Thursday, April 21, 2016

Technique of No Technique

Technique of No Technique


One of the more interesting things I have learned was in 1980. Tris Sutrisno was describing what his father did when asked for a demonstration/clinic in Indonesia. (Of course this was also in days before their were phone cameras, internet, You Tube and all the rest of todays tricks.


As he had trained long ago in Japan, everyone always wanted something special. So what his father did was always share advanced techniques in his arts, and do so fully. But only for the clinic.


The truth is, outside of specific training for a very long time, individuals would not be able to retain what was shown for more than a day. In other words good enough for short term memory, but not transferable to long term memory.


His father referred to such sharings as ‘Technique of No Technique’.

And if someone had the presence to  retain and learn what was shown, then they deserved that knowledge.


It was not how Tris shared with me.


I have experienced this concept in a variety of different ways.


Many years later Tris was in Derry to present a clinic on 3rd and 4th level bunkai in his art. Not knowing my students well, and there were outsiders present too. He shared each of the movements 2 times, and then proceeded to go from person to person and correct/adjust whatever they were doing, even if it was not what he had shown. Really he was sharing this for me, but for everyone else, it was a lesson in technique of no technique (I also happen to have it on videotape)


What he was doing for each of them was good stuff, but not what he was demonstrating.


He was not committed in seeing they got what he was showing. But he made it a worthwile sharing.


Years later a friend, brought Danny Insanto in for 2 days of clinics at his school, covering a wide range of topics.



I attended the afternoon clinic on empty hand knife self defense. Mainly because I wanted to see Insanto in person. For the two hours he switched techniques about every 3 minutes. No one could retain what was shown. It was more a review,from those from Princeton where he had a school. I understood what was going on because I had read his book on Philippian Arts. I was not there to retain what I saw. He did extremely impressive movements taking away knives from his attackers. So this was also technique of no technique. I wonder if anyone there became an instant instructor of what they saw.


On meeting Sherman Harrill, the first time in New Hampshire, it also became technique of no technique. But from a different purpose. Sherman packed so much detail, because he lived Isshinryu that way. It was your business to get it. I was impressed. And as I had to go to a conference in Reno the next day, during the flight there, I documented 25 techniques that he had shown. I was content, as they were all good techniques. And I did work on them. A year later I was going to host a clinic with Sherman alongside Garry Gerossie, who was his student here. Garry shared a video of that clinic with me. There were over 160 applications covered and I had only gotten 25. It made me aware of what I didn’t recall.


It was a version of Technique of No Technique. It forced me to pay greater and greater detail at what was being shown. Sherman used to explain that was a normal response the first time someone trained with him. Then they would get up to speed and learn more in subsequest sessions. Now it was not intentional, and should drive you to learn more in the future.


These are a few views of the concept Technique of No Technique.




Charles James said...

Hi, Smith Sensei: I am afraid I don't get the reasoning behind calling what you explain as technique of no technique? I get what your telling me in the overall article but how that relates to any real meaning of, "technique of no technique," just baffles me. It reminds me of course of the, "Mind no Mind" meme but I would need some more guidance to accept what you are saying as it might fall under the technique no technique meme, can you elucidate a bit for me on this?



Victor Smith said...

Charles, Hi also to you. First my blog is really first for my students. Something like the technique of no technique, makes sense to them as it is our shared history. It is not so much intended to fit into other traditions, as it came from a very specific tradition, and it explains other things I have experienced as well.

In the Indonesian Shotokan tradition that Sutrisno Achmed taught in, it was an explanation for clinics and sharings requested by others outside of the way he taught.

It worked on the fact it is difficult without reinforcement to move information from short term memory to that of long term memory. Sharing material does not imply an obligaton to make it easy to remember that material.

There are different purposes for clinics, and group one time learning experiences. Some for demonstration. Some for learning for retention.

The idea is understanding what the intended pupose is, and finding a way to try and go beyond what the presenter intended.

The Insonto clinic is such an example. Not one designed to truly instruct. Making it almost impossible to retain what was shown. When I intended I did not care about retaining what was shown. But having read his book it was a way to put 2 and 2 together, if that was my plan.

The clinic with Sherman Harrill was almost the same experience. But he was not hiding what he was showing, fully explaining everything he showed. It just was so technique dense, with a strategy to learn as much as possible, what was shown could become vaporware.

Understanding the experience could become technique of technique, is the first step to becoming something more. Realization that you needed to move from short term learning , into long term learning.

Thus this is a way to pass this sharing understanding along to my students.

Your friend,


Charles James said...

Thanks, Victor