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Posture: Meaning & Intent

By Terry Bryan

The true essence of Okinawan karate is in understanding the Kamai, or the fighting postures of the kata. This is also true of all classical martial arts and life itself. Learning to read postures, understanding their intent, and being proactive in their use is the mark of a true warrior.

In western thinking, we believe that when a person has self-confidence, his posture changes and he projects that confidence in the way he sits, stands, and walks. In Eastern thought, if a person improves his posture in sitting, standing, and walking, his self-confidence improves. Whatever your school of thought, there is a direct correlation between posture and self-confidence. Seasoned opponents recognize this and many times will avoid a conflict with a person that exerts a confident posture.

To understand postures is to understand the truth. The warrior is in constant pursuit of the truth. He understands the ways of deception and how a clever opponent uses them. Hiding the real and concealing the truth is a clever tactic. In the animal world, they show false strength by posturing. Humans show false strength with exaggerated postures and overblown words.

Showing false strength is a bluff, and works at times in the natural world - like a blowfish or a bear standing up on two legs. In the world of man however, this tactic has a significant weakness. It is relies on the opponent's sense of rationality. This is a gamble, and may actually trigger the attack you are trying to prevent.

Showing false weakness, on the other hand, is a more effective tactic. Lao Tzu (the famous Chinese philosopher) said, " Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance." This is the demeanor of the Chinese master that appears to be old and slow, but in reality is agile and powerful. This tactic can be used to pull an opponent in. Birds do this by pretending to have a broken wing, to pull intruders away from their nests. If you intentionally show a weakness, you have a high probability of knowing what your opponent is going to do, which gives you a tremendous advantage.

It is said that the stalk of rice with the most fruit bows the lowest. The warrior that has the most confidence in his abilities to fight is usually the most humble person you will ever meet. Successful people set high goals but take their accomplishments with a grain of salt and give credit to others.


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About The Author

Terry Bryan is the former General Secretary for the USA-NKF (National Karate Federation), the official governing body for the sport of karate with the US Olympic Committee. He currently is the Executive Director for the American Black Belt Academy, a 501c3 non-profit organization located in Colorado Springs.


To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

Kamai, posture, stance, body position, spirit


Read more articles by Terry Bryan

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