View Full Version : Kaisoku chudan gamae

Martin Allerby
19th August 2002, 19:45
Hello !

A few days ago I received a question that I couldn’t answer satisfactory. Maybe someone here at E-budo has a good answer.

Why is basic training performed from Kaisoku chudan gamae (parallel feet?)? What is the purpose for this stance? It is very seldom that you stand like this in your daily life. Normally you have either your left or your rear foot in front. Isn’t it then better to only practice all basic techniques from either hidari or migi mae?

Many (most) Budo-styles that I know of have this stance (in one way or another) practicing the basics? What is it good for? I have for instance never seen a boxer practicing his/her strikes from this position…

Grateful for response!


Martin Allerby, SK Göteborg

Tripitaka of AA
19th August 2002, 22:37
Originally posted by Martin Allerby
I have for instance never seen a boxer practicing his/her strikes from this position…

You won't find many opponents who react like the Boxer's Speedball, yet boxers will often use that training aid.:D

I think it is the symetry of motion that makes Kaisoku Chudan Gamae a popular stance for basic training. It is also the "unusual" nature of the stance that makes it useful for beginners - by that I mean that people will find it easier to lose their misconceptions when studying a brand new form. The temptation to bring past experiences into a stance can make it more difficult to copy the Sensei's form. A student with experience in boxing, might have a highly developed stance that already feels natural... only to be told that the Shorinji Kempo hands are different.

20th August 2002, 03:55
In my experience it taught me how to twist my body, extend my punches and how to dodge. I think it was most useful when learning chudan zuki which requires a certain angle.

20th August 2002, 13:34
Hello Raul!

You say that kaisoku chudan gamae taught you how to twist your body, extend your punches and dodge. Why can´t you achieve this when you train from chudan gamae(gyaku choji dachi)?
I think kaisoku chudan gamae is not so useful and I seldom teach kihon practice from this position.

Johan Frendin
Visby Sweden

20th August 2002, 14:10
Gassho Fredin,

Well in my opinion it seems to me that since the stance is very neutral, it does not allow me to favor any particular side during kihon thereby helping to develop and maintain my weaker left side with my stronger and preferred right side. To me its an exercise to start achieving balance and not isolate one side.

Isn't it true that for a new kenshi in order to have a good chudan gamae stance, there are much more elements to be aware of? Both hands are in two different positions with the lead hand conforming to a different set of positionong rules than the back hand. The heal of the lead foot must be properly raised (not too high, not too low). The placement of the feet and bending of the knees. Where should your center of balance be? etc.

Let me know what you think.

Tripitaka of AA
20th August 2002, 16:30
"The heel of the lead foot raised"?

Not the way I was taught :D, but I think I know what you mean. It is an unweighted heel, with the ball of the foot carrying the weight. As I recall, it was intended to be %60 of the body weight on the back leg and %40 on the front.

Kaisoku Chudan Gamae, while not being the deep Horse Stance of Goju Ryu is still uncomfortable enough to tax the lazy students who would prefer to be in the bar having a drink. Keeping a class full of students in Kaisoku Chudan Gamae while Sensei goes around correcting their form is surely an essential element of basic training ;)

I know I'm being a little sarcastic ;) but really I do believe that there is a place for discomfort and suffering in the training Dojo. If you make all the training easy to perform and without challenge then you remove the opportunity for a student to attain goals. The first time you can survive for more than 30 seconds in Kaisoku Chudan Gamae without standing up might be a Beginner's Dream. It is through aiming at targets that we can measure our success or failure to improve. It is a bit like the mythical "1000 kicks" that was promised at the Gasshuku Summer Camps, I remember the faces. Everyone who tried, realised how much more they were capable of, than they had previously thought. I said "mythical" because I never believed that it would be possible to manage such a feat. When I did, it felt great!

So that would be one reason for practising something tiring, strenuous and rather dull. As for the practical benefits of Kaisoku Chudan Gamae in particular, I would agree with some of the comments above about twist.

Steve Williams
20th August 2002, 18:48
Originally posted by Tripitaka of AA
[BI know I'm being a little sarcastic ;) but really I do believe that there is a place for discomfort and suffering in the training Dojo. [/B]

There is nothing else but "discomfort and suffering" in my branch..... just ask some of my students ;)

Oh and by the way.... I LOVE IT..... both inflicting and recieving.... (the discomfort and suffering bit.... :eek: )

Tripitaka of AA
21st August 2002, 04:51
Steve Sensei, was this post intended for a different forum perhaps? Like one of those dodgy ones that feature leather, buckles, zips and way too much flesh:eek:

Here I go, burning the midnight oil trying to add something constructive to the debate, only to find that someone else has beaten me to the punchline :D.

