The aspect of distance was given great emphasis at last nights training session in Ayase. Soke often makes reference to distance and the proper use of space and how this is fundamental to our study of Budo.
In my most recent seminars in CA, Seattle and Ireland, I also spoke about distance and how you must never loose touch of the aspect of this in your training. If the distance and the dynamics associated with it are not correct or real life, then you are cheating yourself in your training and developing bad habits in taijutsu than can cost you dearly. Maybe even your life.
The aspect of proper distance is not something that we need to learn. It is innate and we can judge distance and the element of control naturally, if we allow our senses and body to be in tune. This is a big part of what our Soke means when he talks about “the feeling”.
Soke also spoke last night of the continuation of energy and relation to a spark. If you create a spark, you have overdone it by putting too much power or control into your technique (or energy) creating an overload in the situation and therefore a possible retaliation. We must control the opponent without the opponent being able to perceive this control.
The aspect of distance can be lost in training if you believe that all waza start from a static situation. This is the first breakdown in proper distance control. To make this point, if you watch Soke’s movement you see that he is always moving, and he never starts from a static position. A static position makes it difficult to move with the right timing and maintain the magnetic energy of Inyo. The best way to experience the difference is to try the kihon while walking toward the opponent. When the opponent feels that you are in the proper range initiates the attack. Try this and you will quickly see the dynamics of distance and how you can use this to force to opponent to attack when he perceives the correct striking distance. In reality this is a perception that you created, throwing the opponent of balance by his own attack. Recognize this difference since the static nature of a waza is a play on the truth and will cheat you of realism and the proper dynamics of shinken gata.
Furthermore, the correct feeling of distance is felt in twofold in a sword clash. You can clearly see how the use of long sharp implements affect your williness to close the distance. As you may know and may have guessed, the key to effective kenjutsu is also distance control and this is the best way to put your taijutsu under a microscope. Try this also with the Bo against the sword and you will see yet another dynamic and learn the strengths and weaknesses of both weapons.
So take another step back and think about it for a moment. Effectiveness in taijutsu is the responsibility of each budoka and unfortunately there seems to be too much false distance. Don’t cheat yourself or your training partner. This is training that will save your life. How can you do that if the most important element in fighting is off?