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An Introduction to Hanmi

Let us consider a junzuki (right punch) with our feet in a right shizen dachi (natural stance). This is the position you are in when you execute the first punch in Fukyugata Ichi.

When I first started to learn Matsubayashi-Ryu around 1975, we stood with our shoulders square and our tanden (below the belly button) facing the front (the direction we were punching). Our shoulders were essentially at a right angle to our punch.

Today, we execute the same punch in the same stance, but with our shoulders almost at a diagonal and our tanden facing about a 45 degree angle (to the left). We call this position hanmi. Our shoulders are not square to the direction of the punch.

With our shoulders and tanden in hanmi, it is easier for us to narrow our stance. With our shoulders square, our stance must be a little wider -- otherwise our thighs will pinch our groin. In hanmi, a narrower stance is possible.

A narrower stance allows us to move more quickly because it is possible to step closer to the center line. The more we have widen our stance (widen, not lengthen), the more we have to deviate from the centerline, and the more we waste energy.

In hanmi, we also punch deeper. In a diagonal alignment, our punch is longer, and thus can penetrate deeper.

Hanmi also gives us a better chance to slip a punch. In a square alignment, a punch will hit us straight on. In hanmi, it is more likely that a punch will glance off. It is like stealth technology. Airplanes avoid detection by presenting little or no flat surfaces for radar to reflect back from. In a similar way, hanmi avoids flat surfaces for an attacker to cleanly hit.

Not only is our upper body better protected in hanmi, our groin is less susceptible to a front kick. In fact, we can "hide" behind our front leg, particularly with a narrower stance.

When I practiced Aikido, I believe that we pronounced the word "hamni." It may have been a different word. But I have confirmed with Shinzato Sensei that the proper pronunciation is "hanmi."

Blocks are also executed in hanmi. I have only described a punch to simplify the discussion.

I will have more to write about this subject.


Charles C. Goodin