Monday 2 January 2017

First Article for 2017... A ‘FEW NOTES’ ON HEIAN SHODAN

To start my articles/posts for 2017 I thought I'd outline a few important points from Heian Shodan Kata. I haven't ‘written out’ the entire kata in grueling detail but have, instead, listed each of the 21 movements with specific notes. I have done this to stress particular points, which I often see performed incorrectly by Shotokan karateka.

Before I begin it is probably worth mentioning that—on June 19th—this site will turn 10 years old. To be honest I never envisaged such longevity and international popularity (as of January 1st, 2017, over 1,500,000 visits). A big ありがとうございます to the thousands of supporters, around the world, of this blog.

Lastly, but certainly not least, before  I get on to the article I’d like to offer my best wishes, happiness, and good health—to everyone—for the New Year. 押忍, André.


By André Bertel

1.      Hidari sokumen hidari gedan-barai (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi). Note – Lower the weight at the knees, torque the body into shomen, then release to a full hanmi upon making your zenkutsu-dachi, with the front knee above the tips of your toes. A generic rule in budo karate-do: the technical maxim is ‘to the limit’. Furthermore, note the ‘heel—toe’ method (essentially ‘kakato chushin). Generally speaking, when advancing, retreating and turning, in combination with ‘shime’ and the ‘muchiken’ use of the arms and legs. Don’t forget to consciously ‘floor the sokuto’ whilst inverting the foot in the direction of the movement as much as possible

2.      Migi chudan jun-zuki (Migi zenkutsu-dachi). Note – the generic rule of pulling and pushing from the heels in kihon and kata. Jun-zuki (Oi-zuki) is the base of this practice. Also, note ‘extension’ of the rear leg while maintaining a deep front knee, strict shomen and ‘floored sokuto’. Furthermore, note the importance of hikite in all tsuki waza: in this regards, small finger of the upturned fist higher than the thumb-side and the elbowed pinched (employing shime); also, the forearm being level/parallel to the ground, thus, making the punching distance/trajectory as short as possible.

3.      Migi gedan-barai (Migi zenkutsu-dachi). Note – Keeping heel of the rear foot set ‘as a pivot/the jiku-ashi’ be sure to fully engage shomen when making this 180 degree turn (before springing back into hanmi).

4.      Migi kentsui tatemawashi uchi (Migi zenkutsu-dachi). Note – take a half step back simultaneously as you pull the arm back. Likewise, simultaneously return to zenkutsu-dachi as the hammer-fist strike is completed. The trajectory is a large clockwise circle, which travels from gedan-barai, past the left ear and over the head, then down to just under the shoulder height. The arm must be only slightly bent so an optimal whipping action can be achieved.

5.      Hidari chudan jun-zuki (Hidari zenkutsu dachi).

6.      Hidari gedan-barai (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi).

7.      Migi jodan age-uke (Migi zenkutsu-dachi). Note – with jodan age uke take special care of the neck/head posture; furthermore, the uke must be large scale and robust: completing at a fist widths distance from the head. Also note and adjust the blocking arms elbow in relation to the corresponding wakibara (opening) and shoulder (raising).

8.      Hidari jodan age-uke (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi)

9.      Migi jodan age-uke (Migi zenkutsu-dachi) – KIAI. The kiai comes from the seika tanden, is short and sharp, perfectly timed with the technique (moment of kime).

10.     Hidari gedan-barai (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi).

11.     Migi chudan jun-zuki (Migi zenkutsu-dachi).

12.     Migi gedan-barai (Migi zenkutsu-dachi).

13.     Hidari chudan jun-zuki (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi).

14.     Hidari gedan-barai (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi). The first jun-zuki moving ura-shomen comes from gedan-barai (hanmi)—like the first four in Heian Shodan; therefore, utilizes the combination of the support leg drive and hip rotation.

15.     Migi chudan jun-zuki (Migi zenkutsu-dachi). This jun-zuki, and the following, is initiated from the shomen position; accordingly, moreso focusing on the drive of the support leg and a double twist of the hips.

16.     Hidari chudan jun-zuki (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi).

17.     Migi chudan jun-zuki (Migi zenkutsu-dachi) – KIAI.

18.     Hidari shuto chudan uke (Migi kokutsu-dachi). Note – with Shuto chudan uke do not swing the body but, instead, keep set and snap the arms and stay in shomen for as long as possible. Twist the body side on upon completion and keep the head set throughout; that is, in the direction of the blocking arm, upright and bold. With the 270 degree turn into kokutsu dachi, again, pivot on the support foots heel and coordinate the heel, ankle knee and hip turn with the technique and turning of the head.

19.     Migi shuto chudan uke (Hidari kokutsu-dachi). When moving 45 degrees use the guide hand to help bring the rear hip forwards into shomen whilst loading up shuto uke. Snap back the hips upon the completion of the step; thereby, ‘making the technique with the hips’ as opposed to just the arms.

20.     Migi shuto chudan uke (Hidari kokutsu-dachi). The same points apply as movement 18, however, the turn is 135 degrees; that being said, this slight change can be utilized to exam ones subtle use of chikara no kyojaku, which often fluctuates/changes in relation to even the slightest changes in unsoku/ashi-hakobi.

21.     Hidari shuto chudan uke (Migi kokutsu-dachi).

© André Bertel. Oita, Japan (2017).

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