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Karate -- Is It Defensive?

I would like to recommend another post by Sensei Mario McKenna. Please read Karate as it was Never Meant to Be - A Defensive Art. Please read that post and then come back here.

Did you read it?

Once again, McKenna Sensei is exactly right. His quotes of Motobu Sensei illustrate his point.

I am working on the translation of an early interview of Choki Motobu (I am one of the editors, not the translator). Motobu often emphasizes that block and punch Karate will not work. You must be able to simultaneously defend and attack. It is not "1" and "2". There is only time for "1", which must serve as both defence and attack.

In many Karate schools, students are taught to block with one hand and hit with the other. Motobu Sensei would block with one hand and and hit with it too!

In fact, one of the most basic defenses is to block with a punch that also hits the attacker in the face (or other target). The two punches cannot occupy the same space. If your punch can slip the attacker's, even slightly, he will miss and you can hit him. Your punch is a block.

When Motobu Sensei's son, Chosei Motobu, visited my dojo a few years ago, he demonstrated a technique on me. He jammed my right hand with his left, blocked my left punch with his right hand, bumped my body with his right elbow, and buckled my legs with his knees/feet -- all at the same time. He explained that this type of block/attack overloads the attacker's senses, making it very difficult for him to react or counter. For a split second, the attacker does not know what to do and cannot coordinate his body. His body shudders or stutters. In that split second -- just a split second -- the defender attacks (hits, such as with an elbow).

Most skilled Karate instructors I know do not think much about blocking. Their defense is an attack.

Karate is defensive -- we do not start fights. But if someone is going to attack us, we do not have to wait to be hit before we can defend. Once we are hit, we might not be able to defend ourselves or our loved ones.

We must be able to perceive a very fine line between the formation of the attacker's intention to attack and his actual attack.

My Sensei sometimes demonstrates an uncanny ability. He will stand in front of a student and ask him to attack using either hand or foot. As soon as the student starts to move, my Sensei will point to the appropriate hand or foot. He points to the hand or foot before it can move. This shows that he could prevent or choke the attack at its root.


Charles C. Goodin