Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Technique of the Week (June 13th, 2005)

From Michael Mackay, Chief Instructor
Midtown Karate Dojo

Combining Horizontal & Vertical Motion

In Shorin-Ryu USA vertical and horizontal motion almost never occur at
the same time. We're either moving in on our opponent at a fixed
height, or changing height in an explosive action. White belts tend to
take a diagonal path when performing kata. Advanced students must
follow a hyperbola.

The force generated by dropping or rising should be able to break a
brick. The force of moving horizontally - regardless of direction -
should be sufficient to knock the opponent down. When combined in
succession (as opposed to consecutively), the karateka is able to take
over the opponent's space and neutralize him.

This principle merits careful consideration because the first move of
all kata (other than fukyugata ni) begins with a dramatic change in
height and some horizontal movement. The horizontal movement may be as
overwhelming as the zenkutsu-dachi of futyugata san or a subtle as the
first step in nihanchi sho. With the exception of Wanshu, the distance
of the drop at the start of every kata is universal: approximately
1/8th our height.

Much of the sophisticated beauty of our style stems from the strategic
advantages provided by different combinations of vertical and horizontal
movement. These include: the element of surprise, shifting or
reducing the targets available to our opponent, changing our center of
gravity and, of course, moving into striking range.

The hyperbola effect has profound impact on our timing. Options

* Dropping first, then moving in (first move of fukyugata and most
black belt kata)
* Stepping high, then dropping (first move of pinan and nihanchi
* Moving in low, then rising (e.g., last move of fukyugata ichi)

Conspicuously absent from our kata is the fourth combination: rising
first, then moving in.

Paradoxically, our style is characterized by economy of motion: linear
movements that follow the shortest distance between two points. But
when combining horizontal and vertical movements, the quickest path to
defeating our opponent lies along a precise and eloquent curve.

Domo arigato gozaimasu, Hanshi,

Michael Mackay, Chief Instructor
Midtown Karate Dojo