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Front and Center

An important concept in our art is the ability to take the attacker’s center from them to control the situation. At our recent seminar with An-shu Stephen and Rumiko Hayes, An-shu Rumiko was demonstrating an angling defense against a punch and then moving in taking the attacker’s center. She did a number of variations taking the attacker’s center from all different angles.

One of the participants at the seminar was confused about how all the different angles were taking the person’s center. An-shu Rumiko demonstrated it a couple of more times, each time emphasizing how she was taking the attacker’s center. From my perspective I could see the face of the person asking and could see that they were still uncertain of how these examples were taking the center.

It was at that moment that I realized the question from the participant and the answer from An-shu Rumiko were coming from two different perspectives, the Taizokai and Kongokai respectively. Taizokai, man’s perspective, and Kongokai, god’s perspective, literally see things from different perspectives.

If you look forward at your attacker from your own perspective it is easy to think of the front of the person as being their center. However if you can visualize looking down from above at the situation your would see that the center of your attacker corresponds to their spine and can be accessed from angle to the body.

This seemingly small semantic issue is actually a huge change in how you see training. I tested the concept over the next week with my students. I had them imagine whatever technique we were doing from above to see the actual location of the attacker in relation to them. This idea not only helped everyone perform better this week it also solved one of the most difficult problems of training in our art, unrealistic attacks.

Being an uke is not easy. Many students, if not most, have never actually hit anyone before and luckily so. However to then be asked to attack realistically in order to train can be difficult. This week we realized that most students when they attack are acting from a Taizokai perspective, so that when they are asked to punch they see the person in front of them and move their body so that their hand reaches their partner but doesn’t actually hit them. They moved to the front of the person.

This action however doesn’t duplicate the proper distancing of an actual fight. So this week before my uke attacked I had them imagine they could see us from above and asked them where my center was. When they attacked their strikes were more on target and ended up much closer. The results were that all week we had better attacks and the results of the techniques were much more successful.

The difference between front and center is not just semantic, it is a difference of perspective. You can rise above your normal perspective to see from on high. When you do your training results could rise with you.

One Response to Front and Center

  1. Butoku August 23, 2017 at 8:13 pm #

    Great writeup.
    I find being a Uke the most difficult role to be in. Also my training partners in the group have great difficulty to execute a realistic attack. This way you praticed this with your group is something I will try with them too.

    Also I will get extra attention on what it is being an Uke.

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