Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]
|Posted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:15 pm Post subject: Close Range Space Management
|This post was originally published as an article in a dedicated KarateForums.com Articles section, which is no longer online. After the section was closed, this article was most to the most appropriate forum in our community.
The walls are closing in! They'll change constantly due to you and your opponent, but close range space management requires fortitude that's not lacking. Not all martial artists have the nerve or the inclination to engage in combat in close ranges. It takes experience, knowledge and courage to remain collected and driven before an unswerving opponent. However, these spaces must be controlled by you if you're to achieve effectiveness; therefore, success against any close range situation. Proximity given is proximity taken. You must control the center and the spaces that you occupy, whether it's by your own design or by the maneuvering your opponent.
Space management is a torrent tornado that seeks out its next target wherever it may or may not be. Its next victim is sought after in the complacent mindset of those who carelessly transition to and fro in a haphazard fashion.
Immediate spaces can be found in five immediate areas initially; whereas, there is a sixth space that might not be immediately obvious. It's the space that's on the outer rim. This sixth space, in my humble opinion, is chosen by your opponent(s) as a safe haven for their burning retreat as you press forward. You must always remember that this sixth space can be a trap; to lure you out of your comfort zone. Angling directly, as well as indirectly within the center space, all the while your opponent remains unbalanced, while you achieve transitional movements to recapture the center. However, these spaces aren't constant and/or immediate, nor are they long lasting. These spaces appear as fast, if not even faster, as they disappear, without warning. Close range space management can erode into the abyss, to never be seen again. And by then, it is way too late.
Using the diverging radial diagram below to illustrate those manageable spaces, we can see many things that must be controlled. It's the center, as indicated below by "YOU," that must manage spaces 1, 2, 3 and 4. Beside those spaces, one will have to also manage the center - the "YOU."
Controlling the center, at all times, is important in one's beginning and middle game. It's not until the end game that the center is no longer necessary; yet it still must be controlled, if only for one brief moment. The center moves to where the battle being waged.
As your opponent attacks, you begin to purposefully venture out into one of those four spaces, dependent on what the situation demands and requires of you. I must increase and decrease incessantly, separately as well as independently, while being a proponent of steadfast footwork as I weave, dodge, avoid, entrap, control, defend, deflect and/or attack/counter-attack.
As defined by Wikipedia, peripersonal space "is that space within reach of any limb of an individual. Thus to be "within-arm's length" is to be within one's peripersonal space." This describes the four spaces that surround you continuously as you seek to abate your opponent's close range space management in the favor of your own.
Harmonize, yes, but not so much where one forgets why they're in said space to begin with. Harmonizing with your opponents own flow is a beautiful thing when done correctly. One mistake by you, and the harmonious tone you're trying to balance, becomes destructive as the walls of your managed space crumble before you. It's a fine line to thread, to say the least, but worthy of your efforts.
The fight or flight space is the area that's surrounding you. Should that precious space become disturbed by any possible threat, no matter its size, that act will cause you to heighten your senses.
This means that, for just that infinitesimal time, your senses might be quite overwhelmed with an undeniable desire to escape. This is normal. It is in that blink of an eye that you'll have to decide if you will remain in that given space or if you will escape into a more advantageous space.
Nonetheless, all space must be defined, no matter whom is occupying that particular space. Therefore, the immediate proximity of transitions towards and away from one another become clearer as the attack/defense becomes more immediate.
The peripersonal space is the space that must be observed and served well while engaging an opponent in close range. There's a propinquity that arises between the space that's being managed at that very moment and the space that's in waiting just before you enter a new space. As my opponent moves, I either occupy one of the spaces that surround my opponent and me or I intercept said intentions and execute the appropriate responses to manage both the space and my opponent. I become sensitive to the most infinitesimal movement within the space because two can't occupy the same space at the same time; one has to give into the other someway and/or somehow.
For example: my opponent has advanced towards me with a meaningful attack. I move to one of the four spaces to avoid the attack because my opponent and I can't be in the same spot. If I maintain my ground in my center space, I deny my attacker that space by forcing my attacker to one of the other spaces because I've now suspended any positive forward motion/movement. I then leave the center space to execute my counter-attack; however, I'm going to be in another space as it unfolds. Thus one thing, then another and so on and so forth until my opponent yields. These checks and balances are a game of guile and determination. Who is stronger? Wiser? Who possesses the required knowledge and experience to see the battle to its conclusion? More importantly, who's got luck on their side?
Ashi sabaki - footwork - and all that's required and involved within it, is the core in close range space management. Footwork, in my opinion, is an operational methodology; otherwise, one can't shift from, for example, the center to 1 back to center, then back to 3 without effective footwork. Footwork allows one to be in the right space at the right time. Without footwork, it's quite impossible to execute your technique and avoid an attack. You need to make your footwork smooth while not causing any backward momentum. Your foot actions must remain under your body - meaning that your body does not give away the strategies that your feet are executing.
Remember, the two combatants are trying to outwit, outlast and outplay for the upper hand over the rich commodity of real estate. They own their chess pieces in such a manner that the assured victor will receive their deserved reward. Yet, to the loser of this battle, they shall be imprisoned and cast aside without having ever won any fruitful space. A plot of land is all that it is to the layperson, but to a martial artist, it's territorial, and it must be had.
