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#132713 - 11/17/03 04:16 PM Re: Questions for Karateka

Hi Alec [IMG][/IMG]

We will have to agree to disagree about whether ornot to tense as we punch whilst I consider what you have said.

In answer to your question; I do use all three but these days prefer 1 and 2 because I am older and more knackered than I used to be [IMG][/IMG]

#132714 - 11/17/03 05:24 PM Re: Questions for Karateka
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
I'm no expert and barely a teacher, but I will share with you my understanding of these principles from 14 years of study, which I am still trying to perfect myself. I will try to answer each question, but the things you mention overlap so if I miss anything please make note of it.

When I say that that your feet must be rooted it is not just the connection of your feet with the ground, but it is more of a state of standing. First your back must be straight. Imagine a pole from the top of you skull that travels down your spine into the ground. This is your axis of rotation. When you turn you don't lean forward or backward. You don't stick your butt backwards or thrust your pelvis out forward. You should always rotate on this axis. You do not hold yourself up on your legs, you sink down into you stance. First everything must be totally relaxed. Don't hold you stomach muscles tight, let them sink down into your abdomen. When you breathe do so with your stomach and not your chest. Your chest should never rise and fall when you breathe, only your stomach. When you stand in your stance let your entire abdomen sink down until the skeletal structure of your pelvis stops its decent. Don't "raise up" in your stance. By doing these things I can relax and "sink." My upper body is supported by my lower body, but my stance should not take a lot of muscular strenght to maintain. Just as I stand I should be able to maintain my stance. When we stand we use the small muscles in our legs to support our posture. Stances in karate are the same way. If your structure is correct and you relax and sink into your stance you will have great stamina because you will use the small muscles which require less blood and oxygen. When doing these things you must focus your weight on the midpoint of your feet which is an inch or so below the ball of your foot. By doing these things it will be more difficult for your opponent to remove you from the place in which you stand. Not that your body is rigid and you are resisting with muscular strength, you stance is mobile and flexible like bamboo. You may bend, but it will be hard to break you. The grounding comes in to play practically because of physics. When some one exterts force on your body instead of resisting that force in the opposite direction you simply direct the force directed on you straight to the ground. This deals with vectors and physics, which I got a D in in college, which is why I switched from engineering to psychology. But it is easy to see that I can only resist a force with my muscular strength for only so long against a force that is only so strong. However, if I use correct posture when performing a stance I can direct any force on my body straight to the ground and have a resisting force which I alone would never be able to produce. This is what I mean when I say you must be rooted or grounded.

When I talk about focusing the power in the abdomen it has a lot to do with this notion of sinking and the way you are standing in you stance. Like you said it is realizing that your center of gravity is you abdomen. A lot of people in karate lead with their chest and lean into their techniques, but this is not correct in okinawan karate. When stepping in karate you should be able to move easily in and out of the rooted stance that I mentioned before. This is achieved because with no force being exerted on your body although you are sinking you should be able to easily shift you weight. Weight shifting is a key in karate. if I stand in a horse stance or front stance I should be able to focus my weight more or less on either of my feet so that I can lift the other foot to move. When doing this it is imperative that you focus on your abdomen when shifting weight. If you play around with it you will begin to see that if you don't you will have to lean dramitically and use the momentum of your weight to move rather than shifting weight so that you can push off of the ground to move. I guarantee that moving by pushing off of the ground is more stable, powerful, and faster than simply using the momentum of you weight to move. Just watch how western people walk. Are they balanced, rooted, and push off of the ground, or do they simply lean to get moving and just fall over their own feet?

Once you understand this you are ready to move in your stance. The purpose of the weight shifting is to be perfectly balanced in all points of you steps so that there is no point of weakness. If I am stepping and someone hits me will I be rooted enough so I will not be knocked to the ground? If the answer is yes then you must ask yourself an I launch powerful techniques from any point in my step. When we learn kata we are taught to step and then punch when we have a solid base. This is necessary to teach beginners so that they will learn to fight with a solid foundation, which is ideal. But in theory if I am perfectly balanced in all points in my steps I should be able to strike an opponent at any point and have at least one foot firmly planted on the ground and not lose any power. Once I am able to master stepping I no longer have to do this one technique per step thing. I can stand and launch techniques or I can step and launch techniques, but it is not dependent on my steps, but on the attacks that I am recieving. Therefore as I step into an opponent in one step that may be percieved as relatively slow I can defend and attack against four or five attacks from my opponent. My hands will always be faster than my feet, so if I fight and want to step into, away from, or to the side of my opponent I must have a way to always be perfectly balanced so I can deal with all incoming attacks and launch my own. This may seem strange because although my lower and upper bodies are in perfect harmony on some levels they are completely unrelated. My steps are simply designed to put me in position to attack while putting me in a position so that my opponent cannot attack me with 100% power. My upper body is simply attacking my opponent.

