Training in Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu
You should know:
1. We teach nothing that will get our students killed.
Self-defense is not a game. Nor is it the place for macho posturing, agenda-driven thinking, unchecked emotions, or complicated and unreliable physical techniques. Any and all of those will get someone killed in a violent confrontation. We know because we have seen people seriously injured trying to use ineffective techniques in “real fights”. Our goal is to provide effective strategies and skills for surviving violent encounters – at whatever level.
2. We don't teach people to fight. We teach them to survive.
Our goal is not to teach you how to stand there and fight. We do not teach “dueling”; nor are we concerned with “winning”. Our only self-defense goal is to teach you how to end it now! By ending a violent encounter quickly, you do one thing – ensure your own safety. The strategies, tactics and degree of force necessary all change according to the threat level, your goals or profession. However, no matter who you are, you want the situation resolved as quickly as possible with the least amount of force.
A far more effective way to ensure your safety than fighting is the ability to de-escalate a potentially violent situation. Better yet is the ability to recognize a possibly violent situation and avoid putting yourself into it. Not only does that lessen the chances of being physically hurt, but nobody has ever been sued for not fighting. This is why a significant portion of our courses are oriented toward violence de-escalation, verbal self-defense and common sense avoidance.
3. We help people achieve understanding.
Techniques fail. Things go wrong. Mr. Murphy and his laws are always present in a physical confrontation. Many a perfectly good self-defense technique can be – and has been – utterly destroyed by the attacker simply stepping forward. If you only “know” rather than “understand” a move, your attempts are vulnerable to Mr. Murphy. That is because you probably will not be able to react fast enough when the situation changes (i.e., step forward) and alter your own actions to meet this new and different threat. Or you will attempt to use muscle to make a move work. This is fine if you are a big, strong man, but if you attempt to contest the strength of a larger and stronger opponent your technique will fail – nearly every time.
You may know hundreds of techniques, but if you don't understand what makes them work you won't be able to apply them outside the controlled environment of the training hall. If you understand the principles that make them work, no matter what is happening you can develop a move – on the spot – that will be successful against any size opponent. This is the difference between a “belt collector” and a fighter. The latter has an ingrained understanding of these principles that allows him to operate effectively within the chaos of violent confrontation. The former will often freeze in confusion, unsure of which, of the hundreds of techniques he “knows”, would have been best. By the time he decides on one, the opportunity and the technique's effectiveness has passed. This is why so many training hall techniques fail in actual practice.
4. It's what you think you know that will kill you.
A simple, but controversial, statement is :The reason that most martial arts techniques fail in actual conflict is that the person trying to use them doesn't have the “basics” nailed down. There are fundamental elements that MUST be present in an effective offense. In training, reviewing these elements is often met with a “yeah, yeah, I know that” attitude. The problem is in an actual confrontation, the know-it-all does everything BUT those “basics” and that is why he loses the fight. As our goal is survival of violence and not sport, we emphasis that these fundamentals must be ingrained. We don't care if you “know” them, we care that you “do” them as instinctively and automatically as breathing.
Advanced technique is nothing but the basics understood at a deeper level. And it is having those “basics” ingrained that will not only save you in a conflict, but will allow you to moderate your use of force – which does wonders for keeping you out of jail afterwards.
Entry level students of Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu begin their training with an overview of the Academy, the key personnel, the training program, and history. Physical training begins with instruction on the basics of Kumite Jutsu, Kata, Weapons, Bogu Kumite, stretching, strength training, and heavy bag work. As a beginner, the student is provided the opportunity to assess whether or not to pursue this form of martial art with commitment. In terms of equipment requirements, the initial cost to begin training is high in this level.
Responsibilities of students:
1. Read and study the available written material, and be able to remember and pass examinations on
the subject matter.
2. Continue practicing outside the formal training session of the dojo.
3. Attend recommended symposiums, workshops, conferences, conventions, and competitions.
4. Volunteer and assist in the cleaning, general maintenance, teaching, and other aspects of training
at the school.
5. Acquire the relevant equipment for the level at which you are training.
Training Safety Precautions
In order to prevent, or reduce the extent of, injuries during training, the student must follow the guidelines, below, before and during training.
1. The student must follow the instructor’s directions, guidelines, and explanations; and, if
uncertain, request clarification.
2. The student must not get ahead of the instruction; regardless of the skill the student may possess.
3. The student must offer no resistance; and, must allow each maneuver to be freely executed,
during training, to allow for the perfection of the movement.
