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 Post subject: Hard/Soft
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 1998 7:45 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 18, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 343
Location: Los Angeles, CA

The more I practice this art the more complex it seems to become. I had a workout and a discussion with one of my seniors this past weekend and he told me that I should make the hard techniques soft and the soft techniques hard. My initial response to this statement was "Huh"?

He then demonstrated the simultaneoues knee and wauke blocks from Sansei-ryu and completed the techniques by completely focusing his muscles as he finished the hand blocks.

He then went on to say that hard becomes soft and soft becomes hard. Once he demonstrated, I understood what he meant but I then tried to integrate his suggestion into a Sansei-ryu performance of my own. I was able to harden the same combinations he had previously demonstrated but I had trouble softening the harder techniques (such as the crane strike or the three shokens).

So here is my dilemna. As you complete strikes (as mentioned above) I was always taught the focus occurs at the end of the strike in order to maintain proper alignment and powerful finish. By softening the strikes as they hit the target it apears that the strikes become weak. So that implies that the softness must occur just before and just after the completion of the strike. Is any of this making sense? If so, could someone please enlighten me as to the proper finish and completion of a strike for an advanced dan student?



 Post subject: Hard/Soft
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 1998 2:16 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am
Posts: 17326
Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
Hi, Mike

I would call your instructor's comment a "rule of thumb" and a "brainteaser" of a sort. Don't get too hung up on it. Nevertheless, there is merit in what is said, and it can apply to strikes. But this can only happen at a very advanced level.

When you learn sanchin, you have it ingrained in you that your hand must be hard, and yet your striking arm is relaxed (in the flexor muscles) as you extend it. This hardness of the hand must stay for some techniques such as a shoken. It is like the hard, tempered edge of a sword that is only molecules thick over the folded layers of soft steel. But the extensor muscles in the arm do not necessarily need to be the origin of the power of the strike.

Recently I read of a case of a person who was inadvertently hit in the neck by the stray heel of a person who was being thrown. The uke was obviously relaxing and absorbing the energy of the throw so as to achieve a gentle landing. But the energy of the throw went through this person's body, and was expressed as centrifugal force in the flailing, spinning legs. When the foot hit this person's neck, it damaged her carotid artery; she later needed emergency surgery to repair the damage. This is a very, very rare and serious injury - the kind you see in an automobile accident.

Now in this case, the heel of the foot was obviously naturally hard. If you have practiced sanchin long enough, your hand will be able to remain hard (in a shoken perhaps) while the rest of your body relaxes. Once you achieve this state, the stage is set for your body to have energy flow through it, and have it delivered by the tempered tip of the weapon on the end of your hand. An extremely skilled practitioner can take energy directed toward them (as did the uke in the previous example) and redirect it through the body and out again. And when you are *really* advanced, you can learn to take advantage of natural body responses like the stretch reflex to actually enhance the energy flowing through your body. But the second you stiffen up in the wrong place, you dampen the energy wave.

It isn't easy, but the possibilities are there. It seems and feels like magic when it is done (and that - in my opinion - is why some people believe in chi).

Hope I helped.


[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 10-23-98).]

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