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Showing posts from September, 2010

Shaking, extraneous movement and inefficient technique

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Introduction

I was going to call to call this article “For goodness sake, don’t do the hippy hippy shake”. But then I realised that this would prompt readers to think that I was referring to my old pet peeve, pre-loading the hip (or the “double hip”).1 This article is not about that subject (which is only obliquely relevant). Instead, this article is about the kind of shaking that results from extraneous and uncontrolled movement (rather than deliberate, if contextually inappropriate, hip loading).

Punching with “hara”

It was in 1988 that I first trained with Graham Ravey, founder of the TOGKA and former deshi of Higaonna Morio. At that training a certain local goju kai teacher (who shall go nameless, but who introduced himself as “Shihan […]”) pulled me aside and said: “You have good technique – but you have no ‘hara’. “Hara,” he told me, “means ‘heart’. Your techniques have no heart.”

Of course, “hara” is a Japanese term that is used in the martial arts to refer to the dantien o…

Flow: why it is an essential component of kata

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Introduction

I have written previously about my views on the importance of flow or connectivity between movements and the role kata plays in this process. In particular I have noted the importance of connecting a series of related techniques (eg. a block/deflection and counter) so that they comprise one cohesive sequence rather than separate, disconnected movements.

In my article "The importance of flow" I used a specific example of a movement from Aragaki seisan as researched by Patrick McCarthy and as performed by Erik Angerhofer, a student of McCarthy Hanshi’s respected International Ryukyu Karate Research Society (IRKRS).

I chose to compare Erik’s and my performance of the same movement for a very specific reason: I did not do so in order to assert that I was "faster than Erik". On the contrary, I chose Erik’s example because I felt that he and I were moving at more or less an identical speed. What the comparison was intended to show (and which I feel it de…

Really USING your kata

Introduction

In my previous articles (eg. "Kata as a vital training tool" and "Applying forms in combat") I discuss the function and usefulness of kata in general terms. But can a discussion about kata ever move from general statements to more specific examples? I will try:

Kata as a comprehensive catalogue

It is my view that kata provides a means of cataloguing the techniques and, more importantly, the principles of traditional martial arts like karate. In this regard, kata is (and I feel should be) the mainstay of karate. Your kata should comprise, as far as possible, a comprehensive catalogue of the techniques/principles of your art, providing a neat and efficient mnemonic for remembering (and practising) all your techniques or principles.

This is to be contrasted with a system which might have hundreds, if not thousands, of “stray” techniques/drills that have no particular order or hierarchical structure. In this context, the desirability of having, say, 10-12…