Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sweep the leg!

If you are a martial artist of a certain age, the movie line, "Sweep the leg," should conjure up images of the original Karate Kid struggling to win a match and the girl. The Karate Kid was your standard morality play: overmatched good-guy versus technically excellent, but heart-in-the-wrong-place, bad guy(s). The karate matches themselves, and in particular, the tactical use of neko ashi dachi, tsuru ashi dachi (might as well include kokotsu dachi) illustrate the disconnect between the real physics of fighting and fantasy.

In the real world, Daniel-san would have been creamed by opponents who actually trained fighting skills. All that wood finishing and auto maintenance would have little transfer, sad to say, to fighting . Ironically, the neko ashi dachi Daniel-san is forced to adopt because of a damaged knee is the perfect defense against a leg attack such as the dreaded foot sweep. With most of the body-weight on the rear leg, the front is pretty much immune from sweeps. And that's about all neko ashi dachi is good for, avoiding sweeps and trips. Close-in, Daniel-san would would have been able to avoid all the leg attacks utilizing neko ashi dachi.

As a fighting stance? Come on! Neko ashi dachi limits your mobility. I struggle to suppress a laugh when I see opponents face-off a long distance from each other in neko ashi dachi. Neko ashi dachi also fails as a base from launching strikes; there's no way to put your weight behind the strike. You'd be flailing, which is pretty much what Daniel-san was doing. Try throwing a power shot at the heavy bag from neko ashi dachi. You can't. With most of the weight on your back foot, when you made contact with the bag, more than likely you fell over. If you didn't fall over, ask yourself whether there was any knockdown power in that strike.

But, but, but, "What about the crane kick?" you ask. It is after all a front kick launched from a completely committed neko ashi dachi (that is all of the body-weight rests on the rear leg). Yeah, that's Hollywood. If do right, no can defense. I would have fallen to the ground laughing and ceded the match.

Next: What leg attacks?

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