If two hands meet in the air, can you “suddenly enter?”
This post is a continuation of the thread started in my last post, No First Strike. If you are unfamiliar with my thoughts on this idea, you may wish to read that post first. And again, there is no right or wrong here. After many years of training and research into Okinawan Karate, this is just one of my understandings and interpretations of these concepts. And, in no way do I imply that I am the originator of these ideas. Instead, I learned from many other karate practitioners I have met on my journey.
In the Kenpo Gokui (also known as the Isshin-ryu Code), we have line #6, whose kanji can be translated as, Hand : Meets : In the air : Suddenly : Enter
The more common interpretation of this idea found in the U.S. is, the time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself. However, as mentioned in the previous post in this thread, I prefer the more exact translation of the kanji.
First, a quick example of understanding body mechanics.
Try this exercise with someone strong.
Have a training partner get into a solid stance, make a fist, and extend their arm. Then, stand in front of them and ask your partner to resist the pressure you apply to their fist.
- First, press down on their fist. Can they resist that?
- Second, lift or press up on their fist. Can they resist that?
- Push their fist to the left. Can they resist?
- Push their fist to the right. Can they resist?
Now holding their fist with your thumb and second finger, move their fist in small circles. Can they resist that? Not so much…
There are muscles in place that allow your body to effectively resist the up, down, left, and right pressure. Of course, to what extent does depend somewhat on how strong you are. However, there are no specific muscles to resist those small circles. That is a simple example of understanding and applying the concept of body mechanics.
So, let’s think about this for a few seconds.
If an arm was extended toward you in an attack, and you intercepted that arm with your own, could you use the concept above to redirect the attack and suddenly enter with your own counter strike? As in …
Hand Meets In The Air, Suddenly Enter
In the above illustration, arm A. is the punching arm. Arm B. has met arm A. in the air. There would be several options open to arm B. at this point, one of which might be the basic Isshin-ryu low-level block.
They’re not blocks! They’re really Ninja Delayed Death Strikes!
First, let me say that I do not accept the theory adopted by some Isshin-ryu Karate practitioners, that there are “no blocks in Isshin-ryu Karate.” And that that the blocks are ” some kind of top-secret pressure point, Ninja delayed death strikes.”
It is much more likely that nobody ever showed them how to properly practice and employ these blocks in technique. Nevertheless, the blocks do, in fact, work exceptionally well for me and several practitioners I know pretty well.
So, the answer to the above question is …
Of course, you can. In fact, this is one of the critical elements of blocking in Isshin-ryu Karate. A second is that Isshin-ryu does not typically employ linear blocks. Instead, they are designed as circular blocks. However, the circles are tiny. So can these blocks be used linearly? Of course, they can. But many of the Isshin-ryu kata techniques are set up by using this “two hands meet in the air” concept combined with circular blocks and then followed up with an aggressive counter-attack.
However, it is essential to remember that combat is fluid and ever-changing, so as soon as you understand a concept, someone tosses in an exception. This, too, is also fine. That is where years of training, experience, and flexibility come into play.
Experience and Flexibility
As an example of this experience and flexibility, the third seminar we held in Clinton, Tennessee, with Sensei Sherman Harrill was on Seisan Kata. The opening technique in that kata is essentially a mid-level block followed by a reverse punch. We probably spent the first two hours of the seminar exploring variations of those two primary techniques. And nobody was bored! Two hands would meet in the air. The entry would vary with each version, and therefore the counter-attack would target different areas of the attacker’s body. But the technique was the same.
Then, of course, there would come the “those are the things I do with these techniques comment. So what Sensei (for him, Master Tatsuo Shimabuku) showed me was this …
It would be a simple block/punch karate technique. But it would also be very effective. Two hands would meet in the air, a sudden entry, and then – the fight is over. Ikken Hissatsu