Just remember when you read this, Steve Sensei is in charge of the largest BSKF Juniors class :) ;) :) :) :)

21st August 2002, 07:41
Hello again Raul!

I think sometimes the pedagogic thinking in Shorinji Kempo training philosophy is little bit out of date.
When it comes to practice its absolutely clear that you will only become good at what you practice – nothing else.
If you practice kihon basically from kaisoku chudan you will become proficient in what? Exactly! Kihon from kaisoku chudan gamae. The student will not immediately understand the chudan gamae position more easily because he understands kihon from kaisoku chudan gamae, that’s my opinion.

If you want to throw a proper gyaku zuki you need basically to step in towards your partner, have proper foot placement, generate leverage by shifting your weight towards you partner, dodge and punch with the body and not only the arm and snap the punch. All these things seems very complex body movements and of course it is.
Because the complexity of the moves you as a teacher start to think that in order to “help” your student you need to “isolate” some movement and you show him kaisoku chudan gamae. My opinion is that you are not kind to your student but ignorant to his abilities. A couple of weeks ago a visited a gym in Visby Sweden to look at something that is called boxercise. This is a kind of aerobic exercise with punches on focus mitts(pads). Some girls in this class had better punching skills that some blackbelts I have seen in Shorinji Kempo. Why? Because they strike, strike, strike and strike from what they called “fighting stance” and they do not “isolate” any body movement into special (different from the usual) positions like kaisoku chudan gamae or break down movement into small parts to “help” the students. It is a waste of time!

My personal idea of understanding Shorinji Kempo techniques is to let the student:
Step 1. learn technical knowledge trough understanding the whole body movement from practice not from theoretical understanding of small details.
For example its better to teach new students tenchiken 1-4 than teaching kihon from kaisoku chudan gamae.
Step 2. Let the student develop physical and mental attributes and this is done by mitts practice(offensive movements) and embu practice(offensive and defensive movements).
Step 3. Let the student understand application of the techniques through juho and goho randori.

The application techniques are dependent upon the physical and mental attribute and technical knowledge you possess. If you spend to much time working with ”isolated” (different from the usual) body movements you will develope very slowly.

Johan Frendin

Tripitaka of AA
22nd August 2002, 15:42
Originally posted by johan_frendin

When it comes to practice its absolutely clear that you will only become good at what you practice – nothing else.
If you practice kihon basically from kaisoku chudan you will become proficient in what? Exactly! Kihon from kaisoku chudan gamae.

Didn't Kaiso choose to spread the techings of Kongo Zen to a wider audience by incorporating Kempo techniques? This would suggest that he might not agree with your statement Johan:) He believed that you could use techniques as a means to an end, a tool to help craft an end-product. He chose to incorporate Kaisoku Chudan Gamae as a stance to help refine certain basic elements of technique.

Would you tell an Olympic sprinter that he shouldn't ever practice Starts, in isolation, and should only ever run complete races? What about the Marathon runner? Isolating key elements from the normal movements in order to focus on form is a fundamental stage of any learning process - from handwriting to ballet dancing.

But of course, there is also a lot of truth in your own view about the long-term effect of practising an essentially useless stance.

22nd August 2002, 15:52
I have often wondered about Kaisoku Chudan Gamae as well. However, I do think that it is very important.

Firstly, I recognize that it probably isn't practical in an actual situation(other than if you are carrying bags on either side!), but as we become teachers we should never forget the basics. Something that seems so natural to us, take Furimi or Ryusui for example, can be extremely strange for newcomers.

I think that Kaisoku Chudan Gamae is effective at isolating one of Shorinji Kempo's essential components: simply shifting your weight from leg to leg. This is necessary to throw a kick or "untwist" a punch at later stages, as well as being the primary defence movement. We also forget that our legs need to build strength to support us and keep our balance. Kaisoku Chudan Gamae is a great way to build strength through shifting repetitions while sensing our center of gravity.

Of course, we build on that later to add the twisting of the hips and torso to include punching.

Shaunessey Joudrey

23rd August 2002, 05:52
Hello Everybody!

Shorinji Kempo was created by Kaiso for over fifty years ago and its still very “high” ranked Budo for its usefulness in self-defense. But I think some training methods have become a little old. Like Musashi says, "Do nothing that is without a reason".
I think it's a waste of time standing in kaisoku chudan gamae for 15 min when you can use this time doing tenchiken 1-4.
Why? Because the latter include every aspect of the body movement you need to defend or attack: Fighting stance, footwork, foot placement, movement of the body, leverage, everything! Have you ever seen Lennox Lewis shadowbox with his feet parallel like kaisoku chudan game? Probably not!

