© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand 2011.
Friday, 8 April 2011
My practice today included some kata, calisthenics and lots of mae-geri (front snap kick). Thinking about mae-geri as the mother of all kicks, and it still challenges me to no end. Generally speaking, I know deep in my stomach that it’s literally impossible to be satisfied with the kihonwaza (fundamental techniques), but this is what should spur karateka on!
A beautiful aspect of this is that kihon forces you to feel like you’ll never be any good at karate, but over time, with quality training, you do indeed see the improvements, whilst at the same time you can see even greater things from the higher peak that you stand on. This of course brings you right around, full circle, where you must face your weaknesses with less naivety, and try to overcome them once again from scratch… A never-ending process which is extremely humbling.
Bad habits: What’s more, our bad habits may return, therefore our technique must become even more acutely refined to overcome these inevitable challenges. Being in my mid 30’s I think of ‘Space Invaders’. I’ve never been into computer games, however, as a young lad Space Invaders was pretty popular. As I’m sure you know, as the player advances, things speed up considerably, and more enemies come. Things don’t change very much, there are no special graphics, no special moves – it is very simple, you just have to be better and faster at doing the same thing (to avoid being blown up into “even worse looking dots”).
In this regard, with the exception of being zapped, it really is like karate. As you progress troubles come faster, so you have to be better, concerning yourself with “higher order” problems. Returning to my practice today, especially in regards to mae-geri, it was extremely challenging based on this inherent principle in isolation, and will no doubt always be.
The key is to embrace challenges and allow them to fuel your motivation, especially when considering the core techniques of karate-do. I always tell my students “simple and easy sit at different ends of the continuum”. This is why kihon training never ends for the karateka and why we can never feel satisfied with our technique.