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#132703 - 11/16/03 04:19 PM Questions for Karateka
Yoseikan Student Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
I'm not being funny. Honestly. Just been doing some thinking, and would like answers to some questions. If anyone has a take please jump in.

Why do I train in bare feet?

Why do I train in a gi with a belt?

Why do I need to lock my stance?

Why do I need to look like a swallow in Enpi?

Why do I move into and hold static stances?

Do you ever feel that you are training control for the sake of it? (By that I mean the ability to put your body in an exact space and time. Not for improving your ability to strike more effectively, but just to exert more control over your body.)

Why do I move differently in sparring to how I move in kata and line work?

Do any of you spar flat footed, or with your heels on the ground?

Old karateka:

Is karate bad for your joints?

thanks

Alec.

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#132704 - 11/16/03 07:31 PM Re: Questions for Karateka
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
I may have some answers for you.

We train with bare feet traditionally because in okinawan culture it is disrespectful to dirty the dojo floor with shoes you use to walk around on everyday. This is why you should not walk around all day long on bare feet and then walk into the dojo without either washing them or putting shoes on first. I personally think that training without shoes on helps my techniques when I have my shoes on. I train with them both on and off. When they are off I have to worry about correct technique so that I will not break my toes. When they are on I don't have to worry about this as much, so I am able to maintain correct technique with my shoes on.

A gi and belt is worn simply because when karate came to japan they formalized its training by using a judo uniform. In my opinion as long as I wear clothing that gives me freedom of motion all of my techniques feel no different than they do in a gi. That is why when I try on clothes at the store I do punches and kicks in the dressing room. If it restricts my motion too much I do not buy it.

I don't know what you mean by "locking" you stance. I am not sure that anything is locked in karate. You should sink into your stance with your feet rooted your power focused in your abdomen and your back straight. It is all about using the structure of you skeleton to give your stances stability. But along with this stability they must have mobility and stamina.

I don't study Japanese karate, I study okinawan karate. I believe we have a similar kata called wanshu. When wanshu came to japan the japanese named it Enpi(Empi) because some of the postures "looked" like a swallow, but in its original form it is not meant to look that way, it merely resembles it. Don't get too caught up in what something is "supposed to be" rather focus on what it is. Go back to your basics and make sure you are doing everything fundamentally correct.

We move and hold a static stance only to train our bodies to maintain correct form while in these postures. In karate to move in and out of a stance while in constant motion it is easy to make mistakes when it comes to posture. It is easy to not completely sink your weight. It is easy to use only weight and momentum and forget about correct skeletal alignment while moving and not use the principles of motion as they are used in karate. When you stop it allows for a constant re-evaluation of stance so that you will always attempt to maintain proper technique. Along with this training you should also do techniques which are continous without pauses and with your stance constantly changing so that you can put what you are perfecting into practice with a pace that is fast and fluid. Try doing your kata as fast as possible while maintain proper form and structure, this will teach you alot about if you are really using proper technique.

Karate is about body control. In a fight all you can truly control is what your body does, therefore it is a cornerstone of karate. When you advance further in karate don't think of it as putting your body in an exact space at an exact time. This type of thinking is how a beginner is taught. When you first learn karate it is about points of execution. Meaning you are focusing on steping in a certain place at a certain moment and placing your arm in a certain position and ending your technique in a certain posture. In the intermediate level you are supposed to focus on either the block or strike itself. Here you must concentrate on the power that you are putting in your technique and the points at which you are going to either block or strike. Finally in the advanced level your focus should only be attack and driving you technique through and opponent with a penetrating force. This advanced level is about the principles of motion of the techniques that you are executing, not about the techniques themselves.

In actuality you should not be moving differently. In real fighting our approaching stance should be squared in a natural walking stance. When you advance you should sink your weight and drive through with you hips and shift you weight after you have established you foot placement. In kata we find ourselves in a wide array of stances and postures, all of which we will find ourselves in while fighting. On one foot, stepping back, stepping to the side, stepping forward. Kata and line work is not so much about exactly how and where you place you hands and feet, but the principles behind why you place your hands and feet there. Once you understand these principles of motion you will be able to easily apply them to no only fighting, but everyday life. When fighting everything is a transition into something, much like kata. Never stop until your opponent is defeated. If you punch and stop without your opponent on the ground defeated you are doing something wrong.

