Though some martial arts systems may have origins dating back 1000 years old or more, most developed into their current styles beginning in the 1930s, with others coming into existence as late as the 1950s and others within just last few decades. These newer systems were created to support an ever growing global sport without the prerequisite of providing life-protection skills or long term health benefits. And because of this, the applied medical and physical sciences that govern any physical activity and predate any martial system are almost non-existent.
Within the original life-protection systems of Okinawa Karate is the practice of Tuidi; also referred to as tuite, toude, torite and kamamiti. Tuidi, in its truest form, is rarely seen today. If practiced at all, Tuidi is considered a complement to Karate practice, not part of it. Tuidi means "grabbing/gripping hand" and includes an eclectic panorama of life-protection techniques. Included are parrying, entangling, entrapment, grabbing, body and arm control techniques, plus pressure point striking and nerved control techniques. Like Karate, Tuidi has origins in the ancient Chinese martial arts, called Qinna or Chin' na (擒拿). So to truly understand the methods of Okinawa Tuidi, a review and study of Qinna is important.
The kanji characters of "Qin" and "Kina" are meaningful words such as catching an opponent. "Qin" has the meaning of catching, trapping, and "kun" means grabbing the fingers. Captured by grabbing the enemy, a technique using the principle of leverage, limbs and neck of the joint is a technique which corresponds to the "reverse technique". In addition, when using Qinna, the "dot hole method" that attacks the meridians and acupuncture points, the "cut pulse method" that attacks and separates blood veins (blood vessels and nerves), and the "closed air method" that attacks the airways to attack and make breathing difficult. It is often used in conjunction with the "iron tooth method", which uses a blow to attack and crush the joint. In a broad sense, these techniques are sometimes collectively referred to as "Qinna".
With the downfall of the feudal system in Japan and the introduction of national laws, Karate, like all martial arts of the time, went through an extensive overhaul. Since Karate was no longer taught as a means of self-protection, techniques and training intents were altered or removed all together, either for safety reasons and to meet the changing socio/political ideals of Japan, beginning with the Meiji Restoration 1879-1912 and continued through the Taisho Period 1912-1926 and Showa Period 1926-1969. The effects of organized competition further diluted these once incredible methods of civil defense, transforming Karate into a game of "tag".
The majority of martial arts systems and schools today focus heavily on competition. This presents a dilemma for those seeking something more than a trophy. This “gap” has led to a vast majority of martial arts schools complimenting their base arts with self-defense “fillers”. This vacancy helped lead to the formation of “mixed martial arts” or MMA. Though more effective than most martial sports, MMAs survival depends on their students stepping into the ring, subject to rules and surrounded by judges. Like most sports, martial arts competition has a limited life span and leaves much to be desired for those of a more “advanced” age or those that want to study a martial art for the sake of the art itself. This is where our programs rise above the crowd.
There are scores of instructors and organizations throughout the world that offer some form of instruction in “martial science” or pressure point courses as a side study program. Most of these courses offer a very limited ability to incorporate those practices into the student's current style. What sets our teachings apart from other systems or styles is that not only are our students successfully applying these methods from day one, but students and instructors that apply our teachings are able to do the same within their personal schools and styles.
Though it would appear on the surface that Goju-Ryu is our base art that is not necessarily the case. Just like the naming of Goju-Ryu came more by accident than design, so did Shihan McMains decide on Goju-Ryu as the perfect physical host and delivery system for these proven and unchallenged applications.
On the surface, swimming is a common physical activity but on a competitive level the success of Michael Phelps is dependent on the understanding of so many applied sciences and professionals. Every other competitive swimmer will reapply these same training tools for the simple fact they are beyond reproach. Aesthetics has no place or purpose when 1000ms matters. Would this then not apply to any martial art?!
The totality of our physical teachings are based on what Shihan McMains has identified as the Five Combative Postures (Timing, Footwork, Distancing, Targeting/Placement of Technique and Body Alignment,) which are one of our core training standards and one of four foundational pillars or "First Principles". These First Principles define the proper physical alignments (form) and mechanical movements (function) necessary to action a solid response. Form and function in science refer to the direct relationship between the structure of a thing and the way it functions.
For example sake, these First Principles can be likened to a chef's knife skills. Though it might be nice to have a top of the line German crafted blade (form), it is the handler's skills (function) that are important. Ironically, it is the physical design of the knife , a design developed over centuries of use, that defines how the user is trained in the various design properties of a knife. Alternatively, it was the various functional needs that led to the development of new knife designs and materials.
This provides for two other First Principles: "Form Follows Function" and "Form Fits Function". Form and function are two different things. The form is related to the structure, the architect of something whereas a function is the product of a structure which plays any specific role. In biology, "Form Follows Function" means that, within an organism, structures are formed in direct correlation to what they are meant to do. For example, a cat's paw and a human hand have similar bones, but each are designed to function much differently.
If the body (form) is represented by Goju-Ryu or any martial art, then the First Principles of "Form Follows Function" and "Form Fits Function" would represent the internal life supporting functions of the body. By this comparison one cannot exist without the other. And since the application of these basics are based on proper body mechanics, timing, placement of technique, footwork and more, it is easily taught and understood by even the youngest student.
Form, Fit, and Function is the identification and description of characteristics of a part or assembly. In the Karate world, this is defined as bunkai, referring to the superficial breakdown of Kata into individual techniques or segments and their possible application in a combat situation. To the martial science practitioner, bunkai has a much deeper definition and application. Bunkai becomes a sort of forensic study. More advanced studies require a deep introspection, at the chemical composition level if you will, using qualitative (specificity) and quantitative (structure) manners or First Principles. This framework increases design change flexibility by allowing changes to the part without obvious affect on performance or effectiveness, as long as the fit, form and function of the product are maintained. Based on this, defining bunkai as the review of a completed function serves limited application. Since Form, Fit, and Function each defines a specific aspect of each part of a part or segment, the current definition of bunkai would no longer apply. Bunkai would now describe the breakdown and analysis of each component of a single technique with the intent to match parts to needs.
Every form of combat from the beginning of time shared these First Principles. Paradoxically, with the transition of the original life-protection arts into today's modern performance arts, these and other first principles were intentionally engineered out. As the practitioner applies these principles throughout their trainings, the practitioner begin to build their own toolbox or database of Western and Eastern medical and applied sciences. But make no mistake, without a solid combative foundation, the practitioner can list 200+ concepts in his/her repertoire and be completely ineffective.
A majority of martial art systems center their teachings in three distinct areas: Kata (form), Kumite (sparring) and Tuidi (hand to hand). Regrettably, a majority of today's sport based martial arts teach these three trainings areas separately and without relevance to the other. For the martial science practitioner, these three areas defines a connected, interactive cycle of training where each has direct impact on the other. No longer are these taught separate from one another but rather they are interchangeable.
Upon achieving Black Belt status in Goju-Ryu, these deeper teachings become even more important and regular part of the student’s training with the intent of achieving additional recognition and certification. This provides another distinction between our program and other martial arts schools and systems as these First Principles are taught in our classes from day one. Where most schools struggle to provide continued training for their Black Belts, we can honestly state that the training has just begun.