Caveat: Please make note that this article/post is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.

This article is mine and mine alone. I the author of this article assure you, the reader, that any of the opinions expressed here are my own and are a result of the way in which my meandering mind interprets a particular situation and/or concept. The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of other martial arts and/or conflict/violence professionals or authors of source materials. It should be quite obvious that the sources I used herein have not approved, endorsed, embraced, friended, liked, tweeted or authorized this article. (Everything I think and write is true, within the limits of my knowledge and understanding. Oh, and just because I wrote it and just because it sounds reasonable and just because it makes sense, does not mean it is true.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Line Five: and the body should be able to change direction at any time


The body is the vessel that carries our minds through this physical life. It suffers many spears and arrows over time but it endures and by enduring it is the teacher of the mind.

The mind has plasticity as does the body. Shifting directions is not restricted to the multiple directions we can walk, run or crawl. The direction the body takes is physical, metaphysical and spiritual. The body leads the mind and the mind leads the body, the chicken or egg thing.

Time is one of singularity and multi-windows of time. Time can be that one thing or it can be the many things integrated for a whole. It is the tick of a clock or the tick of the present moment, here and gone in the blink of an eye.

Shift of time from what we perceive as normal time, second to second. It is a time that seems magical where it speeds up or slows to an unnatural crawl. It hides and reveals depending on its tempo, pace and rhythm. It is not the unmovable, constant and dependable time we see when we look at a watch but a time that is fluid and dictated to by the shifts we make much like the shifts, stances and directions we take with our bodies when applying marital systems.

It is a path we take that changes directions as we progress along, seeking a better path and then changing directions to seek out another and another where the end goal is to travel and take the path or paths we encounter.


We must understand that in "combat" and "self-defense" that winning and not losing can be a matter of a split second and more importantly a matter of less than one inch. Referring to both timing and distancing.

Here is where the crescent moon step (Ko'ma-wari) or the small circle step that is formed by shaping a crescent moon with an inside step. Take a look at some of the Isshinryu kihon and kata when performed. You will see practitioners slide their foot in toward the other foot, which is firmly planted on the earth, and then sweep it back out into maybe a seisan-dachi. (this step is manifested in teachings from the conversion to nature's dojo into a smooth floor dojo, etc.)

When it comes to tactics a practitioner fighting for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness understands that the ability to counter-attack comes down to avoiding an attack by moving a very small distance allowing the punch or kick to skim by putting you inside the attackers defense perimeter so you can strike.

How does this work with the crescent moon step? Well when you slide that foot into your other bringing your knee and leg into a defensive posture you are also "moving your entire upper body (especially the centerline) in that same direction." That slight shift can mean a missed strike to your face/head. It also could have shifted you away from a front kick to the stomach or head area (depends on who is attacking; it may just be a street fighter too with no Te training, etc.).

Tai-sabaki or precise body movement; body shifting; expansion and contraction; gyration and body mechanics; those things we learn to include tenshin (transition of footwork, i.e. crescent moon step; move body center out of the line of fire) is how we "not lose" to an attacker/enemy.

When you couple this with all the other concepts (that translate into techniques in tactics for overall strategy) like "tensho" or transition of hands, you have a complete arsenal of protective shields and weapons to "not lose."

I know some have forgone the use of the crescent moon step should step back (no pun intended) and take another look at it in practice. I know once I actually avoided a knee to the groin by instinctively bringing up my knee similar to the step in question to protect my lower area.

I had a practitioner tell me once that he does not bother with the Ushiro-giri or back kick because he felt it was not feasible in self-defense. After expressing other viewpoints on its use he started practicing it again with vigor.


Changing Directions at any Time does not always apply to the literal change of the body using stance transitions, etc. but can also mean to change the direction of your strategy. You can actually shift from defense to offense or offense to defense as required. The body will change instinctively in regard to whether you are attacking or defending. This also equates to the changes in mental states. Remaining positive and acting positively is paramount and drives how you apply either defense or offense.

Changing the way your body language talks to others is also applicable. If one approaches you with intent to do harm you can change they way your body projects your intent. It is best to find balance in this to not project weakness but still project non-violent intent while at the same time projecting strength of character and strong attitude that causes the other to pause and take another look at the actions they take.

Sometimes this change in direction equates to the way your body, face, and eyes talks to others can mean the difference between avoidance and peaceful resolutions vs. conflict and injuries, etc.


