I Challenge You Sir!

At my last seminar I was challenged.  “Sir your stuff doesn’t work! I challenge you to a fight to the death. The winner takes over your school and your students!” No not really, but it sounds great though doesn’t it? Straight from one of those Chinese Kung Fu movies we all love!

What really happened was a very civilised discussion with a great bunch of martial artists. We had been working on a technique from pinan sandan / sono san, which includes a turn with a dropping, extended arm followed by a turn, at least in our version of this kata.


My interpretation of this move is a block and body drag around the centre of the defenders body. The block in this case is a knee hold, blocking the leg from making a step while we drag the body, resulting in the opponent losing their balance.


At the seminar we had started with the second stage of the technique development (click here to read more about the steps) which is quite static and needs a bit of cooperation from our partner to make it work. The conversation started as a few people were struggling with the technique due to a resisting opponent.


This gave me a chance to elaborate more about the steps of technique development. It is natural that techniques don’t work at this stage as our partner knows our intention, technique and timing. Without the element of surprise both trainees can prepare for what’s coming and easily block the action.


Then we moved on to the next stage where we added a little pressure testing, starting the technique from pummelling, where only one person performs the technique and the other tries to stop it. We soon all noticed that just by taking the known timing away from the equation it is very hard to block or counter the technique, even when we know what’s coming.


This challenge showed us the importance of pressure testing all of our techniques from both perspectives (the attacker and the defender). In particular it’s important to consider when a partner is cooperating and when they are not. Pressure testing verification gives us an idea of changing conditions and “real” techniques as not all techniques will work under all circumstances.


It was a great seminar with wonderful people in support of the  Combat Stress Charity.

If you enjoyed this Article “I Challenge You Sir” and are interested in reading my book about mental health and Karate please check it out on Amazon:


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Les Bubka is a dedicated practitioner of the way of the empty hand and has been for over twenty years.He is the founder of LB Posture Training, which incorporates the art of karate with his personal training qualifications in order to help people.
Les has experience in running projects in association with mental health charities and other institutions, introducing Karate as a tool to help build confidence, self-esteem and physical activity to disadvantaged members of community.
Les runs an inclusive club in guildford (UK) where everyone is welcome.



Categories: Events, general, How to, kata

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4 replies »

  1. I’ve found a somewhat similar approach to this portion of Heian Sandan. However, coming from a Shotokan style, I don’t drop down and block the knee, but instead shot my nukite across my uke’s chest and with the turn takes him down.
    I wholehearted agree that we should remember to not only pressure test our techniques, but also remember the context of the situation we are using it in. 🙂

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