Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Thought/Technique Archive

Technique of the Week (February 17th, 2006)

Keith Eng Ni Dan
Wilton Connecticut Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate Club


Hanshi, Kyoshi, Shihan, Sensei and Deshi, Onegai-shimasu!

What we practice on the deck should and will continue into our lives. Many of you may remember the TFTW from one year ago, February 21st 2005 which stated the below. We should bring the aspects of breathing and focus into our daily lives.

"Breathe! It is a critical aspect of karate and of life. The karateka should inhale on the block and exhale on strike. This is applicable during kata and kumite. We always inhale strength and exhale weakness. Without the proper breathing technique both the karate and the karateka will diminish in vitality."

I would like to expand on this thought/technique and how it helped in my life. My wife recently gave birth to our first child, our daughter Megan, and I recall our Lamaze classes. When going through difficult contractions and labor, my wife was to pick a focal point, take a deep cleansing breath, breath in through the nose and out through the mouth, and end with a final deep cleansing breath. My wife, a very tough woman who made it through labor without any drugs (yes, now I have an even deeper respect for her), practiced her focus, breathing and make it through labor in remarkable time and condition. I had shared our similarities in karate techniques for focus and breathing with her as she does not practice karate (I am convinced the focus and breathing helped her through the ordeal of childbirth).
When executing a technique with or without a partner, we focus on the opponent, the focus of our attention, and execute the technique through the target, the focus of our technique. The technique does not stop at the target but beyond it. In life we must keep our focus on a goal and do not stop at it, but go beyond it and not stop. Our (and Nike's) mantra, 'Just do it' personifies this focus: don't worry what is on the periphery, just (focus and) do it. ' A black belt is just a white belt who never quit' also exemplifies the focus beyond the target. If karateka stopped when they reached black belt and did not continue beyond the belt, we would not have the tradition, history, and depth of knowledge that we enjoy in our Sempai, Sensei, Kyoshi and Hanshi instructors.
Throughout the entire technique or exercise we take deep controlled breaths, inhaling strength, exhaling weakness. When we exert ourselves in our daily routines we should also be practicing these deep controlled breaths, not just during karate training or sports training. During stressful situations we should remember to take a deep inhalation of strength and deep exhalation of weakness. This moment will not only give our bodies the oxygen it needs, but will also give our minds a moment to compose our thoughts. These deep breaths do not always come naturally. I often have to remind myself to slow respiration and take a moment (then I am ready to focus and execute what comes next). It is important to take these aspects of karate off the deck and include them in our daily lives.

Keith Eng
Ni Dan
Wilton Connecticut Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate Club