(Issue 4: April/May 1998)
KARATE IMPACT POWER:
The basic premise of performing a karate technique requires that karate be utilized for self defense. Karate techniques may also be used for exercise, competition, sport, the winning of trophies or medals, and in a few cases, as a means of moving meditation and/or stress reduction. In traditional karate however, the basic motivation behind the training must be for self-defense. The element of self-defense symbolizes the roots of karate-do as a military art, a budo. The first understanding of training in budo must always be:
a. Effective self-defense - surviving;
b. Elimination or neutralization of the enemy or opponent(s)
c. Without proper impact power, this will be impossible.
The ability to learn techniques, become better coordinated, and establish balance may be developed through kata training and basic combination training. Self-defense skills are developed through constant training in kaisetz, bunkai, tegumi, and in the training of the body in obtaining maximum impact power. Without the ability to stop the opponent cold, all karate training takes on the air of a dance, or mere physical exercise. The budo aspect is lost. On many occasions O-Sensei (Doctor Chitose) told me "One punch, the opponent should be stopped, with one punch." This also applies to one kick one strike and occasionally even one properly applied, very powerful block.
To develop this stopping power karate-ka must practice daily, weekly, monthly for the remainder of their lives. Training for awhile, then quitting, then returning for a few months, then quitting again is self-defeating. Constant practice in basics and kata where the trainee is aware or those things which create impact energy is required. Since each person and student is different, the instructor can only say, forget theory and train, sweat and get sore. Some day you will find it. Karate power (kime) is dependent on a few of the following:
a. The length of various muscles;
b. Muscle mass or size;
c. Fiber type of the muscle;
d. The total range of motion which constitutes the technique; (expansion and contraction)
e. Acceleration of body party;
f. Impact velocity (on the target)
g. Choice of target;
h. Angle of attack on target;
i. Stability (upon impact) of both the attacker and yourself.
All too often karate students and instructors only go through the motions of basics and/or kata without real intent or focus of their total energies on the technique at hand. They only see the outside of the technique-''Omote". You must strive to understand the technique in its entirety (not with your mind but with your muscles and bones)-"Ura". O-Sensei had on some occasions trouble answering my request for information about a specific technique which I had seen him perform. He could do the technique but had difficulty in explaining it. His technique(s) were done with his body, not his head. His movements were natural and spontaneous. This is mark of a true budo-ka. Doctor Tsuyoshi Chitose was truly a karate "Meijin", a master of his craft. Never forget his words about, ''One punch'', and constantly strive to develop this explosive power in all of your techniques and kata. Quit dancing and start practicing budo.
NOTE: Some parts of this technical bulletin is based upon research by Milorad V. Stricevic, M.D. and karate yudansha who had done extensive research into bio-mechanics and karate training for many years.
William J. Dometrich, Kyoshi
Founder and Chief Instructor
United States Chito-ryu Karate Federation