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Posture, Precise Timing of Body Segments Make Effective Technique and a Healthier Musculoskeletal System

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Fuente: https://rokahkarate.com/2017/11/08/posture-precise-timing-of-body-segments-make-effective-technique-and-a-healthier-musculoskeletal-system/

Autor: Avi Rokah Sensei

To continue improving in our daily training.

In karate we strive to achieve todome (finish technique) and at the same time we seek longevity in training. Both effectiveness and longevity are achieved by using precise movement of specific segments out of optimal static and dynamic postures and alignment within total body movement.

Maintaining or restoring precise movement of specific segments and the relationships between segments is also the key to correcting or preventing musculoskeletal pain.

The biomechanics of human movement is similar to the mechanics of machines, in that the longevity of components and efficiency of performance require precise movements of the rotating segments.

In contrast to machines stress on the human tissues is necessary for optimal health, stress in the right amount can improve the strength of tissues.

Too much stress can harm the tissues and too little stress is not effective.

The loss of precise movement can begin a cycle that harms the tissues over time.

As with other mechanical systems alignment is important. Optimal posture and alignment facilitates optimal movement.

If alignment is faulty before movement starts, correction is needed to achieve ideal configuration, which must be retained throughout the movement.

The more ideal the alignment of the skeletal segments, the more optimal the performance of the controlling segments such as the muscles and nervous system.

Similarly, if alignment is faulty there is greater chance of causing microtrauma to joints and supporting structures.

Studies have shown that the spinal segments subjected to most movement are the ones that show the greatest signs of degenerative changes, especially when movement deviates from ideal.

Optimal muscular performance is achieved through subtle adjustments of muscular length and strength, as well as through patterns of recruitment, and this produces and maintains the alignment and balance of human joint motion.

In Karate we constantly work on posture and alignment along with optimizing timing of movements. Timing of movement refers to external segments, and internal muscles action, the right amount of activation in the right time, and harmonious interaction of muscles action with the external dynamics.

We also should stretch the typically tight muscles and strengthen the typically over lengthened and weak muscles.

It is interesting to note that research shows that altered posture causes loss of proprioception (kinesthetic awareness and feedback mechanism through mechano-receptors in the skin, muscles and tendons) and altered timing of activation.

For examples people who sit for prolonged periods with head forward posture show loss of proprioceptor cells around the lumbar spine, and the smaller muscles around the spine such as multifidus, and inner fiber of lumbar erectors, which are supposes to fire before movement and for prolonged periods (stabilizers), are starting to act as fast twitch fibers, their activation is delayed, and is for a shorter periods.

Those changes mean that the stability of the lumbar spine is compromised and with it also the effectiveness of the bigger, outer muscles which are the “movers”.

In karate terms optimal posture and timing of movement means, quicker start of technique, increased total movement speed, more powerful body snap and acceleration, and stronger and more complete muscles contraction at kime, and at the same time less stress on joints.

Optimal posture and precise sequencing is what makes karate technique most effective on the one hand and it is what makes karate so beneficial to keeping the health of the musculoskeletal system.




Kime – Total Breath, Total Energy Pass Through The Target

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Fuente: https://rokahkarate.com/2017/11/08/kime-total-breath-total-energy-pass-through-the-target/

Autor: Avi Rokah Sensei

I share with my students, another definition of Kime.

From what we have been studying and training daily, here is the message of Nishiyama Sensei through Avi Sensei.
To read and understand our training even more.


There are many details to effective kime, which obviously have to come together to the point that you just have the intention of finish technique, and all the details will happen by themselves. At this point your body knows how to make kime.

But no matter at what level we are we always have to revisit and reflect if we apply all aspects of kime optimally, we can always get better. Sensei Nishiyama was never tired or bored of repeating the principles and details of kime, and there was always something subtle, new, that could be learned.

Breathing “through pass” target, “give all air, give all energy”, Kiai destroy opponent”.

Those are different ways to describe a similar aspect of kime. This is an aspect of kime that is difficult for many people, to mentally give everything, and to give all air through pass target, which means all energy and momentum transfer to opponent.
Actually, giving all air is a mean to give oneself totally, not to hold back anything, as budo says “no mind in the technique”.

Giving all air is giving all energy, as Nishiyama Sensei used to say “one period of breath is total amount of energy”, it should be done in the shortest time, and is only effective when the breath matches with the technique, and than at impact there will be maximum pressure to floor and total body contraction to technique line.

Make sure not to blow the air, but pressure to floor and as reaction air goes out, than your throat will stay soft, the breath is not in the throat, the throat is just like a pipe.
The breath/kiai peaks at impact but does not stop, don’t push we need shocking power.

When one gives all air, next breath starts as reaction, therefore next technique or kamae starts naturally (zanshin), you don’t do it, it is done by itself.

Giving all air solves the problem of “snap back”, since “snap back” happens when half the breath (energy) goes to technique and the other half (of breath/energy) goes for the pull back, which means that only part of the energy goes to the target.

At the same token one should not stop and hold the arm extended, this is a dead arm, and it is a space for opponent to counter.

Giving all air solves this problem as well, since when you give all air, next technique starts as a reaction, and you don’t cut and stop at kime.

“Snap back” is especially bad since while “snap back” the momentum is going back, there is one extra motion, space between techniques, which the opponent can capitalize on.

In any case, the more skillful a person is, the shorter the instant of kime is, and one can give all air and deliver all energy in shortest amount of time.

“Give all air” is a feel, and is changing depending on the technique, target and purpose.

Tsuki (punch) to the face is different than to the body, when punching the body more penetration is required and deeper kime, while the head gives, and impact need to be sharper, so energy is transfer before the head gives, even when looks like snap back, all energy must be tranfered first, even in striking techniques (uchi waza).

The point is that once the momentum is delivered there is no point to stay, next technique or kamae are transitioned to naturally, as reaction.

“Snap back” usually happens because one protects itself, wants to recover quickly, but when the chance is there and you are ahead of opponent, no worry, you must try to finish.

“Snap back” also happens when the breath cuts and the body bounce, and “snap back” results.

“Snap back” is also result of sport karate competition, when scoring is awarded for just reaching the target. Those kind of rules encourage training for just reaching the target with the fist, not passing through with the whole body.

It is, of course, easy to reach the target with just the fist than with the whole body connected and total momentum delivered to target.

Some ideas of how to give all breath and energy through target:

Before technique, look way beyond the opponent, intention beyond opponent to infinity, your feet stop inside opponent but breath continue through, it should feel as if your body wants to keep going, yet your feet holding the body from going. If you look to the spot you hit, your  breath/energy will stop there.

Another idea, feel as if your body stops yet inside your body continue through opponent.

Another idea, Imagine your kiai has no echo, the sound does not come back, I like this idea a lot, Sensei Nishiyama told me this over and over.

Another idea, think not of poking the opponent but rather thrust a spear through.



Body Mechanics, But First A Little Bit of Physics By David Schames

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Fuente: https://rokahkarate.com/2017/11/08/body-mechanics-but-first-a-little-bit-of-physics-by-david-schames/

Autor: David Schames

Interesting article that provides more information about body mechanics and the way we apply it in Karate-do.
To read and understand how we can improve our training.

(David Schames is my student for the last 10 years, since he was 16, very smart and also powerful, we have had interesting discusiions about karate principles, so I asked him to put his thoughts in writing, and here is part 1).
Nature often follows predictable paterns. Here is a formula that describes “The Big One”: F=ma
The equation “Force equals mass times acceleration” is useful because of a key pattern in nature.
There is no such thing as a force in nature and it cannot be measured directly with any tool. Force is an extremely useful manmade concept to keep track of what is happening in the natural world we live in. There is a pattern in nature that when two objects interact and one changes velocity the other object changes velocity in a predictable way. If object 1 interacts with object 2 and experiences a change in velocity, (delta V1), then object 2 will change velocity in an opposite direction proportional to the ratio of the mass of object 1 to the mass of object 2. The change in velocity is known as acceleration, and the equation is M1 x A1 = -M2 x A2. Because of this pattern in nature, we call mass times acceleration a force to better keep track of what is happening when objects interact with each other.
The human body is designed to function in the natural world and our bodies are designed to move, and change the things around us. The better a man’s posture is, the more able he is to move efficiently and change the world around him. In general, our legs interact with the floor and move our body, and our hands grab things we want to move and apply force moving our center as we move the object we are grabbing. The bigger a man is, the more he can accelerate an object he is grabbing before the object and the body is at a distance not ideal for applying force using muscles.
In karate we position our body position so that when the striking fist decelerates during a striking technique; our hands will decelerate our whole body and therefore resist decelerating itself. We can apply force from the ground to our center pushing the center in the direction that we intend on striking. When the strike connects with a vital target on the opponent, our fist decelerates relative to the rest of our body and our muscle transfer the forces in a safe way.
Meanwhile from the opponents perspective, the vital organ that was struck accelerates relative to the rest of the opponents body and the vital organ transfers the forces through to the rest of the body in an unsafe way causing damage.
If the force pushing the center forward equals the force pushing the center back, the center does not change velocity and the body can stay in an ideal distance to apply force. This position is also the ideal starting position for the next move. This is what we strive for during kime.
The energy needed to stop a moving mass equals ½ M x V^2 so if the center is moving fast, and is completely decelerated to zero velocity when the fist hits a target, then the energy delivered into the target is proportional to the mass of the center and proportional to the square of the velocity of the center. The fist hits the target and slows down the body center over the time of the collision. At this same time, the feet can push the floor and accelerate the body center adding more energy that is delivered into the target.

Form and Formless?

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Fuente: https://rokahkarate.com/2017/11/08/form-and-formless/

Autor: Avi Rokah Sensei

Another interesting article to read.
Serves to better understand our daily training.

Form is limitation, a necessary limitation, therefore ultimately we should be free of form. Being free of form mentally and physically will allow us to flow, adopt, and apply our techniques within any space, angle or instant in time, and from any starting position. With that said, if a beginner starts training without form, they will not likely learn to use the body effectively or develop good timing. Form is a vehicle to achieve no form, but with the principles and skills that allow one to be effective. Ultimately, we want to be like a child who’s mind and body are free from patterns, habits and preconceived idea, yet with the skills that make our techniques and timing effective. It is true with other knowledge as well, a child mind is free and unpatterned, but once the child learn and accumulate knowledge, they grow up to becomes less flexible and more dogmatic. The engineer that is creative and able to innovate, is the one who is able to have balance between knowledge and a mind that is free and formless like a child. I heard about interesting experiment, when preschoolers were asked to find as many uses as possible to paper clips, 98% of them perform at a level of genius, the same kids 2 years later, as they became more schooled and knowledgeble, became less creative and 2 years later even worst. The highest level martial artist is the one that digested the principles but keep a mind of a beginner or a child. Strict Form In karate we are very strict about precise form, especially at the novice level.
The natural question arises, why are we so stubborn about precise form if it restricts you, a strict form cannot be adopted to changing spaces and time?.
Of course, in reality, in real application one must be adaptable, and be able to apply techniques effectively in different ranges and angles, adapting to unexpected circumstances.
No one can use Age Uke or Gedan Barai in real sparring in the same way that we learn it in the basics, in fact, some beginner black belts with very good kata, will have hard time doing kumite, because they try to apply the techniques in a rigid way, like in the basic and kata.
What is basic form?.
Best condition for the purpose, including stance, posture, technique trajectory, and line of energy which is included in the final form.
For example, we say “attack from own center to opponent center, and in between movement do not show your center”.
For blocking we say “protect your own center (don’t go after opponent’s technique)”, “minimize circle, think of a straight line with a curve, to create side line energy”.
We also have a clear standard for certain technique. For example, in Age Uke, center of the wrist should be in line with center of head, and one fist forward and up from the forehead; the elbow should be at ear level and inside the body line. In Shuto Uke, the hand travels from the shoulder to the opposite shoulder line, elbow movement is minimal and elbow points down, when elbow stops it serves as a center of action to elbow extension, and forearm snap at the elbow.
Why is precise form so important?.
Remember that the purpose of karate technique, is to produce maximum force with least effort, and the whole body must cooperate to one purpose.
If Age Uke is different every time in the basics, if our imagination, mental picture of what our body is doing, or our techniques are not matching, and if the purpose of what we are doing is not clear, it will be very hard to learn to use the whole body effectively for one purpose.
The basic form is configured to give best condition of mechanical advantage, where it is easiest to learn and internalize principles such as proper sequencing, body dynamics, connection between all body segments, moving from optimal posture, breathing controls and matches technique. In basic form we perform techniques in biggest functional range, which improves our resilience to injuries and allow us to develop control of power through the full range, and from there we can more easily develop power in shorter ranges.
The ultimate, No Form, not sloppy, do not violate the principles learned from form.
Once we digest the principles, and we “own” the technique, our nervous system is wired to move from the center out and from the ground up, and produce maximal force to many directions, we can and should break away from form and apply techniques freely according to changing circumstances, as long as we don’t violate the underlying principles that we were supposed to learn by training the basic form and techniques.
In application the same technique will be applied differently every time.
Both your mind and movement should be formless and flowing, so one can become the opponent, and apply techniques without fighting the opponent’s power. At this level, whatever direction your intention is directed, the whole body will produce power effectively to that line. There is no thought of form, just breathing hits target and the muscles follow.
But there are stages to get to this level.
Form is necessary as it is a mean to learn movement and combat principles transmitted through many generations, while at the same time it is a limitation if one try to use the form as is.
Be precise when you do kata, and be free and flowing when you do kumite (but without getting sloppy), the principles the kata teach us should be applied fully in kumite. Sensei Nishiyama told me that at the begining one should perform the kata precisely and rigidly, (rigidly does not mean stiff, but exact, without deviations). He compared it to a figure of clay that its shape cannot be changed, and as one master the underlying principles of the kata, he can make the kata his/her own, he can be free with the kata, and Sensei Nishiyama compared this to a lively, flexible doll, whose shape can be changed freely. And then again, when one teaches the kata to a beginner, teach it in the original, strict form as has been transmitted through many generations. Notice in pictures below: Techniques are as big as possible without exposing the center line of the body or disconnect body segments. Elbow moves minimally in Uke Waza. When elbow reaches full range, snap action starts (elbow extension and forearm twist) with elbow being action center. Protect center line and attack from center to center of opponent.
Gedan Barai fist starts from shoulder and travels to opposite hip level, elbow moves minimally, and ends inside hip line. Gyagu Zuki from own center to opponent’s center, and in between do not show your center. Uchi Uke – fist travels from hip to opposite shoulder, at end, knuckles at shoulder level, elbow inside hip line. Area near the wrist is contact area. Shuto Uchi – Hand travel from ears, than elbow through the body, elbow stops in front of the body and serves as action center to the hand which travels in a curve to make side line energy, without over exposing the body center, or lose of unity.


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Interesante artículo para leer y comprender la práctica diaria.

Fuente: https://karateyalgomas.com/2014/10/27/la-tactica-key-y-la-estrategia-hyoho-2/

Autor: José Luis Prieto 7º Dan Karate

El enemigo debe ignorar donde quiero librar la batalla – Sun Tzu en El Arte de la Guerra

La estrategia responde a la pregunta sobre qué debe hacerse en una determinada situación. Establecer un plan de acción propio, interpretar el plan del oponente, tener una orientación del curso que pueden tomar los acontecimientos en el futuro son los principales elementos que forman parte de una estrategia.

La táctica contesta a la pregunta de cómo llevamos a cabo nuestros planes e ideas. Calcular con exactitud cada movimiento, encontrar maniobras, combinaciones o recursos para mejorar nuestra posición es competencia de la táctica.

La relación entre los dos conceptos es fundamental. No es posible aplicarlos en forma independiente. Sin táctica la estrategia nunca podría concretarse, ya que no encontraríamos el camino para coronar con éxito los planes que diseñamos. Sin estrategia ni lineamientos generales, la táctica no tendría objetivos claros y su aplicación sería errónea.

La estrategia (Hyoho)

Existen unos principios generales defensivos y ofensivos que, de conocerlos, facilitan la actuación y evolución del combate.

Cada una de estas dos estrategias puede materializarse a través de diferentes tácticas pero ateniéndose a las siguientes premisas básicas:

La oportunidad no siempre aparece de forma espontánea sino que puede y debe generarse.
Hacer lo más fácil.
Hacer lo que más dominamos.
Hacer lo que peor domina el adversario.
Sorprender (momento), engañar (fintas), o confundir al adversario para facilitar la eficacia de la técnica.
Saber atacar y provocar la acción en el adversario (tácticas ofensivas).
Saber contraatacar y anticiparse (tácticas defensivas).
Saber presionar (ofensiva sin ataque) y evadir (defensiva sin defensa).
Saber mantener la distancia correcta según las características del otro.
Dominar los distintos tipos de distancia que favorecen las acciones técnico-tácticas.
Saber utilizar el espacio de combate.
Saber utilizar el tiempo.
Conocer y dominar el ritmo propio y el del adversario

En combate existen dos estrategias básicas:


Iniciativa. Un movimiento de Sente puede ser contestado por el oponente y por lo tanto hace que el individuo que lo hace lleve la iniciativa con unas características que favorezcan el logro de su objetivo.


No llevar la iniciativa, dejar que la lleve el adversario, lo opuesto de Sente.
Ataque (Kake Waza).

Atacar directamente de una sola vez y con determinación.

Desorientar al adversario para entrar en su guardia o distancia, mediante fintas, amagos, acortamiento de distancia etc.

Ataque siguiente a una finta.

Se basan en interrumpir un golpe a la mitad de su ejecución para terminarlo como otro tipo de golpe, por ejemplo cargamos y empezamos el golpe como si fuéramos a hacer maegeri y lo terminamos como mawashi.

Comenzar por atacar una zona o nivel, y una vez iniciada su reacción, atacar a otra. Atacar en dos tiempos para engañar.

Agarrados o muy cerca. Retrocedemos y esquivamos vigorosamente a la vez que golpeamos. También se llamado hiki-bana, es una técnica que consiste en atacar al adversario tan pronto como éste comienza a retroceder.

Barrer su guardia como inicio de nuestra técnica de ataque.

Ataque directo con la propia técnica especial.

Ataque repetido con la misma técnica cambiando el ángulo de ataque; ataque repetido combinado sucesivamente con otra técnica.

Ataque y variación en otra dirección a causa de una defensa anticipada de uke.
Segunda intención.

Técnica de “provocación”, consistente en provocar al adversario forzándolo a tomar a iniciativa del golpe, para entonces sorprenderlo inmediatamente respondiéndole con un contragolpe.

Engaño. Provocar el ataque del oponente ofreciéndole una apertura en el Kamae para que nos ataque eliminando así la incertidumbre de donde podrá atacarnos y que la respuesta sea mas favorable.

Se trata de “amenazar”, que debe ser continua y urgente sobre el adversario. La amenaza fundamental, se lleva a cabo manteniendo la guardia fuerte y entrando en la distancia del adversario hacia su línea central, de forma que solo le queden dos alternativas o atacar o huir.

Engañar con falsos ataques, para hacer creer al adversario que albergamos intenciones ofensivas.
Técnicas defensivas (Gote).

Contraataque (Go-no-sen)

Defender, abandonar completamente el ataque del oponente y luego ejecutar una contra.

Atacándole en el momento en que después de un ataque fallido intenta volver a su posición y distancia relajado. Golpearle en punto muerto tras su ataque y su falta de Zanshin.

Una vez que el adversario nos ataca: paramos y después de bloquear lo golpeamos en la dirección que su guardia ofrezca mas blanco. Es aquella técnica especifica en la que se incluye el concepto de parada. El principio de kaeshi es parar el ataque y será necesario aprovechar el instante de la parada para recuperar la distancia realizando un movimiento hacia atrás, y segundo, la parada deberá servir también para detener el avance del adversario, empujándole. Defender y contraatacar in situ una zona mas débil.

En un combate, o antes de él, apertura deliberada de uno de los combatientes destinada a engañar al adversario. Ofreciendo un hueco o una facilidad para el ataque invitándole a que lo haga donde nosotros esperamos.

Anticipación (Sen-no-sen)

Basado en el concepto de robar el tiempo al adversario, anticipándose a su acción. Intentando sorprenderlo en la fase vulnerable, en la que esta pendiente de la realización de su propia acción (a la técnica).

Atacándole cuando piensa en atacarnos y esta a punto de realizar su acción (a la intención).

Técnicas ejecutadas sin permitir que el oponente complete o inicie un golpe. Atacándole cuando se nos acerca pensando en atacarnos y esta a punto de realizar su acción (a la distancia).


Una vez iniciado el ataque del adversario: lo dejamos finalizar esquivando en TAI SABAKI. Generalmente comprende un paso hacia atrás o un giro destinado a evadir un ataque, lo que ocasiona que el mismo encuentre el vacío pudiendo atacar nosotros de manera definitiva con posterioridad si lo vemos oportuno.

Consiste en no contestar al último ataque realizado por el oponente porque las circunstancias lo desaconsejen (falta distancia, hueco, estabilidad, etc) y esperar mejor ocasión para responder.


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Para continuar estudiando…

Último vídeo de esta trilogía. En conjunto con los dos anteriores, podrán observar el trabajo que venimos realizando en el dojo sobre respiración, un-soku y reacción. Como podrán apreciar en éste vídeo, tiene mucho que ver con lo practicado éste último fin de semana en el seminario organizado por nuestra escuela.