Sunday, June 21, 2015

Faking To Win

In those days, when Japanese stylists threw a kick they never faked or feinted — the kick went straight to the target. They were not accustomed to someone faking a kick to one area and landing it elsewhere.

— Chuck Norris on sport-karate strategy, c. 1967.*

In Wansu kata, the fourth karate form taught in Isshinryu, at some point the defender executes an uppercut immediately followed by a front kick. I have been told that Shimabuku referred to this maneuver as "bullshit", i.e., the uppercut is just a fake setup for the real damage inflictor, in this case the front kick. A very similar strategy can be found in the Kusanku kata: backfist to the face while simultaneously executing a foward-leg front kick. Check out the image below of Ed McGrath attempting this very trick for his black belt test against his instructor Don Nagle in 1959:

McGrath paid for his efforts with a broken nose, but he did earn his shodan in Isshinryu. In MMA there's something called a "Superman Punch" that involves the player faking a jump kick followed by an airborne punch to the face. Although less "fake-ish", another variation of this has the attacker catapulting off the side of the cage to deliver the flying haymaker:

In karate, a faked front kick (or foot sweep) followed by a round kick to the head works well, speaking from experience. Fakes or feints should be used sparingly and look realistic enough to elicit a response; once the opponent has committed to reacting to the faux move, the live technique can then be delivered. To sell the fake technique requires speed, timing, range/distance (ma-ai), and being able to read the opponent.

* Chuck Norris 1989. The Secret of Inner Strength: My Story. Charter Books.

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