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Koshi Progression -- Heaviness

When I first started to learn how to use my koshi, I was naturally very excited. It became easier and easier to move very quickly in a short distance. Of course, my body hurt for a while, especially my forearms, and it took a while for me to strengthen and coordinate the muscles and tendons involved in the koshi mechanics process.

I did not figure this out on my own -- not at all. I was very fortunate to have a Sensei who could demonstrate and teach koshi mechanics to someone as stiff and clumbsy as me! And then he continued to coach and encourage me as I groped with the A, B, C's of koshi mechanics. I had no special talent, but I did wholeheartedly want to learn.

Once I could move somewhat consistently, the next step was to apply koshi mechanics to each and every movement in each and every technique and kata. Of course, this took time and is an ongoing process. But once you can apply koshi mechanics to one movement, it is possible to apply koshi mechanics to any movement. You can do this on your own.

But this is an ongoing process. Once a student can use his koshi and apply koshi mechanics freely to each and every technique and movement, there is still more to go. The process is not over. In fact, at this stage the student could probably not use koshi powered techniques effectively. The movements would look good, and be very fast and snappy, but they would not have stopping power.

The next step is extemely important. The student must learn to put his body weight behind each movement. The hands and feet cannot simply flail about. It is possible to use the koshi to generate an extremely fast movement. But if the mass behind the strike is small, the power generated will be minimal. You could, for example, use your body/koshi to power an uraken, but if you pull your weight back before the uraken strikes, you will only be hitting with the hand and arm rather than your whole body. The uraken will be very fast and will make a nice "pop," but it will only sting rather than drop the attacker.

A student can learn to move fast and light. It takes much more to learn to move fast and heavy.

Without koshi it is easy to make a heavy movement (a strike with your weight behind it). With koshi, it is easy to make an extremely fast movement (a strike without your weight behind it). The trick is to learn to move in a way that looks extremely fast and light, but is actually fast and heavy.

It is hard to explain this but easy to feel it when you are hit. I have been lucky enough to be hit with such a movement and even as I reeled from the strike I thought to myself, "how could such a fast and light looking technique feel so heavy?"

So the idea is to be able to flick a technique using the koshi that will be able to drop or stop an attacker. I can tell you one thing -- a light looking heavy technique sounds different. I do not mean the snap of the gi but the sound of the body itself. It has a much deeper tone.

I'm sure that there are other stages to the process and each stage has many levels that a student must discover and explore for himself. Developing heaviness is one part of the process. First fast and light, then fast and heavy -- to be able to look like you are just flicking but actually you are throwing your whole body behind the technique.

One last thing. Using koshi is easy. By this I mean that it does not require much physical effort -- like snapping a whip. Putting your weight behind a technique is also easy. It basically involves distance and timing (being close enough to the attacker to hit him with your weight and properly timing the shifting of your weight with the impact of the strike). Thus, moving fast (with koshi) and heavy (with proper distance, body shifting and timing), should also be easy. You should not have to try harder or expend more energy.

This is something to work on.


Charles C. Goodin