Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Below is an excerpt from a common problem in the practice of martial arts: telegraphing your intentions. The full article can be read here.

Telegraphing Movements

The first time I visited Sensei Katsuhiko Shinzato in Okinawa, he demonstrated an uncanny ability to know where a punch or kick would come from. He asked me to stand in front of him and try to punch or kick him. As soon as I would begin to move he would point to the attacking arm or leg.

What was uncanny was his ability to do this before I had moved very much, or perhaps even before I had actually started moving at all. When he pointed to my arm or leg, it stopped me from moving.

That was several years ago. I have thought about it often, but only recently have begun to understand how he did this (or at least I think so).

First, at that time I did not understand how to generate power with the koshi. I had no idea at all! As a result, my movements, whether punches, kicks, or any other type of movement, were powered from the extremeties. For example, if I wanted to punch with my right hand, I would pull back with my right arm and raise my right shoulder. Quite obviously, I was telegraphing my movements. It must have been very easy for Shinzato Sensei to read my intentions and movements.


walt said...

When I was a kid, we used to box after school, and then watch the fights on TV on Friday nights. To not telegraph punches was considered a big deal. But that sort of boxing was very different from, say, karate.

And again, not to compare apple and oranges, but here's a little video of Fong Ha "repelling" an attacker. I have only read about such things, but it seemed to me that if you watched closely, at the moment he repels his opponent, there is that "slight twist" in his waist. Perhaps this illustrates what your article refers to.

Anonymous said...

Telegraphing is something that everyone does at one point in there training. The key is to just be aware of it and to try and minimise it. Using a mirror to shadow box/kick in front of is probably the greatest way to spot yourself doing it so as you can fix it, along with a good teacher.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rick,

I came across this cute judo move in an old video, and it kind of goes with your theme of telegraphing. Thought you might enjoy:


Rick Matz said...

Thanks for the link. That's great!

Zen said...

Good point. When you can generate your power from the inside, the less it shows on the outside.