Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Climbing the never ending mountain

Last night in training we went back to basics. Sensei does this maybe once a month or so to reminds us of correct technique and help us to get rid of any bad habits we may have picked up before they become too entrenched. Usually there is an emphasis on some aspect of the technique whether it be feet position in stances, keeping punches central to the body and at the right height for chudan or jodan, positioning blocks correctly or just encouraging us to put more oomph into everything. Last night the emphasis was on the hip twist.

The hip twist seems to be a real central theme in karate. Which ever karate book I pick up there is always something in it about the hip twist or thrust, usually in relation to power generation. Whilst in the lower grades there was very little mention of using the hips - it was enough just to master what the arms and hands were supposed to be doing let alone worrying about the hips! Now I'm in the middle grades it's very clear that my hips are as important as my arms and legs. However, knowing that you need to twist your hip forward as you throw a punch or do a reverse hip twist for a block and actually being able to do it in a coordinated way are two different things! Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don't.

I find coordinating a hip twist with a punch much easier than coordinating one with a block. Thrusting the hip of the leading leg forward as you do an oi zuki is fairly intuitive but twisting the hip back as you perform an age uke block on the same side (i.e. block with right arm as right hip twists back) is a little counter-intuitive, especially if you've just stepped forward on your right leg as well. As usual practice will make perfect but I doubt my hip twists are adding much power to my punches and blocks at the moment!

Learning karate is a bit like climbing a mountain that just keeps getting higher as you climb it. When you are in the lower grades you feel that you are making quite rapid progress. You go from being a complete novice to becoming fairly competent in all the basic techniques quite quickly, and it makes you feel good. You can even convince yourself that you are starting to see the top of the mountain! However, once you reach the middle and higher kyu grades you realise that you've only just climbed the foothills and the mountain suddenly becomes much steeper. To get from being competent to becoming an expert is a much steeper climb. I feel that I've just started to climb that mountain. Techniques that I thought I had grasped I now realise that I wasn't even aware of the things that I needed to know about them. Now I'm aware of them, like the hip twist, I realise I didn't really know how to do the technique at all. Sometimes this makes me feel like I'm going backwards instead of forwards but I know that if I keep listening, learning and practicing I will go forwards - and upwards!

No doubt as I continue my journey to black belt, new tiers of knowledge and skills will be opened up to me that I am not currently aware of but I'm a pretty determined character so I'm sure I'll make it in the end. Excuse me now, I have a mountain to climb....

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Anonymous said...

Sue, your writing is so clear! I could picture everything you were talking about, even without graphics. Just for right-brainers, though, you might want to throw in a mountain graphic - - they are an easy find online.

Good luck in getting up that incline!

Schoolmom said...

I loved the clarity of your site. It is not too busy, but has visual interest. It's very clear and descriptive. I am inspired.


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