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  An opponent also has an opportunity to take control over our arm if they are aware enough that it has not withdrawn from their space.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.

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