View Full Version : Karate Dynamics

5th November 2003, 15:22
Just a thought .

I have been trying to teach some of my higher level students as well as the lower ranked students the actual physical dynamics (sort of the mechanics of the body and motion) of certain blocks as well as strikes. I have achieved some level of success in this kind of teaching. When you are teaching is this, the dynamics, given any thought ( and taught or explained) or do you just correct what is wrong and go on to the next thing and hope that the students remember what you had taught?

Gene Williams
5th November 2003, 19:04
I only talk about the "physics" of karate occasionally. Remember, the Okinawans and Japanese are more concerned with THAT something works rather than WHY it works. I think we can spend too much time on the technical, when repetition of proper technique is more important.;)

5th November 2003, 21:09
I feel this is a crucial part of training people in the understanding of karate and all martial arts. At the same time, it can be overdone, but rarely is.

An example I used often with taikyoku kata was that as the person transitions from the end of the first line of movement (first lunge punch) to the down block of the second line, they should use body shifting, don't just turn and plant (common). So I told them to imagine a big sack of flour (huge) on a shelf at shoulder level. To get that sack off the shelf you have to apply your legs and weight shift AS your use the motion of your down block to drag it off the shelf. This did wonders. They still had to struggle with all the stuff every student struggles with, but I was able to eliminate a very annoying misconception in a large group of people almost immediately.

The pivoting of the shoulders and sliding of the hips through on a lunge punch was accomplished by telling them that there is an elevator door closing, and you have to get through (about 1.5 ft. in width). Wham! The sounds on the pads changed by the end of the night. This imagery made them grasp the concept, sure it took another month of work to make it second nature, but I didn't have to keep explaining or let them just bumble around.

Personally, I think the "no talk, do" addage is useful for those deeper aspects that really can't be taught in any useful way like, feeling maai (distance), kiaijutsu and exactly what it is (what is it anyway?), those more instinctual things apply to the addage. But if you're students are fumbling around with kihon too much, then you are wasting their time and yours (generalized you). I also think it was used a lot on westerners, because the Japanese instructors couldn't communicate the concepts appropriately. I think this is the case because there have been plenty of Japanese instructors who have clearly communicated such things since the language barrier has been removed.

The concept that a punch is some holy accomplishment is, imo, ludicrous, and instructors need to get their students to a reasonable level of physical capabilities efficiently so the real learning can continue. Students will self-select themselves out most of the time, so you always remain with a dedicated core, no worries.

Also, a lot of times, the ignorance of proper kinesthetics is just maintained, and this causes a lot of joint damage, particularly in kicking. This is very troublesome to me when I see it. "My sensei taught me this way...blah, blah..." My response is usually a polite, "that's great." I am typically thinking, however, "I doubt your sensei taught you that way, but that is what you obviously learned from him/her."

And that is the disconnect. If the instructor had just added some clarification as to what the BODY was doing, rather than the foot or the knee (through a baggy dogi on a person who is taller or shorter, or fatter or skinnier), then the student would not be having persistent joint problems and passing them down through a proud tradition.

When instructors are icons, and the general atmosphere is "don't ask don't tell", how can real learning happen at all? It can't. It is programming and propaganda, but it isn't any type of real learning. Self-sufficient agents able to represent the system are not being created. So, that is my rant on the usefulness of kinesthetic training in karate training.

5th November 2003, 22:08
Mr. Williams

Not sure I know why or how everything works on the techinical side, nor am I sure I can explain it properly. But I do know when some ones technique and alignment is off. And we make the adjustments. Yes, too much time on talking means less time on much neeeded practice by all.

I agree that the proper technique, repeated many times, is very important. It is just getting the student to understand and do the proper technique in a consistant manner that is hard. I also find that many students like to know a little about what they are doing and how to do it.

Yep! And the practice goes on.

Gene Williams
5th November 2003, 22:39
Do the technique with the student, use your hands to place him in the proper positions and alignments, then make him copy you or the seniors exactly. Try to talk as little as possible one on one. You'll be surprised.

5th November 2003, 22:50
I find that it is hard for the student to remember the exact placement of, let say , Jodan Uke (high block). At the university we only practice 2 times a week and how quickily they forget. I feel speed may look good but if the block is not right it means squat in a real situation!

