There are many different ways in which you might use the Ear Side and Face Side concept during a conflict. Again the primary purpose for using this concept is so that you can readily recognize what tools and targets you will have available to you at any moment in time. Here are a few ideas and methods you should observe and practice while training.
When you find that you have moved or are otherwise positioned on the ear side you will want to notice and consider several unique characteristics of your position.
One of the first things to consider is that you will want to be positioned such that your center is directly focused on your opponent and at 90° to his or her orientation. If your opponent is facing Octagon global angle 1 then you will want to face either global angle 3 or global angle 4, depending on whether you are on the opponent’s left or right side, respectively. In this way your center will be focused on the opponent while his or her center is focused somewhere other than on you.
Adopting this orientation can be done in several ways. The first and most obvious is that you turn to face your opponent as you or the opponent moves. This is typically done by using an Escaping Pattern. You move to the opponent’s side using an appropriate escaping pattern and keep your center oriented directly toward the opponent’s Mother Line while you are in transition. This will ensure your center is pointed at the opponent when you arrive at your destination.
A second useful method for achieving this 90° orientation relative to your opponent is to reposition him or her during their approach. While a person is attacking they will be essentially weightless while moving. So it is usually a simple matter to move off the line of attack and then parry the opponent’s arm or leg so the opponent rotates his or her center away from you. Your center remains on the opponent’s Mother Line the entire time, but the opponent is rotating about his or her Mother Line until their center is oriented 90° away from your center. This makes it very easy for you to strike or manipulate the opponent but very hard for the opponent to do the same with you. This has a very specific name. It is called winning.
There are other ways in which you can achieve this 90° alignment, but we will reserve these more complex mechanisms for curriculum content in future belt rankings. For now, practice the above mechanisms diligently. They are extremely useful, easy, practical, and used quite extensively.
Once you arrive at the ear side of an opponent via whatever mechanism you employed, you should immediately notice what you can directly access. You will notice that the side ribs, kidneys, neck, temple, back of the head, back, ear, abdomen, and several large muscle groups are potential target areas and can often (though not always) be easily struck. These would be natural potential target areas should you have the need to strike the opponent. You might strike at these areas as you move into position or immediately upon achieving your final 90° orientation.
Depending on the structure and orientation of your opponent you may have the ability to strike to a few other locations, including the groin, chin, and face. These areas are commonly protected by the opponent’s anatomy, but that does not preclude the possibility of striking these areas. For example, you might be able to strike upward under an opponent’s outstretched arm to strike the chin from below. You might be able to use a Tate Haito Uchi to move around an opponent’s front leg to gain access to and attack the groin.
You can utilize any extended arm or leg, which will be on the near side of the opponent’s body, to manipulate our opponent in some manner. You might parry the appendage to rotate the person or move him or her forward or back. You might strike the arm or leg to make it a less effective weapon against you. You might grasp to arm or leg to apply some form of Kansetsu Waza. You could also employ whichever appendage has been presented to initiate Nage. There is a lot you can do with the arm or leg the opponent has so kindly offered you.
You might also employ a check to ensure the opponent does not rotate toward you or attempt to strike you using his or her extended arm or leg (which is much less likely). But checking one side of the body does not mean the opponent cannot rotate in the opposite direction and strike you using the opposite side. You need to be prepared for any form of movement if you plan to employ checking actions. Therefore you might elect to check the arm, for example, by using your palm on the near side of the arm and wrapping your fingers gently over the top of the arm. In this way you can check the opponent from rotating in either direction.
From your position adjacent to the opponent you can use one hand to check or control an opponent’s extended arm while using your opposite hand to twist, push, pull, or otherwise manipulate the person’s head. You might pull the opponent’s arm in the direction of your local octagon angel two while pressing the opponent’s head backward. This stretches the opponent and makes it subsequently to injure the arm or to throw the opponent backward. Even if you merely check the opponent’s arm you are still in position to directly manipulate the head in a beneficial manner (beneficial to you, anyway).
You could also use a hand to cover the opponent’s eyes to temporally rob him or her of their sight. This can be very disorienting if you then manipulate the person’s head and torso in multiple different way. This is all easy to accomplish from the ear side of the body.
From the ear side you may also easily manipulate the opponent’s legs using your legs or hips. Since the opponent’s front leg will be closest to you it is possible to place of our your legs either in front or behind the persons’s lower leg, knee, or thigh. You can then move one or more portions of your leg to press into the opponent’s leg causing them immediate structural instability. When coupled with some upper body manipulation (for example, twisting the head) the opponent will find it quite difficult to remain standing. There are numerous Ashi No Waza that can be employed when you stand on the ear side of an opponent.
From the ear side you might also pull an opponent’s arm down and inward inducing a rotation of the opponent’s torso in your direction. You could also check the opponent’s arm downward and make an absurd and mocking face where the opponent can easily see it. In both cases the opponent will turn in your direction. Once the opponent’s arm attacking arm has moved beyond your center you are now on the opponent’s face side. This is one of several ways in which you can reposition an opponent so that he or she will be oriented to facilitate what you plan to do next.
