I posted a video onto Facebook today to help reinforce some points to a student, who wanted some help on the next grading kata, Tekki Shodan They way that we practise this kata is with less movement on the hips and more of a focus on using the feet, legs and waist to generate power.
A friend and old student of mine, who is now a 3rd Dan, sent me a message to say that he thought that there should be more visible movement of the hips. We exchanged a couple of messages about this and it was interesting to share one anothers thoughts. It made me step back for a while and consider how we are taught to use the hips in Karate.
When I first started learning Karate, the focus back then was that you had to make big visible movements of the hip to make a technique both fast and effective. I remember many sessions doing 500+ repetitions on both legs to practise that hip action. Hanme, Shomen, Hanme, Shomen over and over again until the instructor was more satisfied with the progress. Looking back on that now, it was good training initially to learn the body movement necessary and to practise it, but it rarely involved any coaching to improve the technique, and if there were any comments, they would usually be along the lines of “more hip” or “faster” so nothing earth shattering. Neither did we actually practice hitting anything. Rather the purpose of the drill was simply to tire us out. It was the way most instructors taught back then, just glad that things have moved on so much now.
Over the years I trained with other style of Karate including Wado and Shotokai and it’s been interesting to see and hear their take on the use of the hips. Likewise with other martial art, to study how they generate power. One of the things that is evident is that in quite a few Karate clubs, they only work on the speed of the hip movement to generate power and effectiveness in techniques and don’t consider anything else, which I believe is a mistake.
I’ve been hit quite hard over the years by lots of people, but the three hardest punches, that I remember were from ( I probably shouldn’t say this, because it’ll only serve as an excuse for some other people to hit me harder) Dave Hazard, Tony Lima and Steve Morris. The interesting thing was that they all use their body in slightly different ways to generate power, but they all did generate power and speed in abundance and none of them were people I’d want to mess with for real.
Dave Hazard did a more traditional Shotokan punch on me, with some very heavy focus and kime at the end of the technique to a precise point. Tony Lima’s punch was more like a train just rushing into me and not stopping, without the use of Kime, I remember being winded (that most have been the first time in 20+ years) and feeling very sick and that was after being hit through a pad. Steve Morris’ hit was different to anything I’d ever experienced, I felt the whiplike blow to my chest and it hurt, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the momentary delay and the internal feeling as if someone had really hit me very hard inside my body and all of my organs were being shaken, that was the bit that really hurt.
I mentioned that there approach was very difference. One used the traditional Shomen, Hanme approach from front stance that I’d been taught all those years ago. Another stood in a rooted back stance and used no external hip action but did make good use of a relaxed body with no kime or tension in the technique. The third did a whipping action using his whole body to make the punch work, an analogy that someone else came up with, when we discussed it was “It’s like being hit by a crashed train, you get the initial impact and then a big follow through with a big heavy crash from the rear goods wagons.
My friend and I did agree to disagree on the basis of our past experience, but I did suggest some sites to go and research and see what other people are doing.
Here are a some examples of the different ways of punching and using the body to generate power. Steve Morris or Mitsusuke Harada (Tony Lima\’s teacher) or Yano Shotokan 8th Dan There are only so many ways that you can move your body to generate power regardless of style or martial art practiced and a good martial artist shouldn’t be blinkered in their approach nor their learning.
I’d strongly recommend anyone to get to make an effort and train with Steve Morris and also with Karate Do Shotokai, to learn what they have to offer from their different perspectives. I’ve trained with both approaches and I have to say that both work really well.