Thought For The Week

Thought for the Week (May 19th, 2003)

From Sensei Teresa Knight EMW Karate Club of Virginia

Onegaishimasu Hanshi, Kyoshi, Sensei and all,
As in all stances it is important that we learn proper placement of feet, body and weight distribution in developing a strong Nekoashi-Dachi stance. The stance is frequently first developed in across the deck excercises (here we lower the front foot to the 45 degree angle before moving straight forward) but must be routineley analyzed as it is introduced in kata where it must flow properly from different stances and turns.
The feet placement is the same as Shizentai-Dachi (natural walking stance) so straightening ones legs and adjusting weight to 50-50 distribution is an easy way to verify foot positioning. Page 64 of Grand Master Nagamine's The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do has a good diagram for measuring proper foot placement.
From this foot placement the back leg is bent and all weight is shifted to the back foot. The front foot lightly touches the floor with the ball of the foot and the front knee is bent over the front toe. Both knees should be positioned at the same angle as their corresponding feet. The hips, chest and shoulders are angled 45% in synch with the back foot but the head should be aligned straight with the front knee and foot. The hips, torso and shoulders should be centered over the back leg that carries the weight. The groin should be curled in and up and there should be an arch in the small of the back.
The hip movement generating power for strikes and blocks involves pointing the front hipbone towards the target and than curling it and the groin in. When assuming nekoashi-dachi from a tall stance you should remain tall and drop into the stance with the strike/block. When assuming nekoashi-dachi from a low stance you should remain low. The appropriate height of this stance should be the same as all other low stances (i.e. jigotai-dachi, zenkutsu-dachi, etc.). When we strike, punch or hit the front foot flattens out to the deck to allow for some weight distribution to the front foot, such as first introduced in Pinan-Shodan, with the hips still centered over the rear leg as illustrated on page 117 of The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do and demonstrated by Hanshi Scaglione on the kata training tapes. When kicking with the rear foot the weight is shifted to the front foot for a split second while the rear foot brushes the buttock, extends into the kick and returns to the ground - all without pause - as first introduced in Pinan-Yondan.
A commonly used and excellent way of verifying proper weight and body positioning in nekoashi-dachi is to either lift the front foot off the floor or perform a front snap kick. If your weight and body are appropriately balanced on your rear foot correctly you should be able to do these actions without any reposition of your body or weight.
Domo Arigato
This TFTW is submitted by Sensei Joe and Teresa Knight as inspired by Sensei Sal Scaglione and all our SRKUSA teachers.