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Wrenching Wrists? Defending Drills

March 20, 2011

I got my wrist wrenched quite badly this Thursday, by someone attempting the technique in the video above. This usually doesn’t happen, because I usually train with:

  1. Newbies, who are very conscious of their movements (& realize pissing me off is a dumb idea); OR
  2. The skilled, who have the control AND confidence to get techniques right without having to wrench my limbs apart

Problems arise, however, when you run into people who have a vague impression of what a technique looks like but don’t know the details of what makes it work. They would then try to patch it up with speed and muscle tension strength. Though it sounds lame, it isn’t funny when all that muscle tension strength is directed at your right wrist.

Now I don’t do such things to other people, for a couple of reasons:

1) It makes sense to take care of your training partners.

When I first came across Stephen K. Hayes Toshindo site (“don’t say his name, ‘arry!”), he said that one of the characteristics of a black belt in his art is that the black belt has totally control over the technique. That makes the black belt one of the safest training partners to work with, because you won’t be injured by clumsy technique.

You can see that the idea stuck in my mind!

In this day and age, you are quite likely to run into training partners with carpal tunnel syndrome or some other hand/wrist injury. So unless you have the diagnostic ability to perceive a person’s hand and bodily health through touch (some Traditional Chinese Medicine people do, it’s scary), why not just be safe and take it easy on your partner’s wrist during training?

2) It’s not good taijutsu

If I focus too much on wrenching someone’s wrist (and dare call it Omote Gyaku) there’s all the rest of the person’s body to watch out for. If you do not neutralize the rest of the arm (and even the rest of the torso) you face the very real danger of eventually meeting someone who seriously clouts you as you try some fiddly-diddly twist on his wrist. So as I Omote Gyaku someone I am simultaneously going for the shoulder to give me more control over the person. That way I not only have a better chance of making it work, I also find it easier to shift to some other technique if things go wrong.

In other words, I can do the whole technique WITHOUT the wrist twist that many see as the essential part of Omote Gyaku!

Here’s the funny part: I had a chat with that guy later on (no hard feelings) and he brought up my teaching style. He saw snippets of it before and he was concerned because it didn’t look like what he saw other teachers do.

He said that he was drawn to the Bujinkan because of the freedom, how it isn’t rigid like other arts, which impose a uniform way of moving and standing on the practitioners, and can be done by anybody, not just the young energetic sort.

So why was I teaching differently from many other teachers in the Bujinkan? I’d get newbies to isolate the movements that they need, have them drill the various parts of the kamae until they get them right, then put all the pieces of the kamae/movement together. Other instructors will just give a couple of pointers on kamae every 1 or 2 weeks, and let newbies work on only bite-sized chunks each time.

Why do I drill the newbies then?

Because it works.

It gets an average newbie to have pretty good kamae in a few weeks. I’ve seen people who’ve been training the other way for years and yet have glaring kamae problems (like the above-mentioned wrist-wrencher). Those problems not only weaken their technique (so they have to use brute force & wrist wrenching to make things work), they eventually will blow out their knee joints and spine as time goes by.

You can get away with it while you are young, but believe me, you will pay for it sooner or later. Do the drills, it saves you so much time, as well as your knees and your partner’s wrists!

I think the best proof of my philosophy is how I can sometimes clear through a regular Bujinkan lesson with nary a sweat, while the other guy is huffing and puffing away and still not get the techniques to work. Because I consistently move to the right distance, and one of the easiest ways to teach distance is through kamae, I need not wrench my way around.

That’s why I teach newbies the way I do. And fully expect that they will be able to get techniques right and keep from injuring their training partners at the same time!

In the end, I’d just like to say: if you want to get Bujinkan type of results (certain things happening to your opponents), either you get them by skill or by brute force. Whatever you lack in skill, you WILL compensate for with brute force. So which will you choose? If you choose brute force then

  1. Don’t call what you do martial arts, it’s not;
  2. Don’t teach it to other people as martial arts, that would be false advertising;
  3. Don’t come train with me unless you want to learn things right; I want to practice martial arts, not brawling!

Junjie
俊傑 (Shunketsu)
Singapore

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From → bujinkan

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