The following are just a few technical checklists to help you hone your First kata (Taigyoku Shodan)
Movement And Stances
Some students develop the habit to rise up and down in height. It’s important that you maintain the same height during your movement between stances. This is an essential principle for self-defence. Considering the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, staying the same height means you are moving more directly (therefore faster) between your stances. Furthermore, coming up in height during the movement means you are raising your centre of gravity. Therefore an opponent will have a greater chance of destabilising you should they seize you.
During the blocking techniques (when trying to pull the hips back on a 45 degree angle), some students develop the habit of allowing their front knee to collapse inwards. Regardless of what the upper body is doing, the lower body should never be compromised or a loss of striking power will result, along with a loss of stability in defence.
The Blocking Techniques
Be sure that the fist of the blocking arm by-passes the shoulder of the same arm. This will ensure your block creates full downward momentum and covers (protects) the entire torso and groin areas.
The fist of the blocking arm should finish approximately one fist distance directly above the front knee. If this distance is greater than one fist distance it implies that you are too high in stance or have not brought your block low enough to protect the groin area.
The fist of the returning hand should be pulled right back to your side, sitting just above your floating ribs. In karate, the process of pulling the hand back to the hip is known as ‘hikite’, and the applications of this are numerous. In its simplest form, it serves to chamber your fist, allowing you to throw a follow-up powerful strike. If you wish to know other uses of ‘hikite’, be sure to visit the Training articles found in the Articles section of our website.
The hips should be pulled back on a 45 degree angle. This ensures a number of things. Firstly, considering your most vital points are found down the centre line of your body (groin, solar plexus, throat, chin, nose) pulling your hips back will ensure these targets are not directly exposed to a potential attacker should your block be unsuccessful. Secondly, having the hips pulled back allows you to drive them forward when executing a follow up strike (adding enormous power).
The elbow of your returning arm (your hikite arm) should be pulled in and behind back. The more you pull your elbow behind your back, the easier it will be to pull the hips back on a 45 degree angle.
The Striking Techniques
The punching hand should finish directly in front of your own solar plexus. It’s worth noting that in all karate kata, your opponent is you. What this means is that if a technique, for example, is to be directed head height, it should be to your own head height.
The returning hand should be pulled right back in its chamber position (just above the floating ribs).
The hips and shoulders should be square to the front.
The torso should be vertical. Considering most people’s bodies are not perfectly symmetrical, the vertical measurement should be taken from your back (or spine) rather than your chest. This may mean you appear to lean ever-so-slightly forward from the front. This ensures that your body weight is involved in your technique.