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Power Generation -- 99% and 1%

Whenever I watch a Karate student or instructor move, whether in a demonstration, tournament, during class, or at a special training, I always try to determine how the person generates power.

In 99 percent of the cases, or so, the person is using ordinary strength and ordinary movement, in the form of the techniques of Karate. Anyone who is willing to learn the form of such techniques could do the same with practice. With practice, a person could get faster and stronger, to a point. Then there would be little if any improvement -- ever.

In 1 percent of the cases, the person moves faster and easier than he should be able to, and generates more power than he should be able to. Something is going on. He is generating power in another way, and using that additional power to fuel his techniques. It is almost Karate "magic!"

That 1 percent makes Karate fascinating!

And you might expect that the well known and highest ranking instructors would all be in this 1 percent. I do not believe that this is true. Some are, some are not. And some of the people who can move like this are neither well know nor high ranking.

So it is important to keep your eyes open. You must not let your expectations cloud your perception.

It may seem strange to say, but I see this more often in Goju-Ryu and related styles than my own Shorin-Ryu. Of course, an exceptional person is not limited by style.

If you see one of these 1 percent people, you have an opportunity to try to "catch" their movement -- to see and feel how they are moving. Even a glimpse will give you a chance to improve your Karate. Honestly, if you can "catch" a single movement, you can apply it to all movement. It is like an infection.

I may have been off with the 99 percent and 1 percent breakdown. The actual numbers may be closer to 99.9 percent and 0.1 percent. Only one in a thousand Karate students or instructors move exceptionally (in my opinion). Even that may be optimistic.


Charles C. Goodin