ISSUE 51 FEATURES
KEINOSUKE ENOEDA 8th Dan 'THE TIGER'
Interview By John Cheetham.
Body Vibration Power in Karate. By David Jones.
KENNETH FUNAKOSHI International Seminar.
Report By S. Mason.
Letters to the Editor.
The World Shotokan Institute Spring Camp.
Report By C. Harrop.
By J. Cheetham.
Improve Your Close Quarter Skills, with 'Kata'
By Simon Oliver.
A Lesson with SENSEI KASE. By Mark Wright.
YOSHIKAZU SUMI 7th Dan JKA.
Interview By Bob Sidoli.
The London Shotokan 'Open' Championship
Report By Ged Moran.
8th Dan 'THE TIGER'
WIND-UP - COUNTERMOVEMENT
THE 'NATURAL' ACTION?
By John Cheetham
In a quite direct way this article links and corresponds with David Jones' article on 'Body vibration' in as much as probably the same physical end results occur. Namely producing more dynamic power and impact to one's karate techniques through various inter-related body actions.
It was quite a coincidence that recently I had a phone call from Roger Carpenter 5th Dan (one of Kanazawa Sensei's most senior students and representatives in the U.K.) and Roger asked me if I had ever seen or practiced oie zuki (stepping punch) in the way Kanazawa Sensei had taught Roger and some other senior grades at a training course before Xmas. The method he described was exactly the same as that which I had days earlier, been talking about with another senior Shotokan instructor, Mr. Frank Cope 6th Dan. Frank said to me that he had been studying why he felt he had a better right side oie zuki than his left side technique. Frank said that he finally figured out that on the right side he used what he called, for the want of a better word, recoil, just before the right arm/fist is ejected from the hip to initiate the punch (as you step through to complete the technique). 'WIND-UP' -'COUNTERMOVEMENT' are possibly the best ways (in terms of physiology) to go about describing this action. If you think about the most 'NATURAL' way in which human beings hit or strike things, whether it be with a weapon, sports implement or an empty hand or fist, then this action will be very easy to understand. There is no hidden agenda here.
I'll try and explain in layman's terms how this works with karate techniques but firstly I think a few points should be made clear. A very positive effect of 'wind-up' or 'countermovement' occurs when an athlete winds-up to throw a javelin or discuss or when a golfer is about hit a golf ball or a lumberjack winds up with his axe before chopping a tree. The reason why a wind-up assists to multiply power is that by stretching the elastic muscles and connective tissues, lengthening and stretching the muscles during the wind-up phase, (known in technical physiology terms as 'eccentric contraction') this then stores energy in the tissues which is released immediately in the second phase when you actually hit or strike something. The second phase is known in technical terms as, 'concentric contraction' which is a shortening of the muscles in use. The stored energy is the same as a rubber band being stretched to its maximum and then released.
A perfect example of 'wind-up' or countermovement is demonstrated if you were to give someone a baseball bat, get them to stand in a position/stance where they are about to receive a ball which is to be thrown at them. They are hopefully going to try and attempt to hit it. You can guarantee that they will use a 'wind-up' body action. They would wind back their upper torso from the hips and shoulders, (keeping their head fairly still and straight ahead with their eye on the ball) in order to create power for a 'natural' action. This can be seen in most bat/stick/ball games.
In terms of karate techniques, if you watch either Sensei Enoeda's, Kanazawa's or Kawasoe's videos (fundamentals and basics) you will see them do this natural action (at speed) on Choku zuki in shizen tai (straight punch in natural stance). If you wish to use the principle of 'wind-up' in some of your techniques then this (choku zuki) is an ideal starting point. Of course, a very, very important point is that we don't want to lose speed by doing a big wind-back before we throw a punch, so the action has to be very fast and dynamic and obviously a small body/hip movement until it becomes almost a 'Body vibration'. The speed and dynamism of such a natural action cannot be overemphasised, if you intend practicing and using the 'wind-up' principle. You could argue in fact, that it (wind-up) is an extra unnecessary movement? However, there's no argument that it is a very natural movement!
