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Thread: The Classical Japanese Martial Arts as "Perceptual Warfare"

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    Default The Classical Japanese Martial Arts as "Perceptual Warfare"

    http://logos.mind.sccs.chukyo-u.ac.j...2-41/p2-41.htm

    An interesting article about the teachings of Yoshinori Kono.


    When ordinary people fight using physical strength, they usually fix a particular joint (shoulder, elbow, etc.) like the fulcrum of a hinge. Therefore, people are accustomed to this "fixed-fulcrum-mode". Kono, however, has developed the body skill not to fix one particular fulcrum, in other words, the skill to shift the fulcrum from one part to another part of his body continuously ("shifting-fulcrum-mode").
    We have discussed this fellow and his ideas before, but what do you think about his theory on fixed vs shifting fulcrums?
    John Lindsey

    Oderint, dum metuant-Let them hate, so long as they fear.

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    Wink I thought I had heard this concept before.

    I have done drills in Aikido and Judo that work on a similar principle.

    I found this on a similar note:

    Re: oscillating balance drills, was:Aikido or Match Fighting
    Wiley Nelson (wiley_n@YAHOO.COM)
    Thu, 10 Feb 2000 21:51:47 -0800

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    --- Beate Kawelke wrote:

    >
    > Wiley,
    >
    > could you please describe these drills (if it's possible, sure sounds
    > difficult...) ? It sounds like a fascinating concept and I'd love to
    > hear
    > more about it.
    >
    > Thanks in advance,
    > Beate
    >


    A couple people have asked me to describe the drills for oscillating
    balance breaks.
    I got with Conner sensei last night and we played around a little with
    different drills.

    The immediate difficulty was that Conner sensei's drills are primarily
    Judo
    based, this makes them difficult to visualize unless you are familiar
    with Judo terminology
    and technique.

    We experimented a little with translating the drills from Judo-ese to
    Aikido-ese, and using motions, postures and grips that would be more
    familiar to Aikidoka.

    Interestingly, the movements began to strongly resemble tenchinage and
    standing Kokyudosa.

    We'll be playing with this some more, but I'll describe what we have so
    far:


    Uke faces Nage, and grasps Nage katate-dori ryoto-mochi (two hands
    grasping two hands), partners are in a relaxed natural foot position.

    Nage lightly, softly, and very Slooooly enters as in tenchinage or
    kokyudosa.
    *use as little muscle as possible*...then use less than that. Both
    partner should stay soft and supple, with weight underside and Keeping
    all tension out of the forearms.

    Uke should maintain upright posture, and and take a step to recover
    balance when appropriate.
    Nage should take uke to the point of needing to step, and feel for the
    moment when uke needs to step.

    After uke steps, go back to the starting point, and repeat the process.
    This time, take uke to the point of stepping, but reverse the motion as
    soon as ukes foot starts to leave the ground.

    Lightly draw uke back down onto balance, but continue the motion
    slightly further than uke intends, until uke needs to step in another
    direction to recover....then repeat the above procedure.

    Visualize holding a shallow bowl of water, and swirling the water
    around in the bowl, allow the water to flow up the sides of the bowl,
    but not slosh over the lip. Think of allowing uke to take a step as
    water sloshing out of your bowl.

    Another visualization would be skateboarding in a bowl. When you travel
    up the sides the bowl and turn back to the center at the apex of your
    trajectory, your turn us never a sharp angle, it is a gentle arc. If
    you were to trace the path of travel, it would look like a loose
    overlapping pattern of ellipses and "figure 8s".

    With this particular exercise, try to "map" the shape of the bowl. It
    isn't exactly smooth and round. By altering relative foot position, you
    change the shape of the "bowl". Experiment with different foot
    positions and grips. Try a two handed lapel grab for example, feel how
    that changes the dynamics of the exercise.


    In all variations, focus on a center-to-center connection, and move
    from center....avoid just twisting ukes shoulders around, vecter your
    motion through ukes center.

    If you are familiar with the happo-no-kuzushi exercise, think of this a
    combination of happo-no-kuzushi and standing kokyudosa. The emphasis
    should be on the oscillations between the balance breaks, and not on
    the balance breaks themselves. Nage should move primarily in horizontal
    arcs and spirals...I say primarily because there is a vertical
    componant, the movements are actually 3 dimensional arcs, but the
    horizontal aspect is the most obvious.

    Nage should try to maintain sente throughout the entire exercise, but
    softly enough that it doesn't trigger a stiffening or conflicting
    action in uke.

    Play around with this, and please post your results and impressions.

    If this part makes sense, we will take it further, such as what happens
    when uke takes a recovery step, and how to utilize and direct that
    motion.

    Wiley
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    Hi John,

    I'll apologize in advance for a long-winded post that may wander off-topic.

