Monday, March 5, 2012

Language: name that stance

That which we call a stance by any other name would be as effective. . . or not. Names matter. What's the difference between Montague and Capulet, or zenkutsu dachi and lunge? A lot.

You say zenkutsu dachi. I say lunge.
I have a beef with almost all Karate stances. Take zenkutsu dachi. It's a lunge isn't it? You are lunging to strike; lunging to sprawl; lunging to takedown; lunging to reap a leg. With zenkutsu dachi we are limited to: take a long step; distribute your weight 60% on your front leg; wait until instructed. What happened to the rear leg? At least draw it up so that you can lunge again, back pedal, turn around, run. And what's going on with the rest of the body? Why freeze a moment in time and give it a name? The emphasis on learning the nomenclature and weight distribution of stances evinces a very superficial understanding of balance and its relation to movement. Call something a stance and you put the emphasis on the legs doing nothing more than rooting the body to the ground, and this is bad. A body moving dynamically teeters on the verge of collapse, and this is good. It's how we run, ski, throw a punch/kick, and yes throw an opponent as in Judo's osoto gari.

By naming something (eg. Chinese Hand=> Empty Hand, aka Karate) we take possession of it. We can also inadvertently place limits on it.

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