Busan - Martial Creativity

by William Durbin, Soke of Kiyojute Ryu

How can I defend myself with the techniques I am learning? This is one of the most commonly asked questions by beginners in the martial arts. Even the most basic of martial arts begins with seven to ten techniques, some of the more complex ones can provide as many as fifteen or twenty techniques for a beginner to learn and perform on a test. When a beginner begins to prepare to take their test, the first thing they become aware of is how hard it is to remember their skills. This is especially true of those that teach actual self defense applications of their techniques.

On a Test

          On a test, a student is expected to reproduce in a workable fashion, the exact specific maneuver they have been taught by their instructor. Even in some of the schools, which allow interpretation of application, they make certain that the specific move is practiced in a correct manner, which once again makes a person have to remember how to do it. Thus the beginning martial arts student thinks, how can I remember these techniques in an actual attack situation?

          What cannot yet be understood by the beginner, is that in actual self defense, nothing is remembered. In the time it takes to have one cognitive thought, a person has already been hit. In fact, if a person just simply tries to label the name of the attack, it is possible for them to be hit multiple times by an experienced fighter.

          In example, let's say that John Doe is walking down the street and he is a student of Karate. Like most beginning students, let us say that he is being relatively aware, watching for potential signs of danger. Maybe like most beginners, he is overly aware of the potential for danger and so is watching everyone with a jaded eye, seeing danger at every corner. Suddenly, a man steps from an alley and starts to swing a punch at John Doe's head. If John looks at the punch and labels it, 'that's a roundhouse punch', then it will land against John's jaw before his arm can ever move to block it.

          Or if John has practiced religiously his block, maybe it launches and deflects the attacker's punch automatically, then John thinks, 'I am going to reverse punch and kick this sucker to the moon'. Before the first three words are finished forming in his mind, the attacker will have recovered from being blocked and hit John with a second, third, maybe even more strikes, if John is really intent on finishing his thought.

          What then allows practitioners of the martial arts to be able to defend themselves effectively, against an actual attacker? What is the difference between a practitioner of the martial arts and what we would call a master? The attribute might be phrased, in the formal language of Japan, Busan.

Busan

          Busan is made up of two Kanji, Bu meaning 'martial', and San meaning 'to give birth', which in this context refers to creativity. Thus Busan refers to 'martial creativity'. In some schools of martial arts this is called by it's common pronunciation, Takeumu or in less accurate pronunciation, unless the second Kanji is changed, Takemusu.

          Regardless of what it is called, Busan refers to the ability to actually use martial arts techniques in a totally spontaneous manner. As pointed out earlier, it is impossible to remember a technique in actual combat. Thought slows down the ability of the body to move, in that the mind becomes occupied with what it is thinking, separating it from the sensory impute coming in from the eyes and the ears.

          If you have ever tried to read a book and watch television at the same time, you know that what generally happens is that you become focused on one or the other sensory impute and so miss out on what the other is trying to say to you. If you have ever been reading or watching a show, and then you pick up a conversation happening beside you, you will note that at some point you begin to look at the page and not really read it as your mind turns to listening to what the people around you are saying. This is simply how the mind works and if we are to learn how to adequately defend ourselves, then we must understand this process and learn how to overcome this mental limitation, allowing us to achieve Busan, so that we can truly use our martial arts skills.

Practice, Practice, Practice

          First of all, the main secret to Busan, is no secret at all, but merely the aspect that no one likes having to acknowledge. That is, practice. In Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei Dojo, students are admonished right from the very beginning; Renshu, Keiko, Shugyo. Practice, practice, practice. The only way for thought to be eliminated from the execution of martial arts technique, is to practice the basics so much that thought is no longer needed in their performance. The only way this can be done is though many repetitions.

          In example, even the most basic punch of Karate, involves a great deal of detail. First of all the fist must be formed properly and the fist must be held at the proper angle at the wrist, so that it will be a solid and strong weapon. If the wrist is tilted up or down, upon impact with a solid surface, it can break or at the very least be strained. The fist starts at the side of the body, from which it will launch and must rotate as it travels to the target. It is extremely important that the arm not rotate too soon, because if the elbow drifts away from the body, power will be lost. Therefore the elbow should brush the side of the ribs as the arm extends forward. Then in order for power to be imparted into the strike, the fist must stop rotating at the point of contact and the focus projected into the opponent.

