Showing posts from October, 2009

Another blind alley: the ITF “sine wave” theory

I have indicated before that it is dangerous to be obsessed with “power generation” in your martial art; there is so much more, particularly if your approach is oriented towards civilian defence. You don’t want to get hit, for starters. To do that you need not only evasion but “blocking” (deflection). You need a good foundation in terms of grounding and movement – in particular movement that serves as a platform for your evasion and deflection. Of course, you also need skills relating to grappling – whether stand-up or on the ground.

Even when you want to focus on hitting, it is important to remember that what people call “power generation” (ie. the ability to impart force) relies principally on the efficient transfer of momentum (as I’ve discussed in my article “Hitting harder: physics made easy”). The equation for momentum is simple:

p = m x v

If you want to hit harder, you have to move your mass faster. There are glosses on that (as I’ve detailed in my articles “Kime: soul of …

The role of traditional stances

It has occurred to me that I have not ever addressed one of the major elements of traditional fighting arts before: stances.

Stances are an integral part of traditional eastern fighting arts. Moreover they are surprisingly consistent in form.

For example, virtually every eastern fighting art has the “forward” stance (sometimes called the "bow and arrow stance"). In Japanese it is called “zenkutsu dachi”. In Chinese it is called “gong bu” (work step). This stance is the “workhorse” of most martial systems.

Typically it is shoulder width between the feet but 2 shoulder widths in length with the front knee bent so that the shin is vertical while the back leg is straight. The hips are usually oriented forwards (hence the term “forward stance”). It even exists in yoga where it takes the form of the “warrior pose” indicating its martial links.

Another ubiquitous stance is “horse stance”, which is typically bow-legged with the feet 1 ½ to 2 shoulder widths apart, toes either po…

The "naihanchi stance"

Readers of my blog will be aware that I am at odds with many karate practitioners in relation to how the kata naihanchi/naifanchi should be performed.

I have previously detailed my dislike of "hip shaking" - ie. pre-loading or telegraphing the hips to gain extra power - in practically every technique in naihanchi/naifanchi.

However I have recently become aware of another point of disagreement I have with many schools over their practice of this kata: the stance.

Many schools today practise naifanchi in what amounts to a relaxed, shoulder-width stance, with feet parallel. This is known as "heiko dachi" in Japanese. Even if it isn't exactly a heiko dachi, it is very near it (it certainly isn't a horse stance which is one and a half to 2 shoulder widths between the feet).

Consider, for example, the video below:

Naihanchi shodan by Onaga Michiko - performed in what is, to all intents and purposes, a normal shoulder width stance

I presume that the basis for this v…