Friday 19 November 2010

Sinking the tanden

My mind set in regards to stances, whether deep or shallow, is to sink my tanden into the ground. I also do this when ground fighting and when sitting in seiza for mokuso. Insignificant of what style or martial art one practices, this is a particularly useful approach as it works to maintain optimal balance, especially in a real confrontation (when facing a sudden and violent attack). This was a foundational aspect of Shotokan-ryu, but is often misunderstood.

Reality check: Many people find it difficult to deal with a violent blitz of punches being rained down on them. They get on the `back foot’ and their well-polished skills fall to pieces. It is of little wonder why these people really start questioning their style and training methods. Working in the security industry for years allowed me to see lots of martial artists find out that their skills were for the `dojo only'.
More advantages of sinking the tanden: Of course `sinking the tanden’ is also applicable when moving. Leading movement from the tanden is faster, “keeps your head back” and when perfected minimises `telegraphing’; not to mention it results in a smoother transfer of power into the target.
You may now be thinking "You forgot the physical benefits of low stances". Well, if you think this, you've missed the point. The depth of the stance is not the point of this article, as sinking the tanden is what really counts. And insofar as leg strengthening is concerned, there are far better ways to do this i.e. - squats, plyometrics etc. The benefits of a low stance are for application, but that is most certainly worth another article.
Regardless of the stance, position of movement `sink your tanden’ and do everything from your centre. This is one of the skills that the Japanese consistently master and Westerners consistently do not, and is a key reason why Japanese karateka are perceived to `technically look different’.
© André Bertel. New Zealand, 2010.

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