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1700+ Posts... and Counting

Where My Stories Come From

From time to time, I am asked where my stories come from.

The stories I write, and often the blog posts themselves, appear almost like daydreams and I write them down. I usually do not plan them. I will be doing something and the story or post will start to play in my mind (all the parts at the same time, sometimes in words, but usually not). If I find them interesting, I will write them down (sculpt the thoughts with words).

I don't think this is very unusual. The creative process is often a spontaneous thing, with sometimes complex and extensive ideas perceived in an instant.

Of course, I practice and teach, and conduct a fair amount of research. Since I spend so much time on Karate, it is natural that my thoughts and daydreams will sometimes focus on the subject.

But it is not like I say: let's come up with a story or post. They just seem to sprout, like weeds in my garden. I don't have to plant them either!


Charles C. Goodin

My Christmas Wish

I told my kids that my Christmas wish was for world peace. One of them said that such as wish was a cliche. It sounds like something a contestant would say at a beauty pageant.

But this is really my wish -- world peace.

Since I cannot control the world, I should seek peace in my own daily life, in my family, in my dojo, with my friends, and with my business contacts. If I do this, it will have at least a small impact. An if everyone did so, the result would be World Peace.

I practice and teach Karate as a way to avoid physical violence. A peaceful person is unlikely to provoke a fight and a vigilant person is more likely to recognize and avoid a violent situation. If, as a last resort, the use of Karate's destructive techniques is necessary, then that cannot be avoided and anything goes. But if it is possible, I would run away. I am a pacifist who has practiced martial arts for over 40 years!

My goal for 2012 is to win the Nobel Peace Prize for teaching Karate. That would be something! But prize or not, I will work to promote peace through Karate.


Charles C. Goodin

My Best Student

I have written about this before, but it deserves repeating.

My best student is the student I am teaching. The only caveat to this is that the student must be trying. I have very little time for a student who does not try, but almost unlimited time and effort for a student who sincerely tries.

I try to teach a beginner how to punch, block and kick with the same attention to detail and enthusiasm as when I teach an advanced student or instructor. And I learn a lot in both cases. In fact, I often learn more when I am teaching beginners. When I am teaching the fundamentals, any new realizations or discoveries will have a major impact on everything I do.

I believe that all students are special. Honestly, I think that a teacher is very lucky to have a good student. A student is lucky to have a good teacher, but I think that the teacher is actually luckier. For a teacher, passing on the art is almost a biological imperative.

My best student is the student I am teaching. And because I learn by teaching, if my student is the best I am also learning from the best.


Charles C. Goodin

Another Martial Art

If could study another martial art, which one would it be?

  1. Ju Jitsu
  2. Sojutsu (spear art)
  3. Naginata jutsu
  4. Escrima
  5. Kenjutsu
Scroll down for the answer.

The answer is D, Escrima. I think that Escrima would compliment my Karate training very well. I am a fan of the Filipino martial arts. I would like to study the other martial arts as well, but Escrima is on the top of my list.


Charles C. Goodin

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

From our family to yours, best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! You can click the image to enlarge it.


Charles C. Goodin

At What Cost?

So let's say that you are a Shodan. It will take some work to earn your Nidan. It is not just a question of staying in Karate. It will take effort.

Rising from Nidan to Sandan will be even more difficult.

In fact, the higher the rank, the steeper the mountain becomes! The climb becomes more and more difficult.

Well, actually, I think that most of us enjoy training, so it is not really that difficult.

But I want to ask a question. If you have already reached the 99% level among Karate students, how much is it worth to you to strive for that remaining 1%? Let's say you are already proficient at self-defense. If so, it is worth expending considerable time and effort to become a little bit more proficient?

When I was in high school, I took a driver's education class. Then I got my driver's license. Since then, I have driven pretty well. I haven't had to take any additional classes. I am not a race car driver. For my personal driving, I seem to have learned what was necessary.

How much is necessary when it comes to Karate? I started practicing Shorin-Ryu about 37 years ago. That is quite a long time. I'm glad that I haven't had to go to 37 years of driver's education classes!

Don't get me wrong -- I really enjoy practicing and teaching Karate. Actually, my emphasis is on teaching. But I continue to try to improve my Karate skills too.

