Softening Moves

Most of the entry moves in Kempo are softening moves. You smack the enemy to distract them. This provides the time necessary to perform complex maneuvers, especially locks and traps. They play a vital role in your arsenal of weapons.

Sometimes termed the wet blanket, softening moves are distraction strikes. Most are medium-intensity, relaxed-whipping motions that produce painful stings. Some are painful nerve plexus strikes. Both cause to opponent to wince and think about something else. This creates an opening for you to apply a technique. Never delay the offensive, but don’t rush either.

Any competent fighter will be able to slip out of or avoid locks. What softening moves provide is a painful feint that allows your attack to slip in undefended. You can also stall by continuous application of softening moves until you can position yourself into an optimal offensive location. Remember that Kempo stylist control the “flow” or “rate” of the attack. Use this to maintain control.

Moves You Know
Two of the grade level crane tricks contain nerve plexus strikes to the face. Right after you derail the attack with your wing, you step in with Crane’s Beak strikes to the cheek and jaw hinge. This allows you to hook and uproot your opponent.

Another example is found in 5 Kata. The opening moves are blocks and softening moves. You don’t break bricks and boards with the backhand, but you can cause momentary stings across the face. Sometimes, that is more effective then breaking bones.

Finally, many of the Escapes and Grab Arts contain softening moves. For Lapel 1, you slap the hand and the face before you proceed with the arm bar and wrist lock. The wristlock is the second softening move in that technique. When you grab the hand, your thumb presses the nerve point in the web of the hand. That allows you to dislodge, seize and lock the wrist.

Know Your Moves
Which techniques have them? Which techniques could utilize them? Take it upon yourself to investigate your Kempo. Remember that each move should flow into the next. Distractions precede complex finishing moves. All practice is research, and perfect practice makes perfect.

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