Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

September 8th, 2013

From Kyoshi Matt Kaplan, Shihan,Ueshiro Okinawan Karate Family Club

State College, PA

Is There a Difference between “Posing a Strike” and Striking a Pose”?

My simple answer is “yes,” and my line of argument contrasts the emphasis on “posing” versus “striking.”

To “pose” a technique implies demonstration of a position, a stance, a posture and an attitude. Emphasis is on showing the move (and not necessarily the result of the move). To “strike” implies harsh contact, collision, or even destruction of an object. Emphasis is on the intended result of the move (and not necessarily how the move appears to an onlooker). These two phrases refer to two different though complementary modes of thinking and training in the quest to develop one’s karate skills.

The purpose of this thought-for-the-week post has nothing to do with semantics or word-play. The main point is that in our training we must not lose track of the essence of the “strike” and its intended consequences.

To clarify what I mean, consider the performance of Tom Cruise in the 2003 movie, The Last Samurai, in which he played an American military advisor who embraces late 19th Century Samurai culture in Japan. In one of the many interviews he gave to promote the film, the interviewer commented on his amazing and convincing performance as a Samurai and asked if he would continue to develop his mastery of the sword. In response, Tom Cruise paused, and with a confused look on his face said something to the effect, “No, I’m an actor. I was just playing the role of Samurai.”

To see karate as a “performance art” would be missing an important dimension of what we do and why we do it.

Domo arigato gozaimasu,

Kyoshi Matt Kaplan, Shihan

Ueshiro Okinawan Karate Family Club

State College, PA