It is not like I am looking for a higher rank or titles so that I can draw more students. The opposite seems to be true -- the more skilled I become (over a long time), the fewer students I want to teach. My idea of an ideal class is one in which I teach a single student in depth! I don't need a higher rank or titles to do that.

And the point I am getting at is this: if you enjoy Karate training, than that is reward enough. If you do not enjoy Karate training, then external rewards such as rank and titles will probably not be enough. An unhappy 7th dan will probably become an unhappy 8th dan -- and make his students unhappy too.

But there is another point. How much time and effort are you willing to put in to improve just a little?

One of my sons was lifting weights and broke his previous record by 10 pounds. I mentioned this to a serious lifter who replied that a his level, lifting even a pound or two more would be very difficult. The more advanced you become, the harder it is to progress even a little.

If you are not interested in rank and titles, and are only interested in skill, how much time and effort would you be willing to expend to improve 1% or 2%? And is that margin of improvement really relevant when it comes to self defense?

I do not know the answer, but I thought it was an interesting question.

For me, training and teaching is worth it. I enjoy training and I enjoy teaching and helping students. It is sort of like gardening. I grow vegetables in my home garden. Nothing makes me happier than giving eggplants, okra, cucumbers, and avocados to my relatives and friends. Often, there is more than my immediate family can eat. My avocado tree had about 400 fruits this year. It seemed like the more I gave away, the more fruits there were.

I feel exactly the same about teaching. It makes me happy and it seems that the more I teach, the more there is to teach.

I think that improvement is a byproduct of the process, not necessarily the goal.


Charles C. Goodin

90th Percentile

My two year old granddaughter is at the 90th percentile in height for her age. She is a tall girl.

I started to think. What would the 90th percentile be for Karate? Please go along with the question. I realize that numbers and Karate don't quite mix.

Let's set up the question a little. We will only count adults, not children. And we will only include Karate students who have trained for at least a year. That will eliminate students who start and quit right away, or in just a few months.

So if you take all of the living adult Karate students who have trained for at least one year, what would represent the 90th percentile? Let's ask this in terms of rank -- and I fully realize that rank is a subjective and imperfect thing, but we need something to use as a basis.

What rank would a 90th percentile adult Karate student who has trained for at least one year be? Please keep in mind that this would cover students who have trained from 1 year to nearly a lifetime. What is your answer?

Here is my answer/guess: Shodan (1st degree black belt).

90% only means that you are in the top 10%. If you look at all Karate students, I would say that about 1 in 10 become Shodan -- maybe more, maybe less. But if you have 10 students who train for at least 1 year, it would be pretty good if at least one of them eventually became a Shodan (certainly not in a year, but at some later time).

What would 95% be? Maybe Nidan (2nd degree black belt).

How about 99%? I would guess 4th or 5th dan.

So when you see a 9th or 10th dan, that person probably represents the top 99.99 percent -- like one in a million!

So being at the 90th percentile in Karate is not such an unusual thing. If there are 100 people, you would be among the 10 who have reached this level.

I will come back to this point in a later post. But for now, I think that it is good to appreciate the accomplishment of students who rise to the heights of Karate training as evidenced by their character, skill, conditioning, contributions to the arts, etc., all of which might be represented by their rank (maybe so or maybe not, but hopefully so).

My granddaughter may be at the 90th percentile for height, but she is one in a billion to me!


Charles C. Goodin

The Secret of Karate Is...

The secret of Karate is... to train. You learn by training, and by training you learn.

Thinking, talking, and writing about Karate is OK if you are training and can physically do it. Otherwise, it is just a mental exercise. If you can do it, there is really no need to say much about it (except to try to help others).

How much of the time you spend on Karate is actual "training"?

Let's all try to train more in the coming year!

And, of course, there are no secrets in Karate -- only things you can learn by training.


Charles C. Goodin

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

I saw Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol tonight with my wife and mother.

We all gave it a 10!


Charles C. Goodin

Mada, Mada, Mada

The other day, after a Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai training, I complimented my friend's student on his progress. The student responded, "Mada, mada, mada."

That was very well said!

