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Line Of Power

For any technique, you must be able to trace your line of power. By this I mean that you must be able to trace a line from your striking point (knuckles, elbow, tips of toes, etc.) to your koshi to your supporting foot and into the ground.

Imagine a giant tree that is struck by lightning. You could trace a burnt streak from the point of contact, down a branch, down the trunk of the tree, and finally into the ground.

When you strike, a returning shock wave will travel back down your line of power, much like lightning seeking the ground. If you are not properly supported, your strike will lack power and collapse. This returning shockwave will only take an instant so it is not necessary to support your strike any longer than this.

It is a good exercise to trace your line of power from your striking point through your body down to the ground. However, by this time, it is too late. It is more important to be able to plan your line of power from the ground up through your body to your striking point. You must learn to pre-position your supporting foot/leg to be in the most advantageous place from which to throw/unleash and support your technique. This is one of the advanced aspects of Karate -- to be in the right place at the right time with the best body posture and alignment for the desired technique.

It helps a great deal for your line of power to be somewhat straight (or curved). A zigzag line of power generally results in a loss of power. The way to straighten your line of power is to line up your joints from the ball of your foot, to your ankle, to your knee, to your hip, to your waist, through your koshi, through your lats, to your shoulder, to your elbow, to your wrist, to your knuckles, to the joints of your fingers (for example). This is referred to as body alignment rather than posture.

When you stomp your foot, a shockwave is sent up your body. If you tap the ball of your foot in a somewhat springy manner, this shockwave can be used to generate a wave up through your line of power. Now, if you can boost this wave at each of your joints (as described in the last paragraph), what starts out as a small wave can become a very strong one by the time it reaches your striking point. The wave will become larger in your trunk and then will become compressed as it travels down a narrower channel (your arm for example) to your striking point. As the wave is compressed, it will accelerate.

But the starting point is to become aware of your line of power -- trace it, pre-position it, align your joints, and support it.


Charles C. Goodin