Never Mistake the Stillness

Consider this statement: “There is movement in dead time and dead time in movement.”  

This was offered to us by Sensei  Bruce Lee one night in the Dojo when we were studying movement and shifting. He simply said it and invited us to give it some thought.

The dead time, the space, the silence that comes before, after or during a move or technique is where Karate happens. “Movement in dead time”, I believe, is recognizing a pause or break in the opponent’s rhythm and capitalizing on it, or you see a break in their defenses and attack.

The “Dead time in movement” isn’t as clear to me yet, but I have surmised this much. In all likelihood, our transitioning from position to position, or from ready stance to attack opens up a space in our defenses. This dead time is where we lose a battle. Sensei Lee stresses the importance of transition. We have to be ever cognizant of the vital fact that when we’re moving or shifting in order to deliver an attack we are open to attack ourselves. While moving, we have to have Zanshin, and maintain composure and posture – all the while moving swiftly.

This applies, of course, to Kata as well. There can be no dead time as dead time means you lose. There is a tempo in Kata, but at no point does the energy flow become lost or die. You strike, but as soon as the energy is expelled you transition again into the next movement. The ancient Samurai often stood as if they were still, but this was a feint; their internal energy was churning and they were completely conscious and therefore fully  aware. An opponent would misinterpret this stillness and lose his life.

Now, here is one for you to consider, grasshopper… Quotation-Zen-Saying