sakura-martial-arts-blackbelt-01So you’ve been training for a couple of years now.  Congratulations!  You’ve made it this far.  After several years of hard work, sweat (and maybe a few tears?) you’re ready to take your training to the next level.  But how do you take your training the next level?  Follow these 3 tips to elevate your training, get more out of your workouts and further develop your technique.

  1. Great form means there is no form:   Since white belt your Sensei has been harping on you about form.  Keep that reaction arm up!  Drop down in your stance! Keep that weight on the correct leg!  You’ve heard it all before.  And for good reason because as the old saying goes, “You need to learn the alphabet before you can learn to spell.”  You can’t throw a good punch for example, unless you understand how to make a good fist – and by now, assuming you’ve been training hard, your “fist” should be pretty decent.  So, what do you do when your form is second nature?  You have to let it go.  One of the big challenges for a student is changing the way we think about technique.   To take your technique to the next level you have to get “out of your head” sort of speak.  Adjust your thought centre from your extremities (thinking about what your hands are doing) for example, to your core.  Focus your mind on what your core/centre/chi is doing during your techniques.  Muscle memory will make sure your form is good – so don’t worry about it.  Focus on your technique from within your centre and you’ll be moving faster and more powerful in no time.
  2. Stop trying to muscle through your technique:  You’re probably pretty strong.  And you want to demonstrate your strength to your peers, so what do you do?  Clench you jaw and muscle through your technique.  Grunt, groan and ‘grind’ through your kata, etc.  This will only get you so far.  It’s probably one of the biggest misconceptions by higher-level students.  The real key to powerful technique is truly learning to relax.  And I don’t just mean breathing through your technique (although that’s certainly part of it) but rather relaxing your entire body.  You can’t shoot technique(s) from your centre, if your entire body is tense and trying to just muscle through your technique.  How do you know if you’re too tense?  Are you out of breath after doing about 10 minutes of kata at 100%?  Then ya, you’re too tense.
  3. Drop your centre: Seems simple enough.  But this is easier said than done.  Have you ever sparred with someone and whenever they move in on you, it feels like they’re a freight train and at any moment they can simply go through you?  Assuming it’s NOT because they out-weigh you by 100 pounds, you can assume that they are dropping their centre.  When sparring, a lower centre of gravity can have a great advantage because you tend to be more rooted to the ground and can leverage this power in your techniques.  It’s a clever trick and a great way to elevate your technique.  So how do you do it?  Try to imagine you have a ball sitting behind the knob of your belt.  Feel the weight of the ball?  That’s your centre of gravity.  Use that sensation to help apply power to your movements.  When used correctly and with speed and velocity – it can be very powerful. Keep you body low and move fast.  Your sparring partner will notice.

The best way to begin applying these principals is by implementing them in your kata.  Just like anything else in Karate, it takes time to develop, but if you’re thinking about these things sooner rather than later, you will soon find that they are becoming ingrained in your technique.

Happy Training.

Sensei Pennell