Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Technique of the Week (March 7th, 2010)

From Kyoshi Michael Mackay
Ueshiro Midtown Karate Dojo, New York, NY
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Onegai shimasu, Hanshi, Sensei and Deshi of USRKUSA,

Body Testing

Body testing, as opposed to body conditioning, is only performed under
strict conditions in USRKUSA. As proscribed by Grand Master Ansei Ueshiro
and reinforced by Hanshi Robert Scaglione, body testing is only
administered by a Sensei (third degree black belt) or higher, and is only
performed on senior brown belts (ni-kyu) and above. Anyone junior to san
dan simply lacks the experience, understanding of anatomy, or control to
body test safely.

Body testing is only performed on students during Nihanchi kata since
these kata call for the student to maintain full body tension between
counts. We do not body test green belts, nor ask a green belt to body test
us (e.g., "Hit me in the stomach as hard as you can"). Aside from the
obvious risk of injury to the lower rank, such exercises only falsely
inflate the ego of the black belt being "tested." If you want your
abdominal strength tested, ask a san-dan to do the job for you. It’s a
much better reality check. Let the kyu ranks punch towards a real target
during bunkai, not the stomach, so they can acquire reflexive accuracy.
Obviously, all students with two green tips or above need to experience
punching something more substantial than air. This is why we have a
makiwara.

In contrast, body conditioning exercises such as three-point arm training
are appropriate for all levels, provided the lower ranking student sets
the pace and the higher ranking student monitors the exercise. Senior
students must watch out for excessive force and/or flawed technique that
might lead to injury. While these exercises train us to successfully block
attacks, body testing is designed to help the nihanchi student condition
his entire body to accept blows.

These distinctions, however subtle, are critical for keeping both student
and dojo on the path towards strength of character and body. Disregard for
the centuries-old traditions can only cripple us.

Domo arigato gozaimasu, Hanshi,

Kyoshi Michael Mackay
Ueshiro Midtown Karate Dojo, New York, NY
www.midtownkaratedojo.com