Okinawan Te, the art of Kings, is a graceful ‘internal’ martial art which is very mobile and dance-like. It is a highly refined and efficient 'internal' self-defense system, dealing with both weapons and empty-hand skills, but which is practiced primarily for health and wellbeing.
At the Meikai Dojo we study the Eastern Arts from therapeutic and scientific perspectives, not engaging in cultism or religion in any way. However, meditative healing states are used in all of the arts, which can lead to a sense of spirituality, and different theologies and spiritual beliefs, evolution, and procreation may all be discussed in order to better understand complex psychological and social phenomena in a humanistic and subjective way.
Martial Art Classes consist of:
Involving Yogic stretching, core strengthening exercises, footwork, and various rolling techniques to prepare the body in a healthy way for training.
Solo practice (Kihon);
Basics or ‘form’ – study and practise of the fundamental movements and techniques of Te.
Partner practice (Randori);
- Paired stretching and loosening exercises
- Entry and Distraction techniques
- Hand, Wrist, and shoulder work, both therapeutic and martial.
- Throws, take-downs, locks and holds.
- Rolls and Break-falls
- Weapons work
- Relevant Physiology, Psychology, Philosophy and ethics
- Martial Awareness
There is a period of mental and physical calming down at the end of each session using any or all of the following methods; stretching, deep-relaxation, meditation, or shiatsu.
One should leave the dojo feeling pleasantly invigorated.
Beginners in any art start with the fundamentals and build up to more advanced work over time. Rolls and break-falls are a prerequisite in Te.
Any martial arts practice or physical exercise can be dangerous if the body is not properly prepared, so attention must be paid at all times. Study at the dojo is entirely at the students own risk, and the student has a duty of care to themselves and those around them.
It is essential to learn from an experienced and bona-fide teacher who fully appreciates the risks, and is able to teach responsibly.
Te Weapons Training
In this video one can see the need to cover ground, which is one reason for the high footwork; it gives great mobility. We are also not going into the ubiquitous Te grappling and restraints which each attack could engender - that depend on the situation, how many opponents are around, and if you have the time to be nice.
Weapons technique and defence against weapons all rely on Te footwork. In Te there is no 'block and counter', we 'evade and distract' simultaneously, before moving into refined hand/wrist/weapon grappling. The high mobility of the footwork means that several opponents may be dealt with and/or controlled, at once.
Te deals with all weapon ranges; from empty-hand to knives, to sticks and swords, and even spears and halbards (a long staff with a curved blade at the end). The same logic is even true for fire-arms. It's the evasion which is most important, the getting out of the trajectory of the incoming weapon.
Te is a very elegant and dance-like art, yet is deceptively effective.
Te Empty-hand Training;
'Empty-hand' technique is comprised of the same fundamental movements as the weapon-work (see the videos below). Advanced wrist, hand and weapon grappling, with it's accompanying footwork, and use of pressure-point distraction techniques, are used (to cause a flinch response and give the time to lead into the grappling, take-down and restraint techniques), rather than the devastatingly powerful, and brutal, 'finishes' of many arts. A 'finish' in Okinawan Te would be more likely to involve a restraint, a broken wrist or dislocated shoulder etc.
Kata (forms/patterns) are not taught in Te.
Te, aka Udundi, uses Basics (kihon), the moves into paired work and 'Anji no Mei no kata' (The Dance of the Feudal Lords), or Meikata 'formless-form'.
Below are a few examples of a principle of movement in action, using both different weapons and empty-hand techniques,
Defending with a curved sword or stick.
Defending with dual short-swords, knives or truncheons.
Kata (form), is very important in most martial systems and for various reasons; to forge and maintain a strong, flexible body; to develop focus, coordination, centering and grounding; work on posture and breathe control; as a ‘library’ of martial-movement paradigms and techniques; to use as moving meditation, develop body-awareness, core connectivity, and zanchin (martial awareness), etc etc. Many that come to Te have already studied arts that use kata, and so will have already reaped these benefits.
However, Te (Udun-di), does not use kata, which is effectively somebody else’s thoughts frozen in time, codified and ‘rigidified’ into ‘forms’ or set patterns. Instead it uses ‘Mei-kata’ (formless-form). This clip shows formless-form with a Jo (4 ft staff), it is free-flowing and unplanned. This helps to develop the intuitive, subconscious, responses actually needed in a real multiple opponent situation in a way that kata cannot.
As one learns more basic movements one’s Mei-kata ‘fills-out’ over time, growing and becoming more complex and subtle as one’s understanding and ability develop.
For those who'd like to read more about Te and see more clips, there's plenty more on the Blogs page.