Some said that “Isolating key elements from the normal movements in order to focus on form is a fundamental stage of any learning process - from handwriting to ballet dancing” You are totally right but the isolation should be done from a natural position. You don’t tie the arm to the desk on children in order to learn proper movements of the hand and fingers when you teach them how to draw a picture?

Johan Frendin

colin linz
23rd August 2002, 10:24
I was going to write a reply to this thread a couple of days ago but my ISP was down.

I like to use Kaisoku Chudan Gamae during practice, I believe, as some others that it offers an easily copied form for beginners. I also believe that it is a great sport specific exercise to complement warm up. Further to this I have found it to be a useful exercise when recovering from back injuries. It can work well in the rehabilitation of the spinal stabilisers. I should note that I have no supportive evidence for this, only my own experience with rehabilitation from spinal injuries.

I guess that we all have our opinions on how to train within our branch, however I would like to offer the opinion that many of these practices came about for one reason or another, and that Kaiso and others that designed these techniques had a very good concept of human anatomy. In saying this it follows that if something seems useless it may be that we are looking for it’s use in the wrong area, and perhaps need to change our perspective.

Colin Linz

23rd August 2002, 13:54
I don't understand the reason for this thread.
Kaiso decreed we train from Kaisoku chudan gamae. Therefore, we train from kaisoku chudan gamae. If you don't understand why, ask your sensei. Then ask Mizuno Sensei. Or Aosaka Sensei.
If you still disapprove, quit training. You're trying to hijack the boat. Where's the issue?

24th August 2002, 06:33
Hello Tony!
At this forum interested kenshi have a openly discussed about Kaisoku chudan gamae and how it should be used. I have stated that kaisoku chudan gamae are “useless” and received several real good answers from people that want to prove I am wrong. I have maybe not changed my mind, yet, but I have got several new ideas how to approach kaisoku chudan gamae.

But what you suggest Tony is that we all must follow the terminology and rituals of the authority without asking and discussing why? This thinking is the perfect ingredient to an unhealthy organization.

Johan Frendin
Visby Sweden

24th August 2002, 13:13
I didn't say you shouldn't ask questions; I said you should ask the proper authority. Once again, people on this forum are either incapable of reading my post properly, or are being deliberately obtuse. Why does this continually happen? Answers on a postcard, please...

Tripitaka of AA
24th August 2002, 14:03
Originally posted by Kimpatsu
I don't understand the reason for this thread.

Tony, empty your cup, then re-read the original post on the thread.

Martin Allerby had found it difficult to answer someone's question and needed some alternative views. He has recieved them, I think...

Tripitaka of AA
24th August 2002, 14:40
Sorry, that last post sounded a little blunt. I got called away and sent it without proof-reading (recieve, receive.. I can never decide ;)).

I am a traditionalist in many ways and would usually prefer to follow the accepted wisdom of my masters, elders and betters. However, there are times when one has become the Sempai, the elder, etc.... times when you need to be able to answer questions with your own words and your own explanations, instead of returning the Masters lecture word-for-word. I would imagine that those people who took time to reply to the post, found it useful to analyse in their own mind the characteristics and scientific rationale behind Kaisoku Chudan Gamae. Therefore, it was a useful lesson, just to talk about such things.

The descent into point-scoring debate should be avoided however, as the battle of egos can eclipse the purpose of the debate itself. I think this thread managed to get away with it, but certainly forums like this can often become verbal slanging matches lost in the pursuit of knowledge. Perhaps this has been your experience?

Nice to see you here though Tony. How's the Typhoon season?

Martin Allerby
25th August 2002, 17:58
Hello Everyone!

I'm very happy to see that my question received so many answers.

I don't think you need to always have all the answers. However, I think you are obliged to try your best to find an explanation to your fellow kenshis inquires. At our branch we try to encourage all the members to explore the art and to ask questions on things that they find strange. Most of the time you have a good answer, but sometimes you don't...

This time I can get back and give a few views on this issue. Thank you all!

Grateful for all your efforts!

Best regards,

Martin Allerby, SK GBG

25th August 2002, 19:38
i am not a shorinji kenshi so i wont comment about this kamae but i can tell a story interesting maybe usefull:

this is a story of a gongfu student who, after years of intense training is called by his master who say this:

-now i want you to go back home and train seriously for 3 years, when this time will end, you will come back to me and show me your progress.

the student bow and accept. retiring in his home, far away from his master. after 3 years he come back to his master but complain:

-master, however i train seriously the form deviate slighly forms these you taugh me.

and then he show his master his new forms.