Kime/focus stands on the fence with many governing bodies as well as many martial artists - not just the karateka. I believe that I must put every drop of my focus into that which I'm executing at the given moment because you can only get what you put in. I don't believe that I should remain tensed throughout my technique(s), but I should be relaxed and calm. Just a split second before contact with the target, I tense, but then immediately relax. The calmness returns until the next time that I decide it's necessary to do so. In that, if properly executed, my power curve will not be affected; therefore, my power will not be arrested. I also believe that I should go through said target, protecting myself at all times. Focus your every molecule; as close range space management will be a pre-requisite of you at all times.
Avoid any complacency, which can only welcome failure within the finest elements of close range space management. Keep moving, keep it tight, create openings, angle in and out, slip and slide, close by denying, open by deflecting, and keep it simple.
The text cycle diagram below illustrates the space that's controlled by your opponent; as it should be, but not for long. If one was to place the previous diagram above directly inside of the text cycle diagram below, you'd have an understanding as to what the sixth space refers to. Trying to manage the spaces in the extreme outer perimeter forces you away from the center space, and this center space is everything. It shouldn't be taken lightly at all.
Pulling from Wikipedia once more, extrapersonal space is "the space that occurs outside the reach of an individual."
This space, the extreme outer perimeter, occurs when your opponent voluntarily moves out of your reach. Now you've got a choice to make. One, you can hold your ground within your established center space, waiting for your opponent to re-engage with you. Two, you can bring the fight to your opponent, establishing a new center space to manage. Either way, a decision must be made, and it must be made expeditiously and without reservation.
Should you bring the fight to your opponent, be aware that you're risking an entrance into your opponent's center space. You're the intruder now.
That said, either decision has the potential to be correct. Proactive decisions are made for the betterment of one's survival. Your needs and desires must be greater than those of your opponent while the game is afoot.
All spaces are manageable; however, all spaces are reactionary. React specifically as your opponent and yourself enter and leave any space. You want to cause your opponent's actions to be set in motion by what you're directing through your premeditated intents.
Let's walk through a tuite application - one that white belts in Shindokan learn.
As my opponent attempts to grasp one of my wrists, I ever so slightly alter my orientation within my current space. By doing so, I've created temporary distance. To compensate for my movements, my opponent must now leave that space to attempt the grasp once again. But not so fast! I can allow the grasp or I can deny it, and in that, I can still remain in the current space. If I deny, I'll choose to re-establish a new center space to draw my opponent in. If I allow, we will remain in our respective spaces for the moment. While my wrist is in my opponent's grasp, I transition to an adjacent space sharply. This should cause my opponent to be off-center within their current space. At this very instant, I redirect sharply back to my previous space, and as my opponent is drawn out of said space, and into my space, I rotate the hand of my grasped wrist so that I now have my opponent's wrist. This is followed by a drop to my outside knee while turning my hips in and away from the center of my current space. I continue this motion directing my hand to the floor. At the same time, I place my other hand upon the elbow of that same side - thus, forcing my opponent to become prostrated before me.
The one space that my opponent started at isn't of any concern with that particular tuite application. Therefore, I only had to manage two spaces. Ideally, the less spaces that one has to manage, the better. But sometimes, each and every space within the peripersonal space must be managed until the conclusion.
Here are a few close range space management drills. Always allow your partner to commit to their attack completely. You will only move to another space at the very last second; no sooner. Timing is important to these drills, as it is to most drills in the martial arts! Keep it all tight, staying as close as you can to your partner. Don't do any wide transitions to avoid your partners reach. Maintain balance and posture during all drills! You both start in a fighting stance. Increase the speed and the tempo as you desire. Mix your attacks up as to conceal your intent so that you're not telegraphing. However, don't do anything new until the confidence increases. When that confidence increases, always remember to not become complacent.
Drill #1: Partner starts in space #1. You start in center space ("YOU" in the diagram). Your partner will attempt to touch your right shoulder while stepping towards you with their left hand. At the very last second, you'll transition to either space #2 or #4.
Drill #2: Starting positions will be the same as in drill #1, with one exception. Your partner will advance towards you while trying to touch your opposite shoulder with the same hand. At the very last second, you'll transition to either space #2 or #4.
Drill #3: Starting positions will be the same as in drill #1, with one exception. Have your partner advance towards you, trying to push you backwards out of your center space. You transition to either space #2 or #4. While it's not a preferred option, you can also transition directly to space #3, for just a brief moment before you then transition to spaces #2 or #4.
Drill #4: Starting positions will be the same as in drill #1, with one exception. Your partner will advance towards you and touch you in your head or chest. You'll not move until the very last second, and when you do, you'll transition to space #1. If you keep your body close and tight into your partner, as you perform your footwork, this will allow you to circle behind your partner. In other words, you'll end up facing your partner, who's now in the center space.
In my stumbling way with the written words, I hope that I've adequately explained this concept, so that it can be appreciated by all levels of knowledge and experience. Close range space management is a viable and effective manner of tuite. Besides tuite, this concept can be used in self defense, sparring and more. Spaces still exist, no matter the situations; therefore, this model can transfer effectively into many martial arts scenarios.
**Proof is on the floor!!!