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Kotekitae - Forearm Forging

Kotekitae refers to forearm forging (strengthening or hardening) practice. When I was young, we used to call it "bang-bang" because it involved banging arms with your partner.

There is a question whether kotekitae actually makes your arms harder/stronger or simply more resistent to pain (raises your threshhold for pain). I think that both are true to some extent.

However, more importantly, kotekitae teaches you exactly how to block/strike using the correct surfaces of your radius and ulna bones (the two bones of your forearm). You strike with the outer edges of these bones, slightly rotated (about 1/16th or 1/8th) so that the upper surfaces of the bones make contact rather than the sides. You do not strike on the top or bottom of the forearm, because in these positions it is more likely that your bones could break or become injured. You strike just slightly off from the side edges.

In addition, the arm twists right at the moment of contact. The strikes are not straight -- there is a twist. This delivers the impact to the partner with a minimal returning shockwave into your own arm.

When practicing kotiekitae, it is important to take care with your partner. You should give your partner a good workout without injuring him. The two of you can gradually increase the intenstity of the striking until you both feel comfortable. Obviously, two advanced yudansha will be able to practice harder than two beginners. The senior should practice at a level suitable for his partner (with safety always in mind).

When striking, it is important to remain relaxed so that you can strike with your bones (by being relaxed, your muscles do not cushion your bones as much). When receiving, it is better to tense your forearm so that your muscles will protect the bones. In addition, the receiver should brace himself so that his wrist, elbow and shoulder will not be injured.

Children should practice kotekitae for form only. Minimal contact should be made because a child's bones are still growing.

Only advanced adults should practice kotekitae vigorously. Again, both partners should take care to fine a comfortable level of contact. A heavier student should take care with a lighter student because the heavier student can transfer more power.

After kotekitae practice, it is good to rub the forearms.

We practice seven kotekitae drills in our dojo. There are also similar types of drill for the legs and body.

When practicing kotekitae, we generally do not use koshi as this can make the movements too fast and explosive for safety. Thus, when watching us practice kotekitae, one might think that we do not use koshi. This would not be correct. We would use koshi when practicing arm conditioning on the heavy bag or makiwara, but again, this would be done with safety constantly in mind.

When kotekitae is practiced correctly, in time it is said that the student's blocks feel like iron. The student develops the ability to strike very cleanly with the bones of the forearm in a way that cuts to the bone of an attacker. The student learns to hit/block much harder while using much less strength. He also learns to take a strike or block better.

When practicing kotekitae, you should follow the instructions of your sensei very carefully and always consider safety first.


Charles C. Goodin