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The Art of Combat Inspired with the Form of the Duck: Enhancing Full Contact Performance

In the heart of a peaceful day, while pedaling on a paddle boat, my attention was captured by the tranquility of a duck on the lake. This duck, seemingly motionless, emitted an aura of deep meditation. However, a closer observation revealed that beneath this apparent tranquility, its legs were moving rapidly, allowing it to maintain this illusion of stillness against the constant movement of the water. This image served as a powerful metaphor, fo my teaching of combat.


The Principle of Yin-Yang in Combat

In the demanding realm of full contact or knockdown combat, applying the metaphor of the duck proves to be a crucial combat strategy, perfectly illustrating the balance between an external calm, or fudoshin state, and an internal vigilance, or zanshin state. This principle is at the heart of combat excellence, requiring the fighter to maintain a relaxed, yin posture, which facilitates unimpeded mobility and almost instantaneous reactivity. Simultaneously, the importance of keeping an alert and ready mind, yang, enables the practitioner to effectively respond to any attack, by anticipating and exploiting the opponent's weaknesses. This synergy between physical relaxation and mental acuity allows the fighter to identify and seize counterattack opportunities precisely at the most opportune moment.


Mastering this balance between yin and yang in the ring demands rigorous discipline, both mentally and physically. The fighter must learn to regulate their breathing and heart rate, and maintain unwavering concentration, all while remaining fluid and reactive to the changing dynamics of combat. It is in this ability to smoothly transition between reception and action, strategically exploiting the openings provided by the opponent, that the essence of victory lies.


The Teaching of Yagyu Munenori

The key lies in the simultaneous use of both facets of consciousness, akin to the learning in martial arts where harmony is cultivated between the left and right sides of the body. Yagyu Munenori, a 17th-century master swordsman, encapsulates this philosophy by emphasizing the importance of maintaining an external yin (calm) while the interior is yang (active), and vice versa. This strategy, according to him, is in perfect harmony with the nature of things and essential for controlling one's actions and mind in combat.


 The Strategy of Combat: Balance and Mastery

Munenori, through his survival experience in fierce battles, passed down a precious legacy on the mastery of the mind and combat strategy, applicable even in the social and political sphere. His teaching, a precursor to psychoverbal defense, insists on the dynamic balance between action and reception, offensive and defensive.


Towards Complete Mastery

Embracing this wisdom, the fighter must learn to project an appearance of absolute calm, while being intensely alert and ready for action - without the slightest trace of internal dialogue, but with sharpened visual and kinesthetic acuity. This mastery allows for smooth navigation between offense and defense, action and stillness, thus achieving a state of full consciousness and control.


Centering and Harmony

Being centered, in this perspective, means transcending identification with either polarity to embrace constant interaction and interrelation, integrating into the fluid movement of life itself. The essence of combat strategy, inspired by the lesson of the duck, thus lies in the ability to remain unshakeable at the heart of alternation, maintaining the perfect balance between yin and yang - a quest for self-mastery and strategic superiority. The philosophy of the duck, far from being a mere passive observation, thus becomes a profound combat tactic, teaching the power of apparent serenity coupled with constant preparation and vigilance, keys to undeniable tactical superiority in the ring. Gaëtan Sauvé, Kyokushin practictionner since 1971



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