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, August 15, 2018

Structure in Martial Arts

Below is an excerpt from a post at Nissankan Kobudo on Kamae, or stance (sort of). The full post may be read here. Unfortunately, the kanji didn't survive the cutting and pasting.  

The literal translation of the kanji for kamae is  Kamae are therefore considered the structure  around which techniques are formed. They are best described as combative engagement postures.
Kamae are not fixed positions or poses, they are momentary, loose, flexible. One must be able to flow, to move from one position to the next as an encounter unfolds, in a natural and efficient manner. The choice of kamae is determined by the relationship with an opponent. Kamae must adapt to the opponents position to take advantage of his movements. Kamae reflect the fluidity of water, flexible and elusive. Each kamae is linked to another in a seamless flowing movement. It goes without saying that a rigid unmoving kamae will end in defeat.

In essence, the kamae are the physical embodiment of one's mental attitude. Assumed with the entire body, whether armed or unarmed, kamae encompass one’s mental attitude as well as physical attitude (posture). The mental and physical aspects of a technique may be referred to singly as the posture of the mind – kokoro-gamae and the posture of the body  mi-gamae.
Mastering kamae is considered essential to the combatant's psycho-physical dominance over an opponent. At the beginning of a combative encounter, a series of postures may be adopted to dominate an opponent, not physically but psychologically. The controlling of an opponent through adopting a kamae which may be hard to read, i.e.; hiding a weapon from view, or disguising a follow-up movement, is considered the pinnacle of martial practice. A considerable number of postures found in kenjutsu schools use postures that disguise a swordsman's possible strikes, these are termed postures of yamiuchi unperceived strikes. Also, various kamae were developed by schools with the sole intention of taking advantage of body language – through posture, eye contact, slight movements etc. It should be pointed out also that the various kamae are distinctive to the different schools, they are in a way signatures  that are readily recognisable by those who practice kobudo.
Some schools have a vast number of kamae, most added over time in the Tokugawa period (1600 – 1868), a time of relative peace and urbanisation. Other schools contain just a few tried and true kamae that they consider to be all that is necessary.

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