basic techniques of blocking, punching, striking
and kicking are both the beginning of karate and
the ultimate goal. Although only a matter of months
may be sufficient to learn them, complete mastery
may not come even after a lifetime of training.
The student must practice regularly, with maximum
concentration and effort in the execution of each
and every movement.
This will not be sufficient, however, unless the
techniques are scientifically sound and the training
systematic and properly scheduled. To be effective,
training must be conducted on the basis of correct
physical and physiological principles.
It may come as a surprise to many to know that the
techniques created and refined through long and
continuous practice by the early karate student
have been found to accord with modern scientific
principles. And the more they are studied, the more
this proves to be true. This is not to say that
there are no unsolved problems, but these must await
further study. Further refinement of karate is quite
probable, as techniques are analyzed in an unceasing
effort to improve them through a scientific approach.
In order to benefit from his training, the student
should have a good understanding of the following
Correct form is always closely related to the
principles of physics and physiology.
Prerequisites of correct form are good balance,
a high degree of stability and the order of movements
of each part of the body, since movements are made
in quick succession in a short period of time.
This is specially true in karate because punching
and kicking are vital to the art. The need for good
balance can be seen particularly in kicking, where
the body is usually supported by one leg. To withstand
the great impact when a blow is landed, stability
of all joints in he arms and hands is necessary.
With changing situations and different techniques,
the center of gravity changes, shifting to the left,
right, front, back. This cannot be done unless the
nerves and muscles are well trained. Again, standing
on one foot for too long will open one attack, so
balance must be constantly shifted from one foot
to the other. The karate student must moth avoid
giving an opening and be prepared for the next attack.
Breathing is coordinated with the execution of
a technique, specifically, inhaling when blocking,
exhaling when focusing technique is executed, and
inhaling and exhaling when successive techniques
Breathing should not be uniform; it should change
with changing situations. When inhaling, fill the
lungs full, but when exhaling do not expel all the
air. Leave about 20 percent in the lungs. Exhaling
completely will leave the body limp. One will not
be able to block even a weak blow, nor will be able
to prepare for the next movement.
Kiai (spirit-meeting or energy-shout)
The kiai is the shout at the end of a technique
and in conjunction with the expulsion of air (Kime)
will maximize the power of the movement. It also
had the effect of surprising an opponent and may
momentarily paralyze their response.
The concept of KI is at the roof of all martial
arts and Japanese philosophy. KI is the spirit and
energy along with the breath meeting AI at the moment
Developing your KIAI is very important. It is not
just a shout or a screech from the throat. If you
put your hand on the stomach and cough you will
feel the muscles of your abdomen contract. This
in fact is the start of your KIAI.
First understand the principles and the breathing
method Kime as explained, then replace the biting
action with your shout 'KIAI'.
It will start as a growl from the pit of the stomach
but when completed the sound produced will vary
from one to another.
Without breath there is no life. Without Kime
your karate is lifeless. It is essential that you
understand that all karate techniques must be performed
Kime is the focusing of mental energy, breathing
and physical force culminating in a single striking
Karate is not whole without all these elements.
The key to Kime is the breathing. Any physical activity
requires correct breathing, witch works with the
body not against it. The grunts and groans athletes
make are not for effect; a student is using his
breathing along with his muscles to explode with
maximum effect, producing the most potent force
possible. No effort is wasted.
There are various methods of breathing, but the
basic method for beginners is: 'One breath one technique'.
In a relaxed but controlled manner breathe out through
a slightly opened mouth, complete the breath and
technique at the same moment closing your mouth
instantly as if biting. Simultaneously tense the
abdomen, locking the rest of your muscles for a
fraction of a second before relaxing and breathing
As you tense and lock the muscles of the abdomen,
the buttocks should be clenched so that the abdomen
lifts up and forward.
The hips are located at approximately at the center
of the human body, and their movement plays a crucial
role in the execution of various types of karate
techniques. The lower abdomen, particularly the
rotation of the hips, which adds to the power of
the upper body, creates the explosive power of the
Besides being a source of power, the hips provide
the basis for a stable spirit, correct form and
maintenance of good balance. In karate, the advice
is often given to "punch with your hips",
"kick with your hips", and "strike
with your hips".
Power and Speed
Power accumulates with speed. Muscular strength
alone will not enable one to excel in the martial
arts, or in any sport for that matter. The power
of the Kime (Focusing) of a basic karate technique
derives from the concentration of maximum force
at the moment of impact, and this in turn depends
greatly on the speed of the blow or kick. The punch
of a highly trained karate student can travel at
a speed of thirteen meters per second and generate
power equivalent to seven hundred kilograms.
Though speed is important, it cannot be effective
without control. Speed and power are increased by
utilizing the pairing of forces and reaction. For
this purpose, an understanding of the dynamics of
movement and their application is necessary.
Concentration and Relaxation of Power
Maximum power is the concentration of the strength
of all parts of the body on the target. Not just
the strength of the arms and legs.
Equally important is the elimination of unnecessary
power when executing a technique, which will result
in giving greater power where it is needed. Basically,
power should start at zero, climax to one hundred
on impact, and immediately return to zero. Relaxing
unnecessary power does not mean relaxing alertness.
One should always be alert and prepared for the
Strengthening of Muscular Power
Understanding of theory and principles without
strong, well-trained, elastic muscles to execute
the techniques is useless. Strengthening muscles
requires constant training.
It is also describe to know which muscles are used
in witch techniques. To the extent that muscles
are used specifically, greater effectives can be
expected. Conversely, the less muscles are used
unnecessary, the less the loss of energy. Muscles
operating fully and harmoniously will produce strong
and effective techniques.
Rhythm and Timing
In any sport, the performance of a top athlete
is very rhythmical. This applies also in Karate.
The timing of various techniques cannot be expressed
musically, but it is nonetheless important. The
three principal factors are the correct use of power,
swiftness or slowness in executing techniques and
the stretching and contraction of muscles.
The performance of a master is not only powerful
but also very rhythmical and beautiful. Acquiring
a sense of rhythm and timing is an excellent way
to make progress in the art.
Hiki te (The withdrawing Hand)
The withdrawing hand leads the rotation of the
hips. When executing a technique, the withdrawing
hand must move strongly, quickly and sufficiently.
If not, the technique will not reach its maximum
effectiveness. Another important point is that both
arms must move at exactly the same time.
If the technique is being executed with the right
hand, it is usual for the left elbow to be drawn
straight back. When striking in a wide arc, the
withdrawing arm should also appear as a wide arc.
In other words, if the technique is executed in
a straight line, the other arm withdraws in a straight
line. If the technique is arc like, the other arm
travels in an arc.
It is not too much to say that with excellent techniques
are born strong, fast withdrawing arms.