Esoteric Martial Arts

The Ninja Doctrine of Controlling and Limiting Options

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The most simple example of the principle outlined in The Ninja Bow - Esotericism in the Asian Martial Arts is the way in which the ninja uses his stance and fighting position in order to control his enemy.
The Taijutsu ready stance used by the Ninja is unique in that it is assymetrical - lopsided. In most ready stances you would hold your hands up in an even guard position so as to protect yourself equally from attack coming from the left, right, or straight forward. The Ninja, however, in a stance reminiscent of the kung fu 'false-leg' stance holds his left arm outwards at about 3/4 straight and pulled across to the right so that it is in line with, or even slightly past the right shoulder (for conventional right handed stance). This is done whilst standing side on to the opponent to reduce their target area with the torso half twisted around to face them. The right hand is held back a little in line with the left elbow.
The reason for this is simple. By adopting this stance the ninja knows that his opponent will attack to the left of his guard, as this is the only place where there is space to get past it. This is a technique used in stage magic and illusionism shows called 'limiting and controlling options'.
By limiting the number of possible attacks that the opponent is able to make can focus his training and style of fighting towards these particular situations. It is also an important first step in an overall strategy to manipulate and control an opponent throughout the course of an encounter.
A more specialised form of this kind of trickery, in which one solicites a particular kind of attack, is found in the fraudulent inebriation of the Drunken style of kung fu; look out for a new section on Drunken kung fu to be added to this site soon!
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