A while back I wrote about the importance of building your self defense system out of gross motor skills rather than fine motor skills. Under stress, we lose fine motor coordination to some degree. This is somewhat modifiable through training, but it still happens. I thought I’d pick up on that thread today using shomenate as a concrete example.
I like to think about shomenate as a sort of hierarchy of performance goals. The following is an ordered list of the things you want to happen in shomenate. The list is ordered from most important to least important and it is also ordered from gross motor skill to fine motor skill.
- Evade to the inside of the attack and get your hands up between you and uke.
- Push uke’s face straight backward to get him backing away from you.
- If you can get your feet lined up same-hand-same-foot as you push him, that is good.
- If you have the presence of mind, bump his attacking arm just as his lead foot comes down. Bump it in the direction of his stance line.
- If you have the presence of mind, you want the face push to happen right as his second foot comes down.
This is not everything there is to shomenate, but it is enough of the form to make my point. Your main, overriding desire in shomenate should be to evade to the inside and push the face to get uke backing up. During the execution of that gross motor goal there are points that, if you have the slack and the presence of mind, you can improve the mechanical advantage by adding in an element of finesse. Shomenate will often work quite well even if you are only able to do the first one or two of these performance goals But you can potentially turn shomenate into magic (e.g. uke flying eight feet backwards through the air) if you can hit a few of the finesse elements.