During ten weeks I was in Dublin doing the HDKI internship, I was able to train with several instructors, mostly with the main instructors of the Hombu Dojo HDKI, although not only with them.
Specifically, with Palma Diosi Sensei I had the priceless opportunity to help her in classes for kids, attend regular classes with her plus the weekends’ squad training. Her way of teaching and coaching gave me interesting inputs that I’ll try to share with you through this article in 10 clear ideas. Of course, they are a product of my perception and understanding, so be kind to me while translating this experience.
1.- Heels Up: “heels up !!!” I listened (during almost every training), while we are in pairs attacking kizami-yaku tsuki. Basic, the mobility and agility achieved when you are on your toes/tips of your feet have nothing to do with what you have when your whole foot is in contact with the ground. Basically, it’s about that, to be able to move fast, to react earlier, to avoid being anchored to a position, to a place. For this, you need to develop calves, good ones. Plyometric exercises are vital to obtaining the physical development that will allow you, with heels up, to exercise the necessary power to move with the desired speed and agility.
2.- React quickly: There is a part of the reaction that, in my opinion, is linked to physical development and it goes after our brain give an order. But previously there is the metal reaction (your brain), thinking too long would give our opponent space and time to react, either attacking or recovering his position; developing or conditioning an immediate reaction ends up being decisive in a fight. A simile could be when you give the green light to F1 cars, now imagine that this happens with every turn, each time our opponent opens a space, makes an error, etc. It is a green light and the faster we react the more chances we have to connect an attack properly. Twitch muscles to execute that order are also vital.
3.- Relax: This concept can be applied both physically and mentally. The goal is to avoid being mentally or physically stiff. On the contrary, to be relaxed, and the logic is the same as for other points explained earlier, it is a matter of speed. The more relaxed we are, the faster we become. In opposite the stiffer, the slower… and more evident. If we reduce it to a purely competitive environment, complete relaxation even with the absence of Kime an attack could be a valid point, much faster and difficult to decipher, in a “BUDO” environment to be faster than your opponent may be a matter of life or death.
4.- Disconnect your upper and lower body and your left and right side: we can do a test if I tell you kokutzudachi, do you think of a particular technique? if I tell you zenkutzudachi, do you think of any particular technique? obviously after conditioning for years basic kihon is normal that we create these associations but like everyone else in karate. Dis-connect means that you can do with your upper body any technique or movement without these being determined by those made by your lower body and vice versa. To be able to throw a tsuki from any position or to kick independently of the combination of hands that you are executing. It happens many times that we continually condition combinations of kihon that are always the same, conditioning a certain type of reaction from a certain type of position sacrificing the precious freedom we seek in jiyu kumite.
5.- Loses the Balance: Obviously it does not refer to losing the balance intentionally, it is rather to force the limit to the point where you inevitably lose your balance, this does not only refer to kumite, also to kata, a kumite . Do not stay in the comfort area, try to force the height of your position, the length of them, the speed of your turns, etc.
6.- Landing in position: being always in a favorable position is essential to win a fight, many times we see in the WKF that after a good ippon the competitors run to celebrate looking after the judges, sure they have scored a point, but… (there is always a but…) if on the contrary, the encounter does not stop, you end up in a rather unfavorable position and from which to continue the chain of attacks is quite complicated. If, on the contrary, after the attack, we are in a position in which we can link with another technique, we will be in an advantageous position with respect to our opponent.
7. – Avoid unnecessary movements: unnecessary movements leave us in evidence and make us lose time, two things we want to avoid at all costs in an encounter. We should always try to be unpredictable, so avoiding satellite movements is vital, another true statement is that the more movements we make, the slower we are, therefore, polishing and cleaning the technique will be of great help.
8.- Vertical and horizontal: While it is true that Shotokan is about maintaining height in kihon as a training method, by the time of Jiyu Kumite height changes are there. Other styles of karate like Shito Ryu have such changes more frequently in kata. Crouch, jump, move forward and back to develop a space where you move freely and dynamically, is a good aim.
9.- Drop your body weight: In competition kata this can add a visual touch of dynamism that can make a difference in some judge, although the utility of this concept, in my opinion, is more related to absorb the impact on certain displacements (Heian Godan mov 12-13) and/or generate kinetic energy to jump or move from the position.
10.- Have fun: let’s not forget that we do this because we like it and because we enjoy it and although in serious work there is no room to be silly, I think it is important to find space for fun, to play seriously if you know what I mean, that’s why the invitation is to do the Work in pairs in a playful but serious way, challenging your opponent to the fullest.
This article was written before having the heartbreaking news of Palma leaving us, I ended stating the following: Needless to say, it has been a pleasure for me to work with her and learn from her during my stay in Dublin and I hope that our meetings continue to be part of my adventures in karate. Without any doubt sharing this article with all HDKI member now in English is for me a big “meeting again” with Palma.