What is Kihon

  Kihon means “basics,” or “fundamentals.” It is the term used to describe the practice and repetition of the basic techniques of karate. Kihon can be performed with footwork or from a stationary position. It can be performed individually or in large groups. Kihon can be considered as the alphabet of karate. By organizing various kihon techniques into sequences, kata are created*. When learning how to apply kihon techniques to another person, kumite is born. Since kihon is vital to the development of proper karate technique, Shotokan students spend a great deal of time trying to perfect it. Improve your kihon skills, and all other aspects of karate improve automatically.

Kihon is taken very seriously and is taught very consistently in the dojo to ensure that correct technique is learned at the very beginning. Bad form in the basics leads to ineffective technique and injury, therefore much attention is given to correct kihon techniques throughout the curriculum. Through continual refinement, kihon becomes central to learning the kata and drills, and in depth study will lead to more advanced techniques..

In order to benefit from his training, the student should have a good understanding of the following primary points.

Form (katachi)

Correct form is always closely related to the principles of physics and physiology.

Prerequisites of correct form are good balance, a high degree of stability and the order of movements of each part of the body, since movements are made in quick succession in a short period of time.

This is specially true in karate because punching and kicking are vital to the art. The need for good balance can be seen particularly in kicking, where the body is usually supported by one leg. To withstand the great impact when a blow is landed, stability of all joints in he arms and hands is necessary.

With changing situations and different techniques, the center of gravity changes, shifting to the left, right, front, back. This cannot be done unless the nerves and muscles are well trained. Again, standing on one foot for too long will open one attack, so balance must be constantly shifted from one foot to the other. The karate student must moth avoid giving an opening and be prepared for the next attack.

Breathing (kokyo)

Breathing is coordinated with the execution of a technique, specifically, inhaling when blocking, exhaling when focusing technique is executed, and inhaling and exhaling when successive techniques are performed.

Breathing should not be uniform; it should change with changing situations. When inhaling, fill the lungs full, but when exhaling do not expel all the air. Leave about 20 percent in the lungs. Exhaling completely will leave the body limp. One will not be able to block even a weak blow, nor will be able to prepare for the next movement.

Kiai (spirit-meeting or energy-shout)

The kiai is the shout at the end of a technique and in conjunction with the expulsion of air (Kime) will maximize the power of the movement. It also had the effect of surprising an opponent and may momentarily paralyze their response.

Developing your KIAI is very important. It is not just a shout or a screech from the throat. If you put your hand on the stomach and cough you will feel the muscles of your abdomen contract. This in fact is the start of your KIAI.

Kime (focusing)

Without breath there is no life. Without Kime your karate is lifeless. It is essential that you understand that all karate techniques must be performed with Kime.

Kime is the focusing of mental energy, breathing and physical force culminating in a single striking point.

Karate is not whole without all these elements.

The key to Kime is the breathing. Any physical activity requires correct breathing, witch works with the body not against it. The grunts and groans athletes make are not for effect; a student is using his breathing along with his muscles to explode with maximum effect, producing the most potent force possible. No effort is wasted.

There are various methods of breathing, but the basic method for beginners is: ‘One breath one technique’.

Hips (Koshi)

The hips are located at approximately at the center of the human body, and their movement plays a crucial role in the execution of various types of karate techniques. The lower abdomen, particularly the rotation of the hips, which adds to the power of the upper body, creates the explosive power of the focusing blow.
Besides being a source of power, the hips provide the basis for a stable spirit, correct form and maintenance of good balance. In karate, the advice is often given to “punch with your hips”, “kick with your hips”, and “strike with your hips”.

Power and Speed

Power accumulates with speed. Muscular strength alone will not enable one to excel in the martial arts, or in any sport for that matter. The power of the Kime (Focusing) of a basic karate technique derives from the concentration of maximum force at the moment of impact, and this in turn depends greatly on the speed of the blow or kick. The punch of a highly trained karate student can travel at a speed of thirteen meters per second and generate power equivalent to seven hundred kilograms.

Though speed is important, it cannot be effective without control. Speed and power are increased by utilizing the pairing of forces and reaction. For this purpose, an understanding of the dynamics of movement and their application is necessary.

Concentration and Relaxation of Power

Maximum power is the concentration of the strength of all parts of the body on the target. Not just the strength of the arms and legs.

Equally important is the elimination of unnecessary power when executing a technique, which will result in giving greater power where it is needed. Basically, power should start at zero, climax to one hundred on impact, and immediately return to zero. Relaxing unnecessary power does not mean relaxing alertness. One should always be alert and prepared for the next movement.

Strengthening of Muscular Power

Understanding of theory and principles without strong, well-trained, elastic muscles to execute the techniques is useless. Strengthening muscles requires constant training.

It is also describe to know which muscles are used in witch techniques. To the extent that muscles are used specifically, greater effectives can be expected. Conversely, the less muscles are used unnecessary, the less the loss of energy. Muscles operating fully and harmoniously will produce strong and effective techniques.

Rhythm and Timing

In any sport, the performance of a top athlete is very rhythmical. This applies also in Karate.

The timing of various techniques cannot be expressed musically, but it is nonetheless important. The three principal factors are the correct use of power, swiftness or slowness in executing techniques and the stretching and contraction of muscles.

The performance of a master is not only powerful but also very rhythmical and beautiful. Acquiring a sense of rhythm and timing is an excellent way to make progress in the art.

Hiki te (The withdrawing Hand)

The withdrawing hand leads the rotation of the hips. When executing a technique, the withdrawing hand must move strongly, quickly and sufficiently. If not, the technique will not reach its maximum effectiveness. Another important point is that both arms must move at exactly the same time.

If the technique is being executed with the right hand, it is usual for the left elbow to be drawn straight back. When striking in a wide arc, the withdrawing arm should also appear as a wide arc. In other words, if the technique is executed in a straight line, the other arm withdraws in a straight line. If the technique is arc like, the other arm travels in an arc.

It is not too much to say that with excellent techniques are born strong, fast withdrawing arms.