See: Guest Post: Mada, Mada, Mada, by Sensei Pat Nakata, who happens to be the student's Sensei.


Charles C. Goodin

Dojo Guests

From time to time, we have visitors to our dojo from within the Kishaba Juku family. I always enjoy meeting other students. Usually, I try to teach them, to the best of my ability.

Initially, I try to get a feel for where they are in their training, what their strengths are, and what their weaknesses might be. Of course, we are all learning. I have weaknesses too. Perhaps that is a poor word. We all have areas where we need more work.

Usually, I will watch a student perform the Naihanchi Shodan kata. That is enough to get a good feel. You cannot fake Naihanchi. You can either do it, or you cannot it. It will reveal quite a lot about the student's strengths and weaknesses (areas that need work).

After that, I will usually work with the student using the Naihanchi Shodan kata. All students in Kishaba Juku know this kata, so it is a good choice.

The subject I will concentrate on will almost always be koshi. There is always work to be done on koshi. I also seem to have a simplified koshi pattern among Kishaba Juku instructors.

But... the point of this post is not about what I try to teach visitors. The point is what I do not get to teach.

In the rush to teach during a short visit, I have to concentrate on technical things. But if I had more time, I would spend just as much time and effort emphasizing two things:

  • That our effort in Karate has to be just as intense to avoid fighting and having to defend ourselves. We have to be careful, be aware, and defend only as a last resort. We have to do everything reasonably possible to avoid defending (not fighting). We do not initiate. And we try to avoid having to respond -- because the defensive techniques of Karate can be extremely destructive.
  • That our effort in Karate training is shallow if it is limited just to Karate. If the self discipline of Karate translates into our daily life, then Karate training is truly meaningful and useful. Being able to defend ourselves is good, but being a good person is even better.
Unfortunately, I am in such a hurry with visitors, and am so enthusiastic about trying my best to help them in a limited time, that these lessons are neglected. My regular students hear these types of lessons more often.

Visitors might get the impression that I am a body dynamics freak -- which is only partially true.

But I am comforted by the fact that our visitors will have certainly heard the above lessons or admonitions back in their home dojo. Kishaba Juku is not a commercial or political style. We emphasize traditional values -- and tend to be body dynamics freaks (in a good way).


Charles C. Goodin

Guest Post: My Experience with Sensei Goodin and the Hikari Dojo

This Guest Post is by Eli Jones, a student of Sensei Bill Lucas at the Tallahassee Karate Club. Lucas Sensei also teaches the Kishaba Juku form of Shorin-Ryu.

Eli visited our dojo here in Hawaii recently. This is his summary about his training and is published with his permission. We really enjoyed having him visit us! I think that he is also a good writer.

My Experience with Sensei Goodin and the Hikari Dojo

It was about 9:30 PM on Wednesday when our plane touched down in Honolulu. I checked the time as we were collecting our carry-ons and moving toward the aircraft’s exit, and was immediately thinking to myself … “Ah man, guess I won’t be able to make it to Sensei Goodin’s class tonight.”

I, of course, realized this would be the case as Sensei Goodin holds class from 5:00 – 6:00, and our flight wasn’t scheduled to arrive in Hawaii before 9:00. Even so, the privilege of training with another Kishaba sensei was something I kept thinking about since two months earlier when Sensei Lucas informed me of the arrangements. So needless to say, contacting Sensei Goodin was the first order of business for the following day.

Even before meeting him in person, this sensei captured my fascination with his extensive knowledge and philosophies of martial arts just through our initial phone conversation. One of the first things to be addressed was my vitae as far as Kishaba Juku and any previous training went. He asked me what kata we practice in our dojo, so I, with my ever-failing memory, fumbled through the list as best as I could. “Let’s see … we do two Naihanchi, sometimes three, and five Pinan. Oh yeah, we also do the two Fukyugata. There’s also Passai, Rohai, Wankan, Gojushiho, and um … Yara no Kusanku and Matsumura Kusanku, and there’s probably a few more in there that’s not immediately coming to mind.” – There were. Sensei Goodin then replied, “You do two Kusanku in your dojo?” I simply answered, “Yes,” to which he responded, “Interesting …”

On a side note: when an intelligent person bears witness to a situation, or hears someone utter a certain combination of words, to which their only response is “interesting,” I, myself, find that to be very … interesting.

