Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Technique of the Week (August 23rd, 2004)

From Sensei Michael Mackay
Ueshiro Midtown (Hombu) Karate Dojo

A student asked his sensei, "How long must I study to achieve total
mastery in the martial arts?"
"Until you are able to make the sun rise on command," his teacher
humbly explained.
"That's impossible!" protested the student. "What is the point of all
this training?"
"To make sure you are awake when the sun rises," the master replied.

The yoi, or ready concept, traverses every aspect of our training.
As with courtesy, yoi is formally assigned to the beginning and end of
the kata. But like kiai, every move in kata has yoi: the end of one
technique becomes the yoi position for the next. This expanded
definition of yoi begins the moment we enter the dojo, from putting on
the gi to stepping onto the deck to rising from seiza. Performing these
actions mechanically, no matter how proficiently, is an equivalent to
"dead kumite."

Terrorism and war have demonstrated repeatedly that the effectiveness
of defensive weapons lies not only in their absolute power and accuracy
but in their speed of deployment. Delay in mobilizing the body, mind
and spirit into yoi is probably one of the martial artist's greatest
risks on the street. To use the analogy of firearms, a practitioner
must be as swift and confident in releasing the safety as he or she is
in aiming the gun and firing.

Martial artists constantly balance three levels of responsiveness:
awareness of a potentially dangerous situation, readiness to take
action, and a decisive response. The ability to switch from one level
to the next must be instantaneous, like sunlight falling across the room
as a door opens.

Domo arigato gozaimasu, Hanshi
Michael Mackay, Midtown Karate Dojo