offensive Tactics in most cases as we usually make the first move….to arrest).  You pretty much came on, went through a couple weeks of school work, were handed a baton and a gun and scooted out the door.  Large departments like ours searched for and found a Martial Artist, because ‘they know best’.  It was really the loss of money from lawsuits that drove departments to this and to some extent the loss of life.  There was really no good formalized handgun retention program in the United States and officers were getting killed with their own weapons.  So departments all over the world started doing this and got some rather screwy results.  If the martial artist came from a rule based, one on one environment, the program reflected that.  Whatever the artist roots were, the arts DNA went down into that department’s officers, good and bad.  Later, as injuries and law suits were still happening for many, and people still getting hurt, the IACP conferences would have sessions where lawyers and D.T. instructors came together to compare notes.  I am somewhat over simplifying what took many years but you get the point.  So for about 50 years these have been refined over and over.  What is trending?  What department or group has the least amount of excessive use of force complaints, officer injuries and other various stats like who held onto their gun the most successfully during altercations?  These discussions, critiques and refining are still going on today.  I have been involved in this process for 30 of the 50 years in one way or another.

Now, what was the most frustrating for me in over 30 years of training cops is that 99% of them are lazy ass shits.  The survey in this post I found interesting BUT sincerely not honest in the results.  Most young/new cops say they'd rather spend time with family and stuff like the blog said, however if you dig deep they are spending all sorts of time doing 'fun' things, playing online games, et cetera.  I have offered free training to recruits and veteran officers over the years and rarely do they ever take me up on it.  So that is my frustration.  I can’t get them to train free at the dojo.  I cannot get them to come in or stay late an extra 30 minutes for free training.  Training I am not getting paid for. 

In a nutshell, I would like to see cops be more concerned about their safety.  Too many cops get by on nothing.  I personally have a close friend who came on the job with me, known him since the 7th grade.  In his first year he got his gun taken away and in the struggle he was lucky and by complete accident the magazine fell out.  This particular gun had a magazine safety and even if one round was in the chamber it wouldn’t fire if the magazine fell out.  During this struggle over the gun my friend fell back and the bad guy stood victorious with his gun.  Bad guy pointed it at my friends head and pulled the trigger.  A click was all that was heard.  He pulled it I believe three more times, tried to rack a round, nothing.  Bad guy ran off with the gun and my friend just sat there in stunned silence wondering why he wasn’t dead.  Guess how many self-defense or extra D.T. classes he signed up for since that incident in 1992?  Zero.  He is alive only because the magazine release was bumped during the fight.  He completely failed on his handgun retention techniques even though he was just mere months fresh from learning and practicing them in the academy.  THIS is what frustrates me and gives me bouts of insomnia.  The fact that I’ll have to go stand out in a line and listen to bagpipes yet again.  This friend was lucky but I’ve buried others that weren’t.

Me, at a Friends Funeral

Monday, September 30, 2019

After Battle

I am a big fan of comedy and particularly when it relates to my real life.  Hot Fuzz is my favorite cop movie and of course, Master Ken of AmeridoTe is my favorite comedian in the world of martial arts.  At this time, EnterTheDojoShow has 485,000 subscribers, almost 70 million views, and 293 videos produced.  The flip side of that, the sad side, is that the reason there is so much comedic material available to him to work with, is our industry is just filled with bad practices, ridiculous claims and outright fraud.

The big thing I want to discuss, and well it will be more venting as usual which is basically what blogs are (therapy) because it is rare that anyone wants to respond to them……… is the LAW.  I could sit and just randomly scroll through youtube and find a ton of martial arts training and demo videos that always have a big finish.  The veritable money shot of martial arts.  What I’m talking about is stomping the groin, breaking the arm, breaking the leg, stomping the head and all of these other big finishes you see in so many arts….particularly hard style arts.  My favorite is the James Bond neck snap and all its variants.  Why?  Because it looks cool.  One of my great martial arts training buddies has been training for decades in BJJ and his favorite saying when someone asks why we do something a certain way is, “Cause chicks dig it.”  In other words, because it looks cool and makes us look cool……we think anyway.

Now I am not saying that these things may not have a time and a place, but we now live in a civilized, law-suit happy world.  Taika Seiyu Oyata used to say that you fight two battles, the one on the street and the one in the court.  I like to think of it as three fights as there are two court rooms you can land in.  The civil case as well as the legal case. 

So we like to think we are the good guys and gals.  That we are not going to be the evil that starts a fight.  That we will be defending ourselves or others.  But what a lot of people don’t realize is that, depending where you live in this world, that thin line separating the good from the bad, can move. 

