Waza (literally: “techniques”) are preplanned, prearranged defenses for specific attacks, which teach our bodies how to move, and our minds how to react. Waza is a form of simulation training.
Real attackers don’t follow a script, so you must train with intention of develop 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, they are intentionally unnamed, they are presented in no particular order, and we will teach 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 yours 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 hit other people. However, if you make an honest effort to make striking focus pads or heavy bags a regular part of your training, this will not be a problem.
- We do not train to hit lightly. During waza, all techniques must be thrown with full power, carry a “malicious intent,” and be directed at one of the opponent’s anatomical weak points. There is no situation where hitting someone lightly makes sense. If you still have the option not to incapacitate, maim, or kill an aggressor, then this non-violent solution must be pursued.
- The master is the person who does simple things well, not the one who does complicated or visually-stunning moves. The techniques done in waza require the same attention to form as in kata practice.
- Most real altercations last less than five seconds. This why you must train waza to point of becoming natural reactions. There is no time compute a solution, you must know it ahead of time. You must quickly eliminate the dangers facing you. Win or lose, it will be over soon.
- 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 a defense against a pervert who is groping a woman’s breast.
- Any empty-hand waza can stop any armed attack; you only need the confidence to do so. However, this is only true for those with true confidence, based on ironclad mastery of technique. Novice students will mistake arrogance for confidence, and they will think themselves to be invincible simply because they know a waza. This is why defenses against armed attackers are reserved for the advanced students. By that time, they will have students will have come to realize the inherent dangers of armed attacks, and won’t take them lightly.
- Martial artists don’t have answers, just tools. There are no fast-and-loose universal answers. Answers must be discovered as the problem unfolds, and each situation must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Flexibility is critical. We invite you to invent your own waza; this trains your creativity, and makes you adaptable.
- Self-defense is not a game; there are no points. The goal of self-defense is to stop the attacker and remove 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.