Combat Factors


The principle of flowing action (nagare) is one of the most important principles in training. Without a flow, the techniques appear choppy and are performed independently. Without the principle, one will try with all one’s strength to adapt a technique to a situation. Because there is no fluid adaptation, only muscle and bone strength is used.


The combination of several techniques is called renzoku. In this way, continuity of techniques arises from the succession or chaining of individual techniques. Only in this way does the individual technique become effective and efficient.


Closely related to the flowing action is ritsudō. Rhythm is the interplay of two or more individuals. Rhythm is the course of a struggle, the transition from one phase to another. Attack, defense, forward movement, and backward movement. The defender must adapt to the attacker’s movements. The emotional levels of the two opponents, their muscle tension, and muscle relaxation are also part of the rhythm. Rhythm is nothing but the game of cause and effect in combat. An attack follows a defense, which in turn creates an attack – until the fight is over.


Undō means movement. This term also includes technique and body movement. The body movement is divided into two areas:

  • Shishi undō (extremity movement)
  • Tai sabaki (trunk movement)


Neglected by many, kokyūhō (breathing) is an important component of combat. Most adults breathe through their chests or even through their throats. But this kind of breathing is unnatural.

The true man breathes with his heels; the mass of men breathe with their throats.

Chuang Tzu

Both children and real people breathe with the diaphragm, i.e. perform abdominal breathing. In this way, the body remains calm and relaxed and the organs are also massaged and gently moved. Most people breathe through their mouths, which is very unhealthy. The nose should be used for both inhalation and exhalation as it filters, humidifies, and warms the air.

When inhaling in abdominal breathing, the abdomen bulges outwards, when exhaling it bulges inwards.


Of incredible importance in combat is distance. So it is not advisable to be too close to a skilled fighter, but if an opponent needs space to execute his techniques, you will get close to him. One should avoid specializing in techniques that limit one’s range and therefore effectiveness. By moving in unexpected directions, one can give oneself a tremendous advantage. In this way you are freed from the primitive way of fighting, always standing in one spot and just blocking.


The mechanics’ aspect includes the body’s most effective responses to an attack. This includes footwork, side dodges and combat distance, proper use of body weapons, and effective techniques and strategies.


This aspect is the most effective application of mechanics, which involves the proper use of energy, rhythm and flow, strength and flexibility, speed ratios, and the ability to feel and conform to an action.


The intention is the clearly recognized goal: victory, the complete subordination of mechanics and dynamics. These include the attitude to use a violent technique, an irrepressible will to win that transcends fear and limits, and an attitude that not only sees victory as the only possible outcome but also sees defeat as a possibility.

Text: Stefan Imhoff