(See below this Blog entry for some interesting feedback regarding the Punch)
It sounds good to hear the snap of the Gi when a karateka is doing an Oi Zuki or Gyaku Zuki. It’s as if there is a sharp focus and impact point. Kinda like when you roll out a wet towel and snap it back.
Sounds good but is it effective?
Last night we had some of our kids in the Dojo doing jab, reverse punch. We had them shifting in towards punching pads that another kid was holding. I noticed a few times that the punches were thrown and retracted in an effort to increase speed but impact on the pads was more a brief touch than an effective strike. Kime was being lost in an effort to be quick.
(Granted, some kids were shifting in and laying some excellent techniques onto the pads, projecting their energy past the target.)
Perhaps from a lifetime of punching air and stopping techniques abruptly has cost some of us some effectiveness. Muscular, choppy techniques, I believe, create openings and in an actual combat situation may prevent us from delivering the technique for all its worth. I’ve seen Dan ranks doing sanbon zuki and if you look closely the hands are partly open on the first two punches – lots of speed but zero effectiveness. I’ve been guilty of this ‘quick looks good’ karate myself.
Sensei Power often reminds us that your energy, driven by your intention, has to extend way beyond the target. He tells us to hit with your body and your breath. Sensei Shimoji speaks about Breath Energy and how you need to project it past the object of impact. He does a great illustration of this when he is teaching the Spiral Punch. His reverse punch leaves his opponent’s Gi with a counterclockwise twist in it at the point of impact, illustrating that the rifling or spiraling action of the punch doesn’t stop short, and doesn’t stop on impact. Kime happens but energy keeps moving forward – as does the breath, just like the bullet fired from a rifled gun barrel.
The trick is finding the balance: Kime without chopping off energy momentum, or as Sensei Shimoji says: “The Kime means to confirm or to decide. It does not mean to focus or stop your movement. “
That’s something I’ll be working on for a while!
Feedback from Sensei Don Owens, WJKA & WJKA Canada:
“Jeff… Shotokai (Shigeru Egami Sensei) used a different approach to develop power without using focus. He considered using focus was to pull back the power. He compared his idea of punching like that of a battering ram i.e. a big log with a rope on each end swinging into a gate (my analogy, not his) I have tried his ideas and it is effective, however I still prefer the focused punch.” Sensei Don Owens
I found Sensei Owens feedback intriguing. I knew that Sensei Egami had invited people from a variety of walks of life to punch him in the stomach to try and determine if a punch was actually effective. This led to extensive research on his part. See below for some of Sensei Egami’s Observations:
“While researching I understood one thing. Until that moment, I had practiced karate with an illusion: I confused contraction with strength and tried to contract the body searching for strength, without thinking that contracting the body actually is equivalent to blocking the movement. This was a fundamental mistake. I forced myself to massage and relax a body that for so many years I had worked so much to harden.
To obtain this we must try to project our strength to the infinite. A mortal blow is one that concentrates all its energy in one point. In other words, we must project all our being into the body of the opponent. A tsuki must be natural.” Sensei Shigeru Egami
Thank you, Sensei Owens.