Sunday, December 17, 2006

karate in practice

My good friend Pei Shan and I were laboring to perfect the performance we had volunteered to undertake as part of a Christmas Celebration Program when I was reminded again of the simple truths that should accompany practice. Nothing goes the way you plan it. Our segment, for example, is one and one half minutes long and involves weapons (short and long sword), floor movement, high kicks, jump kicks, throws, falls, and rolls. We have practiced this series of movements for more than a couple days and both know it well enough to recite it, were it necessary. However practicing our form has been some tense moments of chaos. When the movement agreed upon is a grab, for example and instead I duck away and block, things became tense.
During our last practice we found, as usual, that we still had to fight our reflexes. When it came time to take a hit or deliver one, to not deliver that strike with force, but to "pull our punches" so to speak. In the course of our session, he took a cut across the hand and a nasty bruise on the forearm, while I escaped with a welt on my foot and my own bruised shin. The problems only came when we naturally reacted to an unnatural state that we were trying to force ourselves into. Which brings me to the point:
Karate is a wonderful Way to walk, but in the course of actual combat you may find yourself "off the beaten path." When that happens, it is important to remember the basics. Cover yourself, breath, move, look for openings, create the distance you want and can work with. If you miss a step it won't be a big problem as long as you can adapt. The chaos of movement and the mindlessness of reaction will finish off anyone who, like the poor dodo, cannot adapt.


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