Entrance to the Barn Dojo....

Friday, September 23, 2011

The "funny angle" of the spear hand in Seiunchin

I was just watching a video discussion, showing bunkai, of the open hand spear- hand-looking technique at the beginning of Seiunchin.

As I'm typing, I find it funny how difficult it is to discuss karate techniques. You must give them a name and yet as soon as you do, the name itself overshadows the discussion. If I call it a spear hand technique, one immediately imagines using the technique as a spear hand, just as in the video the technique is referred to as "nukite" and is used to attack the opponent's abdomen or there abouts (similarly Morio Higaonna sensei uses this same technique in Seiunchin to attack the outside ribs of an opponent). What we need, however, are descriptive words that only call to mind the look or the shape of the technique--like some of the postures in T'ai Chi. "Parting the horse's mane," for example, or "needle at sea bottom" don't describe the function of the move but only its look or outward shape. In that way, we are not "coloring" the moves with some preconceived notion of how they are to be applied. In other words, what if the "nukite" at the beginning of Seiunchin is not meant to be applied in this way at all. Afterall, if you watch this instructional video there is a lot missing--specifically, what came before the move and what comes after it, not to mention it leaves one wide open against the opponent's other hand. And does the bunkai even explain why one goes down into shiko dachi? Then again, does the bunkai that is shown satisfy one of the cardinal principles of Okinawan karate--that is, does it illustrate "ikken hissatsu" or what some have come to understand as "one punch, one kill." This itself seems to be a very contentious phrase that might better be understood to mean that in Okinawan karate one should move and "block" (uke) in such a way as to allow the opponent only one punch or attack. It is not meant to refer to one's own superhuman punch. Afterall, if a martial art is any good, it will protect you or at least provide you self defense when you may most need it--when you may be older and more vulnerable. In order for this to happen you need to fully understand and rely on principles rather than brute strength or speed. Anyway, back to the "nukite"..... Suppose this is not a nukite at all, at least as it is shown. Suppose with the opening technique you have blocked or intercepted the opponent's punch, or, better yet, you have rotated your left hand up because the opponent has grabbed it with his left hand. Now you have stepped in on a tangential line to the northeast, palms up. Left grabs the opponent's wrist as the right hand comes down on the opponent's elbow. The "arm bar" brings the opponent's head down. The right hand then comes up, keeping the elbow down, turns over and grabs the opponent's head. The left "nukite" or open hand then comes in to attack the opponent's throat--not the abdomen or the ribs. Once you have the head in this fashion it explains the angle of the hand across the body, and, of course, the moves that follow it--the cat stance with the fist on the palm, the hand rotation, and the elbow that attacks the back of the opponent's head. Anyway, that's my reasoning for wanting technique names that only describe the look or shape of a move. A rather long-winded rant for a simple concept perhaps...but then what are blogs for?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting, i like definitely makes the nukite much more practical! Always found it confusing how a spear hand to the ribs is going to work in real application. smh lol