Saturday, December 17, 2016

What Your Sensei May Have Not Taught You About Deep Stances (Simbur)

Maybe you've practiced karate for 30 years and teach your own classes, maybe you are an intermediate student already comfortable with low stances like kiba dachi from where you throw countless chudan tsuki. If you are only doing deep and low stances because they challenge your quadriceps, or because they "look" like proper karate, this will challenge your notion of karate. If you are content with your karate situation, click to another blog or watch one of those cute "crazy things that cats do" videos because what follows may disturb your equipoise.

Your balance and low and deep stances mean next to nothing unless your feet are deep into your opponent's personal space. Hold the foot fetish imagery for a second and consider the "why." Surely there must have been a reason for emphasizing deep stances and footwork, even if the old karate masters could not explain why?

In the attached video, chief SSBD instructor Maul Mornie demonstrates a thigh sweep, which might trigger an "a-ha!" moment. In order to perform this technique correctly you must step through your opponent side-on. As you do, your thigh, close to the inguinal crease, clips your opponent's leg and throws him off balance. Like anything, it takes practice.

Maul performs this throw (Simbur) effortlessly, which comes from walking through countless opponents. You cannot develop this skill with thousands of repetitions against your reflection in a mirror. As you watch the video, you might notice that the technique looks a bit like kiba dachi, and at other times, like zenkutsu dachi or kokotsu dachi. That's okay. Naming something is an act of taking possession, but if you do not understand what you are taking hold of, the name hardly matters. Forget the names for a moment and just do.

When you train with Maul, as I do, naturally you become more adept in the art of SSBD, as a side bonus for karateka, it makes your karate better.

Putar Kepala: A better osae uke/mawashi uke

Putar Kepala means to swivel or turn the head. In Silat, it refers a family of takedowns by turning your opponent's head. Representations of this technique can be found in karate (osae uke and mawashi uke). Now there are several versions of osae uke and mawashi uke floating around out there, so be forewarned. The two we are concerned with accomplish the same thing: to apply torsion to the spine of your opponent in order to breakdown his structure. The principle of the technique, like many others, is to bend and twist. In karate you will recognize the technique as up and down pressing blocks (osae uke), or the mawashi uke (with artfully curved pinky and ring fingers and ostentatious ibuki).

"Wait a minute, these are two totally different technique," you are thinking. Think again. With this application of Putar Kepala your opponent's head is down (torso bent at the waist) and one of his arms is up in the air. The curved little fingers of mawashi uke are a clue that you are grasping your opponent in some fashion. In fact, you are grasping him behind the neck and by the elbow. Using the principle of the force couple (equal and opposing forces on a parallel path) you cause your opponent to twist and thereby lose his balance. Osae uke is representative of the force couple principle. Mawashi uke is a descriptive representation of what is going on (rotation).

Take a look at Lorenzo Bagnai putting Putar Kepala in action. Notice the use of forearm strikes to the neck, elbow strikes to the face, and knee kicks to the body to get the opponent into position. By advancing, retreating, or moving to one side or the other, he is able to direct his opponent in a variety of directions.