Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Thought/Technique Archive

Technique of the Week (July 14th, 2008)

From Kyoshi Michael Mackay, Shihan
Ueshiro Midtown Karate Dojo NYC, NY


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Rotational Velocity

The technique of the week is "rotational velocity," the speed at which the hips and torso rotate to generate maximum power. Rotational velocity is discussed at length in the cover story of last week's Sports Illustrated, featuring the light-weight pitching protégé Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants. Sports writer Tom Verducci attributes Lincecum's success to mechanical principles very similar to our own. "Lincecum generates outrageous rotational power - the key element to velocity - only because his legs, hips and torso work in such harmony... His delivery gives the illusion of being one movement rather than the cobbling of several separate ones" - a seamlessness often referred to as "flow." The article goes on to describe a key element to achieving this fluidity: "the dangle." For a pitcher, dangle is "the looseness of one's arm action, the well-lubricated unhinging of the limbs and body." In karate, it is the state of relaxation that allows us to not merely "throw" a punch but rather "launch" one.

Of course, the perfectly executed karate technique requires the timing and coordination of both pitcher and catcher; each 95 mph punch must be "caught" with maximum muscular contraction at the point of impact. But next time you perform Fukyugata ichi, try not to think of your punch in terms of miles per hour, but rather concentrate on the speed of your hip rotation. In sports, such rotation is measured by degrees per second. Lincecum's shoulders rotate at an astounding 7,000 degrees per second. Our hips should be doing about the same, especially for the final 5 to 10 degrees of rotation before the punch or block finds its mark.

Domo arigato gozaimasu, Hanshi,

Kyoshi Mackay

Domo arigato to Ni-Dan John Robbins for calling the Sports Illustrated article to my attention.