The Context of Fundamental Skills in an Era of Social Media


I saw an argument on FB recently questioning the validity of the knife hand tactic as a striking tool. The argument was about the relevance of a knife hand comparing it to the ease of a punch or even a slap. Aside from the fist formation at the end of your arm, much of the initial post discussion I thought was coloured because the idea of 'pressure point' was brought up to direct the knife hand chamber as a limb destruction move. So yeah, after that mention of a term with questionable links to kyusho, apparently even plausible ways of coverage, deflection, and counter striking lose credibility.

A punch or a slap is of course a very valid strike. But when upclose and when you can't really windup ... hey, I'll be happy to still have the various 'traditional' tools I can draw from. In my toolkit, these techniques are not single use. I can use many of them to control, to trap, to deflect, counter strike, yadda, yadda, yadda, etc. A hard style troller might see the proffered video as an edict. Or as a prescription to then measure my worth as an instructor.

And that is why I often say my videos - however detailed or however long - are shown without the context of training. You see only what I can show in a few minutes. You never see how we train it, or how it'll be deployed. And I can confidently tell you, what you see in the video only guides us. And this is one of the main reasons why JDK seems to grow or come up with material so readily - it is that we do not hold our techniques or drills to a fixed standard. We do not pigeon hole techniques.

Back to this video. Like the theme of 'context' above, often many people simply see the 'end bit' of a technique. How you hold your hand. Which part of the foot strikes the targets. It's the 'Hollywood' effect. Many people don't see the stance, the internal kinematics, the flight path of the technique, the mental calibration or the delivery of power.

This knife hand technique for instance is so versatile because each point of its flight path allows you to do different things. You can bypass lead guard, or deflect an oncoming strike. You can control the arm as you gap close. And perhaps if you're dealing with that drunk uncle at Christmas time ... you can decide to segue to do a takedown instead of impacting the side of his neck. You can also do these very effectively from a flinch reaction, without needing to draw your fist back. Without appearing to be aggressive. Without telegraphing to mouth breathers that you're attempting a counter.

Another big lesson I have been trying to convey through my blog and lessons - is that these are fundamental skills which are NOT BUNKAI. Every karate ka, their mother, and their dog ... all they want is to see some esoteric demonstration of prowess tied into their kata. My big lesson is that the kata is not there to teach you anything. Kata can be many things ... it is a framework. It is a summary. It is a learning opportunity.

It isn't Karate101. You should have skills and ability WAY BEFORE you ever do your kata. In fact your existence shouldn't be tied to how much you know of any one kata. The depth we plunge into patterns as instructors of the martial arts is however way different. When we dissect the pattern, we dissect it with the experience we have of reducing conflict, of deescalating violence, of seeking escape from threat, of the need to transmit the knowledge, and of survival of our legacy.

To see this video in YouTube check out https://youtu.be/r_cws-T11R8

Keep training!
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