Nevertheless, I definitely appreciated the fact that Sensei Goodin wanted to learn a little more about me, and do believe that it’s important to know what kind of outside student a sensei is exposing his/her core students to. In terms of being someone from another dojo, I’ve always considered myself open-minded and not particularly resistant to new information. I do, however, have a lot of old habits that seem to play an unwelcomed, yet recurring role in my training which was noted in our discussion about koshi, tachi, and general body mechanics.

As we continued talking he touched on various principles, gave me the training schedule, explained how class is conducted at the Hikari Dojo, and went on to tell me a few accounts of his personal experience with Shinzato Sensei. All of this only went to further my excitement as I realized this opportunity was going to be more than just the chance to attend class in a different state; it was going to be an all-around learning experience.

The first night I attended class was on a Monday. Being as my father-in-law works only a couple blocks up from the Hikari Dojo, he decided to stop by and watch after work. I really appreciated his encouragement and support for my karate passion, but also felt the situation warranted an explanation. “Uh Mr. Gildea (I still formally address my in-laws) … my sensei in Florida spoke to Sensei Goodin and requested that he not only give me a few pointers, but uh … ‘pick apart’ my techniques, so uh … I’m not really sure what you’re expecting, but uh … yeah.” – Eloquence at its finest, ne?

In spite of the carefully-worded forewarning, Mr. Gildea was eager to watch a class and seemed genuinely interested in learning a little bit about karate – which was great! He came to the right place, and Sensei Goodin certainly has a vast wealth of knowledge on the subject. Unfortunately, I knew that with these two men, whose opinions I greatly respect, watching my every move … the potential mistake factor would be significantly increased.

Well to begin with, I wasn’t sure where fellow male karateka went to change into their gi as I walked into the women’s bathroom and began donning my attire. An observant Sensei Goodin noted this error as he rounded the corner and stated, “Dude! You know you’re in the girl’s bathroom right?” while maintaining a cautious distance from the facility’s entryway. With a reflective tone I replied, “No, I didn’t … I couldn’t see the sign that said …” “Right here,” he pointed to the sign. Yep, sure enough, there it was. Seemingly tickled by my lack of observation, he directed me to the men’s bathroom where I proceeded to change into my gi while considering my immediate blunder.

First impressions are lasting right? Well if that’s the case, my ability to observe, and perhaps even my level of literacy, was already put into question … or at least that’s what I was thinking as I stepped onto the tatami mat. Once class started, we lined up and began with kata.

Now there were a number of things that I needed to, and even now need to, work on in terms of my understanding and application of Kishaba Juku. Quite a bit actually, but I’m going to just touch on a few of the more outstanding key points for the sake of blog length:

Stances: As I recall, one of the first things to be addressed was my tachi. They were, in fact, too long. This is actually one of my long-time habits; I’ve always been bad to exaggerate stances which wouldn’t provide a promising outcome in a realistic combat situation. Nevertheless, Sensei Goodin explained why stances need to be height appropriate in order for koshi, connection, and overall technique to come together. In my case this meant using shorter tachi.

Hikite: Next, the issue of what I’ve always referred to as my “chamber” hand came into question. During techniques that involved an affirmative strike or block, my hikite often found itself hovering over the arch of my hip. This is, of course, not correct as it doesn’t sufficiently protect the side of one’s torso. It was explained to me that the hand needs to sit approximately in the area of one’s floating rib to effectively guard, and serve as an ideal position for the hips to drive a strike forward with power and efficiency.

Movement with the lats: As it turns out, I was largely using my arms and shoulders to punch which is also incorrect. In order for any technique involving the upper limbs to maintain the proper connection, the movement must come from the latissimus dorsi (not excluding koshi of course). This gives the individual the ability to drive a strike, make a connection with the opposing party, and recoil accordingly. The recoiling aspect of a technique is specifically important as it allows the business end of a strike to work like a whip, drawing the technique back in such a way as to immediately strike again, and again, and again … as many times as needed. It was equally stressed that timing is essential, being sure to have both the execution point of a strike and stepping movement into a stance coincide in order to generate both speed and power.