Initial Physical Aggressor

Many years ago, most cops arriving on the scene of some fight would ask, “Who started it.”  If they could clearly tell that, this person went to jail.  In many jurisdictions both parties went to jail as there are ordinances where it is illegal to fight…period, end of story.  Well this was the status quo for many years in law enforcement as well as once the case was brought to court.

Primary Physical Aggressor

Well then, as always, things change.  New terms came out like Primary Physical Aggressor.  Here is just an example of one such definition in a state statute.

The term "primary physical aggressor" is defined as the most significant, rather than the first, aggressor. The law enforcement officer shall consider any or all of the following in determining the primary physical aggressor:
(1) the intent of the law to protect victims of domestic violence from continuing abuse;
(2) the comparative extent of injuries inflicted or serious threats creating fear of physical injury; and
(3) the history of domestic violence between the persons involved.

Again, just in the United States alone, each State will have slightly different laws, each municipality or county may have little additions to it as well as the police themselves may have certain policies based on all of the above.  Apologies to my International buddies, I don't know your divisional boundaries.  To my friends in New Zealand, Canada, England and Japan.....sorry.

Turning to the Dark Side

Let’s just make up a hypothetical example.  There you are, listening to your favorite band at the local bar.  You are just minding your own business and some drunk bumps into you but perceives it the other way, that it is your fault.  You apologize and attempt to de-escalate.  He eventually goes away but keeps mean-mugging you (staring at you) from across the bar.  Eventually you decide to head home and go out to the parking lot.  The drunk follows you to the car.  He throws a punch and you, with all your years of training, are no match for the intoxicated guy and simply parry it, throw an armbar on him.  He lands on the ground. 

He now is incapacitated by restraint.

He cannot throw another punch and since you are well trained he has no avenue of defense.  He cannot even kick.  You now decide to ‘finish him’ by breaking his arm so that he cannot attack you or anyone else further.

When the cops arrive, he was the INITIAL Physical Aggressor, but witnesses explain that the drunk guy took a swing and that you pinned him, whispered sweet nothings into his ear and after a few seconds, ‘snapped that arm like a twig’.  Guess what, you are now quite possibly the PRIMARY Physical Aggressor.  You did more damage, when you could have either let him up with a warning or waiting for the police to arrive.  It is quite possible that you may be going to jail and even if that doesn’t happen, it is quite possible you may lose a lawsuit in court having quite significant impact on you and your family.

We ALL Need to Train Our Students for This

When our students first learn techniques, they don’t take armbars, tuite and other things to the ground.  They are just learning the fundamental body mechanics, studying the human weaknesses, et cetera.  About 6th kyu we introduce takedowns and pins.  In with that, we add Decision Trees, De-Escalation and Scenario Based Training.

So let us repeat the same basic scenario with our students in the following manner;

We give the student a technique and they go to the ground with their peer in class.  While they have their buddy pinned I ask them questions or just frame the situational training with a description of their environment, possibly similar to the above.  I will use the above scenario as Scenario 1.

Scenario 1: Tavern Disturbance, Drunk Punch in the Parking Lot
-        Ask the student to perform and armbar off of a punch
-        Once pinned, ask the student what they do at this time.
o   Possible Responses:
§  Explain to the opponent while pinned, that you can easily break his arm if he continues to resist.  Say it loud enough that witnesses hear and explain that you don’t want to hurt him but you equally don’t want to get hurt.
§  Ask someone to call the police, keep him pinned till the police arrive.

Related Story: Taika was at a tavern one night with one of his students. It was a cold winter night in Missouri with ice in the lot and sidewalks outside, and a nearly identical situation to the one above occurred.  A drunk decided to pick a fight with one of Taika’s students.  Ego’s prevailed and they moved outside of the bar….onto the ice.  His student slipped and fell to the ice, the drunk jumped on top of him and got a couple of punches in before Taika came up behind, grabbed the drunks arm and pinned him.  Taika said that he told the drunk, “You want arm break?  It’s ok, easy do. No problem for me.  You want break or go away?”  This was from a hospital conversation while I was sitting in Taika’s room about a year before he passed away.  There were a lot more details in the story but suffice to say, Taika pinned the guy and de-escalated.  They guy wholeheartedly agreed, even drunk, that he didn’t want his arm broken and agreed to leave.