Time and time again I have corrected their form and time and time again they forget. Well I guess that is what practice is for. As for copying the seniors ....... they need to be able to do it correctly too, if I want someone to copy their form.

Hurricane Sokon
6th November 2003, 00:02
How do you know if what you are teaching is "proper"? Is it based on what you think or want to be true or is it based on physics and such? For example if you do a horse stance wider than 1.5 shoulder width because that is what you've been taught, does what you're trying to convey have any real "scientific" basis behind it? Or is it "that's how I was taught- this is how our system does it- with no explanations, so you do the same"?

If you do some styles or techniques then you can't have a real world explanation for its efficacy. If your zenkutsu dachi is really long and very wide, then how can you explain the reason for this in any logical fashion? If you preach kicking high when you train, but tell your students to "only kick below the waist if you do this on the street", what kid of message are you sending? Are you "practicing like you will play"?

If you teach a jodan uke with your arm at 90 degrees then how can you explain the effectiveness of this faulty structure to your students? It's like trying to tell an architect that a flat roof supports weight and deflects better than one pitched at a 45 degree angle. If he knows any better he will just laugh or dismiss you as a dreamer. If what you explain is bunkai makes no sense then how will you ever be able to teach the proper technique? Inquisitive I am...

Gene Williams
6th November 2003, 02:46
You know it is proper because that is the way it has been done for centuries. You don't have to do it in a lab to know that. Westerners over analyze everything.

6th November 2003, 02:56
Mr. Tutor

Yes you are very inquisitive. Not a bad thing. We first do the things we do in our own practiced arts what and how we ar taught. If taught well, it works. Most of these forms are done about the same way. Yes some stances are longer or shorter in other arts but the basics as I have seen them are very close if not the same. But they do work. This is because people before our time have done their homework. Mind you you have to be taught correctly in order to, someday, be able to teach others ( correctly).

Goju Man
6th November 2003, 02:59
I agree with Gene. They don't need to know all the particulars. With some students it's ok. Others start to analyze the technique so damn much that they get even more lost.

6th November 2003, 02:59
Originally posted by Gene Williams
. Westerners over analyze everything.

Ouch! That hurts!!!!:D

6th November 2003, 15:11
"There are no craters on the moon, there are devils in your glass."

-Catholic Church to Leonardo DaVinci

Gene, the idea that what you have learned has been passed down perfectly intact over centuries is, quite frankly, a bunch of wishful thinking. I know you probably don't really believe that, so why do you then imply such things with base generalizations? Somebody taking some time to explain something in a new or more appropriate way is not over analyzing. There are times when an instructor explains, and times when you let them then slog through it. I don't see how this is a bad thing.

The Japanese outstrip us in a lot of electronics, are you going to tell me that they do it by just doing it the way they did it 50 years ago? Those damn Easterners, always beating us with tradition. :p

Why is it that up until about, Ooohhh, let's see....1945....karate was being changed and rearranged by each new generation. Then suddenly, wham, it stops, frozen forever. I am not WORTHY to have an original thought, particularly in the area of TEACHING, something I have some training in. Simple observation is HERESY, "gee, when I teach it this way, they start to get it in about thirty minutes, but when I just show it at the front of class and let them bump around, it takes about six weeks." God I can almost hear the fake Japanese accents from here: "No, yike dzis..." (shows technique again in a way no beginner will ever comprehend).

Some students do overanalyze, usually to prevent themselves from actually having to do any work. They keep themselves in a safe realm familiar to them. Karate training, MA training, is about transcending limitations, so a good instructor will push them away from that habit. In those cases, "don't talk, do" is a good rule. Certainly a competent instructor can discern who is who and do the right thing.

Now, senior masters do get a pass on this, in my opinion. They have moved so far beyond the basics that it may even be hard for them to conceive of techniques in that way. There job is to push the lower level instructors to new levels. Beginners will not benefit from this at all. They need younger instructors to help them with the A,B,C's.

I Wonder how we all learned our A,B,C's (we native English speakers at least). Somehow I don't remember my teacher just drawing an A on the board in her informal script and then having her just pacing around the room with her hands folded behind her back waiting for the annointing of knowledge. Karate just must be that special to not need pedagogy.