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How can training in slow motion make you more effective in full contact combat?


One hand over the semi-closed hand of another person. To demonstrate the hand-push technique.

What if we could make our karate movements more fluid through the contribution of our somatic mind? What if we could bypass the cognitive mind and decrease our internal dialogue, how would that make us better in combat?

Does working in slow motion make us more effective in full contact combat?

This video that accompanies this article is from one of the 11 television shows that aired on CTV in 1994-1995: The Ultimate Karate-Do. This exercise is similar to the handstand in Chinese martial arts. I started practicing Tai Chi in the early 1980s and have taught it for about 30 years.

This kind of exercise has greatly improved my knockdown fighting and that of my students. At that time, I thought I was the only Kyokushinkai Karate practitioner who understood the importance of inner work to become a better fighter in full contact karate.

I am not the only one who understood this, so it is no longer a secret?

About 30 years later, I learned that Sosai Masutatsu Oyama also practiced a similar method and that many practitioners and world champions did too. To learn more, read Senpai Scott Heaney's blog post, The martial way. Senpai Scott is a member of our karate federation IFK Canada. Here is the link:

Sensitivity technique

Develop your sense of responsiveness so that you can act without thinking in karate. With this exercise, be in the moment, ready for movement and action, with attention on your opponent at all times.

Kinesthetic sensitivity exercises are very interesting techniques to develop our sensory acuity and sensitivity to our partner's responses. As we increase our sensitivity, we will be able to work more fluidly in karate. This exercise shows us how to act with sensitivity, develop our sensory acuity and increase our awareness of what is going on in our second brain, which I call our somatic "centre" or "mind". Do we really have a brain in our belly?

Our second brain

The enteric nervous system (ENS) is a network of nerves that fills the gut and is connected to the brain. It is called the second brain because it can function without brain input and also because it has a similar number of neurons to the spinal cord, which is our first brain. That's right! You read that right: it is similar in constitution to the spinal cord and the brain.

Image of a woman pointing to her head to show the brain in the head and the other hand pointing to the belly to show the brain in it

The enteric nervous system or ENS is a part of the autonomic nervous system that is distributed throughout the intestine. It is composed of brain-like material. It is composed of several hundred million nerve cells, several neurotransmitters and 200 million neurons. The NES is sometimes called the 'second brain' because it has its own independent neural network and can function in parallel with the central nervous system (CNS).

Why does the somatic mind have to bypass the cognitive mind?

The somatic mind is the mind of the body. I locate this centre in the area between the navel and the chest. It is the haragei, the centre of intuition.

The somatic mind is the body's natural ability to react to stimuli without having to think about them. The somatic mind helps people survive in combat situations by taking control of the cognitive mind, which tends to overthink and slow down reactions.

The cognitive mind (our 'mind') needs to be bypassed because it slows down reactions. It helps us to survive in combat situations by taking control of the cognitive mind. We can bypass the cognitive mind by exercising our kinesthetic sensitivity.

This technique helps to decrease our internal dialogue, as we realise that there is no need to comment on what is happening or what should be happening. By doing this, we get rid of the thoughts that disturb our concentration and prevent us from being completely on the territory, in the relational field.

The 'somatic mind' is the part of the brain that controls physical movement. The somatic mind must be in charge in combat, because it is the only part that can react quickly enough to be of any use. Think about it, the cognitive mind cannot think fast enough to react in combat. The cognitive mind is best used when you have time to think and plan. The Japanese understood this with the art of haragei.

A person who has no head and writes the word intuition.

The Japanese art of Haragei

Haragei is a Japanese word that refers to the centre of our being. Hara means "belly" and gei means "to grasp". It means to grasp information directly through the belly, without going through our cognitive system.

Haragei is the Japanese word for the sense of intuition or instinct. It is related to our intuitive ability to feel something without thinking about it.

The Japanese believe that knowledge comes from within, not from outside sources. This is why they may tell you one thing and think the opposite, for example, to save face. If you are not connected to your haragei, you will understand its real message.

Haragei can be translated as "non-cognitive thinking", or thinking that does not depend on rational judgment. Haragei is a traditional Japanese movement technique that promotes self-awareness and harmony with one's environment. Haragei is an art form that integrates the body, mind and heart to create a sense of awareness in the moment, often through movement work related to mindfulness.

Five points to remember from the Sensitivity exercise:

1. This exercise improves the fluidity of techniques, so that your attack can become your defence and vice versa.

2. It trains both sides of the body - left and right - to act as one unit so that you can protect yourself better than before!

3. It helps to increase the sensitivity of your somatic mind and to favour its use over the cognitive mind.

4. This exercise not only allows us to properly integrate trapping techniques in combat, but also contributes to a better integration of fluidity in our combat techniques.

5. The objective of this exercise is not to analyse what is happening, but to place our attention in our somatic mind.

In summary

This exercise allows you to align your three minds. If you are familiar with my articles, you know the importance I place on our three minds: the cognitive mind, the somatic mind and the relational mind. With this technique, you place the cognitive mind in your somatic mind and you connect, with your relational mind, to the relational field which is represented by your partner and the territory.

Gaetan Sauve

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