In karate we do stand with our heels on the ground, but that does not mean that we are standing flat footed. In karate when you are standing with your foot flat on the ground your focus point should be the middle of your foot. The middle of you foot is an inch or so below the ball of your foot. Your weight is focused here so that you can push off and move forward very easily as well as push off and move backward. If you weight is back on you heels or on the entire surface of your foot you will be unable to move quickly. But this goes back to fundamentals of okinawan karate. Therefore when you step the foot that steps is hitting heel first and the heel of your back foot is not touching the ground. This is how lions(and all members of the cat family) move, and they are very quick, light on their feet, and also have the ability to strike with great power.

I am only 27 so I do not know about karate on the joints for really old folks, however, I do train with old karate people(most have over 25 years experience) and done correctly karate is actually good for the joints.

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#132705 - 11/17/03 01:04 AM Re: Questions for Karateka
Anonymous
Unregistered


Why do I train in bare feet?

Medulanet has already answered this but I would like to add that also, if you have bare feet your instructor can see whether you are making the correct shape and the student can see the shape of the instructors foot. I know a few instructors that teach karate in shoes and the majority of their students kick incorrectly. It may seem silly because we wear shoes when we are in situations when we are likely to be attacked, but I think it is useful for women. I always wear very high shoes and the first thing I would do at the first sign of trouble is take them off. 1) because I can't run in them and 2) because spiky heels make an excellent weapon [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG] It is also useful for men if they are caught out and attacked whilst barefoot (at home, in the changing room, on the beach etc.) It means you will not break your toes.

Why do I train in a gi with a belt?

Again, Medulanet has answered this. It is not strictly necessary to wear one in order to be good at karate but they are comfortable and allow a lot of freedom of movement. I personally love wearing a gi.

Why do I need to lock my stance?

I know you know the answer to this already, but...Tensing all your muscles at the point of contact delivers power. Anything not locked in is a point of weakness. There is a good thread on this in the body mechanics section.


Why do I need to look like a swallow in Enpi?
Sorry I do not know this kata

Why do I move into and hold static stances?

To practice tensing and untensing your body, thereby being able to deliver a good technique at short notice.

Do you ever feel that you are training control for the sake of it? (By that I mean the ability to put your body in an exact space and time. Not for improving your ability to strike more effectively, but just to exert more control over your body.)

Sometimes, yes. But I don't see that as a bad thing.

Why do I move differently in sparring to how I move in kata and line work?

I don't know about moving differently, it is just all more exagerated in line work and kata to perfect stances/techniques.

Do any of you spar flat footed, or with your heels on the ground?

I usually have most weight on my back foot.

Old karateka:

Is karate bad for your joints?

I think that in the past this was true but now that we are better educated it is not harmful if done correctly. I am almost 40 and the only joint problems I have are in my fingers from breaking them several times (my fault, not karate's) and my right knee, again nothing to do with karate. I just put too much pressure on it for too long whilst recovering from an illness that weakened my left side.
Sharon

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#132706 - 11/17/03 06:23 AM Re: Questions for Karateka
Yoseikan Student Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Thanks for replies, have read, will attempt to address in detail asap.

Thanks again

Alec.

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#132707 - 11/17/03 07:13 AM Re: Questions for Karateka
Bossman Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/25/03
Posts: 1785
Loc: Chatham Kent UK
>>Why do I train in bare feet?<<

I don't. As I got older I found my energy drained out through my feet really quickly. My Tai Chi instructor insists that we train in shoes and examines them really carefully. I have been sent out in Hong Kong to go and buy a "proper" pair of shoes!

Why do I train in a gi with a belt?

Again I don't. All my students do and love wearing them. I think western people look strange in old (uncomfortable) oriental wear.

Why do I need to lock my stance?

You don't. You should "fix" your knee over the weght bearing foot to ensure that your bodyweight goes into the thigh muscle and down to the foot and not the knee.

Why do I need to look like a swallow in Enpi?

[IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/biggrin.gif[/IMG] Now there's a thought! Is that possible?

Why do I move into and hold static stances?

