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Preparing For A "False Crack"

The other night I attended a party with my original Shorin-Ryu Sensei here in Hawaii. Two of my friends from the mainland who also practiced Shorin-Ryu (one an instructor and the other a former student) met my sensei for the first time. I was busy attending to other guests, but I got to overhear my sensei discussing Karate with my two friends. He told them things I had often heard before, but hearing his words again made me appreciate how wise and thoughtful he is.

One of the things he said is that Karate involves preparing for a "false crack" -- essentially when someone comes up and attacks you without warning. You are just standing there minding your business when someone punches you in the head! Most likely, you will not be able to see him coming. He might come up from behind or pop out from behind a corner.

As such, you will not have time to prepare for the attack. If you are lucky, you might be able to throw up a block or counter, but you certainly will not have time to take up a defensive stance or position. You will have to move, block and counter from wherever you are, as you are. You will not even have time to bend your knees!

In kata, we tend to take fixed stances. In the "false crack" situation, we will have not such luxury. Whether we are standing, sitting or even lying down, we will have to defend ourselves as we are without preparation.

And you might get hit first -- before you can react. You might have to take the first punch or strike (because you did not see it coming).

So is it hopeless? I think not. With proper training, we can learn to increase our awareness and decrease our reaction time. Perhaps we can even get better at taking punches (to some extent) or slipping them.

I am sorry that I cannot explain all this as clearly as my sensei. I am still working on that! But I feel that it is useful to evaluate our practice of Karate with the thought of a "false crack."

To some extent, Karate involves preparing for something which cannot be prepared for.


Charles C. Goodin