In this article we will cover many skills that can be utilized to manipulate and control an opponent. You will be introduced to some new concepts and ways of thinking about controlling and opponent.
Big Circles vs Small Circles
One useful goal in any conflict is to minimize your own energy expenditure while simultaneously maximizing the energy output of your opponent. One effective way to do this is to move in very small and tight circles while forcing your opponent to move along the circumference of much larger circles. This is a key skill you will want to perfect.
Moving in small circles in typically done by simply rotating one foot and then the other. You might pivot on the ball of one foot and the heel of the other. Then perhaps pivot on the heel of the first foot and the ball of the second. Any combination is effective as long as it allows you to keep your center of gravity over your hips and knees while rotating your center.
You may elect to rotate in one direction for a moment, and then rotate in the opposite direction, all the while dragging your opponent along so they are forced to move around circles of much larger diameter. You are expending minimal energy while making your opponent both tired and disoriented.
It can also be useful to utilize spirals instead of circles. This can also happen as a natural result of movement. As the opponent moves they may naturally spiral inward toward you. If this occurs you may wish to move so that the opponent now spirals back out and away from you (but not far enough to create a void.
Obviously you will be unlikely to simply stay in one spot and run your opponent in circles or spirals. You will need to step and move on occasion to prevent voids, maintain your center of gravity, and take advantage of opportunities afforded by your opponent’s movements. But once you have moved you may again engage in another session of small circles – large circles.
You may also wish to consider how your legs and arms behave during circular movements. Pay very close attention to how much of your own energy is wasted by moving your hands, arms, and feet in circles that are significantly larger than necessary. Seek to minimize the extent of circular blocks, strikes, and kicks. You will expend less energy, be more effective, maintain better structural integrity, have improved speed, and reduce your levels of tension, anxiety, and exhaustion.
The body naturally creases at joint locations. Bending the arm creates a crease on the inside of the elbow joint. Bending forward creates a crease along the hip joints. Bending your leg creates a crease behind your knee. Other joints that commonly involve a crease are finger joints, shoulder joints, the ankle, toes, the wrist, the neck, and to a lesser extent the spine.
Creating a crease can cause instability in the body. For example, bending deeply forward at the waist both roots one or both legs and shifts the center of gravity forward. Bending the head forward at the neck has a similar if somewhat less pronounced effect. Bending the head back at the neck typically roots the feet and shifts the center of gravity backward.
As an example of how creasing can work to your benefit, consider the case where someone is standing directly in front of you with his or her right leg slightly forward. Reach down with either hand and press the person’s right hip back and slightly downward. This form of Nage is most effective if you press directly into the hip joint in alignment with the opponent’s knee orientation. This creates a major crease at the hip joint. The resulting crease will cause the individual’s rear to project backward, pull their shoulders and head forward, and root the heel of the right leg firmly on the floor. With only modest pressure this is sufficient to make the person fall. If they do not fall they may break their leg. In nearly every case they will elect to fall. Try this simple experiment with a cooperative assistant. Do not use excessive force or speed. It is not necessary and could result in unexpected injury. Take things slowly and use care to ensure nobody is injured.
You will benefit by experimenting with other creases as well. Bending a knee lowers the center of gravity and may initiate some form of twisting or turning motion that redirects a person’s center. Experiment by bending joints throughout your body to see what affect they have on your structure, stability, orientation, and center of gravity. Even the smallest movement of the smallest joint will have some effect. Obviously the major joints of the body are likely to have the most pronounced effects.
The reason we study creasing is not necessarily so we can understand how moving the little finger on your right hand might affect you left ankle, but rather to appreciate how creases work when done in multiples. This is the real benefit of understanding creasing.
Imagine that you have pressed a training partner’s shoulders backward so they have a backward crease along the spine. Your partner will be leaning backward. Now hook your hand over your partner’s shoulder and pull down and forward concurrently. This causes your partner’s knees to bend. They will likely fall due to the instability and repositioning of the center of gravity caused by this double creasing. This form of creasing is found in the Accordion technique within the Kuikku Bouei[glossary] [glossary]Nidan Kata.
If you trap a person’s arm so that the elbow is severely creased such that the person’s hand is near his or her shoulder, then press the elbow inward you will notice the person creases at the hips. Except this time they crease to the side rather than forward or back. This means the person’s hips have moved away from you and his or her head has moved toward you. This multiple crease (elbow, shoulders, knees, and hips) has resulted in a major shift in the person’s center of gravity. The head is displaced from above the torso, making it easy to induce Nage.