          These are all the instruction necessary to make just the arm movements work in the most basic Karate punch. Then when you add to it what the legs should do, what the hips, shoulders, and head do, it can be literally overwhelming for a beginner. And then, trying to remember all that, at the same time a person attacks? Forget it. Unless, in the Dojo so much time has been spent practicing the move, that all of that happens spontaneously and simultaneously, without thought. This is why practice is so important. Surprisingly enough, it does not take that much practice for this to occur, just consistent and persistent practice. Even doing the techniques just a little everyday will help to achieve the desired goal.

Jiyu Renshu

          The next secret to martial arts effectiveness is Jiyu Renshu, which means, free practice. In order for a person to gain spontaneity in their response to an attack, they must have some form of unstructured, free practice. For many modern martial arts this is accomplished through some form of competition, such as Randori in Judo or Kumite in Karate. Shiai, contests, grew out of these methods of free practice.

          The problem with any type of competitive free practice is that certain rules have to be established so that people do not get seriously injured or killed. In example; eyes, throats, testicles, kidneys, knees, or actual disabling strikes to joints, are disallowed in all forms of martial arts competition. While accidents do happen, or in some cases people with bad sportsmanship will illegally attack the restricted areas, the idea of these restrictions is so that people can 'play' against each other without serious repercussions.

          However, in actual self defense, these very targets are the ones that should be stressed. Yet to Randori or Jiyu Kumite, while allowing these areas, would be disastrous and lead to the serious injury or death of many competitors. Even those competitions, which claim to allow many of these targets, do so in word only. In example, one of these extreme fighting competitions claim that the groin is open to assault, yet the competitors where cups. Even in the worst of these sports, eyes and ears are off limits. And this is good, no one really wants to see a person blinded or deafened due to a silly competition. Even the joint attacks and chokes are done with the idea that the person give up before injury occurs.

          So the question must be asked, how can we have a method of spontaneous practice that will allow the legitimate execution of the deadliest techniques in the martial arts. Basically speaking there are two, one that involves the interaction of two practitioners and one that allows singular practice.

Embu

          The practice which involves two practitioners is called Embu, and may be translated, ‘a demonstration or performance of martial arts’. There are various methods of practicing Embu, but originally it was practiced without a preset pattern. The idea was for two Kempoka to flow back and forth, attacking and defending spontaneously. The practitioners pulled the techniques short of impact, so that no one was injured. Since people moved slowly enough to stop the techniques without hitting their practice partner, the actual targets of self defense could be practiced safely. Advanced Kempoka can move at incredible speeds and still pull their techniques without injuring their partner. However, a martial artist is always taught never to move faster than they can safely pull their techniques. Throws, joint locks, and chokes can also be applied in Embu. In some types of Embu, the actual last technique will be a throw or joint lock.

          While Embu is an excellent means of training, it still has the limitation of the techniques needing to be pulled short of contact for the safety of the practitioners. Therefore, there still needs to be a method of training that allows techniques to be performed at full speed, power, and focus. The only method that allows this is Jiyu Kata.

Jiyu Kata

          This method of training involves a single practitioner, using visualization to ‘see’ their opponents in the execution of their Kata. This type of Kata does not have a preset form, but rather flows in a completely free style manner, allowing the martial artist to develop spontaneity and creativity.

          The only limitation on Jiyu Kata is the experience of the practitioner. Thus the more one learns about fighting principles, techniques, and combat methods, the more effective the practice of Jiyu Kata becomes. The concept of Jiyu Kata is an ancient principle which can at the very least be traced back to the oldest extant system of Japanese martial arts, the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu. Even today practitioners continue to engage in this effective method of training. The Daito Ryu and Motobu Ryu of Japan and Okinawa, both which are derived from the Minamoto martial arts of the twelfth century, have always used free style practice, along with technique training to develop the spontaneity necessary for actual combat or self defense.

          How can I defend myself with the techniques I am learning? The answer is by learning how to do them with complete spontaneity and creativity, which can only be accomplished through a method of free practice, the most superior system of which is Jiyu Kata, the ancient form of practice which can work for everyone of any style.



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