Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Technique of the Week (January 23rd, 2011)

From Tracy Magdalene Sho-Dan
Northampton Ueshiro Karate


Onegai-shimasu Hanshi, Kyoshi, Sensei and fellow Deshi:

The following Technique of the Week comes directly from Building Warrior Spirit with Gan, Soku, Tanden, Riki by Hanshi Scaglione.

"The peripheral vision concept is the Gan precept and the primary tool of … any martial artist … . The Gan precept as developed through karate training insists on the principles of piercing with the eyes, not looking down and not looking away from the direction of focus. The eyes of the deshi are keyed in on the target while burning in the technique. The eyes are alert, opened wide, then narrowed by drawing up the lower lids creating a spirited glare. The expression of spirit one "paints" on one's face actually carries over into the body creating a physical attitude of winning spirit."

With respect to the chest knife-hand strike (kyobu shuto-uchi - pages 62 & 73 of the red book) found in Fukyugata Ni Kata, Kyoshi Mackay stated during a recent group training that another important, even crucial component of that move is to "zero in" on the opponent with the eyes such that the chin is almost above the shoulder at the time of the strike. I have implemented this component and it has indeed created "a physical attitude of winning spirit."

Legendary samurai, Miamoto Musashi in A Book of Five Rings states:

Perception is strong and sight is weak. Do not roll your eyes or allow them to blink but slightly narrow them. It is necessary to look to both sides without moving the eyeballs. Do not fix the eyes on the face, hands or feet. See naturally. In single combat, you must not fix the eyes on details. In strategy, fixing the eyes means gazing at the man's heart.

We have been taught to implement this concept in Yakusoku Kumite by gazing at the neck area of our opponent. By gazing at the neck area of our opponent, we can see every part of our opponent's body, to include our opponent's spirit. (After all, there is a reason for the often-used phrase, "The eyes are the windows to the soul.") The point is that the advantage is clear: we can be ready for our opponent before our opponent makes a move.

This concept has practical applications off of the deck as well. It can and should be used while driving a car on a busy highway or while walking to one's car late at night in a high crime area. In these instances, in addition to combat, the concept of Gan, with proper and constant practice, could mean the difference between life or death.

Domo Arigato,
Tracy Magdalene
Northampton Ueshiro Karate