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Higher Kicks -- Yes, But...

The other day, one of my senior students asked if he could have the students kick higher during the kata. I think he was teaching Pinan Yondan at the time (that kick is actually a jamming kick).

I told him that it was OK to do this, as long as the students understood that the higher kick was a variation. I often teach variations on the kata. The main thing is that the students know the proper movement. Then variations are good.

But it is also extremely important to understand that a variation, such as a higher kick, can radically change the meaning of the kata. Take Fukyugata Ni, for example. There are two mae geri (we execute them with toe tips) in the kata, each followed by an elbow strike.

Now, if you kick someone in the groin or bladder area, he will naturally fall forward. Then an elbow strike makes a great deal of sense -- he will be falling toward the strike.

But if you kick someone in the chest or face, he will probably fall backward. Then you would have to chase him to execute the elbow strike. If you think about it, if he falls to the ground, how could you execute an upward elbow strike?

In the Fukyugata Ni sequence, the kick to the groin area is followed by the elbow strike, and then we can execute an uraken with the same hand, followed by a strike to the groin (often done as a block). Chojun Miyagi developed this kata and we all know how Goju-Ryu people like to fight close.

Again, variations are good. Kicking high is good for flexibility. Just don't lose sight of what the movements in the kata mean. And remember to perform the kata correctly (without variations) at formal occassions.


Charles C. Goodin