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The animal techniques of Uechi ryu (2)
Kicking in Uechi-ryu karate differs from many other styles. The front-leg snap kick is the only kick used in the katas brought from China. It is found in ......
Kicking in Uechi-ryu karate differs from many other styles. The front-leg snap kick is the only kick used in the katas brought from China. It is found in every kata of Uechi-ryu except Sanchin, which contains no kicks. The front-leg kick, like the lead hand punch, is the first line of defense, as it is the closest technique to the opponent. It can be executed quickly against an incoming attacker. This approach exemplifies the "defense only" philosophy of Uechi-ryu karate. The snapping of the kick is an important source of power since the hips cannot be used in the front-leg kick as effectively as with a rear-leg kick. Front kicks in traditional Okinawan kata are aimed at the middle (chudan) or lower (gedan) areas of the body. Kicks that are normally performed by most systems with the ball of the foot, sokutei, are executed in Uechi-ryu karate with the tip= of the big toe (sokusen). Kicks with the ball of the foot do not exist in this system. Sokusen geri is the only kick in the original three katas brought from China. Like the shoken fist, sokusen kicks emulate the destructive effect of a tiger's teeth. These techniques deliver an enormous amount of power to a small area. Deeper body penetration and more damage to the area attacked are the results. Any part of the body is a potential target for sokusen. Newer students should practice kicking with the ball of the foot for their own safety. Preparing the toes for kicking is an arduous process. First the muscles in the toes must be developed so they can be flexed into the proper position. This can take several months. Second, the tip of the toe must be conditioned to take hard contact. This takes several years. To form sokusen, pull your toes back toward your foot, tightening all toes together. Here are six methods for strengthening sokusen technique:
1. Make a tight sokusen foot and walk on the tips of the toes.
OPEN HAND TECHNIQUES
Koken is formed the same as the kakushiken strike but is applied differently. A large swinging motion is used to deliver this downward strike. To increase power in this technique, a scooping action is added at the point of contact. The targets of this strike are the groin and nerves in the pelvic area. This technique is effective against a grab from behind. Uechi Kanbun told a story to Shinjo Seiyu about a Chinese martial artist who visited him and discussed an interesting conditioning exercise emulating a crane. The man dumped a small bag of rice on the dojo floor. He picked the rice up, one grain at a time, with the fingertips, much in the way a bird would pick them up with its beak. As the grains of rice disappeared, the strength of the man's developed fingertips became apparent. The visitor explained that in a fight he could apply his pecking and pinching techniques to the veins in the arms of his opponent, causing deadly internal bleeding.
Uechi became intrigued with this idea and stood up, directing the man to demonstrate the technique on him. Several attempts were made but none were successful because of the extreme development of Uechi's arms. Arm conditioning (kote kitae) had rendered the crane technique ineffective. The degree of conditioning necessary to develop these advanced striking techniques are a major hindrance in modern use. Extensive use of the Okinawan conditioning device, makiwara, is not as prevalent in the West as it is in Okinawa. A well-conditioned and highly refined animal strike may be your only saving grace when you face a deadly opponent of greater strength or determination.
The big toe kick (sokusen) of Uechi-ryu karate emulates the tiger's bite. Sensei Shinjo Kiyohide demonstrates the penetrating effects of this effective technique on his son Shuichi, of Kadena, Okinawa.
Developing the toes for kicking is an arduous, painstaking task requiring years of dedication. An old tire makes an ideal target.
To execute a nukite strike, tighten all four fingers together and place the thumb firmly against the ridge of the hand. Legend contends that ancient Okinawan karate masters could penetrate the rib cage like a spear using a nukite strike.
Kakushiken (left) simulates the damage of a downward thrust of a crane' beak. Targets of the koken strike (right) are the groin and the nerves in the pelvic area.
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