Thursday, July 1, 2021

Oyata Punch - No Squeeze

This has turned into a rather large blog/rant so feel free to jump around this Three-Parter.  

  • History - Some Historical Context
  • Taika's Writing's on Makiwara
  • The Egg - The original reason I wrote the blog...

Part I: Some History

I wanted to take some time and discuss a different aspect of Taika's punch.  I am specifically discussing the time of impact and how he didn't squeeze through the punching motion, impact or what immediately followed.  I have talked at length and blogged at length over the last few years about how he had a relaxed hand and would constantly tell us 'Didax, didax' as we did our punches among many other things.  I can even remember this exact phrase at the very first seminar I ever went to where I was paired with a hard style, Japanese style practitioner and Taika got frustrated with how tight my partner was.  He took the guys glasses off, handed them to me and then made a tight fist.  He said "Tight fist no good." He hit my partner in the side of the head with a tight fist a couple of times and the guy butched up and took it.  He then said "Didax, didax" and did a light strike on the side of his head and my partner hit the deck... completely out.  Taika walked away to help the next pair of practitioners as my training partner's friend came over and righted him.  This was in the late, late 80's. But I am going to retreat a tad bit into a history lesson first.  


1950's - 1960's - 1970's - 1980's Oyata  Final Oyata

I am going to reference Taika Seiyu Oyata in several 'period ways' and please do not think I am disrespecting him here when I say "Post War Oyata' and other terms instead of using his full name and honorific.  I am trying to simplify it and I am going to refer to things he directly told me along with others, as well as reference some of his writings.  

Post War Oyata was primarily interested in one thing, putting food on the table.  He had a salesman approach to teaching, 'give them what they'll pay for.'  He would tell us in his latter years that chasing power was something even he did in the early days.  Hitting makiwara and building up those calluses on the knuckles was a bit more about bragging rights and pride according to him.  Later, as he started to get students he said that he himself grew out of that as he started applying Uhugushiku and Wakinaguri principles more freely, more publicly, and began to understand his body more and more.  He realized that a properly aligned and relaxed punch was much better.  As he started to get servicemen paying him money he quit using the training tools like the Makiwara for his vanity, and began using it as a tool to use on his students....particularly the hard headed ones.  Taika himself, to me and many others at class, and on numerous occasions stated that the makiwara did two things, among others. 

  • Gave him time to take a smoke break.
  • Vented the hard headed students ego
Taika readily admitted in his later years that Makiwara was a good way for him to go take a break.  If he just didn't want to teach anything, was frustrated with a student, needed to smoke or just otherwise wanted to walk away for a bit, he would send the student(s) off to the makiwara.

The ego and pursuit of power by some students, somewhat backfired on Taika.  He would say that he initially used this as a tool to get students 'vented' where they were a bit more relaxed afterwards, having spent their energy.  Regrettably, many students misunderstood the tool and sought the ego of calluses and bragging rights.

Immigration Oyata continued to use this tool with his students initially after landing in the U.S. until probably the late 80's. This was a time period where he still didn't trust a lot of people, and was trying to put food on the table.  He had come to the U.S. with basically nothing but a promise of students.  One common theme in the U.S. as well as when he was still in Okinawa, was that the primary clients were young U.S. Servicemen and the quest for power was at the forefront of the 'Perception of Karate'.  At this point Taika was literally a salesman.  He was trying to sell his product in a foreign land, much as he did in Okinawa, and the clients wanted the Perception of Karate which was power, sparring, looking tough and with that the Makiwara was a part of that ego trip.  He even had students bring a coffee can of their own urine to use as an Antiseptic.  Neosporin wasn't as readily available in those days I guess.  Again, Taika said this is what he did and why.  I can remember in my own naiveté striking until my knuckles bled and was caught up in it as well when I first started my martial path as well as doing other things I later moved away from.

Chinese Hand Oyata: At some point, and I am going to guess early 90's Taika began trusting people more and trying to switch them to a more relaxed approach.  He began introducing more and more of Wakinaguri's principles, the Chinese half of the art.  Even though we heard the relax (Didax) mandate earlier, he began stressing it.  Going back and looking at old seminars and drills now, things like 'Turtle' were there, we just didn't notice it.  He had been introducing bits of Spider and bits of Wakinaguri as early as Exercise 2.  Around 1995 if memory serves correctly, he introduced the first packaged version of Spider Web that most call Spider 1.  There was no makiwara in his dojo at that point.  There was no makiwara in his home.  He pushed us to be relaxed and fluid more and more, vastly departing from what most people associate with Karate.  The funny thing is, now that he is gone, I have reviewed thousands of hours of seminar and training videos during these 9 years after his death.  He was using these relaxed principles and would sneak little snippets of these principles into even the oldest recorded videos we have of him.

