Practical Strategies in Old Okinawa Karate-do

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Motobu Choki demonstrating the strategy of “Suemono”

There is a phrase in Japanese that conveys an important strategy in Okinawa Karate-do, “Suemono ni shite utsu (据え物にして打つ)”. This phrase means to strike your opponent after forcing him into an awkward position.

When you force your opponent into an awkward position, it gives you several important advantages during a confrontation: (1) break your opponent’s balance so that he cannot counter-attack, (2) increase your chances of striking him, (3) allow you to throw or grapple him. So, how can you get an opponent into an awkward position? Well lucky for us someone worked this out already in each respective Karate-do tradition,  and is generally comprised of two components. The first is tenshin (転身) – turning / moving the body which teaches the mechanics of HOW to move, and the second part is kata (形) which teaches the circumstances and principles of WHEN to move. To apply this concept then, it is just a matter of looking into both of them deeply and practicing them diligently.

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