Soft And Slow Or Efficient…

steve kell

Another visitor to the Dojo, as we were changing, the visitor explained that he had trained with all the “best” instructors for over 15 years and liked to “travel” around to see what each Sensei had……

He had heard of our Sensei “on the grapevine” and wanted to check him out.  He then went on to pull each senior Sensei to pieces and thought that the majority of them were overrated.  As he put on his somewhat “designer scruffy” (and smelly) Karategi we could see that it had “designer” blood stains strategically placed to impress…..

He obviously did a lot of weight training and had a very muscular body that he hovered around in between taking off his shirt and putting on his gi, he took great delight in explaining how no one could make locks and strikes work on him because he was so strong……

OSSSSS!!!  He gained Sensei’s attention as he entered the room and strode over to introduce himself.  The contrast between the two was really pronounced, he was tall and extremely well built, his shoulders were square and his chest pushing out like a barrel, he was very assertive and looked Sensei directly in the eye.

Sensei by contrast was slight in build, with shoulders sloping down and chest flat (if anything going slightly in) and a small lower belly (if anything going slightly out).  As the visitor looked directly in to his eyes, he “masked his wa” by looking slightly away.  Those of us that knew Sensei, knew his strategy……

In our style everything is “hidden” or “masked”, nothing is apparent or on show.  Everything is performed “politely” and easily, at first sight a visitor such as this one could be easily misled…..

The warm up and basics were very noisy due to the efforts of our visitor, he snorted, grunted, shouted, snapped his Karategi and generally over emphasised every movement.  Sensei paired us off for pushing hands practise, our visitor was clearly confused with “sensitivity” training and was like a fish out of water.

“OK, sit down…….  Any questions?” asked Sensei.

Our visitor couldn’t resist.

“Is your style hard or soft?”

“Neither,” replied Sensei

“I don’t understand,” replied the visitor.

“It’s neither hard nor soft, we use the right amount of force or tension, the optimum,” replied Sensei.

“I still don’t understand” replied the visitor.

Sensei called him up and put his hand lightly out in front of him and made a gentle movement of his hand of about an inch.

“Was that hard or soft?” he asked.

“Soft,” replied the visitor.

Sensei placed his fingers on the man’s chest. Sensei had obviously noticed that the man was of a “yang” body type, heavily muscled chest pushing outwards and also that he was of an emotional, aggressive disposition, his Ki was “choked” at the solar plexus chakra, so Sensei knew exactly how to deal with him.  He made the same movement, only we could see the feet grip to the floor and the imperceptible ripple pass through his body exploding outwards into the mans chest, throwing him backwards and on to the floor.  Sensei looked at him kindly.

“Was that hard or soft?”

The visitor was visibly shocked.

“Hard,” he croaked.

“And yet, it was the same technique that you called soft…..”  Sensei mused.  (He was “hamming” it up like Master Po, one of David Carradine’s teachers in the Shaolin Temple in the series “Kung Fu” and enjoying every minute of it..)

“So would you call your style fast or slow?”  This guy just didn’t know when to stop.

Sensei stepped lightly forward and gently placed his outward.

“Was that fast or slow?”


“Ok, so now make an attack as fast and hard as you like.”

The visitor saw this an ideal chance for revenge (as if Sensei didn’t know) and attacked with a vengeance.  Sensei stepped lightly forward and intercepted the attack before he had been able to apply his weight to it and applied the same “Fa Jing” technique.  This time because of the momentum and the collision of two forces, he shot across the room colliding with the wall and knocking himself dizzy…..

Sensei looked kindly at him and asked, “so was that fast or slow?”

“Probably the appropriate speed” said the visitor regretfully.

“A subtle candle flame in a dark cavern,” mused Sensei……

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