We have to start somewhere. It's a bit like the "dots" in one of those "join up the dots" drawing books. There's a kind of yoga in finding the moment you transfer energy into the opponent and getting that position right first. Then you learn how to join up the dots so they don't exist, then colour it in and then hopefully work for a masterpiece!

>>Do you ever feel that you are training control for the sake of it? (By that I mean the ability to put your body in an exact space and time. Not for improving your ability to strike more effectively, but just to exert more control over your body.)<<

Real power only comes from exquisite control. You can clumsily "fall" on people with brute strength and ignorance but a good fighter will take you to pieces in nanoseconds.

>>Why do I move differently in sparring to how I move in kata and line work?<<

Because it's different. Line work is basic "floor exercises" to learn posture, body control and power sourcing. Kata is a highly condensed form of skill building and remembering with the body. I feel that most karate "sparring" is a waste of time and doesn't reflect real fighting at all.

>>Do any of you spar flat footed, or with your heels on the ground?<<

We don't spar.

>>Old karateka: <<

That's me [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/biggrin.gif[/IMG]

>>Is karate bad for your joints?<<

GOOD karate training should preserve your joints - the problem is that there isn't so much good Karate around. Also it's the accidents that tend to damage them most. Safety in the Dojo is an absolute must. I have seen far too many people crippled for life over really stupid accidents.

Hope it helps...

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#132708 - 11/17/03 10:07 AM Re: Questions for Karateka
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
Wadowoman, you say that you lock and tense your muscles to deliver power. How does that work exactly? When punching one should only use muscular strength necessary to extend the arm and focus your energy to penetrate through the opponent. When punching in karate the tendons and muscles separate a little bit as you punch and extend fully. If you tense your muscles this is not able to happen. It is your skeletal structure that makes your punch strong and solid. If you muscles and tendons are strong and flexible you can use them to extend you arm, but never to the point that it is tensed and locked. Besides tensing and locking muscles prevents the energy of the punch from flowing from your body and transferring to that of your opponent. Have you ever punched someone and you felt your own body being knocked back. Although this can happen for many different reasons I have commonly seen this because people are tensing and not relaxing and penetrating. However this may just be the okinawan way of punching and the Japanese may in fact teach their students to tense and lock their muscles, but I think that is a whole different matter.

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#132709 - 11/17/03 02:06 PM Re: Questions for Karateka
Yoseikan Student Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Right.

medulanet, much thanks for your detailed reply. I'm with you right up to the third paragraph, then I've got some more questions if you've got the patience.

"You should sink into your stance with your feet rooted your power focused in your abdomen and your back straight."

What do you mean when you say "feet rooted". I've been practicing Japanese karate with varying degrees of intensity for 6 years. I've heard this before and never understood it. How can the relationship I have with the ground change? i.e. how can I be rooted and then unrooted?

What do you mean "power focused in your abdomen".

Should I be aware of my centre of gravity?
Is this a reference to chi?
Or are you talking about mechanics and the use of hip rotation and torso twist in executing techniques in stance?

Plus, how deep do you think stances should be? why?

In your 5th, 6th and 7th paragraphs, you talk about 'principles of motion'. You refer to these important at the advanced level, and I am given to understand that you regard them almost as 'axioms of karate'. Beyond and above technique. Would you be willing to elaborate on what exactly these principles are?

Are you talking about relaxation and contraction of muscle? velocity?, mechanical power generation? visualisation of technique? appropriateness of response? Creating immediate reactions to stimuli that one is practiced at recieving? Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

In sparring do you move in a similar way to practicing line basics, or at least the same way in which you practice line basics when you practice them with fluidity and speed?

You say: "When you advance you should sink your weight and drive through with your hips and shift your weight after you have established your foot placement."

Why do you believe that?

To me that seems like - we move into position A, hold it, throw strike B as we sit into the position fully, and then move on. The business of 'foot placement' seems slow to me. It seems static. Static fighters get hit.

I don't fully understand your comments on flat footedness or the lack there of. However maybe I can ask you if when sparring or simulating continuous combat with training partners, do you have both the heel and the ball of both feet on the ground?

With the greatest of respect, I am not a Lion. [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG] I am not built like one, I honestly can't comprehend how walking like a lion will make me strike with great power.

Also, how exactly is Karate good for the joints?

Many thanks for your detailed reply.

with respect

Alec.

