Ground fighting in the Takamatsuden

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu' started by Please reality, Jun 27, 2014.

  1. Please reality

    Please reality Back to basics

    Not sure that this is a very controversial subject, it seems that many people inside the Takamatsuden aren't well versed in ground fighting although there are two jujutsu schools in the Bujinkan curriculum and perhaps more in the Genbukan. There are some very interesting sweeps, trips, chokes, and escapes from the normal positions as well. The biggest issue seems to be that since people spend a lot of time on the other myriad aspects of fighting found in these arts(weapons, striking, throwing, etc), they miss out on the wealth of information out there.

    There are a lot of supplementary and fundamental skills found in the ryutai undo and taihenjutsu as well that are related to ground fighting. A lot of the principles are the same as when restrained against a wall, accept that you are horizontal so you have to train a different orientation and get used to using your muscles and body accordingly. There are also many different sword drawing and weapons skills from compromised positions, but in general, all of these things seem to be taught randomly if at all. This has wrongly led some to believe that the Takamatsuden doesn't have much use when it comes to ground fighting.

    Another issue is that traditionally, ground fighting was not the major focus for battlefield warfare. By the time it had gone to the ground, it was usually the coup de grace(head count time) being delivered. So, the general consensus is that ground fighting is not the best choice for dealing with armed or multiple attackers. However, at the higher levels of these arts, are some people who spent a lot of time training in ground fighting so their opinion is based on experience and coming from a level of ability that many seem to lack.

    Takagi ryu is often considered a bodyguard school, so one would wonder why a bodyguard would not have the skills to subdue an opponent on the ground, especially as drawing weapons in the presence of one's liege would usually be inappropriate. So clearly, there is no need to run to outside sources to make up for a lack of jujutsu skills in the Takamatsuden, they are there, the question is whether or not you are learning them and training in them as diligently as many do the standup skills.

    Just to recap, all of these things are found in the Takamatsuden curriculum:

    Throws to pins and submission skills
    Escapes from being pinned, anti-submission skills
    Seated fighting skills(from seiza and fudoza primarily)
    Special chokes, sweeps, sacrifice throws, trips, and ukemi skills for standing and ground fighting
    Specialized weapon handling for when you are on the ground
    Supplemental exercises and calisthenics to develop one's body to be able to use the different techniques taught later

    Needless to say, just like with training realistically with weapons or standup skills, there is no magic pill that allows one to be invincible on the ground without a lot of hard training, testing, and being broken down time and again as one gets better. Just because there are a lot of valuable skills in the curriculum doesn't excuse one from doing the handwork themselves.

    Last edited: Jun 27, 2014
  2. MaxSmith

    MaxSmith Valued Member

    Here's some thoughts...

    At about the 19 minute mark of this video...


    there is some of the most atrocious tomfoolerly I've ever seen pretend to pass itself off as ground fighting. Complete lack of control, weight distribution or proper body mechanics on both bottom and top. Focusing on and arm lock from under being full mounted that wouldn't work on a bjj or judo white belt. Escaping from bad positions only by the grace of overly compliant ukes who pretty much throw themselves off him. And striking from those bad escapes in positions where there is no leverage to generate power.

    And I can already hear your counter arguments, we don't understand the subtlety to 'these arts' and we should 'come to Japan' to experience it.

    But at some point, somewhere along the way you really have to ask yourself, if you put that footage in front of one of the Gracie's, or Machado's or Marcelo Garcia, or Gene Lebell, anyone who is a well known, well respected and most importantly proven elite level grappler, do you really think they would evaluate it as good?

    And if in fact they said it was as crappy as I'm saying it is- which they would- would you still cling to the notion that it is somehow so subtle and advanced that they just don't understand it?

    If that's the case then it's like discussing evolution with a young earth creationist, there's just no point. You will continue to believe what you believe- despite the overwhelming evidence against it- without providing any evidence of your own outside of the take it on faith 'come to Japan' argument that is the tritest of cop outs.

    Nobody who is sane and rational is going to fly to Japan and challenge an old man- who is not here and not asking for it- to fight because some anonymous guy on the internet told them to.
  3. TomD

    TomD Valued Member

    PR, I really liked what you said in the other thread. Groundfighting in many arts/sports is a big thing right now due to the popularity in UFC etc. These skills are wicked and quite effective. Also very hard to beat if you stay within the rules. But not always realistic IMO if you consider a "street" situation.
    I really have to control myself in these sparring situations not to put my fingers in eyes or noses, or to go for the groin. Also, I always notice that when fighting like that it is extremely hard to keep track of the rest of your surroundings. Groundfighting as we see it today is quite effective, but the pallet completely changes if you put the possibility of weapons and multiple attackers into the equation.

