Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Can You Stop a Bullet?

No, you can't. Don't worry, neither can I. It's OK, though. You shouldn't have to, and if you do your blocking right, you don't need to (even if it would be cool to do).

In the dojo, you often see the case of uke waiting for the attack to come, and then making a sloppy, late block when it does. This is no different than waiting for the bullet, and somehow being surprised you couldn't stop it. Luckily we are in the dojo, our laboratory, and not on the street where that strike might be deadly.

The point here is simple. Bullets only go where the gun points. Don't watch the bullet, watch the gun. Likewise, don't try to stop the bullet (you can't), stop the gun.
Two ways to do this:

1) Get out from in front of the gun (avoiding the path of the bullet)
This means moving around uke
2) Get the gun pointing away from you (causing the path of the bullet to miss you)
This means moving uke around you

Both of these ideas have relevance in Yoshinkan, and are common theories in other arts too. Wing Chun, for example, is notable for its study of centerline theory and attention to shite and uke control of that line.

In practical terms, this also means stopping the attack of uke at its origin -NOT at its destination. You can stop punches and strikes by blocking higher up the arm (above the elbow or directly at the shoulder - depending on how close you are). For kicks it means blocking when the attacking leg chambers (often with a push kick using the ball of your foot, or a cut kick at the base leg).

For this to work it is important that your eyes be focused on the center of uke's chest just below the neck. The right place in many arts is the point at the top of the sternum. Because of human anatomy, this will are will start to move as a strike develops, and you can use your peripheral vision to read the movement.

The next level involves actually taking the developing power of uke's strike as it launches, rather than midway through (which loses the force). Thus, in prinicple, you capture the strike as it starts, blend with that motion, and finally redirect it to your desired result.

Sounds simple, but hardly so. First it means overcoming the fear of being hit, so you can be close enough to uke to get the strike when it starts. Yep. That means MOVING TOWARD UKE so you can take control. One way to visualize this is as if you are a wave which washes into uke, and then washes out to your own destination. A great technique for understanding this is shomen uchi kote gaeshi 2. Wash in and capture, wash out and throw. Another good example is shomen uchi ikkajo osae 2. Wash in and capture, wash out and throw. The safest place is often the closest place to uke. It sounds odd, but it's true.

Try it and see.


1 comment:

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