One of the most interesting debates that have raged for years here on these boards is the forward vs. backward question. This of course puzzles me no end as in the system I do going backward, which may mean different things to different folks, is called disengaging. Disengaging in the larger sense means that you are retreating you have chosen not to fight. So to me, if you have chosen not to fight then what of fighting is there to study? I mean I've heard of the study of in-fighting, but the study of un-fighting? No, I don't get it. If you must fight and you backup you still need to go in later, that is if you still can.
But for others who may have a different understanding let's look at what forward can mean in terms of something common to all Uechi-ka, the Wauke. One of the key ingredients in my system <sorry to always use WCK but that's what I do - now> is something called forward energy. This is the basic energy component that makes our "tools" work and also makes the wauke work.
Forward energy is projected from the body, via the legs and hips and also from the arms, which can connect and disconnect from the body. This is the engine that drives the mechanics of what we do and makes it work. This forward energy doesn't mean always charging in at all as has been suggested; You can use forward energy even just standing still, it is a kind of muscular intent that fills the arms and body. If you place your hands out in front of you in a sanchin guard what energy is present - any? Is any kind of energy or muscular intent there or are the arms just there either loose or tensed? If the objective IS to enter into the space of the opponent and control then the forward energy must be used. Again entering into the space of the opponent is what you need to do if what you are doing is "telephone booth fighting." What space filling ability does is allow you to enter into the opponent's space, smother his movement, remove his balance and ability to attack with power, giving you that split second chance to reek havoc, all in the shortest time possible.
What is gained when one executes the typical wauke? Well if you do it going backwards, or better yet by maintaining distance then the best you can hope to accomplish is a a redirect of his attack and delayed engagement. This delay gets you what exactly? We know that his next attack is going to be right behind the first one, know that we have not done anything stop his ability to attack, and we know we have wasted time and energy since nothing was done to improve the tactical situation in our favor, in fact we may have given the attacker the ability to gain more momentum, which means more power and more speed.
Now if you execute that wauke with forward energy, which could be a lot of energy with the whole body actually going forward or it could be just a little forward energy supported by the body with a pivot, keeping your facing to them <like a revolving door> what happens? Suddenly you have a totally different dynamic at work. Instead of a mere redirect, now you are slicing into the opponent's center of gravity, but let's look at what that means: If your energy is trained to focus into the center when you wauke this will cause his attack to be jammed, his balance to be disrupted, he may 'loose his facing' meaning you flank him, and it places you right inside his *center* giving you access to his core targets - like his throat for example. Because of this close range and position you have great leverage and can now land a barrage of max power blows or just crush his throat.
So clearly we can see that using forward energy with the wauke can facilitate control. Simply by working the wauke with forward energy and closing or by allowing the opponent to close while we maintain forward energy to support the sanchin structure we immediately take many things away from the opponent, we take his space, his balance, his position, and we place ourselves in a tactically superior position so that we have the potential to finish the threat ASAP. This is something Chinese styles are known for, sudden and explosive combat "solutions" that simply blow up in the opponent's face like a bomb going off because lost time on the battlefield often translates into lost life.
So when using a forward energy intent, which covers much more than simply "charging in" offers so many tactical advantages is it any wonder that the katas <mainly> hold ground or close? Is it any wonder that so many highly regarded Uechi teachers advocate working the close or entering? Or is it more a wonder of why this is not the emphasis of some training?
The next time you see someone showing you how the wauke is done, take a long look and see if the wauke is used to take things away from the aggressor. Ask yourself, was the aggressor’s ability to continue his attack stopped? If not then the wauke was not allowed to do it’s job, which is to make things easier for you. Try it yourself, if you haven’t: Let a partner fire a punch and start off with just a little relaxed forward pressure in the wauke, then add in some forward body movement, angling body movement and closing or even turning, but with forward energy support, if they are really committed and see what happens. How did it feel to you?
M Y V T K F
"Receive what comes, stay with what goes, upon loss of contact attack the line" – The Kuen Kuit