In Toudi: Head Back, Weapons Close

Last Thursday Sensei Lee dropped a few gems as he usually does and illustrated them so that we could appreciate what he was teaching us. He quoted Nishiyama Sensei in saying that in keeping your hands in a ready position toward your opponent, you are prepared to arrest any movement they make and you are “taking their action space.” He demonstrated this as he usually does with his classic fighting stance with his lead hand open but rigid and his other hand in a closed fist. He also showed that in a fighting stance, having your head kept back a mere two inches was the difference between safe and vulnerable in a fight.

I couldn’t help but thank that this instruction was coming from generations of Karate Masters,

This further hit home when Sensei Lee began speaking about never aborting a technique, but altering its purpose.

untitledIn a book written in 1934, (pictured here) Itoman Sensei describes the techniques of “Toudi” or what we now call Karate. In it, Itoman defines something called “switching techniques”. An example would be where you throw a punch and, seeing that it may not make contact, you turn it into an elbow strike. Interestingly enough, this is the exact technique that Sensei Lee demonstrated in class.

Perhaps a topic for another Blog, but in the book Itoman Sensei also talks bout EVERY Toudi technique being an attack AND a defense: something Sensei Lee reiterates to his students adamantly.

Walking away from class I remember thinking that my Sensei, a karate Master in his own right, was teaching the same Karate that was taught in the Ryukyu Islands in the days when Karate was still Toudi.

How’s that for a Martial Art lineage…