Echoes of the Soul come to the Albany YMCA on April 17, 2012, 6pm -8pm.
January 17, 2012
Students invited to learn about the history and culture of Afro-Caribbean music
Jan. 9, 2012—On Friday, January 6, more than 100 high school students were treated to a live demonstration of Afro-Caribbean music as part of a special program entitled, Afro-Caribbean Rhythms: Echoes of the Soul. The event, which took place in the High School LGI, was presented by Pedro Perez and his band mates Marcus Benoit and Joe Montarello from the local musical group Gabriels Groove. Students from several Spanish, Social Studies and English classrooms attended, as well as members of the high school’s Latin Dance Club.
Perez served as the lead presenter, taking students through the history of Afro-Caribbean influence on Latin American and American music. He discussed several different styles of music, each showcasing a different rhythm, and then joined his friends to demonstrate songs of each style being discussed.
Students were also invited to join the band for a song at the conclusion of the program. “Students can become so much more involved and engaged when speakers from the community share their insight,” said Chelkowski, a teacher with the World Languages and Cultures department who organized the event. “The students were able to relate to decades of music that stem from Afro-Caribbean rhythms–not reading about it from a text book or watching it on TV but rather hearing and feeling these rhythms live.”
Las Manos will be playing on the following dates:
September 7, 2012, 7pm to 10pm, at Athos Restaurant, 1814 Western Avenue, Albany, NY – 518.608.6400
October 19, 2012, 7pm to 10pm, at Athos Restaurant, 1814 Western Avenue, Albany, NY – 518.608.6400
November 2, 2012, 7pm to 10pm, at Athos Restaurant, 1814 Western Avenue, Albany, NY – 518.608.6400
December 14, 2012, 7pm to 10pm, at Athos Restaurant, 1814 Western Avenue, Albany, NY – 518.608.6400
December 28, 2012, 7pm to 10pm, at Athos Restaurant, 1814 Western Avenue, Albany, NY – 518.608.6400
Happy New Year to All!
It appears Gabriels Groove is off to a great start to 2012!
Pedro Perez and Gabriels Groove will be doing a Latin Heritage/Music presentation at the Guilderland school district on January 6, 2012.
The same ensemble will be performing at the Black & Latino Achievers dinner on January 26, 2012 in support of this organization.
The Black and Latino Achievers Program changes lives. The central purpose of the Black & Latino Achievers Program is to help youth set and pursue higher education and career goals. The Black & Latino Achievers Program reaches deep into the heart of the community for both adult and teen achievers. The YMCA utilizes the talents of successful professionals, community leaders, and corporations to bring a much needed positive influence into the lives of young people.
A CD project entitled “Tapestry of Love” is in the mixing and production stage at this time at Sten Isachcen’s studio. This CD features the musicianship of several great musicians from upstate New York that includes:
Pedro Perez- congas/percussion
Mike Lawrence- acoustic bass
Joe Montarello- electric bass
Marcus Benoit-flute/alto flute/piano
Thanks for listening
Marcus Benoit and Gabriels Groove
I lost one of my best friends, Ronin, my Rottweiler. He lived a long life (12yrs). He passed on 12/26/2011. He is now running free in the cosmos.
GABRIELSGROOVE will be playing on the following dates and at the following places:
September 1, 2012, 8:30pm to 12:30am, 74 State Bistro, 74 State Street, Albany, NY
September 8, 2012, 9pm to 1am, 9 Maple Jazz Bar, 9 Maple Avenue, Saratoga, NY
November 16, 2012, 9pm to 1am, 9 Maple Jazz Bar, 9 Maple Avenue, Saratoga, NY
From the dawn of human existence, we have had to defend ourselves. Humans have developed plethora martial arts across the globe and often shared it with each other. Each of these different martial art systems, while superficially different, provided its practitioners with effective self-defense techniques. This treatise will focus on the martial art systems ultimately known as Jujutsu and Karate-do.
