Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

November 16th , 2014

From Kyoshi David Baker,
Chief Administrator,
Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA

1) Train your body to be ambidextrous, and 2) Both sides of the body are applied to every technique

These two principles are related because they address different aspects of how we use the two sides of the body.

Train your body to be ambidextrous:

Our Shinden developed a very balanced art, developing all areas of the body; upper, middle and lower; as well as developing left and right.

Toward that end, Kihon are alternated left and right throughout each exercise. All Kata employ techniques that, if not identical for both sides, are complementary to the point that we land on the same spot at the end as where we began. (Positional coincidence.) Yakusoku kumite is practiced while initiating with both left and right. Weight training, body conditioning, and makiwara too. What we do with the left, we do with the right. Balanced.

And because of this, both sides of the body are developed so either can execute devastating techniques. Either hand can block and punch. Either foot kick and stomp. Therefore, we can take advantage of any opening. We don’t let an opportunity pass simply because it wasn’t our favored side.

However, are we naturally left or right-handed? Yes. Do we stand either orthodox or southpaw? Most favor one. Do we have a favorite side for a given technique? Generally. Does the Makiwara “sing” louder for one side than the other? For most Deshi it does.

But we don’t favor one side. We condition both so that either can save our life, if and when the time comes—or we may even work our weak side more, to bring it into line with our naturally stronger side.

We train both sides equally so we can execute our techniques equally; or nearly so.

Both sides of the body are applied to every technique
Force is generated by the entire body (left and right); regardless of which side executes the technique.
Both feet plant, creating one’s foundation for the technique
The entire body mass, both left and right, is applied to each technique, as one is able

In addition, each arm’s mass applies force to most arm techniques*. (The opposite arm, by returning its hand to its pocket, generates nearly equal force—through the shoulder girdle—as the arm executing the technique.) To my knowledge, this complementary counter-movement is unique to karate. Other martial arts do not automatically retract the opposite hand.

Therefore, when we execute a left-handed Chudan-uke for instance, the right arm supplies an added force not available in other arts, and virtually identical to the amount of force supplied by the left arm itself.

* Exceptions are back fist, screw punch, etc.

Domo arigato gozaimasu,
Kyoshi David Baker,
Chief Administrator,
Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA
founded by Grand Master Ansei Ueshiro
under the direction of Hanshi Robert Scaglione