    Regards, Tom.
  4. TomD

    TomD Valued Member

    Usually PR does not give us the "subtlety and you don't understand" crap, that's why his comments are often appreciated here. Your post has very valid points, yet it is a pity that you already fill in the answers. That does not leave much room for discussion now does it...

    On a different note, most Judo white belts I train with have one defense against ground attacks and that is lying on their belly with their arms clutched together so they think you can't apply a lock. Not very realistic of course. Never had the privilege to train with BJJ yet they seem to have the ground thing under control. On videos they often seem to consciously try to get the fight to the ground 'cause that's what they're good at. But again, only within the set of rules. Put one other guy in the fight, or the ability to attack weak areas or use weapons and it does become a different game.

    Regards, Tom.
  5. Please reality

    Please reality Back to basics

    You do realize that the video you posted is a demonstration, and not necessarily representative of the kata found in the ryu? These kinds of videos are more an examination or abstraction on budo by the grandmaster, more than any kind of instructional video breaking down the basics and principles in an explanatory way. As such, I watch them and see certain things to think about, others to practice, and some to discard.

    In the demo starting at 18:30, there are quite a few issues I have with it as well, both from the mounted person's perspective and the defense. The isolated way of moving the body might be to show the different aspects of the escape, but it strikes me of being uncharacteristic of effective taijutsu, whether standing or on the ground. You cannot move effectively on the ground without using your core and limbs in better concert than was shown here. The compliance on the uke's behalf also might be due to it being a demonstration, but I am not sure.

    However, you will see a difference in the way Hatsumi sensei moves as compared to the first demonstrator(Andrew Young, a very nice guy btw), regardless of your opinion of the techniques. The uke are being compliant, but having experienced trying to hold down or pin, or put chokes on the higher ranked Japanese masters in these arts, I can tell you that it is no easy task. Even when they stand there and let you choke them until their face starts turning red, the end result is always the same, you being in pain and wondering what happened.

    I would also note that there are often things that cannot be seen but have to be felt, so yes there is often some subtle things going on that people cannot pick up on(not necessarily in reference to this demo). Having said that, again this demonstration does not quite give a good representation of the kata in the ryu. In fact, I believe that most of the newaza techniques are not out on video anywhere, but I could be wrong. There are some aspects of Shinden Fudo ryu and Takagi out on video, but the ground fighting aspects don't seem to be that well represented.

    Again, another point on pain compliance techniques: if you have hands like a vice and fingers that feel like knives, these kinds of techniques can be effective, but if you have normally conditioned hands, the chances of doing anything but ****ing the other guy off is pretty low. There are people who have incredible grip strength, so you don't want your clothing, let alone body being grabbed by them, but in my experience those kinds of tactics are auxiliary to the principles found in the kata.

    You can feel free to draw your own conclusions based on internet videos and whatever else you feel is enough, but that doesn't necessarily mean you are correct. If you have neither seen or experienced the ground fighting curriculum found in these arts however, you really are making a biased judgement based on your prejudices against the Bujinkan more than anything else. I have no problem with that and am not here to either defend anything, nor try to change your mind.
  6. Kave

    Kave Lunatic

    I train in MMA so I am used to switching between strikes and submissions on the ground (both defending and attacking), and because I spend a lot of time training in that situation I know it is not that easy. If you want to stick your fingers in someone’s eye you will need to be dominating them positionally. If you can't dominate and control someone on the ground then your strikes to the testicles or pokes to the eye are not going to work. On the ground positional dominance is everything. Poking eyes is not a magical fight-ender. It is actually not easy to put your fingers in someones eyes, it can be very difficult to hit much bigger targets, such as someones face, let alone being able to target the eyes. If you start poking the eyes or attacking the groin of someone who is a better groundfighter than you then in all likelihood you have just suceeded in increasing the amount of punishment you are going to receive. If I was fighting someone less skilled in a self defence situation and I had the upper hand I would probably choose to put them to sleep gently. If I was fighting someone less skilled in a self defence situation and I had the upper hand and they had bitten me I would probably choose to snap limbs.
  7. Please reality

    Please reality Back to basics

    Let's try not to let this thread go down that same tried and true path to being closed or derailed. The Takamatsuden ground fighting is not about dirty tricks to make up for a lack of ground fighting skill or ability. Yes, these things are also taught, but they are not the basis of the kata nor the focus of training. Yes, they can possibly work, but they can also possibly get you into more trouble than you are already in. If you base your understanding of newaza on a few gimmicks or shortcuts, you will be in for a rude awakening when somebody who knows what they are doing comes visiting.

