The Japanese character for the word “kata” shows two hands linked together using an implement, like a knife or a sword, to cut into the earth. To build a house you might pour a concrete foundation. Before you pour the concrete, you dig into the earth and build a form, out of wood, to hold […]
Combat training simulates conditions of high stress. It works that way now and it worked that way in Tokugawa era Japan. Under hyper arousal we experience changes in sense perception and physical performance that can hinder our effectiveness: Our field of vision contracts to a small circle right in front of our eyes, an effect known […]
It was a short drive from the dojo to the beach – on Okinawa you’re always close to the ocean. The driver was a long-time karate practitioner who agreed to teach me a new kata during the last few days of my visit. This stretch of beach was wide-open, with the endless sea, brilliant sun, […]
One skill we do not usually train in the dojo is self-defense decision-making: When does an encounter become a conflict, and when does a conflict become a fight? Discretion and Valor Under some circumstances we want to avoid threat situations. Tactical trainer John Farnam describes basic self-defense this way: “Don’t go stupid places. Don’t […]
Ikken hissatsu may be an ideal way to resolve a lethal confrontation. We may train to achieve this with ippon kumite, developing speed, precision, and the will to take decisive action, without hesitation or haste. We can train this with every move in kata too. But we cannot always rely on ikken hissatsu […]
Restoring Tactical Bunkai Analysis to Kata Bunkai: Tactics not just Techniques Even among those in martial arts who say they are teaching “the warrior way” some overlook what actual warriors do. The reciprocation of training and experience – between the world of the dojo on the one hand and of the street and the battlefield […]
Researchers have identified a phenomenon they call “group flow” which emerges in the performance of well-trained groups. In traditional martial arts we know it well. When members of a team, band, military unit, business or dojo “cooperate, agree on goals, skills and patterns of action”, then “group flow,” or group cohesion, emerges. Pioneeered by psychologist […]
This phase transition is sometimes described as entering “flow” or “the zone.” In Japanese budo zanshin, mushin, immoveable mind, unstoppable mind, unfettered mind are used to name aspects of the same experience.
How much do we need to modify techniques for safety, without sacrificing realism and maximum challenge? Full contact with no equipment? Kata only? Jyu kumite? Ippon kumite? Where do we draw the line. What’s real? What prepares us for real defense? What is a “natural” way to train?
The brilliant beam of a search light sweeps past where this guy is hiding, crouched behind a dumpster. The light slides down along the wall. For a second the darkness returns. Without a sound he sprints behind the building and disappears. He felt the lapse in his opponent’s perception and got away. When you face off […]
Movie fights and drunken brawls seem to go on and on. For self-defense your preferred tactic will be ikken hissatsu. It’s simple. A devastating full-commitment strike that ends the threat. It echoes the famous advice of Carl von Clausewitz, the 19thcentury Prussian general, now studied in military academies throughout the world, who advised using massed force […]
To prevail in a combative encounter you need to take the initiative and dominate the opponent. It is not enough to select a good target, to do a good technique, to move from the center, to have power, speed, conditioned body weapons, or any of the other components of skillful combatives that we practice day […]
A “ready stance” has an important place in practice. But in bunkai it can yield good results when it is understood as a pass-through point in ongoing movement. Not as a static position. People sometimes try to interpret the first move of their kata as if they were standing still in their “yoi” position when […]
Many grappling arts are designed for subject control: the opponent’s ability to threaten you ceases when he is under your control. That means your objective in the encounter is to restrain his ability to move, and you do it by using a pin or lock. Wrestling, east Asian grappling arts, as well as defensive tactics’ […]
Some people say that the technical range of karate is limited to kicks, punches and blocks. Seeing kumite matches in many styles – Japanese, Okinawan and Korean – would make that conclusion seem reasonable. As karate was modernized and popularized some styles did narrow the technical range and made it more suitable for matches and […]
” The reason for postures in the martial arts is to facilitate transformations. Forms contain fixed postures, but in actual practice there are no fixed postures. When applied they become fluid, but still maintain their structural characteristics. ” Tang Shunzhi (1507–1560) cited by Meir Shahar, Shaolin, from Douglas Wile. Some people don’t like kata. They think […]