The second of our Twelve Keys of To-Shin Do training is all about gathering as much information as possible and then learning to put that knowledge into usable action. The more we know and understand about any given technique, the better we are able to fine tune our training experiences. This information gathering happens in class, by reading books, and by watching DVDs and our online training courses. Information gathering was a staple of the ninja in history. Today is no different.
So our second of twelve keys is:
CHI-SHIKI 知識 KNOWLEDGE
“Know technique & kata details with all parts in place, you can accurately predict where an adversary is likely to move in attempt to dominate, and you effectively fit in and “pull” the energy of his movements to capture and direct his strength back at him”
-An-shu Stephen K. Hayes, To-Shin Do Official Curriculum
The obvious starting point is simply to learn the technique, memorize the movements, and imitate your teacher. It’s fine to ask questions of course, but in the very beginning imitating the movement is the best way to get a grasp on what is going on. You want to be sure you have an accurate understanding of the kata mechanics at this point. Learn as much detail as you can.
As your skill grows, the next step is studying why the technique is the way it is. Try asking these questions to begin your exploration.
- What is the attacker doing, specifically?
- Why are they doing it? What is going on in their head?
- Why does this part of the technique follow that one?
- What is supposed to be going on in our head? (In this technique are we supposed to be surprised, confident, evasive, etc?)
As a principle based system, we’re not trying to force things to happen, we are adjusting to what is presented. If the problem changes, our solution needs to change. The first step of problem solving is recognizing there is a problem. The second step is being sure we understand what the problem actually is. So we start with a very specific problem and get an understanding for why that technique, that solution, is being used. Those questions can help us get there. Then we start to look at variations and check in with teachers often to stay on track with the correct principle.
The more familiar we are with the way an aggressor might move and be motivated, we gain the understanding of how our movement and body position will change what they will do next, or stop them entirely. Now we are putting knowledge into action. A memorized list of skills is a good starting point, but knowing isn’t doing. If we can’t connect with what is going on as it happens, and under pressure, then we have academic knowledge only. Good for what it is, but short of our To-Shin Do goal of mastery.