Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Technique of the Week (May 2nd, 2010)

From Sensei Lisa Markowitz, San-Dan,

Ueshiro Northern Virginia Shorin Ryu Karate Club, Centreville, VA


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Onegai-shimasu Hanshi, Kyoshi, Sensei, and Deshi of Ueshiro Shorin Ryu Karate USA:

During the recent workout and black belt promotion in Northampton, MA, Hanshi stressed the importance of stepping first to establish foundation (soku), the cornerstone of our karate, before executing a move. Recalling Grand Master Ansei Ueshiro’s perpetual insistence on “stepping first,” and using the first mawate move in Fukyugata Sandan as an example, he broke the move down into three components:

1. Step across with the front (left) leg to set the width of the next zenkutsu-dachi, while keeping the eyes focused forward on the current opponent.

2. Cover the ribs, ‘save’ the hip, and set the feet in position for the next zenkutsu-dachi, while keeping the eyes still focused on the current opponent.

3. Turn the head to focus the eyes on the new opponent, release the hip, and execute the gedan-barai-uke.

If the gedan-barai-uke is executed before the feet, hip, and head placement have been set, the integrity of the block is lost and its full power will not be realized. In addition, the timing of steps 1-3 is important: they should be executed fluidly and without pause so that the move flows and does not appear choppy.

The concept of stepping first transcends karate into our day-to-day activities. For example, if we were to submit a report to school or work without first doing the research (stepping across with the front left leg to set the width of the next zenkutsu-dachi, while keeping the eyes focused forward on the current opponent) and then collecting the data (covering the ribs, winding up the hip, and setting the feet in position for the next zenkutsu-dachi, while keeping the eyes focused on the current opponent) before writing the report (turning the head to focusing the eyes on the new opponent, releasing the hip, and executing the gedan-barai), the consequences could be dire: we might receive an F on our report, or worse yet face the possibility of loosing our job. So, too, in our karate stepping first and establishing foundation is equally important, without which our strikes and blocks become compromised and weakened and the consequence could also be dire.

Domo Arigato Gozaimasu,

Sensei Lisa Markowitz

Ueshiro Northern Virginia Shorin Ryu Karate Club