    If you feel that your life is on the line, you should try to do whatever you can to get yourself out of danger, but there should be no illusion that aiming for the eyes, grabbing the groin, or slapping the ears will automatically work or have the desired effect. Can we move on now?
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2014
  8. TomD

    TomD Valued Member

    You are obviously right, I was aiming at pointing out that groundfighting under very strict rules is something different than without them. Many times in Judo on the ground you find yourself in a position that a strike, a forbidden choke, etc., would quite easily change the situation (and I quite often try that in a class situation). But of course the most important thing is proper movement, balance and control of the other.

    Regards, Tom.

    Regards, Tom.
  9. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Given that people have been stabbed multiple times with ACTUAL knives (not knife-fingers) and still carried on fighting this line of reasoning doesn't really carry much weight I think.

    And I'm sure you realise that just because something is a demo doesn't mean it can or should contain nonsense that wouldn't work?
    I hate that get out (and it is a get-out IMHO).
    "It's not nonsesne...Hatsumi is merely showing us what to discard!". :)
  10. Please reality

    Please reality Back to basics

    Sure people survive getting stabbed, car crashes, and falls from tall heights. Just as people have had their limbs or noses broken and kept fighting. Still doesn't change the fact that if there are people who have fingers that you will hope you never get poked or grabbed with. When it comes to fighting, those kinds of abilities are an advantage. It is just like being able to punch somebody hard with your fist without breaking it. If you don't have a conditioned hand and hit something too hard or in the wrong way, you can break a finger or damage your hand so that it becomes unusable. There are some people that are so fast, you can't see what their doing until you are already hit. So, that kind of speed is an advantage. Does that make them invincible? No, but better to have than have to respond to. Not sure what you are arguing here.:dunno:

    So, using a well conditioned body part in the right spot can have an effect that many wouldn't expect. Pinching pressure points to effect a release is one tactic learned, another one found is hitting someone when they grab you to make them let go. Another is to use different release techniques. There is no one way of doing things, and the original point remains.

    Hatsumi sensei is often playing, as someone of his talent and experience can often do with those of lesser ability. He is toying with people and as I've already pointed out, the things shown in many of his videos are an exploration or abstraction on movement and fighting. The actual techniques from the ryu are not, the difference is pretty obvious. I am all for free flowing experimentation, but my training is focused on learning the principles involved in the actual kata, not doing henka and playing with the kukan.

    In case there is still some confusion, this thread is not about poking people in the eyes from the guard, or relying on pain compliance to make up for a lack of skill or position. It is about the real and comprehensive actual techniques found in the Takamatsuden ryu. If anybody's agenda is to start derailing the conversation by complaining about "compliant training" or the "lack of pressure testing," you are in the wrong thread. If you want to discuss why you don't like Hatsumi sensei's demonstrations in his videos, post the videos in the Bad Ninjutsu thread and point out what you don't like.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2014
  11. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    I like to see a master playing with ideas as much as the next man.
    Here's how someone that can truly groundfight does it. :)

    So anyway....what sort of groundfighting techniques and tactics are taught in the Booj?
    Any demo's or videos?
    Any over-riding principles?

    If it is accepted that being on the ground is not the best place to be in a fight (as pretty much anyone not called Gracie will agree), and super-human fighting ability is attainable in the Booj whereby you can immediately and without using force end a fight before it's even started (using sakki and all that) why is a worse case scenario approach even taught?
    Surely you should just carry on training the stand up techniques until you are impossible to get on or ambush while on the ground?
  12. Please reality

    Please reality Back to basics

    Your hyperbole notwithstanding...

    Nice showboating in the video, not exactly why you think that is particularly impressive or shows realistic skills that one can use in a real fight. Yes, he outmatched the opponent but if there were multiple attackers or weapons involved, I'm not sure how that show of ability would've helped him.
    Sakki is not a superhuman skill, nor the topic of this thread. If you read the OP, you would already see what skills are taught and in which schools. There are no superhuman abilities, just people who have trained hard and dedicated their lives to martial arts, so what they do often seems superhuman to onlookers.

