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That Looks Okinawan

I have been emphasizing to certain students that it is critically important to do each movement correctly -- to pay attention to the details.

Just trying to do the kata and movements faster and stronger won't do any good -- in fact, it will just ingrain and magnify errors. I feel like telling some students, "That was a very strong and fast performance of innumerable errors. You did the wrong things extremely well!"

Concentrate on the little things -- how your weight shifts, when your hand twists, the angles of your movements, your breath, etc. Concentrate on the details.

When the student does the movements correctly, even if it is not done with much power or speed, it looks good. I often tell a student, "That looks Okinawan."

By this I mean that the movements where done with attention to detail. I find this to be a characteristic of Okinawan Karate. A proper movement is proper whether done powerfully or lightly, or slowly or quickly. Proper is proper and wrong is wrong, even if it is wrapped up in a powerful and fast package.

So it is better for students to focus on being correct -- on the fine points. If a student does movements correctly, power and speed will come. The student will be building upon a good foundation. Success is guaranteed.

Also, correct movements are not subject to inherent limits. A wrong motion, done with power and speed,will fail. It will also have natural failure limits -- like a car racing down the freeway shaking and spewing smoke. You know something bad is about to happen.

Do it right and then you will get better and better.

I should add that Okinawans are just as capable of doing movements wrong (or right). The Okinawan approach to Karate, at least in the old days, was not mass production, but rather the creation of masterpieces -- of full optimized students. A great Karate master might only teach a few students in his life. Outside of Okinawa, the emphasis largely shifted to larger and larger groups. However, attention to detail can be a characteristic of anyone. One of the most skilled Karate Sensei I know is Chinese. And I would say that his movements "look Okinawan" because of his attention to detail.


Charles C. Goodin