Positioning using linear movement – Octagon 1
Positioning is an extremely import thing in martial arts. The worst place to be is directly in front of your opponent. This is were your opponent can see best, and bring all weapons, and defenses to bare. Moving to a 90 degree angle on your opponent is considered a much better place to be. Untrained people, and external martial arts must turn toward their opponent to be able to issue energy, and continue their attack. This is not true of internal martial arts practitioners, they can issue energy at any angle, from any point of of their bodies. I’ll speak of the differences between internal and external arts another time. For now will I want to stick to the topic at hand. While being at a 90 degree angle to your opponent is better then being in front of your opponent, the best place to be is directly behind your opponent. Each system has it’s own method of positioning. I want to discuss systems that move in a linear fashion today.
Some systems just move to the 90 degree angle, others use triangles. Other systems stay center, or move forward, backward, left or right side. Many systems use eight directions. There are a couple of training tools that are commonly used. Some systems lay out a box on the floor. They move from center, to each of the corners, and each of the sides. Another training tool is the Octagon. Though it has many applications, I want to discuss it here as it relates to positioning with your opponent.
The octagon can be used for escaping, and evasion, as well as more aggressive forms of self defense. It is used in conjunction with moving on motion, and eye training. Properly used it tells the martial artist where to move. Distance is another key factor in knowing which angle to move too. When done correctly moving once will bring you to a 90 degree angle on your opponent. You have to move twice to be directly behind your opponent.
Which angle to use depends on distance, and whether you are using tunnel vision or peripheral vision. Though I learned this method training Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo, my understanding is that it originally came from Japanese sword fighting. We use 12-6-3 foot distances from our back foot to the opponents back foot to determine which angle to move too. Twelve foot from your back foot to your opponents is about the distance of two opponents facing each other with Katana’s tip to tip.
Another contention of this approach is that in order for your opponent to do you any serious harm, they must seek your center. Therefore they must move to where you are to harm you. The Japanese approach to sword fighting was to make a single pass intending to kill with a single cut. The idea was not to have to block blade on blade, but to focus on killing your opponent. They used moving at angles, and on time as their defense. Of course their only targets were not the opponents center, but could be his hands, or weak points in his armor, etc.. But more on how to set up and where to strike later.
Presume your opponent is at a twelve foot distance. Using tunnel vision, and you are moving on motion. When they move you would move forward at a 45 degree angle either left or right. If they start at a six foot distance, you move straight left, or right. If they start from a three foot distance, you move backward 45 degrees either left or right. The most difficult thing to defend, and worst thing you could do is go straight backward.
If you use peripheral vision your reaction time is much faster. You can easily adjust your angles by one distance. Meaning for example that if your opponent was at six foot you would move to the same angles that you would at twelve foot with tunnel vision. At three foot, you would move the same angles as you would at six foot with tunnel vision.
There is much more to go over on this topic, and I’ll cover it more in the future.