Breathing: It didn’t take Sensei Goodin very long to notice that I wasn’t exhaling to the same extent as his other students. As a matter of fact, I was holding my breath! Another habit that I developed somewhere along the way was to limit my breathing. I think I always believed that it would make my center tighter, should I absorb an incidental strike to the mid-section. Well … nope, that’s not how it works. If anything, I would’ve dropped like a bag of bricks if someone were to hit me with my current breathing technique, or lack thereof. Sensei Goodin noted the importance of correct breathing; that it is necessary to expel air upon the execution of a technique, and tighten the hara in the event of that “incidental strike.” He explained that if you’re holding your breath, then there’s air to be knocked out of you. And much like a kiai, the expulsion of air serves to focus one’s energy into the technique being executed. It is, therefore, important to exhale assertively at the completion of each movement.

Koshi: Last, and most definitely not least, koshi! Being as my goal was to create a significant amount of power with as little movement as possible, I was sure to use small koshi movements … Only one “small” problem, I wasn’t creating significant power. Actually, I wasn’t creating any power at all. Sensei Goodin understood what I was trying to do; I was attempting to emulate an advanced technique where smaller koshi motion can generate the same level of power as larger koshi motion, but without prior understanding or development/augmentation of the basics. He explained:

“You’re using smaller hip and body motions, but you don’t really have the basis to generate the amount of power required for the [advanced] technique. You have to establish yourself in the basics: learn how the koshi works, learn how to apply the body mechanics, and understand how to generate power first. Practicing the technique as you are, you have less movement, but there’s nothing backing it up beyond that. Granted, the goal is to eventually be able to execute the technique with less movement … but full power.”

With other areas of interest being explored, these were among the major focal points we worked on for the two nights I was able to attend. With that said, the second night I attended class was on the following Wednesday. I’m not sure how much attention everyone on the mainland paid to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, but suffice it to say that it’s kind of a big deal if you live on Oahu. As it turns out, this year President Obama participated in the event which resulted in increased security on the island. Among the precautions taken to insure the president and other politicians’ safety was the closing, and police-monitoring of certain streets. The reason I mention this is because a great deal of the roads that were closed surrounded the area that Erika and I were staying in.

Well Sensei Goodin, as well as friends and relatives, had given me sufficient warning regarding the magnitude of the event and the impact it would have on driving. Unfortunately, I didn’t plan my travel time well for the second night of class. We left the apartment we were staying at with what I thought was plenty of time to make it to class EARLY … which ultimately ended in my calling Sensei Goodin to make sure I could still come to class late. Apologetically I said, “Goodin Sensei, we’ve been on the road for forty-five minutes now and the traffic is just inching along. I’m not entirely sure when we’ll make it to Aiea but …” Sensei Goodin very understandingly replied, “Just get here when you get here, we’ll be training.” I was immensely thankful for his patience and willingness to still allow me to train that evening, when in truth I probably deserved an “I told you so, better luck next time kiddo” instead.

So I finally make it to class, bow onto the floor, and begin training with the other students – by the way, his students are incredible, very gifted martial artists and extremely nice people on top of that. After a certain portion of kata, Sensei Goodin had his students work with each other and he took me to the back of the dojo to work on that which was eluding me so – the basics! To begin with, he had me work on my koshi motion in front of a mirror so that I could see exactly what I was doing. Soon after, he added strikes and blocks to the hip movements so that I could get used to the motion of executing techniques with koshi. This worked perfectly for my learning style as I pick things up much easier in an ABC format. After I had practiced the movements for a while, it was time to put the techniques together in a way that made sense … and what better way to that than through Naihanchi Shodan!

As we went through Naihanchi Shodan, the focus was on all of the aforementioned key points: stances, hikite, use of the lats, breathing, and koshi. Sensei Goodin explained how everything must be integrated for speed and power. He then gave me an example of how a beginner might start off going through Naihanchi, and then demonstrated a more intermediate way followed by an advanced set of techniques. Thinking that I had the 411 on what he was explaining I boastfully stated, “Ah that’s the kaisho, gyousho, and sousho way of going through Naihanchi, huh.”

He said, “No.” - Yeah, I would’ve probably giggled if it were someone else trying to look smart, but it was me … so … it is pretty funny though isn’t it?

He gave me a more thorough example of how a kaisho, gyousho, and sousho form would appear as it pertains to Naihanchi, which was as informative as it was cool. It wasn’t long after that that class, sadly, had to come to a close. Just as it is in our dojo, we all stood in a circle so that everyone could see each other. Sensei Goodin told us about the importance of Kishaba students from different dojos training with each other; that it’s good to see how other dojos train, and that Shinzato Sensei himself encourages us all to learn from each other. He told his students that if they ever found themselves in Florida they should train with Sensei Lucas, and very graciously extended a future welcome to any yudansha from the Tallahassee Karate Club. After a very warm farewell from the Hikari Dojo students, Sensei Goodin and I had one final chat … then I was on my way home to reflect and work on what I had learned.

It’s hard to sum up the gratitude I have for Sensei Goodin’s willingness to have me in his dojo and share the invaluable information that he sent me home with. In short, I am deeply honored, and truly appreciative for the experience. I am also thankful to Sensei Lucas for making the request and being an open-minded sensei who encourages constructive criticism from other, though familiar, sources; a willingness to consider others’ viewpoints is among the many important facets that make up the true spirit of karate.

Eli Jones

Pinan Yondan - Part 16

By now you've certainly realized my point about the first movement of Pinan Yondan. I could have just as easily used the first movement of any kata, or the second, third, etc.

Any movement can teach you a great deal about Karate. What you learn is cumulative. What you learn in Pinan Yondan will improve your Pinan Shodan. And when you improve your Pinan Shodan, your Pinan Yondan will improve too.

Each movement is like Karate DNA. The building blocks of each movement are essentially the same. And the principles of movement are essentially the same too.

The ending form of movements may differ, but the methods of generating power, of moving, of shifting, of hitting, etc. are essentially the same, especially at the koshi/core level.

Don't you think so?

Do I think that Itosu Sensei intended this for school children? No I don't.

But I do believe that this was inherent of the kata system that preexisted the "modern" kata such as the Pinan and Fukyugata, when Karate masters taught a small group of students, in depth, with an emphasis on the fine points, customized for each student.

Is this relevant today? It is if we make it so.

All it takes is a movement, such as the first movement of Pinan Yondan (you probably knew that I was going to say that).


Charles C. Goodin

Pinan Yondan - Part 15

When you have performed the first movement of Pinan Yondan, you are in nekko ashi dachi (a left cat stance) with a combined chudan and jodan shuto uke or uchi. The next movement is the mirror image, to the right.

But you could perform the same movement to the left, back, right, front, or any angle. You could move clockwise or counterclockwise.

You could execute the mirror image first. There is no difference between the right movement or the left movement. You could even execute the left movement to the right and the right movement to the left. There is no difference.

And if you can execute a chudan/jodan combination, you could also execute any other useful combination. You could execute a standard chudan shuto, or a gedan shuto, or a jodan/gedan combination. And these could also be executed in any direction, clockwise or counterclockwise.

And why does it have to be a shuto? It doesn't.

And why does it have to be in a neko ashi dachi? It doesn't.

Once you understand the first movement and learn how to execute it well, the idea is not to do that movement only, but to use that knowledge to enable you to do any movement in any direction, as needed.

And if the second movement is to the right, it could just as easily move forward to the left, or in any direction. It isn't limited either.

Each movement you learn is an invitation to many movements. It is like playing cards with a handful of wild cards.

Of course, many people cling to a literal interpretation of fixed kata and fixed movements. But we are preparing for the unknown -- an unknown attacker or attackers, at an unknown time, from an unknown direction, with an unknown technique. We are not preparing for a fixed attack -- that would be pretty easy. We are preparing for the unexpected.

To respond to the unexpected, you have to be able to adapt and move freely.

Learning kata can either help you or hinder you in this regard. In most cases, I would say that it hinders people because kata are taught in a rigid and fixed way. At first this is necessary, but students should be advised that the ultimate goal is fluency of motion.

