For the past few days, during Zoom training, we have been looking at Happo Sabaki/Tai Sabaki; i.e. the 8 directions of attack and defence.

We are now moving forward, from ‘simple Sabaki’ to the more ‘complex Sabaki’. This will bring terminology that you may not be as familiar with.

It is quite important, within karate, to understand these Japanese terms, and describe them, not just be able to do the practical move or application. Why? Because Karate is a traditional Okinawan/Japanese Art, and the language used in Traditional Karate-Do can be spoken in any dojo, in any country, anywhere in the world, even though you don’t speak French, Italian, Welsh, Urdu, Swahili, etc.

Today, I am looking at the simple terminology for ‘Yokeru – Koto’! Yokeru is the Japanese verb meaning ‘to evade’; and in Japanese language we can turn the verb into a noun by adding ‘Koto’ indicating ‘things’. Thus, Yokeru – Koto = Evasion.

In essence, we move our body (Tai Sabaki) in such a way that we avoid the opponent’s technique (attack). Simple enough, as a concept, more difficult in execution. We must put it in our minds and focus on developing these.

We will also hear the terminology ‘Naname’. Simply put, ‘Naname’ means ‘Diagonal’

We need to understand that with simple attacks the opponent’s strike or body will be normally moving in the line or direction of their attack! By evading, not necessarily blocking, they (the Teki), are for a moment in time placed in disadvantage (Kyo), as they can not quickly recover enough to change their attack. For this to work, we must allow the attack and wait until the last possible moment before we move, otherwise we show them our intent – creating our own moment in Kyo that they can exploit.

This is of course a Go-No-Sen concept.

If we apply Yokeru-Koto arduously and consistently in our practice, we find options; 1) there may be no need to block, 2) their attack is too strong so we must still block then add the counter, 3) we could be blocking and countering at the same time as we employ the ‘evasion’, and 4) the end game – a De-Ai with a strong attack or simultaneous block/attack.

For the purpose of this text, all the attacks are Migi Oizuki or Migi Maegeri from the Semete.

Now don your ‘Dogi’ and practice ‘Hidari Mae Naname’ as simple ‘Sabaki’, from Shizentai; then we with some concentration and arduous practise, move to another phase – ‘Hidari Naname Ni Yokeru Koto’ and ‘Migi Naname Ni Yokeru Koto’ from ‘Hidari Jiyu No Kamae’.

Enjoy! OSS!

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