For Karate movements, whenever we execute punches, kicks, blocks, strikes or even simply moving forward or backwards, if we know how the body operates as a fulcrum and which pivot point (or in some cases multiple points) to use, we can execute each technique with optimal trajectory, utilizing maximum speed and power.  For instance, in moving from one zenkutsu dachi (forward stance) to another zenkutsu dachi, beginners must create a fulcrum with the front leg usually placing the pivot point at the front knee with the body weight transferring to the front hip.  Once their weight is transferred they will push the opposite side of the hip forward in order to take a step.  This then becomes a conventional step forward.  A more advance way of moving forward utilizing proper WAZA (skill), would be to create an additional pivot point internal to your body and lift the opposite hip making that side “weightless” in the process.  This will allow you to move forward with a quicker movement as your weight is not transferred from one side of the body to the other.  Using this internal pivot point and lifting the opposite side of the body internally allows a more natural body movement that minimizes the use of physical strength giving rise to a smoother and faster step.  This is more difficult to perform and takes practice to execute smoothly.

There is a pervasive misconstrued belief about “traditional karate”. Some practitioners (students AND teachers) learn a technique and then somehow create a very ridged idea in their mind that “this is the traditional way of performing this technique”. They will hold on to that idea very tightly. Even when they see the technique performed with more skill right in front of them, their eyes are blind because their mind is so stiff. Ordinary people will practice some basics and once performed adequately will believe that the movement is complete and no further development is needed. But masters or SHOKUNIN (artisans) are always looking for a better way of performing a technique, even after they “master the move”.  We (MONONOHU), martial artists, are always looking for the pinnacle.  But there is no pinnacle as there will always be a way to subtly improve any technique.  There are basic principles about practicing any technique, but those principles should not limit us and cause us to believe that this is the only way.  Think about it. Look at the world around us; the cars, televisions, cameras, phones, etc.  Each item has its foundation, but every year we see improvements.  The research departments are always looking for a better way, trying to be the best, trying to reach the pinnacle of their product.  The best companies do not limit themselves to established technologies, they are always looking for improvements.  If the world is always looking to improve upon itself, then why, when we practice karate, are we satisfied with doing same thing over and over again?  Aren’t we supposed to improve each day? Where are you going be next year, in five years from now, andten years from now?  Karate will be boring if you continue to practice the same thing over and over, staying at the same level, without improving.  Sooner or later your body won’t be able to perform particular movements, because you were depending on muscle and physical strength that declined with age.  In order to avoid this, you must do your research to learn how to use your body effectively and efficiently at any age.

Karate is not like Latin, a dead language that no longer evolves. Karate is alive! With each generation it can evolve and improve. There is lots of tradition and wisdom in karate. This knowledge is passed on from teacher to student over time. It is the teacher’s wish that their student will take the research that has been shared with them and IMPROVE upon it, not simply accept it as is! Appreciate and your teacher for sharing their knowledge. Always be respectful of what you have been taught. When the day comes that you discover something beyond your teacher’s knowledge, be humble and remember that your teacher laid the path to your discovery. Furthermore, never be satisfied with what you discover. Always try to think, “Okay, this is one way to do this. How else can I improve this more?” We must use our wisdom and mind and think about what we are trying to accomplish and not be satisfied in having “reached a goal”. A black belt certificate has very little meaning if the earnest heart that earned it becomes lazy. Isn’t it called the Martial Arts?  We are “Artisans” and our craft is to research and develop fighting movements; physically, mentally and spiritually. 

-Akio Minakami