A friend of mine who studies Shito Ryu karate relates how their founder developed a set of approaches to combat. Though he does not know about our 5 elements, he explains that the Shito Ryu approaches cover 5 different responses to fighting. It is debatable how many Shito Ryu students are aware of this.
What do you think? Amazing parallel to how our 5 elements play out? Coincidence?
From what we call the Earth influence of holding ground and repelling the attacker, the Shito Ryu approach is called rakka, “falling petals”, the art of blocking with such force and precision as to completely destroy the opponent’s attacking motion. Examples of rakka are the most well-known blocks, such as gedan-barai or soto-uke.
Our Water element strategic approach to moving off-line and crashing back against the attacker’s center is reflected in the Shito Ryu kushin, “elasticity” or “springy”. This is the art of bouncing back, storing energy while recoiling from the opponent’s attack, and changing or lowering stance only to immediately unwind and counterattack.
Fire influence of intercepting the attacker’s advance as he begins his assault is reflected in hangeki, “counterattack”. Hangeki an attack that at the same time deflects the opponent’s attack before it can reach the defender.
Our Wind element of abandoning our position and is paralleled by the Shito Ryu ryūsui, “running water”. Though it is referred to as a “water” technique, it is like our Wind element in that it is the art of flowing around the attacker’s motion, through it, while soft blocking. Examples are nagashi-uke and osae-uke.
The Void, or Emptiness element, is captured by ten’i, “transposition”. Ten’i is the utilization of all eight directions of movement, most importantly stepping away from the line of attack in surprising ways.