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Stepping Through A Narrow Opening

OK, this is where stepping gets interesting.

When we bring our feet somewhat together (being careful not to create a "dead" moment), we should feel like we are squeezing through a narrow opening. It should feel like we are in a hallway that gets narrower at the point when we bring our feet together.

Our whole body is compressed toward the vertical centerline. Because we are moving forward quickly, this compression sort of "piles up." The tension wants to go somewhere.

This creates an opportunity for us to direct the tension in any direction we desire -- typically in the direction we want to step, but not necessarily so. This moment when our feet come together (almost) is sort of a neutral moment at which time we can move in any direction. And the tension does not have to be released as a step. It can be a strike, block, kick -- whatever we want to do.

Imagine squeezing a rubber ball. This is a "super ball." Once you squeeze it, it wants to spring back with great force. With a gentle nudge, you can send it in any direction you please.

So what squeezes in the body? Everything, but most noticeably the lats, thighs, sides, shoulders, etc. -- basically the entire core of the body.

With practice, the release of the tension created in this manner can be very explosive.

OK, let's be careful. Explosive sounds like a good thing. But is it? An explosion usually is in all directions. This is not very efficient. If you are trying to generate power in front of you, only the part of the explosion going in that direction will be helpful. So when I say explosive, I mean a directed explosion.

The nice thing about compression is that you can compress from any direction, and release in any direction. You can move forward, squeeze, and release forward. Or you could move back, squeeze, and release forward. You could squeeze your body in whatever direction you like, and then, from a neutral position, release in any direction (or expression) you like.

Getting back to the "Shape" of Footsteps, I hope that I have made the point that the "shape" is not simply part of the process of getting from one place to another by stepping. The "shape" of the footsteps is also part of the process of generating power (through compression and release).

The next time you move forward in a kata, imagine that you are squeezing through a narrow opening. There is barely room for your shoulders to fit! Once you squeeze through, you should be able to explode on the other side.

Hopefully so!


Charles C. Goodin