In class recently I heard Sensei talk about the manner in which to engage with your opponent. For me, it was as if I’d heard my thoughts all over again and I was pleased to recieve clarity that my feelings where on the path of true budo.

Sensei motioned that it was important to wait for the movement of the opponent and not to attempt to produce something. The feeling is more of dis-engaging or preservation rather than engaging in a battle to the death with your opponent.

We can say that all our movements are dictated by our opponent and environment if we are living in accordance with nature. If we are not living in accordance with kami, then we are moving from our own will, and thus our movements will be seen, understood, and manipulated against us.

We have to lay our trust fully into the training and listen to our teachers with a clear and pure heart. From there we will come to truly experience the ability to live life in harmony with our environment and adjust naturally when required.

In taijutsu training, we see many people after recieving a punch move on to perform an elaborate technique with complicated footwork and hand changes. Why? Nagato sensei stated recently, and this is the reason for this post, that “after your uke has punched and stopped, you can just move and stop too.” There is no need for you to do anything more if he doesn’t do anything more!”

I remembered a time when I was playing in a band and we were staying in the bar late after it had closed chatting with the management and security. One security member knew that I was teaching budo at the University and asked me to show him something. I declined. He continued to ask and I finally accepted as long as he showed me his style of Kung Fu first. We moved to the dance area and I asked him what attack he would like. He said, ” just a punch”. I punched and he proceeded to perform a set waza that ended with him on one knee, facing away from me in a praying mantis type of pose. He hadn’t touched me at all, but I saw his foot near mine, so I said ” what about this?” I then stood on his foot, which twisted his body into the floor in pain. He got up and looked shocked. He said it was my turn to show something and he threw a punch. I stepped back and stopped. There was a long pause. I said that I don’t think I can show him anything else. He looked puzzled. I told him that because he had only thrown one attack that I felt no need to respond further. He said, “ok” and we sat down again. The security officer produced a waza from desire and therefore gave me something. In this case, it was his foot, and I decided to take it. I gave him nothing to take, and thus we stopped and sat down again as friends. We can also related this to the words of Soke, ” Give and take or give and return.”

Nagato sensei recently reiterated that this type of feeling needs to be understood in training. It is crucial for survival. We must know when to act and when to not act, when to take and when not to take, when to give and when not to give, and when to return or not to return. 

The ability to take distance in all aspects can teach us this. Distance gives us the time to breath and respond intelligently to adversity. Distance gives us time to feel what is needed to survive.

Do not fight, just move to safe positions to live and destroy the enemies power.

This is the true power of budo.

Bufu Ikkan

2 Responses to “Distance”

  1. Marcelo Moya Says:

    This captured the exact feeling that keeps me training. Thank you for the post!!!

  2. I love this post. I was referred to your site from Rob Bascue, whom I am about to begin training with. I watched a session last week and the phrase that stuck with me and I keep repeating to myself is “move when they move.”
    Your story about the Kung Fu lesson in the bar reminds me of when I was a kid playing checkers and I learned that I don’t have to jump every one of their pieces, I just have to make it so they can’t jump mine. If I can force my opponent into a position where he has no moves to make, I win.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: