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Practice Slow

Submitted by Sensei Bob Dobrow, Yon-Dan, Shorin-Ryu Karate USA

Under the Direction of Hanshi Robert Scaglione

It may seem counter-intuitive, but in order to develop explosive power, precise focus, and lightning speed, we should train slowly!

In The Traditional Class, contained in our 50th Anniversary Commemorative Journal, it is written that "Hanshi Scaglione has passed down that the class should be 50% to 60% kata practice. Optimal training includes performing at least 10 kata: five at half speed focusing on technique, followed by three with snap focusing on speed, and two at full speed and power. While it is impossible to include every exercise in each class, we never compromise on the time or effort spent in training kata."

Thus, a full half of our all-important kata practice should be done slowly!

Practicing slowly is absolutely necessary to learn, develop and correct our technique. Years ago, an instructor told me that when training imagine you are immersed in jello! I love this imagery which has stayed with me over the years. The intent is to emphasize slowness and fluidity.

Train your kata slowly and with intention - focus on breathing, isolate the different muscle groups, feel the shoulders and back stretch as the arm and elbow come back for an effective wind-up, relax the shoulders, heels into the ground, knees relaxed and loose, energy in the hara/center, body aligned, visualize, and SAVOR the movement and the moment!

Consider the following two videos on slow practice:

The first is by violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman. In the first 90 seconds of the video Perlman discusses the importance of practicing slowly.

The second video shows golfer Ben Hogan (1912-1997), considered one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Watch him practice his super-slow golf swing. (It looks like the film is slowed down, but it is not as you can see in the background.)

Hogan was known to practice more than any other golfer of his contemporaries and is said to have "invented practice." Hogan himself said, "You hear stories about me beating my brains out practicing, but... I was enjoying myself. I couldn't wait to get up in the morning so I could hit balls. When I'm hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply, it's a joy that very few people experience."

Find the joy in practicing slow!

Domo arigato gozaimasu, Sensei Bob Dobrow,


Shorin-Ryu Karate USA

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