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Kogeki means to attack or cut down and refers to offence and Bobi means defense. The term Ko Bo Ichi or Kogeki Bobi means that offence and defense are one. There are hundreds of examples that can be used to illustrate this concept.

One clear example is Upper Body Shifting (Jo Taisabaki – Shown right) where the body is rotated in defense, and the same rotation drives the attacking punch. Jo Tai Sabaki is only one of many concepts used in the martial arts that collapses the distinction between Offence (Ko) and Defense (Bo). Using this type of technique takes a thorough understanding of timing (Hyoshi) and distance (Ma-ai), especially the Initiative Before the Initiative (Sen No Sen), Against the Initiative (Tai No Sen) and One Inch Distance (I Sun no Ma-ai) and most obviously, mental states we discussed in the last chapter.

Blocks used in Karate to deflect an attack can also be used to break an arm at the same time and seriously degrade the opponent’s offensive capability and Collapse his Structure (Kuzushi). In Kendo there are a number of terms to describe the concept of attack and defence being equal by taking the centerline, and a downward cut is used that both blocks and strikes the opponent at the same time. They include:

  • Kiri Otoshi – ‘Dropping Cut’ from Itto Ryu
  • Gasshi Uchi – from Yagyu Shinkage Ryu
  • Hitotsu Tachi – ‘One sword’ from Kashima Shinto Ryu

Offence and defense can be considered as two separate entities, part of a spectrum, or something inseparable.

At the tactical and technical levels of strategy, smaller and smaller time slices between offence and defense transitions can merge the two. To fight this way requires strong ability, mental fortitude and flexibility, which shows a high degree of understanding. I am reminded of a time when I was first introduced to fighting using Sanchin Dachi, a very short upright stance. A visiting senior instructor from another Dojo in Kumamoto was training with us. I learned very quickly that close in-fighting was incredibly fast and combined offence and defense virtually at the same time. The punches I received were sticky and curved around my block like a snake only to hit me and at the same time prevent me from retaking the initiative. I came away with a very important lesson. Never underestimate small movements, and offense and defense really are the same.

There are many other examples of this concept. These short paragraphs do ill justice to the depth of this area of study. Look into your Kata and find it.