Thursday, November 19, 2009

The friendly Ghost!

For many years I’ve followed a Halloween ritual for my youth students of practicing some ghost techniques the class before Halloween.

Always a brief description of how they incorporate magic to learn how to be somewhere else when being attacked. The class then followed a series of shifting drills of increasing complexity to let the class have some fun

This year, however, most of the class were new beginners with only several weeks training. They’re still in the stage of not knowing their right foot from their left foot. I didn’t want to drop the idea and decided to take it down to a much lower level.

Essentially I decided to have them shift to the side to make a school yard push attack miss. I quickly found out that trying to have them raise their hands to parry was too much so I took it down to its base. An attacker steps forward with their right foot and makes to push them with both hands. Their response was to shift to the left side and turn slightly towards the attacker in a cat stance.

I had them practice the shift a few times and then I went down the line with my lightest touch to their shoulders. To a person they stood there and watched me touch them, and they didn’t move.

I realized as an authority figure they didn’t understand they weren’t to stay there. So I kept working and in a while when I came in with a push they had shifted to the side.

On Tuesday night, after two weeks I told them I was really going to push them into the wall or over and attacked them one after the other with speed. To a person each one shifted away before I even got close. Enough skill development to begin to show them how to use their hands for a 1-2 parry movement with the shift.

More than an interesting exercise at making them into a ‘ghost’, it started me thinking about our advanced studies (where direct ghost techniques are only a very small part of the studies) and years of work understanding how to use kata technique to break, down, smash, etc. an opponent. But very little time making sure we can successfully walk away.

Except under very defined conditions, do we really have to demolish an attack? Certainly if the attack is life threatening towards us or others, there is justification to go full out, but if someone’s messing around, unstable in their life, etc. is our response to really use our karate each and every time.

I think we have to do some solid thinking about practicing sound alternatives, now to have the option to disappear and be somewhere else, when that makes the most sense.

Just a small piece of ghost technique potential, but something to consider.


Anonymous said...

You know, I have to admit your Ghost lesson did disappoint me as a second grader. As a child, some guy tells me he was going to teach me how to disappear and I had all these visions of the smoke bombs they use in the movies and after weeks of anticipation all he teaches us to do is step to the side so we're suddenly behind the person attacking us. Useful, and definitely more practical than smoke bombs, but still... to a second grader it was a bit disappointing....

Victor Smith said...

I'm sure it was but 'magic' is really mundane when you understand what is actually happening. Disappearing from an opponents vision under the right circumstances is more useful than smoke bombs.