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Evaluating a Movement

When I see a student perform a movement, I feel like saying:

  • Generating power the way you are doing it, your movement has a potential of 3 (out of 10).
  • Transferring power the way you are doing it, your movement has a potential of 2.
  • Executing the technique the way you are doing it (the shape and pattern), your movement has a potential of 5.
  • Executing the technique with your understanding of the meaning of the technique, your movement has a potential of 3.
Of course, the numbers will change. But the relevant questions are:
  • How does the student generate power?
  • How does the student transfer power?
  • What is the range of applications based on the form of the movement?
  • What is the range of applications based on the student's understanding of the movement?
Each step of this analysis affects the next. If a student can generate a lot of power but cannot transfer it effectively, then the power is wasted. If the student can generate a lot of power and can transfer it effectively, but moves in a limited way, then that power will also be limited. But if the student has a lot of power, can transfer it effectively, moves in a way that provides an acceptable range of applications, and the student also understands those applications, then he can hope to accomplish something.

Take a simple punch (chudan zuki). First, the student needs to know how to get power into the punch (whole body dynamics). Next, the student needs to know how to transfer that power through the punch into the attacker (striking surface, kime, kikomi). If he punches in a very linear and limited way, he will probably only be able to execute a very linear and limited punch. But if he understands that the punch presents a range of possible movements, then the doors are opened. And if he knows where and how to hit most effectively, then that is really something. For example, a punch to the center of the attacker's chest might have a certain effect. If the student has a great deal of power and can transfer it effectively, he might be able to knock down the attacker. But there are many other places to hit in that general area that will have a much greater effect with much less effort. A skilled Karate expert is a little bit like a surgeon. He will hit or strike for maximum effect -- and the won't waste the recoil of the punch or the location of his fist after the punch either.

So... there are a lot of things to consider.

When I see a student or instructor who rates high on all of the four questions I presented at the beginning of this post, I think, "watch out for him (or her)!"

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin