Monday, December 27, 2010

Kime part 2: sharp contraction of total body to technique line

· 2 components of kime: pressure and contraction.

· Contraction of total body musculature to line of technique at impact.

· Purpose is to allow delivery of total force in shortest amount of time, to achieve maximum shocking power, Todome.

· Muscles contraction is controlled by breath, Kiai.

· Contraction is from the ground up and from the center out.

· Contraction to midline, than chain reaction to technique line.

· Legs contraction in a spiral to midline and to technique line.

· Body like steel for a moment.

· Elastic steel, which has flexibility and potential energy.

· Power needs direction therefore contraction to line of technique.

· During contraction no move on the outside, not any wobble, but inside does not stop.

· Sensei Nishiyama used to “at kime don’t even blink, kime from eyes (in a sense)”, when blinking breath muscles synchronization is lacking.

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

In karate the goal is to achieve Todome – finishing blow technique, and therefore shocking power is a must.

Our body is soft since it is made of 70% water, and we have many joints, and each joint is like a cushion where there is a “give” and energy can easily dissipate.

Test shows that when we drop a 5kg (12lb) steel ball from a height of 40 cm (16inches) on a brick, the brick will break every time, and this is because steel is dense, and the energy will transfer to the brick in 1/1000 of a second. On the other hand if we drop a many times heavier pillow on the brick nothing will happen because of the “give” of energy.

In movement we want to be elastic and soft to achieve maximum speed and momentum but at contact we want to be as dense as possible, like steel.

How do we achieve this density at contact and become like steel?

We need contraction of total body musculature to line of technique.

We cannot think of individual muscles, since the brain does not know muscles but movement patterns, also we don’t want to simply brace the muscles, because the contraction will be from the outside, and will be limited.

Our method is very special and effective, and based on lots of trial and error. We use the breath and intention to control the muscles, and think of contraction toward the spine, the midline, and than from the midline chain reaction to line of technique.

How does it works?

When making contraction to midline, the inner unit muscles, smaller muscles around the spine are activated, stabilizing the spine, and providing an anchor, working foundation for the bigger, more powerful, outer muscles to contract more fully and effectively to line of technique.

So, even though we say contraction to centerline, the purpose is not contraction inwardly, where energy is being “choked”, but rather contraction from the inside outward.

The contraction starts as we make pressure to floor, and as reaction of this pressure, therefore the contraction is from the floor and upward through the kinetic chain to line of technique. Likewise, when a person jumps and lands, as he hits the floor, there will be contraction against gravity, which is lengthening contraction, also called eccentric contraction.

During contraction continue pressure to floor and breath does not stop.

Only out of optimal posture contraction can be total and complete, since in optimal posture all muscles are at optimal length for function.

The muscles of the upper back, the gluts and adductors have tendency not to engage in contraction, the hip flexors and upper abdominals tend to be over active.

The pulling hand is very important in helping to use both side of the body through the center, in activating the back and gluts muscles.

The feet, big toe, heel and arch are very important in maximizing the activation of the legs, especially gluts and inner thighs.

Saying that we use all air to make total body contraction in shortest time is general, since different techniques require different types of energy, so the optimal amount of force should be applied.

Also, giving all air is more of a feel, that allows to give everything both mentally and physically, the breath is the link between mental and physical.

A block is not finish technique, and only meant to deflect an attack, kime is very short, a tsuki (punch) is finish technique, yet attack face require short delivery since the head tend to give and energy escape unless power delivery is sharp, Tsuki to the body needs to be deeper and more penetrating, therefore different types of breath is used to produce different types of kime.

The general exclamation that we need sharpest contraction is true, and we need to teach the nervous system to recruit as many muscles motor units in shortest time. This is a different kind of muscle activation lets say than a person who bench press and have as much time as needed to press, we need as much power applied in shortest amount of time, which is a skill that require proper training.

That is why sensei Nishiyama used to say that you don’t need to be Popai to be skillful in karate but you need to use what you have well.

He also used to say that there is no points of having 8 cylinders if one can use only 2. It is important to develop base strength, so one has more potential and is also safer.

Both pressure to floor and contraction are potential energy that can be released by exhalation to direction of next technique.

Kime or end of one technique is best condition for start of next technique.

As we release energy we also recharge energy for next technique.

This is a subject for another article.


  1. Thank you Avi very much!!! Perfect and very deep explanation! Nice guide for the karate instructors! All the best, Giedrius:)

  2. Excellent Avi, thanks for this article, for sure will help all Traditional Karate people

  3. Thank you Avi, it is another small piece of folder.I will try it in dojo.

  4. Dear Master Avi. This article is very nice but contains some misunderstandings directly conected with physics (especially force and preasure). One should concentrate on theory of collisons and law of conservation of momentum and energy. This theories can help to understand how to punch effectively.

  5. Thank's Avi for all. Marta Niewczas