Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Tai Sabaki

Original Source: 
Tai Sabaki

Applying the principles of a vital physical skill into mental and emotional self defense applications.

By: Sensei Dave DeGrouchie, Rokudan.

Tai Sabaki is a term used to describe the defensive movement, of body positioning in the Japanese martial arts. However, the concept is used in any type of self defense or sport combat activity. Moving one's body in a way that allows the defender to reposition, avoid harm, and end up in a more advantageous position, is, what is referred to as Tai Sabaki.

The use of Tai Sabaki allows the defender to avoid the attack of the assailant, and place his or her self in a position where they can respond with the best solution for the situation. In some martial arts, a vital point strike, or perhaps a take down or control technique, follows a Tai Sabaki motion. In some martial arts, it is taught that simply repositioning the body out of harm's way is all that one should aim for. Which is better, best advised, etc., is a subject best covered by its own write up. For this particular writing, I would like to stay the course on the subject line, which suggests using Tai Sabaki beyond the physical.
In the martial arts, we are taught that the greatest opponent is ourselves. Do we really know what that means? In brief, we are the base of our own negative feelings, and reactions. The human machine seems to naturally react based on hurt, confusion, how we look in the eyes of others, etc. Outside forces are not what determine these feelings and reactions. How we chose to digest situations, and whether or not we choose to respond by act, or feeling, is the determining factor of whether or not something affects us or not. Other people's actions do not form our reality. Our own reactions do.

We spend years on the physical aspects of the martial arts, but often tend to overlook the mental and emotional applications of our practice. Just about any physical martial arts technique has both a mental and emotional application to it as well.

What???? Sounds a bit nutty, doesn’t it? Let me illustrate with a few brief examples.

Striking: I don't imagine I have to explain the physical applications of striking. That's pretty clear. But what about the mental and emotional applications of striking? Well, striking is an outward, direct, hard action. We can apply being outward, hard, and direct, in the way we behave and handle a situation as well. The same amount of focus and effort used in connecting with a target with say a well-placed knife hand strike, we can harness that same attribute and apply it in behavior, in the way we deal with a situation head on when needed, such as making a difficult decision, or powering through a difficult time emotionally. Not so wild and crazy when you give it some thought.

Source: www.shidokanmontreal.ca
 Control and restraint techniques: These are used, in a physical sense, to stop an attack, not totally defeat the attacker, but void their attempt at inflicting harm. These techniques are done in the hopes that the attacker can be calmed down, and discouraged from attacking any further. We can apply this aptitude mentally and emotionally as well when faced with a difficult situation by paying enough attention to the situation, and taking a long hard look at it, until we arrive at the best possible resolve, or course of action.

So, if we are to give the above two examples some clear, fair, serious thought, we see the truth in the fact that the attributes developed in physical technique, can be applied to mental and emotional situations as well. Indeed, the physical techniques of the martial arts do have a mental and emotional application to them. It’s in the aptitudes developed. Follow thus far?

Now that we understand this, we can understand how we can apply the aptitudes developed in Tai Sabaki, to mental and emotional self defense situations. Let's take a closer look:

If from a physical sense, Tai Sabaki is used by defenders to reposition themselves out of harm’s way against a physical attack....can they not do the same with emotional and mental attacks? When you are attacked by the words and/or opinions of others, can you not choose to sidestep the attack, and not allow it to affect you? When you are faced with a stressful situation of any kind, rather than stand directly in front of it and get hit by it head on, can you not reposition yourself mentally and emotionally so that the situation does not consume your entire reality? To get the body out of harm's way, we move. To get our minds and emotions out of harm’s way, we decide what to focus on, and what not to. We change our mental position.

It goes without saying, that applying Tai Sabaki, or "repositioning", to mental and emotional situations is possible, but not easy to do at the outset. It does require training. What powers your reactions and responses? Your mind. Do you know how to manage your levels of consciousness, otherwise known as brain cycles? If not, you will need to. Feel free to contact me anytime for some tips in that regard.
In order to be able to fully understand and apply the use of Tai Sabaki attributes mentally and emotionally, you will need to experience emotional and mental attacks from the world around you. That isn't hard to find! Embrace these training opportunities, because that is what they are. Not world enders, not life destroyers, but training opportunities. Learning to embrace adversity as a developmental tool is already an example of Tai Sabaki being applied in your own life, on a mental and emotional level. We tend to stress over negative situations, but in truth, they are the building blocks to true self esteem, self-worth, and fortitude.

It is best to not allow negative situations to control your reality. Negativity is mental and emotional warfare. Like in any altercation, defend your well being, but never fight. There is a difference. If an attacker throws a punch at you, is it best to punch back, or not be in the way of his strike? If a person verbally attacks you, is it best to verbally respond, or just stay silent? We are fighting when we return the negative behavior that is thrust upon us in the same manner as it has been delivered. That is not martial arts. We are defending ourselves when we do not allow the negative behavior to have its intended affect. This is the ultimate power that each of us holds at all times. That is martial arts at work.

Get out of the way when the attacker swings. That is Tai Sabaki. Understand that you control the effect mental and emotional attacks have on you, so choose to not allow such attacks to have any power. That is applying the attributes of Tai Sabaki, mentally and emotionally. Shift your mental focus.
Source: pakuachangjournal.com
We get out of the way physically, by moving. We get out of the way mentally and emotionally by choosing not to invest ourselves in the mental or emotional attack. Keep in mind that the effects of mental and emotional attacks are empowered by the amount of attention YOU choose to place on them, and the amount of importance YOU decide they have. Doesn't martial arts training cultivate confidence, self-esteem, and inner strength? Then you should do just fine.

Tai Sabaki in its most simple definition is getting out of the way of an attack. Be sure to get yourself out of the way of mental and emotional attacks as well. Physical attacks are not as frequent as mental and emotional attacks. You will face attacks mentally and emotionally often in life. Each time you do, is a training opportunity. It's your chance to practice Tai Sabaki type attributes, mentally and emotionally.

Do not focus your energy on fighting back, and overpowering a negative mental or emotional attack. You are only giving the attacker more power by doing so. "Side step" mentally instead. It takes more strength of character to do so. It takes a martial artist to do so. Defend, never fight. Tai Sabaki. 

Thank you, Dave! Having worked as a health and safety consultant, I can certainly attest to the usefulness of martial concepts such as Tai Sabaki in the realm of everyday life, particularly when it comes to emotional health. I encourage readers to contact Dave if you’d like to explore concepts such as Tai Sabaki a little further. You can reach him at dojofit@yahoo.ca

Dave DeGrouchie is a lifetime martial artist based in Bathurst, NB. Starting in martial arts at age 8 in 1983, he has been studying the arts for 32 years, having spent the last 22 years as an instructor. Dave has trained in and taught Japanese JuJutsu, Sport Karate, Boxing, Kickboxing, and Mixed Martial Arts, and has taught self defense to various groups, as well as training combat sports fighters on both an amateur and professional level. In 1999, he founded the World Budo Alliance, an international martial arts instructors organization that at one time had members in 18 nations. Lately, Dave's focus is more on being a student than an instructor, and  he invests his time in the martial arts training in the material he knows best, exploring other systems, and writing on various martial arts topics.

Readers may also be interested in THE MARTIAL ARTIST'S GUIDE TO THE USE OF BRAIN WAVES

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