Front kick, step in, step back, roundhouse kick, step in and reverse punch. A very simple exercise or is it?
You start from a good front stance. You can feel it, the stance is solid, your breathing is good and you feel loose and ready. You kick and step in. You think to yourself, ‘That went pretty good.’ You step back and then it happens. Your balance is off, which causes you to tighten up in order to keep your balance and try to maintain good form.
You perform your roundhouse kick and you know it’s slow and doesn’t have any real power. Stepping down, you throw your reverse punch; again no power and no speed. Your punch is all upper body. Your shoulders are tight and you find that you’re leaning forward.
The instructor interrupts the class and begins to explain why a majority of the students were having some of the same problems. Among the culprits is the lack of hip twists.
There’s a lot of talk in the area of physical fitness these days about core development. Well, there’s a lot to be said for core development, especially in the practice of karate or any of the other martial arts. Not only does core development provide strong abdominal muscles, which strengthen the back and relieve back pain, core development also helps to provide the power behind the techniques used in karate.
Good, strong core development allows a student to get more power out of their hip twists. And that is where the real power is – the hip twist. Without the use of the hips, the only power that is used in punches, kicks or blocks is coming from the arms or legs. However, by using hip twists several things happen. Hip twists allow the student to: 1). Maintain good balance & engages the entire body, 2). Makes it easier to coordinate breathing, 3). Provides momentum for your execution of your techniques.
Maintain Good Balance/Engage Entire Body: On good way to keep your balance during a technique is to make sure you practice twisting your hips. Twisting the hips, helps to keep the entire body as one solid unit. Without twisting your hips your body becomes disjointed, which makes your techniques less effective. Your power is not focused and the speed and power that would come from your entire body is gone. The power that is available is sent into several directions, that is, if you’re able to keep your balance throughout the technique.
Easier To Coordinate Breathing: By incorporating a hip twist in your technique, your core is in a position to exhale at the end of the twist and provide power to your techniques. This goes along with the tension/relaxation element of your movement – inhale/exhale, yin/yang, the release of the spirit. The coordination of your breathing with your techniques allows you to conserve your energy and not get out of breath as easily.
Provides Momentum: The use of the hip twist gives your body momentum that continues through your arm or leg and explodes through your fist or foot. Without the hip twist, the body is at a state of rest and power can’t come from the core, which is essential in karate. Just using your arms and legs will give you a limited amount of force. But, with the momentum of your entire body by using a hip twist, the force generated multiplies.
If you want to get more out of your karate techniques, develop your core and develop a sense of harmony with your body and your breathing, be sure to incorporate hip twists in your karate training.