What there is more…well of course there is! But this is a bit of a divergent post, as it begins to deal with strategy and the application of Mushin, within this context.
In the space between an attack and counter there is a split second where chaos exists. By this I mean it can go either way, either your way or theirs, success or failure, surviving or dying, it is all in a split second between a decision or action or even a non-decision or non-action. This space exists in time, this space exists in distance and learning how to control and utilize it is a high art. Mushin – “no mind”, is exactly there, no thought of success or failure, there is only the now, and you deal only with what is in the “now” in order to survive. How can you deal with what is happened, you can’t you just move on, what about what will happen next, once again you can’t as it is not happening yet. Action in the now, is where the space in between a perfect attack and a counterattack , happens. This strategy is more than just a “strategy” but a piece of living, when you have it happen to you whether in training or when you have become fully engaged in an activity, it is there. There are some who try to grab at it without understanding the basics of the theory I am writing about here. Just so I don’t leave you without any hard lesson and not just my philosophical wanderings, here is an exercise you can practice: During your next training session take 3 or 4 partners and place them around you in a circle, at a specific time, each will attack you with 1 and only 1 attack, you have to only counter with 1 counter, then the next attacker goes, and so forth. The main idea here is not to allow the 1 in the middle to “think” of a counter, the attacks need to be fast, so that the receiver in the middle doesn’t have time to think about what is next. Slowly at first then add progressively more attacks at a faster pace, until it is seamless in flow, countering only with what is, and not anticipating what is next.
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 ,