Scenario 2: Public Park – Student is told they are out jogging in a public park but it is early morning and they have not seen anyone else at all until someone jumps out and attacks them, possibly trying to steal your wallet and phone.
-        Ask the student to perform and armbar off of a punch.
-        Once pinned, ask the student what they do at this time.  Note: the nature of the armbar (in this manner) doesn’t allow a way to access and dial your phone without letting the suspect go.
o   Possible Responses:
§  Explain that you can break their arm if they continue to resist.
§  They continue to resist.
§  Yell for help – No answer
§  In fear for your life, you may damage the opponent to prevent their continued efforts to harm you.  You are in fear for your life.

Of course these are just a couple of examples to get the students thinking.  We as instructors often claim to teach Self-Defense or Life Protection arts, but I feel we often forget this very important thing.  In police training, when you go through the police academies worldwide, you are constantly checked and evaluated based on scenarios.  These test your physical skill, legal knowledge, policy knowledge and checks how you hash it all out in a little more realistic way.  Teaching your students how to survive an attack only to end up going bankrupt or serving time as a result of stomping the head, is a vast disservice to them.

It is of great importance that now we live in a society where people are more inclined to grab their cell phone and record your fight than help you.  This stage of society has reached the point where everyone has a video camera in their pocket that takes great videos.  These will be used for or against you in court.  Of note, the first part of the confrontation will most likely not be recorded.  So if the bad guy started the fight, the first moments captured by the time they get the phone out and started will be in mutual conflict.

Again, just my 2 ¥ but I think it is high time we ensure our students understand the legal ramification of what we do.  That is why we teach in this manner and do not teach to injure, maim, and break, et cetera unless it is truly the only way to ensure the safety of ourselves or those we are protecting.

Lee Richards

Snippet me Timbers

Since the inception of Youtube and other variants, the world has been flooded with small martial videos.   A large portion of these martial videos are made to generate interest or the cool factor and are not at all videos designed to specifically learn from.  I have frequently posted training videos in the last decade, so that my students could have reference material when they were hopefully home training. These are ‘learn orientated’ where I go through something slow like a kata or teach a foundational principle nice and slow.

A snippet is not a training video.  A snippet is merely a small portion of a seminar, usually under a minute.  As more and more people have invited me to teach at seminars, more and more of these snippets have been released and people will continue to do so.  I always find it crazy that the second one of these gets released and shared across the net, suddenly the keyboard warriors descend upon the video like half-starved vultures, bound and determined to save the world from the things they don’t believe are valid….from their limited perspective of this vast world we live in.

As an example, I was recently asked to teach at a dojo in North Carolina.  I had attended several seminars with the dojo owner and we had become friends.  We both attended each other’s classes at seminars in the past, and when we were not teaching we usually paired up to train in other classes.  He liked what I was doing, I liked what he was doing, and he decided he wanted his students introduced to Taika’s art of tuite after our paths had crossed numerous times and he had purchased and studied the Six Basic Principles of Tuite.  He requested I come and introduce the principles in an hour and a half short seminar. 

An hour and a half is no time at all to learn something as complex as the foundational principles that Taika Seiyu Oyata spent a lifetime teaching his students.  In fact, most of my guest appearances at seminars with multiple instructors are merely 50 minutes long.  When I have seminars where I am the solo instructor I tend to make that much longer if possible but quite often all I can get is 2-3 hours on a regular class night.  So this seminar was a very brief introduction. 

At one point during the class a particular technique was taught to further illustrate a principle, particularly the 3-dimensional attack principle used in Tuite, Kyusho and other aspects of Taika’s art.  During the course of this class, a pair of students were missing two of the principles in the execution of the technique.  After only 4-5 reps, that would be normal for any practitioner, never having trained in a particular manner before.  There were 14 people, so 6 other pairings to help, thus time was limited with each paired practitioners.  I did a very quick cleanup with them and a third party asked if I would repeat what I just did and said for his camera.  And thus, a 55 second snippet was born.

I have kind of gotten used to these moments now and they almost always play out the same.  The snippet gets uploaded to the net, you get a great deal of likes and shares, mostly positive comments, and then you have the few vultures in the world that are going to trash you for no other reason than you are not in their art, their circle, et cetera.

The most common things I see/hear are:

·       That is not a realistic training situation.
·       Nobody grabs in a fight, it just doesn’t happen.

Realism in Training

Now, I don’t know how these people train but in about 40 years of running around in the martial, self-defense and law enforcement training environment, I have never seen anyone successfully teach something new and immediately go to the ‘realistic’ mode.  What would you do if you showed up to a knife defense seminar and the instructor said, “I am only going to show you this defense once, and then randomly attack you when you are not looking with a real weapons.”  Oh, and we won’t give you any time to practice.  It sounds absolutely ludicrous but the Snippet Snipes act like this is what you should be doing, even though they have never trained this way and if they even are instructors themselves wouldn’t teach this way.

