Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Technique of the Week (August 23rd, 2010)

From Sensei Larry Link

Practice one thing like a mantra

One of the most fantastic aspects of karate training is having a standard of perfection, the kata, that is forever just beyond our grasp. There is always one more thing to work on and one step further to push ourselves. On our lifetime journey, we study, practice and hope to achieve that elusive feeling of mushin - no mind - where our body moves in perfect harmony with the spirit of the kata.

Repetition is an important part of our training. We must repeat a technique many times before that action or feeling moves beyond words and into our muscle memory. At the moment that happens, we have achieved mushin for that single technique. For example, when first learning to tie our shoes, it is likely that someone has shown us the technique and explained it in several words. They may have even placed their hands on ours and shown us the way. But now, after many years of practice, the many delicate swoops of the laces are ingrained in our hands and fingers. We can tie our shoes without thinking. Mushin!

We must strive to achieve the same feeling in our kata. How shall we get there?

A training technique I like is practice one thing like a mantra. A mantra is a sound, word, or group of words that are capable of creating transformation. It is generally used like a chant and repeated over and over again until the sound begins to resonate in the body.

At the start of your training, pick ONE thing that you would like to work on. For example, you may wish to work on "step first". So as you practice the kata, say in your mind - Step first. Then do it. Then say it again. Step first. Over and over and over, until stepping first is your primary reflex and you are doing it with no mind.

There is no end to the techniques you can choose. Here are some that I have used over the years:

* step first
* breathe
* tight fist (on impact with the target)
* drop down
* eyes up
* see the opponent
* hit with the belly
* relax
* second hand (put emphasis on the "minor" hand)
* foundation
* heels down
* hit hard

Which technique do YOU need to work on? Whatever it is, shorten it down to a few words, and repeat it to yourself over and over as you practice. With each move, repeat those words. Do not allow your mind to stray. Say it. Do it. Say it. Do it. Say it. Do it. Practice one thing like a mantra.

Arigato Gozaimasu Hanshi -

Sensei Larry Link.