Home Articles of InterestSubmitted by Other Authors Blind Spots in Traditional Training: The Answer

Blind Spots in Traditional Training: The Answer

by George Mattson

By David Gimberline

Does anybody even remember the question?    Sorry this has been so long in coming, but some of us actually have jobs, y’know.   😉

Originally I said:

This is a question for all those out there who use sanbon or gohon  kumite drills in their training.

Assume you are the defender.

Starting, of course from the traditional positions; the attacker has the left leg forward, assumes gedan barai position, and announces “jodan” (head (I know, not really)).

From 2nd position, you nod or say “Hai” and the attacker steps in oisuki , which you counter by stepping back and blocking with an age-uke (rising block).

In that first step, do you step back with your right (and block with your left) so you and the attacker are toe to toe, or do you step back with your left (and block with your right)?


Is it different if the attacker attacks chudan (stomach)?

I didn’t get all that many responses.  In part, I feel this is the fault of Mal Diamond, who was the first to answer and was exactly correct.  This, of course automatically disqualifies him from any further contests, where I already have the answer. (or at least AN answer)   ;-D

I did get some interesting responses and the all bring up good points:

Joe Kras said:

My preferred response is to step back with my right, and end up toe to toe.  This minimizes my exposure to the attacker’s “other weapons”, specifically his left arm and leg.  With a little bit of maneuvering I end up in the opponent’s shikaku.  HOWEVER, I realize that there are going to be times that, for whatever reason, moving to this side will be impossible, or less desirable (2nd attacker in that direction, less advantagious position because of terrain, etc.)  Therefore, I also train responses to the other side. I do this whether the attack is jodan, chudan, or gedan

These are excellent strategic considerations.  But I believe for this drill, they do show a blind spot (IMHO).

Jon Keeling  (Jon, thanks for the spelling corrections :-), dg)  said:

In that first step, do you step back with your right (and block with your  left) so you and the attacker are toe to toe, or do you step back with your  left (and block with your right)?

Either way.  It depends on what is being trained.  Could be a change in strategy, timing, followup technique, etc.  Sometimes only one way is correct. Sometimes, either leg forward could be acceptable.  >>>

Is it different if the attacker attacks chudan (stomach)?

Yes. You don’t block with age-uke. 😉

Funny 🙂

Otherwise, not really.  Please note: this is not the norm for other SKdA or JKA dojo
where I have trained….<snip> I also teach variations in many other ways, during all types of kumite.  I also vary kata performance, which we can discuss sometime in the future.

I also believe variations are important, and many of the drills you have suggested (in the past) are interesting and valuable.  I still maintain there is a basic reason the drills should be primarily performed in one particular fashion.

Paul James said:

In that first step, do you step back with your right (and block with your left) so you and the attacker are toe to toe, or do you step back with your left (and block with your right)?

We block with our left first, stepping back with our right.  Probably so that we finish left leg forward, blocking with the left and countering with the right (usually our strongest side).

Again an excellent reason, but not, I feel the most important.

I think the emphasis of the exercise (not technique) is really on the final attack and counter, the first four punches are used just as blocking practice.  Although it’s important to be able to defend and fight with either side forward I think it’s important to be at least competent with one side first.

Here enters some of the confusion in the use of blocks that stems from this drill.  This is a totally different subject that I would like to address in a different post, but I would say this is not even a blocking drill.  It is a tai sabaki (body shifting), maai (effective distance) and timing drill.  You should be able to do the sequence with out the blocks.

Is it different if the attacker attacks chudan (stomach)?

No, it’s the same as long as you are blocking soto uke.  It’s even more important to block their right with your left so that you turn the attacker away with your block so that you can counter to their ‘blind’ side.  If you block their right with your right then you must block further across your body, exposing your ‘closed’ side to the attacker’s ‘open’ side (not good!)

Again, some excellent strategic thinking going on here.  Unfortunately, falling right into the blind spot trap.  😉

The blind spot I’m referring to here is the idea of defending primarily against a straight punch, because that is what we practice with oisuki and gyakasuki.  This drill is practiced all over the world, and I feel many have lost the basic idea (not the idea I referred to above) of blocking a punch someone throws at your head.

The single most common strike is going to come from the right side and it’s going to be curved.  (some would call this a haymaker).  If someone throws a right punch at your head and you step back with your left and block with your right age-uke, you will get punched in the head.

I agree there are many ways to vary the drill, (and Michael brought up an excellent point regarding the methodology of training and the development of the proper mind set; again this needs to be discussed in a separate post) but I feel if the practitioner doesn’t train primarily toe-to-toe for the head attack, with an understanding of why, then they may be training themselves to reflexively respond to an attack by stepping back and getting punched in the head.  😉

With the stomach attack, it’s the same consideration.  The attack is much more likely to follow an arcing path than a straight path, so stepping back with either foot is NOT just as effective.  Here when the attacker steps in with the right, you should step back with the left and soto-uke with the right arm.

With perfect JKA technique, many variations will work, and either foot is a good option.  I submit, however, if you want to retain self defense ability, you should train with the most likely street attacks in mind.

The assumes you are using these uke primarily as blocks, and that you are stepping back away from your attacker.  IM(apparently)NSHO, neither of these concepts is valid if you examine the kata.  The uke were not meant to be used this way.  (oh, well another lengthy post)

Mal said it much more succinctly:

its simply a matter of receiving the attack with the correct arm, that is, the attacker is punching with their right arm (which would be on the defenders left) so the defender blocks with the left arm first.

I have noticed the English have a much better understanding of the practicalities of fighting.  I mostly attribute this to Enoeda Sensei setting up such a strong spirited core group.  (however it could be they frequent the pubs a bit more than they should 😉  )

He also said:

its a little presumptive to assume that there is only one right way to perform these blocks, and that the only “right” way is yours…

I agree.  In this particular case though, I was trying to offer a bit of a challenge, not be presumptuous.  Also, if I said there is only one way to do a kata, or a front kick, it would be different than the situation I described, I think.

After sitting at my computer for the last couple of hours, I know remember why it took me so long to put this answer together.  🙂

Respectfully and Sincerely
David Gimberline
Minneapolis, Minnesota

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