Saturday, 8 April 2017

Live Combinations

If you are studying Karate for longer than a year you shall no doubt have gotten a couple of combinations to practice as part of your syllabus. With Shotokan this progresses to a different combinations using techniques not taught at lower levels.

These combinations are practiced almost exclusively against empty air.

When I took the time to analyze the way I fight I realised that these combinations, although doing a lot to teach your body to move in the various ways needed to fight effectively, do not necessarily follow the responses your opponent give.

The reason for this is simple. People do not all respond to attacks in the same manner. Even within your own discipline different approaches to a presented attack exist.

I get the impression that a lot of karateka don't even bother to look at how their opponents respond and just fly into their preset combo like these Tekken characters.

That is all good if you are fighting a video game character, but the problem with real people is that their body position and position of their arms and legs change, creating openings in one place while closing them off in another.

Still- we cannot fight by just using one technique. So- how do we decide what technique is to follow which one? The answer is that you don't.

Wingchun students at an advanced level will tell you that just as you cannot decide where your hands are going to be during chi sao practice you can also not say what attack you are going to use when the time opening presents itself.

You therefore have to teach your limbs to attack openings by themselves without thought.

Those of you who have been with me for a while on this blog know that I spar a lot against an imaginary opponent. This is because I believe that rather than telling yourself: "now jab then roundhouse kick and then side kick..." you should rather tell yourself: "go in with a high lead roundhouse kick ... hand comes up-now drive in with the mid-level reverse punch... hand's coming down-LEFT HOOK!"

When you spar against an actual opponent you will find that effective use of this method leads to your opponent becoming demoralised as you keep finding ways past his defense and not giving him any chance to attack you.

I think this is what Musashi called "Holding Down a Pillow".

In one of these videos below I am practicing a set combination from my karate syllabus. In the other I am going all-out against an imaginary opponent.  

I refer to preset combinations as "dead" combinations as they do not adapt to circumstances. They may work against those opponents who retreat in a straight line or who are just too slow, but later on you will realise that you have an opponent who can counter the first move.

For my fellow karateka I further have this advice:

Learn your techniques names and don't fuss about what combination should be learnt for the next grading. If the Sensei calls for "Oi zuki, yoko geri keagi, mawashi geri." you should just do it and not try to see whether you have memorised it. In fact- memorising combinations is really unnecessary.

That's it for today. Hope you all have a great week! 

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