Resistance is futile

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu' started by Please reality, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. Please reality

    Please reality Back to basics

    Many people complain about the lack of resistance in the training they see from the Bujinkan, the compliance in the uke, and the ludicrous LARPing that goes on. They feel that the techniques won't stand up to resistance or a noncompliant adversary.

    However, they miss a few points. I will explain why resistance is futile, when faced with someone who understands the human body and has mastered the techniques. The premise, is that the person demonstrating has gone through the levels of training that it took to master the material of the ryu and has internalized it(someone like my master for example). This is the dirty secret that is never discussed but is integral to making things work(kind of like ryutai undo).

    The first issue is perception. Most of the waza are created to leave holes in the opponent's perception, creating time and opportunity to work. Strikes are directed to blind spots or come from unconventional angles and are hard to perceive. Locks, throws, etc. work on leverage and using mass instead of gross motor function. For example, instead of grabbing(which requires will and force to be exerted through the grip), hooking is preferred. If your grip fails, there is an instant delay before you can change to doing something else, whereas hooking can become striking or blocking without the time loss.

    Resistance requires perception, an ability to resist, concentration, works in a single plane(power and body dynamics require a force to be exerted in a particular direction for a particular duration to be maximal), a root or base from which to exert force, and most importantly, requires that the person resisting lose the ability to do something else with the muscles they are using to resist. In other words, it takes time and effort to do.

    So how do you take away the opponent's ability to resist? You have to be able to make your moves work on contact(some pre-contact as well). This requires a better ability in timing, angling, better recruitment of the body's natural power(leverage, gravity), and the internalization of technique and skill so that it is unconsciously active. The I in movement has to be gotten rid of. You are not taking power and speed out of the equation, but replacing smaller power and more obvious speed and tension with mass(body power), and faster movement through the deletion of your own resistance to the movement(since your own tension requires you hold back). These things trump the opponents tension and resistance through better strategies.

    This last point begins in the foundational training but is concentrated on after the godan test. The moves are performed enough times under enough different conditions(yes this requires years of practice and stress testing) that they happen without willing them to. This is the "it hits" concept and is not restricted to these arts, many top level practitioners from other arts will demonstrate this ability.

    There are some other things that are included that make resistance a non-issue, including ki and the manipulation of the opponent's structure, but some secrets are better left unspoken. This introduction is enough of an explanation to describe why resistance isn't an issue and also why adding physical tension and power to technique only negates the technical application once a certain level is reached.

    Whenever I have tried to actively resist my teacher's technique, the same thing happens every time, it puts me in worse trouble and pain than I was already in. This doesn't mean that the strongest man in the world or someone better than me wouldn't be able to resist, as the failsafe switch is always to change to something else when what was being applied doesn't work to the satisfaction of the body. In the case of a master, the instant is all that is required to move on to something else, and while the opponent is momentarily off-balance, extended, out of position, bewildered, or resisting, they are already caught in the trap.

    Again, this discussion is of the art at its height, and there are only a handful of individuals that actual can put these concepts into practice. As a matter of fact, they have all gone through the stages of practice, trial and error, injuries, and deep introspection and pain to make it to this level, so anybody claiming that they don't need power or correct technique or kamae or basics, is just talking about this in the abstract, not from personal experience.

    Just to reiterate, this level of skill(as far as I know and have experienced) cannot be reached without a lot of testing, practice, use of power and tension, and tweaking until one can get to a point where a breakthrough is made. Doing training with armhanging compliant uke without any resistance, speed, or variation will never allow one to reach this level.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2014
  2. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    Since this is admittedly one of the things I question a lot about ninjutsu I have a question. Ignoring some of the other problems I have with the post (like ki and the godan test both being...questionable) my reading of that post is that its a defense of lack of resistance in demonstration from high level practitioners and that there does need to be resistance at a low level to learn it. But I'm fine with demos by masters being compliant. They're demos after all. The compliance in day to day training at a club/school level is what concerns me.

    Compliancy at a high level is fine, but it doesn't seem to be a learned skill that you upgrade to being able to do once you've mastered the techniques, but rather the standard practice from the base up.
  3. Please reality

    Please reality Back to basics

    I stated in the OP that if you are training without resistance, that you will never be able to reach this level. If you don't know what it feels like, how can you get beyond it? From my personal experience and having watched hundreds of others try, the result is the same. The tension and resisting the technique doesn't work, just makes you hurt yourself.