The angle of attack provides for another variable as it is based on a flat surface, i.e. weight, height, etc. all equal. So taking it another step further we add in dimensions.

The angle to the level also counts. I hope to be able to clarify. Say the target is higher or taller; lower or shorter. Lets say that your hitting at a ninety degree angle on the horizontal plane but take it one step further that your also coming from below that plane, say coming up at another twenty-five degree angle. How does that affect your strike now?

It could be that this is taking the physics of a strike or kick to an extreme yet fundamentally practitioners might need to at least understand all the variables that go into a good, solid, and powerful technique.

Lets, for the sake of discussion, call this the spherical coordinate attack theory. Know in advance that where it comes from in the three dimensional sense effects the power. Add in as to the momentum of speed of x's mass that this angle also determines how much power is applied.

Another variable to this theory is when coming up from the Earth vector may increase some of the effects of the technique as it uses the Earth and body to push up away from the Earth and into the target. This one is open for argument depending on whether the start is in a crouch, rising quickly adding some speed/velocity to x's body mass and into the target, yes? No?

EMBUSEN LINE? Check for source on this part

Traditional martial arts are often defined by the embusen of their forms. But this begs the question: What significance does embusen have for kata/forms?

Goju ryu founder Chojun Miyagi is quoted as having said: “Don’t be fooled by the rule of embusen”. By this I think he meant to say that one should not put too much stock in the pattern of lines drawn by a kata. I would hazard a guess and say that Miyagi’s reasoning was as follows:

Embusen functions principally to maintain symmetry and allow for moves to be repeated (for the sake of practice). When consideration is given to the brain's ability to encode the lizard brain for patterns and habits in conjunction with stimuli then embusen patterns and their purpose take on additional importance.

A well-designed pattern also allows for a fairly complex and lengthy sequence to be practiced in a short space. So, for example, xingyi and xingyi-derived forms can require an inordinate amount of practice room because they follow a straight line “embusen”. Consider the form Da Peng Zhan Chi which is modeled on a xingyi platform: it requires the entire diagonal length of the dojo, and even then the movements require a little “shortening” to fit.

Baguazhang has solved this particular issue by being practiced in a circle. It is my view that this is the principal reason for the circular practice of bagua - not any particular application; the circle allows continuous stepping without the need for an enormous practice space. Indeed, bagua can be practiced in a straight line if you so choose - consider the Gao style of Zhang Junfeng, for example.

So embusen is pertinent to kata/forms for pedagogic [teaching; strategy of instruction; embedding to the basal ganglia or lizard brain] reasons. But does it also have some function in relation to application?


Watch a sparring match, dojo or tournament, and you may notice that if a person is not stuck in the bouncy-bouncy thing they assume, set stoically, a specific stance. Every time for all occasions as if it were this one unique multi-purpose never misses anything goes well stance. I knew visiting practitioners that would take a naihanchi type deep stance with either the left or right side facing you for sparring. Every time, no change and no other stance assumed.

This, in my humble opinion, rooted that person into only one type of sparring. Back and forth in a straight line and usually the very fast but point-oriented back fist to the head or chest, etc. Apparently a sport oriented get the point so the judge can see it thing.

I quote, "Stances give us base, structure, and mobility. They provide choices and options. They allow us to control range, cover distance, safely put our body weight into a move, keep us balanced, allow for effective offense and defense, and keep our retreats organized and secured, instead of becoming routs. All this comes from knowing how to move from stance to stance in reaction to what is happening at the moment." - Marc MacYoung, Tristan Sutrisno, and Dianna Gordon: see bibliography.

Stances are a critical fundamentals of all fighting system. Yet, do practitioners today spend the time to learn them in and out; forward and backward?

Example/Comment: Did you know that there is a stance assumed to be ready to fight and all the other stances are for when you're in the fight? Think a natural stance for every day activity, i.e. hands are usually down by your side. Now, consider a possible fight is brewing (hope you practice avoidance and don't get to this point) simply raise your hands up in front of your body, now your ready. If the fight begins you transition into the stance and techniques, multiple, to deal with and end the fight. Just my example/comment on what I see as the differences, make sense? If you are in a natural stance then move to a ready stance you have projected, body language, a non-aggressive posture yet your ready to instantly move, in any direction, and take a fight kamae and strike, punch, etc., any one appropriate to the moment, and be done with it.

Stances, stances, I don't got to assume no stances.

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