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.
You attend a children’s or a beginner level class, but you are not a beginner. There are quite a few of you out there. The advanced class is too late at night, and you have to get up early the next day. Your kid takes karate, and you drive them, and they can’t just sit around in the lobby or off to the side while you work out for an additional hour or two. You are attending a beginner class, but you’ve been training for years, and you want to do more.
An Ideal Karate Experience Featured
You cannot teach a five year old to swim by tossing him into water ten feet deep. He doesn’t swim when you do that. He drowns. You cannot teach a teenager to drive a car by tossing them your keys and then watching some television. They do not learn to drive when you do that. They drive the car into the nearest obstruction and wreck it. You cannot teach a pilot to fly a plane by handing him a radio headset and putting him behind the joystick by himself. He doesn’t fly when you do that. He can’t even figure out how to start the plane’s engine.
So why do karate instructors think it is a valid teaching method to show someone how to do something and then ignore them? Why do they believe that insight gained from experience is some sort of spiritual way to enable people to learn physical skills like punching and kicking?
“Shut up and train.”
“You need to figure it out for yourself.”
“Keep training. You’ll get there.”
That’s not teaching. That’s just stupid.
Have you ever wondered what it might be like to join the best karate club you could imagine? Not everyone wants the same thing out of a karate club, so there are going to be different opinions about what would be great about a club. Here’s my vision of what someone might write about their experience if they attended the best karate club imaginable.
When you are performing kicks stepping forward from one front stance to another, it is typical for your arms to become over involved in the activity and swing one way and the other. This is especially true when round kicking. Try this exercise:
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.
While training at a seminar in another province, I overheard an interesting conversation coming from the two individuals training beside me. "Yeah I know this guy likes to teach this move this way, but I prefer to do it this way." The fellow then showed how he "preferred" to solve the self-defense problem using his techniques, rather than what was being taught by the instructor.