Friday, January 16, 2009

Principles and Drills

Jodan uke. The upper block. We practiced doing line drills. Uke would step in with his right foot as we stepped back with our left. His right hammer fist would come crashing down in a big circle and we would punch our left arm up at the right angle. His forearm would slam into ours and, if the angle was right, glide off. Then he would step forward with the other foot and everything would be repeated on the other side.

There were a lot of things that went into a proper upper block. The arm was punched up, not raised, which delivered more power. The palm side was snapped forward at the perfect instant to drive the ulna as an attack into uke's arm. A bad angle made a bruising contest of power, the perfect angle could glide a baseball bat without bruising. Minimal bruising, anyway. A good snap could open up his whole centerline.

Then, one day when I was bored or tired or something, I did it wrong. In line drills I blocked the big right downward hammer fist with a right jodan uke, cross body. Most of the same stuff happened except it turned uke's entire body, made him lean slightly and I was on his flank, halfway behind him. I owned him. Playing around, it was even better when I didn't step back. Closed the distance. Hmmmm.

Chi sao, or sticky hands, is primarily a sensitivity drill. You face your opponents, wrists touching, and try to tag each other (I have a gift for oversimplification). The cool thing is that if you can maintain wrist contact you can tell not only what your opponent is doing but what he is about to do. Without turning it into a strength contest, you can 'steer' his attacks to safe zones.

Just for fun, next time you play chi sao, take a half step forward and apply the skills to his elbows. Not only can you control his attacks, you can control his entire body like he was a rag doll. If you don't piss away the principles you can even bend and fold someone much bigger and stronger. Don't take my word for it. Try it.

Lastly, referring back to an old post.

There are a lot of connected principles here. It is easier to steer a moving object than it is to stop one and the threat in a fight tends to be a moving object. Maximize your leverage and utilize structure- and know, in a body, specifically where the leverage points are. Get to a dead space (love that rear flank) or force the threat to present it to you. Learn how much you can control without even using your fingers. The whole body is connected, if you can control the threat's elbow, you can control his feet (when I use the phrase 'core fighting' I'm talking about using the connection through the spine and hip and shoulder girdles to influence or control part of the threat's body by another part. It's fun.) Lots of things work better at closer ranges than they are commonly taught.

Something to think about.


Webmaster said...

In that last paragraph, you might just as well have been talking about pushing hands. :-)

In the style I do, the formal pushing hands drills place an enormous amount of attention to controlling the partner's wrist and elbow. But many practitioners seem to get lost in the body mechanics and don't focus enough on that.

When we do free-style pushing then, it tends to be a lot of fun when they can't control you. :-)

Great post Rory,


Master Plan said...

Ha! Wim beat me to the push hands comment. Also the first part, cross blocking to get outside while stepping in is something I've seen extensively (*I* can't *do* it personally mind you) in the Silat I'm (slowly) learning as well.

Also, as I'm sure you are very aware, lots of the Judo throws (at least as I was shown them) tended to involve control from\via the elbow as well. Ippon and morote seoinage both leap to mind. And Osoto Gari. And...

Funny how that works...things that are effective showing up over and over...

Anonymous said...

One of my failing as a KJKB student is, precisely, that I use too much wrist (I kind of try to 'snake around' Uke's limbs) and not enough forearm and extension in Chi sao-like exercises --and other places, granted--. At least in KJKB it would allow me to go from an "I control your attack" to an "I control you".

Be well.


Stephen Grey said...

For some reason I am fascinated by karate.

I can't bring myself to study it in a formal setting, because IMO the training methods are mired in medieval fighting traditions, and that doesn't work very well for me. But I think there's a great deal of great stuff in there.

I'd venture to say, further, that a lot of karate and TKD instructors, even at a fairly high level of skill, aren't aware of many of the applications that they're teaching. The bunkai they have for the movements may not be the "real" bunkai at all.

It would be great if you wanted to talk more about this subject

Rory said...

Ferran- there's a motion, I call it 'sawing' which could probably help with that. I've never sat to figure out why, but it seems to have a huge mechanical advantage. I don't know if I can describe it in writing. A structured push with your hand that slides the forearm (ulna side) against the part you want to affect. Or, example, you have the threat bent over and you are standing at his shoulder. A really strong threat can resist a push on the back of the head, but for some reason a sawing push across the back of the neck works very well.

Worg- I wish I was qualified to really talk about karate. I've dabbled, but that's it. What fascinated me is the number of times that I have see or used a very specific technique and seen that technique later in a karate kata. The motion, the body mechanics were exactly the same, but the karate instructor's explanation of the move was completely unrelated to what I saw. If I had the time and was in the right city (as opposed to a different continent) there are some guys in West Seattle I'd like to play with,(Hiroo, Kris- alright, Lawrence too. Don't pout).

Thanks, everybody.
BTW- given the notes on the last post, should I post the Freeze article here? It is relatively long.

Stephen Grey said...

"What fascinated me is the number of times that I have see or used a very specific technique and seen that technique later in a karate kata. "

Part of this effect may be because there are only so many ways you can move, and the same physical movement applied to different positions of the opponent may have different results.

Another reason may be that someone, somewhere in history, wasn't told the real meaning of the technique.

Real gurus are likely to be able to sniff out people who are out for the money, or such people may have other unpleasant characteristics that result in them not receiving the whole system.

Then, these same unpleasant characteristics (pathological lying, exaggeration of ones' skills, cult-like practices) may very well result in the watered-down style proliferating.

Master Plan said...

I think Bob Orlando has the "sawing" thing as well, called "hacksaw". Slightly different in variation.

It's an interesting aspect to the MA how it is that using a different "feeling" mentally will result in a significantly altered effect in terms of technique delivery.

Things like trying to "rapidly touch the target" instead of "hitting" it for instance.

Master Plan said...

Of course you should post the Freeze article here's uh...*your* blog. ;-) And it'll get read. So....

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to try the chi sao thing at training next time :D