Saturday, 31 May 2014

Proactive Not Reactive

One of the most important discoveries to come out of the research conducted by Nathan Johnson and the Kodoryu group is that the techniques catalogued in the antique forms inherited from China such as Naihanchi, Sanchin, Seisan and Kusanku are of a proactive nature with a very specific function for each form such as civil arrest, Sai techniques and disarming techniques. This has been a key insight into explaining the sequence of each kata and the relationship between techniques.

Proactive application of the techniques significantly alters the course of the bunkai and it becomes possible to deduce from the catalogue of techniques what the context for use and underlying function was. For example Naihanchi is an ingeniously devised form that instructs the practitioner in proactive locking techniques that restrain and subdue without brutalising or injuring the person being detained. The techniques are ordered in a way to create a progressive study of crossed arm (right arm to right or left arm to left) finger, wrist, elbow and shoulder manipulations that lead into two key holds which may have been used to then bind the wrists together with rope, or to bring the person onto their backs for further effective restraint. The absence of striking, hitting when a person is down, chokes etc suggests that Naihanchi's applied context was within civil arrest and could have been used by police, bodyguards or guards of the royal courts.

Here is an isolated section of the Naihanchi set,

Proactive civil arrest techniques seek to avoid a situation descending into a violent confrontation, for example in modern policing an officer making regular arrests does not wish to have to fight every person they arrest otherwise it would be almost impossible to do their job without sustaining massive injuries and facing bigger risks than they already do. Proactive techniques seek to overwhelm and take control of a person and situation while minimising as many of the possible responses from the person being arrested, Naihanchi fulfills all of these criteria.

With a clear purpose, context and removing the endless 'what ifs' that arise with reactive techniques and making them proactive it quickly becomes clear that these were the essential criteria in the formation of the antique kata.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or most importantly for training please email Tom Maxwell at, thanks for reading!!!

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