Let's now see how this natural action can be related and applied to oie zuki. Roger Carpenter told me that Kanazawa Sensei had them (slowly to start with) stepping through as with a normal oie zuki but just before the fist is fired from the hip and stance/punch completed, you apply this wind-up principle, by pulling back the hip (only an inch or so) at the very last moment before the punch is fired out. If you were able to freeze frame the moment of pulling back the hip (winding-up) you could relate the feeling of this to being in a position of gyaku hanme - (for lower grade students, think of the first uchi uke in Heian nidan, just before the first mae geri) a feeling of torsion and spring in the body as explained before, like stretching an elastic band before release. This is exactly the same idea and feeling that Frank Cope was explaining to me about his own oie zuki technique. I think a lot of senior students and instructors do this action without actually realising it. It is such a small movement that maybe could only be spotted if filmed in extremely slow motion.
This technique and principle (wind-up) was pioneered in the use of Gyaku zuki by the late Shukokai instructor, Sensei Kimura 8th Dan. One of the hardest punches I have experienced was delivered by a former student of Kimura Sensei, Peter Consterdine, who is based in the north of England. I was holding two very thick striking pads infront of my chest and Peter demonstrated his gyaku zuki with tremendous effect. I felt like I'd been hit by a train! I think an untrained person could have suffered 'whiplash' from the force of the blow and he was definitely not giving it 100%! The main difference between how we (Shotokan) would have delivered the technique and how Peter delivered it was this...imagine we are in say, gedan barai position or tate shuto uke, in hanme (hips half-on or 45 degrees to the target) just before we deliver the gyaku zuki. We would twist/turn the hips and upper body as fast and smoothly as possible to deliver the punch. What Peter did was a very fast wind-up action (as described before) just before the twist/turn to add to the impact power. Many people have called this technique a 'double hip twist' and I suppose in a way it is. It must be stressed however, that speed, speed and more speed is necessary to any wind-up action because of the nature of the pull-back principle.
I always remember when I first started karate that one of the best lessons first learned was not to telegraph your movements. For instance an untrained person will do a big, often slowish and obvious 'pull back' movement before throwing a punch. This is the natural 'wind-up' principle in action but in this scenario the problem is (in most cases) the lack of speed in the movement. However, boxers do the same thing at tremendous speed, so why can't we karate-ka use the same principle? In fact many already do and to great effect. I think for lower grade students however, say below brown-belt that using the principle of 'wind-up' can be possibly counter-productive and even confusing but that's only my own personal conclusion from teaching various grades over the years. We've been practicing for some time now, both the wind-up method for choku zuki, kizami zuki, gyaku zuki and oie zuki, as well as also practicing the hip/body vibration method as described in David Jones' article in this issue. As they say, "There's more than one way to skin a cat". I think It's best to keep an open mind and experiment.
So, this 'wind-up' is exactly the same as Kanazawa's oie zuki principle or as Enoeda Sensei's choku zuki and can also be applied to many other techniques, Kizami zuki being a good example. Again at speed, this resembles body vibration and snap. As with learning all techniques, it sometimes helps to start by practicing an exaggerated (bigger) action and movement until the technique and principle is fully understood. I think with this point in mind, that trying wind-up, counter-movement or whatever you want to call it, with choku zuki is about the easiest way to get to grips with the idea at the beginning. Then probably gyaku zuki second, kizami zuki third and finally oie zuki. This technique (oie zuki) is a lot harder to 'time' correctly and can only be performed by senior students with any great competence, which is why Kanazawa Sensei only taught the technique to senior grade students, as explained at the beginning of the article.
If you think about it logically we (Shotokan) and other traditional karate styles use the principle of 'wind-up' every time we do basic movements. Especially when practicing rotation techniques.
For instance a gedan barai - gyakuzuki combination or soto uke - gyaku zuki, uchi uke - gyaku zuki etc. is a perfect and simple example. If you think of the body action involved in the blocking movement, namely winding back the opposite hip and upper body as you block and then immediately springing back into the punch, twisting/turning the torso from the hips.
At 'SPEED' this is a wind-up action; The body movement which works in conjunction with the blocking action, creating the wind-up and then the punch naturally firing back. Exactly as you would hit a baseball in principle, although of course technically different.
I hope this sheds some light on yet another technical point and 'natural' body movement to be found in our great art. However, as with all technical articles the written word is no real substitute for 'hands-on' physical practice, and demonstration by a good instructor.
I'm no expert but it's far easier to show someone techniques and movements than it is to write it down. However, I do train under an 'expert' (Kawasoe Sensei) and I do understand the dynamics and biomechanics of karate techniques. Kawasoe Sensei's demonstration and explanation of the transmission of power in a karate punch, shows it all! And How!
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