exploringkarate

I've been a keen karate student for 16 years, Shukokai and Shotokan, but there still seems to be no shortage of things to learn and explore. I'm hoping this blog will allow me to share my experiences and hear other martial artists thoughts.

Archive for Gyaku zuki

Lyoto Machida’s Karate Style

I’ve watched a couple of Lyoto Machida‘s UFC bouts because I was interested to see how he fought given his karate background. He certainly seemed to have a distinctive style. I didn’t see his last bout against Ryan Bader but I came across this really interesting Bleacher Report breakdown of his karate style. It resonated on a number of points perhaps unsurprisingly given Machida’s father is a Shotokan Karate Master.

The first aspect of his style they look at is Machida’s stance and how it makes it more difficult for his opponents to strike him as it keeps his head further back and his torso turned more side on so that it represents a narrower target area. I can almost hear both my Shukokai and Shotokan senseis telling me to twist my hips more when in front stance for just that reason.

Next up they look at his evasive footwork. They describe how when an opponent launches an attack he simply pivots to the side on his lead foot to move off the line of attack. We practised a lot of this type of movement in our Shotokan fixed kumite (sparring), mainly in response to front and side kicks. In one quick move it took you out of danger of the strike while still leaving you in perfect range to launch a counter strike.

The breakdown looks at his ability to place all his weight into a counter strike by using the classic stepping punch. Launching strongly off his back leg, stepping through and letting all that momentum and power flow through into his punch. When we’re practising reverse punches, gyaku zukis, on the pad we strike it from a stationary stance. You really see the difference in the power of the impact when you swtich to stepping punch, oi zukis, and the extra momentum and shift in bodyweight is added.

They actually then move on to look at Machida’s reverse punch. The twist of the hip is an important aspect in giving the reverse punch it’s power. The other thing the writer mentions is that the punches’ starting point low down by the hip makes it difficult for the opponent to spot which isn’t something I’d really thought about before but it seems like a reasonable idea, especially if you occupy the attention with the leading hand.

Lyoto Machida’s kicks then come into focus, particularly how he will start to throw a front kick and then shift it into a roundhouse. It’s a technique both my Shukokai and Shotokan senseis can perform far more smoothly than I. I find it easier to fully perform the front kick, drop the leg back and then perform a full roundhouse. But again it’s a technique I recognise easily from the dojo.

Finally the report references the spirit of the more traditional martial arts and how if you choose it can stay with you throughout your life. After being a student of Karate for over 15 years I certainly recognise that longevity. In some ways I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I can learn.

It was great to see the article report on how techniques I recognise from the Karate I’ve been taught are being used to great effect by Lyoto Machida in the UFC Octagon. To me it reaffirms that when done well Karate has some extremely effective techniques.

 

As fit as a butcher’s dog!

Well perhaps not quite, and I’m using the meaning of this old saying whereby the butcher’s dog wasn’t the fittest because it was treated to all the scraps and leftovers, but I was feeling the pace at training on Saturday.

We kicked off with a bit of sparring, which I kept quite light because I was partnering up with some of the junior grades. Then we had some padwork and I worked myself quite hard, working at a higher tempo then would be expected at a grading. Then we wrapped up working through combinations and kata and that was when I started to feel the fatigue a little.

The gradings at our club, particularly for the higher grades, have quite a number of different sections so a pretty reasonable level of fitness is required and I’m probadly a little short of that at the moment.

Training twice a week will help but in preparation for the grading I’ll switch my weekly weights session to a karate cardio session.

I gave it a go yesterday and am fairly happy I’ve got the start of a format that’ll work:-

  • I kicked off with 10 minutes on the Schwinn exercise bike to get warmed up.
  • A quick set of stretches.
  • Then four sets of basic combinations, 10 reps each side at a strong intensity.
  • Then basic techniques on my freestanding punch/kick bag. Gyaku zukis, mae geris, oi zukis, mawashi geris and uracken uchis, 10 reps each side again at a strong intensity.
  • Then I worked through some combinations at close range of the bag to try and replicate some of the focus mitt sections.
  • Finished with a final session on the bag but working from medium to close range to make it feel a bit like sparring.

The whole session lasted about 45 minutes and I was working up a nice sweat and feeling like I was testing my fitness at points so I’ll now add in more reps in future sessions to push myself.

While working on my fitness was the primary objective it was good to have an extra session working on different techniques on and off the bag.

What do you do to keep your fitness at a good level?

 

Put your bodyweight into it!

We spent a lot of time working with the impact pads on Tuesday night at training. I always enjoy a good session on the pads. It feels great to be able to put everything into a technique and get the physical feedback of feeling it strike the pad.

One thing that really came through was the extra power that is realised when you make sure you’re moving your bodyweight in the right way. While my reverse punches, gyaku zukis, felt a bit off par to begin with (note to self to work on those) I could really feel the difference in the impact of the stepping punches, oi zuki.

Getting the push off the ball of my back foot to get that acceleration, a bit like a sprinter (note the use of ‘a bit like’ in my case 😉 ), and really propel my bodyweight towards the pad and focus it’s impact through my arm onto the pad. It reaffirmed the value of maintaining the same height level throughout the technique so all the power is moving straight forward and not rising and falling as you step through.

Trying to get that same explosive movement and thrusting impact came into play for both the front kick, mae geri, and side kick, yoko geri.

It felt like another of those moments when the principles of karate just came together in a really tangible way and you realise this is why you’ve be learning techniques a certain way.