Due to the popularity of the “How to Front Kick” article and the emphasis on the little-known Isolation Method that I wrote about in that article, this time I write about how to step from one front stance to another. Again, the Isolation Method will be the way that I recommend training in kihon.
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How to Make a Front Stance Featured
The one thing so many people commented upon when I returned home from Japan was that my stances looked like they had been completely overhauled. They were deeper, though not really longer, and I looked and felt more comfortable in them. I believe this increase in stance competence mostly occurred because, as I have written before, here in the US, most basic training is in basic techniques marching up and down the floor. Very few people actually train actively in the fundamentals on a regular basis, breaking techniques down into their component motions and training those motions.
One of the more outstanding things that anyone observing a typical Shotokan performer will notice is the particular way in which body dynamics are employed. Most people who practice Shotokan Karate try their best to move fluidly throughout their motions, and then suddenly tense not only their extending limbs, but also other parts of their bodies as well. Some enthusiasts even go so far as to choke their breathing so as to create internal isometric tension to help with the timing of muscle tensing so that all of the contractions take place at the same time. This practice is referred to by many as -kime- using Japanese terminology. In English, the common jargon used is the word -focus.-
Pressure is the result of two surfaces in contact with one another where they exert force against each other. If you stand on your feet, your feet with exert force against the floor equal to the mass of your body in Earth’s gravity. When that force is calculated against the surface area involved, the amount of pressure, pounds per square inch, can be derived.
Disconnect Everything Featured
One of the most powerful things I know about Shotokan Karate is how to untie one muscle from another. In order to walk, run, and perform other motions, the human body must coordinate various muscles in a symphony of careful balance. However, the symmetry of motion builds habitual muscle reflexes which are maladaptive when seeking to perform karate motions which are asymmetrical. To become faster and more powerful, a karate expert must learn to disconnect every motion from every other.
Foot and Hand Synchronization Featured
When you execute basic techniques marching up and down the floor in a deep stance, your hips and torso move forward of your center of gravity as your back leg drives them forward. Eventually, a tipping point is reached, and your front foot catches your weight and your foot plants. The punch, block, chop, backfist, or other technique you were throwing will hit its imaginary air target. But when?
Do you sometimes struggle to find the time to get your martial arts training in? Perhaps your job, or family responsibilities mount up occasionally, and you find it difficult to set aside a larger chunk of time to dedicate just to martial training. If this is the case, then you will want to devise ways to steal moments for training.
The Fundamentals Featured
The human body is capable of limited movement. The four limbs can swivel at the base, and they can bend only in one direction to about 120 degrees of motion. The spine can bend and twist. With these few limited motions, human beings are capable of positioning their bodies in a surprising number of ways.
Not that many ways.
When I first started learning martial arts I learned a lot of things that I later found out other people didn't. My primary instructor was a man in his late 50's who I would call Master Martinez. Master Martinez was a small Mexican man that still had a thick accent even though he was born in America. Growing up his father told him to tell people he was Spanish because they were more socially accepted by whites then Mexicans, and for the rest of his life he insisted he was Spanish unless he really knew you. He spent three tours of duty in Vietnam while a member of the Army Special Forces before finishing out his enlistment in a training position and moving back home.
Natural Movement and Selection Featured
More than once I have been told that karate movements are best when they are natural. By natural, they mean that the motion be closest to the motion the human body is adapted for. Only through natural motion, we are told, can we protect ourselves from injury, long term wearing of body parts, and ensure the smoothest, fastest, and strongest motions. The result? An effective karate technique, a faster run, a more effective workout, a better swim, and etc.