I think you're referring to the understanding that karate is a linear martial art.
If you are, then I'd say remember it is not so much a linear martial art but a martial art that generates a lot of power from linear acceleration. The two main strikes: oizuke and reverse snap punch.
Circular motions are as valid or more so than linear motions are. Linearity is great for generating straight line power strikes. Circularity is great for smoothness, speed, unorthodox (ie unreadable) and iterative movements.
In a way, Colin, you've hit it on the nail. Karate is a linear art that generates power from acceleration. Focus on circular motion, at least to my knowledge, has always been associated with Kung Fu, and Chinese influenced Martial arts.
Taikyoku kata appear to be very linear, wmioch. I agree, but then as I execute the kata, suddenly I'm becoming aware of circular "potential" within the kata movements. It's like both aspects of straight ahead power, and rotational power exist in every kata, but that certain Arts emphasize one over the other. The turns in Taikyoku kata are some of the best examples of circular rotational power being used to one's benefit in defense. Therefore, in that kata, not only are we looking at rushing into our opponent with a committed strike, but also using circles to defend ourselves. Even the straight punch has a circular aspect to it, if one looks at it with that kind of perception in their mind. The circular aspect seems to be looked over when one trains in this linear kata, but they are there, and quite powerful at unbalancing the opponent, and applying various self defense applications.
I've suddenly noticed that ALL kata contain both circular "smoothness, speed, unorthodox (ie unreadable) and iterative movements", and straight linear movements. I'm just wondering, am I starting to see phantasms?
The circular aspect seems to be looked over when one trains in this linear kata
Have I ever told you my theory that stylistic interpretation of the martial arts prevents them from being pragmatic? Style is a 'marketing gimmick' rather than a tool for real strategy.
I knew you'd see it my way sooner or later! :-)
And in fact, this is one of the reasons why I call my style 'Traditional Taekwondo' rather than Korean Karate or American Karate. WHile I think very highly of karate ... karate does have its stylistic limitations.
Interesting link on viewpoints about guards, Colin.
I would say that one's guard has to change depending on the circumstances of the moment. There are times when one would want a closed in "Turtle guard", and times when your guard might be more forwards. Limiting yourself tends to make predictable openings for your opponent ( in my opinion).
Our standard combat stance is with back hand held high in front of your face, front shoulder up, elbow covering your upper body and lats, and front hand in front of your gut or groin. This is a 'transitional' position for the middle block, courtesy of combat guru Proctor Sensei. But I am happy to interchange with more traditional front hand up and back hand down or 'turtle' block when necessary. As you say it is based on the circumstances and my preference.