A theme I’ve picked up on in the martial arts over the last several years is that, despite the differences between styles and systems, many martial arts leverage similar principles. In other words, the movements may look different, but when you really boil them down, they’re using mostly the same ideas.
The two principles that have stuck out the most to me today are the importance of stances and body unity.
Stances Aren’t Just for Kata
Perhaps this stuck out to me because I’m planning on writing a more detailed blog on stances in the near future. But I couldn’t help but notice how today’s instructors were leveraging stances.
It should be noted the stances weren’t the classical, deep karate stances. They were modified so that they were higher up, but throughout many of the techniques that we practices today, we needed to use mainly front stances and horse stances.
For instance, I was struggling with a technique when another instructor familiar with the move came over to help my partner and me out. I noticed in this particular arm bar that he was in a horse stance – he had sunk his body weight by widening his legs, and his back was straight. If he’d leaned forward, he would’ve been completely off balance. Because his back was straight, though, he was able to apply the technique. “There’s your kiba dachi,” I told him. He said, “That’s exactly right.”
If beginner students wonder why they practice many of the basic karate stances over and over again, it’s because you’ll use them as your skill set increases.
Body Unity Is Everywhere
No matter what you do in karate or any martial art, you should do it with your entire body.
In other words, we don’t use just the arms when we punch. We use the full body by getting our hip into the technique, and we use our mind to give that punch “intent.” We’re imagining breaking through a break wall, penetrating the spine, or whatever it takes for you to get a stronger technique.
An example from today would be a move Shihan Terry Wilson referred to as “drawing the bow,” and other instructors would also interchangeably call the “bow and arrow.” Old Yang style tai chi chuan has this move in it, so it was great to see some practical applications for it.
Anyway, if an had a two-arm grab on you, you would pull one arm down while pushing up the on the other. When done properly, this weakens the group. Then, you would pivot into essentially a front stance (read above) and step forward, and the person will fall.
These movements utilize the entire body. It’s not a matter of strength (though strength should never be discounted). It’s a matter of knowing where your position is solid and his or her position is weakened.
Thanks to Shihan Terry Wilson, Col. James Gifford, Sifu Steve Aldus and Hanshi John Chatwood for their informative sessions throughout today, as well as Ms. Vera Harrison for hosting the event. She’s very appreciative of her martial arts family, and I appreciate her friendship and gratitude toward me over the years.
And thank you to Mr. Aldus, Mrs. Aldus, Hilton, Chaz, Derek, Phyllis, Matt, and anybody else who was my partner today. We help each other get better.