Tuck your tailbone under – 9/8/09 – Thursday Karate class

If there is one thing that I can say about every class that I have had with Sensei Cieplik, it is that I learn something in each and every class.  I can do a movement that I have done 1000’s of times and he will share one little tip that makes it all clear.  It is as if I had a pair of dirty glasses on and he comes along and cleans the lens so I can see.  Today’s class was certainly no different and I walked away with something that I never understood until now.

Tuck your tailbone under….

For the longest time, I have been told to tuck my tailbone under or push my belt forward in order to move from my hips.  This is something that I have been told from the first couple of Karate classes that I took over five years ago.  The problem is that I could never tuck my tailbone under.  If I tried to do that, I ended up arching my back.  The thing that I never understood is that when the tailbone is not tucked, my hips point toward the floor not forward.  If my stance is taller, I can sit on my legs instead of fighting my balance and leaning forward.

Here is where the breakthrough came.  Sensei Cieplik said that if you have to, make your stance shorter and taller, as short and as tall as you need to tuck your tailbone under.  For all this time, I have been trying to tuck my tailbone under when in a low, long stance and it was impossible for me.  But, making my stance taller and shorter allowed me to tuck the tailbone, move from the hips and kick, punch and block with almost an effortless feelings but with what I felt was perfect timing.  When I would try to tuck my tailbone and move forward with a front punch, my feet and hands never had the correct timing but when I was able to tuck my tailbone, my lower body did the work and my hands moved automatically.

So, how does this help me do this when in a lower stance, you are wondering.  Sensei said to work on getting the body to move and function that way it should then work on making the stances lower and longer.  Since I never did movements in a short, tall stance, I never felt what it was like to do the movement correctly.  Sometimes, the harder the problem, the easier the solution is and that is true for me today.

Sensei Cieplik’s kata…

We all started with Heian Shodan and did it three times.  We then did H2, H3 twice, H4, H5 and Tekki Shodan.  We also did the Jion up to the first kiai.

After that, Sensei had everyone but the black belts go off to the side and he worked on Kanku dai with them.  He had them do the kata with their feet in line.

Next, Sensei had the black belts go off to the side he had us do Heian Shodan with him.  This is his way of doing Heian Shodan where, after every move, we squat down and touch the floor while trying to keep our back straight.  This was really intense and something that I am going to work on outside of class with my kata.

Some extra tips from Sensei:

If your stance is narrower, your hips will normally be more forward.  If you stance is too wide, chances are your hips will point down.

If you are in a narrow stance, gaze to the side but turn the hips and head forward while keeping your gaze to the side and your balance and stability will be very solid.

About doug
Doug is a Shotokan Karate student that enjoys sharing his Karate training experiences with everyone. He is a Computer Consultant, an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, blogger and a freelance writer..


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  1. […] yesterday, I had a really great Karate class. This was a class where I learned to do something the correct way after trying to do it for over […]

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