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#132710 - 11/17/03 02:28 PM Re: Questions for Karateka
Yoseikan Student Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Hi Sharon,

[IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG]

I appreciate your comments regarding training barefoot. I take the well made point.


*takes deep breath*

Consider a punch:

"tensing all your muscles at the point of contact delivers power."

I find myself disagreeing with my teacher. Tension, in the way in which I was taught to use it creates a brake on the acceleration of the fist. What I am doing is throwing my fist as quickly and as powerfully as I can. Then at the time of impact I contract the antagonistic muscle set in my arm and stop the punch. I have just thrown a punch as hard as I can and then tried to stop it as quickly as I can.

Surely what I want to do is allow my target to absorb all the power (and not my muscles) in stopping the punch. A good punch then becomes a very very fast very very powerful push, which is then pulled back as quickly as possible into a guard position.

18 months ago I would hit the heavy bag to little effect. I would lock the muscles up and sit into the stance. Now I am completely relaxed and I don't try and lock into stance. I hit a hell of a lot harder. I simply throw my fist at it as hard and as fast as I can and let it deal with the impact.

Do you ever use your feet to get yourself out of trouble in sparring? By that I mean:

consider a blitz attack and three possible options open to you:

1) You stand your ground and smash the opponent back.

2) You move your body out of the way by leaning out of the way. i.e. the upper body leads and you 'slip' out of the way of the oncomming.

3) You tansport your body with your feet out of the way. Left, right or back. Very very quickly.

How often can you/ do you choose 3?

Thanks

Alec.



[This message has been edited by Yoseikan Student (edited 11-18-2003).]

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#132711 - 11/17/03 02:40 PM Re: Questions for Karateka
Yoseikan Student Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Hi Bossman, I appreciate your reply. I wonder if you would be good enought to clarify a few things.

"I found my energy drained out through my feet really quickly".

I'm afraid I don't understand

What does that mean?
Did you feel physically tired?
Did you loose the ability to command and utilise chi?

"There is a kind of yoga in finding the moment you transfer energy into the opponent and getting that position right first"

I understand the bit about getting the position right, but I've never felt the need to make sure I'm in a correct forward stance before giving someone a clout. Should I?

What do you mean by your use of the word yoga? What is its contextual meaning?

My mum is a BWY instuctor, she teaches me occasionally. I've never read anything or been taught anything that would associate yoga with giving someone a smack in the mouth. Not trying to be sarky, just not clear what your saying.

What do you train/teach that for the want of another word (damn you Kogas!), encorporates the concept of 'aliveness'.

How does karate training preserve your joints?

[IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG]

Thanks for your time.

Alec.

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#132712 - 11/17/03 03:39 PM Re: Questions for Karateka
Bossman Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/25/03
Posts: 1785
Loc: Chatham Kent UK
Hi

>>"I found my energy drained out through my feet really quickly".<<

Actually I meant it in the usual English sense, my body would be hot and my feet still cold and I would feel drained much more quickly.

>>"There is a kind of yoga in finding the moment you transfer energy into the opponent and getting that position right first"

I understand the bit about getting the position right, but I've never felt the need to make sure I'm in a correct forward stance before giving someone a clout. Should I?<<

You would need to have transferred your weight into the punch which usually (but not exclusively) would be into the forward leg.

>>What do you mean by your use of the word yoga? What is its contextual meaning?
My mum is a BWY instuctor, she teaches me occasionally. I've never read anything or been taught anything that would associate yoga with giving someone a smack in the mouth. Not trying to be sarky, just not clear what your saying. <<

You need the correct balance, postural alignment, breath control, mental alertness and concentration to obtain a free passage and focus of energy - very similar to yoga..

>>What do you train/teach that for the want of another word (damn you Kogas!), encorporates the concept of 'aliveness'.<<

Not quite sure what you mean there but I train/teach Wado Ryu Karate, Yeung Family Tai Chi, Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido and Jodo. All are very much "alive" in the "Kogas" mould...

How does karate training preserve your joints?

Good Karate training should ensure that during movement and the delivery of power no joint is taken out of natural alignemnt, that the control of technique means that you don't hyperextend any of the joints. The tendons around the joints with good training will become much stronger.

Thanks for your time.

UR welcome.... hope it helps...

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