Written historical records can take us back only 5,000 years or so. Most historians agree that in the first instance, it is on the Asian continent that we can follow these records from India through China to Okinawa, then Japan, and finally arriving on this continent in the nineteenth century with the arrival of Chinese immigrants who worked on the railroads.
Oral customs, traditional folklore, and now genetic analysis lead us back even further to the African continent. African martial arts have existed and still exists, as is evidenced by the pictographs depicted on the walls of ancient Egypt of Osiris—Lord of life after death; Sun god; and God of War; Horus—Falcon-headed Sun and sky god; Lord of prophecy; revenge, justice, weapons; or Neith/Neit/Net/Nit (pronounced Night)—”The Huntress”; Patroness of hunting, medicine, war, and weapons. These depictions of ancient Egyptian deities clearly demonstrate that martial arts existed in Africa thousands of years before the Shaolin Monks of China began training the martial art that would become Karate-do.
Indeed, it can also be seen in a relatively recent manifestation, the Afro-Brazilian art of Capoeira.
Capoeira is a martial art hidden in an apparent dance form developed by Africans to hide their fighting techniques from their slave masters. It fact, many cultures around the world learned to disguise their fighting arts in the form of dance.
Karate-do and Jujutsu can trace their lineage back to the ancient Indian martial art of Vajramushti.
Legend depicts Bodhidharma, an East Indian born into a warrior family, studied and brought with him this martial art to the Shaolin Monastery. Once there he taught the Monks the “Eighteen Hands of Lo-Han.”
It is from this series of exercises that Ch’uan Fa or Gung fu are said to have evolved, which clearly influenced many Asian martial arts and particularly the Okinawan martial arts systems
. These were the Okinawan systems studied by Gichin Funakoshi and the other Okinawan Martial Artists who introduced Karate-do to Japan during the early part of the Twentieth Century.
Japanese Martial Arts arrived in the United States late in the nineteenth century and the earliest we can trace Karate-do’s arrival is in the late 1940s soon after World War II.
All Martial Arts share some fundamental principles:
- Combative engagement posture/stance/attitude
- Center of gravity, how it may best be concentrated
- Essential energy
- Preparing/off balancing/executing
- Combative engagement distance
- Combative initiative or “timing”
- Detecting weaknesses/openings
Jujutsu is no different.
Please keep this in mind as we explore the Bunkai of Karate-do Katas. There are specific jujutsu techniques in Karate-do Katas that are rarely fully explored. Today, I hope to cover some of the classic jujutsu techniques in several well-known Karate-do Katas. But first, let me lay out some fundamental jujutsu principles we will need to consider.
- Balance – Rootedness
- Yielding – Escaping
- Gakun – Wrist Bends
The first three (Stance, Balance, and Yielding) are closely related. Ignoring any one of them is like trying to sit on a two-legged stool. Striking helps prepare an opponent for a Gakun and/or any other jujutsu techniques (like nage or otoshi; types of throws).
To execute these techniques effectively, we must apply them focusing the principles listed above.
As a practical matter, the natural standing position is one of the three basic positions we humans are most often in. The other two are sitting and laying down in their various manifestations. I know you all know how to stand but bear with me for a moment. I think we may be able to find something new to consider. Moreover, since nearly every kata starts with a natural stance, we will cover this first.
Warm up – Salutation to the Sun as warm up exercises
Stance – Balance/rootedness exercise
Break-falls – The safest manner of preventing injuries when thrown
Yielding/Escaping – Various escape techniques and where they exists in the Katas
Striking –The difference between Karate-do attacks and jujutsu striking application
Gakun – Various wrist bends and how shifting body weight with the power of the pinky finger can enhance the effectiveness of a wrist bend.
Kata Bunkai – The Jujutsu Hidden inside
I will use “Shotokan” Karate-do style of the Heian (peaceful mind) Katas, also known by their original Chinese name “Pinan,” to illustrate these applications and thus will refer to their numbering sequence in the following guide. It is the actual technique and not the style within which these are kites are found nor the ascribed sequential number that is important. Therefore, incorporate the suggested applications in the appropriate and corresponding technique to the logical place for the Heian (Pinan) Katas of your system regardless of any apparent numbering or stylistic difference.