    I already pointed out that most of these techniques are not on video(that I know of), so no. The overriding principle of Takagi is the willow, bending but not breaking. So being slippery like an eel in other words, and also controlling and submitting more than trying to break the opponent(more Shinden Fudo or some of the other ryu). In Shinden Fudo ryu the idea is to throw them so they get hurt or hit them so they get thrown(so they get hurt), not relying on your own power as much as opposed to the earth. The ground fighting is more from a seated position, so think of attacks from a somewhat less mobile position. There is more usage of the feet for chokes and submissions. Another principle is not to put your weight on the opponent indiscriminately but to control how much pressure is applied. When I have rolled with people from other jujutsu schools, this has been one of the big differences that I have found.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2014
  13. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    But it is pertinent as to what is included or taught in a martial art if such an ability is assumed to be available.

    In my experience "ground fighting" is taught for one of two reason.

    In GJJ/BJJ's case it is often taught as the preferred range/sphere to fight in because so few people are any good at it and it negates the ability for the opponent to land hard strikes (distance management as the Gracie's call it). Any old mug can throw a strike hard enough to stun and pretty much everyone has a puncher's chance but no one can really ground fight effectively naturally.

    The second reason is as a safety net because no matter how skilled you are there's always the chance of meeting someone more skilled than you, you can trip, fall, get bundled over, knocked down and so end up in a ground fight even though you didn't seek one. It's a contingency plan for when the brown stuff hits the aircon and things don't go your way.

    Do you remember when we discussed sakki and Garth described using such an ability to "read" an attack and deal with it before the attacker's even realised anything was happening.
    To me such an ability negates the need for the two main reasons for including ground fighting training.
    You've said yourself it's not the preferred range of combat for battle field arts (negating reason 1) and using sakki would mean the second reason wouldn't come into play much.
  14. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I'd say it would be better to outsource your ground fighting skills, mostly because they are proven to be effective. Note that I'm not saying it has to be BJJ; catch wrestling, sambo and judo are just as legitimate an option. Given that I haven't seen any ground fighting skill from anybody in the Bujinkan, regardless if it's there, it's much faster and more efficient to learn the basics from and experienced grappler rather than somebody who trains it as a last option.
  15. Please reality

    Please reality Back to basics

    Well, since both Takagi Yoshin and Shinden Fudo ryu have dedicated branches of jujutsu, it would probably be because they found throwing, and ground fighting to be effective ways of fighting, both with and without weapons. In the case of Takagi Yoshin ryu, the idea is that you may not have access to your weapons due to where you are or in case you were caught off guard.

    One can definitely land strikes on the ground, they don't necessarily need to be "hard" to be effective or fatal(again we are not assuming it is an unarmed encounter- a poke or quick cut with a knife on the ground is quite an effective ending move to an encounter). So once again, you are looking at things from a different lens, these arts were not created for sport or ring fighting.

    It is in part a safety net, but a lot of the techniques start from seated positions, so you are in an environment where people sat on the floor in formal styles(seiza or fudoza) and were comfortable and capable of moving from those positions. So it isn't the case of starting on the knees in rolling and automatically going from there into newaza. There are a whole slew of techniques to control and submit from the knees without laying down with the opponent.

    If you examine the amount of techniques and their variety, you will see that it is more than just a contingency plan, there was also some influence from other schools like Takenouchi ryu for example. So again, in those days people trained in martial arts to use, not just for a hobby or self defense. They knew that they might very likely have to use their skills and it was their profession, and life. Fighting and killing was part of that profession, just like it might be for present day soldiers or law enforcement. When they couldn't rely on their sword and other weapons to deal with someone, they had to be able to handle the situation by other means.

    Now back to sakki. It sometimes seems that those without any familiarity with the test tend to spend more time thinking about it than those who have actually taken and passed the test. It is not a major focus of training in the Bujinkan, in fact many people DON'T train at all for it. In my case, a bit of practicing my back rolls from seiza was the extent. In any case, the ability to sense an opponent's imminent attack does not replace, or supersede learning the techniques for dealing with attacks that one can see. So no, it does not render the need for other skills and abilities moot.

    It is not the preferred range for combat with swords and weapons for obvious reasons, that however does not mean that it was neglected or just given cursory attention to.

    Effective for what(and as compared to what)? There is more than enough curriculum in the Takamatsuden arts that outsourcing is not only unnecessary, but makes little sense if one has access to someone who is willing and able to teach them the curriculum. It is neither faster nor better to go to someone teaching other arts or with a different perspective and the grappling skills in the Bujinkan are not trained to be used as a last option. You haven't seen any of the ground fighting skills probably because you have never come into contact with someone who could share them with you, that is very different from you not seeing them because they don't exist. The kata are there, and if one has the right teacher, they can easily learn them.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2014
  16. MaxSmith

    MaxSmith Valued Member

    You keep saying that there's more than enough curriculum if you have someone who will show you. Which is another way of saying come to Japan and study with a real master.

