Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Technique of the Week (August 15th, 2005)

From Sensei Pat Moriarty, Go-Dan
Pine Forest Karate Dojo, Northampton, MA


How Does Karate Training Contribute to Our Health as We Age?

(A follow-on Discussion)

In many of Hanshi('s) classes, he illustrates the proper Shizentai Dachi
feet position by holding his hands up in the air with his palms facing
toward the listeners. If you have witnessed this excellent visual teaching
method during class you may have recognized your feet were awry and quickly
adjusted them to the proper position (front foot pointing to the opponent,
the back foot pointing slightly outward at an angle from the direction of
the leading foot or the opponent). This orientation of the feet is common
to many of our stances and the principle behind it even more common and
consistent with the moving forward concept of our style of karate, Shorin

The principle behind the placement of the forward foot is fairly easy to
surmise; the knee can better sustain a strike from an opponent direct on
than a strike to the side, therefore we would not offer the side (outside
or inside) of the knee as a target. We have also often heard that by
turning the leading foot inward one is telegraphing the direction of the
next move.

A quick review of body mechanics helps one understand the principle that
the back foot position for our style of karate is a compromise between
developing maximum foundation & avoiding lateral loading of the knee. The
knee joint is often described as the largest, most complex joint in the
human body. The knee is a hinge-type freely movable in one direction joint
and it is also one of the more frequently injured. The knee joint is the
fulcrum of the body's longest lever and is subjected to tremendous
torsional forces and loads, especially when misused. An easy way to
describe the reason for the angled position of the foot is by reviewing
this position when performing Mae Geri from Shizentai Dachi. The front
foot, when becoming the supporting foot while forward kicking, is placed at
a slight angle to increase stability (foundation). Should it be placed
such that it is 90 degrees to the direction of the opponent, the knee
experiences excessive side loading forces, of which the knee is not
designed to handle. Damage to one's knee, resulting from lateral loading,
is exponentially amplified when actually making contact (because the side
loaded force is increased and the damaging forces manifest at the knee
rather than at the opponent). Damage to the knee may also occur due to
repetitive motion when our technique or foundation is incorrect while
training with an imaginary opponent (such as in kata or Kihon techniques
across the deck). The proper placement of the feet should be reviewed for
all techniques (Geri, Uke, Tsuki, etc...) whether in Shizentai Dachi,
Neko-achi Dachi, Naihanchi Dachi, and other stances to see if we are
properly transferring the loading through our knees effectively. Potential
injury is just one more reason why we should pursue perfection in our
technique and not become complacent or satisfied with our faults.

One last thing about standing: It has been said that if you don't stand for
something, you'll fall for anything. That's how it is with principles.

Domo Arigato Gozaimasu Hanshi
Pat Moriarty
Pine Forest Karate
Northampton, MA