Waza (literally: “skills or techniques”) is the Goshin-Justu term for simulation training. Waza are preplanned, prearranged defenses for specific attacks, which teach our bodies how to move, and our minds how to react.
Real attackers won’t follow a script, so you must train with intention of developing a general fighting sense, where all of your waza eventually blend together. With practice, bits of one waza will seamlessly flow into another, leading to the most appropriate response for a given situation, regardless of the attack or the attacker. At higher levels, waza can move away from the pre-arranged, and be performed against random attacks from random directions (free-form waza). When done correctly, free-form waza should be as natural as walking, and be so smooth and effortless that it appears to be staged. To help your waza blend together, waza are intentionally unnamed, presented in no particular order, and you will be taught more waza than any one person can possible remember. (While we have introduced a numbering scheme, it is entirely meaningless, and it should not be referred to; it is just a necessary evil for website maintenance.)
When performing waza, it is critical to keep the following points in mind:
- All techniques must be fully-controlled; meaning, they completely stop 1” (~2.5 cm) away from your opponent. Training partners are hard to come by, so you’ll need to make them last. Our critics claim that “pulling our punches” trains students how not to hit people, leading to failure at the crucial moment, since they don’t actually hit other people. However, making striking focus pads or heavy bags a regular part of your training will correct this problem.
- We do not train to hit lightly. During waza, all techniques must be thrown with full power, and be directed at one of the opponent’s anatomical weak points with a “malicious intent”. There is no situation where hitting someone lightly makes sense; if the option not to incapacitate, maim, or kill an aggressor still exists, then that option must be pursued.
- Masters are people who do simple things well, not the ones who do complicated or visually-stunning moves. The techniques performed in waza require the same attention to form as those in kata practice.
- Most real altercations last less than five seconds. You must quickly eliminate the dangers facing you. Win or lose, it will be over soon. There is no time compute a solution; you must know the answer ahead of time. This why you must train waza to the point of becoming natural reactions.
- Stay calm, relax -- and most importantly -- breathe. Panic assures defeat. Overcoming the reflexive panic or freezing when confronted with is the major hurdle in learning self-defense.
- You need to practice waza with many different partners of different sizes, heights, and genders. Victims do not choose their attackers. Students should know how to apply their techniques on anyone, and those techniques may require subtle modification to accommodate different body types. Waza gives students an opportunity to experience may different types of attackers
- Attackers must have malicious intent. Waza must simulate the intensity of a real attack to teach students to cope with the intensity of the situation.
- A given waza can be applied to a variety of contexts. Twenty-six letters can be arranged into countless thoughts and ideas. Likewise, one waza can become 10,000 waza. For example, defenses against one-hand lapel grabs can easily be re-imagined as defenses against a groping pervert.
- "Any empty-hand waza can stop any armed attack; you only need the confidence to do so." However, this refers to true confidence, which is based on ironclad mastery of technique. Novice students tend to mistake arrogance for confidence, and they will think they are invincible, simply because they know a waza. This is why defenses against armed attackers are reserved for the advanced students; because by that time, students will have come to realize the inherent dangers of armed attacks, and won’t take them lightly.
- Martial artists have tools, not answers. There are no universal solutions; every situation must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Flexibility is critical. We invite you to invent your own waza, to train your creativity and adaptablity.
- Self-defense is not a game; there are no points. The goal of self-defense is stopping attackers and removing yourself or others from danger -- not to kill, to punish, or to “teach someone a lesson.” We control our opponents through controlling ourselves. We defeat the fear of an attack through our preparation and training, which allows us to respond appropriately. To do this, we must train to defend ourselves against a variety of attacks, to provide us with different options in a variety of situations.
- Karate ni sente nashi.