Wa no Michi - The Way of Peace
We should seek unity, harmony, and peace within ourselves and the world around us.
Karate-do - The Way of the Empty Hand
Do not look to one way of doing things or one technique. Instead, internalize all you have learned, to become like water, and take the path of least resistance. Do not meet force with force, but avoid or stop attacks using body shifting, footwork, stop hits, and deflection. Blend naturally with opposing energy.
'Remaining mind' / Awareness.
Breathing art/'Belly art'/Body Focus. Breathe, relax, and settle your body, naturally.
'Mind-without-thinking'/Mental Focus. Empty your mind and be fully aware of all angles. Do not concentrate on one technique, but let your principles guide you according to the situation.
'Life force harmony'/Spirit Focus. Exert your spirit in a powerful yet natural way. Be flexible, intimidating, and untouchable.
Body management/body shifting/'optimum utilization'. These movements are performed with economy of motion.
The 3 body shifting methods - San mi Ittai
Ten-i - Move away from the attack.
Ten-tai - Turn and realign the body to dodge the attack or reduce the area on your body that is vulnerable to attack.
Ten-gi - Perform techniques while the attack passes through. Consider using his/her momentum to your advantage.
Timings for counter attack
Consider uses for the body shifting methods.
Go no Sen - Defensive attack. Counter once the attack is completed, but before the opponent is able to attack again.
Sen - Simultaneously attack with the attacker. You will complete your counter first, and/or displace the attacker's movement.
Sensen no Sen - Preempt the attack with your own, by perceiving your opponent's intent. This will catch him/her off guard, breaking his/her mental balance.
Heavily influenced by Shindo Yoshin-ryu jujutsu, these movements are used to control the opponent's energy. These movements apply maai and body shifting. Consider uses of the timings for counter attack.
Nagasu - Flowing / Fluidity. Move evasively off the line of attack but closely enough that the attacker's force can be used to add to your own. Often combined with penetrating into an opponent's side (irimi).
Irimi - Move to enter the opponent's attack.
Inasu - Move under, inside, or around the attack.
Noru - Control the opponent's movement.
'Connection'. This deals with finding the opponent's center of gravity. Use as little energy and strength as possible when making this 'connection'. Focusing on skill in application rather than force guarantees proper use of principle, and reduce your opponent's chances of using strength to overpower you. Relax and develop sensitivity! Once you find this, you will find the same principles in all 'waza' / techniques . Remember to push with the hands and pull with the feet.
Ki Ken Tai no Ichi
'Mind and Body as One'. Coordination of mind and body in movement. Thought and action must become one.
Hei Jo Shin
'Calm mind and body'. When the opponent feints or draws a weapon, you should not flinch. Instead, fight reflexively with a focused mind.
The state of mind and spirit of the combatants, and the distance between them. Keep enough space to attack and defend. At a high level, you control the spirit and energy of a conflict. Draw a reaction from the opponent that will give you a tactical advantage. Practice the above principles to understand and apply maai. Continuously study specific tactics to help further your understanding of this broad strategy. A few technical examples and training methods are included in my article on karate techniques and drills.
This article is a part of the author's concise guide to karate. Be sure to check out his Johnston Karate Home Page to view the free version of the guide or order a professionally printed copy.