4. It is essential for the student to be free of any jewelry (rings, watches, etc) that might interfere
with the training and/or possibly result in injury.
5. The student must understand that strikes are to be simulated, especially, during the initial
learning stages. It is not important to be quick; nor, to place any power into the strikes.
6. The student and his partner must establish a signal system to inform one another when to stop
applying pressure during training drills.
7. The student must undergo an adequate amount of warm-up and stretching exercises to reduce the
possibility of injury.
8. The student must always wear the appropriate protective equipment during training.
9. Every so often, the student must inspect his personal equipment to ensure that it is kept in
serviceable condition. If the instructor deems the equipment not adequate, or unsafe, the student
will cease physical training until the problem is corrected.
Academic: To provide the student with a historical overview of Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu, and its role in the spread of modern “Martial Arts”. To provide the student with the knowledge to recognize and avoid violent confrontations. To provide the student with the ability to de-escalate a potentially violent situation. To provide the student with the necessary anatomical and physiological education to understand the physical effects of his practical training. To provide the student with the R.O.E. (Rules of Engagement) of Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu. To provide the student with the moral guidelines involved in the usage of this deadly art.
Practical: To present a series of routines, methodologies, solo and partner drills, kata, and kumite that will provide the groundwork for the student to successfully defend himself during physical assault. To provide the student with a sequence of goals in order to enhance his will power, and build his self confidence. To provide the student with a healthful framework within which to increase his health and prolong his life as he learns this intricate art.
“Therefore let every man that is desirous to practice this Arte’, endeavor himself to get strength and agility of body, assuring himself, that judgement without this activity and force, avails little or nothing.” Giacomo di Grassi, 1570.
This advice is timeless and applies across the board to all self defense arts. In order to achieve perfection in any craft or skill, practice, and more practice, and still more practice is required. The Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu training program is no different. The exercises, drills, and forms enhance the flexibility and strength necessary to achieve our goals. Therefore, they are repetitive, difficult and long. Discipline forms the core of the Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu training program. This art requires a commitment to training outside of class time.
The following briefly describes the basic fighting principles that the student must know and apply in order to successfully defeat an opponent.
a) Physical Balance
The ability to maintain equilibrium and remain in a stable fighting position during an engagement. This is critical for deploying a defensive maneuver or posture, and for launching an effective attack against the opponent. There are two aspects of balance that the student must possess:
1. The student must develop the ability to move the body, utilizing such concepts as: stepping
patterns; ensuring that the legs do not “lock out”, and, generally, are kept about shoulder’s width apart;
lowering the body’s center of gravity; static and dynamic balance.
2. Through training and experience, the student must be able to move his body during an
engagement maintaining balance and stability; while, at the same time, exposing the opponent’s
b) Mental Balance
Not allowing fear, excitement, or the “adrenaline dump” to overcome the ability to concentrate or react skillfully during a fight.
The relative distance between individuals engaged in a fight. The student must learn how to position himself at a distance that is most advantageous. Adjustments to this distance is continuous during the engagement and ensures that the student maintains the most beneficial range between himself and the opponent.
The student must learn, though experience, the best time, during an attack, to move to a favorable position, or employ his counterattack. If the movement is too soon, the opponent will be able to respond and set up a counter, or, adjust his attack. Conversely, if the student moves too late, the opponent will be successful in delivering his attack; usually at the moment the student is most vulnerable.
The location of the student in relation to his opponent. Moving the body to a place that allows for simultaneous attack and defense is the goal of positioning. Many, but not all, times this is accomplished by moving somewhere off the line of attack. Movement to an accommodating position will require accurate timing and distance perception.
Momentum describes the body’s tendency, while in motion, to continue in the direction of motion; unless, acted upon by another force. The greater the mass or speed of the movement, the greater the momentum. This is a principle that can be effectively exploited during attacks. The student can control the momentum of an attack, redirect the momentum behind the strike, and, provided the student understands the principles behind momentum, the following can be acted upon:
1. The student can use the opponent’s momentum to advantage; by moving in, along, or to the side
of the opponent’s attack.
2. The opponent’s momentum can be exploited by forcing it to extend further than expected.
3. The student can use his own momentum to maintain pressure on the opponent; and, assist with
4. The student must, also, be aware that the opponent can use the student’s own momentum to the
student’s disadvantage; and, therefore, should avoid placing himself in an awkward or vulnerable
Basic training that must be internalized:
1. Basic exercises and movements.
3. Competency in techniques.
4. Ability to redirect and/or manipulate your opponent.
5. Ability to direct your opponent without physical contact.
Self Defense Training
In order for self-defense training to be effective, it must be multi-layered.
