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Class Notes – Gaming the System

November 11, 2015

We have been working on Renyo, from Gyokko Ryu. Here are a couple of vids of how others have done this kata.

This is not a very complicated kata, but it does hold important lessons for our taijutsu. The elements, as I taught in class, are:

  • Jodan uke and ken kudaki
  • Geri gaeshi
  • Ura Shuto when grabbed
  • Ura Gyaku flipped over to Omote Gyaku with a kick

So we take time to drill the various elements.

Jodan uke and ken kudaki: We practiced these against formal Bujinkan punches, which mean the arm is left out for a while after the initial punch. Of course I know people don’t punch like that these days, but there ARE advantages to punching old style. They fit perfectly into a different strategic framework, one that is VERY appropriate for Koryu Budo. I won’t elaborate on them here, but those who attended the training know that if you do not fully strike my arm away with the ken kudaki, when I bring that arm back to strike you with my other arm I am attacking your balance also.

We also made sure we complete the first jodan uke movement before the ken kudaki. It is easy to forget or do it half-baked, but if we do the uke movement correctly, even if the opponent punches with a more modern punch his arm is dragged out just that split second longer. That confuses him if he isn’t used to it, as well as gives us a better opportunity to hit the attacking arm.

In a modern day context the jodan uke-ken kudaki combination is hard to pull off, but we train it anyway because: 1) it is in the kata; 2) it is easier to train this move but skip it in a real fight than to skip this in training and add it in during a real fight; 3) done correctly it doesn’t endanger us.

Geri gaeshi: We do this with the leg nearer to the opponent if he kicks Gyokko Ryu style. If he kicks with the other leg we should use our other leg instead. Remember, if he kicks with the other leg we have to gaeshi with the intent of moving him past us instead of 90 degrees to the side.

Ura Shuto when grabbed: By this point the opponent would have quite lost his balance and scrambling to regain it. We typically train against a lapel grab, but you guys have seen that it can be that, or an arm hooking around your neck, or even no grab at all (so you just switch over to doing Koku instead). If you totally spin him around with the geri gaeshi he can end up grabbing with either arm. That means you have to change your ura shuto side accordingly.

Changing the side the opponent kicks or grabs with is a great way to train adaptability!

Ura Gyaku-Omote Gyaku flip: This is just a continuation of the hip rotation changes we have been making prior. We turned one way for the jodan uke, another for the ken kudaki, yet another for the geri gaeshi and so on. So we rotated our hips again for the ura gyaku, and when it failed we rotated our hips the other way for the omote gyaku.

This requires that your partner actually do a lapel grab, of course. If his arm ended up hooking around your neck, a ganseki nage makes much more sense. And if it fails then the hip rotation within that distance (a la flipping the gyaku) makes osoto gake an appropriate technique to use.

Don’t Game the System

During training, we have certain restrictions. If we are working on a particular wristlock for example, it is understood that we concentrate on that lock. It is understood that we aren’t out to injure each other during training. All these factors make training safer for everyone, but can lead to bad habits if we are not aware.

Over the years I often see students try to game the system during training. When an ura gyaku is done on them, for example, they bend forward and their bodies pretty much go limp. That’s gaming the system. It immediately takes away the discomfort of the wrist lock, and makes it much harder for the person doing the lock to finish the technique and bring you to the ground. But it is a horrible habit. In real combat, if my opponent bends forward at that wrist lock I won’t struggle to find ways to bring him to the ground a la dojo technique; I’ll immediately kick him in the ribs that he has so kindly offered as a target. Then I can slam him to the ground immediately.

When you are the person receiving the technique, you don’t want to game the system by going limp. It teaches you to give up fighting for survival after you get locked. I’m not saying that you always have to try escaping the lock during training, since it is much easier to mess up your training partner’s technique than for him to finish it properly, but you should at least keep your kamae. Don’t bend your spine forward unless your partner actually moves you properly to affect your spine and your balance.

For Renyo, the kata of the season, it is actively resisting the ura gyaku that makes omote gyaku the appropriate response. When you are flipping the gyaku you are training to take the energy of the resistance and redirect it. Granted, the gyaku flip is a very rudimentary and coarse way to redirect the energy of the resistance, but we all have to start with baby steps before we can move on to advanced, more subtle methods.

In other words, if you go limp when the ura gyaku starts your partner does not get to learn how to deal with an opponent resisting that wristlock. And that defeats the main purpose of learning this kata.

Big Picture: I am focusing more on Renyo these lessons because it gives us a context for all the elements we have drilled in previous lessons, imprints into our minds the correct distancing for those elements and adds in the new element of redirecting energy. Once a student has some idea of the different techniques available at different distances, knowing how to redirect energy given by the training partner IS the key point. You can say redirecting energy becomes your own henka generator.

We’ll not be staying on this kata forever though. We’ll move on to yet another soon, one that has a different way of handling resistance. Want to find out more? Join us at training!

Junjie 俊傑
Bujinkan Ninjutsu

From → bujinkan

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