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Old Teachings, New Discoveries

In yesterday's class with Sensei Owens I rediscovered somehing - again: oftentimes in Karate we create our own instability in terms of our stances and movement.

We were doing a drill with kicks. Nothing new to do a front kick (front leg) and front kick (back leg), or two kicks with alternating back legs as you move forward, but Sensei Owens wasn't looking for the flashy high kicks we Karateka pride ourselves in. Sensei Weidendorf (another gentleman in the class I am blessed to be training with) and I seem to like the middle-level and high-level front kicks, but today Sensei Owens wanted form - not flash.

"I want the first kick shin-level and I want the second kick groin-level," he instructed.

Sensei Owens (left) teaching Oyo Drills

If you know Sensei Owens, you know there is a reason behind every drill, every method he teaches. This time the concept was generating maximum power, while driving forward, which translates into maximum damage to the opponent - providing you maintain the right form while driving forward.

I quickly realized thet the lower kicks did a couple of things: they allowed us to maintain better balance going forward, and it meant the target for the kicks was more realistic. Afterall, smashing someones shin with a driving-in kick would most likely leave the opponent without a leg to stand on - literally.

Another drill had us pulling the front leg back, snap-kicking with that leg, and then stepping forward and kicking with the back leg. Again, Sensei wanted us shin kicking and groin kicking. His focus this time was on quickly pulling the font leg back (we pictured avoiding the opponet as we drew the leg back), kicking, and then using the momentum to drive forward for the kick with the back leg.

I found that in order to kick above the opponet's ankle or to the shin, I really had to focus on maintaining a lower centre of gravity, which was superb practice: power was going forward in a linear fashion, and not being lost in an effort to produce a high kick.

Granted, high kicks are great, especially if the target presents itself, but going back to the lower kicking targets had us focusing again on the basics - back to what kicks were originally about, I believe.

Karate is about delivering finishing blows by using your body as a single unit. Driving forward and delivering low kicks is a fantastc practice in this.

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