Karate Science
eBook - ePub

Karate Science

Dynamic Movement

J. D. Swanson, Sam Nigro

  1. 248 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Karate Science

Dynamic Movement

J. D. Swanson, Sam Nigro

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Table of contents

About This Book

Dynamics, motion, sensation...they are karate's connective tissue?and they are the heart of this book.

Karate Science: Dynamic Movement will help you understand the mechanics of the human body. Swanson describes these principles in incredible detail, drawing on examples from several styles of karate, as well as aikido, taekwondo, and judo. Whatever your martial background, applying this knowledge will make your techniques better, stronger, and faster.

  • Understand the major types of techniques, including their outward appearances and internal feelings.
  • Master the core principles behind these feelings.
  • Learn the biomechanics and dynamics of core movement.

Karate Science: Dynamic Movement is filled with examples, anecdotes, and beautiful illustrations. Although Shotokan karate is the author's frame of reference, the principles of human mechanics translate to all martial styles.

This book features

  • Clear and insightful explanations of dynamic movement.
  • Over 100 illustrations.
  • Profound but accessible analysis of the kihon, or fundamentals of Shotokan karate.

As a lifelong student of martial arts, J. D. Swanson, Ph.D., had searched through piles of books on form and function. "Stand here, step there" they said. But where movement was concerned, none went deep enough. No one was discussing the dynamics?the actual feeling of the moves. Both in print and in live teaching, karate instruction tends to focus on stances and finishing positions. But dynamics, motion, sensation...they are karate's connective tissue?and they are the heart of this book.

" Karate Science: Dynamic Movement is rooted in the teachings of the masters, " Swanson says. "This book nucleates that knowledge, clarifying and distilling the key principles behind movement dynamics. This is the next evolution of karate books."

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The Techniques and How to Do Them


An Introduction and How to Use This Book


The Asian martial arts have a rich history and present a variety of techniques and methods that can be used to incapacitate an opponent. The techniques used in the unarmed martial arts of Asia are of a much greater variety than many of the Western methods. Okazaki Sensei, one of my instructors and one of the world’s most senior Shotokan karate instructors, tells the story of when he first came to the United States in the 1960s. It was arranged that he fight in a demonstration match in Philadelphia against a boxer. While the parties concerned were discussing the details of the fight, they were asked to demonstrate the types of techniques that would be used. The boxer gave a masterful demonstration of hooks, jabs, uppercuts, and crosses, while Okazaki Sensei demonstrated punching, striking, blocking, and kicking techniques from karate. The promoters immediately stepped in and requested that Okazaki limit his techniques to punches. Okazaki Sensei declined, stating that karate was the sum total of all of these techniques, and it would not be a true karate demonstration without them. The fight was canceled. While the outcome of the match could have gone either way, Okazaki’s point was clear.
Okazaki Teruyuki, tenth dan, ISKF.
This book is about those techniques and, more importantly, my current interpretation of how to do them. While the techniques have been described many times, not much has been written about the technical detail behind the “how” of their performance or the way they “feel.” In my own training, I have observed that much of this information is never taught, either on purpose or simply because the concepts were never taught to the instructor. This book attempts to rectify this. I will talk about the important parts of the body, how they need to be contracted or relaxed at the correct place and time, and the biomechanics involved. I have attempted to explain things in the same way I do in my own dojo, in a simple and clear manner. It is my hope that this will get you, the reader, thinking and looking deeper into your own martial arts training.
One important caveat is that the concepts discussed in this book represent my current way of thinking. Since I have been writing the first drafts of this book, I have learned more and more each day. My understanding and practice of karate, as for any serious student of the art, will inevitably evolve and change for the better. It is my sincere hope that readers of this book will learn, challenge themselves, and progress in their lifelong study of karate.

Differences between Asian and Western Training Methods

Many of my peers who have trained at length in Japan comment that training consists of simply doing thousands of repetitions in class with little or no instruction. The student does without question what the instructor commands. Judging from the ability level of these students, it is clear that this method works. However, it requires a complete acceptance of the Asian way of doing things. This way of training leads to an understanding of karate at the level of physical movements; that is, students may not know how a movement is done, but there is certainly no argument that they can do it.
Many of the early instructors from Japan found that Westerners did not take to that type of training. Many students quit after a short time. Okazaki Sensei relates that if he hadn’t modified his training methods from what they were in Japan, his clubs would have dissolved. Unfortunately, language barriers made it hard for some of the Japanese instructors to communicate; therefore, explanations sometimes were not communicated well. This in turn led to some common technical mistakes that have been perpetuated in Western countries. These mistakes, which varied from organization to organization, could have arisen from several sources. The senior instructor could have overemphasized a particular concept, leading to the student thinking the exaggerated movement was the correct way to execute the technique. The instructors may simply have had flawed technique. Finally, they may have had a personal way of performing a technique that was correct for their body type that could have been passed to the student. A mistake can often be traced back to an original instructor, and even to a particular period of an instructor’s teaching career.
Fortunately, Westerners have taken what they have learned from their Asian instructors and reflected very deeply and thoroughly on how karate is done. In addition, many of the native English-speaking karateka who have significant experience training in Japan have come back to their home countries and articulated what the first Japanese instructors could not. Also, there are many Westerners with a lifetime of experience. For all these reasons, there is now a wealth of sources for understanding karate. You can even make a strong case that in exploring karate unburdened by the baggage of cultural tradition, Western karateka have advanced karate from where it was in the 1960s. Arguably the best example of this is in kata application or bunkai. While many theories exist as to the proposed “initial intent” of kata bunkai, unrealistic applications were taught through the 1960s to 1980s. However, the application of kata has been revolutionized by the work of Schmeisser, Abernethy, Ubl, and others, which has led to a renaissance in our understanding of kata and how it can be applied in realistic situations.
With so much information available, it is very important not to confuse cerebrally understanding a karate technique with doing it. While long-term training in Japan involves a definite “it factor,” this clearly comes from the rigorous, sustained training and immediate, abrupt feedback students receive. This method requires, however, a particular mindset and can take a very long time because there is no real direction as to what is correct. The student receives only visual guidance and nothing about the feeling or the how of the technique. On the other hand, if karateka spend a lot of time seeking explanations with not enough doing, they will not progress, because while the mind may understand, the body will not perform properly due to the lack of repetition. Therefore, it is my feeling that there must be a balance between understanding and physical training. And while the scale should always be tipped to the training side, a student should work to understand how a technique is done.
The analogy I like to use for this is basketball players practicing free throws. If they simply practice the physical act of throwing the ball into the basket, they may do well, but only after a time. Likewise, if they visualize in their mind the act and feeling of throwing the ball into the net, they will also succeed somewhat. But they will achieve the best and fastest results if their practice incorporates a combination of both actually throwing the ball and visualization. The cerebral part of the training allows the student not only to understand but also to jumpstart the process of internalizing the movement, which must then be drilled again and again until it is perfected.

How to Use This Book

As noted above, there is a lot of i...

Table of contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright
  4. Contents
  5. Foreword by Robin Rielly
  6. Foreword by James Field
  7. Part I: The Techniques and How to Do Them
  8. Part II: Principles of Karate Techniques
  9. Part III: Internal Movement of Karate
  10. Acknowledgments
  11. Editorial Notes
  12. Praise for Karate Science
  13. Index
  14. About the Author
  15. About the Illustrator