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2014 – Striking Thoughts

January 6, 2014

It’s a New Year, and we are going to look again at the basics of our taijutsu again.

We are going to be working on the Sanshin no Kata (also known as Gogyo no Kata) this season, to build in the foundations we need for effective strikes. Here’s a video of the techniques, just as a memory aid.

One important realization I came to after teaching for so long is this: Bujinkan Taijutsu has many practitioners who are big, burly fellows, and they are not only strong, they have experience in other martial arts too. Go read through the instructors’ bio on the internet. I have yet to come across any instructor who started with the Bujinkan. Every one I have come across started in other arts (such as karate, judo or military unarmed combat training).

That means that they can get away with not having the best technique. Strength and size is in their favour, and so is the experience they have in other arts. This allows them to do stuff that a smaller and weaker person cannot get away with.

(Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying every other instructor has the techniques wrong. It’s just that if you are a beginner, it is hard for you to know for sure if what they are teaching you is correct or if they are counting on brute strength rather than skill to make things work.)

What we are working on this season are the nitty-gritty details that give a weaker, scrawnier fellow (like me)  a fighting chance against an opponent with size, strength and surprise on his side. That is what we call taijutsu, being able to use the entire body in motion to generate and deliver force into the opponent.

It sounds easy, slamming my 60+ kg of body weight into an opponent’s weak points and in a direction that totally disrupts his balance (so he can’t fight back). But once we are under stress our bodies naturally move in ways that do NOT help  us. We stand in unbalanced ways or use just our arms to push when we should be using our entire body to strike. And that is why we need to train.

All the details we are working on in class right now for our strikes, especially our omote shuto and our ura shuto, are to train our bodies to move as an integrated unit again. The senior students got to study the weaknesses of each other’s shuto, because those weaknesses allow us to defend ourselves against shuto. And when you recognize the weaknesses in other people’s techniques, you start to become more aware of your own. And that is the first step to reducing them.

One major problem we talked about, the lag between the hand/foot coordination and the lag between the elbow/knee, is a weakness that big-sized people can get away with. We all have this lag to some degree, it’s just whether your lag is so bad that even a newbie can make  use of it, or is it so subtle that only a master can exploit it.

As we work towards eliminating this lag, we will find that we generate a lot more power in our strikes. They also become harder to block, as I demonstrated with some of you. You could see my ura shuto coming from miles away, but it was difficult for you to control the space properly to block and disrupt it. That comes from being conscious of the lag and doing my best to eliminate it.

OK, enough talk for now. We will continue to work on the strikes in class. When you are practicing at home, work on your kamae and the sanshin no kata if you have already learned them. If not keep on working on the palm-the-wall exercise, it is also fundamental to our striking.

And remember, we are trying out a new location this coming week. Message me for the directions and address. See you at training!

 

Junjie
俊傑 (Shunketsu)
Singapore

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