Saturday, 2 December 2017

A discussion on Kamae/ Fighting Stance

I am starting with this photo of me with the bokken today as my first guideline on what fighting stance to use came from Musashi Miyamoto's Book of Five Rings. I realise, though that we have students and instructors of different disciplines and that we do not all look at fighting stances the same way.

Boxers want to cover up. I, on the other hand like opening up. Some prefer an offensive stance. Some purely defensive. 

Today's post is not meant to be informative at all. It is meant to invite comments and get a discussion going. This is the kind of stuff we like talking about, right?

The Zanshindo Kamae

Now before you get a chance to comment I get to fill an entire blog post with my view on the matter...

Also a Zanshindo kamae. The hands follow the opponent's hands in the same way that football players stick to their numbers on the field.

My Jeet Kune Do stance

Before I have named my style Wenhsiuquan (Wenhsiu's Fist) I have actually given it the Japanese name Zanshindo. It was heavily influenced by Japanese martial arts while I did like to incorporate the flow and mobility of Chinese martial arts.

A Shaolin fighting stance.

Middle Attitude

Zanshindo's fighting stance came from Musashi's "Middle Attitude" as described in the Book of Five Rings". 

It was a neutral stance from which could attack and defend and return to as soon as a move is completed.

While the physical arrangement of the stance allows for quick parrying in any direction and quick striking from any direction the mental state in which this stance is adopted (one can say the internal aspect thereof) is that of non-commitment. The eyes do not lock onto any particular object or part of the opponent's body. In fact- the gaze is wide. The eyes see across their entire field of vision without moving.

Also- no attack and definitely no defensive move is yet chosen when this stance is adopted. The appropriate response flows naturally from this posture as the situation dictates. 

In Kenjutsu it is about as important for one to be able to return to this posture immediately after his attack if it is desired or necessary to do so. This ties in with Karate attacks seeming a lot less committed than some of those of Xingyiquan or Muay Thai. From a tactical point of view martial artists often like to attack their opponents as they attack. An opponent's preoccupation with his own attack creates the ideal opening to be exploited.

Then we also know, of course, of the underlying principle in Japanese grappling that an opponent's momentum is to be used against him rather than being resisted.

    When I got introduced to Bruce Lee's Tao of Jeet Kune Do, however, I saw that Bruce Lee was not half as much concerned with defense as I was. He preferred to attack as soon and as quickly as possible.

The fighting stance he prescribes in his book relies on covering up for defense. This cover is of course broken for the moments when you actually have to attack, but even then you are advised to keep a guard up. 

By the time I had changed the style's name to Wenhsiuquan blocking and parrying played a part second to that of body positioning and evasion. I admit that blocking plays a larger part where you don't have a lot of space for evasion, but where the arms have previously been defensive tools to defend and to attack when the opportunity arises my arms have now become more concerned with attacking while defense has become a matter of body movement, rotation, ducking, leaning and slipping. Sure- I still block. I can't help that, but I really do not give it any thought. I am a lot readier now to counterattack, though than what I was with the previous stance. 

Shaolin tactics involve manipulating the opponent by , among other things, creating deliberate openings or opportunities for the opponent to seize. It could be a lowered guard, an arm extended to be grabbed or something of the like. This actually seems a lot more proactive than the Middle Attitude.

One can actually argue that high, low, left and right positions in fencing are used in a similar manner.

You can see these different approaches reflected in our daily lives as well. We have the ones who are not hasty to commit to a course of action, those who try to make their own opportunities, those who proverbially keep their ears to the ground and those who would rather be proactive. 

What fighting stance do you prefer and why?

1 comment:

  1. Very good articłe. I see we have had very similar training. It is very hard to remind myself, to forget myself. Mushin no shin. Empty mind. Very important in maintaining calm and readiness. My stances are shortened variances of yours, to reflect my natural state of indifference and non-commitment. Shorter stances allow for greater relaxation and flexibility, but reduce some of your movement. A sacrifice that affords me the element of surprise. People just do not expect my level of explosiveness from such a short stance. Plus it's real life, not a ring or cage fight. Thanks for the blog!