By this we mean that a wide variety of skill sets, knowledge, self-awareness, and behaviors are involved. Many, that at first glance, might not be obviously related to what you think of as “self-defense.” But each adds an important layer onto the whole of the subject, and therefore, your safety. As such, you must consciously focus on all of these layers if you wish to be safe from violence. Truthfully. self-defense is not a specialized skill that you only use in one context.
Self Defense is: “life skills.”
These are skills, talents and abilities that you will use in a myriad of ways every day of your life. What's more, as they are basic “people skills”, using them will improve your quality of life. Use them and you will find yourself in far fewer conflicts, you will be more popular, work will be easier and you will get along with people much, much better.
“Self Defense” is taking these same skill sets and, with some slight “tweaks”, applying them in a slightly different context. Properly applied, you will never have to use physical force to protect yourself because you will never find yourself in a situation where violence is likely.
Violence is an extreme.
What people do not tend to recognize about extremes is that they don't just “happen”. It takes time and effort to make such a long journey to this wild place. Putting it bluntly, you have to work to get there.
Furthermore, extremes are based on normal interactions, over-emphasizing certain elements and intentionally deleting other – tempering – influences. This means, that any extreme is based on that which you already know. It is just blown all out of proportion. It is so distorted that, you may not recognize it as such – especially the part about tempering influences being left out. There are several reasons for this failure; the most common ones are anger, emotion, or stubbornness on your part. These don't have to be regular states with you either. Giving in to them, just for a moment, can put you on the path towards violence. Lose control of yourself with the wrong person and you will beshot, stabbed, beaten or raped.
The “trick” for avoiding violence is recognizing it and the path that leads there.
By knowing the elements that are commonly used in this extreme – and what their normal proportions are – you will be able to see when they are being blown out of proportion. It takes time to get to an extreme, when you see these elements being distorted – even by yourself – you will know you are on the pathway to violence.
Our approach is to acquaint you with these elements so you can recognize this distortion -- and its significance – early enough that you can extract yourself from a situation without having to resort to physical violence. It is far, far easier to stop, take a deep breath, turn and walk away than it is to physically combat your way out of an attack.
Four layers of self-defense training
The following is a simple model for explaining what is meant by “effective self-defense training must be multi layered”.
1.) Common sense – Do you even want to go there?
(This point includes knowing what behaviors will put you into conflict and moral/ethical issues involved with use of force) What are the standards you must abide by?
2.) Diplomatic – Do you need to hit or can you resolve this another way?
Can you talk, negotiate or trick your way out of it? (This point also includes knowing the legal ramifications of hitting; and, weighing the repercussions against the need of the moment.)
3.) Strategic – When and where to hit for maximum results appropriate for the situation (justifiable use of force).
4.) Tactical – How to hit (physical application).
As you can see the issues become larger and more complex the further away one gets from just the physical. Many so-called “self-defense” courses/martial arts schools do not address these “higher” level skills because they assume they already are in place. We do not. Countless incidents of violence could have been avoided if they had been.
Why must these layers be included?
There are several reasons.
First, You cannot focus on only one aspect and expect your “self-defense” to work. For example, physical application is the most basic and simplest skill set. It is also the last ditch, extreme response. If a situation goes physical it generally means you have not applied the other skill sets correctly. You have allowed the situation to develop to an extreme. Unfortunately, physical force is also the most unreliable of responses. And, as you are now in an extreme, if it fails, you are in deep trouble. It is literally jumping out of a plane with only one parachute that has a 50/50 chance of not working.
The multi-layer approach is your back-up. To be more specific it is having options that prevent you from ending up in that situation. Including, not going parachute jumping in the first place, but if you do, knowing how to pack your chute so it will open. By having these layers, you have control and influence anywhere along the process. It is also knowing the further down that path you go, the more extreme the danger and the more likely you are to lose control of the situation.
