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Main blog page » Archives » October 2012 » Resistance is futile

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10/28/2012: "Resistance is futile"

... because you WILL be assimilated.

Realizing there is resistance, however, means realizing that there is an opening. You just have to know how to find it and flow into it. Be "ju". Be supple, yielding. The willow bends in a strong wind, the oak breaks. The stick rolls with a push, the rope says "meh".

Please note: this post is NOT talking about not resisting an attack! It's about how to deal with the physical resistance you run into while doing a technique.

Regardless of your partner's size, when practicing techniques in class, there often comes a point when tori (the person practicing the technique) feels resistance from uke (the attacker). Sometimes it's muscular resistance, sometimes it's because of uke's size or weight. When you run into that resistance, you need to realize that that is the point at which your technique is actually defined - the point at which your angle/position/etc. becomes most important - and where you need to move with or around the resistance, rather than trying to go through it, which will significantly alter or stop your technique.


Muscles only operate in one direction - by contraction. They operate better in linear directions than rotational ones, especially the long muscles in the arms and legs - which operate hinge joints, which only move in one direction. Somebody can bicep curl an awful lot of weight, but if they try to lift the same weight in another direction using that same joint, they'll find that the mechanics don't lend themselves to that nearly as well.

For example: uke grabs you with his hands, with his arms somewhat extended. Where is he strong? Front to back, where he can curl his biceps. How about sideways? Not as much. Even in class, when a strong uke knows what's coming (which an attacker won't), it's difficult for him to resist the sideways motion of his arms - and if he does resist, we distract him with a low kick or kiai etc., and don't just try to muscle him through the technique. Moving uke's arms sideways allows tori to turn uke's body and move his own, controlling to some extent uke's ability to move and react, and enabling tori to go to the next part of the technique.

Grabbed close in? Meh. Forget the hands - he's using 'em and you've got plenty of other targets. Being close is our happy place!

Size and weight

How about a bear hug? Somebody your size but 100 pounds heavier feels like a rock! Make 'em bigger and heavier, and it feels worse! But if you don't resist the grip, and loosen your knees, drop your center of gravity and forget he's there and just move, you'll find that you're in balance, in position to do the next part of the move, and uke is starting to lose his balance.

Muscles + size/weight = fuhgeddaboutit

Yes. Forget he's there. That's the hardest part - uke's right there, right in your face or right on top of you (standing or on the ground), and you're supposed to ignore him???

Well, not him, but his grip or size or mass. Because one way or another, he's given you an opening and something to use. He has to use part of himself to control you, so he's not able to use it to counter what you do without changing his grip or stance, and you can also use his point(s) of attachment against him. Doing so allows you to use less energy and keep your balance and - especially if he still hangs onto you - he'll begin losing his! This applies whether you're vertical or horizontal.

But what if he's tied you up so much that you can't move?! Well, then he's also tied himself up - and he'll have to untie himself in order to do whatever the next thing is that he wants to do to you. Do something about the attack? Yes. Try to fight his strength? No. That wastes your physical and emotional energy, and you need both. Look for the opening and use it.

You're scared, and rightly so - but keep your head. Let the attacker have the hold, because he's also limiting himself. Look for an opening. Gun jammed in your ear by a hostage taker? You're still alive. Keep your cool and wait for the distraction, or the literal or figurative slip on the attacker's part. Then MOVE. We'll talk about that in a future post.

See the "Legos and levels" post for related thoughts.

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