Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Reaction and action are one

Using the eyes make us late, we tune and react to the opponent with the breath
If you see the attack, you are too late, when he attacks you must already be in motion. The reaction should be directly from the spine, by the breath, just as when you walk in the street and something happens, you breath reacts, haaaa..., and only than your brain realizes what happened, this is a a reflex. In karate we say that we "by pass" the brain, confirming and deciding in the brain will make you behind. It is more than just reflex, by not judging, by keeping wide attention, we perceive the opponent, we allow our intuitive mind to receive the opponent, there is a lot of information we can receive from the opponent about his intentions if we are tuned to him.
If we look too hard, judge, confirm, we will interfere with breath reaction, and the technique will have a different cycle, pattern, it will be an order from the brain to the arm, which makes us late but also makes us isolate the arms and legs.

The breath initiates the technique
Reacting with the breath and perceiving the opponent is only half the picture.
Breath reflex is innate but if it does not translate into action and technique it is useless.
In the basic training we learn to coordinate between intention, breath, muscles and technique, we learn to control the spinal muscles by using lower abdominal breath.

From previous articles, we know that the first muscles to fire in any movement are those around the spine, and we also know that the legs and arms movement are function of the spine.

As we advanced and go beyond the external form, the breath will initiate the body center and control the feet and the technique. The breath is the "trigger" that initiates the technique, and therefore when we react with the breath, feet action and technique are resulting.

Now, put the two together, breath makes reaction, breath makes action, reaction and action are one without space.
So when the opponent attacks us, the breath and the feet are the first to move, moreover, when the opponent move, your feet should already be in motion.
Reaction and action are one, initiated from the center which is controlled by the breath, so at advanced level, one does not think of arms and legs, neither of the opponent's arms and leg, only intention and breath and the rest will do itself, now the mind is free, and has space to make strategy.
Remember, the mind has to be free so the technique can be expressed.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Maximizing impact in karate technique

Karate technique is based on the concept of Todome-finishing blow technique, executed in perfect timing, this is fighting by skill rather than exchange of techniques and brawling, which is to rely on strength and size.
Therefore, we need to study each technique, deeply rather than learn many techniques superficially. We need to understand many details and through understanding the complexity achieve simplicity. The technique has to become reflexive, we say that "there is no mind in the technique".

Force equal mass times acceleration, and shocking power, impulse, equal force divide by time, or maximum force delivered in shortest amount of time.

We also need to consider other factors beside achieving maximum impact power, such as we have to initiate a technique quickest and without back motion for it to be applicable, and the end of a technique has to be best condition for next, to eliminate space or readjustment between actions, we also have to remember that in most cases only small space is available, so we have to remove unnecessery action and our goal is to produce more force in less movement.

The following principles have to be applied to any kime technique, using any body action, from any stance:

Quickest start without back motion

This is achieved by two means:
Sharp turning from the spine, or spinal muscles, using ground reaction, therefore breath from the lower abdominal trigger the technique by controlling the spinal muscles while applying pressure and twisting to the feet. (turning from the big diameter of the hips is too slow).
Using inside muscle reaction, "reverse" exhale to draw the stomach toward the back, to apply pressure to the back and the floor as a base by changing the exhalation direction sharply, we release the loaded muscles and technique.
The breath is the trigger.

Muchimi, body like whip, total nody snap
This is most important acceleration, speed increases sharply as the body snaps like a whip from the center out, with the Sacrum as the base or the handle of the whip, and the expression at the contact area, via the twist of the forearm at the elbow joint or at the wrist.

Kime, at contact maximum pressure to floor and total bady contraction to technique line of energy
At contact using the breath and proper body alignment we apply maximum pressure to floor as a mean to deliver the total accumulated energy through the target, the pressure to the floor is also acceleration of the vody weight up to 2 to 3 times, which is very important force production especially in short space where momentum is limited. (we cannot change the body weight but can accelerate it using ground reaction0.
As we make pressure we make sharp contraction of the whole body, the body should be like steel for an instant, the purpose is to deliver the total energy in shortest time to make maximum shocking power.
To achieve total contraction we think of the torso muscles contracting like a tube to the spine and from the spine chain reaction to technique line, it is important that the contraction has the proper direction, since power with no direction is useless.

