Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Technique of the Week (July 5th, 2009)

From Sensei Larry Link
Ueshiro Midtown (Hombu) Karate Dojo



As our lives get busier, it is very likely that karate training will compete with career, family and numerous other demands for our precious time. However, not knowing when danger may strike, we cannot allow ourselves to become mentally or physically unprepared. Our training must be consistent and regular if we hope to be ready for decisive moments which require us to act.

To reconcile the need for daily training with the demands of a busy life, I have developed a technique that I call Micro-Training. It combines physical techniques with visualization to assist in keeping my body and mind prepared for battle. Luckily, the urban streets of New York City are ideal for this training, but deshi anywhere can apply these principals to develop Micro-Training opportunities in their daily lives.

-Natural walking stance can be practiced everywhere we go! Every step you take is a unique training opportunity.
-Subways, buses and boats are excellent teachers of balance. Try Shizentai-dachi (natural walking stance) or Naihanchi-dachi (turning out the heels) to discover the secrets of a strong foundation while the movement beneath tests your balance.
-Waiting in lines can be turned into a training opportunity by “invisibly” transferring all your weight to one foot. Focus on your hara and concentrate. No one will know you are training!

-Solid doors are excellent for conditioning the knuckles and fingertips. There is a door on my route to the office that exits the subway whose wide metal plate and substantial weight provide a perfect surface for Tomoe-zuki (circular block and punch).
-Revolving doors are perfect for either fingertip conditioning (imagine a horizontal fingertip pushup), elbow conditioning, or for practicing a basic chest block.
-Every elevator button is a targeting exercise – focus on the target and with a tight fist and straight wrist, touch the button with the knuckle of your index finger.* When alone in an elevator, the dimensions of that box are sometimes perfect for Sayu-zuki (double side punch).

-Light switches, toilet handles, and closing a car door are all opportunities for targeting our toe-tip kicking techniques.
-If you sit at a desk at work, you can condition the toe tips with gentle tapping on the floor. The wooden surface at the front of my desk is perfectly positioned so that when I stretch out my leg, I can practice a side-kick by turning my heel out and gently touching the edge of my foot to the wood, locking in the striking position of the foot.

Visualization & Awareness
-Numerous studies support the fact that visualization can significantly improve performance of a given task. When moving through crowds, try to visualize an attack coming from each individual you pass. Feel how your steps draw you near to that “opponent” and picture which technique will be used to neutralize them.
-When standing in a group or on a crowded subway, focus on the neck of a nearby person and notice how you can observe the actions of their entire body. Taking into account the various “innocent” bystanders and your entire surroundings, picture an attack coming from this person and exactly how you will react to that attack. Visualize and practice in your mind the necessary actions including a strong foundation, a tight fist and steady breathing.
-Crowds can be excellent teachers of the “Ma-ai” concept – In normal conversational situations, we are usually distanced further from people than most karate techniques would call for, except for perhaps kicking techniques. In tighter crowds, (again, subways and elevators are perfect here….) you have the luxury of absorbing and sensing the tight proximity and close range ma-ai required of most karate techniques.
-Always be aware of your surroundings. Position yourself in places that allow for the maximum view. Identify any hostile persons or any other threats to your personal safety. Take mental note of exits and all possibilities for strategic advantage.

Nothing can substitute for consistent, regular training, repetitions of kata, working with partners, and the physical and mental conditioning that is possible within the dojo. However, Micro-Training can be used to supplement our regular training and weave karate more deeply into the fabric of our daily lives.

Domo arigato gozaimasu,

Sensei Larry Link


* Hanshi has noted that even when hitting makiwara or doing push-ups, most of the weight should be on the index finger knuckle, which naturally leads if the fist, wrist and forearm alignment are correct.