Tuite is difficult.  Taika told us, it is a difficult art to attain and thus you should start your students out early in the fundamental principles of it.  His plan, not mine but I wholeheartedly agree.  We introduce tuite to our kyu students within the first three classes.  There are a set of six basic principles that we like for our students to grasp prior to ramping up a little and even then, we don’t jump to realistic mode.  When we first start, they are just standing arm’s length away from each other trying to learn grips and angles of attacks.  They are just learning the basic physics, the science of what it takes to get the proper lock-up.  They are learning how to make it work from a position where they can more easily see their mistakes and correct them.  After they get the hang of that we increase the number of techniques, still from this same start position and every new technique will always start from here.  It is their root, base start position of learning.  This is how you teach new people. We don’t load a fully functional gun, hand it to one student, and tell the other go outside and when you come back in there will be someone in here with a gun and you have to disarm them successfully without dying in order to get your yellow belt.

After months of training in it, and totally dependent upon the student’s abilities, we progress to more and more realistic training.  It is never 100% realistic in that when you walk in the dojo door you know you will be training. The only way to go full-realistic is to put a ski mask on and attempt to mug your student as they are leaving the University, Church, the BBQ restaurant, the bar, et cetera.  Nobody expects the Tuite Inquisition!  We do speed things up later, go from different stances, random pushes, grabs, punches in the dojo, et cetera.  But only after they have the fundamental understanding which takes more than a handful of hours at a seminar.  My job at a seminar is to give you homework, not make you a master at whatever new idea I am introducing you to.

Nobody Grabs in a Fight……Ever

I’ll respond to this in three parts. 

One: You are wrong, it happens all the time, just because it has never ever happened to you doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid technique.  I was a security officer at Kmart and was grabbed and pushed all the time with my attempts to stop shoplifters.  In that 3 year time period I stopped about 250 people.   About a third of them would see the little kid before them and decide they were not going to jail, they would push, punch, and then run away.  I would chase and a ground fight would ensue. Without fail during these ground fights I would get grabbed.

As a cop for 27 years, all of my field time was in the bad parts of town, the inner city and the crack haven of south side.  I took lots of reports involving assaults and saw a lot that were involving pushes and grabs. The vast majority of Domestic Violence (not just man vs woman) calls I went on involved grabs and/or pushes.  As a general rule, people that know each other tend to do things like this rather than full on beat downs.  Most rapes are not stranger rapes, they are indeed people that know you.  Strangers fight more fists and feet but if they get on the ground then they usually grab.  Ten years into my career I became a Sergeant and had to approve every report for my entire sector each night.  So I had to read and respond to many more such events.  They do absolutely happen on a regular basis. 

I have always love this argument, the lack of logic in this argument based on ‘their own life’.  In Kansas City there are just shy of 500,000 residents and it swells up during the work day or specific events to upwards of 1.5 million.  Of all of those people in a given year, only about 14,000 are assaulted in Kansas City per the 2018 stats provided by the department.  Such a tiny percentage of the people are actually assaulted.  And yes I know, a lot of fights are not reported.  I frequently poll people during a seminar and find that very few have ever been in a street fight during their adult lifetime.  Kids, well, most kids get in some sort of scrap but as adults, the vast majority of martial artists don’t get into fights……ever.  The ones that do, and frequently, are the ones that work security, police jobs in big cities, bouncers, et cetera.  As I train cops worldwide to become police trainers I even poll them.  There are tons of ‘Mayberry’ small town cops that maybe get in a scrap once a year, as well as ‘Mayberry’ small town cops that work in meth infested areas that get in as many fights as inner city cops.  So if the slice of the pie worldwide or even just U.S. wide for most of my contacts is so huge and such a small teeny tiny percentage of people are getting assaulted, and such a small percentage of martial students are getting assaulted, how can you say it doesn’t happen.  I even had one person say they had perused ‘x’ amount of youtube fight videos and never seen it happen.  First off, they have not looked hard enough as I’ve seen it in videos.  How many people have their cameras rolling before a fight?  You rarely, unless it is a mounted building camera, get the full fight on video.  It is someone whipping their phones out once the first attacks and defenses were launched.  And this technology is all relatively new, the ability to record quality video on your phone.  Humans have been fighting since the first two knuckleheads reached for the same mastodon leg at the cave dinner table.

