Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

June 1st, 2014

From Sensei Bob Dobrow
Ueshiro Northfield Shorin-Ryu Karate Dojo

Rooting Down

Rooting down is a fundamental principle of Shorin-Ryu karate. In particular, the
heel must be rooted down to maintain balance and stability, and to transfer
power from our legs and lower body into the technique.

One place in basic kata where beginning students can see the difference between
heel up and heel down, and feel the importance of the rooting down principle, is
in Fukyugata-Ni, second kata, in the move after the mae-geri front snap kick.
After the kick, the kicking foot comes down as we go into zenkutsu-dachi to
execute a tate hiji-ate upward elbow smash.

A common mistake for beginning students is to lean a little too far forward as
the front foot comes down, allowing the rear heel to come off the deck as the
elbow smash is executed. This creates imbalance and instability. It also
actually restricts and lessens the power of the technique, even though it might
seem that leaning in gains more power.

With the heel rooted (glued) into the deck one can feel power being transmitted
from the earth through the heel and legs up through the core and into the
technique. If you have been letting the heel come up (maybe you are not even
aware of it --- watch yourself on this move), and then change your technique to
keep the heel down through the entire elbow smash, it will feel very, very
different. At first it may even feel like you are losing power. But being rooted
down forces the technique into the core, and hara, and allows the lower body and
hips to power the move.

Hanshi has introduced many images to help us visualize rooting down, such as a
tiger clawing the ground, our body having roots of a tree at our base going down
in the floor, and our feet being like pancakes with syrup gluing the feet down.
In the Green Book, Hanshi quotes Miyomoto Musashi, author of the Book of the
Five Rings, who states, “Tread firmly with the heels. . . .”

Domo arigato gozaimasu Hanshi!

Respectfully submitted,
Sensei Bob Dobrow
Ueshiro Northfield Shorin-Ryu Karate Dojo