Killing me softly

General discussions on Wado Ryu karate and associated martial arts.
Gusei21
Posts: 403
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:43 am

Killing me softly

Post by Gusei21 »

Somehow Roberta Flack's song title seemed apropos and you will see why I say that in a moment.
First Gordon, not sure if you want to keep this here or whether it is more appropriate for the Wadopedia section. I looked for a place to put it but none of the section headings seemed to fit for this subject. Perhaps we need an 'Other' section?
Second, I have a feeling I will not be able to capture everything I want to say on this subject right now because of work deadlines so I will be adding to it later I think.
Third, everyone please feel free to chime in because these are just my opinions and a current benchmark of my understanding of the subject matter. It is not meant to be the definitive piece of work on this subject by any stretch of the imagination.

So let me start by taking about the WHAT. I will not go into the HOW until later.

The WHAT:
Takagi Sensei told me once that Otsuka Sensei did a tachi tori (shinken shiraha tori - for some of you) demo once and afterwards was confronted by a kendo guy. The kendo guy thought the whole thing was a bit silly and challenged him to a 'duel'. So Otsuka Sensei took him on and as the kendo guy swung Otsuka Sensei did his thing. I wasn't there so I assume his 'thing' was evasion, entry and 'contact'. It ended there. Not sure what 'there' means but ...whatever.
When Otsuka Sensei and Takagi Sensei were leaving he turned to Takagi Sensei and said 'the guy was dead and he didn’t even know it'. In other words as soon as he made contact with the swordsman he had killed him.
So what does this mean? The best way I can explain it is this way. When you stand with a sword - or when you just stand there bare fisted - you are weighted on both feet. All bodies at rest have inertia to overcome in order to move. You can move because you have the ability to change the location of your center of gravity which in turn helps you to overcome inertia which in turn allows you to move forward or punch or cut or do whatever. IF you can take a person who is standing there with a weapon in hand or bare fisted or whatever and do something to him so that his body becomes even more weighted (his center of gravity gets heavier) and if you can do it in such a way that you can distribute the weight equally then he will be flatfooted. When a person is flatfooted then they have to readjust their 'weighting' before they can move effectively. If they don't adjust their 'weightedness' then they can't use their weapon or arms effectively. Yes it is possible to punch someone in the face when you are flatfooted but the punch won't have any power behind it because you can only use your hands and not connect it to your body. By the same token if you try to swing a sword while you are flatfooted there will be no power behind the cut. (yes i know, power or no power the blade is sharp and will cut you...please bear with me). So what Otsuka Sensei does in his sword defense is that he enters and connects with the person in such a way that at the moment of contact he knows how to add more weight to the opponent's center of gravity thus weighting him. He also traps the person's arm in such a way that it prevents the swordsman from cutting (very important). Now here is the beauty of this whole thing.
The swordsman who is getting weighted has NO CLUE that he is being weighted. If this connection is done with the utmost care and precision then it is possible to connect to the opponent's center and weigh him without him even knowing it. And that is the beauty of this whole thing. (Hence killing me softly.) If the opponent knows he is getting weighted then he can instinctively readjust and compensate. BUT..if he doesn't even know what is happening to him then he will never know he got weighted (killed) and will try to move and find that he can't . This time interval of 'can't move' is of course very brief. But that time interval is all one requires to initiate an attack (ie. take out tanto and stab him...).
I never really appreciated the beauty of this whole idea of killing them softly until I was talking to Toby Threadgill one day and he was talking about connecting to the opponent with just his shoulder or just his elbow. In other words Sensei Threadgill can touch you with just his shoulder or elbow and make you flatfooted without you even knowing you just got 'flatted' (yes, no such word...but I like it.) I think instead of 'flatted' I should use the word 'rooted' or 'grounded' I guess but I am liking 'flatted'. So I asked him to show me how to do it and I quickly discovered that I could use the first block of kihon kumite 8 and as soon as I block the oncoming punch I was able to connect to the opponent's center and root them without them knowing they just got rooted. So in Berlin in February we demonstrated this at the seminar. Toby Threadgill used a sword against another sword and he connected to the opponent's center via his sword thru their sword and rooted them. I used the first movement from kihon kumite 8 to do the same. Speaking for myself I thought it was really cool. Especially because I could do this without the person realizing he was just rooted until he tried to move then he found he couldn't move until he first shifted his weight. But doing it with my hands is one thing. All I do is extend myself into them at the point of contact with my arm and connect to their center. Toby Threadgill does it holding a sword and extending his energy thru his sword into their sword up their arm and into their center. A lot more layers of conductivity. Boggles my mind. But that is in my opinion upper level joden/okuden stuff that is way above my pay grade.

After our demo Sensei Threadgill taught exercises to the participants that gave them a starting point, a basis to physically approach this subject. Easier said than done. I will elaborate on these exercises later in my HOW section if I ever get there.

So the way I understand it, Otsuka Sensei evaded, entered, then connected to the swordsman while weighting the swordsman's center without him knowing it thus rendering him flatfooted and therefore DEAD. Dead because during that time interval the swordsman does not even know he is rooted so when he goes to move there is nothing he can do. And just as it crosses his mind that something is not right with him he sees a flash of steel that pierces his body (had Otsuka Sensei stabbed him with a tanto).

On a side note I was chatting with Shuzo Imai Sensei of Germany and he told me that he realized the brilliance of Otsuka Sensei when he had the opportunity to witness his tachi tori from up close. What he never realized was how close Otsuka Sensei was coming to the blade. Imai Sensei remarked that he was shocked at Otsuka Sensei’s mikiri skills. Mikiru is the ability to physically discern the end of the weapon range. The closer you can place yourself to the end of the range the closer you will be to counter attacking. Otsuka Sensei was an expert at mikiri and this was evident in his sword defense according to Imai Sensei. Imai Sensei reiterated how amazing his mikiri skills were. Which makes sense to me when I think of how we do Chinto in Wado. The opening move is an exercise in pure mikiri unlike Shotokan or shitoryu that does something else. But that is a separate discussion for another day.
Back to work… Please feel free to chime in.
Bob Nash
oneya
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Re: Killing me softly

Post by oneya »

Gordon isn't due back from overseas until 18 of April Bob, hopefully this will be in time to create an opening for the 'How to' in the Wadopedia section - which should add further impetus to full name disclosure and membership..

oneya
Reg Kear.
Wado Kokusai San no Ya.

http://www.sannoya.com
kyudo
Posts: 224
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:00 pm
Location: Amsterdam

Re: Killing me softly

Post by kyudo »

Thanks Bob, interesting stuff...

As I've been on the receiving end of Threadgill sensei's technique a couple of times, I can relate to your description. However, speaking from my own rather limited experience on the subject, there appears to be another dimension to it.

Being flatfooted is one thing, the next second you may be kissing the ground with Threadgill's tanto up your neck. While you had the impression of being flatfooted, your whole body structure suddenly seemed to collapse for no apparent reason. So there appears to be a fine line between being flatfooted and being no-footed.

In any case, kumite gata, which is said to be one of the connecting points between SYR and karate, always seems to follow the same pattern: taisabaki, atemi, kuzushi. I guess the flatfoot part fits somewhere inbetween. But that, as you say, is upper level joden/okuden stuff that is way above my pay grade.
Igor Asselbergs
http://kyudokan.nl/
Gusei21
Posts: 403
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:43 am

Re: Killing me softly

Post by Gusei21 »

kyudo wrote:Thanks Bob, interesting stuff...

As I've been on the receiving end of Threadgill sensei's technique a couple of times, I can relate to your description. However, speaking from my own rather limited experience on the subject, there appears to be another dimension to it.

In any case, kumite gata, which is said to be one of the connecting points between SYR and karate, always seems to follow the same pattern: taisabaki, atemi, kuzushi. I guess the flatfoot part fits somewhere inbetween. But that, as you say, is upper level joden/okuden stuff that is way above my pay grade.
Hi Igor

I am only talking about one specific part - the sword defense in the context of what Otsuka Sensei said about killing the opponent. When Otsuka Sensei did that the swordsman was not falling or losing his balance.
On the surface all it looked like was that Otsuka Sensei closed in. My point is that there is more going on under the covers there than meets the eye. In fact the so called flatfootedness is actually an advanced form of kuzushi
Bob Nash
kyudo
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Location: Amsterdam

Re: Killing me softly

Post by kyudo »

Gusei21 wrote: flatfootedness is actually an advanced form of kuzushi
Yes. That is my own perception too.
I'd surmise that it's about controlling the opponent without giving the impression that you do so. Or kissing while stabbing. ;-)

Neat stuff...
Igor Asselbergs
http://kyudokan.nl/
Kuroi Tsubasa
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Re: Killing me softly

Post by Kuroi Tsubasa »

Wow! O_O


I feel minuscule,depressed,helpless,foolish,frustrated but primarily humbled reading about this technique
Arigatou Sensei Bob
Sounds like something a Samurai (Kenshin Himura anyone?) from some anime or manga would pull off
Inspiration for my journey ahead :)
Last edited by Kuroi Tsubasa on Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
Prajit
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Re: Killing me softly

Post by oneya »

I feel the need to take an umeboshi and lay down for a while.

oneya
Reg Kear.
Wado Kokusai San no Ya.

http://www.sannoya.com
mspain
Posts: 59
Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:54 am

Re: Killing me softly

Post by mspain »

This is from someone that witnessed this event in Hawaii, not me:

Hironori Ohtsuka had come to Hawaii, to do a demonstration, and promote his disciples & their respective students.

During a sword demonstration, in a Honolulu gymnasium (that I can not remember the name), a black belt that he had brought with him from Japan, went after him with a really sharp katana. The demonstration looked so real, that the face of Ohtsuka, looked like he was in fear of his life.

One of our black belts stated that Ohtsuka must have flunked his student, on his last examination. The katana sliced a razor thin vertical section of Ohtsuka's Kimono.

After that, Ohtsuka turned on his student, and began to kick his ass. Ohtsuka did not kick or punch. He used Ju Jitsu techniques, Judo techniques, and Aikido techniques. He did not use hard blocks. He only used very short & soft deflections. He was running all over the gym floor during his whole demonstration.

The gymnasium floor was hard wood. The black belt demonstrator hit the floor so hard that the ground vibrated on his impact. Everyone felt the force because we were all bare footed and felt the impact from the floor.

After all of these years, I never forgot that demonstration.


Mike Spain
Mike Spain
Kuroi Tsubasa
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Re: Killing me softly

Post by Kuroi Tsubasa »

*gulp*
Prajit
acer
Posts: 95
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Re: Killing me softly

Post by acer »

After that, Ohtsuka turned on his student, and began to kick his ass. Ohtsuka did not kick or punch. He used Ju Jitsu techniques, Judo techniques, and Aikido techniques. He did not use hard blocks. He only used very short & soft deflections. He was running all over the gym floor during his whole demonstration.

The gymnasium floor was hard wood. The black belt demonstrator hit the floor so hard that the ground vibrated on his impact. Everyone felt the force because we were all bare footed and felt the impact from the floor.
Interesting...He use something that didn’t teach anymore?Why?
Where are those techniques now together with the teaching step by step of how to apply them in a fight (I wrote that so no one will tell ''there in the kata go find them'')
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