Lately my fascination with karate – there is a new one every few months or so – is the open hand, and in studying and researching open hand methods and techniques I have become familiar once again with the obvious: we have two hands.
In Shotokan, at an early stage in our training we do fairly well in recognizing that the hand that is not the lead hand is the second half of balancing or leveraging a technique. We accept Newton’s third law here (for every action there is an equal and opposite re-action), and we generally tend to get it right; for example, we rip the draw arm back to the hip bone when we deliver a basic punch.
But this isn’t basic.
Prior to this renewed interest in karate being a two-handed Art ( we often get caught up in the idea that one hand actually delivers a blow) I got a little complacent with the second hand as Karate-ka often do, I think. At bottom, there is no technique in Shotokan where the hand not delivering the technique is not somehow either engaged directly or indirectly. It is protecting your body from a counter attack; it is ready to deliver the next attack; it is grabbing and holding the opponent; it is delivering its own force to a second attacker or to another part of the same opponent’s body.
Have a look at the picture. Musashi didn’t fight with one hand on the sword and the other one flailing in the air or tucked in his pocket. He used two weapons or he used both as a single weapon.
Interestingly, he never lost a fight…