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Reacting Before the Attack

My point about knives is that there is no time to react to the blade. People don't stab or slash from far away. They tend to get close and attack when you are not looking. By then, it is almost certainly too late to defend, and after you are cut your ability to defend will be lessened (to say the least).

But it is the same with a punch. Generally, an attacker is not going to announce that he is going to punch you. You might only get to see the first punch when it is about to hit you. Or you might get falsecracked and not see it at all... you will just feel it.

Whatever the attack might be, we have to try our best to be alert enough to react to the body motions or signals that are given before the attack. You have to be able to perceive when a person is going for his knife or about to throw a punch. I grant that this is not an easy thing. Some people might attack with no visible warning at all. But generally, I think that there might be some signals or warning signs.

I remember that my Aikido Sensei, Sadao Yoshioka, used to say that we have a third eye at the back of our heads, and with this, we could sense when someone was attacking from the rear. I'm sure that he did not mean that we have an actual eye, but rather that we can cultivate a keen sense of awareness through practice.

When something does not look right, it probably isn't. If someone is approaching and you get this "funny feeling", perhaps it is time to step a little to the right or left, to cross the street, to look around to see who else might be lurking nearby, to take in inventory of nearby objects that could be used as obstructions or weapons, etc. But if you are talking or texting on your cell phone, you probably will not even notice the person until he is right up on you. By that time, he could draw a knife or other weapon, or punch you.

Karate is little like an airbag. When you are in an accident, the airbag helps a lot. But the most important thing in driving is not just to have a good airbag, but to drive safely and avoid accidents. You don't want to count on your airbag and you should hope not to have to use your Karate techniques.

Karate is not just a last resort because it is dangerous, it is a last resort because you should have exhausted all methods of avoidance first.

Awareness is the most important part of Karate. To be aware means to be watchful, mindful, vigilant. The antonym is to be oblivious. No matter how skilled you might be, you will not get to use any self defense techniques if you are oblivious to your surroundings and the people around you.

It is also important to be aware of how you conduct yourself in daily life. Are you polite and respectful of others, or are you oblivious to that too?

Through awareness, we might have an additional second or two to react to an attack. That might make all the difference. Or if we are lucky, we might be able to take steps to prevent the attack (by moving, for example).

Be... * A * W * A * R * E *


Charles C. Goodin