Wednesday 16 March 2011

Keriwaza I

There are many keriwaza (kicking techniques) in Shotokan Karate-Do, the more common include mae hiza geri, mae geri (keage and kekomi), fumikomi, yoko geri (keage and kekomi), ushiro geri (kekomi and keage), mawashi hiza geri, mawashi geri, gyaku mawashi geri, mikazuki geri, ura mikazuki geri, kakato otoshi geri, ura mawashi geri, ushiromawashi-geri etc.

Variations: In addition to these and other keriwaza, you can kick with either the mae-ashi (front leg) as a kizami geri or cutting kick, or the ushiro-ashi (rear leg). In special circumstance you can also opt to use a tobi geri (jumping kick) or kick from the ground i.e. kata like in Unsu, Hachimon etc. Add to these variations different ranges/depths of kicks, angles, footwork, differing karada no buki (weapons of the body) and so on... It soon becomes clear that we have a vast array of kicks in our

The foundational keriwaza: The most important kicks early on in the karateka's training are those which are featured in the five Heian kata, Tekki-shodan and the five Junro kata, but also others featured in the kyu grading syllabus. This is because these keriwaza are the basis for all of the others, and allow the karateka to later specialise in techniques which suit their personal needs, physique and so forth.

Dispelling a kicking myth: When kicking Shotokan and other `so-called traditional karate' people are often too religious about not coming up onto their toes, which is an important aim (feeling/intention), but not required in reality. By, aiming to keep the heel down, even if/when you come up onto your toes, you will not endanger yourself of falling to the ground. The overcompensation of keeping the heel down is an important skill, but is certainly not an end in itself. Try kicking a heavy bag full power. You will notice that you do come up onto your toes, even if you are trying to keep the heel down. Now try the same thing coming up onto your toes... If you don't fall over, you will find that your kick is not nearly as effective. Of course this also applies to punches and strikes. The OVEREMPHASIS of keeping the heel down has its origins not in the traditional Martial-Art of Karate but rather in modern transformation of karate [kata] into an aesthetic sport.

Simple logic for self-defence: Gedan (lower level kicks), Chudan (middle level kicks) and Jodan (upper level kicks) are all important for training, but it goes without saying that in self-defence, for most people, the best kicks are low. The logic is that YOUR LEGS ARE CLOSER TO YOUR OPPONENTS KNEES, GROIN/PELVIS, SHIN etc... Just like your hands are closer to his nose... In saying that I have employed higher front kicks with "great success" whilst working in the security industry, and I've seen others also do this. But again I have to emphasise, the snap kick to the shin or groin followed by the elbow or punch to the head/face is far more consistent...
The keriwaza of karate-do is extremely varied, but like all other techniques, their key lies in optimally using the body mass and momentum/ acceleration via correct technique. Keriwaza is of particular use in understanding the kahanshin (lower body) and hara in a most extreme way. I follow my late teacher, Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei's maxim which is "to physically study to respond to any situation, by being able to reactively use the body as a weapon from, and to, any position, without the need for any conscious thought." This Asai-ha Shotokan-ryu training philosophy means that all techniques, including all keriwaza, must be intensively practiced and made second nature.

© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand 2011.

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