Thursday, May 26, 2011

Danny Da Costa Q and A

This is a continuation of Bob Patterson (Striking Thoughts) interview of Danny Da Costa, the founder of Shinjido from earlier this month. I think you will find it illuminating. Mr. Da Costa has agreed to take more questions, which we will add to this post. – Nathan

1. Does Shinjido have belt rankings? How do you get rank and/or advance in Shinjido.
Shinjido does not have an association. Bear in mind that Shinjido after all, simple translates as Danny’s Way and originated through my own experiments. My students have Aikido licences and are graded in Aikido. Subsequently Shinjido does not have its own ranking system, although this may change in due course.

2. Why do you give away pumpkins and other vegetables?
Whilst I can enjoy pomp and ceremony, there is something in my perverse sense of humour that finds it amusing. The very first “reciprocal gift ceremony” was many years ago at the British Open Championship. The competitors were somewhat surprised that we were having an Olympic style presentation complete with podium. The medals were presented by Charles Palmer MBE, President of the Olympic Association, who was attended by an attractive young lady with a medal tray. On the basis that it is better to give than receive, I felt that a reciprocal gesture was appropriate and I gave Palmer a cauliflower and the girl a kiss.
Due to sports politics, some assumed that there must be a hidden meaning, so on a following occasions I gave bananas. The gift would always change but it became expected of me. The joke never wore thin because there was never an explanation. It was like a punch line that belonged to a different story.

3. Don't you think it's bold and brash to claim that you founded your own martial art?
It may sound brash of me to claim that I have founded my own martial art but anyone that knows me will tell you are am really quite self effacing. Probably one of the reasons I jest a lot on the mat is so that I will not seem pretentious. My students and those that attend seminars find that I respond to “Danny” just as well as “sensei”. In any case I did not start out to develop a new art. I was simply adapting for my own use. As I progressed I realised that I was working with certain principles that had either been over looked or not fully appreciated. Most of what I teach has come from my own imagination and experiments. Having said that, it is inevitable that occasionally I will have re invented the wheel. This reminds me, I once claimed that an ancestor had invented the wheel but it did not catch on. It was the square safety wheel for going down hill!

4. Is there anywhere in the United States that offers Shinjido lessons?
I believe that the USA is far more receptive to new ideas than here in the UK. Because I live in a small tourist town in the county of Devon, Shinjido is still relatively unknown. Should the opportunity arise, I would love to visit the States.

5. How structured is Shinjido? Do you require certain techniques at certain levels?
My previous answers will indicate that Shinjido is not currently a structured art with a grading syllabus. It continues to develop. Wednesday 18th May, Fighting Films recorded a number of techniques together with clear explanations for a forthcoming DVD. They may initially offer this as downloads on their web site. It was an exhausting session, about 7 hours on the mat with 4 bodies as Ukis. I had my 70th birthday the week before and the night before I could not sleep a wink so after the session I felt wiped out. However on the following evening I was back on the mat and we had a “magic session” I was throwing entirely without effort. By avoiding any attempt to grip my gi, I was able to move in really close and stay just behind them, simply resting a light hand on the near shoulder. I was able to complete a throwing action at any time by responding to their changing movement. There was no form. Their attack was simply a prelude to them taking a fall as if that was their purpose. The exciting thing is that I was able to prove that this is teachable. I mention this as example of how unstructured Shinjido is at the moment. But for me this is part of the excitement. It continues to grow without limitations.

6. Have you ever taught Shinjido to law enforcement or security workers? Also, which is better for security workers? Judo, aikido, or shinjido?
Although I have had several policemen attend my seminars as individuals and I have a son in the police, I have not been officially engaged to instruct them. Sergeant Bxxxx made this amusing comment “Look forward to being thrown like a rag doll again and having the ego crushed once more! Just to make you aware, this time I will have the Force helicopter complete with sniper and rope entry raid team on standby above HWJC just in case you decide to "experiment" with something new on me again!

In the UK the police have very strict Home Office guidelines regarding the use of force. They work by the book. I have seen their instruction manual and if adequately practiced it is not bad. However I firmly believe that Shinjido would be of more use than either Judo or Aikido. I hope this does not sound immodest and I am not claiming that Shinjido is the best martial art but it would be the most fit for purpose for law enforcement. I am sure that there will be a similarity with the USA and UK in terms of acceptable response.
We do not want to see mobile phone filmed incidents of police brutality. The general public want to be protected but are quick to damn the police. I sometimes watch a TV program that follows a police team in action at night as they maintain order amongst drunken revellers. Occasionally it kicks off and 4 policemen will each take a limb in order to get the culprit in the wagon. This is the daftest approach imaginable. Because the detainee has no need even to bear his own weight, he can lash out with both feet and arms simultaneously. No wonder it becomes a struggle. A pain restraint on wrist or arm would be far more effective. Putting on the lock would be easier using the GAP principle – gravity assisted power. Sit them down, lock them up, stand them back up and walk them away. In the past there have been a number of deaths caused not by brutality but an excessive use of numbers against one person which has resulted in asphyxiation.

One of the first exercises I use for a new Shinjido recruit is what I call “passive self defence.” This implies that the threat is not life threatening but it can be used in a variety of situations. You avoid direct in your face confrontation and get alongside the aggressor, placing a light hand on the far shoulder and another just above their near elbow. Staying close as if the two bodies were one, they can be manoeuvred wherever you wish. Should they resist you simply give way and redirect them in the direction you wish to go. Should the need arise it is very easy to put them down from this gentle control position. They can then be locked up and walked away or handcuffed.

Want more? Check out the original interview here, the Martial Development post An Interview with Shinjido Budo, and the site for more about the interview subject and art of Shinjido.

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1 comment:

Craig Willits said...

On the basis of his answer to #2, I have a new hero.