The Space Between

Miyamoto-Musashi

The other day while training with my friend, we began to outline and discuss a strategy that I use  (a have stupidly violated, more on that later) in order to defeat techniques,  I call it “the space between or the moment between.”

Let me start off with a story of how I violated this strategy and learned a lesson: Several years ago I was teaching a grappling seminar at a Karate school. During the event I was demonstrating various counters to choking attacks, at one of the breaks, this large gentlemen whom was a police officer, approached me and asked, “how do you escape a rear naked choke?” I foolishly said it depends and let’s try and see. I sat in his guard and he got behind me and put the choke on. Now I thought he was going to just get in position and see what we could do, but he had other ideas and began to squeeze so hard that I immediately knew I was going out very quickly if I couldn’t escape, so I applied an ankle lock counter and a loud pop was heard with a sudden loud grunt as well! I got up and my opponent said, “if I was five years younger I would have taken you,” I said “ if I was five years younger I would have hurt you a lot more…” and so began the strategy “the space between”.

When any technique is on perfectly it becomes almost impossible to counter, this is especially true with weapons as there is no forgiving when a perfectly wielded attack has penetrated your counter, but it is the moment between the perfect ”ON”, and your counter that will save you. Miyamoto Musashi wrote There is timing in everything. Timing in strategy cannot be mastered without a great deal of practice.” And with that said the space between the movements is where you can successfully learn to protect yourself or loved ones. Counters are just that a counter for a particular attack or defense, but if you truly master the underlying strategy it is almost as if you cannot be touched. Now this strategy sounds simple, but has taken years for me to deeply understand and apply in my martial practice. Soke Hatsumi speaks of the “kukan” which he translated at the time to refer to “Space”, now I move in between the spaces with much more ease, and so should you.

Practice diligently the way of strategy ,

Bufu Ikkan

Airyu