Second, there is commonly an underlying assumption of self-righteousness regarding so-called “self-defense.” To begin with there is a drastic difference between self-defense and fighting; and, it is a difference that you need to know. Bottom line: It will not be immediately apparent to the responding officer that you are the “victim” who was obviously only defending himself against this horrible person. While police will often arrest both parties in a “fight” they are almost guaranteed to arrest the “winner.” If you have successfully “defended” yourself, that means you. Furthermore, your claim of “self-defense” is going to be seriously undermined if you were an equal participant in the problem -- no matter how self-righteous or justified you felt you were. As there are serious legal ramifications to this subject, you had better make sure that you weren't part of the problem.
Third, the effects of violence will last a life time. It doesn't matter if you are the victim, the perpetrator or even if you were just defending yourself. Exposure to, and participation in, violence will change you. Often, not for the better.
In the long run, these higher levels will give you the coping skills necessary to deal with the changes violence will cause. Your entire life is a long time to justify, or, self-righteously put the blame on another. It requires more work than many people are capable of doing. In other words, while in the short run, self-righteousness and anger can protect you, over time guilt, shame, moral pain, and trauma over what you did will eventually creep in.
In the immediate, these levels will help you get through the emotional/adrenaline stressors that come with having to defend yourself. Contrary to popular belief, an overwhelming majority people cannot just “flip an emotional switch” and find and apply effective self-defense moves in a crisis. Combat is a traumatic psychic “shift.” One, that if you do not have specific training to prepare you for, you might not be able to make in time to defend yourself.
Fourth, they remove doubt. If you have established standards by which to judge when you are legally and morally justified to use violence in your defense then you will be able to act with grim, un-conflicted determination towards achieving the goal. This is not an emotional or subjective reaction, it is reacting to a known and identified threat.
Fifth, relates back to both the second and fourth reasons, but is distinct enough to be its own reason. By knowing these other issues, you will greatly assist yourself in communicating with the police and defending your actions in a court of law as to “why” you felt it was necessary to use physical force. Violence doesn't happen in a vacuum, legal repercussions are as much of a danger as the physical assault. This is why you need to understand that aspect and how to survive the court battle as well as the violent encounter. If you cannot articulate “why” you felt it necessary to use physical force, the authorities will turn it into a “your word against his”. Unfortunately, as he is now “injured” the weight of the argument is on his side. That in the eyes of the law makes you the aggressor (read: the guilty party).
Also, never underestimate how an attorney can turn your words against you. You might have been utterly and totally correct in your assessment that physical force was required to protect yourself. However, if you cannot articulately supply “facts” that list A.) his behavior according to established standards of “jeopardy” behavior; and, B.) what you did to de-escalate/avoid the altercation, an attorney will twist you around like a pretzel on the stand. He will turn your self-defense pleas; and, have you babbling, “well he looked at me mean!” for the reason as to why you put his “poor innocent client” in the hospital. After he has ripped your self-defense stance apart, he will make you look like the person who intentionally started the violence.
Sixth reason: the higher levels instill in you negotiating skills and conflict avoidance. This doesn't mean that you run like a rabbit. It simply means that you have a wider set of tools at your disposal to find ways to resolve potential conflicts and problems without resorting to extreme measures. These are known as “people” skills. The better you become at them, the less likely you are to find yourself in a violent situation. Avoiding violence is the very least these skills can do for you. More realistically they will dramatically improve the quality of your life. At home, work and in your social life, you will achieve more of your goals with less conflict and stress.
A point we feel strongly about is: effective self-defense training focuses as much on your responsibility for your words/actions and the legal restrictions/repercussions of violence as it does your “right” to hit.
Apparently, most self-defense instruction (at least the ones we have encountered) assume that these other layers and skill sets are already in place, In doing so, they ignore addressing the issues that lead up to physical violence. Without hesitation – or – safety warnings, some of these programs teach extreme physical violence and often lethal force. Another common short coming in “self-defense” programs is the assumption that having these skill sets is someone else's responsibility – and that “somebody” is someone other than the student. It's up to other people to have all the self-control, empathy and people skills. These classes approach conflict from a very biased, blaming standpoint (i.e. “it is all the other guy's fault and whatever you do is justified”). A very important buzzword to watch for in such programs is “empowerment.” A program that is focused on “empowering” someone, many times gives a “carte blanche” excuse for the behaviors and attitudes that result in conflict and violence.
Simply stated, any program that gives you the idea you that you are justified in doing or saying anything you want and that the training will teach you how to fight if someone takes umbrage, isn't teaching self-defense. It is at best encouraging and reinforcing dysfunctional, selfish behavior and at the worst setting you up to get your brains blown into a fine pink mist if you behave that way towards a truly violent and dangerous person.