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Pulsing Koshi

OK, if you read my post on Smaller Koshi, you have probably realized a problem -- if you have a certain koshi movement and just make it smaller, you will probably generate less power. It is not just a matter of taking a movement and making it smaller.

If you know Fukyugata Ichi, you know that the first movement is a downward block to the left (in zenkutsu dachi). If you don't know the kata, you start off facing the front and turn to the left where you make a left downward block. I know that it is not as simple as that, but please just accept for purposes of this discussion that you turn to the left and block down.

When a student is learning how to use koshi, I will teach him to vigorously twist his koshi to the left to help generate power. Actually, it is not just a matter of twisting to the left -- you actually anchor your left side of the body so that when you twist to the left, you are turning into your own left side, and as a result you create a great deal of compression. If you just twist to the left, without anchoring or locking your left side, it will be like a washing machine agitator. The twist will just bounce back and forth and it will be pretty much impossible to direct the power. You will just be swinging.

Twisting the koshi and swinging the body is nice but it is also slow. By the time you are done with your koshi movement, you will already have been hit (perhaps more than once).

The reason a student learns to twist or swing his koshi is not to generate power but to generate compression. Power comes from compression. Once you compress, you can direct power as you like.

So you twist the koshi to develop compression. It generally follows that if you twist the koshi less, you will generate less compression, and thus less power. You could twist the koshi faster, but there is a limit to that. Once you reach your maximum twisting speed, that's it.

So what can you do?

Instead of generating compression by twisting (rotation around the body), you can generate compression by pulsing (sending a wave through the body). Instead of twisting and squeezing in an arc outside of the body, you take a shortcut by squeezing through the body.

In Fukyugata Ichi, you start facing the front. If you twist your koshi, your hips rotate to the left. If you pulse your koshi, your hips no longer rotate -- instead, it is as if your right hip is pressed through your body toward your left hip. You are squeezing directly from one hip joint to the other, thus creating compression... and then this compression is directed to your downward block (or whatever).

From the outside, it will appear that your koshi movement is much smaller. You could pulse inside the gi or even inside the body. An observer might be amazed because he will be thinking that you are not moving at all or that your rotation is so amazingly small. In actuality, you are not rotating... so in this regard it is sort of a trick. Rotation has been replaced by pulsing.

Moving in this manner requires "lining up the joints." You pulse from one joint on a straight line to the other. This can be from one hip to the other, from one shoulder to the other, or pretty much from any joint to the other. If they are lined up correctly, a pulse can travel through several joints.

And as you pulse (create a body wave) you are also squeezing the wave -- compressing the wave. It is sort of like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. If the toothpaste is stuck, it might explode out under the pressure of your squeeze.

So as you pulse, you are also squeezing.

And as you do this, you are also blocking the wave to that it will build up and you can explode it in the direction and with the technique you desire.

Pulsing, squeezing, blocking, directing... pow!

So you can have a much smaller koshi movement with the same or even more power as with rotationally generated compression. But it is not just smaller, it is fundamentally different. Instead of rotating around the body, you pulse through it -- and your movement is inside your body. I call this a "pulse" but some people call it a vibration. When I asked Shinzato Sensei what it is called in Japanese, he said, "perhaps you might come up with the term." I think this is his way of saying that what it is called is not as important as being able to do it.

And pulsing is much faster.

Getting back to Fukyugata Ichi, if you pulse, you do not rotate and you do not turn to the left. You still block to the left, but you turn without turning. You just slide to the left and block... pow!


Charles C. Goodin