The literal translation of the kanji for kamae (構) is “structure.” Kamae are therefore considered the “structure” around which techniques are formed. They are best described as “combative engagement postures.”
Kamae aren’t fixed positions or poses, they are momentary, loose, flexible. One must be able to flow, to move from one position to the next as an encounter unfolds, in a natural and efficient manner. The choice of kamae is determined by the relationship with an opponent. Kamae must adapt to the opponents position to take advantage of his movements. Kamae reflect the fluidity of water, flexible and elusive. Each kamae is linked to another in a seamless flowing movement. It goes without saying that a rigid unmoving kamae will end in defeat.
In essence, the kamae are the physical embodiment of one’s mental attitude. Assumed with the entire body, whether armed or unarmed, kamae encompass one’s mental attitude as…
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