When I speak about principles of motion I am talking about the whole a punch is not a punch and a block is not a block, they are all simply attacks. Essentially no matter what I do if I use correct technique and focus my blocks and or strikes to the midline of my opponent I will get a relatively good result. Everything that I do in karate are simply movements. We should not just focus on the end result. Don't just worry about the block actually snapping out or the final extension of a punch. Although these things are important there is a lot more there. When I cross my arms before I execute a block there are several key techniques in what some may refer to as the set up for a block. The principles of motion that I speak of are very broad and is truly up to you to interpret. The key is to use proper technique and analyze the bunkai to make the motion of your technqiue work for you. One thing that works for me is I try to work on may be one technqiue a week to really focus on. I practice my kata and basics and think about what it can be used for, an arm lock, a leg lock, a deflection, and attack to the face, or ribs, or solar plexus, a neck crank, a choke, what ever. Then I go to a class and get a black belt and I say lets spar. I tell them to attack me and fight me and keep the pressure coming. If I don't feel that they are fighting hard enough I tell them to try to take me out. I tell them to try to put me on the ground or make me submit or even knock me out. I then use the technique that I was working on, along with the others that I know, to see if I can get these technqiues to work and to try to discover all of the application I can. Some things only work when some one is attacking, some work when some one is retreating, some work when someone is standing still.

The bood the Essensce of Okinawan Karate Do is and excellent resource for the length of your stances. It was also written by the founder of my style of karate. To measure walking stance simply kneel down without moving your feet and touch your knee to the ground. Your knee and big toe of the other foot should be even. In front stance kneel down without moving your feet and touch your knee to the ground. There should be the length of your fist betwee the heel of you other foot and your knee. In horse stance the distance is the same as in front stance, but you will have to pivot to either the right or the left to measure it. The distance in naihanchi stance is the same as horse stance.

Next a thing about lions. But first a side note I like to live my life striving to be a man among boys and a lion among men. Although we are not lions in body structure(however some of us may be in heart), we can learn something from how they generate power when striking. Like I said earlier you must push off of the ground to move instead of leaning and using the momentum you have created with your weight. When you step if you step with the ball of your foot it is easy to slip and not have solid footing. However, if you step with the heel and roll your foot to its mid point then you have a natural break. This is how lions and all members of the cat family step when striking. With this method you can have great power when stepping and maintain great control over your body.

Finally when I spar I attempt to put all of these principles to use. It is not good to focus on each point of execution of these techniques when free fighting. That is why I said earlier that this way of thinking is for beginners. You must practice until you no longer think, you simply automatically move in this manner. I have met some highly ranked practitioners (5th dan and above) who when asked a question about a kata must actually do the technique to answer the question. They no longer think it, they just do it. I am getting to that point, but have many years of practice a head of me. But at the same time there is always an analysis of one's technique.

I hope I have explained myself. I didn't explain everything as I would have liked becasue sadly we would actually have to train together for me to completely explain myself.

#132715 - 11/18/03 12:32 PM Re: Questions for Karateka
Yoseikan Student Offline

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Thanks for the reply medulant. I've read it carefully. I can't say I followed everthing, but I believe I appreciate your 'gist'.


#132716 - 11/18/03 01:02 PM Re: Questions for Karateka
Yoseikan Student Offline

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Hi Sharon, been thinking a bit more about the punch. I'll try and explain myself more thoroughly.

In punching the air, we have no resistance. So if we don't simultaneously contract the antagonistic muscle set, namely the bicep and tricep, we have no brake or stopping mechanism for the punch. The arm will lock out and the elbow joint suffers.

Or else the movement has to be reversed rapidly and recovered into the guard position.

Hit the bag and this no longer matters because the bag stops the arm from locking out completely as it absorbs the power of the punch and hinders its forward movement.

I'm struggling with the explanation of my thoughts, but please bear with me......

Consider a low Thai roundhouse/shin kick. Take your leg, swing it like a bat, big hip rotation and smash your shin into your opponent.

Now imagine there is nothing there to make impact with - no bag, no opponent. Imagine throwing that air kick, make it a big one. The imagery in my head is of spinning around past the impact point, continuing 360 degrees, losing my balance and landing on my arse. The kick has so much in it that in order to stop it in mid air, I have to apply the brakes and rob it of its power.