Another advantage of creasing is that it exposes potential target areas that were not easily accessible before due to the relative positions of yourself and the opponent. Causing a forward crease at the hips forces the head forward and down. A strike up into the descending face with Hiza Geri would likely be quite devastating. Of course, the back and kidneys are also now more readily accessible. Creasing backward along the hip joint makes it much easier to strike into the abdomen. Creasing the neck back makes throat and neck injuries more possible when that is a necessary target.
Play around with different common blocking and controlling maneuvers and notice any creases that occur in your training partner’s body. Also be aware of any creases that occur in your own structure. If you find that you are creating significant creases in your own body then consider how you can reduce or eliminate these creases with improved technique. You might also think about avoiding that maneuver in the future due to the risks it entails as a result of the creases it creates.
Folding is the process of employing a crease. If you press into a natural crease location then a fold will be the likely result. You will want to experiment with this concept extensively. Fold someone forward and see how they shift their center of gravity to compensate. Fold every joint on a training partner to see how his or her body reacts to the fold. As you create a fold look for subsequent creases that begin to develop. Try folding along those creases as a secondary effort to the first fold. These dual folding movements often lead to a complete collapse of an individual’s structure.
Folding can often be augmented to creating a crease but also restricting the movement of some part of the body. This can be accomplished, in what should now be an obvious example, by rooting a person so movement of one or both legs cannot reduce the effectiveness of the folding action. You might also employ your knee or shin to keep the opponent’s knee from shifting and thereby improve the folding effects. Similarly restricting shoulder movement may provide enhanced benefit to a fold applied at the elbow joint.
Experiment with your training partner to employ various folds, paying particular attention to what other parts of the body move as each fold is being applied. Now consider how you might restrict some portion of your partner’s anatomy so that your fold will be even more effective. You will naturally discover that some folds are best applied when you have established a specific orientation with respect to your training partner. This will suggest to you when and where a particular fold is most applicable.
You will undoubtedly find situations in which your partner resists your attempts at folding. That’s fantastic. You now have a new training opportunity. When you detect such resistance instantly look for other folds, often on opposite sides of the body or in direct opposition to your original fold attempt that might be employed. This is combining the concepts of abandonment, creasing, and folding. If you detect resistance during a fold attempt, abandon that attempt immediately and fold the person somewhere else. It will almost always be easy to fold them somewhere else.
Blending is a somewhat difficult skill to master. The concept is a bit amorphous and hard to appreciate. However, once you begin to understand it and learn how to utilize the concept then it will serve you well in close quarters conflicts.
Blending means that you and your opponent begin to act as one being rather than as two separate individuals. Every movement by one person is performed in unison with a movement by the other person.
You have employed blending in the past without perhaps appreciating or recognizing the concept or its benefits. Now you will want to consider how you can employ this concept as a planned tactical element of conflict management.
Let’s take a simple example first. Assume someone strikes with Hidari Oi Tsuki. You move to octagon angle 7 and turn to face in the same direction as your opponent, allow your right arm to shadow your opponent’s left arm. You are now blending. The two of you are moving in concert with one another.
The blending is not likely to last long in this particular example. You may quickly move on to reposition the opponent’s body by moving his or her extended left arm, or perhaps you will strike with Migi Yoko Empi Uchi to the opponent’s head. But for a moment you and your opponent experienced a moment of blended movement (which either of you could have used to advantage in this example).
Another example of blending involves someone strike with the right hand. You employ your left hand to briskly press the opponent’s arm outward, causing the opponent’s left side to move in your direction. In most situations the opponent will think, “Hey, I’m just gonna hit you with my left arm now. Thank you very much!” But as the left arm comes forward it will not have a linear trajectory due to the rotating inertia your earlier provided via your left arm. The opponent’s strike will probably move along a circular path directly in front of your torso. You can now employ your right arm to blend with the opponent’s left arm movement as the incoming strike passes by in front of you. This blending will further rotate your opponent inducing increased structural instability.
You might now terminate the blending by striking, but you could continue blending by engaging your left hand to continue rotation of the opponent’s left arm while moving behind your rotating opponent in a fluid shift of your position. Because your opponent is structurally unstable and therefore weightless you can make very subtle contact with the person’s shoulders or head and, in a blending manner, simply move backward. Now in another blending movement simply rotate your center clockwise. With little effort and in very little time you have blended your opponent all of the way to the floor.
