In all styles, we learn our basics and from that most of us get to understand the theory of generating power in our own martial art. Quite often we later learn katas/forms/patterns where we sometimes have to move in a completely different way to how our basics (and hence method of generating power) were explained to us.
Hangetsu kata (also known as Seisan) and Nijushiho kata (also known as Niseishi or E Sip Sa Bo) are such katas where there are a lot of movements that are completely different from our usual basics. Or at least that is the case in Shotokan Karate – my primary style; though I suspect most styles will be able to find similar examples.
The usual idea in most Karate & Korean styles of moving the body mass rapidly forward, generating powerful forward momentum does not apply to large sections of these katas. Instead, the legs and torso sometimes have very little visible movement at all whilst the arms do move very rapidly. This clearly contradicts the conventional wisdom of forward momentum of the body mass creating inertia.
It also contradicts the conventional wisdom of many Chinese Kung Fu styles which uses much larger rotational movements of the torso to generate centrifugal force. In particular some of the double punches in Nijushiho has no hip/waist rotation at all and no forward momentum. So how is power generated?
Could it just be about being fast, fit and strong? Those things help, but you wouldn’t rely on them under pressure from a skilled or experienced fighter/criminal when your physical safety and possibly your life is at stake. Especially when the rest of our training teaches us to use forward momentum or centrifugal force. Some other dynamic has to be at work here. Some other way of generating power which does not just rely of brute strength and speed.
Hangetsu kata used to be described (and still is in many places) as being about dynamic tension to build strength. But strength could be more easily developed going to the gym and lifting some weights; performing a kata with dynamic tension is not an inefficient way to achieve increased strength. Plus do you really want to train to move with tension? We all know that we move faster when relaxed.
The answer is largely in the way we harness the fascial connective tissue which envelops whole chains of muscles from head to foot. When these chains of muscles are connected in this way, they can generate seemingly super human power. Now this is not easy or quick to learn, takes a long time and lots of training. Find out more in the video below.
Note: Now I must emphasis that I’m still very much at the beginning stages of my work with the internal system and I’m no expert. I just like to share as I go along my journey and there are those that are much better than me. In particular, if you’re interested in internal work then I highly recommend that you visit the website of Dan Harden at http://bodyworkseminars.org/index.html.
When the pandemic is over and people can travel normally again, get on one of his seminars, you’ll be blown away. He teaches in a generic manner that can be applied to any martial art and in this video I’m looking at how one small part of it applies to 2 Karate katas. This is my understanding now, but it may change as my studies continue.