Heian Kata – 1
- Opening Movement – Stance/balance/yielding
- 4th technique – after executing the right side down block imagine an opponent grabbing the right wrist. To escape the opponent’s grasp, execute Hakko Dori (escape through the opening technique).
- 7th technique – after executing a left side down block, the opponent realizing the front kick was blocked immediately punches to the head. Execute an left knife hand high block, grab the opponent’s wrist and execute a right high elbow strike – depending on the situation the first choice is to then execute an arm bar to hyper extend the opponent’s elbow, while simultaneously forcing to opponent to the ground on a controlled pinning techniques or if warranted dislocating the elbow.
Heian Kata – 2
- 2nd technique – simultaneously block the opponent’s counter punch by executing an arm bar against the opponent’s elbow. Once again depending on circumstances this can be a controlling pinning or an elbow dislocation technique.
- 5th technique – repeats above
- 23rd technique – repeats technique learned in Heian 1, seventh movement – arm bar
- 25th technique – repeats above
Heian Kata – 3
- 9th technique – after executing a spear hand strike, imagine the opponent grabs your spear hand – execute a Hakko Dori to escape.
- 12th technique – as you begin to stand, imagine an opponent has grab you in a bear hug, bring both fists to your waist and step forward executing a either a nage or otoshi throw, throwing your opponent to the ground. This repeats for the next two movements.
- 18th technique – after executing a left forward punch, imagine the opponent is attempting to encircled you with a bear hug, step forward with the back foot and immediately pivot counterclockwise executing an otoshi.
Heian Kata – 4
- 9th technique – after completing right side kick and back fist to elbow strike sequence, turn toward the front and extend the left hand forward while raising the right hand to the forehead. This sequence allow you to execute an advance jujutsu maneuver that utilizes Gakun and Shibori grasps when applying Yodan level “Uchi Kome Dori” when you capture the opponent’s right hand lunge punch.
- 9th technique part two – while still facing to the front, perform an open hand high block with the left hand, capturing the left wrist of the opponent while simultaneously executing a high right hand Shuto. Immediately, kick with the right leg toward the elbow of the opponent’s left arm.
Heian Kata – 5
- 9th technique – after executing a closed fist lower X-block against the front kick, immediately execute an open hand X-Block above the head; then rotate the hands clockwise, focusing on grabbing the opponent’s fist and bringing it down to waist height executing “Shodan” wrist bend.
- 17th technique – is a jump over a Bo being used to attack the legs. Hakko Dori – escape through the Opening.
- 20th technique – upon turning to the left rear to block a front kick/high punch combination, simultaneously block a counter punch to the head with an left side high inside knife-hand block while executing a low right side spear-hand strike toward the groin. Immediately thereafter, grab the inner thigh (pant leg) with the right hand; pull the opponent’s leg while thrusting the left hand into the chest of the opponent to execute a “Push-Pull” nage throwing technique. This is repeated on the opposite side.
Nearly all of these applications are described in either Gichin Funakoshi’s Karate-Do Kyohan or in other published texts regarding Karate-Do Katas.
One final comment on terms Karate-do and Jujutsu, these as written using the English language can be spelled differently. For instance, Jujutsu can also be written as “Jujitsu”. Moreover, even the meaning of the origin Chinese character used to describe the martial arts practiced in Okinawa had its meaning changed from “Chinese hand techniques” Karate Jitsu to “the empty hand way” Karate-do. There are also differences ascribed to the terms “Do” and “Ryu”. The underlying meaning of these terms are complex and wrapped in cultural contexts, which make their translation into the English language awkward and their understanding even more difficult. However, superficially “Do,” means “Way” and “Ryu” means “Style.” I will leave their deeper meanings to language and cultural scholars.
