Saturday, February 26, 2011

Block. Lead Side Counter.

I like to think of Fallen Sword as the first "real" kenpo technique you learn. Now, don't hear this as me in any way denigrating the techniques before it. Entrapping Circle, Entrapping Elbow, and Concealing Strikes are all solid, important techniques that begin your study of motion. But when I learned Fallen Sword I felt like I was really doing karate. And in part that's because Fallen Sword teaches you a fundamental series of movements that make up a huge chunk of what you will practice in kenpo.

Block. Lead Side Counter.

This basic combination of movements encompasses core principles about The Ten Considerations of Combat which are elemental to self defense. Environment. Range. Positions. Maneuvers. It's all contained within Fallen Sword, and everything you learn after this will be built on this structure. That's why it's taught so early in the system. Not because of it's simplicity, but because of it's ever deeper complexities.

Block. Lead Side Counter.

This pattern repeats itself again and again. Destructive Twins? Sword of Destruction? Snapping Elbow? Ghost of the Dragon? Again and again. Block. Lead Side Counter.

It's as fundamental as the forward and reverse arm motions taught in Entrapping Circle and Entrapping Elbow. Each technique has lessons to teach, beyond merely defending against a Right Step Thru Punch. That's the least important part of what you're learning. That's just the template for the purpose of facilitating instruction. It's the lessons you should be learning, not just the movements.

Take a basic sparring scenario. Closed faced. Student A executes a Lead Hand Jab. Student B defends with an inward block and counters with an Outward Backknuckle Strike. That's Fallen Sword.

Or a knife scenario. Attacker lunges with a Forward Thrusting Knife Strike. Defender takes a Half Step Back and Up the Circle (in reverse) with a Slapping Check to the attacker's weapon arm, and follows with a Lead Leg Side Snap Kick to the inside of the attacker's Lead Knee. That's Fallen Sword.

How about a grappling scenario? The opponent grabs you from the front with a Two Handed Lapel Grab (Pulling) and you respond by grabbing their hands and then striking the opponent with a Lead Hand Inward Downward Raking Hammerfist Strike followed by an Inward Elbow Strike. Altered Momentum? If it's a Single Lapel Grab the technique is Conquering Shield. But Conquering Shield is just Fallen Sword to the outside of the arm followed by Entrapping Elbow. It's the same pattern again and again.

Block. Lead Side Counter.

But don't mistake this repetition for busy work. There's a reason you learn Lead Side Counter against a push, a punch, a choke, a grab, weapons, throws, holds and more. There's a reason you practice this Right forward and Left forward, striking and grappling. You're learning the letters. You're learning the words. And the more fluent in kenpo you become, the more capable you are of talking the talk, and walking the walk.

Fallen Sword is a key technique. It's simple. It's basic. And you could spend a lifetime learning it's lessons. But for now, practice the Lead Side Counter. Practice Fallen Sword. And see what lessons it holds for you.

Drills -
Beginner: While practicing Fallen Sword pay special attention to body mechanics. Step back WITH the Inward Block. Land from the Front Kick WITH the Handsword. Every movement, every strike, is with the entire body.

Intermediate: While sparring use only lead hand weapons against your opponent. Use stance transitions to change your position and continue striking with the opposite side forward. Pay attention to combinations and re-orbiting strikes.

Advanced: Practice the basic pattern of Fallen Sword, but alter the weapons and targets. Instead of a Handsword, work a Jab, Backknuckle Strike, or Outward Claw or Outward Backhand Strike. Instead of a Front Snap Kick, try Side Snap Kick, Wheel Kick, or In Place Pulling Sweep. Choose targets appropriate to your weapons.

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