Efficient Transition – The Slip Step

The ability to transition quickly and efficiently is an essential martial art skill. Those with superior transition skills enjoy a significant tactical advantage by virtue of being in an ideal position from which to act. Moreover, by moving efficiently, martial artists are able to mask their actions and thereby add to their advantage. How then do we apply and benefit from this principle in our daily lives?

In karate, an often used transitional stance is the slip step, which refers to a method of movement through which a practitioner shortens or lengthens the distance between themselves and their opponent. The mechanics enable a practitioner to minimize the time during which they are vulnerable, while maximizing their options through the use of proper body mechanics and distance control. Proper movement helps martial artists avoid being caught in transition.

Like martial artists, we should strive to avoid being caught in transition and ensure that we maintain optionality. Preparation is the key. While each situation is unique, the overriding principle is universal. Those seeking to master the principle should prepare for each event, meeting and encounter as if preparing for battle. In combat, warriors try to anticipate and preempt their opponent’s actions. They seek to control the encounter and achieve a tactical advantage by gaining the “high ground”. By preparing for the each encounter in this way i.e. by knowing your opponent, by being familiar with or ideally selecting the time and place of the meeting, and by anticipating likely actions and responses, you will be hard to knock off balance and therefore less likely to be caught in transition.

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The Preemptive Strike

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” – General George Washington

Those who study karate are familiar with the expression “there is no first strike in karate”. To them, the expression represents the philosophical basis of the martial arts. Taken literally, it refers to the principle that karate practitioners should never initiate or escalate a confrontation, nor should they use their skills other than in self-defense. The philosophical underpinnings of this expression run much deeper than one might expect, holding great relevance for both martial artists and non-martial artists alike.

In the medical profession, health care providers take a proactive approach to treating illness through the use of preventative medicine and early intervention. Unfortunately, this philosophy is not as readily accepted regarding matters of personal defense. The martial artist however, sees preemptive action as an essential part of an effective self-defense capability.

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