Use your entire body, not just the upper body

Even though Sensei Cieplik retired over six months ago, Sensei Noia carries on his teachings and often tells us to use our entire body when doing punches and strikes.  Although Sensei Noia doesn’t often use the term “with the body” he still gets to point across clearly.

Class started out with some light free sparring to get everyone warmed up.  Oddly, the dojo was fairly warm even though the outside temperature was around 2 degrees F.

Use the entire body, not just the upper body

After the warm up, we got a pad and a partner and worked on hitting stuff.  One partner held the pad and the other did a back fist, hammer fist, knife hand strike, ridge hand strike and a hook punch.  The key to the first four strikes is hip rotation.  If you do the movements with the upper body and shoulder only, the movements will be very weak but getting the hips involved will make them extremely powerful.  For the hook punch, we could drop into a horse stance to get more power and one thing that Sensei shared was to do the punch with the fist in a vertical position.  Having my fist in this position made the movement feel much more natural and much stronger than when I do it with my fist horizontal.  I often use a vertical fist (tate in Japanese) when hitting pads because it aligns the bones in the arm differently and it makes my wrist much more stable than when I punch with my fist horizontal.  Next time you hit something, try using a vertical punch and see how it works for you.  I think you will enjoy it.

Doing kata at the end of class really helps

Although we have worked on kata at the end of class for some time now, it never dawned on me that there was a reason for it.  When you are tired from sparring or kihon, it makes the katas blossom.  All of your power is pretty much spent by then and doing kata when your are physically and mentally tired makes good kata come out.  When your mind and body is tired, you have to do kata on autopilot which means that you have to move naturally with no time to think or analyze what you are doing.  You don’t think, you just do.  I know for a fact that when I do kata when my mind and body is fresh it is no where near a good as when I do after a lot of hard training.  It’s taken me many years to realize this but like I often tell myself, better late than never.

After we put the pads away we worked on kata.  We started with a slow Kanku Dai counted out by Sensei with him offering details about each move.  After that, we did it on our own at full speed and power.  We then broke up into groups and worked on the kata of our choice.  I started learning Kanku Sho over the weekend so it was nice to have some more space to do the full kata.  We did it four times and then Sensei had us go and do our kata in groups as he watched and gave us all corrections.  I ended up jumping in the Gojushiho Sho group because I like doing that kata and it is always a good way to end class on a good note for me.

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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