Finally, I owe a tremendous amount to Nidai Soke Ryuho Okuyama, Dr. Akinori Murakami – Kaidan Shihan Sandaikichu, Mr. Douglas Woodall – Kaidan Shihan Sandaikichu, and fellow Shihan Walter Mackney for the knowledge and guidance they provided that allows me to now share what they have taught me with those who like us follow the “Way” in order to perfect their character.
Sensei Pedro J Perez began his martial arts training in 1960, starting with Shotokan Karate-do. He earned his first black belt in 1966. He continued training at the American Shotokan Kudokan Dojo, earning another black belt and ultimately receiving a 3rd Dan. In 1970, he earned a black belt in American Goju. He then began training in Taekwondo and earned a black belt in 1975. During the mid 1970s, he taught at the Shotokan Kudokan Dojo and founded the No Name Dojo on the Lower Eastside in New York City. He then taught karate at the Pitt Street Boy’s Club, and was the head instructor at the Jerome Mackey’s Incorporated Karate Dojo in Stamford, Connecticut.
In 1983, Sensei Perez began training in Hakkoryu Jujitsu, under Sensei Paul Neuroth. He has continued his Jujutsu training with Shihans Michael LaMonica and Douglas Woodall, earning a 4th Dan black belt. Sensei Perez continues to refine his Karate-do development and now trains with the highly regarded Shotokan stylist Sensei Carlos Medina of the Japan Karate Association, an internationally certified instructor, judge, and examiner, at his dojo in Bethlehem, New York. In December of 2006, Sensei Perez earned another Shodan Black Belt and then in 2010 Nidan from Japan Karate Association – Shotokan Karate-Do International, Chief Instructor Mr. MasatakaMori,9thDan.
Sensei Perez taught self-defense at the New York State Police Academy during basic training for recruit troopers. He was a member of the New York State Police’s Mobile Response Team, the State Police’s elite special weapons and tactics unit. During his tenure on the NYSP-MRT, he was its primary self-defense instructor. As a member of the NYSP he has risen through the ranks, being the first Latino to achieve Commissioned Officers ranks. He is now 2nd in command, holding the title of First Deputy Superintendent.
Over the years, Sensei Perez has successfully competed in many tournaments winning his share of awards including 1st place kata at the 1974 CK Kim Rhode Island Invitational, beating out the legendary kata champion Chuck Merriman. In 1983, he won a gold medal in kumite and a silver medal in kata at the New York State Police Officers Olympics. He has trained in Bo/staff and received special certification from Sensei Fumio Demura. Sensei Perez traveled to Japan, where he trained at the Japan Karate Association and Hakkoryu Jujutsu Hombus. Most recently, he studied directly under Hakkoryu Jujutsu’s Nidai Soke Okuyama and was awarded Shihan rank.
Karate is a martial art developed in the Ryuku Islands, now Okinawa, Japan.
Its roots can be traced to an Indian martial art known as “Vajramushti” and China’s “Kung fu.” Vajramushti is the unarmed fighting system studied by Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma was a member of the warrior caste, “Kshatriya,” in India.
He studied both martial arts and Buddhism becoming adept at both. He ultimately became a monk and is said to have come to China in the middle of the Sixth century to help strengthen Buddhism. Legend has it, that he settled in Hunan province’s Shaolin Monastery. There he is said to have found the monks beleaguered by a lack of physical fitness and under the continuous threat of attack by robbers. He taught them a series of exercises called “Shih pa lo han sho,” or the “eighteen hands of the Lo-Han.” These physical drills combined China’s own martial arts evolved into Shaolin Kung Fu.
As Kung Fu spread throughout ancient China it reaches Okinawa sometime around the late sixth or seventh century during the initial periods of cultural exchanges between Okinawa and China.
During the ensuing centuries a series of Chinese martial arts where brought to Okinawa either by Chinese emissaries sent to Okinawa or by Okinawan emissaries returning to the Ryukus. The martial arts that generally used punches and kicks were called “To De” in English “Chinese Hand.”
