I hesitate to write about the technical aspects of karate, because it is irritatingly complex to write about, and extremely boring even for karate nerds. And yet, here I am. Maybe a point can be gleaned by the end of this blog, we’ll see. Ok, here goes…we begin with what I call the novelty drill. One is left leg forward facing an attacker who is also left leg forward and about to step in to punch…chudan oi tsuki. You, the defender, swing your rear leg (the right leg) to the outside and execute a reverse down block…gyaku gedan barai. to give you a better visualization, if you were facing north before the attack, you’d be facing north east “ish” after the attack. The reason why I call it a novelty drill is that we are taught to block in hanmi, and here we are taught to block in gyaku hanmi. After the reverse down block, in reverse half front facing hip position (my irritation levels are about as high as yours now), we execute a jab punch or kizami tsuki and rotate the hips from gyaku hanmi to hanmi. The feeling is great. The power derived from the rotation is inebriating. Bock, punch….over and over again, gyaku hanmi to hanmi. It makes you feel like superman. But it’s not the most effective. The more effective drill is combining the whole of that drill, so that rather than having a two step process of bock followed by punch, one has a one step process where one blocks and punches simultaneously. Here comes the problem…try punching kizami tsuki in gyaku hanmi. It doesn’t work. to block and punch simultaneously, the hips have to remain in hanmi at all times. The sum of the parts, don’t make the whole.
So what’s the point here? I guess the point is, like karate, life’s minutia has a way of being a certain way, (or we are taught to believe a certain way) but it’s parts don’t necessarily translate to the best reality, or truth, or effectiveness, or love, or whatever that bigger picture is. It is up to us to tear apart, to question, to reflect, and to ultimately figure out how to make things work outside of what we are taught, outside of the individual parts. This is why spirit is first, technique is second.