Monday, 18 January 2016

Keep your feet on the ground and your eyes on heaven: Eye and head position is imperative

When making your techniques, whether ukewaza (reception techniques) or kogekiwaza (attacking techniques) it is very important for your eyes and head to face in the direction of execution. Some may consider this is firstly for zanshin and/or aesthetic  form; nevertheless, the main reason is for maximization of physical power. In actuality, when the eyes and head do not face in the same direction of your waza, what one is doing will be significantly weaker.

Test for yourself via movement one of Heian Sandan/Heian Godan (Hidari chudan uchi-uke in migi kokutsu-dachi). Have a training partner push down your hidari chudan uchi-uke without the eyes and head fully facing in the direction of the technique. Next, make the correct position with the head and eyes focused perfectly in the direction of your uchi-uke. You will notice a very big difference. Likewise, use the same process to test the two kake shuto-uke followed yoko-kekomi in Nijushiho. Of course, this ‘kihon’ applies to all of the techniques and kata of Karate-Do.

While there are exceptions i.e. – movement 41 of Bassai Dai and movement two of Wankan, they have purposes that are less generic in application (such as kenseiwaza—feint techniques, and shikakewaza—set up techniques). Exceptions must be understood and applied when appropriate, however, they are secondary to standard techniques and standard budo methodology; what’s more, exceptions can only be maximized when the norms/standard-karate are fully grooved into the subconscious mind (thereby, allowing ‘appropriately reactive’ usage in freestyle).

Some will indeed be thinking about the three Tekki Kata now, and Master Nakayama’s comments pertaining to ‘sharp head turns’. This is an excellent example but, again, his agenda in stating this was greater than Tekki. To reiterate, correct head and eye position is a characteristic of the vast majority of Karate-waza: and for very good reason.

It is interesting that when a person turns their head in a certain direction and fixes their eyes, they can optimally channel their energy in that direction. This has strong ties not only physiologically and bio-mechanically speaking, but also psychologically. Resultantly, shingitai (the connection between body, mind and heart) can readily seen and applied in one’s waza. To conclude, I recommend that karateka self-check how far they turn their head in techniques. Often when instructing, I find that karateka only partially turn and, merely use their eyes. For the most part, this is incorrect. The eyes and the head must fully face the direction of the respective waza. If you pay attention to this simple point, you will see some great improvements: as you might be surprised how "...sometimes your body is not doing precisely what you mind thinks it is". Happy New Year from Oita City, Japan.
© André Bertel. Oita, Japan (2016).

No comments: