Thursday 12 January 2012

Kizami-zuki, gyaku-zuki & oi-zuki

The base techniques of standard karate-do are essentially kizami-zuki (jab punch), gyaku-zuki (reverse punch) and oi-zuki (lunge punch). This is because they are the underlying kihon-waza (insofar as correctly utilising the hips is concerned) and establish `the shortest distance between you and your opponent’ from a natural position. This goes beyond straight-line attacks, as only via perfecting funnel-like lines with one's thrusts, can a karateka fully express and maximise the circular techniques which obviously deviate from these. In the above photo I am doing pre-arranged kumite with my kohai and JKF (Japan Karatedo Federation) Kumite Champion, Inada Yasuhisa (4th Dan), who is countering me with chudan gyaku-zuki.

To avoid charging off on a tangent (and addressing the diverse subject of trajectories), I’d like to say here that regardless of style: “fundamentally all karate techniques are generated by the harmonious connection of upper and lower body derived from the waist, one’s kokyu (breathing), and the kokoro (the spirit/mind)”. In Japanese culture physical energy & mental/spiritual energy is said to be found in the hara or pit of the abdomen; therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that one’s `koshi’ is most important in the execution of all Japanese budo (martial arts). Of course, this sounds all nice in words and written text, but it must translate into actual training, and more importantly, be constantly practiced.

Without being exhaustive here are some basic examples from the three aforementioned core foundational techniques: (1) From KIZAMI-ZUKI: age uke, soto-uke, uchi-uke, gedan-barai, uraken yokomawashi-uchi, mae-ashi mawashi-geri and so forth. (2) From GYAKU-ZUKI: essentially any offensive waza from the reverse side. And
(3) From OI-ZUKI: any oi-waza i.e. – mae geri. Also waza employing gyaku-hanmi (reverse half-facing position).

My training & teaching: When I train and also when teaching, I follow this `basic' underlying pattern of kihon, no matter how `advanced' the session is. This is because it is essential for me in my own karate, and regardless of who I'm teaching or practicing with, it immensely benefits them as well. Practice and refinement in such a manner ensures immediate and long-term technical advancement. Obviously, from there people can move on to other things, with a very solid foundational understanding. Nevertheless, the foundation constantly requires the house to be lifted, and more concrete to be poured, whilst the rennovations continue. It's like a garden, you can plant all the nice plants and continue to do so, but you still have to tend to the weeds, water the grass etc. It seems that many people are either dehyrdraing their gardens or drowning them...

Based on these fundamental aspects, it is easy to see why in Japan, irrespective of style, most traditional karate-geiko begins with many repetitions of kizami-zuki kara gyaku-zuki & oi-zuki (in ido-kihon) or their wonderful variations. Yes, these techniques are being constantly tempered into precisely trained weapons, but so are many others, directly through them.

© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand (2012),

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