Karate/martial arts training should change as we get older. As our bodies change, so should the way we train! This was always the Chinese and Okinawan way. However, Japanese & Korean martial arts tend to take a one-size-fits-all approach, which is not only non-productive but can also damage your bodies, especially as we get older. This is the first part of a 6 interlocking video playlist covering a range of subjects to do with training as you get older, looking at the main threat that older people face!
Most traditional martial arts teach the use of the Ridge Hand Strike (also known as Reverse Knife Hand Strike) as striking with the base of the forefinger (where the finger joins the hand) or even with the thumb. No disrespect to anybody who practices or teaches that way, but it does leave a small joint vulnerable to damage. When we strike with the forearm instead, it is much more powerful and more versatile. In this video, I demonstrate the difference between striking with the hand and striking with the forearm and the forearm is clearly significantly more powerful. If you have any doubts, then please try it yourself on a bag or with somebody holding a substantial pad.
The never ending argument that constantly rages over the internet, what is the best style of martial for self defence. So many videos talk about this with people promoting this or that art. Sometimes you get videos like “the top 5 martial arts for self defence” with cases being made for why one style is better than another, and so it goes on. Listening to people talk about the “best martial art, in the world, ever” . . . . . is a bit like getting a priest, a rabbi, and an Imam together and asking which is the best religion. They are each going to have a different answer, each going to be able to give good reasons why theirs is best and each will be equally convinced that they are right!
Do traditional martial arts really work under pressure?
This is something that has been hotly debated many times all over the internet, with people for and against having very strong views. I’ve always said that many martial arts have been dumbed down from their original format. Obviously back in the days that they were created, they would have been effective. If not, then their practitioners would have been killed or maimed and their martial art wouldn’t have been passed down to us today. But yes, in the main they have lost some of their original potency (that’s why I first started this blog)!
Anyway, below are my own personal views on the subject:-
Anybody who has followed my blog for any length of time will know that I like looking at the “devil in the detail”. Those small adjustments to a technique (in other words – adjustment to a principle of movement) can over time as you internalise that adjustment, yield significant improvement to the speed and power of the technique.
One such detail, is the position of the foot as you prepare for a front snap kick (Mae Geri) as is common in Karate, Taekwondo and many styles of Kung Fu. To many readers this will seem obvious, but there are many teachers who emphasis the lifting of the knee, but don’t always pay so much attention to the position of the foot, which can actually make a significant difference.
As you lift your knee high, you stretch your quadriceps (front thigh muscles). As I’ve said before, muscles act like elastic bands, the more you stretch them the faster they release when you engage that muscle to create movement. But if you don’t pay attention to the foot position, then it naturally goes to a relaxed position, dangling down. However, if you raise the toes/ball of the foot as high as you can at the same time as you raise your knee, then you stretch out the calf muscle (back of lower leg). So going back to the elastic effect in muscles, when you actually unleash the kick from the knee high position, you are more fully engaging both the quadriceps and the calf muscles.
It also puts the foot in the right position right from the start. If you allow the foot to dangle, then there is a risk of damaging the toes on impact. But with the toes/ball of foot lifted as far as you can right from the beginning, then the foot is in the right position with toes pulled safely back out of harms way.
The video below is short, but demonstrates the points raised above.
If you found this useful, please leave your feedback below. Also, if you feel that your kicks need improving, then we have the ideal download for you. It’s called 10 Kicking Tips. Please check it out.
This post has come about as a result of a discussion that I had with somebody on my Youtube channel talking about Kime (pronounced “kim-a”). Kime is roughly translated in Karate as “focus” at the end of a technique and is considered as the principle of generating power. Very simply put, most mainstream Karate (and other martial arts) describe it as suddenly contracting and tensing the whole body at the very end of the technique.
Anybody who has followed my blog regularly will know that I don’t subscribe to that point of view at all. If you want to check out the video to see what I was talking about, then I’ve added it below.
I do apologise for the poor video quality, it was filmed in 2014 with a lower quality camera. Furthermore Youtube have the unfortunate habit of compressing the digital files to save server space on all but the largest of channels. This makes the quality even worse.
Rather than tensing up, I often talk about techniques being “whip” like. Some people call this principle a “waveform”. It’s the same thing really. A whip is created by a wave moving along something. If for example you snap a towel, you put all the energy in one end where you are actually holding it and that energy transfers rapidly along the length of the towel until the other end snaps (like a whip). If you apply this principle to say a reverse punch, the handle is at the hips/waist which rotate vigorously about the front hip, moving the bodyweight forward. This energy is transformed rapidly up the torso, through the shoulder and then down the arm to the hand.
If we truly relax as we’re so often told we should, then there is a very slight delay between the hip/waist moving and the shoulders following. This is because you’re putting all the emphasis on the hips/waist moving and not on the shoulders. However, many people move hips/waist and shoulders together, which can only really be done is there is tension in the torso linking them together.
It’s a subtle difference. When truly relaxed, the slight delay in the shoulders moving causes a torque (rotational stretch) to develop in the torso. Whenever any part of the body is stretched, it naturally wants to return to it’s relaxed position. Therefore, as a result of this torque being created by the bottom of the torso rapidly rotating, the top of the torso want to release this torque and return to it’s normal relaxed position. It does this very rapidly resulting in the feeling that the top of torso is “throwing” the arm forward, rather than thrusting it forward. The arm extends until it it is taut (NOT tense), just like the towel at the point of snapping.
One Japanese Sensei cleverly compares it to a car crash. As the car crashes and stops abruptly, anything/anybody inside is thrown forward. Likewise, as the rotation and forward momentum of the body abruptly stops, so the arm is throw forward!
When you snap the towel, at that tiny moment that it actually snaps, the whole towel goes taut (stretched out). This is described in more detail in the video above and in the free ebooks that you can download, so I won’t go into too much detail here.
So as I said at the start that this post, it has come about from a comment and discussion from the video above. The guy was talking about applying kime at the end of the technique. As mentioned above, most mainstream Karate schools talk about tensing at the end of a technique as a way of producing kime. But as with the example of snapping the towel, the towel is taut at the point of impact, not tense. If the towel was tense, it could not snap, hence could not give us the whip like impact.
So with all due respect to how other people teach, you don’t get that high impact whip like feeling by tensing at the end. Therefore, the idea of kime being a result of tensing at the end is (in my humble opinion) flawed. Following on from the rationale that kime does not come from tensing up at the end of the technique, the idea that it is something you apply or add at the end of a technique must also be flawed.
The whip-like impact comes from a high level of relaxation allowing the power generated by rotating the hips/waist forward to be transferred like a wave of energy moving through the body. This culminates in tautness (especially in the arm), rather than tension.
Therefore kime is a result of how the sequential acceleration and abrupt climax (whip) of the whole technique; rather than something that is you apply or add to the end of a technique.