Saturday, May 9, 2009

IS Fundamentals (a) Sit Down Lesson Part 4/10: Yokogeri

Folks, as I am not able to train this week, I thought I would take a look at Isaka Sensei's double-yokogeri. The first essential thing to point out is that this is not the same as kai-kyaku (開脚) open legs stretch, or the splits. This sit-down is double-yokogeri. Right?


So what am I saying? Well, understanding this point is pretty essential in understanding Isaka Sensei's training. Anybody worth their salt in Shotokan Karate will know, to one degree or another, that kicking from the hip, or however you want to put it, is essential. It's a core part of kihon, it's a core part of Shotokan, and therein lays its strength. This is why Budo karate fighters don't go flapping thier legs around (or at least they shouldn't, right?)

But, moving on, when you are doing this stretch, please imagine yourself doing two yokogeri kicks from the hips. The second essential thing here is that the angle of your legs is not initially all that important. It's the angle of your legs relative to the vector of the kick that counts. In other words, you might find an uncomfortable truth. Some of you may get real shock, if you have only stretched with your feet up.

Yah, so if you just stick your toes up vertically, you will probably find you can open a lot wider. Please now try to touch the dojo floor with your toes. This "turn of events" is, as I said, essential to the exercise, which is getting your body instinctively tuned up for a great yoko-geri with correct sokuto.

As an aside, while IS and YS praise flexibility, jodan kicks are not seen as necessarily desirable by YS- only effective kicks with proper technique are desirable. YS would rather you do a great chudan kick leaning forward into the kick, with proper sokuto, than a jodan which has you leaning backwards. The lean backwards in a ke-age or a mawashi-geri is a potentially fatal weakness, right?

So the critial point in this move is sokuto- as it is with the kick. You must angle your foot forward so that your instep is touching the dojo floor, mat because you are performing the sokuto of a side kick! Now prepare for a shock if you are able to do a wide splits normally. It is better to close the angle in a little and point your feet forward.

OK, I have been able to move quite comfortably for the last two days for the first time in ten days. We went to Meji Jingu this morning for (in my case) a limp around and I got a real shock trying to gently do Isaka Sensei's kihon. I haven't been able to move much for ten days and I had shooting pains running up and down my nerves in my legs. This reminded me to say, more than ever, take it easy with these stretches, always. Never get some fool to force you into a position you body says "no" to, never force yourself to do something you know is too painful, and never, ever worry about anyone else. Keep a calm mind and breath deeply and...enjoy!


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