Entrance to the Barn Dojo....

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Seventh Principle...in no particular order

Don't look at the final position to explain a technique.

I think this happens a lot when it comes to interpreting kata--that is, people tend to look at the final position of a technique to explain its application. It's almost as if they are looking at still photographs in a book. Where does the fault lie? I'm actually not sure one can assign blame in this case. Karate is a movement art. In order to learn it, we follow the instructor, moving from technique to technique, stopping at the end of each until we begin the next. But we need to keep in mind that what is really important is often what happens between techniques--how we get from one position to the next.

Seipai kata
This technique from Seipai is not a block of a kick, even though the final position shows the left hand in a gedan or down position. From the previous position--with the left hand "chambered" on the left side at the ribs--the left arm moves in a clock-wise circular motion, crossing the centerline, ending in the final position that we see in the photograph. Most traditional interpretations show this as a block of an attacker's left front kick--as if someone is going to initiate an attack with a front kick to the midsection. The right hand is often sa id to be a block of the same attacker's left punch. So the attacker, supposedly, has attacked, rather awkwardly one can imagine, with a left kick and left punch. If we remember to look at the entire movement or how one gets to this position, however, we see a circular block of the opponent's right punch and a right open hand attack. The block is a kind of "changing gate" block that first blocks on the outside of the opponent's attack and then, because of the circular nature of the block, opens the opponent for the counter.

Sanseiru kata
Neither is this technique from Sanseiru a block of a kick as many have suggested, even though this "final position" might suggest that the left forearm is blocking a low front kick. If you try to block a front kick this way, however, chances are the opponent is going to punch you in the head--that is, unless they are quite compliant and agreeable. But if the technique actually begins before you think it begins--which is usually the case--then you will find an effective arm bar.

Which all goes to suggest that nothing is really hidden...but things are not always what they seem.

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