Monday 1 August 2022

What is 基本 (Kihon)?

基本 (Kihon) is a noun which means ‘basis’/‘basic’, ‘standard’ and ‘foundation’. When speaking about 基本技 (kihonwaza) I personally prefer using the term ‘Foundational techniques’ as ‘basics’, in present day English, also implies ‘easy’.


Of course everyone knows that kihon is not easy, and this is proven by the fact that 'the foundational techniques ultimately determine the degree of one’s real skills'.


On a psychological level, “…this truth is not a popular understanding as it shows what real karate is” and, indeed, “…how difficult it is to do well”.


In saying that, with ‘the right guidance, practice and training’, one can iron out the fundamental techniques and reach a high level. This requires: (1) simplification of kihon practice; (2) optimally deconstructing techniques then reconstructing them; (3) applying them—impact training, kumite etcetera; and (4) sound evaluation. Of course, this cycle doesn’t end as repetition as ‘ever refined technique’ is the mother of good learning.


Within the training/coaching construct, which I’ve just outlined above, it is easy to see one critical maxim: “In Budo Karate, kihon is for kumite, and kata is for kumite”. That is, a detachment from kumite, jissen-kumite (real fighting), is not real karate.


This doesn’t mean we do not do exercises and drills that are not directly applicable in a real fight. However, always the underlying principles—in all practice—are for effective self-defense.


At this point I need to take a step back to the fourth point I mentioned earlier: "evaluation".


As an instructor, and in my own practice/training, I place a very-very high priority on ‘evaluation of kihon’ (again, "evaluation" in the aforementioned and outlined ‘budo karate kihon’).


This means that I know where I am in the present, I have a goal, and that I’m literally moving towards that future goal. In real terms, that means I’m always advancing. At the worst of times I’m static. But in these situations, once recognized, I must problem solve in training/practice. This is both ‘natural’—it cannot be avoided; and also, ‘very important’—it is a critical cross roads on the journey of improvement. This is KIHON!


So, when I hear the term 基本 (KIHON) these are the points that first come to mind. This is thanks to such great personal mentors such as Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei, Nakamura Masamitsu Sensei, Osaka Yoshiharu Sensei, and others. In this regards, I am happy to have committed my life to seeking out the best of the best, but I'm also greatly indebted to their superior knowledge, which I will never surpass nor equal.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2022).

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