You can utilize similar movement strategies so that you will end up on the opponent’s face side while they are in the process of attacking. Again you will want to move so that your center remains aligned with the opponent’s Mother Line. Once you find yourself on the face side there are several things to observe.
The first is that the opponent’s attacking arm or leg is outside of your center. It is often accessible for a grab or manipulation, but it is otherwise irrelevant. What is more relevant is that you now stand immediately in front of many primary targets.
Chief among these targets are several major vital organs, including the brain, lungs, heart, liver, pancreas, stomach, small intestines and large intestine. Some vital organs are easy to strike and some can be quite difficult to impact with the bare hands. Other important targets might include the face, eyes, throat, clavicle (collar bone), ribs, sternum, solar plexus, lower abdomen, groin, legs, and the opponent’s arms. Some of these areas could be quite injurious or potentially even fatal, so do not strike these areas unless you feel it is absolutely essential for your survival.
If you do not wish or need to strike then you have manipulative points of access including the forehead, eye sockets, nose, cheek bones, chin, shoulders, arms, hips, knees and ankles. Any of these points can be used to initiate some form of involuntary movement in your opponent. This will cause a weakening or loss of structural integrity in some other portion of the opponent’s anatomy which you can subsequently utilize to your benefit.
You will notice that in both the striking and manipulative discussions we have mentioned nearly every prominent feature of the face. This is why we refer to this as the face side. Everything on the opponent’s face is on your center line and can be readily accessed when you stand on this side of the opponent.
One thing of which you must be aware is the impending strike that will come from the opposite side of your opponent’s body. If the opponent strikes with his or her right hand and you step to the face side of the opponent, he or she will immediately strike you with the left hand. You must understand that this is going to happen – it is not a case of perhaps it will happen. You will be struck if you do not do something to prevent it. There are several possible actions you might employ and we will discuss a limited few of them here. We will assume you have moved to the face side as the opponent steps forward to strike you with the right arm.
The initial possibility is that you simply employ an effective guard to protect yourself from the incoming strike. This can work, but the opponent will subsequently move as well, taking away your face-side advantage. You may also find it impossible to guard every likely target of that second strike. As a result it is quite likely you will be struck in some inconvenient and painful location. Your opponent will purposefully hit you where it will be painful or injurious. He or she will consider it their duty. So relying solely on an effective guard is perhaps the least effective approach to utilize.
The second possibility is that you grab the opponent’s extended right arm and prevent its retraction. This will curtail the pending strike from the left hand and may well cause the opponent to create his or her own structural instability. You could also pull the opponent’s arm in toward your center, which causes the opponent’s left side to twist away from you. It is hard to strike when your striking shoulder is twisting away from your target.
You can also strike directly into the left shoulder as you are moving toward the face side. This causes structural instability, a rotation of the left shoulder so the shoulder moves away from you, a bit of surprise (after all, they thought they would be hitting you instead), and some potential muscle injury which may make any strike less effective.
Thirdly you could press the opponent’s head back as you move to the face side. This bends the opponent backward somewhat and makes it very unlikely that any left hand strike will occur at all or that any initiated strike will land with very little power or energy.
This is a small handful of the methods you will eventually explore in Tensoku Ryu. There are a great many to explore over time. Eventually you will find innumerable opportunities for controlling and manipulating a person so that some future event does not occur.
So far we have not mentioned the opponent’s legs. You will likely be in position to easily press at least one of your legs into the front or back leg of your opponent, depending on your relative position to the opponent. You can then press some portion of your leg into the opponent’s calf, shin, knee, or thigh to cause the opponent’s leg to move out of structural alignment, creating immediate structural integrity problems for the opponent. They will have immediate balance issues and may well fall if the instability is of sufficient magnitude and occurs over a short period of time.
You also have access to the back of the opponent’s head, the neck and shoulders, as well as the hips. Each of these points can be used to initiate manipulation or to restrict future movement on the part of the opponent. Each of these actions can create additional instability, making the opponent weightless, weak in some portion of his or her anatomy, and structurally compromised.
Similar to what we saw during our discussion about the ear side, it is also possible to manipulate a face-side opponent so you will be subsequently positioned on his or her ear side. This can be easily done by allowing the opponent to strike with, as in our earlier example, the left hand. As the hand comes forward you parry it inward. Once it moves through your center line you are on the opponent’s ear side. In our example this would place you on the opponent’s left side.
You can do a similar thing by pulling the opponent’s original strike inward. As soon as the arm passes your center line you are positioned on the opponent’s ear side. In our example you will be on his or her right side.
When you manipulate an opponent’s legs they will often turn 90° in an attempt to maintain balance. Once they have turned 90° you will be on his or her ear side. Which ear depends entirely on the direction in which the opponent was forced to rotate.