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Teach One or Two Things

Last night I was teaching Naihanchi Nidan to beginners in my class. Naihanchi Nidan is a beautiful kata, and fairly difficult compared to Naihanchi Shodan.

I was probably thinking about 100 things to explain about this kata. But that would only confuse the students. It is best to emphasize one or two things and makes sure that the students understand them well. A couple things tonight, a couple things next time, a couple more next week. Little by little, the students will learn.

I am not talking about movements. Students can learn many movements in one training session. Some can even learn the movements of an entire kata. I am talking about fine points or principles. Often, the opportunity to teach a fine point or principle will arise with a certain kata, but the lesson will have broader application.

For example, last night I also clarified a point in Pinan Yondan, the double punch that follows the kick on the back side of the kata. It is very important to keep your leg raised after the kick (so that your thigh is horizontal, or a little higher). The first punch should begin while the leg is still raised and the second punch should hit about when the foot sets down on the ground. Keeping the leg raised maintains compression.

This principle also applies to the knee strike/kick later in the kata, to the single leg stance in Rohai, to the makite uke sequences in Wankan, Rohai, Wanshu and Passai, and to the kick/punch sequences in the beginning of Gojushiho. Come to think of it, it also applies to the kick/punch sequences in Pinan Shodan... and to any sequence in which a punch follows a kick. You don't just step down and punch. You have to maintain compression.

One principle can apply to many kata or techiques. It is our job as instructors to be able to relate and link the lesson to all applicable movements.

Don't teach too many principles or it will confuse the students. Teach one or two and apply them thoroughly.


Charles C. Goodin