Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

June 7th, 2015

Sensei Patrick Markowitz
Shihan, Ueshiro Dulles Shorin-Ryu Karate

Sforzando Piano

Onegai-shimasu Hanshi, Kyoshi, Sensei, Sempai and USRKUSA Deshi around the world,

The Technique of the Week for this week was conceived by Sempai Allen T., Go-Kyu, Ueshiro Dulles Shorin-Ryu Karate Dojo. Inspired by a conversation we had on the deck during training, Allen, as both an avid karateka and musician, conducted research into what he identified as a seemingly close parallel between an element of karate and of music.

According to Allen’s research…

“There are many symbols in music to denote the frequency, length and volume of notes. One marking, perfect for understanding kata, is "Sforzando Piano". Abbreviated sfp in a musical score, sfp means: "Begin the note loudly, with a marked and sudden emphasis, instantly diminishing to a much softer volume. In Beethoven's Opus 111- the last piano sonata he would ever write - he used 3 "sforzando piano" shown below and included in the attached audio file, to separate his introduction from the rest of his final sonata; these two measures set the tone for what was to come.”

One can easily equate the Sforzando Piano technique to the teaching that every move in kata is kiai. To further illustrate this point, the YouTube video at this link (Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, you’ll have to endure a commercial at the beginning) includes the Sforzando Piano technique, which should be easy to pick out. The video also presents a series of clear examples of pianists executing live [as in lively] music, just as we strive to perform live kata.

In keeping with the rich diversity of examples Hanshi has given us over the years of how one can draw parallels between karate and other pursuits, as you practice your next kata, think about performing each move with a marked and sudden emphasis which instantly diminishes once the technique is completed.

Arigato gozaimasu Hanshi!
Sensei Patrick Markowitz
Shihan, Ueshiro Dulles Shorin-Ryu Karate


[1] sfp definition-
[2] Opus 111 score: