If you’re like me you’ll watch an old episode of Kung Fu: The Legend Continues and you’ll be listening for a tidbit of Zen advice or a fragment of Martial Arts knowledge. Take this simple phrase, for instance: “Avoidance, that is the first lesson in self-defense.” Kwai Chang Caine
Avoidance is something we all know about, and in Martial Arts it exists on more than one level. The obvious avoidance technique is simply not being there. For example, if you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself somewhere where the atmosphere is getting tense or tempers are flaring, one option may be to simply get out of there. Sometimes you simply adopt the stance of ‘it’s time to go!’ and remove yourself from the premises. After all, you can’t lose a battle that you don’t participate in.
Then of course, there are the situations where the nearest exit is not an option. Avoidance then becomes the matter of not getting your block knocked off. In the dojo when your opponent is driving in with an Oi Tsuki, your plan isn’t usually to ‘block’ it. The plan is to shift – get out of the line of fire. We have one particular Senpai in out Dojo who is about 165 LBS, and yet he can deliver a strike with the speed and impact of a cannon ball. When training with him you realize that your only option is to get offline from his attack…in a hurry!
A better example is perhaps dealing with an oncoming kick. You’ll quickly learn that a sweeping downward block by itself will serve one purpose: to get your fingers broken. On the other hand, a defensive (or offensive) move in conjunction with a shift out of the way makes much more sense.
Of course, it is my thinking that if I’m aware enough and anticipate the attack coming, I don’t wait around to deal with it; I drive in and terminate it before it leaves the silo. As Sensei Lee often reiterates, your opponent can’t attack if they’re busy absorbing shock and pain.
(Pictured here, Asai Sensei avoids an Oi Tsuki and positions for a counter)
Perceive the threat, terminate the situation. That’s avoidance too, I guess.