Complementary Actions

The notion of absolute opposites is a crude and unsophisticated concept. A better and older concept is that of complementary items. In this case, the focus is on complementary actions. For every action there is a complementary action or target.

For instance, hard targets are ideally hit with a soft strike like a palm heel. Soft targets are ideally hit with hard strikes like a front punch or elbow. Likewise, a linear attack is suited for a circular defense. Since complementary doesn’t imply direct opposite you can also use twist or torque motion as a defense. These too are complementary actions. A circular attack is suited for a linear defense.

Another complementary action against a forceful attack is to move the target, in this case you. The best defense is often times moving the target to a safe place where there are no attackers. To extend the train of thought, you could also attack the attack thereby nullify its power before the power arc is achieved. We call this jamming or stalling.

A compliment to defending an attack is to allow the blow’s momentum to accelerate the block into an attack. This ricochet effect adds extra force to the counter attack without the expenditure of additional resources on your part. The next gain is stronger strike for less energy — you sap it away from your opponent.

In Jujutsu and Kempo, you pull when pushed. You also push when pulled. These compliment each other beautifully. Resisting the action causes friction and struggles. It is more elegant to go with the flow of momentum and direct it. I often describe Kempo as a style that adds momentum to the fight and directs it. It’s like spinning the prayer wheels at a Shrine or using a hula-hoop.

By thinking outside the box and using a conceptual model, you can peer into your martial material with a new perspective. Examine, experiment and evolve your Kempo, otherwise it will stagnate and wither.

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