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Koshi Infection

Tonight I guest taught at one of my good friend's dojo. It is a different style of Karate than mine, and I taught body dynamics for about an hour and a half.

Teaching and explaining koshi to students who generally do use it -- particularly to the extent that we concentrate on it in Kishaba Juku Shorin-Ryu -- has become one of my hobbies (for want of a better word). I get great joy when I see a student move in a way that is surprising to him. When a student can move faster, easier and with more power, he starts to smile.

It does not matter whether the student is a child or an adult. The result is always the same.

Tonight I told the class that I was trying to infect them with whole body mechanics. I meant it. Learning to use koshi is like catching a cold. It might start with a little sneeze but it gets worse! Koshi might start with one accidental movement, then two. Soon the student is infected with koshi!

If a student can do one movement correctly, he can learn to do all movements correctly.

When my own students move with koshi, I take it for granted. I expect them to do it. I am concerned when they do not.

It is fun for me to show koshi to someone who has practiced Karate for months or even many years, and did not know that there was a much easier and more effective way to move. It is a challenge for me to learn to communicate in a way that is understandable to students of another style. It is a challenge for me to design movement sequences or drills that can convey the basics and bridge the gap between our styles -- how can I get someone to "see" something they are not used to seeing?

Tonight I used the Taikyoku kata as a vehicle for teaching different principles. This kata is used by many styles, and is very similar to our Fukyugata Ichi (the first seven movements are essentially the same). Taikyoku is much simpler than the Pinan (Heian) and easier to modify. For example, I asked the students to replace all the stances in the kata with jigotai dachi. This is very easy to do. And actually, gedan barai in jigotai dachi or Naihanchi dachi is much more effective than in zenkutsu dachi, in my opinion, particularly a square shouldered zenkutsu dachi.

I used the Taikyoku kata to show how to pull the elbows toward the body between movements, how to pull the leg to set the weight and balance, and how to learn to move the stance with the body rather than step.

Just was we generate power with our core and channel that power through our arms and legs, we can move our body with our core rather than stepping like a robot.

Anyway, I enjoyed teaching tonight. If I can help even one student to use their koshi even once, I am happy. Tonight I saw many students move well.

I am beginning to imagine how my own Sensei felt when I first started to learn koshi dynamics from him. I was a "lost soul" in Karate and have been happy every day since then! Teaching others, even in different styles, is one way that I repay my Sensei.


Charles C. Goodin