It’s Not What You Do
Oh no! Sensei was singing….
He’s good at Martial Arts, but singing…. Forget it! Why do people always want to do what they’re no good at? The students were wincing as he sang outrageously out of tune…
“It’s not what you do it’s the way that you do it, it’s not what you do it’s the way that you do it…. It’s not what you do it’s the way that you do it…. And that’s how you get things done…..
You can try hard… don’t mean a thing…. Take it easy… then your chimes will ring!”
Thank God he stopped. He looked piercingly at us.
“Damien… Jodan Uke!” Sensei threw a punch and Damien blocked. They connected with a “thwack” and Damien winced…
“What does Uke mean?”
“Thus the collision….” Damien was inspecting his arm, which was rapidly going purple. “Uke means to “receive” not “block” otherwise the strongest wins…. and after all, Martial Arts is supposed to mean that a smaller person can defeat a bigger person with skill…
Where do we meet the opponents arm?”
“At the wedge point Sensei!”
“Body mechanics Sensei!”
“That’s right, so if you were going to continue in to hit the opponent, the “strength” is in the mental intention to strike through the opponents attack effortlessly like the prow of a ship ploughing through the water…. There should be no antagonistic tension to the movement, everything should be focussed on the hit. You have still utilised “Uke” because you have invited him in and “received” him, but now he is to “receive” your instantaneous attack.
But what if you don’t want to hit him? What happens if you only want to restrain him with a lock? Or maybe use a dislocation or throw? What happens if you need to use him as shield against others?”
“Turn the wedge into a ball Sensei!
“Yes! The moment you make contact with his arm you rotate your arm into the “Uke” so for him, it’s like hitting a spinning ball… BUT… spinning him away is one thing… “sticking” and “following” to lock, dislocate or throw, is another.”
“Why is that Sensei?
“Because if you spin him away, you “feed’ him with energy and he can continue turning, borrowing your power, to hit you. Whereas, if you stick and follow him, you can drain the energy from him, employing it for your follow up technique.”
“So how do we do that Sensei?”
“By allowing his force in and blending with it, you have to keep your arms soft with no antagonistic tension, the strength has to be mental not physical, your arm will then not bounce off his – and if your body yields through the legs and waist his force will turn you and you’ll be able to stick, follow and redirect him into your technique.
Damien, now you can get your own back! Punch me in the face!”
Damien threw his best punch, revenge for his purple arm tasting sweet. Sensei seemed to casually lift a “soft arm” almost as if to adjust his hair style (if he had hair) as he connected to Damien’s arm his back knee softened, the force of his punch turned Sensei’s waist and coupled with the rotating arm lifted Damien off the floor depositing him unceremoniously in a heap, on the floor at the other side of the Dojo.
A picture is worth a thousand words…..
“It’s like putting your arm into a bucket of water, it yields perfectly yet envelopes it, you have a sphere of “wedge points’ around your body that determine your intercepting distance. The wedge can be pushed forward to strike or turned into a rotating ball by ANY correctly performed Martial Arts technique. Sticking, blending and following are the stock in trade of any Karate Uke, IF it’s performed properly.
This is what I meant by my favourite Martial Arts song…. It’s not what you do it’s the way that you do it, it’s the mental side, the ability to remain soft and calm – even when under attack, to move naturally, the movements are the same – it’s the attitude that counts. There is strength in yielding, borrowing your opponents force and redirecting it.
You can try hard, don’t mean a thing, take it easy… then your chimes will ring!
We all winced…. But we understood.