Shotokan based Karate in Canterbury Melbourne
Kihon (basics) are the techniques that make up Karate. Shotokan Karate consists of 5 main categories of Kihon. These are Stances, Blocks, Punches, Kicks, and Strikes.
Stances are body positions!
Most Shotokan Karate clubs will say that stances are the foundation Karate is built upon. Everything else, all the kicks, punches, blocks and strikes are built on top of these stances. This is somewhat true; however at ‘Tiger Spirit’ we teach that our feet are our foundation (because we stand on them). Stances are the body positions that link our foot work, our techniques, and body movements. Stances can generate power to techniques, and can give stability when delivering a blow or engaging an attack with a defence.
Shotokan is renowned for its long stances, typically two shoulder widths in length or longer. At Tiger Spirit we have shortened our default stances to a longish mid-length stance, enabling more movement through the body when executing techniques. We also teach short and long versions of many of our stances. (Our default stance lengths are almost identical to the stances lengths in the Master Text, This was not by design and was only noticed years after the change!)
In summary, long stances are perfect for stability. Short stances are perfect for balance. Mid-range stances don’t have perfect balance or stability but offer a mix of both. Mid-range stances allows for movement to shorter or longer stances if required.
Having a mix of stance lengths enables foot shifting (Ashi-Subaki), body shifting (Tai-Subaki) and body rotation (Tenshin). These areas of movement tend to be absent from pure Shotokan systems.
We also differ in the use of our feet. The balls of the feet are also more predominate in generating movement and power, especially when moving in-between stance positions. One other fundamental difference is that we rarely turn on the heels in-between stance movements.
Blocks are defensive moves done mainly with the arms and hands. Our students will learn as many as 28 blocks. However the initial 6 blocks that are taught are our staple.
Kicks are attacking movements using the feet, knees, or legs. Compared to other martial arts such as ‘Taekwondo’ our kicks are not very elaborate or spectacular. In total our school only numbers 17 kicks. Our approach is that kicks should be effective and simple. This is because when you execute a kick you no longer have solid footing because you no longer have both feet the ground at the same time!
Punches are attacking movements that impact with at least one knuckle while the forearm is behind the hand. Most punches are done with a clenched fist and impact with the larger two of the four knuckles located where the fingers join the hand.
Every other attacking hand technique that is not a punch is a strike!
At Tiger Spirit we have several ways of practicing our Kihon (Basics)
We have a traditional section, where individual techniques are done from a stationary position. This supplies the student with a multitude of techniques they can use in other activities. It also helps to develop body movement and power for each individual technique. This is very ‘old school’ karate, 1940’s style!
We have a moving and combination section that is traditionally Karate in its method. Movements are done in stance steps and are linear in direction. This section develops co-ordination and techniques better suited to movement. This practice method is typical Karate and is found in most, if not all Karate schools!
Finally we have sections incorporating foot shifting, body shifting, and body rotation. These sections teach students how to shuffle, how to shift their body for either defence or attack, and how to rotate the body for power and direction change. These movement methods are not usually found in Traditional Shotokan Karate systems, however it has been suggested that these methods existed in Shotokan and were removed in the 1940's and 1950's when the emphasis on Kihon was towards directly benefiting Kata.
One other major difference between ‘Tiger Spirit’ and traditional ‘Shotokan Karate’ is we also have a “Close Fighting Position”. This is both a defensive and attacking position designed for self defence against an attacker who is in very close range. All our close range techniques have been modified to work in conjunction with this defensive and attacking position. In this position students are taught to have both arms raised and at the ready for defence or attack. This training method is not typical of traditional karate, positions like this are more typical of self defence classes or Close Quarters Combat classes!
Each grading or belt has specific techniques that have been selected to give the student the skills required to progress to the next level.
Kihon is also practiced with punching bags, kick shields, and target mitts, to ensure power is present. Through impacting a target, students can also feel if there is an error in their technique, and can better judge their body positioning to deliver a more powerful blow in self-defence.
Typically we will spend 5 to 10 minutes on impact exercises during class. As it requires greater effort to impact a kick shield than to perform a technique into thin air, this strengthens the body and builds stamina.
From time to time we also practice our foundation basics with weights to aid in body movement, flow, or to help with rhythm!
Our Karate - Kihon (Basics)
Contact Sensei Andrew on 0412 248 157 or Info@tigerspirit.com.au