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Grabbing the Neck and Ear

When my good friend and senior Sensei Pat Nakata was learning from Sensei Chosin Chibana, Chibana Sensei mentioned that when the hands come together at the side, this means that you are controlling or throwing the attacker.

We call this a "clam" hand position in my dojo. The hands are in fists, stacked one on top of the other, at a right angle. You can see this, for example, when you turn to the front after completing the back sequence in Pinan Shodan. The left fist is stacked over the right, with the hands near the right hip.

Nakata Sensei was young when he learned from Chibana Sensei, and he wondered how you would throw the attacker if he was not wearing a gi. When he asked the question, Chibana Sensei, characteristically, asked him to throw a punch. When Nakata Sensei did so, Chibana Sensei grabbed him by the ear and the side of the neck and pulled him to his hip area while turning (like in Pinan Shodan). Nakata Sensei was twisted and helpless!

This is funny, because I think that all students, at one time or another, want to ask their Sensei a similar question. We all want to know how something works and what would happen if, for example, the attacker is not wearing a gi or sturdy clothing for grappling. We all want to ask, but generally learn to be careful about how we do it.

You have to remember that Nakata Sensei was young.

Well, when he told me this story, I was already in my 40s, and should have know better. When he got to the part of the story where he asked Chibaba Sensei the question, I said, "So what did he do?"

Nakata Sensei waved his hand a little and said, "punch."

I naturally complied and quickly found myself twisted and helpless with my head pinned to his hip -- just like Nakata Sensei had found himself over 40 years earlier! Nakata Sensei had grabbed the side of my neck and ear the same way Chibana Sensei had done.

It is funny when this happens to an 18 year old, and perhaps even funnier when it happens to a 40+ year old (me).

Actually, it is just a little funny. I felt very fortunate to learn this technique firsthand from Nakata Sensei, who had learned it firsthand from Chibana Sensei, who, I am pretty certain, learned it the same way from his own teacher, Anko Itosu.


Charles C. Goodin