Part II - The Book

In 1998 Taika came out with his book, RyuTe® no Michi.

Chapter 3 Page 34 - Taika goes into great lengths near the end of Chapter 3 to steer his students away from the makiwara in his book, as he had been doing for quite some time.

" (makiwara) was originally meant to be used for mental control, rather than physical development. They (instructors) hoped that the excessive energy of the young people would be released as they hit makiwara.  Modern people tend to interpret its use as training equipment to toughen their knuckles or feet, for the development of their physical strength."

Taika goes on to discuss his early perceptions of the tool.

"Originally, I believed the makiwara was a device from the ancient practitioners to teach youth the importance of self-control, not to misuse their physical aggression to harm others, through this painful training.  When beginners hit a makiwara, they can instantly feel the pain in their hands which makes them understand how they'll feel when they are being hit by someone.  In this way, they learn to be careful about damaging others, and at the same time, their excessive energy can be totally released."

Taika then talks about tightening...

"My experience from makiwara training lead me to understand that when you hit a hard surface, one tends to tighten up their fist so tight that when they make contact, that person will not hurt their wrist.  But training in this mind set only hurts the practitioner in true understanding.  The reason is because when one trains constantly in this manner they toughen up their knuckles but their wrist starts to become weak."

Taika wanted the wrist relaxed so he could redirect on impact.  We call this Dermal Redirection, though Taika never gave it a name.  Taika would constantly talk about the angles (plural) of impact and he taught us how to redirect at that precise moment of impact depending on the opponent's stance, presentation, body alignment, etc.  I have talked about this a length in other publications and videos.  An Oyata Punch is not straight power going in a straight line.  You simply cannot finish or execute an Oyata Punch with a tight hand and a tight wrist.  The common saying to punch through your opponent lacks a tiny piece of information of precisely how you go through the opponent and which directions.  Taika continued....

"So what happens when this person hits something soft like a heavy bag or a human body?  They tend to overemphasize their strength.  This overemphasis is like a weight lifter who raises his/her maximum weight they can lift.  Imagine someone adding more weight to their bar, what would occur?  As this person raises the weight above their head, someone adds a half a pound to each side of the bar.  Because they are already maxed out, just by adding this little amount will cause the person lifting the extra weight to collapse.  The same example applies to punching technique.  So with the extra exertions, the wrist will collapse more easily."

At the end of Chapter 3, page 35 he goes on to talk about Wakinaguri.

"Mr. Wakinaguri explained that in the past an ancient master had a student with a bad attitude.  This student thought he was very tough and got into a lot of fights.  When this particular master heard about his student's actions, he devised a training method by way of a striking post to punish his student."

So here Taika tells the story of using the makiwara as punishment which he repeatedly admitted to doing with students who had the large ego and other issues he considered issues of character.  He has admitted to doing this on Okinawa as well as initially after immigrating to the United States.  He continued...

"This master did not want to teach his student a lesson by directly beating him up because he didn't want to hurt his student.  One day when his student came to train this master asked him, 'Do you think you are pretty good, do you think you are tough?'  His student replied, 'Yes, I think I'm tough.' His instructor then said, 'Good!  I have something for you to train on.  Go over there and hit that post as hard as you can.'  So his student went to practice hitting this post, and after a couple of hard strikes his hands started to hurt, his knuckles started to bleed and his punches started getting weaker with every strike.  His instructor said, 'No, hit harder you must hit harder.'  So after a very short while his student changed his attitude toward fighting and became a better person.  This is how the makiwara came into existence as a training tool."

Whether that is the true and accurate birth of the makiwara as a training tool or part of the martial myths and folklore that swirl around this art can be debated later.  But it is very clear that Taika used this as a tool, a device for various reasons and many students quite frankly just missed the point.  Taika finishes out this part of the book with the following; 

"This should also tell you that the makiwara is not an important training tool.  Please, when one trains concentrate on all that you do and never forget about the fine details. " - Taika Seiyu Oyata


Part III - The Egg

The egg is a simple training tool I found and the original reason I started this blog during my common bout of insomnia, at 0400.  The above picture is of an egg training tool and this particular tool is just a set of dog toys I found with an annoying loud squeaker inside.  So first let me send you off to purchase this tool/toy if you so desire, then I will explain how to use it.  Regrettably I get no finders fee.

At the time of this post the 6 items were $13.95

The point of this training device is to allow the student to punch a bag, a B.O.B., or even their training partner in a way that announces to the entire dojo if they are making a tight fist.  Like any training tool, it should be used in moderation as it has a slight weakness.  This teaches you specifically not to collapse and/or tighten your own fingers during a strike, however in the real world application if your hand is relaxed the item you strike may close your fingers.  The angle of your strike into a belly for instance may cause your fingers to close and thus squeak the toy.  As we train with this, we are looking at specific straight impacts on our target so that we can focus on not squeaking.  Once that is achieved and you are comfortable with that, if you have a bag or other striking item that moves or rotates on impact, you can practice your Dermal Redirection after impact without squeaking (depending on the item striking).  

Photo: Bag Strike with Egg

As we place the egg in the hand, and begin striking, we want to align the radial bone and the index knuckle upon impact as shown below.  I say 'upon impact' as we can be milking prior to impact and certainly redirect at the point of impact with Dermal Redirection.  

Above is showing the alignment of the radial bone (blue) and the index knuckle location (red dot).  At that moment of impact, in this drill or practice, we want proper alignment so that the kinetic energy or crash energy if you will, travels through the knuckle (metacarpals) to the radial bone.  The focus of this initial drill is at that point of impact we do not squeeze the hand to make a tight fist.  If we do, the entire class hears you squeak.  At that moment of impact, everything is properly aligned including the arm at 90° to the body, Force Efficient.  With all proper alignment we can both absorb as well as impart kinetic energy.  With full body proper alignment, Force Efficiency, all of our kinetic energy goes into the strike, we can then use other principles such as Dermal Redirection to disable our opponent, feel free to walk about the cabin...

Below is an example of striking a Body Opponent Bag (B.O.B.) at the neck.  Again, we have proper alignment and are focusing on relaxing our hand and not squeezing.  

Once again, this is just a tool to understand a tiny part of the big picture.  It is a tool to drill a student on a possible weakness of squeezing during your punch.  Taika would say that when you make a tight fist, the muscles in your forearm become tight and pull in the opposite direction you are directing your punch.  It also slows down your motion.  Tight equates to slow and though the typical male perspective in this and other countries is that muscle equates to strength, that strength comes at a cost in technique.  

Hopefully some of you made it this far and got past my initial rant (Part I) as well as quoted bits of Taika's rant (Part II).  Taika went to great lengths to steer his students in a particular direction but for years hit his head against the egotistical power hungry brick wall of those that refused to listen.  Not sure why I even try to carry on his brick bashing but if even one person can move on to Part III and come ahead with a new understand maybe he would be happy.  Who knows.

/rant off




Thursday, June 17, 2021

Stuck in Memorization - Give up your Blanky

Taika talked extensively about the 3 phases of kata.  No, it is NOT Basic, Intermediate and Advanced.  In the end, he hated those terms that he was lead to think were proper translations early in his immigration.  These were poor translations of what he was trying to say about placing advanced concepts on foundational kata.  As stated previously he did not want those terms used in the end.

Instead he wanted:

The slow, chunky, one move one count version usually indicative of moving your feet before the hand, and rolling your eyes to the back of your head as you check the mental roll-a-dex to see what is next.  This is a state many students stay at like clutching their childhood blanket or stuffed animal.  Push them to foundation.  For some, it is extremely difficult to trust their memory and move past watching a memorization video.

This is what most people call basic but Taika said none of the kata he taught us are basic and we should be spending our life polishing these and making them smooth.  There should be smoothness and fluidness to it with logical breaks depending on what you are visualizing.  Things like 'hands before the feet ' should replace the slow clunkiness of planting your foot then striking most of the time.  Even during the small percent of time you are planted already, hand movements should be developed where you use small heel movements for power, thus still hands before the feet.  

I hesitate to use the term phases as people will begin adding a ton more labels but polishing foundation is a process.  Trying to film the videos for students and not overwhelm them, showing semi smooth yet slow motion, is difficult.  The laws of physics apply and some things are difficult if not impossible to do slow. 

  • Hands Before the Feet
This is one of the very first things I can remember Taika yelling at a Tall Oaks camp the first time I attended.  On most power based applications, your hands should land before you foot lands in application thus it needs to in kata.  He would say that if you step, plant then strike you just wasted your step.  You got closer to your opponent, thus in both parties range, but flushed your technique.   Taika would say this was one of the main things that exposes a person's weakness and understanding of kata.  He would commonly say that someone proudly announced at a tournament that they were doing Advanced Kata and they clearly didn't understand it because their feet were still going first, thus stuck two levels down at memorization.  Search YouTube for advanced kata and you will find countless tournament as well as demonstration videos this way.  This is just one example of putting calculus ahead of simple arithmetic. 

  • Weapons Kata Apply
 - Bo Before Feet
As another example, Taika was extremely fond of bo and often remarked it was his favorite weapon.  Again, he would watch someone going out of their way to add muscle and power to it but still not using Bo Before the Feet.  He said bo and jo were super easy to see weaknesses like this as they amplified the weakness.  Add 2 (regrettably) to 4 feet of stick at the end of the motion and you can see they are stuck in memorization footwork.

