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Pinan Yondan - Part 15

When you have performed the first movement of Pinan Yondan, you are in nekko ashi dachi (a left cat stance) with a combined chudan and jodan shuto uke or uchi. The next movement is the mirror image, to the right.

But you could perform the same movement to the left, back, right, front, or any angle. You could move clockwise or counterclockwise.

You could execute the mirror image first. There is no difference between the right movement or the left movement. You could even execute the left movement to the right and the right movement to the left. There is no difference.

And if you can execute a chudan/jodan combination, you could also execute any other useful combination. You could execute a standard chudan shuto, or a gedan shuto, or a jodan/gedan combination. And these could also be executed in any direction, clockwise or counterclockwise.

And why does it have to be a shuto? It doesn't.

And why does it have to be in a neko ashi dachi? It doesn't.

Once you understand the first movement and learn how to execute it well, the idea is not to do that movement only, but to use that knowledge to enable you to do any movement in any direction, as needed.

And if the second movement is to the right, it could just as easily move forward to the left, or in any direction. It isn't limited either.

Each movement you learn is an invitation to many movements. It is like playing cards with a handful of wild cards.

Of course, many people cling to a literal interpretation of fixed kata and fixed movements. But we are preparing for the unknown -- an unknown attacker or attackers, at an unknown time, from an unknown direction, with an unknown technique. We are not preparing for a fixed attack -- that would be pretty easy. We are preparing for the unexpected.

To respond to the unexpected, you have to be able to adapt and move freely.

Learning kata can either help you or hinder you in this regard. In most cases, I would say that it hinders people because kata are taught in a rigid and fixed way. At first this is necessary, but students should be advised that the ultimate goal is fluency of motion.

A hard, rigid kata may look good to some people. This gets back to my earlier pretend question: "Would you like to look good at Karate or be good at Karate? Looking good and being good can be two different things. And what looks good to a layman will usually differ from what looks good to an expert.

The first movement of Pinan Yondan is an invitation to fluency of movement.

Another way to visual this is to say that each movement is an intersection point for an infinite (or at least large) number and variation of movements.

In English, we have just 26 letters. But using those letters, if we are fluent, we can form words and sentences to respond to any question.

And don't forget. If you are fluent at movement, the idea is to be just as fluent at application.


Charles C. Goodin