After technique keep mind, or mental and physical prearedness, when we make a technique we give everything without holding back, physically the more pressure to floor and the sharper contraction the more potential, so next technique starts as reaction, effortlessly, also mentally when we give everything the mind is free, it has no ressistance or contradiction, and can smoothly flow with the situation without gap, or space of decision and confirmation.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Foundattions of karate techniques

Foundations of karate technique
We discuss pre requirements to karate technique, conditions that have to be understood and digested before we can talk about speed, snap, and kime.

Condense ki energy to body center (using breath and intention), body center is intention center, intention from center to opponent's center. Intention, imagination first, than breath, than spinal muscles, and in ripple effect energy, force increases to extremities and technique.

best body alignment from where body movement can be initiated quickest, smoothest and with least effort. The postural direction have important influence on our mental and emotional state.

Using ground reaction, stance
We cannot increase energy and change the center of mass without external force, all karate technique is initiated from external force, indirectly.Stance in karate is for the purpose of maximizing ground reaction forces to initiate a technique, quickest, without back motion.
Also, the purpose of stance is to provide strongest base to deliver force fully to the target at impact (kime).

Zui Ban, accompanying movement, action from body center
When the body center, about 3 fingers under the belly button toward the spine, at the sacrum, moves to certain direction, all parts of the body tend to cooperate to same direction.
Therefore, our intention center and action center is at the Tan Den.

Breath control technique
Breathing from floor to initiate the technique from ground reaction, and to activate the muscles as chain reaction from the feet up. We use "reverse" exhale to produce force from outside inward, such as pulling, sweeping technique. The breath controls muscles contraction/expansion, and the type of contraction we want at kime.

Sequence, timing within technique
To accumulate maximum energy, each body segment increases energy fully and than next segment starts. Simply we say, body action first than technique starts naturally.
Or, we say, in hand techniques: stomach to elbow to contact area, in foot techniques: stomach to knee to contact area.

Joint as action center
Energy transfer from one body segment to another at the joint, the more stable the joint is, the more transfer of energy. For example, if the knee is wobbly during hips rotation, ground reaction energy will dissipate.

Knowledge vs. Free mind

When we start learning karate, we must learn technique and kata first, we must have the knowledge of details of technique. This knowledge can become a hindrance when we hang to it, when we let it shape and condition the mind in a particular way. Than this knowledge prevents us from new investigation and discovery.

This is true with knowledge in general, we accumulate knowledge and memory which is important, without it we could not fly airplane, practice medicine and do essential things for our lives, but it can become a hindrance, set us in patterns, and prevent us from having a fresh, free mind that can discover.

In learning karate and learning in general we should not allow accumulation of knowledge top make us mechanical.
So we should distinguish between when knowledge is essential and when it becomes a hindrance.
The difficulty is to free the mind from the known so it can discover what is new all the time.

Great mathematicians can get stuck on a problem when they try hard to solve it but when the mind is quiet and have space the problem itself will reveal the answer.
We must have information about a problem but one must be free of that information to find an answer.
Similarly, in karate, one must have good technique, learned from the best teacher, but must be free of this technique to apply it successfully.

We acquire information, knowledge and technique, but we do not learn how to quiet the mind, how to keep the mind free, so we become a slave to a system which really means no creativity.
To have technique is meaningless without creative mind.
There must be first freedom of the mind for creativeness to take place, and than technique can express this creativeness.
We must teach technique first to introduce a person to karate or any knowledge, and at the same time have the awareness that we do not become dull, mechanical by this technique.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The mind and technique

In karate one must die every day to what he knows, so the mind is fresh.
We make no conclusions we are just there to find out.
Good technique should be an expression of spontanous, free mind, if we hold on to the technique, make it a safeguard, the mind will deteriorate.
Technique is only our vehicle to discover and internalize karate principles, at the same time we have to keep our mind pure, free.