Monday 20 February 2017

Heel, toes or middle of the foot?

Migi sokuto tobi yoko-geri kekomi.
One of the ‘technical must do’s’ of standard Shotokan style is to keep the entire foot flat on the floor in kihon and kata training (and, indeed yakusoku-kumite). In particular, keeping sokuto/the sword edge of the foot grounded—as opposed to `rolling them upwards`; and kakato-chushin (heel centre-line) are emphatically stressed.

The issue of sokuto is widespread; however, kakato-chushin is a characteristic of budo/traditional Shotokan. Actually, kakato-chushin is one of the bedrock ‘fundamental technicalities’ of Shotokan as a karate style; that being said, the majority of people “…who practise the Shotokan-ryu kata 'primarily for sports-type competition', for the most part, omit kakato chushin from their kihon”. This is because their focus is merely upon superficial aesthetics: as opposed to executing effective kata with potent effectiveness in the real world. This practise has long been deeply ingrained internationally. However, “ in Japan this didn't begin coming commonplace until late 1999”.

Kihon gyaku-zuki: Kakato-chushin with the vertical axis running down from the lead shoulder through the lead leg.

Anyway, as a result (due to what happened at that time), many stopped focusing on kakato-chushin; and consequently, increasing numbers of Japanese Shotokan-style karateka (like their Western counterparts) “…now no longer understand what part of the foot is the focal point for techniques in relation to transitions and movements”. Interestingly, they keep the foot beautifully flat, yet merely do so for appearance sake.

Overall, this skill vitally relates to the use of the hips, COG (center of gravity), and where the axis is located: centre, right or left-side. It is at this point where one folds the body in harmony with the driving leg. Needless to say, all of this comes back to the soles of the feet; hence, kakato-chushin and its variations (when the point of focus moves to tsumasaki and the centre of the foot) must be 'physically understood' and trained daily.

In sum, without precise and ongoing practise of this ‘most based skill’ (please excuse the pun) the effectiveness of ones techniques will be innately compromised.
Hidari jodan mawashi-geri.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2017).

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