Thats what happens when you stop the punch by tensing the muscles.

The tension is necessary in an air punch, it allows you to stop the punch having shown how fast you are and how you generate the power for it. But you have to stop the forward momentum of it because otherwise your elbow joint will explode. The tension is used so you can demonstrate punching attributes to the air. The 'full' punch should not be stopped in this way IMHO.

The air punch is or should be a different punch to the punch that makes impact.

I think that because you personally as a karateka can stop the punch so efficiently, and by that I mean you tense up at the very last moment and stop the punch in a very short space and period of time, (due to hours of practice) you can use the same punch to the air as to the bag, and still get excellent results. I assume the punch is still traveling when you impact the bag, and you only brake the punch when you have penetrated the bag somewhat. So you still get a good result.

My point is that in tensing the muscles you stop the punch. You stop it moving forward. I don't think that a good punch should be stopped like this. You either pull it back or you allow all the energy to travel into the object you are punching.

Maybe you could try throwing punches into a kick shield or a heavy bag, and trying to just 'throw the punches away'. Do everything the same as before, just don't try and stop it or 'tense'?

Tell me if you think I'm talking bull.



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

#132717 - 11/18/03 01:43 PM Re: Questions for Karateka
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
Actually if you don't mind I would like to address a portion of this question. In okinawan karate you want the extension and seperation of the joint, tendons, and muscles. This is part of what gives the okinawan punch its penetrating power. However, there are certain basic conditioning exercises that you must do to condition the elbow joint so that you do not damage it. If you stop it you will never be able to recreate this effect. This is one point that the okinawans are very clear on.

#132718 - 11/18/03 03:39 PM Re: Questions for Karateka
Bossman Offline

Registered: 08/25/03
Posts: 1785
Loc: Chatham Kent UK
You aime the focus of the punch (as a general but not exclusive rule) to the centre of the target that you are striking to. So in your "aliveness" training you have to picture the target if you are doing solitary practise and send the energy to the centre.

The usual point to hit the opponent is as the "hikite" (withdrawing) hand pulls the opponent to the point where your elbow is one fists distance from the body, the punching arm is equidistant and the fist just turning vertical. You then "stab" him by utilising the hammer motion of the fist and "screw" the punch in linking the feet hips and wrist .

I think the problem is that you are confusing the types of punch.

#132719 - 03/08/04 03:27 PM Re: Questions for Karateka
Yoseikan Student Offline

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Here it is!

#132720 - 03/10/04 07:34 PM Re: Questions for Karateka
mark Offline
sword of magnamity

Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 1284
Loc: uk
Damed Uperty 2nd kyu!! keep you place!

You KNOW the reason why you do all these things....BECAUSE WE DAMN WELL TELL YOU TOO!!!

You are reduced in grade by 27 belts.

When are you coming back to Essex, so we can teach you the error of your ways!?

I promise not to drink so much this time!

Only thing I do wonder about is the definiation and time in a "locked stance" you do "lock in boxing" it is just the isometric contraction of the bodies muscles.


PS: "Why do I need to look like a swallow in Enpi?" YOU FOOL ..........
Because it is better than looking like a hippopotamus......


#132721 - 03/10/04 08:45 PM Re: Questions for Karateka
Yoseikan Student Offline

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Damed Uperty 2nd kyu!! keep you place!


You KNOW the reason why you do all these things....BECAUSE WE DAMN WELL TELL YOU TOO!!!


You are reduced in grade by 27 belts.

Thats a lot of belts. Owch.

When are you coming back to Essex, so we can teach you the error of your ways!?

Next Wednesday. (probably)

I promise not to drink so much this time!

Well that no fun then is it.

Only thing I do wonder about is the definiation and time in a locked stance you do lock in boxing it is just the isometric contraction of the bodies muscles.

Frankly, I just concentrate on twatting him as hard as I can as often as I can without getting twatted back. Looking forward to long protracted discussion about it resulting in 'Bollocks!'.


PS: Why do I need to look like a swallow in Enpi? YOU FOOL ..........
Because it is better than looking like a hippopotamus......

Alec [IMG][/IMG]

#132722 - 04/25/04 06:53 PM Re: Questions for Karateka
Goju-Ryu Offline

Registered: 04/03/04
Posts: 54
Loc: canada
I would like to answer your questions, but some questions you have to answer yourself.

there are many answers to your many questions.

Good luck to you.

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