Friday, August 26, 2011

Simple, yet ....

Seems like everyone is writing about basics, fundamentals and simplicity right now, it must be in the air.
This morning, at the semi regular workout I get to do with my friend T and Sensei Mike E, we were working on the Kumitachi (partner practice) from the Toyama Ryu sword system.
Toyama Ryu is a military school system and as such shares the quality that many military systems, like Xing-Yi, have - simplicity and pragmatism.
'Simplicity' of course is a relative term and what struck me learning the techniques, I think we did 6, was how 'simple' here refers to the most direct approach ... which also means that you deviate from center the least you can with your sword, and move the least you can with your feet ... thus the price of screwing up the Ma-ai - range and timing - means eating the attack. These techniques are eventually practiced with the opponent running at you and cutting full power, and of course you closing to meet them also.
The technique works great IF your read of your opponent's intent is good, and you are in the right place at the right time, with good alignment, to do the thing, at the right moment, relative to what your opponent does. (OK, so there is some built in safety redundancy .... but not a whole helluva lot.)
So ... 'Simple' here means utilizing the quickest route between A and B with sword and footwork - not much choreography - but is also means you are on, or very close to the center line and the power of the incoming attack of your opponent, which means that if you screw it up any one small aspect - relative contact point along the sword, how rotation meets the straight line, your structure vs their structure, range etc - you are toast.
So simple, yet .....


Mac said...

Simplicity is perception - reading the intent (the opponent's strategy; usually decided upon before visual contact; if it is not, then the opponent's strategy is weak - vacillating; in range is no time to be making decisions or 'settling the spirit'), discerning the tactic (posture) and then watching the opponent's rhythm - the 'beats' (pardon the pun) of movement - his or her technique. Then it is simply a matter of 'playing between the notes' being contrapuntal, if you will to strike the opponent before or after their attack. One who is 'awake' will see the potentials and "gifts" (Rory Miller) before the opponent can think to present them.

Jake said...

Ah, August, when martial artists thoughts turn to simplicity and basics?

Interesting that simple in this case also meant (if I'm understanding correctly) small margin for error. Gotta chew on that one for a bit.

Maija said...

Yeah that was the insight I got from the session too, though possibly it applies more to swords than other paradigms?
What I noticed was that if I read the intent of the opponent wrong, or I did not succeed in rendering them incapable of countering (by knocking them off balance or disabling the weapon/arms ... or perhaps just by my intent) I was screwed as I was pretty much defenseless.

Jake said...

I suspect there is a smaller margin for error when you get weapons of any kind involved, though a well-placed/timed/heavy punch/kick/whatever can still take you out pretty quick.

(My sword experience is limited to fencing with SCA for four years, back in the mid-nineties, plus a very little bit of Japanese and Filipino work.)

My feeling is that there are certain tools/movements/whatever that are more...robust(?) than others. In other words, there are some things that you can screw up within reason and still get a decent result. Tony Blauer likes to say that when you do the SPEAR wrong, it works, and if you do it right, it hurts.

Maybe that's a function of an empty handed paradigm though. Getting clipped with three feet of steel is potentially worse than getting clipped with a fist.

Hmh. Rambling.

Maija said...

Been thinking about the 'robust' technique equivalent for swords ... much trickier proposition I feel. You have to get past the weapon length itself which means you are in more critical danger longer, and like you pointed out, there is just much greater room for error empty hand than with swords.
I'm just not sure if there are high percentage moves in the 'robust' category ...

Tactics are so dependent on the opponent, and can range from having fierce intent to keep the opponent on their heels, but closing this way dictates having a good defense and understanding of weak and strong angles unless your 'zanshin' is that good they just melt away of course ... :-)

Or ... you keep your options open if the read is difficult, creating openings through engagement or 'lying' - 'hedging your bets' as it were.

Or ... your opponent's intent is so obvious there is little issue about committing to the counter. (rare by itself but can be created)
Any and all can apply, at any time.

All I know for sure is that I better be pretty darn sure when I personally commit my attack because if I am wrong it's hard to get away unscathed.

Yes ... much trickier all in all :-)