- No good! go back home and train 3 years home and train more seriously! say the master.

the student bow and go home, shamefull. wondering if he train in the good way. so he decide to dedicate all his 3 years to train deeply the art he was taught by his master. but after 3 years, he come back to his master and complain again:

-oh, master, the more i train, the more my art deviate from the form you taught me, now half of the form i train are different from these you taught me, what can i do?

- No good! go home and train 3 years again!

the student go home, thinking that his master dont want to see him anymore, during the 3 years following he train resltlessly, and come back to his master, blue of remorse and shame, with a fainting voice he say:

-master! i failed you! now all the form i practice are diferent from the form you taught me!

but the master smile in delight and declare:

-now the technics are yours, so the art, you have reach the mastery.

ps: sory for my english ;)

tony leith
6th September 2002, 16:41
I have to say i wholeheartedly agree with Johan on this one. There are some things we have take - I was going to say 'on faith', but that's wrong - in the light of the limitations of our knowledge. I am a 2nd dan, and while I've progressed a long way from my starting point in kempo, I've just been reminded courtesy of Mizuno Sensei and Aosaka Sensei how far I am from mastery of this art. The underlying logic of certain techniques or even families of techniques may not be apparent to me yet. Sometimes you have to say to beginners when they ask 'what if' questions that you just have to accept the premise of a technique - even if it might not seem practical. Principles underlying techniques are the real point, not the specific mechanics (a lesson reinforced by Aosaka Sensei at the BSKF Summer camp last weekend).

That's a long way from saying though that we shouldn't think about what we're doing intelligently. Regarding kaisoku, I've heard no less an authority than Mizuno Sensei himself say that he doesn't like training which overemphasises this stance because it isn't a practical for self defence. Nevertheless, it can be useful when concentrating on particular points during kihon, and help beginners to grasp fundemental elements of kempo form.

I believe in strong discipline in the dojo, but saying that we should obey the established practice unhesitatingly and without question begs too many questions, and could contain the seeds of a cult like mentality. I don't think that's what Kaiso had in mind when he asked for 'leaders not followers'.

Tony Leith

7th September 2002, 01:09
But Tony,
You're asking the wrong people. If you don't understand the reason for something, you're not going to find the answer in these pages. You need to ask Mizuno Sensei.

Steve Williams
7th September 2002, 21:47
Originally posted by Kimpatsu
You're asking the wrong people. If you don't understand the reason for something, you're not going to find the answer in these pages.

Tony (Kehoe)

You are wrong.....

A lot of people here have a lot of experience, and can answer many questions....

If you were true then why do you ask questions here??

8th September 2002, 03:19
What's your opinion on Kaisoku chudan gamae, the, Steve?
(What's your stance on the stance?)

Steve Williams
8th September 2002, 16:27
Well Tony....

I have a similar stance to that of Mizuno sensei.... (see Tony Leith's last post).

For self defence Kaisoku has no value..... (or very little)

For teaching/learning the basics of body position, weight shifting, developing power, balence, then it is an invaluable tool.....

But like a lot of the things we teach it should be viewed and acknowledged as such..... i.e. a learning tool, not a practical stance.

What is your view?

Steve Williams
8th September 2002, 16:29
Originally posted by Steve Williams
Well Tony....

I have a similar stance to that of Mizuno sensei.... (see Tony Leith's last post).

This should probably be "taken as read" since Mizuno sensei was/is my instructor......

9th September 2002, 00:23
Thank you, Steve, for your stance on the stance.

tony leith
10th September 2002, 11:38
All right, I'm sure we would all concede that where access to higher authority is available it should be sought. The problem for some of us in kempo's further flung outposts is that we don't have any choice but to rely on our own understanding in daily practice. We (members of the Glasgow club) talking about this after training last night - it is essential for us to make it to training seminars periodically to make sure our development is on track and to get access to that quality of instruction (another thing we were agreed on is that people who do have routine access to don't appreciate it enough).

However, to paraphrase Marcus Aurelius 'it is difficult to stand still upon the summit of reflection'. In other words, each indidvidual should be striving to constantly improve his /her own understanding. Kenshi should be more than just passive receptacles for higher wisdom.

Incidentally, I think I made it explicitly clear in my last post in that whatever else I was doing in terms of my own attitude to kaisoku chudan gamae it was NOT discounting the teachings of Mizuno Sensei.

Tony Leith