Monday, September 17, 2007


Sometimes, when you practice an old art a detail will jump out at you and it slowly sinks in... this was used for killing people. We have separated that killing so far from martial arts that it is almost an alien concept, but what does martial mean? Dedicated to Mars, the God of War.

The early practitioners, in a time when there were no such thing as "Peace Officers" and people with strength did take what they wanted at will, lived and tested and remembered and used these skills in ways that are sometimes hard for us to envision. When we do see it, or at least when I see it, it is almost always in the details.

Why are men's shirts buttoned left over right, just like a gi? Because the hilt of a weapon tends to hang up on the draw if you do it otherwise. Found out that little detail practicing left-handed draws.

In a Filipino system learning a knife form there was a peculiar hand position with the free hand, it made no sense in sparring and seemed pointless in drills... someone had learned the hard way that it kept the blood from splashing in your eyes.

In our old jujutsu kata one of the assassination forms has confusing witnesses built into the technique. The old bastards that came up with this stuff weren't playing a game. They knew killing the enemy was only part of it- you also had to get away.

Is the karate low chamber with the off hand for power? A grip? Or just because that was where fishermen carried a knife?

Just a few little things, and I don't see or hear it in the grandiose explanations of instructors or the fervid fantasies of enthusiastic practitioners... it is in the small movements that don't make sense until blood begins to flow. Walking styles for slippery footing. Ways to hold the head to increase peripheral vision. Left hip forward on the draw. Stepping well out of the range of the 'dead' opponent before re-sheathing. Shortening the grip on the weapon...

No comments: