Balance, Targeting, Timing, and Distance


Often when we train I notice that many people are off balance. Often these same people are not striking for their target, or they are only thinking about the first strike. The idea of training is to learn how to develop a mindset as well as the physical ability to deal with a situation. This situation can be a business meeting at work, or an altercation in the street. Many of us who train, do not find ourselves in street altercations. I believe this is because of a few reasons, two of which I will share with you here. The first reason, is because when we train we have an understanding of how fragile the human body can be. Therefore, we do not wish to put ourselves or get ourselves into a situation where we have to harm another, or be harmed by another human being. The second reason, is because when we train we give off a type of energy that let’s other people know not to attack us. What I mean by this, is that many attackers look to attack people who are physically and mentally weak. The more we train, the stronger both mentally and physically we become. This is why it is important to take training seriously.


We often hear the expression, he did not punch correctly and that is why the technique doesn’t work. What does this really mean? Well I think that there are two important points here. The first point is the Kata. A Kata is a set of movements that are to be practiced in a set sequence. Normally the Kata tells you which stance to start from and what type of attack and defense to use. So when we are talking about the basics, it is important to learn how to attack and defend as the technique shows us. We often think of the Kata as being the highest level of teachings, when in fact it is the lowest level. Kata were often taught to children, to teach them how to move. So in this case, it is important to stick to the technique. The second point here, is the way that an attack is delivered. How many times do people attack with no commitment, intent, or good alignment. This causes a problem in many peoples training. Why you may ask? Because if the attack is not real yet controlled, it does no justice to the Uke or the Tori. When you are Uke, you need to attack with good commitment, balance, body alignment, etc. From the Uke’s side, we learn how to attack. Therefore, when the Tori is faced with such an attack and can really move out of the way etc, this allows the Tori know that he or she is moving correctly.


 One of the other problems that we see is when the Uke does not punch for target. What I mean by this, is whether using a sword, throwing shuriken, or simply punching, you must attack for target. How many times do we see Uke stop before the face, or punch to either side of the head instead of smack dab in the middle? How many times do we have Uke’s who like to follow you everywhere you move with there attack? These problems are caused by lack of commitment, intent, balance, targeting, and body alignment. When I first punched at Soke, I almost fell down. I thought that this was weird, because I felt that I punched him well, yet he did not do anything. I had to fight to stand up, so that Soke could go through the rest of the technique. As I learned how to ground my basics better, the next time I punched at Soke, I told myself that I would not fall down. However, I was still off balance. Now everytime I attack Soke, I attack with good commitment, balance, intent, body alignment, and good targeting. However, I still feel myself off balance. This is how you know that what Soke is doing is real. It is real, because I have done everything I could to attack effectively, yet my punch or attack in ineffective. This is true taijutsu. This is good training. This also takes time.


Another issue is distance. We first learn how to punch with deep Kamae and these long strides of a punch. However, this is only used to teach you how to use your body, much like the Sanshin no Kata. However, overtime Uke has to learn how to judge distance. Often in the old Soke videos, Bujinkan is referred to as a Martial Arts of Distance. This is important to understand. When I was a cop in the military, we constantly worked on distancing. For example, how far was is from one house the other, or how far was the target from the street, etc. Distance plays a huge part. However, some people tend to keep the same distance while attacking as well as defending. This is not the case. We have to learn how to judge the distance of our opponent. If we only have to take a half a step to punch Tori, then why take a full step. You can work on your distancing by standing next to a punching bag. Stand at different distances, and try to hit the bag properly. Learn how far you need to extend your arm, leg, sword, etc. If your taijutsu does not evolve, then you are not truly learning. Simply memorizing techniques is not enough.


Chris Carbonaro

Bujinkan Shihan


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