Seize the Moment
If you fail to seize the moment, the moment can seize you.
Many of the people we interact with have trained or seen BJJ and MMA. In Okinawa a century ago the people who formulated our kata were interacting with people who knew Okinawan sumo, judo and jujitsu.
After the initial burst of cellular energy – maybe 15 or 20 seconds – people close and clinch.
The US Army empty hand combative doctrine teaches soldiers to immediately close inside of punching range.
The Marine Corps emphasizes grappling and throwing as well as striking.
In Shorin Ryu we train to stop them. The katas are designed to do that. Sometimes we strike. Sometimes we counter in other ways.
Even though it was denied and overlooked for years, many of the techniques in our kata have no use except to defeat grapples. Some people say you have to keep your distance. That is one tactic. It has its uses.
If you are doing Shotokan/JKA style kumite, which is mostly kicking and punching from a distance, in a ring, with a referee and a hajime, you can make that work.
In close quarters, in a cell extraction, a domestic dispute in a single-wide trailer, against a stranger on a train or in a million other cases, we may not be able to choose the tactical distance in which we operate.
The first move of a kata is not necessarily the beginning of the encounter. No one stands in a yoi position face to face with a threatening person inside their defensive zone. Yoi is useful for training purposes. For tactics and interpretation, we should understand that something is already in motion.
Understanding this helps in exploring kata.
For more on quick reversals in Shorin Ryu as used in every interpretation, check out the article Too Fast To See.
For a lucid, inspiring presentation of the rebirth of Okinawan karate read True Karate Dō.
“One of the best books I’ve read in years, inviting and compelling. Jeff Brooks moves effortlessly from martial arts to Buddhism to consciousness studies, self-transformation, and related fields in this wide-ranging and Illuminating study that has much to offer both novice explorers and veteran practitioners. A splendid achievement.”
— Philip Zaleski, Editor, The Best Spiritual Writing series
— Co-author, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams.
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