Keeping it real

We need to be clear about our training. We need to know how to train and how our training translates to real life situations, otherwise we can easily become confused and lose our way.

There is training in the ‘application’ of taijutsu, and there is the practice of taijutsu ‘exercises’ to focus on specific principles. These two should not be confused. Training in the application of taijutsu requires that we train realistically as we cannot afford to train for real. This means that we should constantly ask ourselves what a real attacker might do on the street, or what effect real circumstances might have on our ability.

We should consider our response to danger – mind, body and spirit (psychological, physical and emotional). We should train to keep calm through meditation or conditioning and we should consider how the overspill fits into our taijutsu.

We train in koryu bujutsu – the old martial arts of Japan. These were developed in the feudal era to work against a fully committed attack. We need to be clear about this, and not confuse what we do with sports based martial arts which are based on a different concept. Taijutsu was not designed for sparring which requires restraint by both parties and constriction by rules. Taijutsu requires the full expression of uke and tori’s mind, body and spirit by design, so it has limited application as a sport.

If we happen to fight a boxer on the street the last thing we would want to do is box! Use a different strategy! Find an advantage! Escape while they bob around(!), grab a weapon or use space to draw them out so they have to commit their intention and balance.

As uke, we should think about giving tori a realistic attack. This does not mean a real attack – unless we are happy to receive a real counter! Our job is to play the role of uke, not become uke! Training is not a competition and there is no place for ego in the dojo. We are here to help tori so we should consider what kind of uke is required at each moment of tori’s training.

As uke and tori we should bear in mind the object of each specific technique. Are we to focus on the form, the feeling, the distance or the flow? We should focus our training and work with uke to achieve this.

‘Keep it realistic – not real’ was a phrase I heard from Mark Lutman. Many thanks Mark!