On your marks 3

A comment on the last post, made by John of Massachusetts, indicated that the clip of the elite level Shotokan fighters did show fast Shotokan techniques delivered from traditional stances, that’s the gist anyway. I chose the clip precisely because of the high standard of the fighters. While these fighters are able to deliver fast punches and kicks, the stance they adopt, fudo dachi I think,  fails to support fast positional movement. In order to successfully make ground quickly they need to adjust the starting position before they move.  If you observe the video carefully you will notice this adjustment.

This adjustment, particularly from the bounce, rapidly shifts the fighter through the equivalent of the get set and go phases of the sprint start. Bouncing up and down in the starting posture does not provide the correct lower leg angle to propel the fighter forward with plyometric action at the ankle curtailed.Does that make sense?

If we return to the sprint start analogy, the get set phase positions the sprinter to explode out of the blocks, the bouncing stance does not position the karateka to explode, an adjustment is required. The sanbon kumite of the original grisly clip provides even less opportunity for explosive movement as the plyometric action is completely absent. To illustrate what I mean follow this link to an article analyzing the blocks start of Usain Bolt, notice how the angle at the ankle of the right foot changes as he begins the movement, it goes back before moving forward. This is the plyometric action or the stretch shortening cycle, which greatly increases power. The starting position in the blocks completely supports this; forward posture and lower leg angle.

The Karate fighters in the clip tend to move from a position that is not set up to support explosive movement, of course the blocks position is impossible to attain but nevertheless the fighting stances they adopt have limited forward posture and usually have a less than ideal lower leg angle. This results in them having to make an adjustment before they can explode out of the blocks, as it were. It’s the equivalent of not being in the blocks properly when the gun goes.

ZKD compDespite this drawback the bouncing is clearly more dynamic than the stiff movement of sanbon kumite although the starting stance is not too different to that used in sanbon. Note the centralised weight, supporting stability rather than mobility.

ZKD sanbon

To achieve the equivalent of the starting blocks position the fighting posture needs to support rapid positional movement, with the weight forward and a lower leg angle supportive of a plyometric action similar to that in the Usain Bolt link. Clearly, that would be better than adopting a posture that requires a big adjustment before rapid movement can be achieved.

While the fighters in the clip above start in a sub-optimal position they still move quickly, this is achieved through a lot of feinting and minute positional adjustment to draw the opponent into making a half movement against which they can time their strike. While the rules of the tournament are far removed from street fighting there is still plenty of skill on show. The timing and distancing is very good and this is what Machida has successfully taken to MMA, but thats another post.


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