“Some say the eyes are windows to the soul. This may be true, but posture is most assuredly the reflection of one’s spirit. It tells a story, more eloquently than words ever could, of your strength, your resolve, and your confidence. Posture is an essential element of warrior bearing.” Forrest Morgan
There are times when we all walk into the Dojo and something triggers us to elongate the spine and stand upright. You can feel the difference – you even feel better. But 3-4 moves into a kata and it’s gone again. We all know that subtle weaknesses in your posture (Loosely translated from Kamae in Japanese) take away from your karate’s look and feel.
It’s easy enough to maintain good body position for a few moments, but not so easy to keep it, even though (as Morgan stated above) a good posture makes our Karate stronger, it aids our determination, and it bolsters self-assurance: feel like you look good and you look good. Besides that, years of karate without paying enough attention to correct structural alignment will mean physical issues down the road.
Technically, in movement and transitions, if you’re starting out with common posture idiosyncrasies such as your head tilted or shoulders forward, you’re already at a disadvantage. It’s like sailing into a storm with a negative sidebend in your mast.
An invaluable exercise is to run through a kata you like while your Sensei is watching for posture irregularities and pointing them out.
Another important point (that I tend to forget) is that you don’t need to muscle though your techniques or your kata in order to eliminate Kyo (dead time or openings). Eliminating Kyo has more to do with subtle tension and intention than it does might. Strong-arming your techniques typically means your posture takes a nosedive.
So, warrior…karate is posture is karate.