Ohayoo, taidoka and fanuka! Today’s lesson is, “Why to duck rather than block”.
I take Taido, a modern martial art focusing on three dimensional movement. One of its most distinctive features is its combination of offense and defense. For example, a key offensive move is is ebigeri, a “shrimp kick” that moves your body out of the line of attack while firing back with a heel kick powered by the change in body axis. A key defense move is half fukuteki, a ducking maneuver which pops you back from an attack but leaves you coiled to deliver an hip-twisting eji zuki punch.
Taido’s strategy values this defense-offense synergy over blocks, which waste energy while exposing you to potential injury. Speaking of which…
CRACK! “Hey … that doesn’t feel right…”
SO, the thirtieth anniversary of Taido in the US will be celebrated with an international tournament, and so we at Georgia Tech Taido are preparing now. Tuesday night, in jissen (sparring) practice, I got nailed in the forearm by a supa supa smooth, perfectly timed ebi geri fired off by one of our black belts and yes, indeedy, my arm was broken.
Kudos to our senior brown belt Shelly and her husband Greg for running me to Piedmont Hospital and providing moral support, and double kudos to sensei Corey for both his excellent technique and great sportsmanship — he checked over my forearm right away, knew all the right questions to ask, and let me recuperate while keeping the class running smoothly until Shelly rolled me out the door. (And mongo kudos to my girlfriend Sandi, who stayed the night to help out even though she’d been up 24 hours straight.)
And as for the break? Big lesson: if you hear a crack, it feels loose or it looks out of shape, ice it and go get it looked at ASAP. Most breaks heal in 2 months or so. Mine is a classic nightstick fracture — treatable in kids by setting the bone but in adults by implanting a metal plate, which has a seven times higher success rate. Surgery is tomorrow, and it will probably be 3-4 months before I can fully resume all activities.
SO, and while it will take at least that long for me to try backflips again, I think this is a good opportunity to focus on my footwork! (When Corey suggested to us at the beginning of class that our hand movement and foot movement are too closely tied and we need to break that in jissen, I don’t think he meant us to take that so literally!
Now, I had some time to think about this while recuperating, and this is what I came up with (based on my mental reconstruction of what happened; but since it went very fast, YMMV). Much of this may have meaning only to a Taido student, but here goes:
Face cover and stomach cover work.
While I said earlier that “this is why we duck rather than block”, that’s not quite true — I was doing an untai no ski and pulled my hand down in just the right timing to protect my torso. (As it was I was lucky; he pulled it just a bit because this was a friendly match, so I was in no real danger; in a more serious fight, that same maneuver would have traded me a broken arm for a more serious broken rib and maybe a knockout). Corey said it best at the beginning of class: keep your hands up and make them purposeful.
Corey nailed me because he saw what I was going to do, saw the opportunity and took it. I too saw what he was doing and had a millisecond chance to abort and fukuteki … and with more practice I will. As Chris says, keep looking.
Duck rather than block.
The real problem was that I haven’t trained myself to duck rather than just move in wth more forward attacks. As Chad has said, we need to focus on Taido: ducking rather than blocking or jamming. With enough live defense to offense practice I would have seen the “opportunity” to fukuteki away from the ebigeri and just done it … just like Brian E. showed us last night how practice can help you instinctively recognize the opportunity to nengi under a senjo and just do it (which he did pretty effectively to me last night). This kind of defense to offense fluidity is Taido.
Anyway, enough karate theory. This little break may mean some changes over at fanufiku.com … I’m now trying to recruit guest artists to fill in the gaps — contact me at centaur at dresan dot com if you are interested.
More news as it happens.