    A part of it has to do with body mechanics, and how muscles act when contracted as opposed to in a more relaxed state. Also, back to will and perception. If I am resisting something with my left hand, I am not striking or controlling with that hand and my intention is on doing that resisting.
  4. Pankeeki

    Pankeeki Valued Member

    I agree completely...
  5. Heraclius

    Heraclius BASILEVS Supporter

    I've not weighed in on the argument about resistance in the bujinkan, but my instinct is that when people say "there isn't enough resistance" they don't mean "the uke isn't stiff or tense enough". I would be shocked if there was an MA out there that said stiffness or tension were desireable traits. As an example, in my class the other day one of the black belts put a wrist lock on me. It was unexpected and I'm not used to wristlocks, so I tensed up. He picked me up on this, and proceeded to demostrate how by keeping my wrist loose I could escape from the lock much more easily. So by lowering my "tension" I could increase my "resistance" to the technique.
  6. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Highly Skilled Peeper Supporter

    That was the most fantasy driven lack of understanding on what the word "resistance" is used to describe in the martial arts that I have ever heard. You make it sound like if you resist you become as rigid as a board and snap in half under the awesome power of whomever. The only time resistance is futile is against the Borg, and even then you can find ways to get around it.

    Edit: And the grand master worship (or high level student) is pretty fantasy driven too.
  7. Kave

    Kave Lunatic

    I am seeing a misunderstanding of the idea of resistance here. There are different levels of resistance, and in my opinion training should ideally progress from low resistance to high resistance. If I take a simple concept like slipping a jab.

    1). You get taught the basic movement and the concept behind it (ie. very small movement of the head ideally getting lightly brushed by the jab). You may practice the movement independently, but you should be imagining an attacker.
    2). You drill it against an opponent who throws jabs with increasing intent. Even at this point every punch is being aimed at your face, if you do not move you should get punched. If your training partner is throwing punches off to the side then you are being cheated out of a learning opportunity.
    3). You try to learn how to execute the slip in a sparring situation where you do not know what punch is coming next. You may start with light sparring and progress to harder sparring.
    4). You test your abilities against an opponent who is determined and has incentive to make you fail.

    From what I have seen of people who ninj, they don't seem to get past the first step. Two man drilling is never done with intent. It appears that the way to avoid a punch in ninjutsu is to stand still while the punch passes over your shoulder. I have definitely not seen a progression to the third step where there is no defined tori or uke.
    This feels a bit like arguments I have heard from Aikidoka in the past along the lines of "The wristlock is really effective, once it is on there is nothing you can do to resist it" which completely ignores the issue of applying the lock in the first place.
  8. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    I don't have enough experience with Takamatsuden students to comment on the second part of your post, but if I could thank this bit a thousand times I would.
  9. Grass hopper

    Grass hopper Valued Member

    Today in class we where working on throws as counters to things like headlocks and bear hugs. My partner weighed somewhere approaching 300 lbs.

    When not resisting, throwing him was easy, just kick out the leg and throw. While resisting I had to alter my technique because a resisting opponent (shockingly) is more difficult to take down.

    Instead of a regular sweep (remember, he weighed about 300 lbs) I had to modify my technique to be a kick to the back of the knee to properly throw him. If we didn't train with resistance I wouldn't know that.

    The problem with the bujinkan (from every single video example I've ever seen) is the lack of resistance from the beginning. Resistance isn't stiffening up, it's just not allowing yourself to be destroyed.

    I found no advantage to my 6'3" 290lb partner resisting because there is none. Bottom line is that a technique is no good unless trained with resistance.
  10. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member


    - non-resisted opponent will help you to train the "solo" skill.
    - resisted opponent will help you to train the "combo" skill.
  11. philosoraptor

    philosoraptor carnivore in a top hat Supporter

    I guess I'd believe it if I saw it. v:)v
  12. Grass hopper

    Grass hopper Valued Member

    A non-resisting opponent will help you get the basic movement down but has little utility beyond that. After all, real opponents resist.
  13. Please reality

    Please reality Back to basics

    Did you all read the OP? Nowhere did it say that you shouldn't train with your opponent trying to make it difficult for you to do the technique. It was about why physically "attempting" to resist on the part of the throwee, and adding tension on behalf of the thrower were not good strategies. It got into why "trying" was less effective than "not trying," and some of the principles behind why.

    Remember, I have actively tried to hit, counter, and resist my teacher, so there is no hero worship, just an understanding that they more I do, the worse it gets for me. If you aren't already advanced in your art, you might be scratching your head, but many arts have a progression that is similar.

    As philosoraptor stated, some of these things have to be seen(felt really) more than once to be understood and/or believed.
  14. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    I don't see how these aren't the same thing?