A hard, rigid kata may look good to some people. This gets back to my earlier pretend question: "Would you like to look good at Karate or be good at Karate? Looking good and being good can be two different things. And what looks good to a layman will usually differ from what looks good to an expert.

The first movement of Pinan Yondan is an invitation to fluency of movement.

Another way to visual this is to say that each movement is an intersection point for an infinite (or at least large) number and variation of movements.

In English, we have just 26 letters. But using those letters, if we are fluent, we can form words and sentences to respond to any question.

And don't forget. If you are fluent at movement, the idea is to be just as fluent at application.


Charles C. Goodin

Pinan Yondan - Part 14

The recoil of the first movement of Pinan Yondan, initiates the second movement, and so forth.

Through the use of recoil with koshi dynamics, a portion of the energy of each movement is recovered, and recycled, so to speak, into the next movement.

That is one reason a person skilled a koshi dynamics does not get as tired during kata -- he or she is expending less total effort. The idea is to get more done with less. And real skill is getting a whole lot more done with a whole lot less.

It is like bouncing a ball. It does not take much energy to keep it bouncing... if you time it right.


Charles C. Goodin

Pinan Yondan - Part 13

The first movement of Pinan Yondan is like... an uncontrolled sneeze.

Imagine that you are standing there, ready, and you suddenly sneeze. That is how the first movement feels.

Have you ever thought about a sneeze? It is a very powerful thing. Why? Because it comes from your core. You don't sneeze with your hands and feet. It comes from your lungs. Your whole body tenses, with very little effort.

Moving in Karate is like that, or at least it can be like that.


You wind up on the "ah" and strike on the "choo."

That is kind of funny. We are talking about "ah choo" when our art comes from "Loo Choo."

Ha ha ha!

Another way to describe the sneeze is like a "core twitch." When you are skilled at koshi dynamics and your body is conditioned, you simply twitch it and movements appear. If it sounds easy, it should be easy.


Charles C. Goodin

Pinan Yondan - Part 12

When you execute the first movement of Pinan Yondan, you are in a left neko ashi dachi (cat stance with your left foot forward). From the ready position, you move/drop into this stance.

But how? This is an important question.

Many people say that movements follow this pattern: eyes, feet, hands.

This is always true, however, it also not always true. It is not that rules are made to be broken, it is that rules are made for beginners.

If you first look to the left, then step slightly forward with your right foot, then turn into nekko ashi dachi, then execute the two hand movements (as described in earlier posts), you will be too late. The attacker will surely hit you.

Personally, I rarely move my feet first. I usually move my hands and feet together. They move together because of an important point: the feet and hands are powered by the same, koshi (core driven) body movement. I do not move my feet with one body motion and my hands with another. The same body motion (internal torque) powers both.

Since there is only one body movement, my feet and hands move together, but are slightly off timed.

When my feet reach the neko ashi dachi position, my hands will be recoiling from the strikes. It will look like my feet and hands are moving together. But actually, my hands are slightly ahead, and they too are off timed.

Again, when my feet are in position, my hands will have already struck. It will not be a case of stance first, then hand movements. And there will not be two or more body movements to power these movements. There will be only one body movement with multiple effects. And this is all timed with the body drop, as previously described.


Charles C. Goodin

Look Good or Be Good?

I'm taking a short break from Pinan Yondan but will return to it soon.

This is a story.

A Karate Fairy Godmother appeared to a student and asked him:

"Would you like to look good at Karate or be good at Karate?

The student was about to answer, when the Karate Fairy Godmother added:

"There is a catch. If you pick 'look good at Karate', you will look good to the public but will not actually be good. If you pick 'be good at Karate', you will actually be good but the public will not think so."

This is actually a very interesting choice. How would be pick?

In my own experience, the better a Karate instructor is, the more difficult it is for the public to recognize his skill. And sometimes the greatest skill is intentionally hidden. Remember that many 10th dans learned from no-dans, who learned from unknown hermits. Who is more skilled, the 10th dans or the hermits?

I think that the proper answer to the Karate Fairy Godmother would be:

"Skill at Karate comes from training, not making wishes. And in any event, looking good is not the issue, being skilled is. So if you don't mind, I will just train."


Charles C. Goodin