We know that achieving Todome (finishing blow technique) is essential in our karate, as Budo says: “Seeking the beauty of one finishing blow technique”.
But even if one develops strong technique, it is no guarantee that it can be used effectively. When facing a skillful opponent there are other conditions necessary in order to create the situation and seize the chance for execution of finish technique.
Without proper interaction even strongest technique will work only against beginners.
For a long period Aiko San (who I see as much as my teacher as Sensei Nishiyama was) and myself used to meet on Sundays, and work on some subtle points of technique, and than have lunch and discuss training.
In one of those lunches we discussed “I Patsu Shobu” – one chance win or lose, (not sure if the spelling is correct).
She explained that the term come from hunting, where it is not enough to be skillful in the use of bow and arrow, but one has to consider the direction of the wind, time of day, terrain and many factors to achieve the chance to shoot the bow and arrow and than one has to have perfect technique.
Point is, we must pay more attention to the in between, the interaction with opponent. Understand and lead the rhythm, read the opponent, make strategy, control the distance according to my strategy. Develop reaction and timing to seize the opportunity in an instant without gap. One has to be able fully commit and carry out the strategy or adapt the strategy to the changes in the opponent, so even while fully committed one is not blind but have awareness. All of these must be part of our game. We must learn to be more sensitive to opponent intentions and inclinations, not only think of our own technique. We must know when to push and when to pull, in the push there is always a pull and in the pull forward energy, and we have to maybe sometimes be able to remove our Ki energy from the opponent and than when the opponent relax, we attack instantly.
We can be sensitive and patient only when relaxed, yet not sloppy, so we can say relaxed focus, or soft outside yet strong inside.
This is true physically as much as mentally; even when the outside is relaxed the very inside is firm, so we keep potential energy and a base to move from.
In my dojo I try to get everyone to avoid the tendency to rush to attack and only think of outcome, and one of the first conditions is that one must be able to accept and welcome the opponent’s attack, and have the confidence that no matter what attack comes, I can handle it and make it into opportunity, that is why we practice so much Oji Waza (response) footwork and have to face many opponents.
Only than one can be patient and relaxed enough to take the risk necessary to create a chance, put oneself in danger (calculated danger) welcome the attack and be ahead of it.