Short, concise lessons and concepts helpful to students
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
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
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
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.
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.