    I didn't read the entire article through thoroughly, but what he is describing sounds very similar to one of the skills developed in Chinese internal arts. I've experienced it myself to some degree when I was doing consistent push-hands practice. My instructor is very good at it - he can put his hands on you and push, without any real apparent effort, and you just feel like your own strength gets tied up and rendered useless. He can also do it incorrectly, by purposely creating tension in his own body (in a way that I assume Kono would describe as fixing a particular fulcrum), and all of a sudden you can feel exactly where he is pushing from and you can counter it. He will often shift back and forth while pushing you to help get you to experience it yourself. It takes a while to be able to tell the difference with your own body, but once you've experienced it, you know what it is to look for, and it is easier to progress.

    I've found that it is easiest to experiment with that skill by learning to forget your own body and pay attention solely to your partner's body. That is, after you have learned basic postural structure and learned how to relax (which, in itself, can be a many year project). An interesting excercise to play with is to stand facing a partner, each of you with the same foot forward. You each put your leading hand in the center of the other's chest, so that your elbows can be relaxed, and then with your back hand very lightly touch your partner's elbow (of their front arm, which is extended towards your chest). Keep relaxed, with elbows dropped, and take turns pushing on each other's chests. When pushing, slowly increase power and try to honestly push straight back to push your partner back; when receiving, relax and see if you can discover how to do less and less while being pushed. Once you get it, your partner will be able to push you strongly and you won't even feel the pressure; they will usually start to lean in towards you and bend their front arm more and more in an attempt to regain leverage.

    This is a good posture to start from, as it is relatively easy to develop the skill in it. Having both of your hands touching your partner gives you a good base (three points, actually - your chest, and both your hands) for being able to triangulate the force-vectors your partner is using, so I think that is how you can tell where their fulcrum is. You can then start applying the skill with just one hand touching them, or while they push on your chest and you don't use your hands at all - you develop the ability to triangulate using smaller and fewer bases. You can also then start to apply it in different postures, and to your pushing, and while moving and doing other things.

    I think it works for a similar reason that Kono describes - if you train yourself to relax and not respond with the kind of tension that you normally use to deal with a perceived threat, the attacker does not get the type of kinesthetic feedback that they expect or understand, which can throw their entire kinesthetic sense off.

    The difficulty in both learning this kind of skill, and in dealing with someone who has it, is that we pretty much use feedback from tension and friction to figure out where we are in the world, both physically and intellectually/emotionally. Most of what we consider ourselves to be (our opinions, self image, etc) are basically patterns of tension, so learning to function without it is a very difficult thing to do.

    That is also why learning Chinese and Japanese calligraphy is so hard, if you do it correctly. Practicing calligraphy, especially when keeping the elbow of your brush hand off of the table, usually leads to an increase of tension in the body. This is because we normally use tension and friction to figure out where we are in space. When you write with a pen or pencil, you are leaning forward on your elbows and pressing relatively firmly into the paper all of this gives your body strong feedback about your body and its actions. Leaning on the desk also greatly reduces the number of joints that need to be stabilized all the action occurs between the elbow and the fingertips.

    In Chinese calligraphy, however, when you practice sitting upright and you are not leaning on the table, you are taking away most of the feedback that you are used to receiving. You are also greatly increasing the number of joints that need to be coordinated, since almost every joint from your hips, through your spine and shoulder girdle, to your fingertips, is potentially in movement (even down to your toes, really). If you then take into consideration the fact that the brush is so soft and offers miniscule feedback itself (compared to the physical friction and feedback you get with a pen or pencil), the difficulty is compounded.

    All of this means that in order to practice calligraphy effectively, you must be able to either a) lock down every part of the body that doesn't need to move, or b) develop a relaxed whole-body coordination, where you are using a shifting series of fulcrums that change in response to the needs of the moment. For reasons that should be obvious, b) is a healthier choice, though much more difficult. It is fun to try and simply draw a very thin straight line with a Chinese brush, using proper posture. You end up with the physiological equivalent of a seismograph reading.
    Josh Lerner

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    I just read the article more closely. His ideas about retraining yourself to not use twisting motions, especially when walking, seems a bit ... odd. I'd be willing to bet that whatever skills he's developed are more a general product of his intense study of body motion than any specific insights about the relative inefficiency or predictability of twisting motions in applying force. But I am biased in coming from a background of Chen taijiquan, where spiraling and twisting energy is in a sense the basis for all generation of power, and I have no experience with koryu, so someone with a koryu background would be able to speak more authoritatively about how valid his ideas are.
    Josh Lerner

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    The same-side full body motion he describes is consistent with generating power from movement of mass as is typical in some styles of Aikido. Generating power from torque requires that you plant one or both feet and twist against the ground, as is typical in most forms of karate and tai chi.
    Jack Bieler

    "The best things can't be told; the second best are misunderstood; the third best are what we talk about." - after Heinrich Zimmer

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    I don't really know much about these applications with regards to unarmed technique apart from a little Hyoho Niten Ichiryu Jujitsu. But it is not a theory that is supported by Mr Kono alone. The Japanese race as a whole who have never even done MA have this different way of movement in walking. To start with the Japanese body is different. Everything gravity wise is based much lower. Not withstanding Westerners or people from any other country can and will develop this if they practice long and hard enough.

    The perceptual method is indeed the epitome of any martial skill. Hyoho Niten Ichiryu and other Ryu's fundamentals are based on these concepts.

    Did I miss something? Maybe I should read it more carefully.

    Hyakutake Colin
    Hyakutake Colin

    All the best techniques are taught by survivors.


    http://www.hyoho.com

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    Perhaps I have misunderstood it.. I thought Kono's point was "we modern ones naturally tend to use our waist to generate power thru the hips" vs "instead of bringing it up from the ground thru each leg independently" and that an opponent whether skilled in MA or not can auto-sense this waist generated power when touched, but not the latter.

    The walking and arm motion anology made some sense to me.. and in SMR Jo we're in effect learning to do this, in the way that the same hand and foot for the most part move together ambidextrously, with power coming up thru legs and thru hips from feet.. not from just twisting your waist.


    Originally posted by Joshua Lerner
    I just read the article more closely. His ideas about retraining yourself to not use twisting motions, especially when walking, seems a bit ... odd. I'd be willing to bet that whatever skills he's developed are more a general product of his intense study of body motion than any specific insights about the relative inefficiency or predictability of twisting motions in applying force. But I am biased in coming from a background of Chen taijiquan, where spiraling and twisting energy is in a sense the basis for all generation of power, and I have no experience with koryu, so someone with a koryu background would be able to speak more authoritatively about how valid his ideas are.
    Greg Clarke
    清隆会 Shinto Muso Ryu
    兵法 Niten Ichi Ryu

    "Seek out the middle of the two we's in I"

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    Perhaps I have misunderstood it..
    Did I miss something? Maybe I should read it more carefully.
    You guys are not alone in feeling that maybe you didn't quite understand his article. I kept thinking that I was missing something in his article also, or that I was simply misunderstanding it. So I went back yet again and reread it a second time. Then I started trying to follow his logic from one paragraph to the next. I couldn't, so I started taking notes on just about every paragraph. It turns out that if you read the article very carefully and critically, he makes a number of farcical conclusions from completely illogical trains of thought. If anyone wants to see my notes, PM me - I'm not going to post it here because I've only gotten about halfway through his article and I'm already up to 4 pages in Word.

    To give you a brief idea of the kind of reasoning he uses, here is the basic premise of his "experiment" -

    In Japanese literature, there are stories of small old men throwing bigger men. Classical Japanese martial arts rely on "perceptual warfare", while all of the other non-Japanese martial arts of the world rely on strength and size. Therefore, the classical Japanese martial arts are unique [his word] in that they allow one to sense which fulcrums an opponent is using.

    No, it doesn't make any sense or follow rational logic, and yes, if you actually connect the dots in the article, that is one of the important points he is trying to get across.

    Another glaring trainwreck of an argument - the whole thing about "twisting". For one thing, it has nothing to do with the experiment where he pushes some guy around, and his explanation of the importance of "not twisting" to the classical Japanese warrior is completely ludicrous. He basically says that since modern people "twist", they expect it in an opponent. When the opponent doesn't "twist", they get confused because they expect a "twist" and are easy to defeat.

    So, if this is true, then learning to move without "twisting" is only an advantage if you are dealing with someone who "twists". If all the classical Japanese warriors were "not twisting" in antiquity, it wouldn't provide any advantage because everyone else was doing it, and everyone would have expected it. By Kono's reasoning, "not twisting" could only have had combative value after Westerners came in with their degenerate habits. Remember that his entire argument is that "not twisting" is effective because it is unexpected. He is not saying that it is actually more efficient or stronger, just that it is unexpected.

    Therefore, there must be other explanations for why that style of walking developed. Type in Kono's name in the E-Budo search field, and Lo and Behold! Samurai Walking Thread!

    My notes go into greater detail, but they would be an extremely tedious read for anyone not intent on picking apart his arguments.
    Josh Lerner

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    Could be his reasons for twisting/moving are slighly different. In our case its get out of the way of a fast approaching cut that will stop a centimetre from the floor. This moving/avoidance also gives one the opportunity to use it to generate ones own power.

    Getting one hips out of they way is because we have legs attached to them. An unclear movement ends up with getting your leg chopped of. It would therefore be nonsensical not generate power in this move to generate a fatal attack.

    We only deal with initiation based hopefully on perception and initiation leading to fatality. This preception is essentialy to allow one to deal with an opponent who has actauly committed himself to an attack to the extent that he cannot withdraw it. Also there seems to nothing that cant be too low bring the power well up, under and into the opponent. We also see this in sumo.

    Perhaps I can explain better with this mpg. I should say that its slowed down a bit for demonstration purposes.

    http://www.hyoho.com/ni1.mpg

    Many other ryu have go betweens such as who attacks first etc. Our philosophy is being prepared for the initition of an attacker. If there is no attack there will be no conflict.

    Hyakutake Colin
    Hyakutake Colin

    All the best techniques are taught by survivors.


    http://www.hyoho.com

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    The Kata mpeg is a very nice example of rotation force of the hips (feet/legs up thru koshi, extending out thru the centre, arm to the tip of the bokuto (without twisting waist)? Out of curiousity, when beginners first do this Sasen kata do most try to generate power from their waist vs your example mpg, and get cut?

    I think the terminology used by Kono ie. twisting is a bit ambiguous with rotational forces.. and just leads to more potential confusion.

    Originally posted by hyaku
    Could be his reasons for twisting/moving are slighly different. In our case its get out of the way of a fast approaching cut that will stop a centimetre from the floor. This moving/avoidance also gives one the opportunity to use it to generate ones own power.

    Perhaps I can explain better with this mpg. I should say that its slowed down a bit for demonstration purposes.

    http://www.hyoho.com/ni1.mpg

    Hyakutake Colin
    Greg Clarke
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    兵法 Niten Ichi Ryu

    "Seek out the middle of the two we's in I"

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    Originally posted by gmlc123
    The Kata mpeg is a very nice example of rotation force of the hips (feet/legs up thru koshi, extending out thru the centre, arm to the tip of the bokuto (without twisting waist)? Out of curiousity, when beginners first do this Sasen kata do most try to generate power from their waist vs your example mpg, and get cut?
    No they dont. That's the hardest thing to aquire. A bit like that perfect golf swing you know when you have done it. I still clearly remember the time when it first came to me and did it a few times in one practice. After that the door was open.

    The weapon in one hand does not not make it any easier in trying to generate power that extends into the very tip of the weapon. A lot of beginers seem to be going through the motions looking empty handed.

    Its as important to pull the left out as push the right in to clearly avoid a cut.

    One has to start having the oponent more as a mirror image to avoid injury. As experience comes we can close the distance. The perception factor plays a great part. In Kendo its the ultimate technique but we have to do it all the time and nothing else.

    Hyakutake Colin
    Hyakutake Colin

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    http://www.hyoho.com

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    Hi,

    I always thought that Japanese people always walk with arms held motionless beside the body (even in marathon )

    For example, Westerners and modern Japanese walk in such a way that the right (left) arm advances simultaneously with the left (right) leg. This means that when walking, their waists function as the fulcrum of a hinge, and the twisting of their bodies around their waists is used as the driving force for walking.
    If you lift the leg up and forward, your body is not in balance anymore. You start to topple. You use the arm opposite to the lifted leg to stabilize your body; in fact you use the (opposite) arm to stabilize your body to topple to the front... because you want to move forward.

    If you would use the same side arm, you would be even more out of balance; this would contribute more to moving to the side. Visualize a soccer goalkeeper when it comes to penalty.

    The pictures A-B show that Kono is pressing down his arm while at the same time he hangs his body weight onto his arm by bending hips and knees. Once the opponents antagonsim is broken (its broken through the body weight) and the movement begun, the opponent can't revers it anymore. (Its true that you don't need big muscles to do that; not everyone can do pull-ups, but most can simply hang.)

    In fact, naturally everybody - more or less - would use the body in such a way to support some intented movement, be it the one in the experiment or other kins of pushing/lifting/moving some weight. This natural intelligence of moving developed through experience and results in the mentioned perception: it could only be prevented by special un-conditioning...

    However, the author seems right in a sense: i.e. that martial arts beginners maybe are conditioned to behave in a way to support the scientific principles of a certain style, which results in neglecting the "normal" everyday principles of applying force/movement. In this case the "opponent" was conditioned - even forced to by the adjustment of the experiment - to use the power of his arm only:

    Subjects were instructed to resist Kono's pushing.
    In an upright position it is just not possible to use your body weight for pushing upwards: the subjects were left with their arm power only!

    On the other side, Kono was able and allowed to use his whole body (to push down). So what's the point to it???
    Best regards

    Andreas Quast

    We are Pope!

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    On the other side, Kono was able and allowed to use his whole body (to push down). So what's the point to it???
    That is the point.
    Jack Bieler

    "The best things can't be told; the second best are misunderstood; the third best are what we talk about." - after Heinrich Zimmer

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