Two: Make it happen.  Taika taught as part of his art, a greater skill of manipulating the opponent’s body to make them reach out, open their hands, and grab.  This is a lesser known or shown part of his art because on the seminar circuit we are trying to squeeze in the fundamentals of how a wrist lock truly works.  That is all that is feasible during a 1-2 hour time slot.  Students had to stick with Taika a very long time and be proficient in the fundamentals before they would ever get these lessons.  Taika had a way of striking, punching and kicking that would loosen a fist, or cause the person to lose their balance.  The first step of this is learning what we call Dermal Redirection.  A falling person that is still conscious would reach out and he would position a part of his body into the hand. I frequently will demo some of these strikes but rarely have the time to teach in the blocks given as the people, even if repeats, have only trained with me for hours. When you are falling you reach out, a natural human reaction.  Usually this was a forearm you landed on when Taika struck you.  Hence, all the various forearm grabs we practice were prep work for this sub-art of the Oyata systems.  People always like the magical neck knockouts, but Taika would say that just a light fuzz-out was better because the opponent is still conscious and will grab you as they fall, if you are so positioned.  If they grab you, you can pin them with tuite rather than chase them.  They may grab your arm, your lapel, your hand or they may just open their hand to reach and you catch it just like you would when practicing a push catch.  “Same…same.”

Three: Everyone has things they are more skilled at than others whether it is this art, a hobby, or just life in general.  The two things I presume I am best at in Taika’s arts, based on the fact that I get asked to teach those the most, are straight baton (tanbo) and tuite.  Taika’s art was a combination of many things.  There are non-tuite related defenses and offenses as well.  Just because you saw a 55 second snippet of tuite and don’t truly understand it, doesn’t mean the other parts of the art are trash.  This is just a sample of what Taika taught.  He taught everyday hand to hand, he taught joint locks (wrist, elbow, shoulder, knee, ankle), he taught Atemi (creating pauses in your opponent later known as ooda loop by many), he taught Kyusho (and not the mass marketed over exaggerated TCM stuff on the market), he taught Kobudo, he taught Police Defensive Courses, he taught basic Self-Defense and many other aspects of the arts.  The pond is much, much deeper than a 55 second snippet could portray.


I also love when people start talking about realism in training and then their facebook profile is of them with a Nunti-bo, naganata, manji sai, kama, et cetera.  All these things you usually carry with you at the local Hy-Vee when grocery shopping.  (Side Note: Most of the Kobudo Taika taught had other purposes such as strengthening, learning to do a milking punch, learning to break-over your wrist.)  There are a lot of things we do that are about historical preservation, and well, just the fun of it.  A friend at a seminar I attended last year was teaching and made a very good point during his class.  It was an instructor level seminar so everyone there had multiple years.  He said, there are numerous reasons people get into this art.  Maybe they got scared.  They were bullied as a kid.  They were entering a profession that had a high likelihood of confrontation (police, probation officer, security, or military).  If you think about your current reason, it probably isn’t the same as your original reason.  A lot of us stay decades in the arts because we just find it cool in one manner or another.  I find it amazing that even after over 3 decades of training, that I still find getting better at discovering the body’s weaknesses and exploiting them, to me that is just amazing.  Even on his death bed at 81, Taika was still learning and wanting to train and teach while there in the hospital.

Save the World

What I do not understand is the Snippet Snipes who believe that it is their duty to save the world from things their slice of life perspective doesn’t agree with.  I see full training video and snippets all the time that I do not have the context to judge.  Some things might stand out as complete craziness but most often, if you truly look at a short video snippet from a seminar, you should realize that you don’t have the full context (and entire seminar recording) to make an informed decision on the validity of what is going on.

Another things that is frustrating is when people compare you to someone else in a most unrealistic manner.  I have had people say that wrist locks don’t work on them because so and so tried them and nothing happened.  Maybe so and so didn’t know what they were doing.  I’ve even had people tell me I am not Taika so I can’t do what he did, even though neither Taika nor I ever touched that person in their life.  So they have no point of reference to a comparison.  I don’t purport to be Taika or do my techniques exactly the way he did or believe I am anywhere near his equal.  That may be a goal, a lofty one at that, and I will endeavor to get there whether I even come close in my lifetime.  But don’t compare apples and oranges if you have never tasted either.

Numerous videos are forwarded to me for my opinion on a weekly if not daily basis.  If it is related to Oyata, I will give my perspective based on my experience.  If it is of something/someone I am not familiar with, 90% of the time I do not have enough information to save the world.  I just ignore it.  I might discuss aspects of it in our weekly shihan dai and usually we will gain some unintended knowledge by experimenting with someone else’s situation or setup for something that I only have a snippet of.  I think that is by far the better thing to do. 

Let your art grow from training rather than let your heart sour from poison.

Just my 2¥