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How CLOSE do you visualize your opponents to you [Mai] in kata?

Submitted by Tamir Sensei, Denshi-Shihan, Shichi-Dan, Ueshiro Neve [Oasis] Dojo, Neve-Yamin, Israel

Under the Direction of Hanshi Robert Scaglione

Based on Hanshi’s and our Kyoshi’s many years of teachings, our books and videos, and practice of Yakusoku Kumite and Kata bunkai, I would categorize the attacker’s distance [Mai] into three ranges to be closed by our defensive attacking response:

  • 1 meter (about 3+ feet)

  • Half a meter (1.5+ feet)

  • Zero meters (0 feet)

This is not to say that attacker(s) should not be dealt with when they are further away. As soon as you spot or sense attacker(s) you should act; whether it is to move elsewhere to avoid the conflict, or intimidate/scare/overwhelm the attacker(s) with your own preventive attack (including just a Kiai and/or piercing warrior gaze or sprinting into a flying kick, etc.), or misleading/tricking the attacker into a false sense that you are weak/unprepared and drawing them in to your “trap”, etc.

The following TFTW deals with the final engagement, when you need to make contact:

  • 1 meter distance requires long stances such as Jigotai-dachi sideways (such as with Oitski ) and Zenkutzen-dachi (both used in Fukyugata San), or a step and slide with Shizentai-dachi (Wankan) or with Nekoashi-dachi (Rohai, Gojushiho).

  • Half meter distance requires shorter stances such as Shizentai-dachi (Fukyugata), or Nekoashi-dachi and Kotsa-dachi (Pinan kata).

  • For me the most interesting distance to visualize, is the situations of zero meter distance, when the opponent is on top of you, enabling use of any of our stances including shifting.

A couple examples are:

1) Fukyugata Ni’s last series requiring you to shift back into double chest block followed by our most powerful double armed punches (see 1st photo below showing defender on left stopping the charging opponent, while neutralizing the incoming double shuto strikes and preserving minimum distance for the defender's knockout double strikes to follow, shown in 2nd photo with upper punch modified to side to help illustrate amount of penetration).

2) Beginning series in each Pinan kata launched from Nekoashi dachi (see 3rd photo from Pinan Yondan’s first move with defender’s left arm stopping charging opponent while neutralizing incoming punch and maintaining minimum distance, while defender’s right upper arm delivers palm heel smash to opponent’s head) … many others for us to research and practice.

Let’s visualize (i.e., imagine) the distance [Mai] of the opponents during our kata practice, and how our shift-stance-block-strike combinations “cut down” the opponents at these various situations. This will breath “life” into our kata[s]!

[Photos above of Sensei David Tamir and Shodan Eyal Elnir]

Domo Arigato Gozaimasu,

Tamir Sensei

Denshi-Shihan, Shichi-Dan Ueshiro Neve [Oasis] Dojo,

Neve-Yamin, Israel

Under the Direction of Hanshi Robert Scaglione

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