Wednesday, September 1, 2010

'Stealing the technique' versus...

There are differing theories on how to teach.

Some teachers believe that you need to 'steal the technique', meaning that it's up to you as the student to watch and pick up the parts of a technique not discussed during its demonstration.

Others believe in a more open approach, discussing or showing each part to their students.

Both have advantages.  I've always enjoyed the more open approach, but recently, I've started to suspect that although my Sensei answers all my questions, he only answers the ones I ask.  There is still a process of discovering more layers to a technique, or 'stealing' the deeper stuff.

This started to come into focus when I was reading and commenting on a post over at Physics of Aiki on striking methods and methodologies.  See the post here.

The basics of discussion was whether or not the traditional Karate punch which impacts and pulls back slightly after was superior to strikes that remained extended for longer, having more penetration or 'pushing' through the target.

The thought was that the Karate punch was more likely to destroy it's intended target, but it would cause less movement or associated trauma to the receiver.

It was through this discussion that some of the secrets in my teachings started to present themselves.  I prefer the strike and retract method, pulling back my strike with nearly the same vigor that I sent it out with.  My strikes, in general, are more of the whip like variety. I use them to disorient or overwhelm my opponent, interrupting their concentration or intent.  I also use them to disable the target area, whether it be to wind my opponent, or make a limb or area unusable for a short while.

These strikes are most often used to set up my next technique, not to end a fight.  The whip like fashion returns our arm to a defensive position faster as well.

It has been my experience that most fights are not ended with a single technique.  Rarely does the first punch end it (unless it's a sucker punch, and even then, it only happens some of the time).

I used to think my Sensei had us practice the impact and retraction part to reduce the tendency for martial artists to just leave their limbs out there after an attack.  Now, researching the topic a bit more, I'm learning that the percussive manner of this type of striking is meant to interrupt your opponent's central nervous system.  The overwhelming nature of this attack overwhelms the body's and the mind's ability to react.  The attack radiates into your opponent, causing a variety of damage and sensation.  This process allows my follow up technique to be applied with a minimum of fuss or resistance.

So, now I'm starting to realize that there's more to the striking method I'm learning that what's been presented, or what I've asked about.  Looks like I'm stealing something after all...


  1. as per my recent ali information binge, apparently he twisted the jab through impact in order to cause cutting--cuts not as necessary for defense, but in the ring, a possible huge advantage.

  2. Hi, punching is always an interesting and often controversial suject! In karate we obviously favour the retracted punch. I actually wrote a post about punching a while ago, comparing the karate punch with a boxing punch. Here's the link if you are interested: (It started as a post about kime but moves onto punching). Some of the comments are probably more illuminating than my post!