I don’t think a day goes by without someone talking about their weight. To karateka it is doubly important and if you are reading this you’ll know I don’t mean the bloater kind.
It’s clear that students come in all shapes and sizes. It is also clear that training regularly as we do helps with any issues we may have unless we put more fuel in than we use. However the weight I refer to is the difficult skill with balance and distribution in stance and movement. “What’s difficult about standing?” You say. Well spend a few minutes with one of us and you will quickly realise it’s harder than you think. Sensei Dave Hazard often used to talk about walking and how it was just a series of falls from one foot to the next because if you didn’t stick your foot in front of you when moving forward you’d fall to the floor. A comical yet excellent practical observation. Dave Hazard along with my own Sensei Mick Dewey are the two most important influences in my karate so when they speak I listen. Arguably this also relates to balance and balance is nothing but the even distribution of weight. Are you still here? For me it starts with the most basic of all stances, the ready stance (Yoi dachi).
Everyone knows this one; feet shoulder width apart, knees just not quite locked, toes turned inwards and balance slightly forward from the centre of the foot. Too far forward you will be unbalanced and fall forwards too far back and you are on your heels a much harder position to move from. This for me is the next best thing to a freestyle kumite stance as you can quickly move in any direction and prepare yourself.
Try it. Move left, move right forward and back. Just breathe as you go, feels ok no? Now I ask you to try it again but at the same time hold your stomach tight, squeeze those glutes and feel it again. Breathe with your stomach and don’t lock those knees! Now one last time try it again without tightening anything in fact breathe deeply in with your chest as you move, do you feel a difference? That lifting of the chest unconsciously lifts your weight up, moving up through your body making you unbalanced and a little uncontrolled in movement. The very opposite of what you want because your weight needs to be under control low in your stance even if you are physically not and the difference to your technique will be incredible.
Breathe with your stomach down low, centre your thoughts, lower everything mentally, squeeze inwards and move quickly but smoothly if you master it let me know how many years it took. I’m still trying.