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Andrew Carr-Locke
Andrew Carr-Locke's picture


Maybe I mistyped, saying because it took an entire session...reading that section again, I didn't mean to make it sound as if there was only a single session's worth of knowledge. Even the stuff we did cover, we could expand on for great lengths of time- if this conversation is any proof that we like to bounce ideas back and forth. lol. 

So now you have me thinking... what more do you have for Niahanchi/Tekki other than the Beyond Bunkai dvd, and the Masters Seminar? if I'm looking for more, have you got anything else on dvd/book, or is it live knowledge thing that we need to be in the same room for? 

Yes, we have a difference in teaching methods. And this whole thing in my eyes, was a good discussion for both sides of why we do what we do, and I think one would end up in a similar place at the end of the journey in term of functional technique anyways. 

swdw's picture

About natural movement:.

Iain Abernethy wrote:

Gavin Mulholland wrote:
It's just that sometimes you need to spend a lot of time working on a specific movement in order to make it 'natural'.

Nothing to add to this and no comment to make … I just thought I should quote it because it is worth reading more than once :-)

Have to agree with both of you on this.

First I'll give 2 ideas from other people

In Toguchi's second book he mentions that many moves in karate involve movements that initially feel unnatural, but there is a reason for this. It is easier for an opponent to know what to expect and to defend himself against you when all movements are natural.

2nd idea. Lee Gray Sensei was telling me about a senior Yudansha training he was invited to at a Shorin ryu dojo when he lived in Okinawa. Part way through, the sensei stopped the training and went off on many of the black belts there. His point was this. "Why were they doing natural movements? Karate is unnatural movement that you do until it becomes natural for you."

Look at it this way, just because a movement feels natural, does that mean it's the most efficient or powerful way to move? Obviously, the answer is no. Look at boxing. You have to teach someone how to hit with power, just like karate.  Some of the nastiest throws in judo and jujitsu are not a natural movement either.

So the idea that a natural movement is better- something which has become more prevalent recently, is often false. Given a choice the body will use what feels "easiest" to the person in order to accomplish a task. However, easiest and best are more often than not 2 different approaches. And depending on how an individual was raised and their background you can have 2 different ways of moving "naturally". Neither of which is the most effective.

So the idea is to find the dynamic skeletal alignment that gives the muscles the best leverage to maximize strength and speed, learn the best structure for moving, engaging, and maintaining balance, and the best way to utilize your center of mass when engaging another moving mass.

If we leave this up to "natural movements" people will typically use too much tension, move in a way that telegraphs what they are doing, slows them down, and also do so with marginal balance.

My take is, this argument is being made by people too lazy to spend the floor time to make the "unnatural become natural for them", or by those who have no concept as to the reasoning behind the movements in the MA.

Andrew Carr-Locke wrote:
You can't work on a technique to make it 'natural'. It is or it isn't. If you are spending time working on creating something natural- I'd argue that you are just becoming better at an unnatural motion. But I can see this being misinterpreted quickly- so let's define 'Natural Movement' as motion or action that is carried out by the receptors in the body firing in the correct kinetic sequence to carry the signal from the brain with the least amount of hindrance from the anatomy and structure of the body. 

I'll wholeheartedly disagree with you here. Mainly because I've worked out and trained with people that have trained the ability to do so and have done so in live fire situations, not just on the dojo floor.

I'd also highly recommend the book "Speed Warrior" as there's a great discussion on neural adaptation in the book that, upon understanding the implications, refutes this statement

And the idea that a natural move uses the best kinetics is something I've already addressed. Untrained, the body does what it "thinks" is best. Never seen a thug with no training attack and move like a boxer or karateka. Instead they come in flailing, trying to overwhelm their opponents. If you've actually trained to defend your self against this type of attack (something few traditional schools do). their "natural" movement is rather easy to handle.

Go a step farther. It is NOT natural to use both hands simultaneously, especially in opposite directions, it's one hand then the other. Yet it is an extremely effective movement concept to develop. And the type of wide swinging, flailing punch that feels so "natural" is in actuality one of the easiest ones to defend against when you don't move in a way that's considered natural (Toguchi's point).

Look at a class of beginners through black belt and you'll see a difference in how easily  the "trained" people move compared to the newbies. How did that happen if movement can't be trained?

There's also a mental aspect to this. If you are in a school where every attack has a completely different response you are developing a lack of trust in being able to make it work. All the options your brain has to sort through makes the OODA loop beak down. Hence, under pressure people will fall back into what they "think" works best rather than what they train. So obviously they decide what they were taught won't work when the real issue is HOW they were taught. So it's the lack of trust in the subconscious that makes them fall back on less effective "natural" movements under pressure. This relates to training methodology and progression in how they are taught oyo, which I'll talk about later.

Here's another problem- when natural movements meet a well developed unnatural movement. 90% of the time the natural movement loses. This is from experience working out with people, some who've spent decades in an art with that philosophy only to have the simplest most fundamental attack, which had to be trained until became natural, blow right through their defense. Or have them get ticked because your defenses move them so much it totally screws up their ability to continue attacking. This has also been the experience of students that have had to defend themselves on the street. Some students are sheriffs and prison guards and have been amazed at how much easier it becomes to handle natural attacks as they progress in their training.

A friend of mine who was visiting, laughed at one of my green belts because I wanted him to throw a punch in a 'natural' way and he couldn't do it because it felt totally unnatural to him. Yet the way that felt unnatural to him after 2 years of training felt totally natural to the beginner I had to grab and ask to do the attack.

There's a LOT more I could say just on this topic, but gotta go. However, I do plan on revisiting the bunkai portion of the debate.

But to summarize. and give my answer to Michael's question. You use movements that have "become natural to you", not necessarily movements that would be considered natural to the average person.