Articles

The chicken or the egg?

Your lead hand, or your hikite?

A long time ago, I don’t remember exactly when, I was in the dojo practicing standing punches. It was at that moment that the darndest thing jumped into my head. It was one of those odd little riddles. Which came first the chicken, or the egg? 

In the blink of an eye my focus was gone. All I was left with at that moment was that question. It almost seemed like I was being asked to answer a koan. If you are unfamiliar with a koan it is a philosophical riddle that you are not always suppose to answer. At least not in this lifetime. The theory being I suppose that some questions are best left unanswered.

I decided that there must be a logical reason why that question had popped into my head so I decided to follow that thought, and to see where it led me. And in keeping with the same theme it led me to a question about karate. Which should start first, the pulling fist, or the punching fist?

When I first started in Shotokan one of the first things that I was taught was how to do a standing punch. I was told that both fists must move at exactly the same time, the same speed, and finish moving at the same time. Today however, I no longer follow one aspect of that early lesson.

For me the pulling fist starts first.

This is what I refer to as accelerated timing. Now don't misunderstand me, the basic fundamentals of doing a punch remains the same. The only difference is only found in the initial timing of the movement. Today by giving my pulling fist a very slight head start, it then requires my punching fist to accelerate that much faster in order to still finish its movement at exactly the same time.

So, that is where that odd moment in front of the mirror took me. For me this works. My punch feels different. It looks different. It even sounds different. One evening at class I introduced this methodology to a Nidan, and the resulting difference in his punch was noticeable. Not only to me, but also to him. Will this concept benefit you? I hope it does, but only you can answer that question for sure.

Remember: "Old ways, new ways, if they move you forward make use of them all."