Focussing on ‘Hikite’ when striking

Last year Shihan James asked the students of Brisbane Goju Karate to focus on their ‘Zanshin’ which refers to a state of constant awareness. For those of you that missed Tuesday night’s karate class at Morningside, in 2013 we have been requested to focus on our ‘Hiki Te’ or ‘Hikite’. Hiki means withdrawing or to pull back while ‘te’ kara(te) translates to hand. Putting this together, hikite is the withdrawing hand or to pull the hand back. But why have we been asked to focus on our hikite and how do we do this?

Well, thanks to the videos from our End of Year Bash Shihan has identified that students are not withdrawing the hand quickly enough after striking an opponent. This is opening ourselves up to be struck as our defence is poor when leaving our hand out in open space closer to our opponent.  An opponent also has an opportunity to take control over our arm if they are aware enough that it has not withdrawn from their space. Similar to Zanshin, we need to be aware that even when striking an opponent we are opening ourselves up to be struck. To improve our defence we must quickly return to our ‘kamae’ or our posture, our fighting posture in this situation. Our kamae is to always have our hands up covering our face where we can be struck and easily knocked unconscious. So when in class whether it is kumite or kihon (except when practicing the traditional kihon and have been asked not to hikite) we must be focussing on quickly returning to our kamae after we have struck or attempted to strike an opponent. Another reason hikite is so important is that the further our arm extends from our torso the less power we have in a pushing motion and the more power we have in a pulling motion. This is due to basic muscular power generation. So by quickly pulling back we can also throw our next punch with greater power, pulling on one side of the body adds speed and power to the pushing motion on the other side. This occurs as the energy moves through our central axis being our torso, hips and legs. When leaving our hand out without any real purpose we are reducing our ability to move that limb with power and without power we can hardly defend or can easily be caught and manoeuvred by our opponent. If you do leave the arm out with purpose, say to grab the opponent so you can pull them in for a knee then this is a different situation. In this situation there is Zanshin, there is purpose, with no purpose we must revert to where we are purposeful, which is our defence, our wanting to protect ourselves and knowing where we are safe.

A good example of Hikite is this video of Guy Sempai during his Nidan Grading where he is able to be a threatening opponent by being disciplined in his hikite even striking his opponent. Notice in the takedown he chooses not to withdraw the hand which means he has purpose and good Zanshin.

If you have any questions about hikite please comment below or ask on our new forum.

New Years Resolution

Karate New Years ResolutionMake Learning Karate Your New Year’s Resolution Brisbane!

I remember when I started karate training back in 2005. I had stopped playing soccer due to an injury and had been inactive for a couple of months. This topped with an over indulgence over the Christmas period and I was feeling pretty flat (energetically, not physically). This lead to my New Year’s Resolution to start karate training.

I was share housing at the time while studying at Griffith University and asked one of my mates if they would be interested in joining a karate club that I had found in Norman Park at the Active Life Fitness Centre. Since we had done everything together from a young age he was as keen as I.

Now reflecting back on that day, I find that it would be unreasonable not to think that a lot of people would have gone through that same martial arts New Years Resolution in Brisbane. If you find yourself wandering down the same path that I did then you have to read these 5 top tips for keeping your New Years Resolution of becoming a black belt in karate or martial arts in Brisbane.

1. Stop Thinking about Starting Karate

No… I don’t mean stop and never start. You need to get out there and give it a try. It may seem simple but a lot of people (including myself!) love the idea of starting something new and can see all the positive benefits but never actually go out and give it a shot. The best thing you can do is to find a local dojo and turn up for a class to see what it is like. You might find that it is everything you imagined or you could find it is not for you. Either way you can embark on an amazing journey or put the idea to rest and find something else that suits you.

2. Involve Your Friends

If you have set a goal in life, like wanting to learn self defence or becoming a black belt in karate, then you have a significantly higher chance of reaching that goal if you talk to someone about it. This makes you accountable to somebody else besides yourself. We all know how easy it is to justify to ourselves why we aren’t at the gym or out running. Better yet, find a friend who wants to join with you because you just can’t fool your friend when you don’t show up to your new karate class to train with them. This will be a great helper in getting you to start but also continue training and you will also find you will become a lot closer to that person once you have done a few kumite sparring sessions with them.

3. Bring the Kids Along

If you have kids they may also be interested in starting a class. If they aren’t interested then just sit them down to a screening of the Karate Kid (the original one ofcourse) and you will have them converted over night. A handy hint as well is that Mr Miyagi in the movie (as portrayed by Pat Morita) is a direct reference to the founder of Goju Ryu Karate Chojun Miyagi  Either way, if your children are just as excited as you about training and feeling the same benefits that you are then it will keep you motivated to keep going. Children are also more likely to utilise the skills in their day to day lives as they deal with bullies and being teased throughout school. You might find that it will help for the whole family to build confidence and be able to handle confrontations more easily.

4. Don’t Stop Once You’ve Started

I remember my first month of training and how much I hated walking/crawling up the stairs to get through the front door. Karate is an amazing physical workout and we advise all first timers to take it easy for the first couple of weeks as their bodies cope with the intensity of karate and self defence training. Mind you, the incredible feeling of all your muscles aching gives you that evidence that what you are doing is working and that you will soon reach those short term weigh lose goals and get a fitter more toned body.

5. Enjoy the Learning Experience

The first few classes can be daunting when the instructors are speaking commands in Japanese and everyone around you looks like they know what they are doing and you do not. We totally understand when we teach you so just enjoy yourself and know that we are there to help and will answer any questions you have. It can also be frustrating at times being taught something new, especially if you don’t pick it up straight away (not all of us are as gifted as our Sempai’s). Just remember that practice makes perfect. In my personal experience (now one of those gifted Sempai’s) I found it took around 6 months even for my body to get to the level of fitness required to start nailing all those extra techniques and combinations.