The Japanese character for Chinese Hand 唐手 is pronounced “kara-te,” was later changed to 空手 meaning “empty-hand” by Chomo Hanagi in his book Karate Soshu Hen.
Gichin Funaskoshi used the same Japanese character when he introduced Okinawan Karate to Japan in 1922.
He when on to say, “As a mirror’s polished surface reflects whatever stands before it and a quiet valley carries even small sounds, so must the student of Karate render his mind empty of selfishness and wickedness in an effort to react appropriately toward anything he might encounter. This is the meaning of kara, or ‘empty,’ of Karate.”
This is a very brief outline of the history of karate. More will follow in future postings.
1 Gichin Funakoshi, Karate-do Kyohan The Master Text (Tokyo, New York, San Francisco 1973), pp. 3
2 Bruce A. Haines, Karate’s History and Traditions (Rutland, Vermont & Tokyo, Japan 1968), pp. 24 – 25
3 Ibid., p. 26 – 27
4 Masutatsu Oyama, What is Karate? (Tokyo, Japan 1958), pp. 20
5 Bruce A. Haines, Karate’s History and Traditions (Rutland, Vermont & Tokyo, Japan 1968), pp. 15
6 Hirokata Toyama, Karate-do (Tokyo, 1958), pp. 24
7 Gichin Funakoshi, Karate-do Kyohan The Master Text (Tokyo, New York, San Francisco 1973), pp. 13
INTRODUCTION FROM THE FOUNDER (1901-1987)
“The techniques of Hakkoryu are nothing but the pure self-protection instinct that prepares your spirit to face urgent matters of life and death. That is, when one encounters violence, it can be said that Hakkoryu provides natural, simple, and practical methods that enable one to calmly face imminent peril and move on without hesitation to capture and punish assailants reasonably and easily in an instant.
The mere practice that results in the wearing out of practice uniforms does not give birth to the kind of self-protection arts that will be helpful at such critical times.
Our Hakkoryu Shodan-gi are designed to prepare one with basic rules to firmly put down such general assaults. Furthermore, as one makes progress through the Nidan-gi, Sandan-gi, and so forth, the techniques naturally increase in their punishment and severity.
We can say that the state which ensues from immersion in Hakkoryu is the same as “priming water” (that is, putting water under great pressure) which develops instincts that can explode in an instant. The advanced teachings of Hakkoryu allow for the free control of life and death. But such a choice is up to man.
The holy heart grows from the natural posture of righteousness. Therefore, dismiss evil in your heart. Only then will you be ready to learn our secrets. Relax and focus your tanden. Disinterest yourself. With the mind of Hakkoryu, your protection techniques will spontaneously and readily come out without thinking.
Calmly focus your spirit, attack the mind of the opponent and shatter his will to its depth. Hakkoryu belongs to the world where spiritual action is given priority over form and style. In Hakkoryu, there is indeed no technical skill without a spiritual determination to carry on without hesitation to life or death. Hakkoryu, therefore, is mainly for the preparation and training of the mind.
Understanding these concepts, learn and practice the spirit and techniques of Hakkoryu until they lead you to a clear perception of your wholeness. Only then can you correctly choose how best to preserve justice and humanity. Moreover, the power of one finger through Hakkoryu Koho Shiatsu can surely save man from another kind of violence emanating from deep within – illness, disease, and injury. Suddenly, these too may deprive you of your natural freedoms.
I have been preaching through the experience of thousands of people that these two violence’s, one coming from the outside and one coming from within, can be easily shut out by the proper use of a single finger. The first I have named Hakkoryu Goshin Jutsu and the other, Hakkoryu Koho Shiatsu Igaku. When I reflect on my life, I can conceive of no greater gift of wisdom to mankind and cannot help to shout out loudly, “COME OUT GREAT MAN!” because of my strong love toward my native country, Japan.”
Writings of Shodai Soke Okuyama Ryuho
Composite Translation From
Okuyama Ryuho Tabiniki, Hakkoryu Ryushi Journal, Hakkoryu Higishi
Hakkoryu Jujutsu Seminar
“The three major characteristics of Hakkoryu are: no challenge, no resistance, no injury. With Hakkoryu, for the first time, the eyes of the dragon are drawn.”
Shodai Soke Okuyama Ryuho
Hakkoryu Jujutsu is a humanitarian martial art; its focus is on self improvement. While simultaneously understanding that there are those who engage in violence. Thus, we must protect ourselves and loved ones from that violence. Yet in so doing, we should do all we can to defuse the violent encounter and when forced to act use only techniques which will not inflict injury whenever possible.
This seminar will review basic principles of Hakkoryu as expressed through its fundamental techniques:
Dori – Escaping
Atemi – Striking to vital points
Osae – Arresting/manipulating joints
Nage/Otoshi – Throwing/Dropping
Since we continuously review these principles by consistently practicing the techniques through which they are expressed. We will not spend a considerable amount of time discussing them in this treatise. Suffice it to say practice makes perfect.
However, we will discuss the following concepts more deeply. These are integral to practicing Hakkoryu, although we do not often take time to elaborate on the nature of these additional principles.
These are the additional concepts we will discuss and consider as we engage in today training:
Kamae (combative engagement posture/stance)
Hara/Tanden/Ki (center of gravity, how it may best be concentrated)
Tsukuri/Kuzushi/Kake (preparing/off balancing/executing)
Maai (combative engagement distance)
Sen (combative initiative or “timing”)
Suki (detecting weaknesses/openings)
KAMAE (COMBATIVE ENGAGEMENT POSTURE/STANCE):
The very first aspect of this concept that must be considered is “Situational Awareness.” Situational Awareness should be view from a global perspective; Physical, Psychological, Spiritual, and Emotional. What is your current personal status? What is the status of the person who is posing a threat to your well being? Where and when is the potentially violent confrontation occurring? Without this awareness we may not even realize we are in danger.
Try to turn the tide to your advantage by controlling, to the extent possible, the environmental factors of the situation. For instance; have the Sun at your back; be up hill or up stairs from you opponent; and seize the initiative by attacking first.
Miyamoto Musashi in his famous “A Book of Five Rings” suggested, “You quietly assume the position from which to initiate the attack and then swiftly make the attack with no hesitation.” At first glance this may seem antithetical to Hakkoryu, but if you have recognized you are about to be attack the best strategy to minimize injury to yourself and the opponent may be to strike first.
Relaxation in the mist of a confrontation is essential, if we are to survive. This is particularly true during a surprise/relentless onslaught of offensive techniques or multiple opponents.
The above is just the tip of the ice-burg as it relates to understanding and applying Kamae. The continuous exploration of “combative engagement posture” should occur during the practice of Hakkoryu basic techniques and Henka – self-defense variations.
HARA/TANDEN/KI (CENTER OF GRAVITY, HOW IT MAY BEST BE CONCENTRATED)
“Hara” is not so much an actual place within the body but rather an intention, an understanding. Traditionally, it is referred to a as being below the belly button and inside the pelvic cavity. Employing Hara enhances the power of our techniques, either when executing them or when we cause another to lose their focus on it. The full power of Hara is hidden, like an iceberg most of it is beneath the surface. Like a redwood tree, what we see above the ground could only stand tall because its roots are buried deep into the Earth. When practicing Hakkoryu, we should remember to use our entire being; that which is visible and that which is hidden below the surface.
The center of gravity is not a static site but moves as we move or as the opponent moves. We must learn to feel where it is and focus our attention to find the best moment to seize it. This focus cannot be achieved without relaxing completely and learning to maintain ones composure. We must also be able to sense where the opponent’s center of gravity is and move it to our advantage.
Through meditation we can learn to find our Hara and once found to move it. Keeping ones attention on a single point below the belly button and letting unrelated thoughts pass like waves in the ocean. We can learn to use Hara and then begin to understand “KI.”
KI is a the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word “QI.” It loosely translates to life-process or the “flow” of energy that sustains life. The earliest reference to it is in a book written by a student of Confucius in 479 BC. It can be considered as life’s breath or vital energy.
KI is said to be a natural phenomenon and within all living beings. What needs to be trained is the ability to be aware of it, to experience its flow, increase it, and use it. To enhance its flow the following must be worked on:
These are interconnected and interact, thus one without the others will cause KI to diminish. It is difficult to breathe correctly with bad posture. A strong sense of Hara promotes correct breathing. Breathing correctly from the belly will in turn strengthen Hara. This increase focused on ones center is the source of KI and understanding this will result in good KI flow.
Improving one will improve the others.
This refers to focusing ones energy and intention on a specific point at the right moment. It cannot be accomplished without the understanding and use of Hara and KI. Here too proper breathing and relaxation strengthens ones ability to focus or apply Kime. In other martial arts, such as Karate, it is often passed on to students as follows “one breath one technique.”
TSUKURI/KUZUSHI/KAKE (PREPARING/OFF BALANCING/EXECUTING)
Here we are referring to the ability to break the balance or Hara of the person attempting to harm us. It requires the ability to sense where the center of gravity of the person is and to then lead the person to a position of weakness or imbalance by seizing their mind. This is most important when facing someone who larger and/or stronger. To neutralize this disadvantage one must lead the opponent to a weakened position. Once this is accomplished we must immediately move to a position where we can take advantage of this and leverage our Hara when executing the appropriate defensive technique. It is here that we are using the principle of “Kake,” this literally mean “attack.” These can occur in a sequential pattern or simultaneously. As always repetition leads to perfect of techniques and to their instinctual application.
MAAI (COMBATIVE ENGAGEMENT DISTANCE)
“MAAI” on the most basic level refers to the space or distance between yourself and the attacker. upon further consideration it also refers to the time it take to cross that distance, as well as, rhythm and angle of the attack. For instance, what distance is appropriate to handle a faster or strong opponent; clearly we would want the distance to be greater in this scenario to allow us time to react. While simultaneously, the faster or stronger opponent may not find the greater distance problematic because they can compensate for it.
There are three basic combative engagement distances that must be understood:
Each of these different distances will require a distinct strategy, because the timing and rhythm of the attack and counter-attack will change. For instance, at the closest distance there is very little time to react. Therefore the preciseness and accuracy of the defensive counter must be exact.
SEN (COMBATIVE INITIATIVE OR TIMING)
As mentioned, “situational awareness” and relaxation are crucial to avoiding and/or surviving a violent encounter. Here too, this awareness and calmness is very important if we are to know exactly when to act. If our minds are quiet and bodies are relaxed we should be able to sense when the opponent has decided to strike. Thus, when he moves we move. Better yet, as practiced in several Hakkoryu techniques, we move at the moment the opponent decides to attack but has not actually acted.
“SEN” and “MAAI” are closely related, just as there is short, medium, and long distances in combative engagement. Timing is divided into three levels:
Reactive or Defensive timing, which occurs after the opponent has attacked
Simultaneous Timing, our defensive attack happens the same moment the opponent attacks
Anticipatory (Imminent) Timing, as mention earlier, here the defensive counter happens before the actual attack of the opponent. But clearly, one must be extremely skilled and confident that what is being perceived as aggression actual is.
Sometimes, these are combined in one fluid defensive move, such as in use an initial atemi to both block the opponent’s attack and strike the opponent to distract them before applying a grasping technique like “Osae Dori or Matsuba Dori.”
SUKI (DETECTING WEAKNESSES/OPENINGS)
This principle is closely related to Tsukuri/Kuzushi/Kake (preparing/off balancing/executing). As we study Hakkoryu we often hear “escape through the opening.” When combined with the aforementioned principles we can now see the finding this opening or gap in the opponent’s attack and/or concentration is crucial to successfully fending off an attack. We also need to understand how to disguise our weaknesses or openings in order to prevent the opponent from seizing the initiative.
I hope this short dissertation help you to gain a deeper understanding of Hakkoryu Jujutsu.