    Also re tension: Obviously being stiff as a board is a negative but the attacker should be having to tense and exert to some degree. I can run a lifting single leg on someone as a counter to a leg kick using just their balance and body positioning mixed with momentum to lift them but I still have to be exerting to do it succesfully when they try to stop me doing it.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  15. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

    What a load of crap.

    That part about "resisting your instructor and getting hurt more" is probably crap too. Let me guess, he grabs your wrist so you try and punch him with the other hand, which he deftly avoids and now has a grip of both your hands and trips you up?

    ^that example happened at a dojo I was at. The problem is that this isn't real resistance, real resistance is breaking the grip, disengaging and THEN throwing the punch.
  16. Heraclius

    Heraclius BASILEVS Supporter

    So are you saying that getting tense and trying to muscle your way out of a technique is futile; or that any form of non-compliance, barring (or including?) a specific counter, is futile? Or that your training should progress to a point where you can apply a technique even on a non-compliant partner?

    Somehow I think that this is what people are talking about when they complain about compliant training on Bujinkan videos, which makes your whole argument a bit misplaced.
  17. Please reality

    Please reality Back to basics

    How is the argument misplaced? Resistance has been shown repeatedly to be futile. Doesn't mean you should just give up and fall over, but there is some understanding at some point that you are just going to be a martyr if you take on the wrong person. It's like if you had to fight Rickson or Tyson in their prime, might as well make sure your insurance is paid up and kiss the Mrs one last time.

    I understand that you are young, but you often talk about things you haven't experienced as if you know what they are. Even if something doesn't seem possible to you, you can't know whether or not it is until you try(not talking about rainbow unicorns and pixie dust, but things like being able to stand on one leg and not being knocked down by an incoming aggressor). There are people who are so much better than you that you cannot resist, that's just a fact of life and a lesson better learned young.
  18. Grass hopper

    Grass hopper Valued Member

    There's a difference between resisting and trying to meet force with force.

    Also, I suggest that there are more effective ways to block a jab than by punching it.
  19. Please reality

    Please reality Back to basics

    Resistance again requires recognition, time, and will. Take those out of the equation and how do you resist?
  20. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Highly Skilled Peeper Supporter

    I'll give you the benefit of a doubt here and assume that you are unable to articulate what you're trying to get at. For me to make any sense of what you posted and your further attempts at explaining I have to make a few assumptions here.

    If you mean that becoming rigid or tense will lead to more injuries in training while drilling certain techniques or maneuvers, than I have to assume the drills intent is to learn the fundamentals of the technique. This means that your partner is not supposed to resist. I've been lucky enough to have trained intensely enough in both grappling and striking style martial arts to know that it is essential to relax and "go with it" during these kinds of drills or you will in fact increase the potential for being injured. If you're already caught up in a technique like double leg take down or a hip toss, there's nothing you can do. It is beneficial to relax and focus on landing correctly and this often makes the impact with the floor less eventful. I've also had plenty of unfortunate drilling in boxing where my partner accidentally threw and hit me pretty hard in the head. Since I was relaxed I ate it and moved with it and it didn't phase me at all (but this doesn't work with body shots, you need to be able to tense up to not be hurt).

    Now, the same can even be said with intense sparring. If you are in fact on the end of being thrown or hit (unless it's to the body with striking) it is good to accept it, relax, and let what is happening to you happen. It helps to prevent injury or any type of jarring/damage to yourself. If you're wrestling and a guy is just better than you and ends up taking you down cleanly, no sense in being tense and rigid. You will increase the potential for being hurt. Same thing with taking head shots in boxing, you need to be relaxed so you can move with the punch.

    This isn't classified as "non resistance" though, it's simply being relaxed and are the methods that will keep you injury free or keep the impact from a technique from bothering you too much.

    The only way I can rationalize what you're saying is if I replace the word 'resistance' with 'rigidness' and 'tenseness.' These are beginner problems and have nothing to do with actively resisting your opponent. Resistance involves countering your opponents actions by effective measures. Sprawling, parrying, counter positioning, and blocking are all examples of this. These things can all throw a wrench in your opponents game, and you have to learn how to deal with these things as an attacker to circumvent them and be effective fighting. It is a MUST to learn how to deal with. "Tenseness' and 'rigidness' on the other hand are counter productive to the defender or the person who is being compliant in a drill.

    The problem people have is that the videos or explanation never have anyone being actively resistant, applying defensive or countering techniques to see if the person being the attacker actually has the ability to perform their technique. If you really do mean to describe what I said above, then that's such a basic concept and is an irrelevant counter to what the actual stated problem is. You're not explaining anything somebody with 20 hours of training should know, and you're muddling up the wording pretty good.

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