Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Low level light combat – Night fighting

There is much more than:


The eye must see all sides,

The ear must listen in all directions.


Those are of course useful, but the idea of using karate in low light situations may require more training.



Long ago I read of something soldiers learned in WWII, when fighting in the dark, keep one eye closed, so if a star shell went off, the brilliant light would cause the open eye to lose its visual purple, causing night blindness, but the other eye could then safely be opened and it retained its visual purple, allowing more night usefulness in sight.



Shimabuku Tatsuo suggested that Kusanku kata could be used for night fighting.


As it was explained to me the opening movement could represent the moon (symbolically). Use of making a noise to distract the opponent to move toward that noise and then attack them when the move. Feeling your way in the dark. Learning when light changes could make you go to ground. When on the ground search both sides for the opponent. To then spring up onto the attacker.


(* note there are several different paradigms for the Isshinryu Kusanku kata, but this works for any of them.)


This did not preclude any possible use of Kusanku kata technique, just opened more possibilities.


These were mentioned to me when I learnt the form, but we did not explore kata applications as a science at that time. Then a decade later I began my own exploration of kata technique use exactly like that, applications to be used in night combat.


But I remember long ago when I first went on the internet I found quickly there were many, both within Isshinryu and without, who did not agree with that idea.



A number of years later I met George Donahue, a practitioner of an Okinawan System called Kashiba Juku, an offshoot of Matsubayshi Ryu Karate. In our discussion he mentioned all of their kata were practiced three different ways. The movements did not change for any of them, but the method of execution did as required, one of those ways was for daylight use. One of those ways was for low-level conflict, where there was lower level to minimal lighting and ground conditions were unknown and possibly treacherous. The third method was something else not germane to this topic.“The best way to perform the kata (day or night) is to be aware of what you are doing regardless of where you are doing it”


“Night forms teach sensitivity of the hands and feet, how to move without commitment to shifting the body weight; that almost every “block” when executed in the dark is a grab, that you can’t attack a predetermined target because it might not be exactly where you think it is or might move: and so forth.”


They did not have specific forms for day and night, all of their forms were practiced each way. It is just a way of training yourself. The main benefit for me  is that instead of X number of kata have 2X number of kata and I don’t have to ten trouble of leaning new steps.”


He suggested that this was possibly practiced by other styles.



When you think about karate grew out of older Okinawan traditions, where training was offer more individual, even to taking place outside. Along with doing karate you had to deal with environmental variances, such as rocks, tree roots, different feels of the land used for training. It was probably not done in a formal setting.


And if done at night, well you had a society without electric lighting, so rather uneven light sources to the absence of lighting, and everything in between.


We are fortunate to have Mario McKenna’s translation of Itoman Seijin (Morinobu’s) book Toudi-jutsu no Kenkyu.


Drawing from that text, are some provocative statements, ones that suggest a different depth to the art than often seen today in the karate dojo.



“Men that did know Toudi would practice in the middle of the night, deep in the mountains using trees as an opponent.”

Throwing Techniques

There are many throwing techniques in Toudi that have been studied as much as Sumo wrestling. After the edict banning the possession of weapons, the practice of military techniques was forbidden, and the study of wrestling was preserved and studied as a separate art. These types of techniques require an opponent, so because of this reason throwing and tripping techniques began to be practiced solo against trees and makiwara as substitutes for an opponent. If you compare Ryukyu and Japanese Sumo wrestling, Ryukyu Sumo wrestling uses throws, pushes, etc to cause the opponent's back to touch the ground for a win.”



Stones, tree and bamboo twigs, handkerchiefs, or eye glasses can be thrown at an opponent’s face to create a distraction that can be taken advantage”


Men that did know Toudi would practice in the middle of the night, deep in the mountains using trees as an opponent.”


Flying Cut

This technique is used to leap over a barrier or obstacle, or to run and leap up to strike down on an opponent”


”Flying In & Flying Back

Triangle Flying

This technique involves jumping or leaping to three points. That is, you use the footing from a wall, tree stump or the ground to deliver a kick, move to an advantageous position, or move to safe distance using three points.



I propose that we have gotten away from such practices in many places, because it is easier to train in a clean dojo. And that likely means we have moved away from situational awareness such training might have offered.

Times change, there are certainly new ideas that make sense. But perhaps there are things that have been lost too.

I would suggest you learn to work the dark.

No comments: