One thing I love about my Shotokan training is the morsels of knowledge that Sensei put out there. While in class there are always things said, sometimes subtly, that are little keys to the locks along the path of becoming adept.
Such a fragment of knowledge came just recently. Sensei was giving me some one on one adjustment and we were discussing being grabbed in a confrontation. Sensei motioned for me to grab his Gi at chest level (as so often happens in a street fight). As I did he simply said “Disassociate.”
As I grabbed him, he ignored my grip, and immediately retaliated with a strike to my temple.
It became clear that Disassociate was to forget the hand that had grabbed him. If someone grabs you and you direct your attention to that, you lose the opportunity to counter – you miss the window. The hand that grips you is no longer a threat.
The same applies if you get hit. You can’t let that distract you to the point where it cripples your counter attack. I don’t know about my fellow Karateka, but I’m not good enough yet to survive an altercation -in sparring or on the street -and not get hit. Thinking “oh god, I think I’m cut” will ensure you lose the challenge.
If you take a strike or blow, Disassociate and get to the task at hand.