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Beyond Style 7 -- Style is Not the Issue

Body mechanics are the central focus of the style of Karate I practice, Kishaba Juku Shorin-Ryu. We basically work on body mechanics all the time.

However, one of the things my Sensei has been very clear about is this: he can teach a student of another style to develop body mechanics using their own kata. It is not necessary for them to learn and practice our kata. What is important is learning the optimum way to move in whatever style you practice.

My Sensei routinely teaches students from other styles. I know that he often urges them to remain in their own styles and just work on applying the body mechanics principles to their own kata. I have also "coached" students in this way.

It is probably helpful for a student to learn our Naihanchi Shodan and the way we perform it. It is almost like our scales, using a music analogy. Once the student has learned our Naihanchi Shodan and our body mechanics as applied to each movement and combination, then it is a relatively simple process for the student map/apply the same body mechanics to his own kata in his style. In some ways, kata is just a convenient medium for learning how to move.

Despite good results, one problem that might arise is the displeasure of other students and instructors in the style when the student begins to move differently. Moving differently might be perceived as a sign of disloyalty... to the style. If you belong to a style you are supposed to move a certain way. The issue is not whether you have learned to move better -- you are not supposed to move better you are supposed to move the same.

An emphasis on style, in my opinion, is like elevating form over substance. What counts is how you move. Hey, we all punch, block and kick. Most of what we do is pretty similar. Good Karate is good Karate.


Charles C. Goodin