Saturday, 11 April 2015

Being ready.

I was going to write an entire post on the yoi stance in karate when I saw this video here on Facebook:

I think many of us remember scenarios where the self defence moves we learnt got shot to pieces in a real situation. In my case I did not even have to leave the dojo! Our sensei used to make us practice blocking a swinging stick blow to the legs using gedan barai! I got bruises on my back for my trouble! 

Believe me- when I got around to developing my own self defence moves that gedan barai response was the first to go!  

Sure- we can argue that the responses taught do not always take into account how an actual opponent- who is not from your dojo- is going to move. But then again- if you think that you will become invincible by training and rehearsing as many responses as you can in a lifetime- let me be the first to tell you that you are likely to get your arse kicked all the way to the afterlife before you are done learning.

What you can learn- is principles. You can learn about the mechanics of a swinging attack, a push, a kick and so forth. You can learn the general principles that make your responses to these attacks work. And you can learn to apply these principles without thinking.

Now let me get to what I had to say about the yoi posture. Variations of this posture are found in Shaolin Kungfu, Taijiquan and of course- Judo and Karate.

Where the Japanese simply regard it as a natural stance in which you are to maintain relaxed alertness ("What is that?" I hear you ask) the Chinese have regarded this as the stance where the qi is sunken into the abdomen. It is not uncommon for Chinese styles to use horse stance as the ready position from which they start their forms. Wu Style Taijiquan is also known to activate the Iron Shirt technique in this posture.

In Wenhsiuquan- this is more than just a posture. In fact- the shoulder width and horse stance variations are used in form practice, but what never changes is the mental attitude.

In fact- the only difference between yoi and kamae in Wenhsiuquan is that in the state of yoi absolutely no intention to fight is displayed.

In this state we are aware instead of alert. Instead of being ready to attack the first person to jump at us from nowhere to greet us or to sink into fighting stance every time we hear a car backfire- we actually remain calm and aware of our environment. In this state we do the work that needs to be done at the office, swerve in time to avoid the careless driver in traffic, successfully avoid tripping over the dog at home and- when the situation calls for it- shatter the unfortunate assailant's ribs.

Fact is- fighting is not an everyday thing to many of us. It also does not have to be. Your training can help you, however, to put all the instinctive fuss about violence aside and replace it with calm awareness.

Instead of fearing a blow to the face you can actually now see how your opponent's fists are moving. Instead of angrily throwing a barrage of blows of which one may find its mark you can actually see your opponent's hand drop and seize the opportunity to stain his shirt red with a well timed jab to the schozz!

Believe me- work on being this aware during sparring and I assure you that there will be no time to be afraid.
In a black belt not even physical pain can make this laser-like focus waver.

What you will never realise when you manage to spend a day in this state is that you never get annoyed or angry. You don't get startled and you definitely don't waste time lamenting failure. 

I hope you all enjoy your training.

See you next week!    

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