Martial Arts Teaching and Learning
By Christopher Caile
How do you practice?
I often watch students in karate practice throw out their techniques with power, one after another, and I think to myself, "Good exercise, but not very good karate." It's because they aren't really paying attention to what they are doing. As students we learn various techniques and after a while they seem to become second nature to us --automatic. We think we know how to do them, so that's just what we do. We do them just like we always do them, with the same errors too.
One of things that marks a good karate-ka is their technique. It's clean and powerful, correctly executed without extra movement, without all those little flaws that seem to plague most of us -- poor balance, flaring elbows, flaws in posture or stance, rising shoulders, faulty arm alignment -- the list is endless. Despite this fact students too often just perform their karate --mindlessly. It's as if they get caught up in the exercise and aerobic activity and loose attention to what maters.
Good technique comes from mindful action. That is, paying attention to what, and how, you are performing a technique, making sure it is done as perfectly as possible to the model given to you by your instructors, polishing it, eliminating extra movement and delivering power to the technique. This is the way you should often practice. It allows you to improve your technique and in the process get faster and develop more power. Each time you do a technique, examine and guide your technique with your mind to make it correct.
This is especially important as you gain experience. How I throw a punch is very different from how I started, different to from what I did ten, even five years ago. With punching, for example you might learn over time how to drop or lift your weight, improve your posture, how to better develop power using your hips, koshi, compression or your body's core. In the process of improvement a teacher or senior might just show you one little thing you can do to add speed or power. How do you incorporate this into your technique? Mindful action. When you practice that technique you pay attention and try to guide your body and action to incorporate that which you have been taught.
About The Author:
Christopher Caile is the founder and Editor of FightingArts.com