Entrance to the Barn Dojo....

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Words, words, words.

 Forum post: “…at the very end of katas gekisai, saifa and [seisan], when retreating backwards into neko  ashi dachi and the block shuto enkei uke is performed, I have noticed on youtube that many teachers drop their weight (and height) as the shuto uke is performed.”

Someone responds: Toraguchi/mawashi uke is a general multipurpose block (very close to brush-grab-strike in FMA). It is usually finished with a two hand press, which can represent a whole plethora of strikes.”

End Mawashi-uke in
Saifa, blocking with
the left and attacking
the head with the right.
Here is a whole debate (over 40 posts!) on this forum over a question of technique and what it could mean in application; that is, a question of bunkai. The person that initially poses the question is trying to figure out why some teachers seem to sink into a low cat stance when they do this technique in kata, which is really a question of bunkai or, in other words, what function does the low cat stance have in application. The funny thing to me is that sometimes we make all sorts of hidden assumptions that may color the way we interpret kata. This person has already assumed that the technique he is doing is a “shuto enkei uke.” What if it’s not? What if it’s not a “toraguchi/mawashi uke” either? What if it’s not a “multipurpose block”? What if it doesn’t end with “a two hand press”? What if it’s not a strike at all, let alone “a whole plethora of strikes”? Why would one execute a shuto strike in cat stance anyway; it lacks the grounding to have very much power? Someone else goes on to suggest that the cat stance is there for mobility. I have certainly heard that argument before, but is it really as mobile a stance as basic stance? Isn’t there any other function of a cat stance that might be more practical—like you use the knee for a knee kick by simply raising it up or the foot to kick with since it doesn’t necessitate any shifting of weight?

And while we’re asking questions, should we really assume that the so-called “mawashi-uke” at the end of Saifa is the same as what we see at the end of Seisan? In Saifa we are stepping and turning with the mawashi-uke. In Seisan the mawashi-uke is preceded by other techniques and is done either shifting back or simply dropping into a cat stance. In fact, the hands and arms don’t really move the same way either.

Final Mawashi-uke
position and the
"hidden" knee attack.
If we suppose, for the sake of argument, that neko-ashi (cat stance) is really just an indication in kata of a knee attack, perhaps that will lead us off into another direction. For example, if the knee is attacking in cat stance, then what is it attacking? The most lethal target would be the opponent’s head. This begs the question, how do we get the opponent’s head into a position where we can attack it with the front knee of neko-ashi-dachi? And there we find “mawashi-uke.”

So often the words we use to describe things end up getting in the way.

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