Around your middle
You may recall from your early school days that the center of the earth is mark by an imaginary line, known as the Equator.
From this point at the middle of the earth, the world is divided into two distinct parts, the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere.
No this is not a geography lesson, so you can relax, my point is this.
Like the earth, all karate students have a middle, but in their case it is one that is very clearly marked by a visible coloured line, known as an "obi" or "belt". Like the earth's Equator this line divides a student's body into two distinct parts, the upper half and lower half.
Now in the early stages of their karate training most new students will spend the better part of their time paying far more attention to the top of their world than they will to the bottom. The simple fact of the matter is that is far easier for a new student to focus on developing hand movements then it is for them to get a firm grip on a kiba dachi, or a kokutsu dachi.
I know I did.
I can remember in my case, however, that it was not long before my sensei noticed the lack of attention my lower extremities were receiving. Not one to miss an opportunity to correct what he considered an unacceptable situation, sensei quickly wandered on over to where I was practicing and proceeded to make it very clear to me, in no uncertain terms, that everything south of my belt was of equal, if not greater importance than what was going on north of my belt.
Longer, lower, not so narrow, not so wide, all become familiar phrases, and then one day it happened.
Out of the blue, and for no apparent reason that I could fathom, sensei said to me, "Now start using your hips".
"My what"?
"Your hips, lad, your hips"!!
At which point he firmly grabbed my belt at a point on either side of my hips and he started twisting right, then left, then right, then left again.
"Your hips, lad, use your hips, karate is nothing with out the proper use of your hips"?
My world was never the same after that.
Hips, hips, and more hips, became the battle cry throughout the dojo.
In basics, in kicks, in kata, in kumite, "Use your hips" he would shout.
To this day, even after more than 28 years of training, his voice still rings clearly in my ears.
This morning at class a student came up to me and said, "Sensei would you please watch my side kick and tell me what I am doing wrong, it doesn't feel right". After one kick it was clearly evident what the problem was, but I waited until the student had done five or six kicks, and then I walked up to her and I whispered .........
I hope that for her sake in the years to come that the sound of my quiet voice will also ring loud and clear.
Be careful what you ask for,
you might just get it.
Part the clouds - see the way.
"The objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
of the human spirit through physical and mental training."
Sensei Peter Lindsay