The most devastating move in my arsenal as a black belt and grand master?
There are two kinds of smiles, of course. One is a genuine smile when I am happy. The other is meant solely to disarm you and to let you know, without lifting a finger, that you will never get the best of me.
A grand master’s “arsenal of moves” would likely disappoint the average person. Most believe that to achieve the rank, I must have some go-to set of moves that I can pull from to absolutely dismantle a would-be attacker. Daniel-san from The Karate Kid had the crane kick. The Bride from Kill Bill had the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique.
The truth is that I do have an arsenal of “moves,” but there isn’t a single kick or punch among them.
For instance, one weapon I have in my arsenal is a heightened sense of situational awareness; the ability to assess a situation quickly and react. This is a very important weapon, but probably not for the reason you would think. It’s not some Jason Bourne thing where I use it to tell you how much a guy weighs and whether or not they can fight, or the license plates of every car in the parking lot.
Believe it or not, my situational awareness tells me when to run away, more often than not. A master understands that fighting is the last option. If you want to punch me or kick me, I am going to do everything I can to not fight you.
The only time I will stop and stand my ground against you is if you somehow have a hold on me. Even in that instance, though, I may just employ quick strikes like eye strikes, or a low kick to the knees or thighs, to take out your legs. Not necessarily the most innovative techniques, but they may be techniques that you haven’t thought of. And, they’ll allow me to get myself and anyone with me away without harm.
In a tournament, we refer to situational awareness in the ring as “Ring Generalship.” It’s knowing where you are in the ring and, more importantly, knowing where you are in relation to your opponent and judges. Ring Generalship also means knowing where the boundaries of the mat are, where the walls are, where bystanders and other people are, etc.
I remember a time that I was in a tournament, sparring. After a while, I noticed that I was getting good scores from three out of the four judges. So I positioned myself away from that fourth judge because I knew they were not giving me points I deserved anyways.
I have another move that I call “verbal Tae Kwon-Do.” It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s me using my words to diffuse a situation and get away from a fight.
“I’m not going to fight you.” It’s as simple as that.
Occasionally, they will try again with an “oh, yes you are!” to which I will respond with: “no, I’m not.” Usually, by that point, they’ll just resort to calling you names as you walk away. But generally, they leave it at that and don’t attack you further.
Positioning is another “move.” Positioning goes hand in hand with situational awareness. So, when there is trouble, knowing not just where you are, but also how to position yourself may be important to survive the fight if you’re outnumbered.
How we hold ourselves up is a key tool in our arsenal. Standing strong with your head up. Looking people directly in the eyes and not flinching. Walking down the middle of a hallway instead of hugging the wall. These are moves that exude confidence and formidability. People tend to not mess with confident, formidable people in the first place.
My students call it the “bear stance.” They said they have noticed that when someone gets in my face, I seem to grow taller, my chest pushes out a little bit , there’s a little red behind my ears and the veins start popping out. I don’t notice myself doing it when it happens, but it seems to be working.
I guess they call it the “bear stance” because it’s what a bear would do in that situation. The only difference is, I doubt the bear will just smile and walk away.
Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, visit the Contact Us page or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!