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Teaching Karate 14 -- Basics

Sometimes as instructors, we want to teach advanced techniques and kata. But I have noticed that the best instructors are just as eager, in fact, even more eager, to teach basics.

I tend to teach the beginners in our dojo. Sometimes I feel like practicing Passai or Chinto, but instead I might be teaching basic punching, blocking, kicking, or stepping. However, I find that there is still so much to learn in the basics. It is easy to hide a weak technique in an advanced kata, but it is hard to hide a weak technique in an isolated basic.

In addition, the basics are just that -- they are the building blocks of all intermediate and advanced movements. By the time a student is ready to learn more advanced movements, he will have already learned the basics. If he learned them incorrectly, it might take weeks, months or even years to correct him. The advanced kata will naturally be infected with poor basics. An advanced kata with poor basics is hard to describe in a tactful way.

One teacher told me that he wanted to say that a particular student's kata was like a seizure, but could not bring himself to do so.

As far as technique is concerned, there is nothing more important than good basics. With good basics, advanced movements will be incredibly simple. Without them, advanced techniques are simply impossible.

Be grateful for the opportunity to teach basics to new students.


Charles C. Goodin