    But to people who have legitimate experience in grappling that video demonstrates someone who lacks the fundamental skills to fight effectively on the ground.

    That is- by your own account- the pinnacle of your art right there. And the flaws in his movement are so fundamental that he is completely ineffective.

    So- to be more constructive about this- when dunc suggests working some of your ground techniques against someone with a more proven pedigree in ground fighting (I think it was BJJ in his case) maybe instead of dismissing it as not needed, it would instead be a good idea.

    Arts evolve.

    Back in feudal Japan they evolved through warfare.

    In the modern day they evolve through testing their strengths and weaknesses against other arts.

    It's hard to believe its all there when the living embodiment of those arts doesn't clearly have it.
  17. Please reality

    Please reality Back to basics

    Not sure what you are reading, but I never said you shouldn't try things out against other martial artists.:dunno:

    What I said was that it is unnecessary to learn ground fighting from outside sources. It is interesting that you assume to know what the pinnacle of our arts are, how exactly? Like I said, the curriculum is there, all one needs is someone to teach you and to train diligently in it. Just like with bjj, wrestling, or any other art.

  18. Dunc

    Dunc Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    This is going to be a difficult conversation as PR will say "my teacher teaches all you need" (which I have no reason to doubt) and those outside the art will say "show me or at least catalogue it" the response to which will be "come to japan"

    So here's my direct experience:
    - There are many effective kneeing and seated techniques taught. These are typically (not exclusively) focused on acting during the "close" to create the space and freedom of movement to stand. There are seated techniques to cope with consolidated attacks, sweeps etc
    - There are a several techniques (takedowns) that end in the mount. Counters to these are taught. These counters look very similar structurally to basic BJJ
    - Mostly when someone is taken down the objective is to disable whilst retaining freedom of movement (quite different from a submission). However, as PR says there are schools that give more focus on submission type of finishes. These are different from those seen in Bjj or judo, generally to keep the face and groin safe and to retain freedom of movement (which, I feel, results in some trade offs)
    - There is some interesting content in the Bokuden Ryu also
    - There are several "chokes" taught in takagi yoshin ryu, that have got me out of some bad positions when rolling
    - The strikes using small surface areas that are taught in the buj are very helpful to create space, but one still needs structural movements to capitalise on this

    My view is that the curriculum on the buj (General) is sufficient for a self defence context, but to cope with experienced ground fighters requires more

    There are adaptions needed to switch say Bjj to the context that I train for. I guess they are similar in principle to the adaptions from Bjj to MMA ground work
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2014
  19. Please reality

    Please reality Back to basics

    To add to dunc's post:

    There are different mount attacks, including chokes and submissions, defenses against the mount, being pinned, osaekomi, etc. as well as other prone positions. Some of the chokes are from the top, some from the bottom. Some are a bit exotic and demonstrate that the people who created the school were not just peddling together a few different emergency measures. The curriculum can be googled for those unfamiliar with the kata.

    There is enough out there to deal with experienced ground fighters, but that assumes that you put as much time into practicing and testing it as an experienced grappler. However, the idea is not to rely on ground fighting solely in an encounter, so limiting oneself to that context would not be wise. Just as we have throws, locks, and other things that would make limiting oneself to just standup unnecessary.

    I didn't start this thread to say, "Come to Japan," but if people haven't trained in or mastered the curriculum outside of Japan, then what can one say? Kind of like kuji kiri(or ryutai undo), the teaching is there, just most people have never seen it or have just managed glimpses into it, so it is a bit hard to discuss for those who don't have any exposure. This thread also wasn't meant to be a Takamatsuden ground fighting 101, explaining and describing every aspect of what is there to those who don't know(though I did try to give a basic overview of what was there and where it could be found). It was an attempt to clear up a few misconceptions and also keep from detracting from the Musha Shugyo thread.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2014
  20. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    I think I'll put great Booj ground fighting in the same bucket I keep my rocking horse poo. :)

    Seriously though...I welcome this sort of information. Much like the the ryutai undo I think there's lots in the Booj that gets missed and is useful.
    I have literally no idea why Hatsumi went the route of over-inflated grades and promoting poor exponents rather than setting out this kind of stuff.

Share This Page