Go-ju hard-soft, sticky hands and conditioning

Tonights session was clearly an example of the go (hard) and the ju (soft) aspects of our art, after a sweaty warm up, three punch drill, exchanging kicks, sparring (like my last post kicking has improved), randoi (which in the last two sessions mine has improved alot) we played with hakutsuru te (ju) and the wall (go).

Hakutsuru te is what we term as sticky hands or white crane hands (very similar to wing chun hands, it’s something more advanced students of goju will start to use), it’s principle essentially a sensitivity drill, so that your arms can react to incoming strikes, using deflect, block, trap and punch as the basic drill. We also have other sticky hand drills like Kakie (used for locks and throws but same principle).

I always enjoy drilling this and enjoy experimenting with different angles, movements etc and I was really happy that I noticed that saifa and tensho techniques were flowing into it via instinct. It is exciting to see katas that I have been drilling for years finally creeping into different facets of my karate, I even applied some shisochin striking (although that was a conscious effort) from when we evolved it to distracting blows and then drilling it with our eyes shut.

To finish off we did the dreaded wall! Which is truly a love-hate relationship, you maybe wondering what is so special about a wall, well my dear fellows I shall tell you, you have to stand with the wall behind you, not leave the wall and let someone rain punches on you, and your opponents rotate for several rounds.

Tonight in the first round we were allowed to deflect the strikes, then from then all we had to let them hit us, each round they rotate so a new opponent will hit you, for those not use to the wall it is strange, each person hits you a different way with a different pattern.

Tonight was harder than usual, my shodan grading is in four weeks (my mates shodan-ho as well) we faced against nidans and they were there to hurt us, make us feel pain and fear and overcome it. First I started to take it and felt like I was almost cowering, my use of sanchin was in full effect, then I tried to roll with the punches, but learnt when a female nidan hit me she did so with a fury of strikes, not giving me a chance to breathe and so I found it funny and started to laugh.

Laughing seems to be one of my coping mechanisms, I end up finding pain funny, unfortunately the more I laughed the harder she hit not realising I wasn’t laughing at her punches but at the pain inflicted. Then when the laughing was literally beaten out of me the beast was unleashed. A state of mind where you challenge the pain and fear and the harder they hit the angrier the beast gets, pumped up with energy bursting to attack.

The wall is both a conditioning device but mostly a mental one, my friend was shocked he never had it that bad before, but it is a learning curb.

These two sections may seem world’s apart but to me they help make up a whole, many martial arts are either hard or soft, many are hard and soft, to be a well rounded martial artist whether sport or self defence, traditional or mma you need both the hard and the soft.

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