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Koshi Fish

The basic principle of teaching students how to use koshi is this: the movement is taught in an exaggerated form for beginners but becomes smaller and more compressed/internalized for advanced students.

If beginners are taught the advanced form, they almost certainly will not get it. But if advanced students continue to use the exaggerated form, they will find that it is not effective for self defense (because it is too big and slow). The proper form must be taught to the student depending upon his level of advancement.

One of the problems in our system is when a student who is supposed to be advanced continues to use the beginner form. This could easily happen when the student learns the beginner form but then does not maintain contact with his sensei. Normally, the sensei will continue to work on the student through the progression of forms.

So what is koshi fish? Have you ever seen film of a fish swimming in the water? The fish sort of shakes its body from side to side in an undulating manner. It is a very relaxed and natural movement.

Now look at fast moving fish. Have you ever seen film of a barracuda? Sometimes it just lazily drifts in the water until it spots its prey. Then it explodes toward its target. In slow motion, you can see it shaking its body to generate power. The "shake" is like a tight series of twitches.

This is a good example of the koshi becoming smaller and more compressed/internalized for advanced students.

I saw a similar film of mako sharks chasing bait being towed behind a fast moving boat. The shark would accelerate in rapid bursts by shaking its body.

Now the barracuda and the shark would not get very far if they tried to generate speed using only their fins and tails. They do not generate power with their extremities -- they generate power using their whole body. The power of the core of their bodies is transmitted through their extremities (fins and tail).

So the next time you are practicing koshi, you might try shaking your body like a fish (a really fast fish).


Charles C. Goodin