Meditations on the Head Snap

Motobu Niahanchi

Motobu Niahanch


Our style is Shuri Ryu. It is an american style adapted from Okinawan Karate. Our style has several points of emphasis. Among them is the obvious and definite head snap. In each kata and each form, the head snaps in the direction of each new attacker. This question: What is the head snap teaching us?

To Look: You must visualize the threat at hand. You must see what the immediate and relevant threat is. The head snap teaches the importance of seeing and identifying one’s opponent. Before you can attack or defend or take a stance or move out of the way, before any technique can be executed, the eyes must look and then see that which you are facing. And when you look, then turn and face the opponent with your full self.

To See: And when you look and see that which you face, then see the threat with more than your eyes. See with your whole self. In that instant of conscious comprehension, see and discover your adversary’s motives, strengths, weaknesses, position, emotions and know them as fully as possible. See all things, in all directions. You cannot defeat something that you are ignorant of. You cannot fight an enemy you do not fully know and understand. And you cannot know something unless you look deeply and deeply see. Using your mind and spirit, see in all directions.

To Face the opponent: By turning your face before the technique, we learn to fully face your opponent, not only with your shoulders or hips or head but with your full self. The head snap is a tool meant to get us to bring our full attention and full self and concern to each situation. Deliberate, decisive and purposeful  Execute each technique with the whole self. Live life facing each day, each task and each experience fully engaged with the world.

The President

The President



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