Guest Columnists - Every Technique DOES Work!

In my travels to the various Dojo, and believe me I have travelled to many ‘various’ Dojo. I, as well as many other Sensei, very often come across the occasional ‘awkward’ student.

"Sensei, if I twist my body in the opposite direction, the take-down, my opponent is trying to apply on me, doesn’t work!?", "Sensei, if I move away from him, his foot-sweep doesn’t take me to the ground!", or "Sensei, if I use my other hand to stop him, his wrist lock is inactive!". How often have Sensei heard this from their ‘awkward’ students?

For my part I just ‘try’ to be patient with them, in the hope that one-day it will sink in and they will learn that with a ‘committed’ technique (singularly or otherwise) people haven’t the time to think or prepare themselves for the unexpected eventualities during combat, if we did, we wouldn’t need to take up martial-arts in the first place (just use our psychic powers and avoid the situation in the first place).

If an opponent is ‘committed’ to delivering a punch, for example, the last thing on his mind would be trying to escape from a wrist lock. Why? because he is in a ‘mind set’ in a particular stance, performing a particular committed technique in one ‘element of time’. As an attacker, we ‘believe’ the attack will hit the target, so are not expecting a counter-attack.

If we attack thinking that we will always be swept, punched, or wrist-locked etc. (and know what it is that is going to be performed on us every time), we would never initiate an effective attack in the first place, as our minds would not be ‘empty’ as should be in free-fighting.

My tactic to the ‘awkward’ student is simple. I ask the student to attack me as shown, and tell him to use his newly found ‘technique’ of wrist lock blocking on my counter-attack. You should see his face when I change my counter-attack altogether to a completely different technique, and use a foot sweep instead, taking him to the floor. At this point I then say to him, ‘Why didn’t you avoid my foot-sweep?’ After picking himself up from the floor, he would say, “I wasn’t expecting it!” ‘Exactly!’ If the situation changes, change your technique (as in free-fighting).

In partner practise, if we use the techniques, as we should, and in the correct manner, then we may have a Dojo full of students who ‘want’ the techniques to work, who will train correctly, and try their hardest enough so that with the correct practise the techniques will work.

Partner routines are also all about partner ‘participation’ for the sake of the practise and repetition. We must attack correctly in the correct form, not changing position or technique (as in free-fighting), allowing ourselves to be in the right place at the right time for effective partner practise. That way, using the correct conditions of the situation, we would all learn that ‘every technique does work!’

So, if you are a student faced with one of these ‘awkward’ partners, just use a different technique on him, and say, “well, that one worked!” He ‘may’ learn, eventually, the error of his ways.

Gary E Swift, 8th Dan.
Chief Instructor to the British Wadokai Karate-do. British Wadokai

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