Anytime you intercept and subsequently guide some portion of your opponent’s anatomy your are blending. You can blend with a person until you find either a new blending opportunity, an escape option, or a opening in which you can employ Nage or some other more forceful measure.
You should now consider how you might employ creasing, folding, circles, swirls, and blending in spontaneous combinations. A swirling movement might lead to a crease which could result in a fold that might provide an opportunity to employ blending. Or a blending motion could cause the opponent to move along a much larger circular path eventually culminating in a folding sequence.
The possibilities here are truly endless. It would be impossible to delineate these for you. The only method by which you can truly appreciate and learn to utilize these combination skills is through experimentation and practice. Work with as many different people as possible to see how one of these concepts can lead to or benefit another.
You will know you are beginning to appreciate these skills when you can move in a continuous and flowing manner to a) make your opponent move much more than you are moving, b) keep your opponent in a continual state of instability and weightlessness, and c) expend very little energy while completely dominating and controlling your opponent. This can only be learned through continual practice and experimentation.
While performing these experiments note where and when both yourself and your training partner are vulnerable. Now work to maximize your training partner’s vulnerabilities while minimizing your own. You need to pay attention to both sides of this issue or you run the significant risk of someone readily countering your actions. You will cover this more in a future belt curriculum, but for now ensure you do not expose yourself to unnecessary risk.
Perhaps not surprisingly, redirection refers to the strategy of moving another person, or some portion of his or her anatomy, in a direction other than what was originally intended. If someone throws a right punch at you, but you parry his or her arm in some way, you are technically redirecting the arm. By now you’ve practiced similar movements hundreds of times.
Whenever you redirect someone’s arm, leg, head, or entire body your redirection has consequences for both yourself and the other person. Here is a list of likely (not guaranteed) consequences for common redirection methods.
|An Arm (grabbing or striking)||Moved inward||Causes the person to rotate his or center away from you. Also affects the hips and knees, making the near leg weaker. Can be used to gain access to the back or head.|
|An Arm (grabbing or striking)||Moved outward||Causes the person to rotate his or center toward you. Can be used to induce a punch from opponent’s opposite side.|
|A Leg (kicking or supporting)||Moved inward||Rotates the person so that his or her back is vulnerable.|
|A Leg (kicking or supporting)||Moved outward||Rotates the person to expose his or her core to manipulation or attack.|
|An Arm (grabbing or striking)||Pulled forward via sticky hand or a light grab.||Causes the person to shift his or her center of gravity forward over the front leg enable throws such as an elbow outturn or Kaiten Nage. Can also be used to set up an attack to the face.|
|An Arm (grabbing or striking)||Moved upward||If you are on the ear side of a person then using your front hand to simply raise the person’s arm will enable you to perform a throw similar to final stages of Shiho Nage.|
|Head||Moved backward||This is Chinbotsusen Nage and can result in either a simply control maneuver or a violent throw.|
|Head||Moved forward||Bringing the head forward provides an opportunity for strikes such as Hiza Geri or a variety of throws such as Kaiten Nage.|
Redirection can be either defensive or offensive in nature, depending on circumstance, timing, your intent, and happenstance. There is no limit to the number of ways in which redirection can be utilized. As you work with others consider which part of your movement is actually a redirection and then notice what opportunities are presented as a result of the redirection. The goal here is not to learn a specific set of redirection methods, but rather to understand and appreciate what opportunities you will encounter as any given redirection unfolds. This is simply a matter of paying attention to movement and noticing what advantages you may achieve simply by moving some portion of a person’s anatomy.
Situations are Dynamic
Whenever you are confronted with a potential or actual conflict you should understand that nothing about the situation will be constant. Everything will be in a constant state of change. A person’s demeanor, energy, position, speed, location, structure, and abilities will all change, often quite rapidly, during a conflict. Both you and the person with whom you are in conflict will both experience these changes.
It is important to understand this so that you can take necessary precautions to preserve your own energy expenditures while also working to gain a strategic advantage over the other person or to escape the situation in some manner. You want to also ensure the other person is expending as much energy as possible while also quickly losing structural integrity and any positional advantage they may have had.
Another aspect of this concept is that a person’s structure, position, orientation and muscular-skeletal alignments will constantly be in a state of flux. You must assume that any position your opponent adopts will change in the next fraction of a second. Your goal is to anticipate or dictate the way in which these changes will occur so that you can take advantage of the opponent in the immediate future. Never plan to take advantage of the opponent in his or her current position or orientation because it will change before you can realize your goals.