Karate Thoughts Blog

Contents   /   Email  /   Atom  /   RSS  /  

1700+ Posts... and Counting

Balls of the Feet

Last year I had the good fortune to meet Sensei Paul Yamaguchi at his home on the island of Kauai. We discussed many subjects but one has affected my training the most.

He stressed the importance of keeping the weight on the balls of the feet. Just as in Judo, the weight should not be on the heels. It is said that you should always be able to slide a piece of paper under your heels.

I already "knew" about this, but when I stopped and thought about it, I did not consistently practice it. So when I returned to Oahu, I started to concentrate on keeping the weight on the balls of my feet. The results were instant -- my feet and legs hurt, which meant I had not been distributing my weight properly before.

Since then, I have always checked my weight distribution. It seems like a small thing, but keeping the weight on the balls of the feet really makes a difference. It enables you to move faster, keep your balance, change directions, and shift your weight. It makes your movement "springier."

Try this. Put your weight on the balls of your feet and feel the muscles of your legs (especially your thighs), butt, and stomach (abdominals). Now imaging doing this all the time during Karate practice. This weight distribution starts the process of connecting your upper and lower body and is necessary for whole body movement.

I should add that the idea is not to keep the weight solely on the balls of the feet but on the toes as well. The toes grab the floor. I say that the flesh of your heels can touch the floor, but not the heel bone.

I often tell my students: keep the weight on the balls of your feet (and toes), tuck your koshi, squeeze your lats (latissimus dorsi), and keep your elbows close to your body. These are basics of the Kishaba Juku form of Shorin-Ryu. However, they are also common to other forms of Karate. It seems to me that my friends in Goju-Ryu do the same.


Charles C. Goodin