Saturday, 10 September 2016

Special Footwork Technique 1: Vanishing Step

Hello, everyone. I hope you are all well.

My Saturday has started off pretty well with what WAS in this bowl!

Yep. Life is just wonderful if there is a lovely Chinese woman in your life who makes dumplings for you... :D

Besides making dumplings disappear I want to talk to you about one of the techniques the Ninjas use to make them disappear: The Vanishing Step!

I play a lot of video games- and this move actually featured in games like Tekken (used by Kunimitsu), Soul Blade (Taki) and Street Fighter EX2 (Doctrine Dark). I actually wanted a sample of Taki or Kunimistu, but ended up finding this Street Fighter sample.

That looks a lot more realistic than what we have seen Goku do in fights like this:

Well- the first time I have learnt about this move was from a very short kata called the "Mi Lu" (Lost Track) kata. I am not even 100% sure whether its origins are Chinese or Japanese (because I have never heard any words with an "L" sound in Japanese before), but I found this video via Google of it and it seems to be known to more people than just Ashida Kim.

This is me doing it after learning it from Ashida Kim's book. Looks like I was not that far off. :D

I'm afraid the Vanishing Step is done in the video with me ending up with my back turned to you. :D

The principles that make this step work are actually simple enough to understand. 

For one thing- this move does not work when you are standing too far from your opponent. We see Doctrine Dark even grabbing hold of his opponent to prevent him retreating.

It starts off with distracting your opponent- preferably making him blink.

This can be done in a number of ways. Well prepared Ninjas will have powder to throw into the opponent's eyes (more economical than trying to fill a whole room with smoke. If anyone knows where I can buy those smoke bombs, please hook me up! :D). There is nothing wrong with just throwing a jab to the opponent's face, though.

That's what the little fighting man is doing in my sketch:

In the kata the move ends in a knife hand strike from behind. In my sketch I have made it end in a choke-hold. I am sure that you can be creative as well and find other moves to use with this step.

While your opponent is distracted you have to step past him. So far the best way to do that involves momentarily standing with your back to your opponent. It is because of the pivot at the end that places you with your front facing his back after that. If you step past with your  front facing him you will find that the pivot at the end now has your back to his back. That can't be useful at all...

Like I said- at the end there is that pivot that places you facing your opponent with your front to his back.

Another element that is essential in making complicated footwork like this work is maintaining balance while starting the movement with the lower body. In Chinese martial arts this step is called "hsiao pu" and the movement would start at the feet.

If you are a Shotokan karateka you will probably want to start with your hips.

The Chinese method is safer on slippery surfaces in my opinion.

The Vanishing Step can of course also be used as a defensive move to evade attacks. It is sure to teach an over eager attacker the folly of over-committing.

In Wenhsiuquan this is not an opening gambit, but falls within a class of techniques I call "desperation moves". One only resorts to these moves when you are certain that simple moves are not going to work.  

I have started this series of posts of footwork after Abisha Soans had a question about footwork on the G+ group Martial Arts Forums. I realised then that I have never written much about footwork yet. Well- not about these special pieces of footwork anyway. 

I shall deal with another type of footwork technique in next week's post.

Until then- train well and have a good week!

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