the “safety at work” kata

i came across an article about “shisa kanko” or “pointing and calling”, which is a method used by the railway in japan and other organisation to improve accuracy and avoid mistakes and accidents. watch the video which i’m sure will be fascinating. over and above the beauty of the method and the oh-so-japanese feel it has i was also captivated by elegance and commitment with which it is executed. when the train operator points at a sign in the distance he does not do it casually. first he brings his hand to the side of his head and then points very directly and very deliberately at the object in the distance and finally the elegant gesture ends with a kind of “kime”, a certain focus. i could not avoid drawing parallels between it and shuto uchi (e.g. in heian yondan).

what can this teach us about karate? i’m not really sure. draw your own conclusions, but i hope you find the video as fascinating as i did.

Epic cat fight

I found this video of a cat fight to demonstrate nicely the basic principles of maai such as distance and timing. At the beginning of the fight the cat atop the stepladder (say Aka) seemingly has the advantage of a higher position. The other cat (say Shiro) slowly edges forward provoking Aka into a frenzied yet ineffective attack. Whilst the flurry of wild paw swings first causes Shiro to flinch it achieve very little and mostly serves to cause Aka to somewhat lose its balance. Shiro for its part maintains its composure as well as its position just outside Aka’s reach. Finally, having seen the pattern in Aka’s attack Shiro chooses its moment to launch its own attack which is much more effective. Use the options cog to watch in extra slow motion and you’ll see that the counter is timed perfectly between attacks. A carefully timed lunge by Shiro finds its mark and quickly sends Aka fleeing away.