 - Stuck in the Middle with Glue
The 2-4' (sorry metric world) comment was that so many people glue their hands to the center of the bo only leaving 2' out front.  Why not just carry one tanbo?  Taika said 'This memorization!   Hands must slide to give you reach and not just in the kata pokes.  The strikes need reach.  If your hands are stuck on the stick, your hands are stuck at the memorization level.  

These two examples among many, many more are why Taika hated the term advanced.  There were countless examples back in the day at tournaments and seminars where Taika would shake his head as a student allegedly proclaime then performed an advanced kata and their body was stuck in memorization.  In his absence I see it daily on Facebook and YouTube.

Technical Application
- I have talked about this at length but it was a long dojo and Zoom conversation with peers and students abroad last night.  Technical Application is taking the foundational, core, beautiful kata that is nowhere near basic and doing things with it.  Whether you are adding other bits to it from other kata (kumiawase or pairing) or using it to teach balance or turning with proper covers.  You are using the hammer but a crowbar with it.  You are using a screwdriver to help turn the wrench.  Taika would see a problem either with a scenario or a situation and use a well deserving non basic tool we all knew to address said problem. 

Problem: Students have poor balance
Solution: Naihanchi Shodan with Crane Stance in each cross over.

Problem: Students are pirouetting on turns instead of covering the groin with a temporary cat stance.
Solution: Naihanchi Shodan with 180 degree turns (later 45's S well).  - Thanks Steve....

Problem: This Naihanchi kata motion works well only when outside the opponents arm, not inside.
Solution: Add 2 moves from Pinan Godan if inside the two arms. (Kumiawase)

In summary, drop your wooly blanket, your favorite stuffed animal and move past foundation once the steps are memorized and then spend your life polishing but think about the motions.  Do not get stuck in the scaffolding of memorization.

- Di

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Basic - Intermediate - Advanced: The Great Misunderstanding

Basic - Intermediate - Advanced: The Great Misunderstanding

This topic keeps coming up about the changes in the kata and the terminology used at the onset of this CONCEPT.


There are no Basic, Intermediate or Advanced kata but continual refinement and placing of Oyata Principles upon the structural construct of Foundational Kata.


In the end, Taika tried to clarify things and get people to stop using those three terms for over a decade. He wanted us to use Foundation and Technical Application (Pairing/Kumi a wase). So many refused to accept this vernacular change because they failed to understand the concept approach.

Per Taika, kata should never be called 'Advanced'. The principles may be advanced, but what is actually occurring is taking the original kata and adding moves from other kata (kumi a wase). In one example, what Taika did was say “this original sequence of moves worked for this particular technique from an uke throwing a right punch. If he throws a left, it doesn't work so what motions are required for the left punch?” He then added those moves from another kata. This is just an example or a principle he used. As he thought about different techniques he added and subtracted from various Technical Application versions over the years.

The original term 'Advanced' was given by students that did not understand what was occurring. Yes, the early 1990’s kata videos stated Basic and Advanced but again, Taika said this was a misunderstanding as he had left the majority of the production of said videos to his students because the production was outside his level of understanding.  Basic, Intermediate and Advanced were not terms Taika intended the kata to have attached to them, but Advanced Concept is a better way of thinking about it. As he began showing kumi a wase (pairings) in kata the terms by students became Basic and Advanced because they heard him say this was advanced (thinking or concept) but missed the context. When he added more, the term intermediate was coined, again by students, not Taika because they did not realize this was an evolving process and suddenly, they had 3 versions, or so they thought, of kata. Things really got messy as this process continued for another 25 years of his life and the versions kept piling up. I would constantly hear students in disagreements at Summer Conference, Birthday Conference and other seminars about what was Basic, what was Intermediate and what was Advanced.  Why?  Because it was all a moving target of concepts, and they were missing the understanding that this was a continually moving and evolving string of concepts and principles placed on the foundational lattice.  It is the concept that is advanced, not the kata.

What I honestly believe Taika wanted us to do was perfect the foundational version of each kata, and then start applying his principles to the kata and make our own Technical Application versions for our own study.  A big part of that missed picture can be started with the Oyata Shuffle principle of analyzing each kata motion outside of the kata by drawing 2-3 cards from your own deck (mental or physical) of kata motions from your entire repertoire of kata.  A good musician can improvise, others merely read music or replicate.  Taika did not want us to be Xerox machines as no two encounters would ever be the same.  We need to be able to improvise during an encounter and Kata Independence vs Kata Dependence is the key.


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