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Look At The Feet

When an instructor demonstrates a punch or block, we tend to look at his hands. Hands are definitely important, but at an advanced level, it is also very informative to look at his feet.

If you have the current issue of Classical Fighting Arts (Volume 2, No. 12, with Sensei Morio Higaonna on the cover), look at the photographs on pages 20 and 22. Now look closely at the feet. On page 22, Higaonna Sensei executes an arm bar. He is stepping on the attacker's right foot and checking it with his knee. He is not simply executing an arm bar.

When we practice basics, we tend to ignore the feet. For safety reasons, we do not like to step on each other's feet or jam our partner's knees. But these are very effective techniques.

My Sensei here in Hawaii used to step on our feet when we attacked him. I would punch and he would block and enter while stepping on my leading foot. This really messed me up! I could not back up or go forward. I was sort of paralyzed. And at the same time, his counterattack (a big fist) would be shaking in front of my face.

My attention was split. I was contending with the block/counter and also having my foot stepped on and trapped. It is very hard to move when your attention is split.

If I paid attention to my feet, I would get hit. If I paid attention to the counter, I would be trapped.

And there are many more things to do with the feet than simply step on the attacker's foot or check his knee. All sorts of bones and joints could be broken or strained.

When you watch a demonstration of a technique, do not neglect the feet. Most people miss much of what is actually going on. But then again, depending on the instructor, nothing might be going on.

In Karate, you must defend and attack with your whole body in a coordinated manner. This will give you an advantage over an attacker who moves in a disconnected manner.


Charles C. Goodin