It has been said that a good martial artists is a simplifier…
A man sent his son off to college and after a year the father asked him what he had studied. The son replied, “My main emphasis was karate.” The father then replied, “Let's go out in the garden and see what you have learned.” The son, eager to show his father his karate techniques, rushed out into the garden and assumed a powerful stance. His father walked up to him very calmly and, with a wooden sword, struck the young man in the shins, knocking him to the ground. As the father turned and walked away, he said, “That's a year’s worth of money wasted.”
- -LR, May 23, 2014
One day a group of Iaido students were standing around the stables waiting for class to begin, when their Sempai, or senior student instructor, came walking along. As he passed behind a skittish stallion, the horse lashed out a powerful kick. The Sempai, with unbelievable power and speed, blocked the stallion’s kick and continued on. All of the students were completely amazed. Then one of the students posed the question, could the Sensei have blocked such a kick? They all agreed that he was a master swordsman but he was old, unlike the Sempai who was in his prime. They decided to set up THE TEST. The next day they positioned bales of hay so that the Sensei would have to pass behind the same skittish stallion. They all watched with breathless anticipation as their master came rolling along with his usual bouncing gate, but just as he started to step behind the horse his steps became very cautious and measured, until he had passed, and then he returned to his rolling old man's walk. The lesson of THE TEST is this: The Sempai may have been faster and had more dexterity but we will never know, because the Sensei had the awareness not to disturb the stallion. And by not creating an adverse situation, he won with little or no effort. Not everything can be defeated with speed and power.
--LR, Dec. 28, 2011
The Nature of Speed
One day, while walking to his Tai Chi class, a student saw his teacher up on a huge boulder fighting an opponent. At one point the opponent lost his balance and the Tai Chi teacher reached out with two fingers and pushed him over the edge of the boulder, falling to his death.
The student then rushed to class and told all of his fellow Tai Chi Students that their teacher had killed a man using only two fingers. When the teacher arrived, all the students bombarded him with questions. The general consensus was that it was amazing that he could kill a man by just touching him with two fingers. The teacher's response was, "The only amazing part was talking that fool into climbing up on the boulder."
In Tai Chi, it is not so much the power that a strike has, as much as it is in the position of the opponent when he receives the strike. An example would be, if I strike you in the chest and you have your hips in a balanced position, you can absorb the blow. But if you're hips are too far forward the same blow will cause a massive damage.
So when you see a Tai Chi master moving slowly, remember, what he is doing is putting his opponent up on the boulder, which means his blow does not have to be extremely powerful, therefore it can be thrown from a very short distance. We call that SPEED. When someone asked me if Tai Chi is really a martial art because we move so slowly, I always reply, "Of course It Is, you simply have to find slow opponents."
That is a joke, and if you believe it to be true, you have already taken your first step onto the boulder.
--LR, Nov. 2, 2011
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