Monday, February 27, 2012

Kime and footwork

Heaviness and lightness, solid and fluid, firmness and pliability, giving the mind away yet the mind is full.

In the last 2 years of Sensei Nishiyama’s life almost every day and every class, we practiced 2 subjects, todome Waza (finishing technique) and Unsoku (footwork).

Those are two sides of the coin, which allow us to be effective in application, using minimum force and resistance.

At the peak of kime-focus of energy at impact (and even just before), one can become soft and adapt to the opponent instantly, and at any instant when moving with the opponent, one can apply kime.

In the last two years of Sensei’s Nishiyama’s teaching, we spent many hours understanding how to make strongest Kime, shocking power, how to use the breath to make pressure to floor, to create maximum acceleration at impact, and allow for full delivery of momentum plus reaction from pressure to floor into target and how to make total body musculature contraction in shortest time to like of technique for maximum shocking power.

Shortly, we were “seeking the beauty of one finishing blow technique”, that is one side of the coin.

The other side of the coin is footwork, we must be able to change position and distance or initiate technique as smoothly or quickly as possible without back motion.

In good footwork the body center using the breath “suspends” the legs (ukimi) as if one is floating, and at an instant one can become heavy and solid into the technique, and within this heaviness there must be suspension and potential action.

Footwork allows us to have the right distance and timing.

The right distance and timing so I don’t have to fight the opponent’s power, so I can apply my power when he cannot apply his/her, at the “off” moment in the opponent, and this chance is so slim that if you realized it in your brain you are too late.
Good footwork allows me to engage on my terms, not on the opponent’s terms.

When using footwork, one should not be rigid, neither collapsed relaxed, one should be relaxed but elastic, so the breath can catch and dictate the opponent’s rhythm and at same time can apply pressure to either foot to initiate technique.

Also being soft between allows us to be sensitive to the opponent movement, energy and intention.

One should be able to switch instantly from kime to softness, and changing distance and position, and from smooth footwork to kime.

We use the feet to initiate a technique, we react to the chance with the feet, and we fake and set up to create a chance with the feet.

Having the strongest technique and kime is useless without good footwork and having the best footwork is useless without strong kime.

All this strange concepts need lots of detailed, deep training till they are not strange anymore but natural to our body, engrained in our nervous system.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

First whole body cooperation – than learn to mentally give everything In karate technique the whole body has to cooperate into one direction and deli

In karate technique the whole body has to cooperate into one direction and deliver force in the shortest amount of time in precise line of energy.

Use of external force has to be maximized, and all segments have to increase energy in proper sequence, with each joint serving as cardinal point for next segment, body action and technique has be utilized fully, timed and connect properly to technique and match the line of technique, muscle activation has to be in the right amount in the right time, so the full potential of muscle contraction/expansion is utilized.

Just imagine how learning this skill can help a person in any sport and general everyday life activities and movement.

My teacher, Sensei Nishiyama, used to say: “you don’t need to be Popai to be good at karate, just learn how to use what you have”.

Or he used to say: "what is the point of having 8 cylinders if one uses only two cylinders”.

There are many small details that have to be digested and mastered to the point that it all happens subconsciously and becomes nervous system patterns.

The mind is most important source of power.

At same time we say that "there is no mind in the technique".

For one to apply his/her full potentials in the technique the most important element is the mind, in karate one learns to give everything, to have full commitment in every action, the Japanese term is Ho-Shin.

On the one hand one must have strong intention, and on the other there should be no analyzing or conscious control of the technique while executed.

It is like shooting an arrow, once you release the arrow you don't push and pull it, you don't control its direction.

We learn to have full intention, the breath follows the intention, and the muscles follow the breath.

The breath is the link between the mental and physical,it allows us on the one hand to mentally give everything without inhibitions, and on the other hand to control muscle action and sequencing.

Most of us have some inhibition, some holding back in every thing we do and therefore we do not use our full potentials.

Those inhibitions are because of past traumas or as protection mechanism, but in karate as we learn to have good form and sequencing, develop spine and joint stability, and learn to use the breath to apply ourselves fully, we learn to use our full potentials and do it safely.

Note: some people are able to naturally give everything, but the risk of injury is greater because there will be compensations and stress on structures and the musculoskeletal system is not conditioned for this kind of forces. With proper training, the muscles and tendons are strengthened, good form and sequencing with proper stabilizations, allow for more force production with least stress on spine and joints.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


We had 3 great days here in Bavaria, great spirit, groups from Austria, Czech Republic and many cities in Germany. Everyone is eager to learn and get better, it cannot be more fun to teach.
On Friday we cover posture, using ground reaction and body dynamics and timing of sen including Zanshin.
Yesterday, Saturday, we went through Kitei kata, which was composed by Master Nishiyama with assitance of Goju master Kisak and Shito Master Mabuni. There are a lot of misinterpretations in this kata so I tried to clear them out, and used this kata as a vehicle to understand karate fundamental principles. Later we covered making shocking power or making Todome (finish technique), and as far as timing we covered footwork of Oji Waza (response techniques) and some ideas of Shikake Waza (strategy for set up techniques).
Today we reviewed Kitei and went deeper into Kime waza, and spen a lot of time with variations of Nagaashi Uke (sweeping blocks) which I believe increase the sensitivity to opponent rhythm, range and direction of attack, and can contribute to better kumite.
It was cold, minus 10, but real fun.